Saturday, January 24, 2015

Welcome Home Wreath

Awhile back I was thrilled to think that maybe I'd inherited my Great Grandpa Burton's poetry writing gene when I wrote a little poem called Welcome to My Home.  All along my intent was to frame it in a $1 store frame that was decorated with flowers and ribbons to make a wreath-type decoration for my future front door.

Except that I couldn't find flowers and ribbons that I like...

And so I ended up making the flowers from fabric and ribbon.  That was kind of an adventure!

Directions here.  Scroll down about 1/3
of the way to find the round pouf variation.
I made these round poufs, 2 from blue plaid fabrics and 1 from a golden yellow print.  For future reference, choose a fabric that is colored similarly on both sides.  The yellow has a definite front and back and since both show when you fold the circles you can see the pale and not so attractive back of the fabric on that flower.

Directions here.
I also made 3 of these 2-layered stars from a deep golden yellow satin ribbon that also makes up the middle layer of loops in my bow.  The website is in what I think might be Russian but I was able to follow the diagram successfully.  Because it's what I had, I used 5 iridescent large-sized seed beads in the center.

And finally, I made 5 flowers from the same sheer ivory ribbon as in the bow by cutting about a 9-inch length and running a gathering stitch along one edge.  Pulled tight, it looks like a pleated circle.  The same iridescent seed beads make up the centers.

I printed the poem in a pretty font on ivory cardstock using navy blue ink and slipped it into the frame after carefully cleaning the glass. Then the flowers were arranged and hot glued to the frame with some leaves cut from a spray of red berries I picked up after Christmas to finish another project.  The bow is a mix of the yellow and ivory ribbon with long tails tied in a half-knot at the end.  At some point, I may try to tuck in either some fine ribbon or flowers in a deep denim-y blue just to pick up that color a little more.

Now to pull me together and get that future front door/entryway...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

When Rover Goes Missing

We've all been drilled in this modern day to microchip our pets so it's easier to find them if they should go missing.  Today, with the ulterior motive of finding out how to update the contact information, I asked the vet how they work.  And he was gracious enough to spend 20 minutes or so educating me and checking Lightning, Jack and Gizmo for chips.

Jack doesn't have one.  Or the one that the folks at Banfield inserted in his scruff is faulty and doesn't read.  No... I won't go on another rant about just how much I hate them.  I do hate them!  I'm just sparing you the rant about it.  Lightning and Gizmo, and Thunder I presume though he wasn't with us to check, have chips made and/or maintained by a company called Home Again.  I don't have the other names, but he said they are one of several companies to offer this service.

What got me thinking about this was the bill I got awhile back for Gizmo's chip.

Home Again wants $18.97 each year.  That made me worry that they could somehow 'turn off' the chip so he couldn't be scanned at a vet or shelter were he to be picked up loose somewhere...  That's kind of what the bill led me to believe and it made me a little nervous.  I thought it was outrageous!  Better to look dumb and be sure than end up with a problem down the road, so I asked about it.

The vet explained the yearly fee is for their 'location service.'  In a nutshell, when your pet goes missing you alert them and send them a recent picture so they can prepare fliers for you to print and post in your neighborhood and they fax the information to area vets and shelters.  I have a computer and the minimal skills needed to make a flier and I can place a few phone calls...  He agreed that the yearly fee is pretty much a rip off.  He also said that 5 times more lost pets are reunited with their families because of Facebook postings than those fliers.  Once the chip is there, it's there.  You may, depending on the brand, have to pay to register it and, again depending on the brand, update your contact information.  But unless you move or change phone numbers, the location service is a needless extra charge and not something you have to subscribe to in order for the chip to be active.

If you don't update your information, the chip will point the organization searching for you to claim your lost pet to the vet who originally purchased it and hopefully they will be able to reach you.  The biggest problem with this is if your pet is hurt at night or on a weekend while out on his (or her?) adventure and they can't reach the vet's office.  Most shelters will NOT provide even basic life saving care while you are being sought...

So tonight I'm updating the address and phone number on their microchips.  And 2 years down the road trying to register Thunder's and Lightning's chips because, even though Banfield was paid for that, it wasn't done.  Yay.  And yay, again, Jack will have to be chipped when I scrape up another $40 for it.

In the vets office, he brought out the reader to show me how it worked. It's kind of similar to and used like the 'wand' that TSA probes you with at the airport and when it goes over the microchip it beeps and displays an alphanumeric code in the display window.  That code, much like a barcode, is the identifying information linking you to your pet in their database.  The vet or shelter staff can enter it in to the website and get an owner's contact information and pretty soon witness a happy reunion.

And that, my friends, is what I learned about microchips today.

And no... I'm not happy that I have to come up with $100 to get everyone chipped with the correct information.  It's another place where it feels like I'm needlessly hemorrhaging money that I don't have but they kind of have me over a barrell.  Now that I know that Home Again is so fee oriented I will specifically request that they not be used on any future pet.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me!

Last year my birthday was miserable.  Definitely the worst birthday ever and probably one of the top 10 worst days of my life.  The whole year actually is something I'd just as soon forget ever happened, but the birthday - it sure did start the year off on a sour note.  On January 13, 2014 I was forced to sell my beautiful dark blue Jeep Grand Cherokee to CarMax for 1/3 less than I'd paid for it at the end of 2012 to cover a couple months of household bills and get out of paying the taxes that were due.  All of my adult life one of the two cars I ever truly wanted was a Jeep Grand Cherokee.  I had it and it was taken away from me.  And all I could do was paste on a fake smile, nod like a bobblehead and go about the day telling the people around me that everything was ok when I was far from ok.

But this year, 2015, is different.  And, while it's just a few days early to match the precise anniversary of my entry into this world, I got to replace that crappy memory with a good one!  I got myself a car.  It's an older Ford Explorer with reasonably low miles on it considering the age.  The body looks good, the engine checked out as mechanically sound and it's had a recent tune-up, new battery, a fresh oil change and has 4 brand new tires.  It also has some fun features like remote start up, a kickin' custom sound system and sunroof. It's not the vehicle I really want, but that will come with time.  And this one will certainly do what I need it do:  get me and 3 big dogs from where we are now to where we need to go.  Check off one of my big goals for the year!

Happy Birthday to me!!

My "new to me" Ford Explorer

Looking at her head on!

What I'm looking at driving her.

What you'll see if you're behind me...

Back row comfortably seats 3, 4 if they're skinny folk.

Cargo space (aka where you'll find the boys hanging out).
The back seats fold down to give them even more room.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Battle of New Hope Church

One of my resolutions for 2015 is to spend more time exploring my local surroundings.  So to start off, I thought I'd back up a few months and show you one I finally got to see last July.  I'd been wanting to go look at the site and the historical markers for a long time, but I was waiting for my self-proclaimed history buff companion to decide he could be bothered.  I gave up on that and went with a visiting friend.

Located where the present day Dallas Acworth Highway intersects E. Paulding Ave (which continues west from there as Old Cartersville Road - have I mentioned lately how confusing I find roads that suddenly change names at a random intersection?) is the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, that of New Hope Church, fought in May 1864.  Yes, the battle was fought in and around this very simple and unpretentious little church!

New Hope Church as it appears today.

One of 12 "Unknown" soldiers buried at the
New Hope Cemetery.
"Unnamed, unknown, remain and still remain the bravest soldiers. Our manliest, our boys, our hardy darlings: no picture gives them. Likely, the typical one of them (standing, no doubt, for hundreds, thousands) crawls aside to some bush-clump or ferny tuft on receiving his death-shot; there, sheltering a little while, soaking roots, grass, and soil with red blood; the battle advances, retreats, flits from the scene, sweeps by; and there, haply with pain and suffering…the last lethargy winds like a serpent round him; the eyes glaze in death;…and there, at last the Bravest Soldier, crumbles in Mother Earth, unburied and unknown."  --  Walt Whitman, Drum Taps 1865
Confederate Cemetery at New Hope Community.
 There’s a cemetery within the cemetery at New Hope Community just outside of Dallas, GA.  It’s a tiny plot with just 13 slightly unkempt graves under a worn Confederate flag.  All but 1 mark the final resting spot of some unknown soldier who paid the ultimate price defending the only life he knew.  History, especially when it involves a conflict, is told (and accepted as true and complete) from the perspective of the winner and these soldiers were on the losing side.  It's easy to overlook them and forget that each was someone’s son… perhaps a brother, husband, father, friend.  Their names and stories are unknown but I'm sure someone's heart hurt when their loved one didn't come home after the war.  And the tragedy of that makes my heart hurt still today.

Another part of the site that I found particularly haunting is the battle trenches just east of the church building.

Confederate dug battle trenches.
A friend with some military history knowledge explained the battle tactics of the time this way.  Because the guns used were neither uniform nor accurate, the soldiers would take aim in groups of 3.  The man in front would lie on his belly, the second man was down on one knee behind him and the third, standing at the back.  All would fire at the same time and then fall to the back of the line to reload.  Picture in your mind's eye that scene happening in a shallow trench like this one!  Fighting in this way increased the odds that one of their combatants would be struck down greatly over having every soldier in one long line.  It's so hard to imagine the brutal conditions of this kind of hand to hand combat.  And it was literally hand to hand...
Front of Sesquicentennial marker.

May of 2014 marked the Sesquicentennial of the Battle of New Hope Church and one of the town’s civic clubs erected a marker honoring the soldiers of the Army of Tennessee, led (I think) by General Hardee. They were the primary Confederate forces trying to block Sherman’s march on Atlanta.  And even though this is counted as Confederate victory, they were outflanked and Union forces advanced on to Kennesaw Mountain (I'll document a visit in another post - it is a better known site maintained by the National Park Service and host to many re-enactments and events).

There are a number of historic markers at this site describing with both text and picture how the troops moved parallel to one another.  You can also get a glimpse of today’s landscape in these pictures and imagine how difficult the journey must have been 150 years ago in dense woods, heat, and humidity.

Markers in the park at the battle site explaining the
logistics and tactics used by the soldiers fighting here.
Visiting these sites that previously were only brief descriptions in a text book sure brings history alive to me in a whole new way.  Those who fought on both sides have my utmost respect!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

That Ye Might Believe

Every now and again, I get called on to teach a class at Church as a substitute for the person who is usually assigned this task.  Today I taught the Gospel Doctrine class as Bro. Moss is out of town on business.  And since the topic, gaining a personal testimony that Jesus is the Christ, ties in so well with my own individual scripture study theme I wanted to share a good portion of the material and points of discussion with you here.

Questions to Ponder:
  • How has the Savior given you light and life?
  • What accounts or teachings from the New Testament have particularly inspired or helped you?
  • What was John’s purpose in writing his testimony?
  • How might studying the New Testament this year help strengthen your testimony of Jesus Christ?
  • How does John 1:10-14 apply to us, even though we were not on the earth during the Savior’s mortal ministry?
Scripture Chain:  Jesus Christ's Foreordained Mission

John 1: 1-5
John 1:9-17
John 1: 1-3, 14 JST
Abraham 3:22-27
Mosiah 3:5-10
Isaiah 61:1-3
Luke 4:16-21

Discussion Highlights:

These scriptures guide us to the foundational knowledge of who Jesus Christ is and His mission in bringing us to eternal life.

The book of John in the New Testament is titled The Gospel According to John.  Sometimes it's called The Testimony of John.  I'm sure I've heard that a few thousand times in my life but this time it struck a chord that if we read it from the perspective of him telling us what he knows to be true of Christ much the same way that folks will get up during our first Sunday of each month Sacrament Meeting and bear their testimony to us.  Often it's inspiring.  We feel the Spirit so strongly as it confirms the truth of their words to us and builds up our own, sometimes faltering, testimonies.  Another testimony that Jesus is the Christ comes from this beautiful and reverently awing hymn text written by Bruce R. McConkie.
I believe in Christ; he is my King!
With all my heart to him I'll sing;
I'll raise my voice in praise and joy,
In grand amens my tongue employ.
I believe in Christ; he is God's Son.
On earth to dwell his soul did come.
He healed the sick; the dead he raised.
Good works were his; his name be praised.
I believe in Christ; oh blessed name!
As Mary's Son he came to reign
'Mid mortal men, his earthly kin,
To save them from the woes of sin.
I believe in Christ, who marked the path,
Who did gain all his Father hath,
Who said to men: "Come, follow me,
That ye, my friends, with God may be."
I believe in Christ--my Lord, my God!
My feet he plants on gospel sod.
I'll worship him with all my might;
He is the source of truth and light.
I believe in Christ; he ransoms me.
From Satan's grasp he sets me free,
And I shall live with joy and love
In his eternal courts above.
I believe in Christ; he stands supreme!
From him I'll gain my fondest dream;
And while I strive through grief and pain,
His voice is heard: "Ye shall obtain."
I believe in Christ; so come what may,
With him I'll stand in that great day
When on this earth he comes again
To rule among the sons of men
I can't read or hear these words without a picture coming to mind of Elder McConkie answering how he would react to meeting the Savior.  He said he would fall on his knees and bathe the Savior's feet with his tears as he begged for mercy.  I've always viewed his understanding of the gospel as vastly superior to my own... and it gives me pause to reflect and consider what my own greeting might be.  And how it might change over the coming year as I study more about Him and come to a fuller healthier relationship with Him and strengthen my own testimony that Jesus is the Christ.

“We need not visit the Holy Land to feel him close to us. We need not walk by the shores of Galilee or among the Judean hills to walk where Jesus walked.
“In a very real sense, all can walk where Jesus walked when, with his words on our lips, his spirit in our hearts, and his teachings in our lives, we journey through mortality.”   Thomas S. Monson, April 1974 Conference Report

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Personal Scripture Study Theme

The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully
and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him
[inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity
and on the authority of God’s word].
Lamentations 3:25 AMP

Notice, if you haven't long before now, that there is
no doorknob... We need to be expectantly waiting for
His knock and trust Him enough to open the door
and let Him into our lives.

Those of you who know me and much about the religious tradition I follow (I am LDS) might raise an eyebrow that I chose a scripture from the Amplified Version of the Bible as my personal study theme for 2015. My Church uses KJV exclusively. But It's a verse that I think is so much better expressed here and I take truth where I find it... the King James Version puts it like this: "The LORD is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him." Good words, but just not as meaty. And I felt the need for a theme I could really sink my teeth into.

Immediately my mind started picking out phrases to analyze and understand.
The Lord is good to those who wait...
...wait hopefully and expectantly for Him
seek Him
inquire of AND for Him (emphasis mine)
require Him by right of necessity
... on the authority of God's word.
The first thing that struck me when I broke it down that way is that the verse is a covenant.  It's one of those two-way promises where we are asked to do something and as we comply, the Lord is bound to give us a specific blessing in return.  His part:  "The Lord is good to those who wait."  Our part:  wait hopefully and expectantly, seek Him, inquire of Him, inquire for Him, require Him.  Bound by: "the authority of God's word."

That's HUGE!  I am in such NEED of blessings in my life... big blessings.  For the Lord to be good to me is something that I'm willing to work pretty darn hard for my part in bringing that about!  So I am on a quest to truly understand my part of this covenant and then do it!!