Pepper, My Four-legged China Doll

Yes, Pepper is the sweet, prissy-walking, submissive dainty one. Children lover her, but the feeling isn’t mutual. When she’s had enough of their petting and picking her up and rough-housing her, she runs and squeezes behind someone sitting on the couch. She’s just not the cute little play toy they think she is.

Behind all that sweetness, though lies a mischievous imp that sneaks pens off the computer desk and chews them up, or jumps on the dining room table, or countertops – – even the kitchen stove looking for something to get into. I think Bella puts her up to it, though to get stuff she can’t reach, like a loaf of bread or left-overs tightly secured in a ziplock bag. I never know what remains I’ll find on the kitchen floor when I go in there.

When we hug Bella, Pepper jumps all over us demanding our undivided attention. She even thinks that because she’s little and cute that she can get by with just about anything, like chewing the corners of my pillows, or my blankets, or anything she wants. And she’s just about right because scolding her is like scolding a tender-hearted bawling two-year-old.

And just when we think she’s potty trained, she’s not. Yesterday it was raining so we didn’t let her out as often as we usually do. When it slacked up a bit my husband let her out but the little snot just wanted back in. So I checked the den where she usually goes when she doesn’t do it outside and sure enough, there were three turds and two puddles of pee.

I love my dogs, but they can be a royal pain at times. I have to remind myself that although they think they’re people, they’re not. They’re dogs. They act like dogs, they smell like dogs, they shed like dogs, they bark like dogs, they dig holes in the yard like dogs, they scout for food like dogs. They are dogs. A lot of work. A lot of trouble. A lot of joy. That’s why we have them, right?

 

 

 

Kites and Balloons . . . Oh to Be a Kid Again

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Free for your own personal use

In case you’re wondering what on earth you can do with my creations, you can use them to make cards, bookmarks, pictures to hang on the wall, scrapbook embellishments, share with your friends . . . the sky’s the limit. Most of all, have fun!

For you digital artists, my kites and balloons all have a transparent background.

KITES

BALLOONS

My Two Wannabe Queens of the House

Smiling, I watched as Pepper ate peacefully from her food bowl this morning, remembering how she had to fight for every morsel a few years ago. She was abandoned with 15 other dogs when we rescued her. She was so starved that for weeks after bringing her home, she ate bugs in the yard when we let her out. I didn’t think she’d ever get meat on her bones.

Bella was skin and bones, too when we rescued her from the dog pound. And she was skittish and cowered in the back of her cage afraid of her new surroundings. We didn’t shut the door during the day so she could go in and out as she pleased till she felt safe with us. Now, the only time she goes in the cage is when we go off or she’s in time out or she thinks Buck and I are fussing when we banter back and forth. As soon as we raise our voices, she gets up, hangs her head and creeps into her cage. It’s funny and sad at the same time. It makes me wonder what happened to her before we rescued her.

Sharing our home with two queens isn’t always easy, especially for me. Buck grew up in a house with four sisters his mother and his grandmother so he knows how the female world works. Me, on the other hand, grew up with four brothers. My sister was practically grown by the time I came along. So, I know how the male kingdom works.

I know they’re animals, but having owned only male dogs throughout our married life, these two queens are definitely different, especially Bella. She and I are both alike: strong-willed, sassy, and difficult to get along with. So, it’s a never-ending battle as we compete for the throne. So far, I’m still the one wearing the crown.

I love my girls and I’m so glad we rescued them and are able to provide a safe haven for them. I fuss and fume when Bella drags a loaf of bread off the table and eats half of it before she’s caught and when Pepper chews the corners of my throw pillows and still pees and poops on the floor. But, they are sweet and truly fill our house with joy.

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Take Up Your Mat and Walk Like a Boss

So, I’m paralyzed. Been this way since the car accident. I can’t walk. I can’t feed myself, bathe myself, even brush my own teeth. And this Man comes to me and asks, “Do you want to get well?”

And with a big, pearly white-toothed smile I say, “No. I’m good. I like people waiting on me hand and foot. I like using my handicap as a crutch. I like not having to do anything, prove anything, take responsibility for anything. I like people coddling me, making excuses for me, doing everything under the sun for me.

Of course, this ridiculous scenario is just fiction. I’m physically healthy. I can clean my own house, pull weeds from my flowerbeds, even walk around the block a few times.

But the man Jesus approached at the healing pool had been an invalid for thirty-eight years, and Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6) 

Why would Jesus ask such a question? Why would He even think that the man wouldn’t want to be healed? He was at the healing pool, wasn’t he?

As a snotty-nosed kid, and seeing the world through my over-sized rose-tinted glasses, I often wondered about that scripture. Then, when I grew up and those glasses got punched off my face, I saw the world and the people in it differently. I even saw myself differently.

Reality stinks. It rattles our brain and makes us see things about ourselves and others that we’d rather not. Don’t open my eyes, and I won’t have to see how many people use their long-time physical and emotional handicaps to bully and control others. Stick in a pair of earplugs and I won’t have to hear their never-ending moans and groans.

It’s funny how conversations often become a contest of who had the most surgeries or take the most pills or has the worst ailments or suffers the most pain.

Why do people do that?

As kids growing up, my brother and I had rheumatic fever, but Kenny’s was more severe than mine. He was sickly all the time, in and out of the hospital and pumped full of penicillin at the least sign of a cold. He cried a lot. Was coddled and babied a lot. And I felt ignored a lot.

Then, when I was in the third grade, I got deathly sick every day after lunch and laid my head on my desk trying not to throw up all over the floor. Finally, mom and daddy took me to the doctor to discover I had walking pneumonia.

Finally! I was one up on my brother and rubbed it in his face, boasting that I was the sickest, now, and it’s my turn to get all the attention!

But, Kenny wasn’t having it and argued that he was still the sickest. After dragging mom into it, she finally ended the contest by calling it a tie. We were both equally sick.

For many years I expected people to treat me with kid gloves because of my out-of-whack emotional disorders. I relied on others to do things for me that I was afraid of doing myself. I relied on my loved ones to protect and defend me, to be there for me, to boost my confidence, to validate and make excuses for me. And the more I relied on others, the more dependent I became.

Then, hearing my desperate cries at the healing pool one day, Jesus knelt beside me and whispered, “Do you want to get well?”

When the prison doors swung open, I just stood there gazing wide-eyed into the vastness of freedom. It was scary out there without my crutches —- those emotional handicaps I so desperately clung to for so long. The smell of freedom was alluring and sweet, but stepping into it was like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute.

I still rely on the love and support of my family, but I don’t expect them to sit and hold my hand twenty-four hours a day, not that I ever did. I don’t expect them to make up for everything I lost throughout my life. I don’t expect them to coddle and pamper me and agree with every single thing I do or say.

Just as God has set me free, I set others free. I know what it’s like to be bullied by someone else’s handicaps, and I’d rather cry alone in the coldest, darkest cave than to ever do that to the ones I love.

Freedom always comes at a cost, especially if you’ve been enslaved for a long, long time. In order to gain one thing you have to let go of another and another and another, whatever tattered rag you’re clinging to because it feels reliable and safe.

And as crazy as it seems, many people would rather lie around sucking on their emotional pacifiers than get off their pity pot and walk.

I don’t want to be one of those people. I want to get well. I want to be what I was created to be. I want to take up my mat and walk like a boss!

When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, He asked him, “Do you want to get well?” John 5:6

Till Death Do Us Part . . .

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Demon from hell, I don’t like you.

You make me sick.

You’ve robbed my strength.

My eyesight.

My hearing.

You’ve knocked out my teeth.

You pulled out my red hair and planted a cotton field.

With your slimy, drooling lips you’ve sucked my skin dry and turned it into a shriveled prune.

Piece by piece you chip away my brain, making me confused. Making me forget stuff.

And what did you do to my hands? I can’t even open my prescription bottles! And they hurt like hell.

And my legs! Look at them!!! You stuffed them full of lumpy dough boys and made them turn to rubber. They can barely lift me up a flight of stairs. They used to be my best friends. Now, we can’t stand the sight of each other.

My mother warned me about you. But I didn’t listen. I thought I could out-run you. Out smart you.

But, here you are, demon from hell, laughing and sneering in my face. Just like you did my mother’s and my dad’s and every person you finally killed.

Well, hear this, demon from hell. You can destroy my mind. You can ravage my body. But you can’t touch my soul! It belongs to Jesus. Remember Him? The One you thought you killed on the cross? The One who rose from the dead? The One who smashed your head to smithereens?

Yeah. Him.

So when you’re done playing around with me and thrust your bloody sword deep into my heart, don’t stand laughing beside my grave because my life in heaven has only just begun.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

 

 

 

Why? Because . . .

My sister-in-law and I laughed until we cried when she told me of the time she had to write a paper on “why?” for a course she was taking. When each student had finished their scenario, they could leave.

A few moments later, she slid out of her chair, turned in her paper, and strutted out the door.

In two lines, she wrote:
Why?
Because . . .

And she got an A!

If only the answers to all our whys were so simple.

And funny!

Sadly, though, they’re not.

Like when we moved into the house we live in now, why did I sit on the floor balling my eyes out? Why did I get so enraged and physically ill when the neighbor’s dog kept me awake barking all night? Why did my insides explode at the sound of loud music, dirt bikes, and ATV’s racing through the neighborhood? Why did I feel so exposed and afraid, like I was living in a house without walls? Why did I want to move every waking moment of every day?

Why?

Why did I cry every day to and from my new job and could’t sleep a wink night after night till I finally quit and took a job working at home?

Why?

Why did the empty nest syndrome suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks although my son had already left home and been married for several years? Why did I wear his old, thread bare shirts he left behind for weeks on end?

Why?

Why did I always feel like a legion of spoiled brats were kicking and screaming inside me and I couldn’t hear myself think or figure out which voice was mine? Why did I cry all the time? Why did I feel like I was on a never-ending ferris wheel of high’s and low’s? Why did my heart feel like it was being slaughtered with a chainsaw?

Why?

Why did I burn with uncontrollable rage? Why did I want to punch the world in it’s hideous, grimacing face?

Because . . .
My brain is twisted, like looking through a distorted mirror in a fun house minus the fun. And when your brain is twisted, you see things that aren’t there. You hear things no one said. You feel things that don’t even make sense to you or anyone else.

And it’s a living hell.

If I could unzip my skin and expose my soul you’d see the bloody bandages of self-destruction scattered around, and the walls and barbed-wire fences I built. You’d see the blood, sweat, and tears of trying to fit in, to belong, to understand what I did so wrong that the whole world turned against me. Then, you will only see a glimpse of the pain I’ve endured before I even started first grade.

Although I’ve been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, it doesn’t make it any better. It’s a bit comforting knowing there’s a name for it, but  medication is expensive and often makes my symptoms worse instead of better. And sometimes if the medication works, I can’t tolerate the side-effects. Counseling in the past helped tremendously, but nothing of late helps me at all. However, I have an appointment with a new doctor who specializes in BPD.

Maybe help is on the way.

Time will tell.

My weaknesses have made me strong . . . even tough. “Badass mama” my son jokingly calls me. Though it took nearly a lifetime, I’ve finally embraced my God-given Choleric/Melancholy temperament and stopped pretending to be the gentle, easy-going Phlegmatic like my brother and like my mother tried forcing me to be.

It’s been a long, tough battle I fear I will never win on this earth. But, through it all, I’ve learned to laugh at myself . . . one of my many coping mechanisms. Even after slamming the door and bawling my eyes out for however long it takes for me to become human again, I can laugh.

Eventually.

Well, after a day or two.

Okay, at least in the same year!

Why?
Because . . .

Oh, No! It’s That Time Again!

When I had my first colonoscopy more than eight years ago, I wasn’t surprised when the doctor came to my room and said he couldn’t even begin the procedure because of  a blockage.

I had been sick off and on for months; doubled over with pain and waking up in the middle of the night sick and throwing up and shaking like an earthquake. But, it wasn’t until I saw the blood that I was convinced something was really wrong and finally went to the doctor.

I am a cancer survivor of eight years, now. Thankfully, I didn’t have to do radiation or chemo of any kind. After seeing what that poison did to my sister, I wasn’t sure I would even consent to it. I’m just happy I didn’t have to decide one way or the other.

However, it was a totally different story for my husband, Buck. He was 68 and had never had a colonoscopy. He wasn’t having any problems, but since he was long over due, I convinced him to talk to the doctor and have him set up an appointment for one.

After the procedure, the doctor’s news couldn’t have been more alarming if he had delivered it wearing a black hooded cape and holding a scythe.

I couldn’t believe it! You’re supposed to have symptoms of colon cancer, right? You’re supposed to be sick and throwing up and hemorrhaging, right? This was just a routine check up. He wasn’t supposed to have cancer!

There were polyps. Lots and lots of polyps and several cancerous tumors. The worse the news got the more I wanted to cover my ears and run out the door screaming, “NO! I don’t want to hear it! He’s not gonna die! God, please don’t let him die!”

The doctor removed four feet of his colon, leaving him with only a foot, which was great news considering that the plan was to remove all of it and insert a colostomy bag. But, we were willing to live with whatever it took for him to survive.

Amazingly, twenty pounds of his infected colon was removed and he didn’t have to take one drop of chemo or radiation.

Last week, Buck was put on the survivor’s list at the VA hospital. YAY!

We are both 73. We are both colon cancer survivors. We are both grateful to God and colonoscopies for saving our lives.

Looking at the bright side of colonoscopies, I’ve posted a few humorous memes. But, all jokes aside, get that colonoscopy. It could save your life!

By the way, I have an appointment this week. March 11th, 2020 at 2:30 pm. That means, tomorrow I get to break in my brand new toilet.

 

 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Renovation still in progress

Hubby and I worked our butts off yesterday finishing the master bath. He went to bed at four this morning and I went to bed at six. Crazy, I know. But we got it done without killing each other . . . our tortured bodies are doing it for us.

Call our method slap-hazard, poor planning, totally disorganized and I will have to agree with you. Wholeheartedly. Right now I would win the Nobel Prize for worst house keeper of the year. The dogs are confused, I’ve done lost my mind, and hubby’s ready to leave me for the beach. Where he can sit and fish all day. In peace and quiet. Without a dragon lady breathing fire down his back every second.

It’s been tough on us both. My crack-the-whip, get-er-done temperament clashes with his laid back-what’s-the-rush temperament. He likes procrastinating. I like getting things done. NOW!

So our worlds clash.

No. They collide. They blow up and disintegrate.

I think he’s from Mars. He wishes I’d go there.

He thinks we’re going to live forever. I think we could drop dead any minute.

Seriously. This renovation has brought the devil out in both of us. If we didn’t have a solid forty-seven-year, happy relationship it would be ending in divorce.

Thank goodness, we only have one more room to go, and we’re finished. But, first, we are going to clean up the messes we made and create some sense of order before we tackle that room. The beginning of next month is the plan. In the year 2020. Not 2021. Not 2022. But 2020.

You got that hubby?

Here are some before and after photos of the bathroom we just completed along with the messes we have yet to clean up. Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride . . .

 

Why I Don’t Like Bradford Pear Trees

Bradford’s in all their glory.

We thought it would be cool to line both sides of our driveway with Bradford Pears. They’re beautiful, right? And fast growing and create lots of shade, too.

When we moved here thirty-plus years ago, it was a fairly new development. Farm land, to be exact. Hilly and treeless except for a few cedar trees the developer didn’t bulldoze down. Oh, and several Honey Locust trees with long, sharp thorns. Messy, too. Every time the wind blows, limbs fall all over the ground. But they bloom in the spring and create some shade, so we like them okay. We just have to be careful when we prune them. Those stickers hurt!

But the Bradford is a real beauty and laden with white flowers like cotton balls in the early spring. One of the first to sprout new leaves and one of the last to lose them. Perfect for any yard.

Until rain turns to ice.

Now, we want to have them all cut down, but that will cost a small fortune. No worries, though. From the looks of things, we can just wait and let nature take them down for free.

We’ve planted many trees in the yard over the years: Pin Oaks, Maples, Hybrid Poplars (big mistake. The Poplars grow fast but die young), but the Crepe Myrtles are my favorite. They’re not messy, their leaves are small, they’re easy to prune, and they bloom from early summer to late fall. Very friendly trees. Beautiful, too.

Digital Art: From Reality to Make Believe

Our plan today is to get the second bathroom finished. That was our plan yesterday. And the day before. But, today we really are going to get the new floor installed. However, hubby did install the new drop in sink and faucets yesterday. Yay!

Today, we have to take out the really old, really low toilet and install the new one after laying the vinyl plank flooring and quarter round. It’s just a small job. We should be done before sundown. But, with this whole renovation thing those small jobs have been more like trying to build a city in one day. So rather than sit and cry, which doesn’t do a bit of good, I create. And dream. And hope for the day when we are finally finished rebuilding our house.

In the meantime, here is a before and after photo of our back yard. The before is what it really is. The after is just a dream.

Digital Photo Painting

Using Paint Shop Pro 2019, I turn ordinary photos into works of art. I also create picture tubes, bookmarks, Facebook Covers, cards, tags, and more. I don't sell my art, therefore, all my creations are free for your own personal use.

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