About Me

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My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Am I Just Being Paranoid??

People ask if I’m paranoid.  I carry a gun.  I am more attuned to personal safety, general security, and self-defense and post about those topics with some frequency on Facebook.  I can see how some might perceive that as paranoia.  Actually I feel very safe.  THAT has been the problem.  I live on a quiet street in a low-crime area with good neighbors who look out for each other, are often home and who notice anything out of the ordinary that is going on.  I have a husband, two dogs that act vicious if anyone approaches the house, keep my garage door down and doors locked.  I rarely answer the door unless I know who it is and if I can’t see, I don’t open it.  I rarely go out at night.  I rarely go very far from my safe little environment.  I have never been a victim of violent crime and don’t expect I ever will be.  So … I feel very, very safe.   

So how, you ask, if feeling safe a problem?  Well, in the past I’ve felt so safe that I walked around  unaware.  Getting out of my car in the grocery store parking lot, I would be looking at my phone – either checking my grocery list or texting.  I was NOT paying attention to anything going on around me.  In short, I looked like an easy target.  I was advertising that I had a cool phone, a nice Jeep and didn’t expect any trouble.  Might as well as worn a sign on my shirt saying “Come and rob me – I won’t fight you, I’ll never even expect you – you’ll have me before I even know you’re there”. 

 At church I let my guard down – I was at church,, right?  What could happen there.  And if something ever did happen, somebody would take care of it.  In fact, that was my attitude everywhere – “somebody would take care of it (or me)”.  Either my dogs would, my husband would, or the police would.  I never understood why every police officer I’ve ever known told me I needed a gun.  I didn’t feel like I needed one.  The police station is only a few bocks away from my house … and there always there just waiting for a call, right??

And then it all began to get through to me.  Yeah, I have dogs and they ARE a good deterrent.  If somebody was just looking for an easy house to burglarize, they’d pass us by for something easier.  But, what if WE were the target?  Or what if they were under the influence of some crazy drug and were determined to get in – dogs are great, but dogs can be eliminated.

In the end, I bought a gun, took a class, got my CCW permit and began learning a whole lot.  In my class, which was taught by police officers, the point was driven home that “I”, that’s right I … am responsible for my own safety (and that of my family).  “When seconds count, police are minutes away”.  The sad fact is, that there are just not enough police officers to tend quickly to every call.  They will come, but more often than not will be too late.  THAT’s why every cop I know tells me I need a gun.  In these days of cutbacks and layoffs, its even worse. 

No, there is not a bad guy around every corner just waiting to do me harm.  I don’t live in fear.  But I do live with the realization that there ARE a few very bad people out there who would do me harm without a moment’s hesitation and I just might cross their path one day.  Now I won’t do it unaware.  I’ll be as ready as I can be. 

No, I’m not paranoid.  I’m retraining myself. I read and pass on info to those I care about as I learn.   Every time I go out, I practice being aware.  Sometimes I come across a creepy guy.  Most of the time everybody is just a normal nice person wishing me a good day.  Score one for the good guys. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

I Just Wanna Do What Makes Me Happy

I'm grateful for the position I'm in.  Its not always comfortable.  It doesn't always make me feel happy.  Sometimes it feels like its really unpleasant.  But, it is good. 

You see, because I'm a pastor's wife I don't have the same options that other folks have.  Other folks can choose to leave a church if it no longer appeals to them.  Other folks have the freedom to stay anonymous at church.  Other folks have the option of not being friendly to everyone.  Other folks have the option of cutting off relationships that no longer meet some need they have.  Other folks can do whatever makes them happy. 

I have none of those options available to me. And I'm glad.  That's right.  I'm glad.  If my church isn't feeding me or appealing to me in some way, I have to stick it out, go anyway, find a way to make it work.  I can't be anonymous.  Everybody there knows who I am - and they think they know me.  They probably don't know me well at all but because they know something about me, they think they know all about me.  Sometimes that can be annoying to someone who doesn't like being misunderstood.  And if someone is annoying to me, I don't have the option of just cutting them off.  I have to be there to serve them whether I like them or not. 

And that is a good thing.

It forces me to engage in things I find distasteful - anyway.  It forces me to see that sometimes people or situations enter our lives for some purpose other than meeting my needs or making me happy.  In short, it forces me to develop a part of me that would not develop otherwise. 

I know its a popular thing now to just cut people off who aren't all we would like for them to be.  I know its popular to leave situations, marriages, and institutions that aren't making us happy in some way.  But that my friends, is not good. 

Boundaries are good things to have.  Everybody would benefit from good, firm, healthy boundaries.  But make no mistake, boundaries are not walls.  They are very different things and I think too often they are confused.  You might have to cut someone off from your life for a time, but the purpose of that is to work things out in the relationship - its not a way to leave.

Think about it ... do you really just want to do what makes you happy?

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

How to Build a Rock Garden

I've been asked how to build a rock garden and what exactly a rock garden is, so, while I don't consider myself a garden or landscape expert, here is what I did. 

We had a space between the sidewalk and the side of the house where NOTHING would grow.  When the foundation of the house was poured, cement spilled over into it making it shallow and impossible to grow much of anything there.  It was an eyesore all year long. 

Rock gardens, which are really just a different kind of raised bed gaden, are great for this kind of problem.  You can put them anywhere you like, but they work out really well for those areas where nothing will grow.  And, they're easy to make and keep. 

Not everything is in bloom yet in this pic and some flowers
need replacing
  • You will need several large rocks (the amount depends on the size of garden you want)If you have access to a creek, you can get them for free if you don't mind a little dirty work.  Or you can go to a garden center and purchase some.
  • Top soil, compost, and or manure
  • Flowers or plants of your choice
To begin, set your largest rocks out in the shape you want (we tore out the old sidewalk and replaced it with flat stones filled with pea gravel and I lined the walk with my large rocks, using the side of the house for the other side of the "border". 

After you've got it the shape you want, fill it in with topsoil, compost and manure.

Now you're ready for your next layer of rocks.  Pick out the rocks you want to use and set them out on top of the top soil you've just filled in, leaving a little space here and there where plants will go.  You can see from the picture here how I did it.  Yes, the bare spots are where my baby's breath died, which is sad for the baby's breath but good for you to be able to see how they are laid out.

Continue this process until your rocks are as high as you would like them to be.  There aren't really any rules (at least in my book), just do what you think looks good.  Its all about what you like.

Finally, pick out the plants you like.  If you are really unsure, go to a garden center and browse around.  When you see a plant you like, read the tag on it and see if it will do well in the location of your garden and whether it blooms all year or only in the Spring or Fall.  Also check out how tall it grows - you don't want all of the plants in your garden to be really tall.  Some will be trailing or cascading too.  Take that into consideration too as you design your space.  Many flowers will say on their tags if they do well in rock gardens.  If all else fails, the people at the garden center will be happy to answer your questions. 

When you've picked out your plants, take them home and plant them where you want them. Its best to keep taller plants toward the top/back of the garden and shorter ones on the bottom/outside of it.  Water according to your plants needs and enjoy!

I have catmint in the back of mine (those are the long spires of purple flowers), bright pink dianthus, light pink dianthus, baby's breath and some hens and chicks.  There is another blue flower I have in it but I don't remember it's name. 

Have fun!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Revolutionary War Stories and Vincent Tharp (my 6th great grandfather)

Home of Rev. Vincent Allen Tharp
(Click for larger view)

The other day when it was raining all day, I dug into some more family history on my dad's side.  My dad's mother was Flossie McCord.  Her parents were Arthur McCord and Olive (Crawford) McCord. 

Following the Crawford side back  Olive's father was Robert Crawford and her mother was Prudence Smith.  Prudence's father was John Sidney Smith.  John's mother was Elizabeth Tharp, who's father was Vincent Allen Tharp who was my 6th great grandfather.  Pretty boring so far right?  So far we've got some Scotch-Irish people (McCords and Crawfords) and some Smiths.  But the story I found about Vincent is pretty interesting.  Apparently he and his brothers and father fought in the Revolutionary War - against each other.  Following, is Vincent's story. 

In "Georgia Baptist Historical and Biographical" by J. H. Campbell he states "Vincent Tharp, a native of Stafford, Virginia was born in 1760 and bore arms in the cause of his country towards the close of the Revolutionary War." The family Bible gives the date of his birth as November 18, 1760. He came with his family into the Sumter District, South Carolina before the Revolution. When the British overran South Carolina and required all males between 15 and 60 to join the British Militia, in some way, Vincent Allentharpe did not obey this order. Even as his father and brothers joined the British, Vincent slipped away and joined the forces of General Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox. He was taught to make nails in the blacksmith's shop. This knowledge served his well for years later he helped make nails for the Briar Creek Baptist Church in Warren County, Georgia. Owing to the hardness of the times, and his being a poor man at the time, he learned the gunsmith trade, and was said to be a superior workman. For his services he was given a land grant in Washington County, Georgia, in 1784.

Vincent is described as being tall, dark, a large man, with one blue and one brown eye.

He married a Miss Rogers in South Carolina about 1780. This marriage received a son and daughter before this Mrs. Allentharpe died sometime between January 1783 and 1786. Exactly when he moved to Georgia is uncertain for the early records were lost. On January 10, 1787 he married Sarah Pierson, a daughter of Jeremiah Pierson, who had moved from Fairfield County, South Carolina, to Warren County, Georgia.

Vincent was appointed a Justice of the Peace in Wilkes County, Georgia, on December 20, 1792. Also he was Justice of the Peace in Warren County, Georgia, on June 23, 1796. It was at this point tht he started signing his name Vincent A. Tharp. Vincent had dropped the Allen in his name as had all his other relatives in Georgia. From then on he signed his name A. Tharp and all the children, including the girls, used A. Tharp. Between 1850-1860 the A. was dropped and the name was Tharp. Another generation added the 'e' so the spellings of Tharpe.

The Allentharpe family attended Aquia church and St. Paul's church in Virginia. They were known as "Church of England." After the move to Warren County, Georgia, there was no Church of England in the neighborhood for after the Revolution the people hated the name of England and there were only six Church of England's left in all Georgia. Vincent joined Briar Creek Baptist Church in about 1800 as it was near his house. He was ordained as a minister shortly thereafter. He preached at several churches in the vicinity, including Sweetwater and Rocky Creek, and was the pastor of Briar Creek from 1802-1811.

In 1809 Vincent A. Tharp sent two sons and some slaves to build a house for him and his family in the Stone Creek neighborhood of Wilkinson County, Georgia. The house was built and the Tharp family moved into the house in 1811. He became pastor of the Stone Creek Baptist Church and remained until his death in 1825. Stone Creek was one of the earliest churches in the county and soon ecame an influential church. It was called the Mother Church for middle Georgia. Vincent served as Moderator of the Ebeneezer Baptist Association a number of years. He preached at Richland Baptist Church in Twiggs County and served other churches in the neighborhood.

This story is told of Vincent in a book by Mrs. McSwain. While preaching Vincent carried a small songbook in his pocket. One day his son, John, who was known for being mischievous, made a switch in the pocket contents. During the service when it was time to sing, Vincent reached in his pocket and pulled out a deck of cards. Everyone had a good laugh. Vincent, however, wasn't amused.

To this union of Vincent T. Allentharp and Miss Rogers two known children were born: 1. John A., born September 1, 1781 2. Mary A. born January 28, 1783
To the union of Vincent T. A. Tharp and Sarah Pierson eight known children were born: 1. Elizabeth, born September 11, 1787, died before 1829 2. William, born October 5, 1788, September 25, 1841 3. Charnick, born February 27, 1790, died November 19, 1867 4. Nancy, born January 15, 1792, died 1843 5. Jeremiah, born October 1, 1793, died June 26, 1870 6. Fletcher, born November 17, 1797, died September 12, 1825 7. Rebeccah, born October 3, 1801, died young 8. Sarah, born January 25, 1803.

Vincent died September 23, 1825, and was buried in the old cemetery on the top of a high, rocky hill near where they original Stone Creek Baptist Church then stood. Sarah Tharp continued to live in the old homeplace after Vincent's death. She died January 1, 1832, and was buried in the cemetery on the church grounds next to her husband. However her grave was never marked. A Daughters of the American Revolution Marker, was placed on Vincent's grave on October 30, 1955. It was said of him "benevolence and hospitality was prominent traits in his character."
An obit from the Macon paper says of Sarah “Died. On the 2d instant, at her residence in Twiggs County, Mrs. Sarah A. Tharp, widow of the late Rev. Vincent A. Tharp, in the 68th year of her age. She had been a member of the Baptist Church for many years previous to her death and died in the full triumph of her faith. The church with which she was connected has lost one of its brightest ornaments.”

On Monday, March 19, 1987, it was discovered that vandals had dug up the grave of Rev. Vincent A. Tharp. Thankfully the vandals had not dug deep enough to disturb the 162-year-old coffin and remains. The decision was made by family members to remove the graves from the now remote area and bring them down the hill to a safe setting. At this time it was noticed that on the bottom of Vincent's marker is the statement that it was made in Italy. The old markers were sent to America as ballast for a ship. This one came to Savannah, Georgia, and it was the custom in those days to haul the markers by oxcart the two hundred miles from Savannah. The graves were moved to the Davis Family Cemetery near Macon, and a dedication ceremony was set for June 6, 1987. This cemetery is located in a chin link fenced area, about a 100 yards off the north side of Franklinton Road, approximately 1-2 tenths mile off Highway 80 between Macon and Dry Branch, Georgia (closer to Dry Branch). Exit I-16 at Spring Street and take Highway 80 south 7 miles.

Vincent's father was Benjamin Tharp, who, as mentioned before fought for the British in the Revolutionary War.  There is no record in Virginia that states what became of him, but in England there is a record of the men where were massacred, butchered and hanged, either in their homes or after they had been taken prisoner.  Benjamin's name is on page 126 of  that record. 


Georgia Archives

History of Stone Creek Baptist Church

Gerogia Baptist Historical and Biographical, Early Ed.

Notes of the Allentharp and Tharp Families - Eleanor Davis

Sifting Through The Ashes - Eleanor Davis McSwain 1889

"Cousin" Lynda School

US Genweb Project - Twiggs County Georgia

The Macon Telegraph and News

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I may be crazy but, I've taken to doing dishes the old fashioned way - by hand.  I got tired of paying more and more money for dishwasher detergent.  And I got tired of that nasty white film on my glasses.  

In case you didn't know, the EPA made companies take the phosphates out of dishwasher detergent a while back and that is why you may be seeing more of the white film.  I even used vinigar as a rinse aid and still - the white film. 

So .... I decided enough was enough. 

 I bought the cute bamboo dish drainer at Ikea for $5.  They are sold elsewhere for $20 and up.  That might be the only thing I've found at Ikea that I like.  And I crocheted the scrubbie (actually a couple of them).  And the result - cleaner dishes!  The white film is gone, my glasses sparkle and even the coffee stains on my coffee cups are gone.  And I don't know for sure yet, but I suspect I'm saving on water and electricity too. 

It may sound time-consuming, but not really so much.  I find I'm fooling with dishes a lot less than when I was using the dishwasher.  Even after our Easter dinner (we had 10 people over for dinner and dessert) I had the dishes washed and put away in 20 minutes. 

I can deal with that. 

Interesting Family Story of Scottish-Irish Heritage

The other day my husband and I went for a drive through the beautiful southern Indiana countryside.  It was just a day to spend together, taking our time and enjoying whatever we found or chose to do.  One stop we made was at the Lemmon's Church in Ireland, Indiana.  There my great great grandfather, Albert C. Gray and my great great grandmother, Mary (Harris) Gray are buried. 

The Harris side has an interesting history.  Charles Harris (Herries) was from Scotland and had two sons, Edward and Charles.  Edward was born about 1620 in Aryshire, Scotland.  At some point they moved to Donegal, Ireland.  I don't know for certain why, but about that time in Scottish and Irish history some trouble was stirring. 

 The first major influx of Scots and English into Ulster had come in 1606 during the settlement of east Down onto land cleared of native Irish by private landlords chartered by James.[21] This process was accelerated with James's official plantation in 1609, and further augmented during the subsequent Irish Confederate Wars. The first of the Stuart Kingdoms to collapse into civil war was Ireland where, prompted in part by the anti-Catholic rhetoric of the Covenanters, Irish Catholics launched a rebellion in October. In reaction to the proposal by Charles I and Thomas Wentworth to raise an army manned by Irish Catholics to put down the Covenanter movement in Scotland, the Parliament of Scotland had threatened to invade Ireland in order to achieve "the extirpation of Popery out of Ireland" (according to the interpretation of Richard Bellings, a leading Irish politician of the time). The fear this caused in Ireland unleashed a wave of massacres against Protestant English and Scottish settlers, mostly in Ulster, once the rebellion had broken out. All sides displayed extreme cruelty in this phase of the war. Around 4000 settlers were massacred and a further 12,000 may have died of privation after being driven from their homes.[22][23] In one notorious incident, the Protestant inhabitants of Portadown were taken captive and then massacred on the bridge in the town.[24] The settlers responded in kind, as did the British-controlled government in Dublin, with attacks on the Irish civilian population. Massacres of native civilians occurred at Rathlin Island and elsewhere.[25] In early 1642, the Covenanters sent an army to Ulster to defend the Scottish settlers there from the Irish rebels who had attacked them after the outbreak of the rebellion. The original intention of the Scottish army was to re-conquer Ireland, but due to logistical and supply problems, it was never in a position to advance far beyond its base in eastern Ulster. The Covenanter force remained in Ireland until the end of the civil wars but was confined to its garrison around Carrickfergus after its defeat by the native Ulster Army at the Battle of Benburb in 1646.

At some point after they came to Donegal, Ireland, Edward must have been involved in this battle because on August 1, 1643 Edward was in Captain James Erskine's company of Raphoe in the regiment of foot soldiers commanded by (Sir) William Stewart.  Stewart was said to be from Ayrshire, Scotland so it is probable that his followers were from the same locality. 

In the Public Office of Dublin there is a roll containing the names of persons in the parish of Raphoe who paid the Hearth Tax in County Donegal on which appears the name Edward Harris.  There is also another Hearth Tax roll of Donegal in the Public Records Office, without a date, but about the year 1665. 

So we know that Edward lived in the parish of Raphoe in County Donegal where his old Commander Sir William Steward defeated the Irish in 1641.  It is likely that he received land for his military service. 

Many of the officers in the Scottish troops were Elders in the Presbyterian Church, and so it seems was Edward.  The minutes of the Laggan Presbytery, preserved in the Library of Mcgee College in Londonderry, Ireland, show that on Jan. 29, 1673, Edward Harris was a ruling Elder of Raphoe. 

At some point, Edward married Flora Douglass who was born about 1622 in Donegal, Ireland.  They had a son about 1660 in Donegal, Ireland - Robert Harris.  He immigrated with his family to America in the late 1720's - early 1730's.  Sadly, Robert died in sight of land and is said to be buried in Philadelphia, PA. 

Robert's son, James Harris was born in Donegal, Ireland and came to America with his father. 

From there, the line follows:

James Harris (born in Donegal, Ireland, died in North Carolina)
John Harris (born in Donegal, PA, died in South Carolina)
Nicholas Harris (born in South Carolina, died in Dubois County, Indiana)
Daniel Harris (born in South Carolina, died in Dubois County, Indiana)
and Mary Harris (born and died in Dubois County, Indiana)

It is believed that when they immigrated to America they found the coastal areas of the colonies to be already owned by previous immigrants, or too expensive and so they left for hill county where they could live more cheaply. 

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Barber Case

Those who follow me on Facebook will know about this but have yet to see the pics.  For the past couple of weeks I've been working on a project that I hope, will honor my dad as well as preserve some memories and be something that can be passed down and treasured for generations. 

When I was a little girl my dad worked as a barber at Bob King's Barber Shop in Petersburg, Indiana.  Recently, I had an idea to create a shadowbox of sorts to keep my dad's old barber tools in.  I went to the local craft store and they quoted between $350-$600 to do it.  Now, what is inside is priceless, but that doesn't mean I need to spend a fortune to put it in there.  So I tossed around the idea of doing it myself.  That made me nervous because I've never done anything like that ... and I wanted it to be done "right".  The last thing I wanted was something tacky, and I was afraid that would be all I could do.  Still .... I wanted to do something ....

The do-it-yourself frames weren't all that impressive - just basic black or wooden frames - and they didn't look to be deep enough either.  And then it occured to me that I medicine cabinet would be perfect!  First, I went to some salvage yards to see if I could find an old one.  No luck there.  So Home Depot was the next stop.  There I saw one that I loved!  It just said "barber shop" to me for some reason - but the size was wrong.  Next stop, Menards.  That is where I found this one.

It was almost exactly what I wanted, but the wrong color.  I debated. And debated.  And then bought it and decided to paint it a dark expresso color. 

Then I assembled the barber tools to see what I had to work with. 

A piece of foam board cut to fit the back of the cabinet and covered with the old barber smock would be the background.

The door was sent to a local glass shop to have the mirror replaced with glass.
Then I got the brilliant idea to etch the glass with dad's last name "Dyson" in a cool-looking font.  The problem with that - I've never done anything like that before either.  But, if you know me, you know that doesn't usually slow me down much. 

I got some contact paper, printed out the design I wanted on my computer, traced it with pencil on the back (a trick I learned in art school) and then cut away the design.   Once the door was back from the glass shop, I sealed the template down and covered it with etching cream.

And, then it was on to assembly.  The finished project looks like this .....

That pictures isn't the best.  It was hard to get a good picture without a glare from the windows.  These may give a better idea.

Among the items in there are a picture of dad cutting my oldest son's hair in what I believe must have been his first haircut.  The shave brush at the top and the green straight edge razor belonged to my dad's dad.  For some reason we can't seem to find the one that belonged to dad.  And the razor strop was the one he got when he went to barber school. 

It is still not completely finished.  I special ordered a latch for the door.  I'm still waiting for it to get in.  It's an old vintage-looking latch that should be perfect on the case. 

So, there it is.  Its not professional by any means, but I like it.  A lot. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Gray Family's Service in WWII

This is a newspaper article about the Gray family's service in WWII.  My grandmother was Fern Gray.  I put it on here for my family and anyone else who is interested and because Facebook keeps the images too small to read.  Feel free to save the files. 

You can click on each pic and it will enlarge it.  I thought I would put it on my blog because Facebook keeps the images too small to be able to read.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Case Cemetery

Yesterday was quite an adventure.  The day marked one year since my dad passed so we had planned to go back to Pike County, Indiana to his grave.  While we were there, there were a few other things I  wanted to check out.  And that.... is how the adventure began. 

The weather forecast called for rain all day, but you know that's never right.  It turned out to be a beautiful day - in the 60's and sunny.   It was a beautiful drive across the southern Indiana highways.

Now, it turns out that William Gray and Kazziah Ball-Gray are my 4th great grandparents.  The story has it that William and Kazziah came from Virginia to White Oak Springs in 1811.

"William Gray served in the War of 1812 and was at the Battle of Tippecanoe. Then in 1813 they entered land near the Highbanks settlement in the virgin forests near the White River. William served with Ge. Harrison in the war of 1812.

Kazziah Ball was a woman of education and culture, William was a tenant farmer on the estate of her father in Virginia and the match was considered an unworthy one by her family. Her father, John Ball, stated he was a cousin to General George Washington.  Nevertheless, they married and eventually moved to Pike County, Indiana. "

I had found that they were buried in the Case Cemetery in Pike County, near Iva.  And from the best I could tell, the little cemetery seemed to be out in the middle of a corn field, probably on private property.  But, I had to see it. 

Growing up in Pike County, I wasn't sure if the farmer who owned the land would allow us on it without a problem or if we would be met with a shotgun ... but I had to try.  So we drove up and down the little road near where the cemetery was supposed to be.  I used my iPhone's GPS to try to track it down.  After several trips up and down the little country road, and after several stops at various farm houses, once being met by a Doberman  but never by a person, we decided to try something else.  We drove around on the back side, down a gravel road, right across from where my GPS indicated it was, and decided it had to be "just over that hill". 

If you click on the pic of the map, you will see the land the cemetery is on ... and the path we took to get to it. 

We walked across a corn field, came to a creek and walked along it until we found a spot where we could cross easier.  Brian had the bright idea to run across it so as not to get quite as wet.  Me, I wanted to know where my feet were being planted, so I walked ... very slowly ... across it .... and got soaked. 
Once across, we scaled the steep, muddy, bank of the creek and found ourselves in a briar patch.  We untangled ourselves and kept climbing the hill, knowing that the cemetery just had to be on the other side. 
The other side of the hill revealed more corn fields.  Scatterd about the corn fields were small patches of trees and wooded areas.  Surely the cemetery had to be in one of those clumps of trees.  So with my iPhone in hand we tromped on through corn fields, hoping that 1, the GPS would guide us, and 2, that the Doberman we had spotted earlier wouldn't discover our presence.  It would also be nice to not be shot at, or to run into a coyote.  We must have looked like something out of a sitcom and no doubt sounded like it too.  It was fun.  And funny.  And messy. 
About what seemed like a mile later, I looked up and saw a big white tree.  There was nothing special about the tree - there were lots of trees out there, many every bit as big as that one, but something told me that was it.  I told Brian I was willing to bet the cemetery was beside that big white tree.  And so, on we went toward it. 
And then, we saw it.  Tucked away in the middle of the clump of trees and surrounded by brush, was Case Cemetery.
We walked around and took pictures of several of the Gray graves, figuring that they were likely somehow related to us.  Below is Kazziah and William's grave. 

I'm not sure who Estelle was, but I love this pic. 
And ... then we made our way back through the fields and across the creek and hoped that our car was still there along the road.

It was, and so we drove to Winslow,  Indiana to check out my cousin's new restaurant.  Steve is my cousin and Jessy is his son.  Jessy has recently bought the Riverside Cafe and is serving up what might be the biggest tenderloin sandwich I've ever seen.  It is certainly the best I've ever eaten.  Seriously, if you're ever anywhere near Winslow, you've got to try these.  He has other items on the menu too ... the bacon wrapped hot dogs sounded interesting, and I really wanted to try the fish too, but after eating the tenderloin, I may never want to part from ordering that wonderful thing again. 


And then it was on to Petersburg, to my dad's grave.  And then to downtown Petersburg.  I walked down to the barber shop where my dad used to work when I was little.  Its been closed for a long, long time, but the outside looked the same as always.  Even the old barber pole was out front.  I was surprised to look in the window and see the same old barber chair in there that my dad had used.  It was still set up like a barber shop and was very much like looking through a window all the way back to the days of my childhood. 

And then we headed home.  It was 12 hours, some sadness, and a lot of fun and laughs too.  It was a good day.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

One Year

Eli and Owen's first birthday

Cody's trip to India

Logan's graduation from the Police Academy

Logan's move away from home and his first apartment (so what if it was in a barn with 3 horses).

Logan's first job as a police officer

Eli and Owen's first steps, first words, and hearing them say "love you"

Logan moving back home and getting a decent paying job in law enforcement that he loves.

Eli and Owen's first Christmas where they understood presents, ornaments, and baby Jesus.

Those are the things that bug me most.  All the things my dad has missed.  He wanted so badly to live to see them. 

I know he would be proud of his grandsons and the men that they continue to become.  I know he would love hearing the stories Logan tells about his work and the experiences he has there.  He would also be proud, very proud of some of the decisions Logan has made this past year.  I know he would be proud of my mom too.  She's doing things he probably would have never guessed she would attempt - like getting on that zero-turn lawn mower and mowing the yard, or dancing, yes really dancing with the Eli and Owen to rock music - Areosmith, no less.  She's taking care of herself, the house, the yard, and doing very well. 
Today marks one year since his passing.  In some ways it seems strange to type those words.  Its really been a whole year.  There hasn't been a single day of that year that I've not thought of him and thought of all that he's missing.  There are people who say that those who pass on before us can see all that's going on - that they're looking over us.  There are others who say that view does not line up with scripture.  And I guess there is a point there - I mean if people who have passed could see everything, it would probably cause them pain and that wouldn't be much like heaven.  Me, I think there is an awful lot that we don't understand and I can't imagine God not allowing people to see the things that would bring them pleasure ... so I kinda think maybe they can just see the good things.  At least, I like to think so. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012


By now I'm sure you've discovered Pinterest - or at least heard of it.  Its sort of the new Google.  Its also very much the new way of looking through a magazine or catalogue and keeping the decorating ideas, craft ideas, recipes, etc. that you like.   I'm not sure if its the best thing that's ever happened to me, or the worst.  :) 

I have found some motivation to clean out closets and re-organize things.  I've thrown a lot of stuff away that's been sitting in my closet for a long time.  That's a good thing.  If you've been to my house, you know I have a huge closet off of my study and its a great place to stash junk.  This is what one side of it looks like now. 

The other side is taken up by the hot water heater.  And the other side - I'm still working on.  I need containers and am waiting till I find some that I like.  I love the little baskets that are really popular now but I know from personal experience that those adorable little things can collect a lot of dust.  NOT my idea of making things simpler.  I'm sure I'll come up with something - in time. 

I've also come across some cool ideas.  I had seen these old window pane photo displays but never really considered doing one ... until .... I was at my mom's the other day.  She's been sorting through old photos and came across some that my dad had that none of us had ever seen before.  There were some of my dad as a little boy and some of my grandfather as a young man, and even some of my great grandmother, who I had never seen a picture of.  So .... it seems appropriate to display a few of those in an old window I found at a salvage yard for $15. 

I also picked up my dad's old barber tools.  When I was a little girl, before Dad  owned the men's clothing store  and long before we moved to Ohio, he was a barber at Bob King's barber shop in Petersburg.  I remember going to Catt's Cafe with my mom and waiting for him to get off work.  Since Catt's was just across the street from the barber shop, we could watch for him easily. 

I was surprised to find in my dad's old barber tools, my grandfather's old shaving brush and straight edge razor.  So in addition to dad's barber tools, there were some things of my grandfather's.  I have lots of memories of dad cutting my boy's hair as they grew up too ... so .... I thought I would put together a shadowbox.   I priced out having them done at a local craft store and was stunned that it would cost $300-$600 to have them do it.  I also wasn't all that crazy about the do-it-yourself boxes they sold there ... and then I thought of using an old medicine cabinet.  When I get a chance, I'll be hitting some salvage yards for one of those.

But, back to Pinterest.  Its been a good thing.  I've found some more DIY cleaners and hand creams and soaps which seem to work well and are less expensive (and less chemicals) than the store bought kind.  I've found a few decent recipies.  But  I also see how it could become a bad thing.  I think that's how must things in life are.  I try to avoid the "fashion" and "home decor" sections because, like anybody else, I like pretty things, but I don't feel right about spending bookhooo's of money of material things.  It would be oh so easy to do if I kept looking.  So I just don't look there. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ahh, I LOVE This Bath Soap (Homemade)

This homemade bath soap recipe I found at Little Seed Farm isn't the cheapest, but it is cheaper than store bought bath soap and it is very thick, rich, moisturizing and just feels expensive.  It also is good for your skin because it doesn't contain the harsh chemicals that store bought have in them.  I love it!   Initially the ingredients will cost a bit but all of them except the castile soap will last a long, long time.  Castile soap is about $10 a Target and you should get two batches of this recipe (or 4 bottles of soap) out of it.  As with all homemade products, the initial cost is the biggest.  Once you have a supply, its all good from there. 

Its also very easy to make and not too time consuming.  The longest part is waiting an hour for the infusion to take place - but you can do something else while you're waiting for that.  The rest is very fast and easy. 

Here is how to do it:

Pour 1 Tablespoon of Steel Cut Oats into a glass measuring cup. (Irish Oats can be found at Meijer or Jungle Jim's)

Throw in a spring of fresh Rosemary (great if it comes from your garden)

Bring water in a tea pot to a boil and pour into the measuring cup with the oats and rosemary, filling to the 1 cup mark.  Cover and let it steep for an hour. 

After it has steeped strain it with a mesh strainer to separate the oats and rosemary from the water.   

Put the following into a mixing bowl.

2 Tablespoons coconut oil (found at any grocery store in the Asian section)

1 Tablespoon honey (raw is best but I think you can use any)

1 Teaspoon non-corn based citric acid (found at health food stores or at Jungle Jim's)  This prevent bacteria from growing in your soap.

The water from the infusion with oats and rosemary 

Mix with an electric mixer

Add 1 teaspoon of Guar Gum and whisk.  Immediately add 1 1/2 cups of liquid castile soap and stir until well blended. 
Guar Gum can be found at Jungle Jim's near the Bob's Red Mill grains in the Organic Section)  Castile Soap can be found at Target or Jungle Jims or a health food store.

At this point you can drop in 30 drops of essential oils for fragrance if you wish (I didn't) and then pour into your containers. 

For containers I used two large water bottles with a flip top spout.  They are plastic so they won't break in the shower and they were the right size.  I filled two of these water bottles with this recipe. 

This soap lathers a lot so a little will go a long way. 

Tip:  Do not use an electric mixer to mix in the castile soap or you will have a ton of lather.  The electric mixer is good to mix the other ingredients but once you add the castile soap, use a spoon to stir it in. 

Homemade Salve for Dry Skin

I know people think I'm nuts, but I like saving money and if I can find a homemade product that saves money and is healthier for you, all the better.  I personally don't like all the chemicals that are in the food we eat and the products we use, so anytime I can cut those out with something that works just as well or better, I'm in. 

So, I found a recipe for a Homemade Salve for Dry Skin on the TLC site and decided to give it a try.   It was surprisingly easy and inexpensive and for the most part, could be made with things you have around the house.  

I know some people think its just too time consuming or too much trouble to make your own products, but really the hardest part of this was grating the beeswax and that took maybe 2 minutes.  You can easily do this while you're doing something else around the house because the biggest time investment is waiting 30 minutes for the oil to infuse with the herbs. 

Here are the steps:

Pour 1 cup of olive oil (or any kind of oil you like) into a saucepan. 
Add 1 cup of flower petals or fresh herbs of the aroma you like.  (I used Rosemary but you can use any flower or herb you have growing in your garden).

Heat to a simmer over medium heat.  When it begins to simmer, remove it from the burner, cover, and let steep for about 30 minutes. 

While that is steeping, grate 1/4 cup of beeswax.  Beeswax can be found at health food stores.  I found a small piece at Jungle Jim's for $1.99 and I should be able to get 5-6 jars of salve out of it. 

After the oil has steeped, strain it through a cheesecloth into a small mixing bowl. (I used a coffee filter and metal strainer).

Stir in the grated beeswax until it melts. I had to reheat the oil in the microwave because it had cooled to much to melt the beeswax. 

Then pour it into a jar (the small half pint Mason jars are perfect).  Let cool until it thickens into a salve consistency. 

So for the cost of the beeswax ($1.99) and oil (if you don't have olive oil on hand you can usually find it on sale for less than $5.00) you can probably get at least 4 jars of salve.  AND its healthy for your skin because its natural and contains no chemicals.