Anniversary Getaway

Jonathan and I enjoyed camping out at Kanopolis last weekend for our anniversary.

The view from our tent Saturday morning – gorgeous!

After breakfast, we drove around the lake and checked out campgrounds and various areas, scouting for future trips with the family. We saw quite a few horsebackriders, as there was a judged trailride in progress (we had never heard of such a thing).

Then we headed to the Horsethief Canyon area and hiked for a couple of hours. I was (as you will see) thrilled that our camera has started working again.

Some “boring” Kansas topography:

(Note: I have a strong affinity for the areas of Kansas in which you can see for miles over field after field, but when I venture out of the immediate area in which we live, I often find myself amused by the plethora of comments I have heard over the years about how boring Kansas is.)

My love:

An interesting obstruction on the trail:

We noticed a dam on the way back; the beavers are certainly at work at Lake Kanopolis:

Fall is starting to make itself known:

With end-of-summer loveliness still hanging on:

A couple of interesting critters (I’m skipping the shot of the colony of ants swarming a beetle… aren’t I nice?):

At one point, we went off the trail in an effort to avoid poison ivy, and spent about 30 minutes walking up and down hills through yucca, berry thorns, etc. It definitely made it more of an adventure!

After returning to the trail, we climbed up into a little cave, near the base of which I found someone had carved our initials for us:

There were a surprising number of lightening-struck trees, but this was the most unique looking:

Almost back to the trailhead:

After our hike, we had a lovely lunch overlooking the lake, which is lower than usual, but not nearly as dry as areas closer to home:

It was a very nice time being together. Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Memories, tangible and intangible

The apron is blue cotton, generously sprinkled with pink and pale yellow flowers mixed with faded leaves. It snaps up the front, cobbler-style, has two front pockets, and is trimmed in pink. I crumple it to my face, and despite its many washings, if I breathe deeply enough (or is it my imagination?), I can still smell her, still smell them. The scent of their home, my precious grandparents’ Byrds Nest. And the tears well up. And sometimes they fall.

Like rightthisminute as I sit and type. And sob. One moment, please…

Thankfully, aprons make lovely hankies. G’ma would have several tissues tucked into those pockets, but I just use the apron.

I love cooking in my G’ma Liz’s aprons, this one especially. I love serving my family on her dishes.
I have several shirts of G’pa’s that I dream of crafting into a piece of him that I can hold.

Four years gone, my G’pa and G’ma Byrd. September 2007 – G’ma on the 25th, G’pa on the 27th. He had to care for her until the end.

About a week ago, one of my Blessings dropped the lid to G’ma’s teapot. The one that matches the green set of Colonial dishes that she bought in 1959. I think a sob escaped my throat before I ran to my room, not wanting to hurt her with my pain. Several minutes later, I scrawled out gift #694: small hands that are more precious and irreplacible than G’ma’s 52 year old china. Such lessons in broken things.

A few days after the teapot lid was broken, I realized … I cling to the physical remembrance of those gone before. Though I know holding on to their things won’t bring them back, still I cling. Yet I realize that the real gifts that they have given me are in my heart.

So yesterday, I scrawled out some more thanks. Thanks for memories of my G’pa and G’ma. There are so many more that I’m sure I’ve missed. Family of mine, I would dearly love it if you would add some of your memories.

(Gifts #695-755)
Christmas in Atlanta
Visits to Andy’s Trout Farm
The twirl and whirl of them square dancing
Scenic overlooks in the mountains
Climbing to a mountain top
Trip to the waterfall
Picnics – with “vitamins,” pimento cheese, saltines, ham sandwhiches, and more
The Byrds’ Nest acquired
Upstairs room with twin beds for E and I
Hours of talking with my Bubba
Mountain air through the windows
Vanity with old lamps and hat pins
Mountain Christmas with no power and loads of snow
Fireplace to keep things cozy
Oil lamps
Sound of G’pa going in and out the back door
G’ma puttering in her kitchen
Firecrackers in the front circle on July 4th
The cats
Smoky and Trixie, their dogs
Mountain walks
Picking Mulberries
The basketball goal mounted on the side of the old cabin
Having a place at the table and my “own” cloth napkin
Big lazy susan with condiments, etc
The green dishes, full of good food
Love we could eat – greens (which I didn’t appreciate), beans, cornbread, eggs, toast, “vitamins” (raw veggies), ham, juice… I could go on and on!
Homemade peach ice cream and lemon pound cake
Learning to play Rook (with G’ma, E, and a “dummy”)
Front porch rockin’
Birds coming in to eat
G’ma’s aprons and tissues tucked in sleeves and pockets
Sweet milk and buttermilk from Daisy(?), who lived down the mountain
G’pa always on the go… chopping wood, gardening…
G’pa’s crazy stories
His rib-cracking hugs (I am blessed to have a son who got that gene)
Their places in the living room
Watching baseball and weather on their little TV
G’ma’s papers
Playing games
The cool of the upstairs bedroom on my face when I’d return from mountain driving feeling carsick
Taking Beka to the Byrds’ Nest for the first time
Picking/snapping beans
Going to the canning place with G’pa and Beka
“Becky” 🙂
Teaching Beka “Rage” on the front porch (“I never played a game I didn’t want to win before”)
A broken hot water heater in the cabin = fast and freezing showers for the girls!
Walks to the creek/waterfall “next door”
Sharing a birthday with G’pa
Turning “100” with him
Watching Papa, Eric, Beka, Jonathan, and G’pa split wood – at 82, he was the best of the bunch!
Sleeping in the cabin with Eric and Beka our first Christmas married – two couples, two twin beds.
The Easter egg hunt for our (then four) Blessings
The softness of G’ma’s hands
G’ma’s cat paraphernalia
“The hurrier I go, the behinder I get”
G’pa: You’re a mess! Elanor: No, you’re a mess!
Favorite G’pa quotes: Do you love me like you used to love me before you learned to love me like you love me now?
And: Cotton-pickin’ pea picker
And: I was lookin’ back to see if you were lookin’ back to see if I was lookin’ back to see if you were lookin’ back at me
G’pa sitting in his chair, reading the Bible.

Thank you for walking down memory lane with me. Enjoy the song, but make sure you have a tissue tucked up your sleeve or in your pocket.

Fourteen years

Fourteen years ago this week (September 19, 1997), Rich Mullins went home to glory. I did not learn of his homegoing until the following Monday (September 22, fourteen years ago tomorrow). I’ve used up most of my 15 minutes sitting here trying to find words to express my thoughts and memories. I think it’s just not going to happen today, so here is a favorite Rich song. Be blessed.


Bonus – some much more lucid thoughts on Rich from Andrew Peterson

Here’s the Thing…

We have been working on getting some steady forward motion in our schooling. The State Fair put a bit of a kink in our efforts, but this week we are getting down to business again. I was feeling extremely frustrated and overwhelmed this morning, at which point I generally start thinking we need to switch this or that about what we are doing for school. Or that I am just a failure as a home schooling mom. I called Jonathan in anguish and told him all the things I needed him to tell me. In detail. Things like: It’s only the second day back at working on a new daily routine, and I shouldn’t expect everything to be perfect from the start; it’s more about being consistant than about having the “perfect” system/curriculum/schedule; really, it WILL be okay. And so on. He’s so patient with me.

Continuing to think and pray after talking with Jonathan, I was convinced even more that what we truly need is to reduce distractions and Just Do It. Every weekday, unless there is a true emergency. Yes, educating at home is wonderful because there are so many opportunities for learning outside of book work. But, if my children are not able to keep their checkbooks balanced because we were too busy with other fun learning experiences, then I will have not done my job.

So, after chatting with the principal upon his arrival home from work, here’s the plan: School is in session every Monday – Friday of every week for at least the next month, so that we can truly get a routine established. That means grocery shopping, library trips, etc. have to happen evenings/weekends. That means yard jobs for the boys have to be done after school work is finished for the day. Until the apples come in and we go crazy with apples for a few days, we are going to be being very intentional and focused about getting a good groove established. And after apples, it’s back to business.

Hopefully, as time goes by, we will be able to be more flexible again. But we’ve had too much flex for too long, and it’s time to get busy!

It’s a Weekday!

Starting a new weekday habit on Friday night makes things a bit tricky. I almost forgot today.

And the streams of thought run through my head so quickly that it’s difficult to grab onto one.


There’s one that I can hang onto.

I mentioned that Jonathan was recently off work for three unpaid weeks. For some reason, I felt awkward talking about God’s provision for us while we were in the midst of it. For some reason, now that he’s working again, it doesn’t seem as uncomfortable. But really… why should there be a taboo against praising the Lord for providing for our needs?

Anyway, it was amazing to see the way the Lord uses His people to be His hands and feet in our lives. We have received groceries, a cooler full of meat, money with which to carry on financially, and more. For me, this “sparse” time has been a great blessing as we have been loved and provided for in such neat ways. I feel loved and cared for by our body of fellow believers in a way I can’t adequately describe. Especially at almost eleven at night with two minutes left on my timer! But I am thankful.

The four year anniversaries of the passing of my G’pa and G’ma Byrd are coming up quickly, and the waves of grief have been coming. I’m trying to remember to remember they are somewhat akin to labor pains, in that I find it most helpful to work with them as they come, and let them go when they are done. There will be more, and I pray they are somehow productive.

A New Habit

Tap Tap Tap… is anyone still out there?

If only you could read the blog posts that happen in my head…

But you can’t, so I’d best get back to typing them out.

So, the new habit I’m committing to is 15 minutes a weekday to blog whatever I manage to spit out in that time.

I’m crazy-far behind.

The Kansas State Fair started last Friday, and it we spent eight hours walking around the Fair. Get in before 11 on the first day = free. Ten people families are all about free. It was such a joy to be at the Fair again. It is something that I keenly missed each September we were away, and most of our Blessings had no memories of it. I believe I wore a goofy grin the better part of those eight hours.

We went again Monday afternoon (Dollar Day) with Dad and Mom Smith and Grandma Hall. Not as long a visit, but it was fun and memorable. Midway rides were 1 ticket per ride, so the Blessings each got to pick a ride. Tight budgets make every treat sweeter. I rode the ferris wheel with Ellie, Josiah, Kate, and Grace, and it was a delight to see their varied reactions. Kate = giggles of joy! Davey and Barak rode the Starship, the one where it spins fast enough to stick you to the wall. I also rode Stephen’s ride with him, one of the little roller coasters – he loved it.

Jonathan and I will be working the Sterling Alumni booth tomorrow, and will get to have a bit of a date night afterwards. Davey and Barak have been working at the Dairy Bar during the Fair, which is good experience for them, and they’re looking forward to the paycheck.

Jonathan just started back to work this Wednesday after three weeks unpaid leave due to severe tendonitis. He is seeing a new chiropractor now and we are encouraged about the results. In the meantime, our Heavenly Father has been providing for us wonderfully through His “hands and feet.”

I’ve now been blessed to attend three births as the apprentice of two dear midwives from whom I am learning a great deal. I’m also learning from the mamas/families/babies. This apprenticeship seems to be working well for our family at this time, for which I am deeply thankful. I am without-words-thankful for Jonathan’s total support of me in pursuing this at this time. I am beyond blessed.

We put up almost 3 bushels of peaches last month, mostly just sliced peaches, but quite a few pints of peach butter, Earl Grey peach preserves, and a batch of “plain” peach preserves that turned out to be peach topping because I didn’t cook it long enough (it’s fabulous on waffles/pancakes).

My online timer seems to be malfunctioning, so I think I’ve snuck in more than my 15 minutes. (sneaky chuckle) Off to bed!