Chipmunk Condos

chipmunkThe chipmunks in our front yard created an underground tunnel system that rivals those of Vietnam in the 1970s. At first, it was only one or two of the fluffy little creatures, scurrying about. Now, it’s just plain insulting. I think they should start chipping in to pay the mortgage.

We’ve noticed holes in the yard for months now, but the holes are getting bigger and more numerous. The final straw came yesterday when we noticed that they removed a rock from our stonewall by the sidewalk.


This means war.

Where is Bill Murray when you need him?

Bill Murray eye to eye with a groundhog in a scene from the film 'Caddyshack', 1980. (Photo by Orion Pictures/Getty Images)

Bill Murray eye to eye with a groundhog in a scene from the film ‘Caddyshack’, 1980. (Photo by Orion Pictures/Getty Images)

Hubby set up the Havahart trap (have-a-heart) with peanut butter. I have a feeling that the little rodents will merely enjoy a fine meal, and leave the trap unlatched, laughing all the way back to the tunnels.

Considering the amount of holes in the front yard, I am sure there is a whole village in there. Here’s some of the things they are probably doing:

chipmunk-readingCatching up on the daily news.

workoutKeeping in shape.

chipmunks-datingGetting to know one another better.

basketballPlaying a friendly game of hoops.

My husband will be calling the Pest Control people to find out what we are able to do to rid our yard of these little guys.

I don’t think they plan to leave anytime soon.

santa-chipmunksLast time I looked, they were getting ready for Christmas.

A Prayer for Suzy’s Father

The following is a prayer gleaned from several different books, mixed with scripture, to pray for that person that seems too far away for God to reach. Is anything too hard for the Lord? No.

Father, we boldly come to your throne and present __________. We stand in the gap for __________ and believe for his/her salvation. Your Word says to come boldly to your throne of Grace and receive mercy and find Grace to help in time of need.

We thank you that Your Word says that if we ask anything according to Your will, you hear us, and we will receive what we ask of You. We know that it is Your will that no one perish, but that all come to repentance and believe on the Lord Jesus.

The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but they have divine power to demolish and destroy strongholds.

Father, we ask that _________’s spiritual eyes are opened so that he/she can see the reality of Jesus and understand the gospel. We loose ________ from spiritual blindness, in Jesus name.

We come against deception in all its forms that have attached themselves to _________. We pray that his/her wrong beliefs that contradict Your Word will be shattered in _______’s life.

Holy Spirit, we ask you to go and be with _________.

We come against the root of pride in _______’s life. The pride of life deceives a person into believing that they don’t need to repent, and don’t need a Savior.

We come against all Satan’s plans and schemes to keep _______ from believing on Jesus.

Lord of the Harvest, we ask you to send laborers into your harvest, both worldwide and in _______’s life.

We thank You, Lord, that Your Words are Spirit and they are Truth. We thank you for answered prayer, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Learning to Breathe: Finally. At the age of 55.

voice7I was never good at sports, mostly because whenever I ran I could never catch my breath. When I did sit-ups, I held my breath. It was one or the other; I was never able to breathe and move my body at the same time. I guess this is where normal people stop reading. What the heck is she talking about? Goodbye, have a good day.

When the aerobics fad hit in the 1980’s, I not only had a problem with trying to breathe as I moved, but if they shifted left-right-left too quickly I was not able to keep up and thus froze like our good friend, the deer in the headlights. Something inside my brain locked up. This also happened on the dance floor, which I avoided at all costs.

Last night I went to choir practice. This in itself is monumental. I have no training in singing and going to group things is difficult for me, but it once was impossible. In my younger days, I was so self-conscious that I thought everyone in the room was staring at me and finding every fault. Now I know that it was merely the echo of my father’s voice criticizing me. In reality, I blended in very nicely with the woodwork.

After we sang a few songs, a woman (let’s call her Michelle) got up to lead us in breathing exercises. I was nervous, but I didn’t run out of the room like I would have 20 years ago. I know now that I am just one in the crowd; I don’t stand out, but blend in very nicely.

Michelle instructed us to sit up straight and breathe in deeply.  Feel the breath fill up our lungs, separate our ribs and even fill in spaces in our backs. Hold our shoulders back. Wow, I hadn’t done that in ages because when I did, I bumped into the woman sitting next to me. I have large shoulders and long arms. I instinctively curled back and slumped, but caught myself.  I am allowed to take up space on this planet. My shoulders are not too big; they are mine. Comfortable in my own skin 101.

Michelle had us stand up, take in a breathe for a count of three and breathe out for a count of eight. Take in another breathe and breathe out for a count of 10. Hello, we’re your lungs. We’ve been here for you all this time. Maybe we can finally be friends.

Michelle had us breathe in again and follow her in vocal scales of some kind. I did the best I could, being sure not to be too loud but also remembering that I am allowed to make sound also. My voice does matter.

We sang a few more songs, then it was on to the Fellowship Hall for some snacks. Several people approached me and introduced themselves. They are a friendly bunch. I look forward to learning more about the people, about singing, and finally learning how to breathe.

Constant Love?

IMG_2306Yesterday was a bad day. There were too many disappointments to number.

When I woke up this morning, my head was still swirling. I felt like all the emotions that I was dealing with were too much to bring to God, too much to pray about, and why do I want to bother God with this anyway? I should be able to fix it myself, I’m the one that messed it up in the first place. God deserves better than to listen to me and my mess. I’ll just have to figure out how to deal with it.

I opened my bible and it fell open to Psalm 107.

Verse 6 says:

Then in their trouble they called to the Lord, and He saved them from their distress.

This is repeated again in verses 13, 19 and 28. This jumped off the page at me. Call to the Lord from your trouble and he will save you from your distress. But, what about trouble that is my own doing?  Well back up and look at the verses before these:

Some were living in gloom and darkness, prisoners suffering in chains because they had rebelled against the commands of Almighty God and had rejected His instructions. They were worn out from hard work; they would fall down and no one would help. (verses 10-11)

But still:

Then in their trouble they called to the Lord, and He saved them from their distress.

So even though the trouble was of their own making, when they turned to God for help, He helped them.

Then onto verse 17:

Some were fools, suffering because of their sins and because of their evil; they couldn’t stand the sight of food and were close to death. (v 17-18)


Then in their trouble they called to the Lord, and He saved them from their distress. (v 19)

The psalm goes on, explaining troubles of life: defeat, humiliation, dry rivers, oppression, and suffering. Some were self-imposed, some were forces of nature. When they called to the Lord, he delivered them from their troubles.

The psalm wraps it all up nicely:

May those who are wise think about these things, may they consider the Lord’s constant love. (v 43)

I confess, I sometimes struggle with believing in “constant love,” especially when the emotions are so overwhelming, and the mess is of my own making. But there it is in black and white. Call on the Lord and be saved from your distress.

Diamonds and Rust: Before and After

Joan Baez penned this song about her relationship with Bob Dylan. They were young, alive, political, vibrant. Life was exciting and love was powerful. Eventually, they both went their separate ways. In her eyes and in her voice, I perceive Joan working through the pain: remembering the good times, the bad times, standing toe-to-toe with the anger, the insult, the hurt, but there is still the remembrance of great love. Wrestling with the way things were, the way she wished it could be, her regrets, mad at herself for loving someone so much who didn’t appreciate the great gift she gave.

Fast forward 40 or so years.

Here’s a more recent rendition of Joan singing this great folk song.

Joan is now a mature woman. She’s been married, had children, known other kinds of love. She’s been around the world and seen real pain and poverty in other countries. She’s made peace with this chapter of her life. She can even joke about it. She’s moved on, the wounds are now strong places that propel her forward.

Thank you, Joan Baez, for sharing yourself with all of us.




Our Fifth Annual Unplugged on the St. Lawrence River vacation

StLawrence2As we drive into our favorite vacation resort parking lot, I can see the St. Lawrence River down the hill. I take a deep breath and turn my phone off, zippering it into the secret compartment of my purse. Unplugged. That’s how I like to vacation.

Although the motel boasts “We have Wi-Fi,” we have left the laptop at home to gather dust. We want to hear the sound of the waves, the birds, the wind in the trees, an occasional horn from a barge floating on the river, and the ever popular sound of silence.

We do the business transactions: check-in, bring suitcases to the room, put items from the cooler into the mini-fridge. Then it’s outside to jump in the pool. Oh yes, I did change into my bathing suit first. So did hubby. Just so you know.

After an afternoon of swimming, er, treading water and flapping around in the pool, it was time for some serious grilling of hamburgers. No, sorry, I don’t have a photo.

The next morning, we drank our complimentary coffee, and shuffled off to town to grab some breakfast. The Diner had a 30 minute wait(!) so we scuffled across the street to the other, more expensive breakfast eatery. Little did I know this would cause the day to spin downhill.

A waitress greeted us, “Help yourself to coffee, and sit where ever you would like.” Yes, this is my kind of service. I’m not a morning person, so I helped myself to the Midnight coffee and we scurried to find a table. Strange, all those people waiting outside.

Just as I was about to put my coffee cup down, the hostess yelled out, “May I help you?”

“She told us to sit where ever we want.”

“Oh, no, no, no, there is a waiting list.”

Ugh. I’m hungry and I want me some eggs.

Table for two. Twenty minutes.

I helped myself to more Midnight, aka, “Mud” coffee and cream.

The Java Jolt.

The Java Jolt.

Finally, we are seated, but we cannot order food for another twenty minutes, as the waitress takes care of a table of ten. Eventually, our eggs appear. The accompanying toast arrives ten minutes later, with one serving to split between us. That’s okay, I’m trying to cut down on my carbs anyway. We receive the check thirty minutes later. Sheesh, it’s almost time for lunch.

It seemed a good idea to drive to the next town over to go to the YMCA and work-out. But thank you Mapquest, we were caught in the pouring rain in the wrong town, and the alleged location was a parking lot. Hubby called the YMCA and asked for directions (yes, I got a husband who asks for directions, I know you’re jealous….) and we continuing driving in the rain, circle the block a few times, and park the car and walk through the rain to the Y.


The clerk at the desk is not satisfied with just the YMCA membership card, we must also have photo id. Because I’m sure people are always breaking into the Y to work out. Or maybe they really are?

Back into the rain goes hubby to get his photo id. Phone calls are made. We are cleared for admittance.

So I start pumping some iron. My chest starts to hurt.

I go to the next machine. My chest hurts more, and so does my stomach.

I inform hubby that I am having chest pains. I know it’s not my heart. It’s Acid Reflux.

The clerk looked surprised to see us leave so soon, but wished us a “good day” as we went back out into the rain.

The burn continues down my guts, into my lower abdomen, reminiscent of childbirth pains. “What should I do?” I ask hubby.

“Call your sister.” Duh, my sister is a nurse and has Acid Reflux to beat the band. [Okay, that’s a little 1940’s but whatever.]

I dig out my phone from the secret compartment, and text her. Help, I have the worst Acid Reflux of my life. What do you do?

Pepcid, came the response.

“Please buy me some ice cream. And some Pepcid.” Screw the Weight Watchers points. It’s August. if I can’t have ice cream in August when I don’t feel good, what’s the sense of living?

After a few spoonfuls of soft chocolate, I turned the corner, pain-wise. Relief was within my grasp. Hubby ran into the pharmacy, bought Pepid, and Pepto.

We drove back to the room and I took a nap. Day two was used up.

The sun came out again on day three. We drove around, saw the sights, fed some seagulls. I love to watch the seagulls’ determine pecking order in their kingdom.

I named this one MIMI; no particular reason. ;-)

I named this one MIMI; no particular reason. ;-)

On our last day of vacation, Hubby decided he wanted to find a state park beach on Lake Ontario. Through the back roads we drove, past farms, oversized McMansions, dilapidated trailers, and acres of corn. Finally (we thought) we found the beach. I was actually driving at this point and Mr. Porter was riding shotgun and reading the maps. I drove into the parking lot and dutifully paid $7 the machine requested so we could park there. I continued driving past the “Private Beach”, “Members Only” signs. I paid my seven bucks and I’m in, baby. A woman was hanging laundry on her porch, and I expected her to yell, “Get out,” but I quickly determined that we were the “Atkinsons” and parked at their space–like we belonged there.

We found ourselves in front of a body of water which boasted tall green plants. Hmm. Not exactly how I imagined Lake Ontario, but what do I know, I’m not Canadian. To the left was a footpath which led to a bunch of private beach houses. I shaved my legs for this? Er, I mean I paid seven bucks for this? We walked back to the car, thanked the Atkinsons for their hospitality and chalked it up to Life Lessons Learned.

While driving out–there it was–the sign for the beach! I will now spam you with pictures.

Mr. Porter in the surf.

Mr. Porter in the surf.



The waves were similar to an ocean beach.

The waves were similar to an ocean beach.

Crystal clear water.

Crystal clear water.

Mandatory Seagull Picture 1.

Mandatory Seagull Picture 1.

Mandatory Seagull picture 2.

Mandatory Seagull picture 2.

I knew I was in another dimension when I saw this.

I knew I was in another dimension when I saw this.

I called Keanu Reeves and we left the Matrix. Time to go home.

I called Keanu Reeves and we left the Matrix. Time to go home.


Until next year–we will miss you St. Lawrence.

Where have you been?

Where have you been?

Home again. Back to “real life.”