Over the Road

It seems our current phone number is just a digit or two off from that of a local truck stop, given the number of calls we get for Travel America. Rather than finding the misdirected calls annoying, however, I find myself hit by a bit of wanderlust after each one. I wonder where the callers are coming from and where they are going. I wonder what they’re seeing on the road and what adventures they’re having, what music they’re enjoying in the car and who their traveling companions are. Sometimes I’m tempted to ask them these very questions.

Road trips have become a part of our very fiber in the last decade; the sound of semi trucks idling at rest stops has become a familiar, almost comforting sound to me because hearing semis means I’m on the road to somewhere I want to be. I’ve fallen madly in love with America as a result of all these road trips, too: landscapes both familiar and new have populated my memories with their topography and flora. There is a peace in the quiet isolation of a road trip, encapsulated in a car, free for the time being of the ties of home and work. Traveling in the American West is particularly peaceful; empty roads and arid lands induce a liberating sensation of being able to breathe easier.

So, I’m thankful for these random calls from travelers trying to reach the truck stop. Their calls remind me of road trips past and help me remember that there are still more roads to explore. Even in the middle of the night, these wrong numbers are a wake-up call to remember the wider world beyond the place I currently call home.

What's your favorite way to travel? Favorite trips?

Photo of Coronoado Heights, Kansas is by my husband


Doggone Fun

I’ve tended to be a cat person during my life, but the last several years I have been so struck by the joyful exuberance of dogs when they are at play and doing what they enjoy most. We recently attended a dog show, and a big one at that. Many breeds we couldn’t even name because we had no idea what they were. Talk about variety!

The most entertaining parts were watching the agility obstacle courses (tunnels, hurdles, teeter-totters, etc.) and especially flyball. Wow. In flyball, dogs race over four hurdles to retrieve a ball from a podium, and then race back, where three more team members repeat the process for a group combined time. The border collies impressed us the most: they perform their tasks with great focus and intensity, their intelligent eyes lasered in on their goal. Fox terriers were also good at flyball and agility. Other breeds sometimes got distracted and wandered over to say hi to the judges or went out of order through the courses, their handlers trying to encourage them and urge them onto the correct path.

I couldn’t help but think of us humans and how we are like dogs in some ways: happiest when we’re living life in a way that reflects what we were made for (whatever that might be; however that lines up with our personalities and skills), and how helpful it is for us to have people to guide us and direct us back when we get confused or lose our way. It was a good object lesson.

Oh – I also met some wirehaired dachshunds at the show. I was charmed. We’ve been thinking of getting a dog for a long time; a friend happened to know where we could find one of the little guys. This is the end result of our visit to the dog show:

Isn't he cute? He's eight months old and quite mild mannered. I never thought I'd own a dachshund, but he's one of the sweetest dogs I know. He was named Bentley; we're trying to decide whether or not to rename.


Shutter Sisters: Love Thursday

One of my husband's co-workers gave these adorable sets of heart-shaped measuring spoons as favors at her wedding last year. She'd attended culinary school, so it was a sweet idea. I couldn't resist taking photos of them to use on anniversary and wedding cards!

What creative party favors (wedding or otherwise) have you seen? What are some of your favorite party or wedding memories (yours or others)?


Dame's Rocket

A topic near and dear to my heart over at Shutter Sisters today: the simple treasures that we find in nature, and those places that keep us grounded. The Black Hills keep me grounded; seeking treasures there such as spring wildflowers is a favorite pasttime.

What places keep you grounded? What are your favorite treasures found in nature?


A Stitch in Time

I’ve been possessed recently to take up my crochet hook and embroidery needle again, two crafts that I never mastered and likely never will. It’s been a challenge: threading the needle, trying to accurately count the crochet stitches. I specifically wanted to learn how to make these darling crocheted flowers; my results are still a bit bobbly, but at least they’re somewhat recognizable. As with many crafts, it’s also partly the beauty of the supplies that draws me in: when I find lovely yarns on clearance for $1 - $2 a skein, they must come home with me. But my impaired efforts make me feel rather like one of those ‘unaccomplished’ women from Jane Austen’s novels!

Embroidery had been on my mind, but coming across these funky old-fashioned Aunt Martha’s patterns at Ben Franklin’s sealed the deal. (My goodness – looking at this website, they still carry the ‘Baby Animals’ pattern that my mom used on my baby quilt. I’m in awe.) The last time I embroidered was nearly twenty yeas ago; I was 13 and in 7th grade home economics, where I made the sampler on the right. Hopefully a bit of practice will get me back to my 7th grade abilities!

This little sampler is acting as a portal into junior high memories; I’ve been startled by the way in which looking at it brings back images of the large, tidy home ec classroom, the teacher, the view out the generous windows onto the green lawn of our school. Many people note the effects of smell on the memory; the effect of physical objects, long tucked away in a drawer and then taken out later, is just as powerful to me. These sampler stitches have literally become a stitch in time for me, firmly stitching my memories onto the fabric of my life.

What beautiful things draw you into artsy pursuits? What things act as touchstones for your memories?


Rock City

In the last few years, my husband has become insistent on taking in those random attractions on our road trips that may be near - or not so near - our planned routes. (Don’t get me started on the ‘short cut’ through (somewhat) scenic rural Utah one year that added six hours to our drive!) On our annual road trip to and from South Dakota this year, our attractions included Palo Duro Canyon, TX; Rock City, KS; and Coronado Heights, KS. Fortunately, they were worth the extra time.

Rock City is, well, a bunch of tremendous limestone boulders left behind on the Kansas wheat fields when they failed to erode with the surrounding deposits. (Say the phrase ‘Kansas wheat fields’ and all I can think about is the song Matthew by John Denver, quirkily covered on the album Minneapolis Does Denver…My sister and I are the only people I know who admit to being fans, likely because it is the music of our childhood. Is anyone else a secret Denver fan?)

Now I’m getting distracted. But I was trying to capture the immensity of this boulder in my shot; what I ended up liking instead was the way the clouds in the sky mirrored the deep grooves on the boulder.

Unfortunately, this was the only time when we accidentally deleted some of our pics, but here’s a shot of more of the boulders to give you a bigger idea:


Visions of America

It's Visions of America over at Shutter Sisters today in honor of the Fourth of July. This certainly isn't my best shot, but I practically grew up in the shadow of Mt. Rushmore. Those of us who have become accustomed to seeing it over the years, I think, take the monument for granted and don't always appreciate it for what it is. But millions of people from around the world come to visit the Shrine to Democracy, as it is often called, and their interest in this mountain and what it stands for is inspiring.



It seems the last two months have been filled with more good things and meaningful, affirming experiences with family and friends than I can fully appreciate and take in! We recently returned from an incredibly blessed trip to the Northeast, where we baptized our new goddaughter, among other smaller adventures. We were smitten with her sweet, smiley personality and amusing five-month-old ways. Watching our godsons, her two older brothers, interact with her was also amusing and quite sweet. We have now been good friends with their parents for five years; I am grateful for the way in which old friendships such as theirs ground us and provide a sense of stability, even when we can’t talk or see each other very often due to geographical distance. I always wanted another sister, so it’s even more rewarding to have friends who’ve become such a big part of our lives that they are like family.

My godchildren have influenced me greatly and taught me many things, mostly about love and what it means to be a grown-up. If I had more eloquent words, I would try to describe the humbling, profound privilege of serving as Orthodox godparents; right now all I can do is smile, a bit misty-eyed, remembering each of their baptisms and the delightful way they have made a home in our hearts, praying that they will grow into the fullness of the faith in the years ahead.