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Faith

Random 5 for October – 665, pies and Free Fallin’

It’s Tuesday! It’s Random! It’s time for 5 Randoms in my world.  Ready?  Set?  Go ->

1 )  665 – that’s 665 days without 1 sick day.  I was last sick (bronchial infection/the flu) in December of 2015; I started the 10 day Grain Detox on Jan 4 2016 and lost weight, the fluff & puff, and regained my health.   Cutting out grains cut the inflammation that feeds illness ~ no more seasonal allergies, colds, flu, sinusitis or bronchitis.   It’s not that hard to do and while I was super strict the first 8 months my life shifted with even more travel and I relaxed and leaned into it.  I still (largely) follow the guidelines and – to my amazement – am never sick.  Amazing!   10 days became a lifestyle.

2 )  Death ~ we had a death in the family last week, Hubbs’ Dad.  He had been estranged from the family for many years, and lived far away from all of us, by choice.   Still, it’s never easy to lose a parent, regardless the circumstances.   Someone asked me what he was like and my answer was, “He was a hard man to know.”   And there it is.   But – to clarify – when I write here about time spent with my FIL, I’m writing about Hubbs’ Step-Dad, who lives nearby.   Fathers come in many forms.

3 ) Seasons ~ it’s October and feels like June, with higher than normal temps, skies like September and heat like summer.   Birds and squirrels are as confused as we are!

2 doors down & Taken on my cell phone. An Emjayandthem(C) Photo.

4 ) Travel ~ I have gobs of travel this month – day trips, overnights, and out-of-towns.  Current events make for nervous travelers, watching the crowd, staying alert.    You know what keeps me going?   Too much vacation has to be used again so I’ve booked a week off at Thanksgiving ~  I’ll be reading, pie-making, relaxing and shutting out the world.      It’s good to have goals 🙂

My sister-in-law’s homemade Saskatoon berry pie.

5 )  Tom Petty.  RIP.   So many great songs, all sing-along-able.  This was and is a favorite.   “She’s a good girl, loves her Mama, loves Jesus, and America, too.”   ~ Sigh

And how was your week?

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Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Grief, Growth, Life Lessons, Men, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts, Travel, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The price we pay

I’ve been absent, that much I know:  1 post in August, another in September.

I used to write almost daily. What happened?

I’d like to say life happened but that’s just not true.

Yes we’re busy.  Busy-busy-busy.  I am so sick of the word busy.

The truth is harder to admit out loud:  I. Miss. Her.

It’s been a year+ since she left.  It was time and believe me when I say I don’t want her to come back for things to be how they were in the end.

Just last week a colleague’s mother passed away and the grief paid a visit. A Tsunami wave of it so strong and deep I nearly lost my footing.

So many of my stories, experiences and thoughts have her intertwined throughout.

But.  She wouldn’t want this. She would not want this for me at all.

She would set her mouth in a firm way, frown and tell me, “it’s time.  You have to carry on.”

And so I do. I try.

Some days  are better than others.

Some days I forget to think of her.

Other days I dial into conference calls and try not to shout out loud “OH FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD!” like she would have been tempted to had  she been there.

Some days I move around as though nothing happened.  As though the void of her passing wasn’t there.

Other days I prep the coffee maker to wake up and find I never added … water or coffee.

Some days.

Some days I laugh and chat with my sister and a memory makes us both giggle then gasp back tears, all at once.

Other days I can engage with humanity as though nothing happened.   Like the wound isn’t still gaping.

There’s a lesson for me here:  Grief has no timeline.

It’s real and raw and it’s why I haven’t even thought about writing.

Because to write now is writing in a world without her in it.

All that she was and all that she shared and encouraged in me – a love of reading and writing, of good books, breaking news, meandering conversations, being still and quiet,  political nuances, singing along to songs worth singing to, Sunday supper on the stove, and a home tidied with things in their place  – all that I love to do and 5 million more – are because of her.

God, I miss her.

  * * *

“So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love.”
― E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

 

This song was one of her favorites ~ and it echoed one of her favorite Bible verses.  Sing with me will you?

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Determination, Faith, Family, Grief, Growth, Love, Mom, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

80’s Ladies, Harrison Ford and Hurricanes

Last night, I caught the second half of an old favorite, a 1988 movie featuring newcomer Melanie Griffith in “Working Girl.”  I forgot how cute Harrison Ford was!  And I laughed while watching, remembering and relating to her, busy working hard, dressing the part, putting up with double-crossing, double-talking bosses.  “Ya wanna be taken seriously? You gotta wear serious clothes…..!”  Like this:

80’s ladies — remember those manly suits?

There’s a scene in the movie where Melanie’s character, Tess, meets Harrison Ford’s character, Jack, ~ she’s wearing a beautiful, feminine cocktail dress .. his reaction is perfection:

Jack Trainer: You’re the first woman I’ve seen at one of these things that dresses like a woman, not like a woman thinks a man would dress if he was a woman.

Tess McGill: Thank you, I guess.

I remember those suits, the padded shoulders, and the stupid bows that tied at the neck.   I remember how hot those ties were and how we thought big shoulders made our waists look smaller (like they were ever large in the first place, sheesh!)  Now, looking back, I see how we were nearly overtaken by those shoulder pads!

that’s me -(MJ) – at my bridal shower, 1992 — every one of us sporting shoulder pads!  An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Today, clothes are more forgiving.  Mix & match, not much that’s matchy-matchy.   Slacks and a sweater, wrap dresses, clothes that fit and flatter.   Less is more.   Thank goodness.

That picture above was taken in Houston, where we lived for 10 years before moving to Hubbs’ home state of Michigan.   We haven’t been back but we keep in touch with friends ~ some were spared, others had heavy damage to their homes.   Having lived there, driven there, and witnessed “normal” flash floods that happen, the damage and impact of this is beyond imagination.

And there’s a reason why sometimes we have to turn off the coverage, bury ourselves in an old movie and swoon over Harrison Ford … who’s still as handsome as ever.

Hello!

        Sincere prayers of safekeeping to all affected by Hurricane Harvey!            

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Confidence at any age, Faith, Friendship, Gratitude, Grief, Growth, Life, Love, Men, Opinion, Personal, Romance, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Random Five Friday – Rats, Math and Boom-Shakalaka

It’s a random August Friday – humid but with a cooler Fall breeze wafting in.   Summer lingers but Autumn is coming, we can feel it.

Here are 5 randoms from my crazy world ~

1 ) Recently hit a milestone – I celebrated 2 years Rat-Free.   2 years!  In that time I’ve had 4 different bosses to report to — but, thankfully, none have been rats.  Some have been more challenging than others but none have belittled me, stolen my work/ideas or endeavored to make me feel less than.  To the contrary.  It’s lovely living in a rat-free lane.  And once you’ve lived/worked/endured rat behavior – 2 years can pass and your tail still twitches at the thought of the experience.

2 )  Back to school for the littlest ones soon – I am so happy to be past the helping-with-homework stage! Essays, speeches, science, geography and social studies – sure, no problem. Math- ugh, no and where’s Dad??

3)  Vacation a few weeks ago was just wonderful.  I had the first 3 days largely to myself ~ yes I had big plans to head to the big lake then I remembered a certain festival going on so I skipped the crowd.  Instead I went to the backyard ’70s style — a big sheet spread out with my beach chair centered on it, a jug of Iced tea, books, snacks and sunshine.  I read and read and relaxed and read some more.  Hours in the sunshine, taking breaks to refill my water/tea and then later, after a shower, back out to the patio to read some more.  3 books, 22 magazines, and peace to my soul.   When friends ask my take on a given movie, in my head this is what I see:

meh

4 )  Sometimes it seems we’re surrounded by anger and division, chaos and hate.   I find myself, more and more, turning off the news and flipping back to simpler times:

5 ) And on a totally random note – this made me laugh out loud!   TGIF, peeps!

Care to share your randoms with me?

 

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, Fun, Growth, Home, Humor, News, Opinion, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The idea

“Use it or lose it” they said.  I rolled over vacation time last year to this one and it’s timing out so .. with that .. I’m on vacation this week — and following the “no plan-plan.”

Purposeful nothingness.

Reading.

Sunshine.

Iced Tea.

Flip flops.

Farmer’s Market.

Pedicure.

Reading.

Phone chats with siblings and cousins.

Music.

Firing up the grill.

Shutting down the laptop.

Reading.

Naps.

A stretch of days with nothing to do and all day to do it.

You can get old pretty young if you don’t take care of yourself.

I’m feeling younger by the minute!  🙂

When’s the last time you checked out? Have you ever had a week of “purposeful nothingness?”

 

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Confidence at any age, Faith, Food, Gratitude, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Personal, Quotes, Relationships, Seasons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Slow down Summer

Arriving home Friday night, the air was heavy with moisture and the threat of a summer shower  – the humidity/heat index hovered in the triple digits.  Hubbs, naturally slender, smiled at finally being warm.  His movements were easy, mine not so much.   I rushed in with groceries, wiping the sweat from my neck, and stayed inside to cool down in the air-conditioning.

After a shower and with my hair up, I re-joined him on the patio for an iced-cold beer and one of our typical meandering Friday night conversations.

The two of us spoke longingly of our upcoming summer vacation – remembering summers of our past, some spent together, some before we met.

We both remembered that first slice of watermelon, sitting on Grandma’s front steps and a shared childhood memory of Root Beer floats, burnt hot dogs and someone’s homemade pie.

We recalled wienie roasts with cousins, sleepovers, marshmallows cooked too long, and the crackle of the fire against the quiet of a dark summer night.

We reminisced about when our boys were little, how we spent summer days with Super Soakers, sprinkler hoses and water balloons and unbridled fun.

We remembered cookouts with Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles, with hordes of cousins to play with and the best food we’d ever eaten – Taco Salad, baked beans, fried chicken, burgers off the grill, lemonade, Rhubarb, Cherry and Saskatoon pie.  We talked about an older brother backing his car into the yard and opening the trunk to crank up the tunes – Led Zeppelin, Al Green or the Beatles.  We remembered some adults sipping beer from short brown bottles and Great Uncles playing Horseshoes and ladies fanning themselves against the summer warmth.    We remembered the prickly feel of lawn chairs against our sun-burnt thighs and the cozy happiness we felt being tucked into bed after such a rapturous day.

Summers were magical when we were kids – days were longer – parents were lenient – it was like everyone all knew this couldn’t – wouldn’t last.

Summer is here. Please last a little while longer.

 

Summertime, I think, is a collective unconscious. We all remember the notes that made up the song of the ice cream man; we all know what it feels like to brand our thighs on a playground slide that’s heated up like a knife in a fire; we all have lain on our backs with our eyes closed and our hearts beating across the surface of our lids, hoping that this day will stretch just a little longer than the last one, when in fact it’s all going in the other direction.”
― Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

 

Care to share your favorite summer memories?  Did your elders send you outside to eat watermelon or iced cream, too?

That’s me on Dad’s knee – An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Food, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Personal, Quotes, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

32 and 9 and still new

32 years ago I immigrated to the United States with $178 and a guitar.

9 years ago I stepped forward with 78 others to take the Oath of Citizenship.

It was one of the proudest and most emotional  moments of my life.

(more about my journey here.)

You see, someday I will be a citizen for 15 or 20 or 35 years and I’ll still choose to tell folks that I’m a “new” citizen.

Why?

Because I don’t know how else to communicate the significance of it.    The choice of it.

We’re not perfect, this country, we’ve got our flaws.  Like most families, there’s bickering and divisions and  always someone willing to point out what’s wrong with us … but still … there’s a heart and soul about America that continues to inspire people to imagine a life here.

* * * *

God Bless America, Land that I love

Stand beside her,  and guide her

Thru the night with a light from above

From the mountains..to the prairies

To the oceans..White with foam

God Bless America!

    My Home Sweet Home

Happy birthday, America …. from a grateful citizen.

 

Related:

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Holidays, Home, News, Opinion, Personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Kisses, smiles and summertime

Summer just started and * gasp * it’s already scheduled  … I have too many vacation hours and must use “it or lose it” (not happening).  Not a terrible problem to have I know so, for that reason, I’m booking off soon to enjoy a summer  that looks like this:

“It’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine … it’s summertime!”  ― Kenny Chesney

 

 What’s your summer looking like? 

 

 

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Fun, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, music, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Romance, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Random 5 – Sisters, Books and Summer’s arrival

It’s Sunday! Back to work tomorrow ~Cooking, Laundry and random 5 today. Here goes!

1 )  My sister and I vacationed together last week ~ she lives in Canada, where we grew up, I live in the USA so – instead of traveling to each other’s homes – we met in the middle – something new for both of us.  No cooking. No cleaning. No bed-making.  No organizing. No wrangling. No Scheduling.  We loosely followed the “no plan-plan.”   Meeting in Minneapolis then flying to Kansas City together we laughed and we cried and we laughed again.  Navigating the rental car through the city and down to the interstate to Branson, MO, we sang along and talked and talked.  We had purchased a few show tickets ahead of time but left the week open to the possibilities.  Lying by the pool. Shopping in cute little boutiques, artisan markets and outlet malls.  Dining out, being waited on and, in some cases, sung to (the Singing Diner was so fun!)  Our trip was glorious!  Sister time – talking in the morning, talking at night, talking by the pool, talking in the dark.   On our last night together, out of the dark a small voice whispered,”I’m sure going to miss you, you know.”  “I know,” I said, “as will I miss you.”    A knowing look – finishing each others sentences – laughing at our stupid jokes.  For as much as we talked – sisters don’t need words.  

Sisters! An Emjayandthem(C) photo

2 ) Heat – arriving back home I was surprised to find the weather much hotter here (northern) than where we’d been (southern).  How did that happen?  80s up to 90s with little rain. It’s hot and dry.  Birds flitter happily through the sprinkler.

3 )  Taking a (leave-your-house) vacation is an excellent reminder that all of the stuff stressing me out is just that … stuff.    I work hard and do my best to stay on top of everything but every once in a while I need to step away from it and breathe.  Live.  Laugh.  And re-connect.

and there it is

4)  Books — Read one and bought another — one of my favorite things to do on a plane is to dive into a new story.  This one was well worth the dive:

… great read .. right to the last page!

And I bought this on the recommendation of a fellow passenger – next up on my summer reading list.

5 ) Summer’s here and another favorite just arrived — the Farm Market is open again!  I have to pace myself and remember that, for the most part, I’m the only one eating all these yummies.   Ooh … deliciousness abounds!!

What’s on your summer reading list?  Have you had any adventures lately?   What are you grateful for?  Are you a fan of toasted ‘mater sammiches, too?  *(GF for me!)

Toasted Tomato Sandwich ~ ahh, Summer!

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, Food, Friendship, Fun, Gratitude, Growth, Holidays, Home, Life, Love, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The New Normal

Somehow me – and some others – are still here.  We’ve been impacted but not “touched” by “re-organizations,” “alignments” and “employee optimizations.”   It gets challenging to do your work well when your wide range of contacts becomes more narrow.

Opening the office yesterday, balancing my lunch, coffee and backpack while punching in the alarm code,  I took a moment to stand in the quiet and take this in. We’ve dropped from 28 to 7 in a matter of weeks.   Department consolidations, moves, staffing changes. Some left, others moved, some took different positions within the company.

I’ve been traveling during most of these changes so I’m a bit late to the (non) party.   It’s like I woke up from a dream and the horizon shifted.

The new normal is office doors open  – everyone listens for the doorbell  – not just the cube-dwellers.  The cubes are empty.

The new normal is driving 7 miles to spend the whole day by myself.   Yes I can work at home and I sometimes do but all of my files and materials are there.  And I like having an office to go to – I can access everything easily – make copies, send a fax and conference someone in if need be.

The new normal is closing my office door for conference calls only to emerge and find everyone gone.

The new normal is – as expected – me and the other female employee – ensuring the coffee pot gets turned off, lights are shut down, and that we don’t run out of supplies.

The new normal is weird.   I don’t care for the new normal.

 

I’ve been through many re-organizations ~ too many to count.  What’s your experience been and how did you cope?

 

 

Categories: Faith, fear, Growth, Life, Personal, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Women, Work | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Random 5 – Mom looks, phone calls, traffic, forgetting and Pearls

We’re halfway through May ~ wow!  I’ve been traveling so much that I was halfway through April when I realized my desk calendar said … March.  And wouldn’t you know that, ever since my last post, I’ve been craving Penny Candy?  🙂

I’m not here as much anymore, sorry, but I do read your posts when I can, and I think about writing. I really do.  I just … well … 10 & 12 hour work days + night meetings + copious travel and … yeah, you get it.   Something’s gotta give … and this g-a-v-e.

But a few randoms caught my attention lately and I thought “those would be great for the blog” – so here we go.   Random 5 on a .. gulp .. Wednesday.

(1)  Mother’s Day was great – relaxing – joyful.  The boys came and went, chats were had, hugs and presents were given.  Didn’t need anything fancy – just them.

… and we laughed about the power that IS “the Mom look”

( 2 )  Is it just me or has there been an uptick in anonymous calls?  Home, office and cell phone.  Hey, pal, if you can’t even announce who you are, I’m not answering.  This isn’t 1974 when no calls were ignored …!

( 3 )  My face.  In traffic.  Every day.  Except I’m dressed.

( 4 )  Did this the other day — walked around looking for my glasses which were on my head.  Geez Louise.   Have you gone to the basement and walked around wondering why you were there?  Came back up only to remember?  Gah!

( 5 )   An Auntie shared this photo recently of Dad’s mother, Grandma Pearl.  I get my naturally curly hair from her.  She was a marvelous cook ~ her pan-fried burgers with sautéed onions were to die for ~ and her baking was out of this world.  Sometimes she let me help – such a privilege!  I had the good fortune (and prior planning – wink wink) to be over for a noontime visit she’d invite me to stay for lunch with her and Grandpa and, before lunch even started (translate feast) she’d hand me a plate and ask me to go pick out baking for dessert — in the basement she had a freezer full of baked treats – gingerbread cookies, short breads, “Aunt Mary’s cookies,” home-made donuts, tarts, bars and more.  Any lucky grandchild carrying the plate could simply tip-toe down the gleaming white stairs to the baking freezer, crack open the lid and take our pick from the plethora of homemade goodness that lived there.  Setting the selections aside as we enjoyed lunch together, the treats would quickly defrost.  After lunch, Grandpa would dip spoonfuls of sugar into his coffee/cream, they’d quietly nibble their selections in the midst of  the clatter my stories must have generated.    When I see her face, I’m transported to the summers of my girlhood — pigtails, my pony tucked in the barn or a 10 speed right at the front door.  I feel again what I’d always known to be true.  Something they didn’t speak of, you had to be there to feel it.  Loved.

This picture taken in 1923 ~ 94 years ago ❤️ Pearl was 19. Her only daughter passed away on Mother’s Day ~ hard for us but a gift to her.  An Emjayandthem (C) Photo

 

What’s new in your world?  Did your Mom have “the Mom look” down?  What picture or fragrance transports you back to your Grand parents?  Do tell!

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Faith, Family, Friendship, Fun, Home, Humor, Joy, Life, Love, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Church memories and penny candy

Reminiscing with Hubbs last night we laughed at the similarities of our childhoods:

  • Huge gardens & summer canning projects ~ a kitchen filled with steam
  • Church / Sunday School on Sundays through the school year
  • Vacation Bible school in the summer (plus 4-H camp for me and sports camp for him)
  • Family birthday parties with cake, coffee and a weenie roast
  • Freeze Tag, Kick-the-Can and Hide & Go Seek with cousins afterwards
  • Riding our bikes to the lake
  • And summer chores, saving our money for penny candy

Remembering my Sunday School routine, I told how our little village had a “Confectionery” downtown (1 1/2 blocks from the Church).  Because it was part of the hotel it could be open on Sundays (nothing else was) — Mom would give us  .25 cents  (two bits) with which we could buy:

  • a Pop and a bag of chips or
  • a Pop and a candy bar or
  • a little brown bag FULL of penny candy (always my choice)

Kind of like this

He and I agreed on the need to “make our candy last” – and how we’d negotiate with parents or siblings to get the best deal.    We differed on our choices, with him preferring chocolate to my licorice.

remember red hot dollars?

and licorice pipes?

We both laughed at this one:

Candy cigarettes!

The two of us could still remember the sweet, crunchy taste of a candy cigarette.  The sugar rush from a Pixie Stix.  The mess of “Fun Dip.”  He talked of hiding his Hershey bars from his brother and I did the same with my stash.  We agreed that underwear drawers were favorite hiding spots  ~ no one ventured there!

Funny how a little trip down memory lane can take you to places both sacred and sweet.

*****

*What was your favorite childhood candy?  How much did it cost?  Do you remember candy after Church, too? *

Categories: Faith, Family, Fun, Gratitude, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Personal, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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