03 January, 2017

A Christmas Letter to My Friends

Some folks leave their Christmas decorations up through January. Or beyond....since that's totally acceptable in my world, I decided to send my Christmas greetings in January as well!! :) 

Life in the Black Hills of South Dakota is good for Miss Ellie and I. I encourage anyone who is considering making a move in an unfamiliar direction to do so, no matter how big or small. The challenges and rewards are both abundant and valuable.

The weather is never dull. Summer storms brought welcome rain and an occasional dicey bicycle ride when storms popped up quicker than expected. Still managed to log almost 800 biking miles; short of our goal but more than last summer. :)

Winter is bringing more snow this year along with bitter cold. I shovel a lot of snow and wear lots of layers. Snowshoeing is on my list of things to try this season. Miss Ellie wears her jacket and boots to stay warm. We have yet to wish for AZ weather, knowing whatever our season it will be changing quickly and a new one will bring new adventures. 

Our church sermon on New Year's Day touched on resolutions and the writings of a hospice worker. She interviewed the folks she cared for as they were preparing for their death. The top 5 things they wished were: 

I wish I had the courage to live life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
I wish I hadn't worked so much.
I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
I wish I let myself be happier.

What if these were New Year's resolutions or daily goals instead of our last thoughts?

Enjoy an amazing year, and stay in touch! I If you find yourself in the Black Hills, please look me up. Ellie and I would love to see you.

God Bless,
JK & Miss Ellie

12 December, 2016

Contentment and Christmas

I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. Phillipians 4:12

My dog Miss Ellie (the princess of adorableness) volunteers each week at the local nursing home. I drive her there, but that is pretty much all I do. She visits as many residents as she can, inspiring them to share their stories. She listens intently, looks them in the eye, and when appropriate gives them a nuzzle or a kiss on the nose.

I listen, and learn. 

Some residents are only there for rehab, and come and go within a few weeks. Some live there permanently. Some have their health. Some don't. Some have died since Ellie and I started to visit, and we cried. Some have family and friends who visit, others have no one. Most are local; ranchers and farmers and housewives with amazing stories about living in South Dakota as kids in the 1920s and 30s. One room school houses where they heated their lunch on the wood stove eating meat from deer shot ‘out of season’ but that was ok, because there was no money for meat otherwise. Or in 1927 meeting Mrs. Calvin Coolidge at Custer State Park when she and the president visited the Black Hills and made said park the "Summer White House". 

These residents lived full and productive lives. Some were well off, others not so much. One shared with me that “this is the nicest place I’ve ever lived in”. He is always in a good mood though he recently lost his second leg to illness. Another is waiting with great joy for her new electric wheelchair which should arrive in time for Christmas. It is red; I think she's more excited over the color than having new wheels.  

December already, and Christmas is here. The seasons are passing quickly, and I am constantly reminded of Paul's letter to the Philippians while he was under house arrest in Rome. 

One of my favorite quotes in the bible, he says "I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.

He's ready for anything through the strength of Jesus Christ, who lives within him. Good advice. Be content. Be grateful. Remember the reason for the season. 

Merry Christmas, and God bless us, everyone!

02 October, 2016

Beautiful Day....

In the 70s today; time for another hike up Crazy Horse here in the beautiful Black Hills. With snow in the forecast this week, we're enjoying the weather while we can. 

Crazy, fun and tiring times last few weeks....helping with an interior design project in Wyoming, moving for the 5th time in 4 years (finally found my tiny little house in the beautiful Black Hills), helping with a remodel. No time for bike riding; nice to finally get out and get some exercise!! :) Love my hat!!!

Riding with Private Malone....

Another fine song by David Ball; a great story song. Thinking my favorite musician guy will enjoy it!!

USA Today referred to it as "the country song that tapped most subtly and profoundly into the emotions of its audience" after the September 11 attacks, even though it was released to radio a few weeks before the attacks.

06 September, 2016

A little more summertime....

My little town is showing signs of Autumn. Trees are golden; the grasses are brown with splashes of yellow and red. Tourists are headed back to their lives and some local businesses are getting ready to close for the winter.

I love the changes each season brings to the Black Hills landscape, and Miss Ellie loves to wear her boots and jacket.  Perhaps I enjoy the differences because I moved here from the Arizona desert, where seasons don't really mean much. It isn't as hot for a few months a year, and spring flowers briefly color the cactus.

September does find me wishing a couple weeks in August could last a bit longer. :) It is a gray September day today; I heard this song and smiled. Lots of laughter, new memories and the magic sleeping couch. Perhaps  a new song for my favorite guy? I'll check with the penguins....

I brace myself against the cold
And let his memory take hold......