Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Today was George Struck's birthday.  George was Mike's dad and he died just one month after we were married, nearly 34 years ago.   It has been a long time, yet he is still greatly missed.

Although I did not get to enjoy being his daughter-in-law for long, I am grateful that I'd known him for several years before his death.  George was quite a guy.  He was kind, he was funny, he loved his family and he was a man of faith.

I am happy to say that I see large bits of George in my own husband.  I love that!  When Mike raises his eyebrows a certain way and smiles a big smile, I see George.  When Mike throws his head back and laughs heartily, I see George.  I even sometimes see George in the way Mike drives a car.

I also see George's love of family displayed still by those he loved.  His grandchildren, who never met him, benefit because he showed his own children that family was important.  He showed his daughters how a man treats the woman he loves.  He showed his son how to be a faithful husband.

His sense of humor is displayed through  his children, grandchildren and even now his great-grandchild whenever they make a pun or a joke.   George was well-known for his sense of humor.  When I was in high school I was a cheerleader for awhile.  At one basketball game in a tiny gym with balcony seating a piece of paper came floating down to me.  When I retrieved it, thinking it must be something important, I read, "If my dentures fall down there, please don't step on them."  Yes, he was a bit of a character and he loved to laugh!

I see his caring and gentlemanly side in Mike as he serves his parishioners.  I see his faith in God spreading outward through Mike's sermons.  People who never met George benefit through his influence on Mike.

I suppose to someone on the outside looking in, George may have seemed like an ordinary man who grew his crop during the week and went to church each Sunday.  Looking back, I see a wonderful man who has influenced his descendants more than they will ever know.  Even now, 34 years later, we still miss him.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Change of Heart

           I've known Allen for nearly 8 years.  He is a member of the congregation Mike serves.  Allen's wife, Gwen, sings on the Worship Team so Allen was usually at church early for her.  I was usually at church early with Mike and so while we waited, we visited.  Eventually he became the sound man and I was graciously invited to join the Worship Team, so we don't have the long conversations of those early years, but he's always available for a hug when I arrive at church.
             I came to think of Allen as a friend.  I think we know each other pretty well.  When  I first thought of interviewing people, I thought of Allen.  He grew up in Nebraska.  His family's business was a mortuary and I think they lived above it.  At a very young age he was helping his father with that business.
             Allen's own business was the carpet business.  Unfortunately, he was already retired when I needed carpet!  He was also quite ill this summer when we were going through our carpet drama so he didn't hear about most of it until later.  Even so, he had some helpful information for me.
             When Allen tells you he's had a change of heart, he means it quite literally!  He is a heart transplant patient and has endured the amputation of both of his legs as well.  Yet, he is known for claiming that he is "utterly fantastic"!

             Allen is a busy man.  He's very active in many aspects of our church.  He and Gwen have a kazillion grandchildren and they are quite involved with them.  Allen is a skill craftsman with wood.  Allen uses some of his time to share his experience with others.  He encourages other amputee patients and he teaches people about organ donation.  The following are his own notes from a speech he gave recently.  I've not changed it and I think through it you will know Allen a bit better...
             ((((“”””Allen’s Story””””))))
                            Beginning April 21st. 2003

     Organ and Tissue Transplants offer patients a new chance at   Healthy, Productive, and Normal lives and return them to their Families, Friends, and Communities. “”YOU have the Power to change SOMEONES World by being A DONOR.!!!!!!!!!!!!(“” ITS ABOUT LIVING!!!!!! ITS ABOUT LIFE!!!!!!”)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!ITS A MIRACLE. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!IT’S A GIFT..!!!!!!!

    Every day, organ and tissue donors give the ULTIMATE gift
!!!---THE GIFT OF LIFE---!!! To someone who would not survive without a transplant.

!!!!Thousands of Americans wait and hope for the news that a vital organ is on the way. For too many,- Time JUST runs out.

     After having nausea and mild vomiting for three days, the 21st of April 2003, {[(the day after Easter)]}  I suffered a massive heart attack in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, the fireman and paramedics when arriving at the house did an EKG and said I hadn’t had  a heart attack, but they were going to take me to the hospital as a precaution. My wife “Gwen” recounts the day like this; On Good Friday with tears in our eyes we see our son-in-law  Jim off to Iraq to serve his country, and on Monday, I am picking up trash with the preschool children and the next minute I am calling 911 to get my 58 yr. old husband to the hospital. I kept thinking this does not happen to us. It only happens to others and we read about it in the paper. We are told he is fatal, but he was only throwing up. No chest pain, no arm pain. What do they mean? Is my husband going to die. All I could do is pray and plead. Emergency angioplasty and stent placement in two separate locations, balloon pump, and by-pass  surgery did not work. After 2 days in the Casper hospital my family was told that the only chance I had to live was to fly to the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. The 23rd of April 2003 I was transferred by air ambulance , with a plane full of equipment and nurses and no room for any body else, to the University of Utah Hospital. After being stabilized and my lung functions improved over 24 hrs., the 24th of April an LVAD  (an artificial heart pump) was placed in my chest, the heart is not removed, the LVAD  takes over for the functions of the left side of my heart, this was the 1st of my open heart surgeries, and lasted app. 8hrs. When trying to close. The flows from the heart pump decreased and it was decided to leave the chest open & come back at a later date for closer.  Three days later April 27th back to surgery for closer of the chest. May 5th back to surgery for Bilateral amputation of both legs below the knee, because of gangrene, which developed from an allergy to heparin. This was the hardest decision my family had to make, but the Doctors told them you always choose life. Through all of this time (35 days) I was unconscious, all of the decisions were made by my wife, children, and relatives.” I think they made the right choices“. May 28th I developed blood clots in the lungs from all the surgeries, back in ICU for 4 days. The blood clots were dissolved, and now for therapy. With no feet and part of your legs gone, your prosthesis feel like you are walking on stilts. Just getting them on and leaving them on for a few minutes took so much work. Now to try and learn to walk. The therapist said they had never seen any patient with this much stubborn attitude. They would have other patients come in to talk to me so my attitude would rub off on them. Day after day learning to walk again. There were days I really just wanted to stay in bed and quit trying, but my faith in GOD kept me plugging along. The cards, letters,  phone calls, and news that prayer chain, after prayer chain ,after prayer chain were praying for me would spur me on to try a little harder.

       My family was told numerous times that I was fatal. I died and was brought back to life 4 times in Casper. Upon arriving at the University of Utah Hospital my wife was told by Dr. Stringham that he had never seen any body that sick that had ever lived, and I had 0 chance of living. After placement of the LVAD, in my chest, I lived and the doctors were amazed. But they still gave us no hope. I was getting worse. My feet were very cold. They were keeping track of the pulses in my feet and legs. After removal of my feet they were amazed at the improvement I was making. They told my family I probably didn’t have any brain activity. I would not wake up. The doctors just shook their heads. My wife said she would talk to me and ask me to answer by squeezing her hand or blinking my eye and I would respond. “ So we needed a brain scan“ !!!!!!!!. “SURPRISE” everything was O.K. After all the adversity and pain from surgeries, and new legs, going to rehab to learn to walk again, which took 7 weeks, dismissed from the hospital on July 15th. And now the big step to go to the beautiful motor home on the university parking lot, driven down for our use from our friends in Glendale Arizona.” “Could we handle the Big artifical heart machine“”? “Could we handle doing the dressings twice a day, with out causing some infection“? “What if the electricity goes off“? “What if the heart machine quits pumping“? I could not be left alone at any time. Some body had to be with me 24--7” How could we survive“? We were hooked up directly to the Salt Lake City Fire Department so they could get to us quickly, and get me right in to the emergency room at the University of Utah Hospital. “So many questions, so many unknowns“. We walked in the parking lots, but the uneven cement and asphalt caused me to pitch forward and almost fall, so we would go inside the hospital and walk  where it was cool and the floors were even. I needed to become comfortable on my new legs. When you get a new heart, they want you up walking as quickly after surgery as you can. They didn’t know what was going to happen with me, because they had never had a person lose their legs and then get an artificial heart nor be a heart transplant.  I was placed on Heart Transplant List on Monday July 21st.  We were given a pager from the hospital, saying this is your key to a new heart Keep it on all the time. It could take months or years until we find a compatible heart, but your artificial heart will keep you alive. I told the Doctors and transplant team if a heart came that would be GODS will and it would be perfect but if not the LVAD and I would be home for Christmas. The Heart Transplant Team and Surgeon turned down 2 hearts, 1 on Tuesday, and 1 on Thursday. Dr. Stringham told me that I worked so heard that just any heart that came close to a match would not do, it had to be perfect. On Saturday July 26th at 11:00 A.M. I received the call that they had a heart for me, and how soon could we get to the hospital, and I told them at the time we were walking in the hospital for my exercise, and they jokingly, wanted to know if I came to the hospital every day just to wait for a heart. The heart transplant was finished at 1:00 P.M. Sunday July 27th. After 57 pts. of blood I finally stopped bleeding. This was the 2nd of my open heat surgeries. This open heart surgery was 26 hours. A normal heart transplant can take 4 to 6 hours. After 1 week of problems keeping pills down, (“ I was taking 58 pills a day“), started rehab again, learning to walk again, pain in chest from 2nd open heart surgery, pain in legs from not having legs on for 2 wks., swelling and shrinking of stumps so legs don’t fit. Dismissed from the hospital August 22nd, 2003 and spent from then till December 21st 2003 in Salt Lake City at my sons doing rehab and biopsy’s as an out patient, riding the para tram buss 3 or 4 days a week to the hospital. Finally released from out patient at the hospital and it was so great to be home for Christmas to be with family,  friends, and church, most of whom I had not seen in 8 months. When I first saw my Cardiologist, Dr. Wicks, who was the last to see me off on the airplane, he said he never expected to see me alive let alone walking into his office.
     One of my transplant coordinators (LeAnn Stamos) said “A heart transplant can give you five, ten, fifteen or more years for what ever makes your life WONDERFUL, BUT POST-TRANSPLANT IS NOT AN EASY LIFE.”
                   I have had:
     13 biopsy’s of the heart in 2003 with 2 rejections, with a 3 day stay in hospital, per rejection
     6    biopsy’s of the heart in 2004 with  1 rejection, with 3 days in the hospital.
     Kidneys shut down to less than 20% working in 2004 and at that time we stopped Cyclosporine and started Rapamune and kidneys improved to 80%  working in 6 months.
     6 biopsy’s of heart in 2005 “”with 2 holes put in Lungs””, with 3 day stay in the hospital per hole.
     2  biopsy’s of the heart in 2006
     1       “         “     “     “    “   2007
     1      “        “       “       “   “  2008
In 2009 I did not have a biopsy of the heart. They did a modified Annual. I had a stress ECHO, EKG, reg. blood draw(4 vials), 24hr. Urine ,and saw my many Dr.s.
     In May 2010 I had hernia surgery. This was a result of having the ELVAD. This hospital stay was 16 days, it was supposed to be 3 to 5 days, but the bowels went to sleep and did not want to wake up.
     In Aug. 2010  I had a modified annual with a medicine enduced stress ECHO.
     In October 2010 I had my gallbladder removed laposcopicly
     In July 2011 I had another hernia surgery and 6 days after we had another surgery to straighten out the bowel which decided to stop working. After 3 weeks in the hospital in Salt Lake I finally got home. The recovery from these two surgeries has been a very slow process.
     In Oct. 2011 I had another biopsy heart cath. This heart cath. was #30.
     In August 2012 I will have a modified annual with medicine induced stress ECHO.
     A heart biopsy is a kind of torture that no one person should have to endure--not even once. It entails the removal of heart tissue from a patient who, most often, is not offered any sedation. A bit of local anesthetic is the most a heart biopsy patient can hope for--This painkiller’s efficacy is sorely limited. The ordeal of the heart biopsies never lessen over time. There is the physical pain involved of course, and the healing time seems to be longer with each biopsy. GOD is always with me and his will WILL be done.!!!!
     4 to 6 blood draws every year to control my medicines (which are done every 3 months or as needed when changing the dosage)
    I take 28 pills every day at a cost of $60.88 per day or $22,222.64  per. year. Part of this cost is pickup by insurance, and part is paid by the drug company’s. The balance is out of pocket.  I have gone into the donut hole, by March 1st. For the last 5 years.
    After the annual biopsy, and check up  at the University of Utah  Hospital, the 27th and 28th of July, 2007, they found a spot on my right lung. I have had 4 C.T. Scans since then, and of course they are looking for cancer, but the spot seams to be disappearing. This is one of the problems a heart transplant has while taking the anti-rejection drugs. You take drugs to counter act drugs you take.
     There are app. 2,000 heart transplants performed every year in the U.S.
88% of heart transplants survive 1 year
78%  “      “           “              “       3 years
72%  “      “           “             “       5 years
60%   “      “           “             “     10 years
16%   “      “           “             “     20 years

About 90% of Heart Transplants can come close to resuming normal daily activities, but fewer than 40% return to work.
Heart Transplants can cost approximately $300,000 initialy , and approximately $40,000 per year after that. We have spent 1 and 3/4 million dollars including insurance.

         I like to tell the story of a lost and found item in the paper.
“LOST DOG!!!!”, three legs, blind in left eye, missing right ear, broken tail, recently hit by truck; answers to the name of “LUCKY”. This is how I feel today and every day, just like the dog named Lucky. I don’t know why GOD choose me as a miracle and I don’t know for sure what he saved me to do. I live each day one day at a time and I Thank God I am Alive. My family got to see the heart come in, in the cooler, a true miracle to receive a heart after only being on the transplant list for 5 days. Everyone cheered us on wherever we were in the hospital. The doctors would say, they don’t get many chances to bring someone back from death, and we’re going to make sure he’s well taken care of. From the  beginning of my story to  the end, Attitude is what made me a winner. Attitude can make us all winners!!!! My prayer when I finally came too was “Lord use me I’m yours, (I am going to live and I’m going to fight)”. My wife Gwen says I asked would I die if they didn’t remove my legs, she said yes and I said what took you so long.I will have to live without my legs and feet, live with casting and recasting, (so my prosthetics will fit),live with super amounts of medicine and anti-rejection drugs, blood tests, doctor appointments, biopsies, doctor bills, and be careful of my health for the rest of my life. My wife “Gwen” recalls, They told us at University of Utah Hospital, that Allen’s determination to live was a big part of why he made it. His positive attitude still goes on today! I wonder many times how he continues being so positive when things go wrong, or his stumps hurt, or a spot on the lung, or the painful biopsy’s year after year.
  It is truly great to be alive , even though I missed my youngest son’s wedding, I get to see my 14 grand children, and am involved in their lives and the lives of my 5 children and their spouses. I am very involved in my church by being on the church council and three committees, a member of the board of directors of Shepherd of The Valley Care Center for 13 years before it was sold, a member of the Board of Directors of Thrivent financial for Lutherans, member of Mended Hearts support group, the Wyoming Amputee Support Group and also volunteer at the hospital visiting heart patients.  I look at life very differently today. I have really good days and really bad days, but all my days are UTERLY  FANTASTIC !!!!and they are all good days. I look at the handicapped very differently, I am one of them. I don‘t consider myself as handicapped I just don‘t do things as fast as I used too. My positive attitude got me where I am today and will get me through tomorrow, even if I don’t feel well it’s still a fantastic day. It’s truly GREAT to be alive!!  To be given that 2nd. chance that few are given. Great strides are being made in the medical community today, in August 2010 I held in my fist the newest LVAD. This is a heart pump which could last 15 to 20 years, the LVAD that I had could maybe last 3 to 4 years and was a definite bridge to transplant, the new one could be a life extender besides being a bridge to transplant.

     On May 20th 2005 we got to meet the parents of Robbie,( the 24 year old young man whose heart I received, his organs helped save 7 lives and with tissue and everything else helped improve the lives of 50 others.). This does not happen to very many organ recipients, and I feel very privilege to have had that opportunity. It was a very tearful but wonderful 3 hours learning about Robbie, his parents, and brother. We still communicate by card and letters. We have a picture of Robbie and his family in our Family Room. He is a big part of Our life.

     On January 18th. 2010 a good friend passed away, she was a donor, she saved FOUR lives and helped improve the lives of at least 12 more. Every person in this room could do the same.
     My hope and prayer is that I am able to donate this HEART to someone to prolong their life, of course I wish to donate all organs and what ever will help improve someone’s life.

     SOME INFORMATION ABOUT ____________

                             ORGAN DONATION

People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors.

Medical condition at time of death will determine what can be donated.

Donated organs include the heart, pancreas, kidneys, liver, lungs, and intestines.

Donated tissue to replace bone, tendons, and ligaments.

Donated corneas, skin, bone, bone marrow, heart valves to help heal & replace what is damaged.

All major religions support organ and tissue donations.

It is illegal to buy or sell organs or tissue in the United States.

It is possible to donate life to others as a living kidney or partial liver, lung, pancreas or intestine donor.

Each year more than 6,000 deceased donors make possible nearly 20,000 organ transplants, and nearly 7,000 transplants from living donors.

There are also 25,000 tissue donors and 44,000 cornea donors annually providing more than 1,000,000 tissue and cornea transplants.

The need for donated organs and tissue continue to grow. Over 100,000 men, women, and children currently await life-saving organ transplants. Sadly 18 people die each day due to the lack of available organs, and every 12 minutes another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list.

Every organ and tissue donor can save and enhance the lives of up to 50 people.

In 2006, there were a total of 115 individuals who donated organs and 767 individuals who donated tissues in Colorado and Wyoming. Atotal of 343 lives were saved through organs transplanted from local donors. Additionally, 1,350 individuals also donated eye tissue. Each organ can save up to eight lives and a single tissue donor can provide more than 100 tissues for transplant.

Organ and tissue donation becomes an option ONLY after all LIFE-SAVING efforts have been made, and death has been declared.

Consent for donation is confirmed and your family is asked to participate by providing your medical history.

The body is always treated with great care and respect.

Donation should not delay or change funeral arrangements, and an open casket funeral is possible.

Organs are distributed based upon medical information like blood type, body size, and tissue type matching through a national computer network operated by the United Network for Organ Sharing, they also consider organ size, time waiting for transplant,  distance between donor and recipient, medical urgency of recipient, immune-system match, and whether the recipient is a child or an adult, once the transplant team has been notified they have one hour to make the decision. A heart can only be disconnected from a persons circulation for about four hours and still work properly. When you are critically ill like I was you go to number 1 status for the first 30 days. Tissue is distributed based upon patient need, availability and medical criteria.

       The web site for organ and tissue donation is:
There you can learn more about organ and tissue donation.


MYTH: If I agree to donate my organs,  my doctor or the       emergency room staff won’t work as heard to save my life. They will remove my organs as soon as possible to save someone else.

REALITY: When you go to the hospital for treatment, doctors focus on saving your life----not somebody else’s. The doctor in charge of your care has nothing to do with transplantation.

MYTH: Maybe I won’t be dead when they sign my death certificate. It will be to late for me if they have already taken my organs. I might have other wise have recovered.

REALITY: Although this is a popular topic in the tabloids, in reality, people do not start to wiggle a toe after they have been declared dead. In fact, people who have agreed to organ donation are given more tests to determine that they are truly dead then those who haven’t agreed to organ donation.

MYTH: My family will be charged for donating a loved ones organs.

REALITY: The organ donors family is never charged for donating

MYTH: My loved one has suffered so much because of illness. I do not want them to suffer any more.

REALITY: Your loved one is dead at the time of donation and can not feel pain, and your loved ones body is treated with the same respect as someone who is alive.

MYTH: I am to old to donate.

REALITY: There is no definite cut off age for donating organs. Organs have been successfully transplanted from donors in their 70s and 80s.

MYTH: I am not in the greatest of health, and my eyesight is poor. Nobody would want my organs or tissues.

REALITY: Very few medical conditions automatically disqualify you from donating organs. The decision to use an organ is based on strict medical criteria. It may turn out that certain organs are not suitable for transplantation, but other organs and tissues may be fine. Don’t disqualify yourself prematurely. Only medical professionals at the time of your death can determine whether your organs are suitable for transplantation.

Contrary to popular belief, signing a donor card and your drivers license does not guarantee that your organs will be donated. The best way to ensure that your wishes are carried out is to inform your family of your desire to donate. Doing this in writing ensures that your wishes will be considered. When family knows it is easier for them to give their consent.

      If you signed your drivers license as a donor please tell your family members of your wishes!!!!!!!

     I don’t know how I got this way
     It matters little here today
     A healthy organ they must find
     They’ll look where organ donors signed

     There’s some that say the price is high
      But you can’t use them when you die
      The only thing that’s left to give
      Are organs helping people live

      I pray that those who don’t believe
      In giving organs will receive
     Some guidance from above
     To help with our undying love

     If you find it in your heart to give
     Several dying people now may live
     Your gift can save so many lives
      Children, fathers, mothers, wives

     It only takes a little time
     To sign upon the dotted line
     To tell your family of your plans
      And leave the rest up to GODS hands.
          By- Dale Francis Leeb

My Prayer for everyone is that we all say yes to the donor card, and drivers license, and make sure that we tell our family and friends our wishes to be a donor, and offer our prayers of thanksgiving to GOD, and the family that shared.
    I’d like to close with a poem written by a 29 year survivor of a heart transplant who is 50 years old.
     It doesn’t really matter when we die,
     How we die, or why we die.
     What really does matter is how we live…
And the hearts and souls of those we touch along the way.

             !!!!!!THANK YOU!!!!!!  4/29/2011

          !!!!!!THANK YOU!!!!!!

I thank YOU, Allen, for letting me publish your notes.  I'm glad you are my friend.

Over the next few weeks I will be doing more posts about the sweet people who volunteered to be interviewed.  If you missed out and would agree to have a post about yourself, check back to my post with the interview questions.  Thanks!

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Ha ha!  I just went back to last Sunday's post and noticed that we were on the letter "N" but I put "Mn" as the post title.  Did anyone notice that?  

Anyway, we are now on the letter "0" of our ABC's of Bible Memorization.  We are getting there!

Here is today's verse:

Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

This photo has nothing to do with the verse but I thought it was a cool picture.  

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tell Me Your Story

I will admit, I was a bit worried after yesterday's post.  I was afraid nobody would be willing to submit to an interview from me.  I was wrong and I am so grateful to my sweet volunteers!  The offer is still open to anyone.  If you are a blogger, I will link your interview back to your blog as well.

Of course I feel I must come up with some rules to  keep good order.  Let's see.... rules....  Oh well.  I will just make one rule.

Rule #1    If I think it is inappropriate, I won't print it.

OK, now that the rules are settled let us continue.  I came up with some questions and topics to get your thoughts going.  You may answer any or all or come up with some of your own.  You may just copy and paste these questions and e-mail your answers to me at onlythemanager@yahoo.com or you can just write up whatever you wish about yourself and e-mail it to me.

I would really be happy if you attached a photo or two as well.  It can be a photo of just yourself or of you with anyone else you wish.  Please don't attach professional photos that I shouldn't print.  Casual ones are my preference.  This is one of my personal favorites...

So, we're off!

What is your earliest memory and how old were you?

Tell me something about which you feel passionate.

Tell me something about your childhood.

Tell me of an experience from your past that was incredible or amazing to you.

Tell me your first memory of knowing you were loved.

Tell me something that frightens you.

Tell me something you have accomplished that pleased you.

When you were most recently with a group of people did you feel as though you fit in or not?  Why or why not?

What was your first job for money?

Tell me about your first experience leaving home.

Do you think of yourself as an organized person?  Why or why not?

Tell me of a time you used your creativity.

Is your adult life different than you expected?  If yes, how so?

Is there a particular person who had great influence on you and if so who and how?

Tell me something about your views on spirituality.

Did you go to camp as a child?  If so, do you have any fun stories to share from that time?

If you are married, tell about first meeting your spouse.  Was it love at first sight or did it cook up more slowly?

Tell me about your children.

Tell me something about your time as an adolescent.

Tell me of a time you experienced loss.

What do you do for a living?

What do you currently most enjoy to do with your free time?

Tell me something new you've recently learned.

Is there something new you plan to learn?  If so, what?

Whether I've asked a fitting question or not, tell me anything about yourself that you wish to tell!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Everyone Has a Story

 You won't believe it but Mike & I went to see "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" again.  I'd offered to take a friend to a matinee but by the time all was said and done it turned into a double date with dinner and a movie.  It was a fun evening and you already know that I really liked that movie.

After watching it a second time I said, "I'm not going to write another review."  I'm not, so relax.  However, I will say that we found clues and things in it that we missed the first time through.  It was a good movie, even the second time around.

As I said before, the movie really makes you realize and think about the fact that everyone has a story.  It's true.  Everyone does have a story.  Not everyone has a blog, though.  And even those with blogs may have specific purposes for their blogs, such as recipes or craft tutorials, and don't want to mix their story into it too much.  So...

I have this idea.  Yes, I use my blog to tell my story, bit by bit.  I was wondering if I could convince some of you to let me interview you and tell your story.   I am going to work up a long list of questions and then have my interviewees chose a few they wish to answer.  I'm not looking for long biographies, just snippets of your story.  Any takers?  If you are interested in being interviewed please let me know by e-mail at onlythemanager@yahoo.com.  If no one responds, I have a few people in mind already for whom resistance may be futile :-) so you may as well volunteer.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Life as a Travel Agent

On a recent morning I was at work and as one of my patients was waiting for his death, I thought again about an idea that keeps popping into my head... the thought that I am now some sort of a travel agent, someone who's main job is to assist travelers as they prepare for a big, big trip.

My patient, thanks to good medications, was reaching a level of comfort.  He knew it was almost time for his departure.  His daughter was by his side.  She wasn't going with him but she wanted to wait with him until it was time for him to go.  She was sad because she knew she was going to miss him, but she was happy for him because she knew he was going somewhere very lovely and exciting.  Although she couldn't travel with him at this time, she expected to join him at a later date.  

Together, they waited and waited and waited.  It reminded me of a train station.  I don't think in terms of the grim reaper or anything like that.  I was thinking of an elegant train that was coming and he was the only passenger at our station who was waiting to board at that time.  The station seemed pretty empty to me, but our traveler reported there were "a lot of people" present.  Just because I did not see them does not mean they were not there.

Although this traveler was originally reluctant to make this trip, as the train approached, he was ready.  In fact, I think maybe his mother was already on that train, coming to escort him to his destination.  I think this because he thought he saw her; he was watching for her.

His daughter left the room for a few minutes.  It wasn't long before I saw the train coming, I could hear it, I could see it, I could almost feel the ground trembling... almost.  I stepped away from our traveler for just a few moments to summon her so she could hug him good-bye.   I knew it was important to her to be present when he climbed aboard.  I could see pain in her eyes but she smiled as she approached him and held his hand.  She did not try to stop him from going.  Her husband joined her for the send-off and they were ready to say good-bye.  When they reassured me they were prepared, I quietly left their side.

When I returned, the train was just pulling out from the station.  The traveler's daughter was crying and smiling at the same time.  Her husband held her close.  It was quiet.  It was peaceful.  We all felt we'd just been very close to something amazing, something we could not yet fully understand.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hobby Lobby Theology

 Sometimes great theology comes at you from unexpected directions.  A plaque at Hobby Lobby jumped out at me recently.  Maybe it is a saying that everyone already knows, but just in case you don't know, I will now share it with you.

Peace is not the absence of conflict, 

it is the presence of God.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wyoming on a Monday

Like many pastors, Mike takes Monday as his day off.  That's the theory anyway.  His day off yesterday started and ended with work.  He also made a hospital visit in the the late afternoon but I used my persuasive skills to convince him to take a middle-of-the-day break.  Mike is not a workaholic, he's just got a lot on his plate right now.  I understand that but now and then the man just needs a break.

So, we loaded up Bode and went for a drive.  We decided to have lunch in a little town not far away.  As we cruised around we saw several little restaurants from which to choose.  It tickled me that many of their signs had the name of the restaurant with "& pizza" tacked on.

It was nice to go into a restaurant and NOT know exactly what it was going to look/smell/sound like inside.  Do you know what I am talking about?  It just seems the chain restaurants are taking over and they hold very few surprises anymore.  The little restaurant we chose felt pretty broke-in, but charming.

Mike was starting to get the hang of this "taking a break" idea so after lunch we just did some exploring.  We went to a sweet park.  I got out to take some photos while Mike waited in the vehicle with Bode.  I liked how this fence had accommodated the trees around it... or had the trees accommodated the fence?

I wanted to photograph this cool old railroad trestle.

As it turned out, the tracks were no longer there.  It had been incorporated into a lovely walking path.

When I finally took enough photos (oh yes, there are MANY more) I headed back to Mike.  He looks innocent but he drove right at me!  He also enjoyed doing the stop-start-stop-start thing to make it tricky to get back inside.  He tried washing the windshield in an effort to mess up my photo of him, all the while looking sweetly supportive.

We found a road named

and Mike was intrigued.  He turned around and off we went on another leg of our little adventure.  It was a good choice.  There were many weird rock formations, which seems to be kind of a theme in Wyoming.

There were wild turkeys as well.

After roaming a bit more we went back into town where I enjoyed seeing a little store with a sign that said "We buy junk and sell antiques".  Does that make you laugh?

I am guessing this mural is a one-of-a-kind.

We went into a movie rental store that was also an ice cream parlor.  We picked up some ice cream cones and headed out for more adventure.  We drove past a LOT of windmills.  In fact, they went on and on and on and on and on and we never saw the end of them.

We explored yet another little town.  It didn't really feel like a town but rather more of a cluster of ranchettes or something.  Most people had horses in their backyards.  The sign said it was a town and one of the houses had a sign out front that declared it to be the Town Hall.  Who am I to argue?

We stopped to let Bode out to go to the bathroom as at this time we'd been gone from home for several hours.  He didn't go.  What kind of male dog hates to go potty away from home?  That's just weird.

He did enjoy wrestling with his tether.

So, that was our little break in the middle of the day.  Thanks for coming along!

Thank-you for stopping by. Feel free to use my photos but please link them back to my blog. I am honored if you wish to share content of any of my posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc. as long as it is linked back to my blog.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Have you seen Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close?  Mike and I went on Saturday afternoon, even though the reviews in the paper weren't all that great.  Because of that, I wasn't expecting much.  I do usually enjoy Sandra Bullock's movies, though, and Tom Hanks is probably my favorite male actor.  That seemed like a good start.  As it turned out, right from the start I was fascinated.

I highly recommend this movie if you find people interesting at all!  Yes, it is about a boy who loses his dad on 9/11 so a box of tissue is a good idea.  I used up the only tissue I could find and the napkin I'd picked up with my popcorn wasn't really up to the task.  At the very least, stuff several in your pockets.  I cry easily at movies so I used my trick of letting my hair swing forward to cover my face.  Soon, though, I was sure no one would be noticing my tears as everyone else was busy sopping up their own.  Not to worry, though, there are also moments that will make you laugh or at least smile.  This movie certainly covers the painful aspect of separation from loved ones, but it deals with a lot of reconciliation as well.

Having said all that, I also want to tell you that this movie was about much more than 9/11.  Also, Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock were most definitely not the lead characters.  They were great but this movie is about the boy.  The young actor, Thomas Horn, carried most of the movie and he carried it well as a young boy for whom social connections are particularly difficult.  Part of the reason this boy is so close to his Dad is because the boy has a "clinically inconclusive" case of Asperger's.  Because of this, the boy has a difficult time making satisfying connections with other people.  His Dad "gets" him and is ingenious is devising adventures that require his son to speak with others and to face some of his fears.

Throughout the movie this young boy, who feels so "different", discovers that everyone has a story, everyone is somewhat broken and everyone is lovable.  Although the boy does not believe in God or miracles, at the end of the movie I believe he questioned his original beliefs.  Maybe I just read that into it because I wanted to, I'm not sure.

If you want to see a movie that will keep you thinking about it, this may be a good choice for you.  I am planning to take a friend to it this week as I think I need to see it again!

So, there you have it.  That's my review of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  Now I am off to make some pancakes!

Sunday, January 22, 2012


 We are on the letter "N" for The ABC's of Bible Memorization.  How are you doing?  Are you still memorizing?  You'll be glad that you did!

Does this verse not give you the confidence that God is in control?

1 Corinthians 10:13

 No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Trip Down a Very Short Memory Lane

Cordelia and Bumblebee spent the evening at our house last night so you know we were having a good time!  I brought up a toy box from the basement that she'd not seen for a few months.  Apparently, even when a person is only 2 years old, it is fun to travel down memory lane.  She got pretty excited discovering and remembering.  She picked up the Jesus Bunny and declared, "This is my favorite!"  The Jesus Bunny was actually a gift to Pastor Mike but luckily pastor/grandpa shares.

Then she noticed something she had not noticed before.  She thought it was funny that the Jesus Bunny has bunny slippers!

She rediscovered the little golf clubs.  Remember hall golf?



Other excitement from the evening included Bode and Bumblebee dancing, chase game with Sam, watching a Strawberry Shortcake Movie (which Cordelia told me was her "Mudder's favorite"), reading books and eating cookies.

As the evening was winding down she said to Grandpa, "You play music and I will wisten to you!"  Grandpa of course obliged.  Cordy remembered that one of the baby rattle toys at the bottom of the toy basket was a guitar.

What could be better than an evening listening to Grandfather and Granddaughter play their guitars together?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Who's Calling Please?

Yesterday, shortly after lunch, my cell phone rang.  I was driving so I pulled to the curb to talk.  I know, you didn't ask, but I thought this was a nice little opportunity to point out that safety move.

A funny conversation followed.  After I said my "hello" a lady asked to whom she was speaking.  I kind of thought since she called me she should know that but sometimes I've forgotten who I was calling myself so I was nice.  Truthfully, I thought it was someone from Hospice wanting me to cover a shift so my mind was off in a different direction, "Could I work a night shift with so little notice?"

I answered, "This is Susan."  Most of my friends don't actually call me Susan but it really is my name.  When I applied at Hospice they called me that because it was on my application.  Although I answer to a lot of nicknames (Sue Ann, Susie, Bubba, etc.) I am most used to being called Sue, except my relatives usually call me Susie.  I don't mind either but I really never liked being called, "A Boy Named Sue!"  The truth is, I think Susan is the prettiest so at this new job, I just let it be.  That is why I answered, "This is Susan."

The voice on the other end sounded confused as she asked, "Susan who?"  Now, I know that when someone calls and asks your last name you probably should not give it out.  This lady, though, didn't really sound like a salesperson or even a stalker so I gave it.  When she next spoke, her tone was still confused but relaxed and I recognized it!  It was my Aunt Michelle!

My aunt was confused because she had been talking to a technical support person.  We all know how much fun that is!  She'd already answered many, many questions and then was cut off from the person who was "helping" her.  At that point she heard her phone dialing and there I was.  Surprise!  It was kind of a nice surprise for me.  I enjoyed having an unexpected conversation with my aunt!

Cell phones do funny things.  One time I was calling Maria and got a stranger.  At the same moment she received a call from another stranger.  Somehow two calls had crossed!

Even before cell phones most of us had weird phone calls.  One time I had spoken with an older  woman from our church.  That conversation ended and maybe 30 minutes later I went to use the phone.  Someone was on the line but talking in the background!  It turned out that the older woman hadn't quite set the phone in the cradle and we were still connected.  Someone was visiting her and I was then an eavesdropper!  I yelled and yelled to Evelyn but on her end I was a voice too tiny to hear.  I had to hang up and give up using my phone  for awhile.  Every now and then I'd check and yes, Evelyn was still visiting.  Eventually, after her company left, she noticed the phone and hung it up.  Who would've thought that connection would've held on so long?!

And then there are the wrong number funny  moments.  I loved the one that happened to my Mom years ago.  Her phone number was similar to that of the local bus company.  Once, in the middle of the night, she sleepily answered the phone.  Someone asked, "Do you go to Denver?"  Confused, she answered, "Sometimes."

How about you?  Any funny phone stories you'd like to share?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cooking Tutorial - Stop Laughing!

After my poncho tutorial I really expected Martha Stewart to give me a call.  Oddly, she has not.  Nevertheless, I've decided it is time for me to tackle another tutorial.  Hang on!

I will never be well-known for my cooking talents, but every now and then I find something I can do well.  Today, I am going to share one with you. my lucky readers.  I am also going to add fascinating photos of me mixing stuff together, like any good cooking tutorial.

In the last half of the 1980's Mike was in seminary in St. Paul, MN and I worked at the seminary bookstore.  It was a great job; I got to touch books all day long!  One of the books placed in my hand was the best cookbook ever!

Before I move on, I want to tell you about that beautiful bowl in the photo.  We received that bowl as a wedding gift nearly 34 years ago.  I love it! It is heavy and incredibly durable.   We put that durability to the test.  In 1983-85 we were living in the Seattle area while Mike attended college.  We'd moved out there with our 2 yr. old baby girl, taking only what we could fit into 2 vehicles.  The little college did not have married student housing but they did have an odd collection of donated furniture for us to use.  One of those pieces of furniture was a 3-legged couch.  I can't remember if it was 3-legged when we got it or if something happened to a leg while we were using it.  At any rate, one day I found myself looking around for something to prop it up under the legless corner.  I'm not sure what made me try it but it turned out that bowl, upside-down, did the trick.  You can still see the marks from it's time as a couch leg.

I bet you weren't expecting that story in the middle of a cooking tutorial!

Anyway, on we go...

The More With Less Cookbook is written by Doris Janzen Longacre and has lots of charming and honest little lessons in it about nutrition and ethical eating.  I don't know if Luther Seminary Bookstore still carries it but it would be worth a try.  It is my favorite cookbook!

So, the recipe I want to talk about is just called Basic Dry Cereal Formula, but it is what l know as granola. It is a recipe written for people like me, people who don't really follow recipes.  It tells you to mix 7 cups of dry ingredients with 2-3 cups being oatmeal.

I love that it doesn't boss me around.  It lets me choose what dry ingredients I wish, using their suggestions or coming up with some of my own.  Even so, because I'm a free spirit, I used 8 cups of dry ingredients instead of 7.  I measured none of it individually, but I'd say I used at least 4 cups of oatmeal.  Then, I opened the cupboard doors and browsed.

 (For the record, I don't have any idea why that paragraph is underlined but the underline feature seems to be working independently today and will not let me remove it.   I think I will just go with it.)

I came up with sunflower seeds, almonds,

peanut butter, brown sugar, cinnamon,
pumpkin pie spice, cloves and nutmeg.

I was disappointed that I had no coconut.
I was also disappointed that I didn't have any dried fruit.
No big deal, those things can be added later.

Then, I spotted rolled barley.  I don't know why I'd originally purchased it but I felt super duper hippie-like to have it in my cupboard.  That's a good thing, in case you were wondering.

I changed into my bell bottoms and peasant top, grabbed the barley and in it went!

I expertly stirred it all together...

Then, you are told to separately combine 1 cup of liquids.

Again, a list of suggestions follow.

Again, I have to march to my own drummer.  This time I used 2 cups of liquids.  Well, in my defense, I prefer my granola to be more moist.

I poured in molasses because it makes me feel mother-earthy, kind of like the barley.  I added syrup, and LOTS of it.  That probably wasn't so mother-earthy, was it?  I wanted to be able to share some of this granola with Maria and her family.  Since they are vegan, I used almond milk and vegan margarine.

I scooped the margarine into this cute little bowl to melt it in the microwave.  I thought the bowl looked like something they'd use on a professional cooking show, don't you?

A word of caution.  Don't heat the margarine too long in your microwave.  If you hear a "POP", it's too long.

I'd planned to drop in some applesauce but I forgot.  Oh well.  No worries.

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted the flavored syrups on my counter.  I'd purchased them to add to coffee but my coffee never turned out as well as coffee-shop coffee.  It's a good thing this is not a coffee tutorial.  The syrup bottles are too big to fit in my cupboard so they've just become counter clutter.  The little lightbulb appeared over my head so I grabbed one of those bottles and slopped some in.

After stirring together the wet and dry ingredients in my beautiful-yet-durable bowl, I spread it all out on the cookie sheet that I'd already smeared with more of the Smart Balance Light.

I baked it at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes.  I usually stir it around about half way through to break it up and keep it more flexible.

It is delicious!  I mixed it with yogurt last night and called it my supper.

This morning, I ate a bowl of it topped with the last of my almond milk.

It is so, so yummy!  I think you should make some as well!  If is an adventure!

Thank-you for stopping by. Feel free to use my photos but please link them back to my blog. I am honored if you wish to share content of any of my posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc. as long as it is linked back to my blog.

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My Life as a Travel Agent

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