Category Archives: Colorado

An update on Jerry the Amish cowboy

Wesley at age 5.5, reunited with Amish cowboy, Jerry

My two long-time readers may perhaps remember a sort-of series I did, sparked by a young man named Jerry, an ex-Amish cowboy for whom my youngest son fell hard.  Our family met Jerry in the heart of western Colorado, at the Circle K Ranch, which is blessed with one of the most gorgeous settings known to mankind, along the lush and bird-filled banks of the Dolores River.  Jerry is the oldest of eight children and was 17 when we met him;  I’m sure he likely had a younger brother Wesley’s age, at home in Wisconsin.  He gladly gave Wesley time and attention, playing Uno (which Jerry pronounced “You-no”) with Wesley’s made-up rules, and giving Wes a spot on the couch next to him, watching rodeo events on TV during the rainy afternoons.

Wesley is now almost eleven years old, and is still very careful about sharing relationship with anyone;  it takes a special person to really capture his admiration.

The fact that Jerry hadn’t received anything past an eighth grade education also weighed in my heart, prompting a number of thoughts on the subject of the value of education, and… non-traditional ways of approaching life that might be, in the end, much more balanced and healthy.  (One of my first blogs ever was on the subject, here, on July 14, 2006.  I continued the thought about a week later…  I’m kind of embarrassed about my writing style, but the thoughts remain relevant.)

Six years later, those topics are still very close to my heart:  Living close to nature, pursuing a life that’s a good fit for one’s personality, the value of education… and even Jerry himself meanders through my memories quite frequently.  In 2006, very shortly after I met Jerry, I read a book called Last Child in the Woods.  And guess what?  I’m re-reading that right now.

Yesterday, on Facebook, my cousin posted a link to a gorgeous black & white photo essay published in an English newspaper.  It reminded me, yet again, of Jerry.

I decided, on a long shot, to e-mail the good folk at Circle K, to see if they ever hear from Jerry.

To my delight, I received this quick response:

Yes, I remember your family and the fact that your son was praying for
Jerry. :-)
He is working for a horse trainer in Grand Junction Co. We hear from him
every now and then. He loves the work he is doing. If I speak to him, I'll
let him know that you were asking about him.

Wesley is already making plans to visit Grand Junction.

We don’t even know Jerry’s last name!

But, I won’t discourage Wesley’s hopes.

And I’m almost giddy that Jerry is still a cowboy.

Respite from the heat…

There were no vehicle breakdowns, no relationship troubles (spouse or child), no scheduling snafus, the weather was beautiful, the locations magnificent… even our dog did well.  It was, my dear hubby and I agree, the best vacation we’ve ever had as a family.  🙂

We went:  First to visit my husband’s brother in Pagosa Springs.  Then, to a USFS cabin north of North Fork.  Then, to a VRBO rental just outside of Dolores, into whose 400 s.f. the owner graciously let us cram our seven bodies.

It’s just hard coming back to 110° in the desert.  Oh.  And, I broke my camera.  By sitting on it.  While trying to restrain my 20-month-old from giddily flinging herself into the rushing Piedra River.  (Toddlers:  Gusto without wisdom.)  So, 3/4 of my pictures were taken without a viewer:  I cracked the LCD screen, and there is no manual viewfinder on my camera.  I thought, “I’ll blindly snap away, and hope I can crop some fairly decent pics from them.”  Well, 90% of the “blind” pictures are still wonderful, which is humbling, as apparently, my skill in picture-taking is really the “skill” of the camera.  Or something.

The pictures for most splendid and picturesque part of our journey —  the Dunton Road, which takes one along the West Dolores River, and over 10,000 feet in elevation to the foot of the Lizard Head Wilderness, with magnificent views of the backside of the mountains of Telluride — were taken with my decrepit mobile phone, as I forgot my camera.  Ugh.

I’m sure I’ll be posting more, but here are a few pics for now:

I never tire of the amazing scenery of the US 160, which passes through the Navajo Reservation and Monument Valley

Baby Rocks, or, as we call them, "Cheeto Rocks"

My dear husband and our baby Fiala, near the Piedra River trailhead

Audrey discovers that Uncle Adam will more willingly offer his shoulders than Daddy, thereby Adam won her love and trust forever.

While the boys went shooting, the girls and I played in Mill Creek, south of Pagosa. I made a daisy chain, modeled here by Audrey.

Fi, toodling around in the front yard of the Alder Creek Guard Station

Ethan, Audrey, and me on the Alder Bench Trail, which we made 80% of, until small feet gave out.

Wesley, Grant, and Ethan, along a pristine creek (East Fork Creek, I think, which pours into Middle Alder Creek), exactly 7 miles north of the Alder Guard Station on the Forest Road 610, which was a HARROWING drive

During the trip, we saw three beavers, a cow elk, several deer (including the tiniest fawn ever seen by my husband or me), I identified three new birds for my list (with very little actual birding time), we absolutely SOAKED in the Spirit during the after-service worship-and-ministry time at my brother-in-law’s church… we discovered that Fiala would very happily live in any body of water, and that 4yo Audrey is now a nearly-perfect little traveler; she must be made to live outdoors.  Grant is still the best hiker of the bunch.  We picked out a campground for a future visit (Mavreeso Campground, along the West Dolores River– site 6).  We successfully made a number of hikes and excursions, though none to the numerous National Parks and Monuments in the area.

And… though we purposed to take no calls while on vacation, we did make a few exceptions, and gained the very exciting news that there is a publisher VERY interested in the book I ghost-wrote.  They said they’d give a reply (to query letter & first chapter) in 4-6 weeks.  It took 10 days.  Then, they asked for the whole manuscript, and upon receipt, called back in 24 hours to say they want to talk more.  🙂  It’s the publisher that was at the very top of our list of preference, and that is very encouraging, though absolutely nothing is for certain yet.

So.  I hope y’all will forgive my absence.  Before I left, my friend Kathy encouraged me to, “Soak up every delightful moment, and let Jesus minister to your every molecule.”  That’s what happened.  It was lovely.  Bless God and the restorative properties of His creation.

Family, baseball, book-writing, and God’s provision

  • Taking Fiala off of potatoes was so beneficial, I hopefully thought, “Maybe what I thought was a corn reaction was really potato!  Maybe she can really have corn!”  So, last week, I tried her on corn for three days.  That was dumb.  Ever since, she has been SO itchy, poor girl.  New lesions developed on her face, which she then scratched into oblivion, and are now infected.  So, for the third time in less than six months, she’s back on antibiotics (Septra), as I wasn’t able to contain/control/heal the infection with topical bacitracin.  😦  Bummer.  But, at least we know how to treat it, and at least I know now for SURE that corn is totally off-limits.  Every couple of months, I try it, and I’m just not going to do that again, for a very long while.  Though it would be so handy if she could eat corn, it’s just not worth it.
  • Ethan’s Little League team lost in a very close game last night, their first loss of the end-of-year tournament.  The final score was 3-2.  It’s a double-elimination tourney, so they have at least one more game.  If they win tonight’s game — and they should! —  they will play again on Friday.  If they win THAT game, they will play again on Saturday for the championship, because the team they will potentially meet on Friday (which is the team to which they lost, last night) is undefeated.  (Double-elim tourneys are confusing, but I think I finally have it figured out!!!)
  • Our dog, Tally, is recovering SO WELL from this most recent bout with Valley Fever.  She is still on twice-daily fluconazole, but it is so encouraging to see her have her energy back, and she’s building muscle tone by eating extra food and zipping about the back yard.
  • I’m in my final hours of ghost-writing the book I’ve been working on since February.  Even though it seems like there has been continually “one more thing!” there really is light at the end of the tunnel now.  Even though I have very much enjoyed work on it, I’m ready to be DONE with it.  I hoped to be done yesterday.  Then today…  Nope.  Still need work, probably 2-4 hours on both tomorrow and Friday.
  • God provides.  A few weeks ago, after assessing the girls’ summer wardrobes, and finding both paltry, and being in greater need than what we have the budget for, I prayed that God would provide.  Within a couple of days, I got a phone call, “What sizes do your girls wear?  I have a bunch of clothes, size 18 months through 4T…”  Which is exactly what we needed.  Thank you, Jesus.  Another mom tentatively approached me at church on Sunday about some hand-me-downs for my 8yo son, as well.  She kind of danced around the topic, and when I finally figured out that she was trying not to OFFEND me by offering me second-hand clothes, I told her gushingly that I LOVE hand-me-downs, and was very thankful, and completely NOT offended.  🙂
  • My husband’s brother, after not living on his own — EVER — for his first 40 years of life, moved to Colorado a couple years ago, and all but disappeared.  But, after leaving a message for him at his church last week, we finally were able to get a hold of him, and are delighted that we will be able to see him later this summer during our family’s vacation.

Baseball woes, family sadness and joy, donuts, and Colorado

  • Dear Diamondbacks bullpen/closer(s):  You’re breaking my heart.  Or making me mad.  Or making me tempted to be resigned to a really milquetoast season.  Or something.  Still, I watch, sort of like how I am compelled to crane my neck at the results of a car crash.
  • Sad/happy:  Seeing the family of the church step in to at least partially fill in the gaps when a real family disappoints.  (Not my own family;  I’m observing this in the life of a friend.)
  • FABULOUS NEWS:  My sister, who is 31 weeks pregnant, has a serious genetic condition called Marfan Syndrome (that’s not the “good news” part), which can adversely effect the aorta.  A normal aortic root is 2.5 cm diameter.  Due to danger of aortic dissection, mandatory c-section threshold for Marfan patients:  4.0 cm.  Robin’s:  3.2 cm.  NO c-section.  The only “bummer” is that with a scheduled c-section, we’d be able to plan my trip out to be there for the birth with advance notice.  However, the importance of her not having a c-section is much greater than my “need” to be able to plan in advance.  Still, I don’t want to miss the birth.  And, by the way, she finally was able to get some real prenatal care, bless God!  (Kind of a long story, but she’s high risk, so needed an OB, but does not have the $6-8K that all of the doctors required in advance for patients paying cash, yet she makes too much money to qualify for low-income/free health care.  However, as if hearing her plea, just about 6 weeks ago, Texas A&M decided to open up a sliding-scale medical clinic in Austin, and it’s a perfect fit for her needs.)
  • I need to write up my real review of how-could-you-not-love-them Kinnikinnick donuts.  The fact that the company sent me four boxes, for free, is weighing heavy on my conscience, when I have not yet repaid them with a review.  Ack.
  • *FINALLY* got our reservations made for our trip to Colorado.  While we let things pend for a week and a half, a number of people swooped in and reserved “our” time at the cabin-of-choice, so now we’re stuck with plan B.  Oh, well.  Still, it’ll be good.  And we DO get some nights at “our” cabin, just not the solid week or so that we’d been planning on.  So, it’ll be three nights here, then three nights there, then back to the first spot for a couple more nights.   It’s not really a trip whose main purpose is to visit family, but we’re hoping to be able to coordinate time with various family members around the lovely state of Colorado…

Vacation planning!

How I love to plan family trips.  I love finding just the right spot to accommodate our family’s desires and needs, and I can instantly imagine how greatly everyone will love our time there.  I love all the preparation that goes into making a memorable trip.

One thing, though, that I DON’T like, is feeling pressured because of time.  Ugh.  I hate doing things last-minute.  I wish I could say that I delighted in being a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of gal, but I’m not.  Especially now, as we have five children, and a multitude of various health and/or dietary needs and restrictions, we can’t just hit the road on a wing and a prayer.  Well, we do hit the road with a prayer.


My husband, though, is not such the planner.  It stresses him out thinking too far out in advance, because then he has all these future plans in his head, jostling for attention and priority.  He’d rather have a one-thing-at-a-time kind of pace to life.  I appreciate that most of the time;  I love having a low-pressure kind of life.  However, when most of our trips involve camping or low-cost US Forest Service cabins, and most everyone does their planning for the summer in January or February (if not before), when we get to the spot in time where my hubby feels comfortable making plans and committing to them, the places where we’d like to go and/or the dates that we’d prefer to travel, are consistently all taken.  Ugh.

This year, I approached him with my top two locales:

  1. Yellowstone
  2. The California coast — the Big Sur area or further north

His preference was:

  1. Colorado

Now, I have absolutely nothing against Colorado.  I love it there.  However, we went in ’06 and ’07, and I like going to new places.  It seems to me like it’s not Colorado’s turn.

However, he really didn’t want to go to Yellowstone — too far.  He politely listened to my descriptions of various central-to-northern California locations, and it looked like that would be our likely destination.  However, we were stuck with mid-September, if we wanted to go anywhere and be able to have a reservation.  There are a number of campgrounds in the Big Sur area, and one MIGHT be able to arrive on a Sunday or Monday and have a fair shot at a place to stay.  However, it makes me nervous to think about having to FIND a spot after a long day’s travel with five kids in the back of the vehicle, and either not finding a camping spot, or having it be really not ideal, but then being stuck there, because who wants to set up camp in one location, then change locations the next day?  Not my hubby, and I don’t blame him;  it’s quite a fiasco.

Plus, my REAL desire is to go to Limekiln State Park, which I fell in love with four or five years ago (via online information — not real life;  I’ve never been there).  You camp right alongside a creek, surrounded by redwoods.  The trailhead to a family-friendly hike is on site.  It’s smaller and more “primitive” than many campgrounds in the area, which suits us just fine.  And, it is just a few hundred feet (UNDER the Pacific Coast Hwy) from its own private cove.  PERFECT.

The camping spots are "behind" the trees, out of view in this shot.

To a desert-dweller, all the shade looks positively juicy

I can see MY family on this bridge!!

However, a portion of the campground burnt in late 2008, and the park was closed.  It’s still not re-opened.

In a way, I feel like any place we stay in lieu of Limekiln State Park is second-best, even though there are quite a number of fabulous alternate locations.  Know what I mean?  My heart is set.

So, when it looked like the California idea was not going to pan out, I decided to look into Colorado.  I had the idea that, if we go to Colorado this year, perhaps my hubby may agree to go to California next year, and agree to me reserving a spot in January or February (as most places will accept reservations up to six months in advance).  That way, we could get the location and the dates that we really want.  And, I hope Limekiln is open by then;  I’ve left a message on the number provided by the state’s official Limekiln State Park page, asking about re-opening dates.

My husband’s brother, Adam, (who has, in two separate stints, lived with us for a total of about a year and a half) lives in Pagosa Springs.  His half-brother lives in Denver.  My uncle and his family live in Colorado Springs.  So, I figured if I could find a spot to the northeast of Pagosa, we could easily spend time with Adam, and take day trips (or perhaps overnight trips) to see our other family members, as well.


I’m not telling you yet where it is — both for privacy purposes, and because we’ve not yet booked our dates, but… drink in this little cottage:

For $50/night (the same price as a creekside camping spot in Pfeiffer Big Sur State park), this sweet cabin sleeps seven, was built in 1910, recently updated bathroom and kitchen, has hot and cold running water, electricity (with a fridge in the kitchen, no less!), beautiful hardwood floors, a wood-burning stove, it’s at 8400′ elevation, has a fishable creek on the property, and is off the beaten path, in the National Forest.

I sent pics to my hubby, and told him about it, and he said, “NOW you’re speaking my language!!”  Precious man.  I really want to go to the ocean, but I want him to greatly enjoy our trip, too!!  And, I think that going to Colorado this year, but planning for California next year, is a good compromise.  And, actually, having such an ideal spot doesn’t feel like a compromise, though, since I haven’t been there in eight years, I do still hear the ocean calling…

My (in retrospect, very short) love for R.E.M.

(Un)relaxed Dad wrote a post a couple of days ago about his early love for U2 & R.E.M., and a very scary-sounding concert that had both of them playing together in 1985.  As a gross generalization, English folk, to me, seem to be a weird contrast of the absolutely reserved and the absolutely manic/insane.  Anyways, the whole post got me thinking about R.E.M., and the music I liked when I was in high school (and beyond).  It made for some great recollections, as I folded laundry last night.

I don’t really like R.E.M. now.  I mean, I can stand them, and I’ll always find their music compelling on some level, but rather like (u)rd mentioned about U2 becoming self-important and pompous, well, the same thing happened, in my mind, with R.E.M., in the early 1990’s, and that ended the love affair for me.  Well, that’s not quite true.  It was their becoming mainstream that turned me off, then everything that followed was a confirmation to me that R.E.M. wasn’t, anymore, quite what they were, quite what had drawn me to them in the first place.

I can’t claim to be one of their earliest fans;  my acquaintance with R.E.M. started with the album Eponymous.  It was 1988 and I was 15.  For the life of me, I can’t remember how I came by it.  I had it on tape…  I think I might have picked it up at Zia, which was a new/used music shop that I got most of my music from.  Thinking hard about this time in my life, I think maybe my cousin Heather introduced me to R.E.M. (along with Ten Thousand Maniacs, Sinead O’Connor, and other little-known musicians of the time).  This would have been on one of the family trips to Illinois, where Heather, two years older than me, lived with her parents…  I must have been 13 or 14.

Anyhow, some way or another, and for some reason or another, I procured Eponymous, and fell hard in love.  Every song was fantastic.  It seemed to me to be “music for music’s sake,” and not like the band was trying to say anything profound.  It was like they caught a snippet of a lyric and built a song around it, and whether or not the lyric made sense to anyone other than themselves seemed an afterthought.  For some reason, I really liked that.  Really liked it.  Maybe that’s because so many people around me at the time were absolutely obsessing over the Deeper Meaning of songs, and R.E.M. was totally antithetical to that.  To me, their songs were nearly all meaningless, just a collection of beat and melody and harmony and poetry, and that was perfect.  Maybe they were trying to say something, but it was too deep and/or obscure, or I was to immature to pick up on it, or something…  But almost all of their lyrics just seemed random to me, and I was completely OK with that.

Later that year, in 1988, Green came out.  My favorite song from that album remains Orange Crush, which I still think is one of the best pop/rock songs of all time.  Stand became a huge hit for them from that disc, but I didn’t like it nearly as much.

Then, I started going backwards through their repertoire, buying Lifes Rich Pageant and Fables of the ReconstructionFables is probably my favorite complete disc of R.E.M.’s…  well, favorite of the ones with which I am familiar;  admittedly, I haven’t heard all of them.

In 1991, I graduated from high school, the spring of which R.E.M. released Out of Time.  Weeks after graduation, I attended a Christian leadership/worldview camp in Manitou Springs, Colorado, which was a great experience.  Something happened there, though, that burst my R.E.M. bubble.  There were all sorts of people at the camp, which wasn’t really a camp at all;  it was held in a historic hotel that had been converted to house and educate a couple hundred teens at a time.  Still is held there, in fact.  I hadn’t yet purchased Out of Time.  But, for some reason (or maybe the particular reasons of the hits Losing my Religion and Shiny, Happy People) that disc was THE music that everyone was listening to.  After my whole teenhood of being virtually alone in “my” music — it just wasn’t shared by any of my friends…  I didn’t like any of my music JUST to be original, but I liked the fact that what appealed to me only appealed to a very small subset of people my age.  I liked to be unique.  So, I found it very disconcerting to me to have… well, tens of people going around singing R.E.M. songs, including sorority types — the sort of popular, painted, blonde girls who, a year previous, would have ridiculed me for liking R.E.M…. and now, here they were, singing it with gusto.

Of course, that wasn’t purely the band’s fault;  I don’t know if they crafted Out of Time to be more accessible, trying to garner a wider audience.  But, after those couple of weeks at The Summit, the band lost its sheen for me.

And, afterwards, it seemed like Michael Stipe and co. were doing their best to be “responsible” with their world stage, becoming extremely political and outspoken and inflatedly self-important.  I couldn’t hang with that.

Looking over the track list from Out of Time, I know all the songs.  I don’t think I ever owned it, though.  I probably borrowed it, and probably from John.

I haven’t bought an R.E.M. disc since.

Yet another allergen identified in Wesley. Bummer.

God.  He’s so funny.

I’m not cursing here, I’m literally talking about God’s sense of humor, which, at times, seems extremely ironic.

Martin came to me last night and said, “Holy revelations, Batman!”  And I said, “Kapow!  What is it?”  His eyes wide, he said, “Wes’ asthma.  Christmas tree.”

It sunk in in about 0.000002 seconds.  Of course.

On top of my illness (which is on day #10 now), and Audrey’s month-long diarrhea (which I think is related to the amaranth flour in the 2 billion cookies I baked this month), Wesley has been having daily asthma attacks since early December.  Since discovering that dairy was at the heart of his severe asthma last March, and we went dairy/casein-free, it had literally been months since we’d used his SVN/nebulizer/breathing machine.  But for the last month or so, it’s back up to 1-3 times a day.  I can remember that the night we brought the tree home, we had to give him a breathing treatment.  However, we’d been out in the chilly, rainy night, and we thought that was the culprit.  I guess not.

On top of the Christmas tree connection, Wesley has really struggled to breathe in our family’s last two trips to Colorado — the pine-filled, lovely Colorado.

I’ve done a little looking online, and it turns out that there’s even been documented, published medical studies of the increased incidence of asthma in pine sawmill workers.  Since pine pollen is fairly large and coated with a waxy substance, the pollen isn’t usually the culprit.  It’s the chemical outgassing of pine turpenes — chemicals that make that lovely piney smell.  Pine turpenes are also a known trigger for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) symptoms.  Wes doesn’t have MCS, but obviously, other people have had documented difficulty with pine turpenes.

The reason this is so funny/not-funny to me is that I’ve sworn for years that I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever get a fake Christmas tree.  I adore the whole process of shopping for a tree, struggling to get it straight in the stand, and the pungent pine scent which fills the home for weeks.  I even like the pine tar stains on our leather work gloves, and vacuuming up pine needles for weeks after the tree is gone.  The Christmas tree — REAL Christmas trees — are just such a wonderful part of our Christmas traditions, and I cannot fathom having a fake tree in our home.  I think I need to repent of thinking less of any family who has a fake tree.  (Humbled, yet again.)

But, as both Wes and Grant were weeping over not having a real tree (they heard me talking about it on the phone with Martin this morning), I had to explain that Wesley’s ability to breathe trumps having a real tree, and that is that, unless we hop him up on Benadryl all December or something, which I am loathe to do. 

So, right now, at the curb of our home, is this year’s Christmas tree, awaiting our city’s free pickup service.  Perhaps (sigh), it’s our last real tree.  Although this page suggests that a person allergic to spruce may not be allergic to fir;  IOW, evergreen tree allergies can be very specific.  So, I guess we have 11 months or so to determine what to do.

The Diamondbacks in the NLCS series

This topic is not a cheery one in our home right now, since the Diamondbacks are down 0-3 in this series.  One more loss and we’re OUT, which to me, is unfathomable.  Their offense is very nearly absent.  Very sad, but hope is not entirely gone.

My current favorite player, Micah Owings, is scheduled to pitch in tonight’s game.  With his hot bat and solid pitching, I’m hoping that it’ll result in a win that will provide the spark for the D’backs to stage an incredible comeback.

In the meanwhile, I am completely avoiding my Uncle Steve’s blog.  Steve is in Colorado, and, of course, a Rockies fan.

Our time at the Dolores River, Circle K Ranch, Colorado

Though we are not the dude ranch type of folks, we found ourselves at what really amounts to a dude ranch, in southwest Colorado, at a place called Circle K Ranch.  It was our second stay there.  The first was last year, squished into a small hotel room.  This year, we were slightly less-squished into a one bedroom cabin.

The Dolores to the southThe Dolores to the southThe Dolores to the SouthIt’s the setting that most drew us there, and most called us back.  It’s right on the banks of the fairly wide, shallow, scenic Dolores River.  Circle K features things like trail rides, flyfishing guides, and guided hunts.  We didn’t participate in any of that, cheapskates that we are.  I think a trailride on a horse would be nice;  when I have a child that could come with me that would really appreciate the experience, I may do just that.  As it was, we spent our three nights there simply fishing, birding, playing baseball, taking walks, picking flowers, splashing in the river, feeding the horses handfuls of grass, and hanging out at the lodge, sipping hot chocolate and hot tea.  We’re not the kinds that need lots of excitement to be happy;  we felt it a very full experience.

Myself, Audrey & Wesley:
DSC04828.jpg picture by Karen-Joy 

DSC04833.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

Martin & Wesley:
DSC04816.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

My hubby really enjoys fishing, though his skills (or luck?) are few; the only fish he caught our whole trip, he threw back because it was small.  Still, though, he looks like a fisherman, eh?:
DSC04790.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

Ethan, though, caught a nice rainbow trout:
DSC04784.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

Almost 17-month-old Audrey discovered the joys of picking dandelions:
DSC04777.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

To almost 6yo Wesley’s extreme delight, Jerry the Amish cowboy worked again this summer at Circle K.  I blogged a bit about Jerry, after our trip last year.  Wesley’s prayed for Jerry nearly every day between our last meeting and our current one.  Of course, his ideas of cowboys are skewed by media stereotypes, so his prayers are along the lines of, “Please help Jerry shoot all the bandits.”  😆
DSC04845.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

More loveliness:
DSC04709.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

A boy fishing off of a bridge.  Classic.  Even better that he’s my 10yo son, Ethan:
DSC04722.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

~sigh~  Besides the fact that we had to leave, it was perfect.

Mystery book protagonists, marriage, more of Dorothy L. Sayers, and a note from my hubby

Over my recently-finished vacation, I stayed up several very late nights, completely entranced by Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers.  On so many levels, it was such a good book, my favorite of hers, so far, by far.  The main storyline was, of course, engaging.  But, I was more taken by the development of the relationship between Sayers’ “normal” protagonist, Lord Peter Wimsey, and her sometimes-secondary protagonist, Harriet Vane, who actually fills more pages than Wimsey in this installment.

I must admit that I have read none of the literary criticism that is out there on Sayers;  I’ve decided not to do so until I’ve read all of her books (including the two that were finished by Jill Paton Walsh, which I previously thought to be travesties;  now I’m excited to read them because it means that the series doesn’t end in 2.5 books for me, but after 4.5 books).

But, from the bit that I do know about Sayers, I would think it safe to say that her character of Harriet Vane is more than a tad autobiographical, and her depiction of Wimsey to be that of her (Sayers’) ideal mate.  Gaudy Night seems to me to be the most profoundly personal of Sayers’ novels and short story collections that I’ve read.  The author is much less guarded with her own feelings, theories and philosophies.  In some ways, that makes for a much more… intimate read.  But, in other ways, I felt a tad bit like Sayers was trying to indoctrinate me.  For the most part, I didn’t mind the propaganda;  I think I think similarly to Ms. Sayers, though I’m far less learned and intelligent.

There was one pervasive theme, though, that bothered me.  It bothered me because I used to think identically, and now don’t.  Since I admire so much of Sayers’ thought processes, and probably have somewhat of an inferiority complex to her persona, I find myself questioning my own conclusions.  But, I hold fast.  It’s this:  Sayers proposes that, for women, the best marriages are the ones where the wife doesn’t change.  IOW, she develops into the same woman that she would have, had she stayed single.

As stated, I used to think that.  Prior to, and early in my own marriage, I thought that surely an ideal marriage would be one where the wife adores and respects her husband, and the husband adores and values his wife, they are both complimentary and complementary to each other, and ongoing rapture and fulfillment ensue.

It came as a shock to me that it really wasn’t in the best interests of my ongoing growth for my husband to place me upon my desired pedestal, and that he’s not some heartless beast simply because he desires better for me, and better from me.  I now shudder to think of the person I was 10+ years ago.  I wince when someone who knew me back then begins a conversation with, “I remember when you said….”  or, “….did….”  Ack.  😯  I have grown — and, by the grace of God, continue to grow — immeasurably by the influence of my dear husband, who continues to spur me on to, among other things, “love and good deeds.”  Having his perspective, and his input, has enlightened me innumerable times to the sometimes-folly of my own thought, and the mental pit which I too often dig for myself.  I’m not saying that “all I am I owe to my husband.”  He is wonderful, but he didn’t create me.  😀  I am saying, though, that even though I am leagues away from the person I was, and the person I was becoming;  even though many of the dreams and assumptions of my younger years have never come into fruition;  even though I am surely not now the same person I would have been, sans Martin, I am SO MUCH THE BETTER for it.

I shudder to think of my previous loves — both relationships, desired relationships, personal proclivities, and even my goals.  Some of them remain…  but like the cheesy country singer wailed, I thank God for unanswered prayers.

I think Sayers’ theory of marriage would, in almost every circumstance, lead to two strongish people, but not two unconquerable, healthy, fruitful people, and certainly not one rock-solid relationship.  Her theory plays into our (MINE, at least) tendency of wanting, selfishly, to be served 24/7 by “the one” who is “just right” for our every whim.  I have found that relationship built upon selfishness usually doesn’t stand for long, and if it does stand, it totters.

She plays her theory against the perceived opposite:  A sheep-like woman, who stands by her man, black eye and all.  I’m not into that, either.  I grew up with the model of an abusive marriage, and that is something I could not stand for, at all.  However, I do think that iron does sharpen iron, and that the difficulties that are successfully traversed by the couple make for both strong, fulfilled individuals, and unshakable marriages.  There’s so much beyond mere compatibility, and the simple back-patting of, “I think you’re wonderful, and you’re doing great, dear!!”

So, reading of Harriet and Peter is somewhat tempting, but for the most part unrealistic… sort of like a theory that doesn’t play out in real life.

Ending with this, from my dear husband, written to myself and a few others yesterday, upon our return: 

We all sense God doing something in us, and I sense a closeness with my wife and children and a new passion and love for them….. a passion that has slowly waned with the numbing effects of city life – with all of its momentary pleasures and the angst attached to it.  It’s so important for us to be still, to be strong, and to be at peace with ourselves and with our God.  I love Him, and I’m so thankful to Him for blessing me with a wonderful wife and children that are after His purposes.  God’s thumb print is surely on us as a family.  … I must thank and praise my Father in heaven for loving and caring for me, and giving me purpose that is much grander than city life, small town life, or any life at all that is at all separated from Him.  He is the source, and I’m humbled to be His vessel – cracked and broken, yet being mended by the very Hand that created it.  I’m so glad that He heals what I have carelessly broken, even the things (and people) that He has entrusted to my care.  I’m resting in that place.

Something I read in Hebrews this week while up in Colorado struck me as profoundly as anything that ever has – that rest comes from knowing God, and working hard.  Working not from ambition, obligation, striving, or law, but from a Love that is far greater than anything this world has to offer.  A rest that comes from LOVE.  God initiated this rest because He loved….and still loves….and will always love.  Thanks be to the Father for His love demonstrated to us through His Son and the life-giving Spirit.      

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