Thinking Problem

Song I was thinking: country music singer David Ball singing, “…I’ve got a thinkin’ problem…”

It popped into my mind as I was mopping the floor for the third time. No, I’m not a clean freak. But I wanted to be sure it was all clear. Even pulled out the refrigerator and the stove drawer to clean under! Why? Because I wasn’t careful in my thinking the night before…

We had a barbecue at our house. I made potato salad and had fixings for green salad. And I meant to make ahead a strawberry rhubarb crisp with rhubarb from our farmer friend David. He’s the generous widower who two years ago with his wife Karen, bless her soul, let us stay in our 19 foot trailer on their 40 acres at Alfalfa for 3 months after we sold our house and were in the process of securing a new home. That’s another story!

I love strawberry rhubarb crisp: it says home and family and summer celebrations with memories of my Grandma Faye coming for the day from Idaho. She made it delicious! I don’t have her recipe, but I looked up several and pulled out all the ingredients to make it but was missing oats for the crisp topping! And it’s 5-12 miles to a store depending on which direction we head! We were anxious to get down to swim at Brasada Ranch where we still own a half-acre lot, so we went down to the resort and checked out the little store there. They had individual serving cups of maple flavored oatmeal for $3.50 each!

Wow! That’s some expensive oatmeal! But it saved me a longer trip and time to another store. So after swimming, I put together the crisp and set it to baking while we barbecued and ate with our daughter and son-in-law and the grandsons aged two and four.

Our two English Labradors were underfoot begging for scraps as we cleaned up after. Hubby commented on how the one year old pup Abby is a bit thin as she loves to run and carry big sticks! We did let her have bites of hamburgers the little ones didn’t finish as it seemed a shame to waste the food.

thinking problemI brought the beautiful 9″x12″ pan of crisp from the oven to cool while I whipped coconut cream We’re only a year into eating a plant based diet and I’ve only made it one other time, but it turned out perfect!

The crisp was delicious and tart, not too sweet, and the coconut cream melted over it in each bowl. We ate too much, but there was still more than half the pan uneaten. I left it on the cupboard to cool while saying bye to the kids and their parents. I was thinking how full I was, AND how the crisp would keep calling me until it was eaten! I certainly don’t need that much dessert! And also, I have very touchy digestion. But I knew I’d keep eating at it until it was ALL gone since I can’t resist homemade sweets (especially with special memories of happy times) if they’re in the house!

That’s what I was thinking…

And then, CRASH!

The pup came running from the kitchen where the baking pan was shattered on the floor! Apparently, saying she was thin and thinking I didn’t want to eat any more was an invitation for her to gobble the crisp! Had she understood what we said and also read my mind?

I should be more careful with my thinking!

One thing for sure, no more giving left over bites to the dogs!

Welcome to a glimpse into my strange world! Does your thinking work this way?

Here’s a recipe similar to what I made – though I used vegan margarine and I substituted the coconut whipped “cream” for ice cream as the topping.

Enjoy the beautiful offerings of summer!



Earning Power

Some dads have earning power. It might be one of the biggest things they pass on. Not so much my dad.

earning power

Mom and dad launched into adulthood at seventeen with marriage and child but no high school diplomas! They worked hard at whatever jobs could be had: farm work, hide tanning, milk delivery, retail, child care, ironing. Despite dozens upon dozens of financial and medical set backs, they got up, showed up, and kept up appearances.

What my parents lacked in high school education they learned through community classes, friendships, life experience and being willing to try developing new skills. They failed many times. Repeatedly! Laughably at times. Painfully, too, with many accidents and injuries! But nothing stopped them for long! They demonstrated pluck!

I don’t think they believed in luck.

I knew when I headed off to college what possible career I could do. But when I decided out of boredom to go away from what I had determined was my biggest skill – working with materials and sewing – I struggled to see myself in any job with earning power. I really only wanted to “make people happy” I told my dad. To which he replied, “Be happy! Make like a virus and let everyone catch it from you!”

That was what my dad passed to me. That’s what he struck rich with: LOVE!

Earning Power







There I was in his arms in the photo above taken in Philadelphia. At twenty-one, the Idaho farm boy was a dad of two children and another on the way. And then another. Just what he knew as a teenager he wanted: 4-5 children and a wife! He started early! And, he ended early at age 69. While it is difficult not “seeing” him. I can’t say his is gone. I can’t say I believe in loss.

In mathematics, in the universe, in energy, there is no loss. There is only change.

That is one thing my dad is extremely skilled at! Change: constantly moving, doing, making the most of what they had. And that, I think, is as good as earning power: conserving and resourceful reusing of materials, He and Mom could see potential in everything and everyone!

Even me! I was born over two months premature. I failed to detectably breathe for 32 minutes. Doctors said I would likely not learn to walk, talk, or hear. I was colicky and cried. And cried. But Dad was determined to help me in ways he could: exercising my weak legs, talking and joking with me (he was the king of groaners – you know, those bad jokes that make you groan!) And he loved me. That’s what I always felt. What I still feel.

Though he struggled, Mom struggled, and they struggled together more than 50 years, his  – their – greatest trait was believing in others, and themselves. Again and again, their expectations and potentials were not met. But again and again, they proceeded with faith and support. No “earning power” needed.

Love has it’s own power for replenishment.

That’s what I’ve learned. Finally! Again! That’s what Dad teaches me. That’s what he passes on. That’s where he lives: in a world of generosity of spirit!

Don’t worry about earning power. All needed will be provided.

Use learning power to move forward!

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

I appreciate all you give!

I love you now, and always.








More posts to follow related to this! Check back soon!

Being Here

Being here…

Do you listen when your body says to rise even though you think you’d rather be sleeping? Do you glance outside, then step into the garden in the last moments of a morning moon?

Are there faces where you look, and you smile, saying, “Thank you for being here?”

Do you let whispered words fall into your ears and your eyes drink in their color?

being here
Do you let yourself fall for beauty?

What if every face could be recognized for its own beauty? How would the world change if each person experienced beauty every day?

What if we could see beyond clouds to mountains standing tall and glistening in light?

Many stand…though we do not see them just now…

Can we change the world by believing in the power of our faces lifting to the light…And saying, “Thank you for being here?”

Can spreading beauty to some who have little change us all?

Would the world also change?

Could ugly actions and words and intentions be transformed…just by beauty?

Just wondering…



What If ing

When I’m stirred up – which is easy these days – I find myself what if ing…

What if I don’t want to state my views because they’re complicated, conflicting, constantly changing?

What if I don’t want to reveal my deep worries, hurts, confusions, doubts, and frustrations because I want to get passed them, not focus on them?

What if my joys are deep and simple?

What if I share my real thoughts and you say I’m silly, selfish, stupid, but I don’t care if you think something less than flattering about me, though it still hurts to hear?

What if I have deep beliefs about almost everything, and they’re precious and sustaining to me and I couldn’t bear being misunderstood, judged, discounted, or condemned?

What if all I really want is to be happy, and for others to be happy, too?

Does that make me unambitious, lazy, irrelevant or irresponsible?

Could it be the whole world is connected with beauty and sharing it brings light and change in the midst of turmoil? Could it be all our health and happiness is directly accessible to each of us through the song of a bird, the scent of a flower or food or a loved one, the brush of the breeze, the touch of a stone or a hand or heart?

What if today, someone needed to hear this more than I needed to say it and the gift of my life was honored with that delivery of words?

Would that be enough?

Would that bring the world to a better place? Would that bring me through to another day of loving my life and the people and places I cherish?

Could all pain be healed if we only wished it so, if we only prayed it away, if we only believed it possible?

What If ing









Please share your thoughts! They matter! You have energy and power for making joy!

Creating Satisfaction

So I was working on creating the rest of the headboard décor from a previous post Crafting Pleasure, when I wondered what wood was in the scrap pile. (Read the post Crafting Pleasure here)

I’d constructed this wooden bookcase/box out of old wood brought back from our cabin. On top of it, I attached a small wooden box as a place to hide cat food and keep the dogs from getting it. (See the heavy rocks holding down the whole thing so big puppy Abby can’t knock it over?)

A friend gave me the little metal quail figure attached to the top box. I don’t know if our Lynx Point Siamese, Betty, cares if a quail is near her food! She does like to watch the live quail we feed out in the garden!

I found a chunk of wood I’d cut off the end of one board as the nails were so old and rusty I couldn’t pull them out. As I was carrying the board to the house, I noticed a heart shaped indentation. Suddenly I had an idea for a funky thing to make.

Creating Satisfaction
Marking pens, a dab of golden paint and brush, scissors, hammers, an old necklace cut apart, one old nail and two tacks were enough to complete the piece.

What do you think? Cute? Would you hang it or chuck it?

Well, I took pictures of it. Then I decided my script wasn’t good enough to hang the piece as it was. And it was dirty wood. So I started sanding on it. First with little chunks of sandpaper. And then I got out another tool and started scraping. And…well, you guessed it…I obliterated what was there before!

And then along came my husband. He stared at the board, picked it up, turned it over, set it down. Later, he said one of his photographs he snapped in Arizona would look so cool on the board. It would! So he will print out a new, bigger copy of the photo and I will glue it on the board and satin coat it with varnish to preserve it.

Creating is not always about the result for me! I LOVE coming up with new ideas how to use things, reuse and repurpose! It’s the process of creating that’s the thrill, not having or keeping!

I’ll bet you’re wanting to see the photo we will mount on the board…Come back to read the next post…


Moving Fears

Moving fears are not something we dwell on. Moving is difficult! So many tasks and upheaval! So much work to get re-established. But several times, we’ve moved because of our fears! Our latest move netted surprising results…But first, more about the moving fears…

Right out of college and newly inducted as an Attorney of Law in the state of Oregon, my husband applied for numerous jobs. He interviewed for a few he didn’t get. The pressure was on! I’d applied for teaching jobs when I’d finished college the year before with a Bachelor of Science in Health Education, but I hadn’t gotten any of those either. It was 1979. I was working a temporary position as a clerk in the water department of his home town while he finished law school. My job was scheduled to end in a week when he secured a position as an Assistant District Attorney on the Oregon coast. NOT where I wanted to go! Rainy, small fishing and timber towns were not my idea of career glamour.

But, move we did only three days later! No time to let moving fears set in!

The first several years, he prosecuted many drunk driving and under the influence violations, assaults, thefts, attempted murders. I worked as a substitute teacher and home tutor for the school districts. There was some overlap in the people we served since Coos County had less than 60,000 people. And we saw a lot of sad things. Scary things. (Many stories to tell another time…)

We bought a little house made of block: great in the fierce wind and rain storms of the coast! And only a few months later, we were expecting! I looked for a job in our little town (the County seat) which would be easier to manage instead of driving back and forth to see students. I signed on as Activities Director at a very small rural nursing home only a few miles away.

These were good jobs. We were learning so much! And we wanted to learn more! After both our children were born, we were restless and wanted more challenging positions. He took a special drug enforcement prosecutor position. I became licensed as a Nursing Home Administrator and took positions with companies operating facilities 20 miles from home. There was stress. Lots of it. And worse than that. There were threats. My husband was going after some bad dudes. He had phone threats and we had satanic drawings with threats in our home mailbox. He gave up that position and went into private law practice. But the office was across from the county jail! (No, below is not a picture of that jail!)

moving fears









Prisoners could stare directly down at him in his new office! And they yelled out the windows at him as he walked down the street. Between that discomfort, the stress of my job, and raising two kids in a rainy climate, we decided a change was due.

After more than ten years on the rainy coast, we moved to the sunny east side of the Cascade Range in Central Oregon.

We bought a two story house in a nice neighborhood. I worked at substitute teaching, crisis intervention, raising our kids! My husband worked doing a few personal injury cases, but more family law: mostly divorces. Messy. Sometimes violent. Most involving custody of children, or protracted fights over property. It was not pleasant. And then it got scary. The husband of one of his clients lived in our neighborhood! He sent threatening letters, drove by our house and yelled threats.

After only six years in that home we loved, we decided to move!

We we found 21 acres close to town down a long dead end road with another property separating us from the main road. Our “someday” idea of living in the country suddenly was here with room to roam and space for raising cattle, market hogs, Labrador puppies, chickens, hay. We loved it! Driving down our driveway was like going to a peaceful farm far away from the pressures of law practice and the booming town which had tripled in size.

But after fifteen years there, our neighbor with health problems sold the property between us and the main road. I had a strange nightmare involving Clint Eastwood memorabilia I was throwing at a man standing between me and the only way out of a long room with a rectangular opening at the end.

Not long after, we learned who bought the property. The son of the stalker! Yes, it had been many years. But we were unnerved to see that man with his son standing at the end of our land and staring at us as we drove by on the long driveway to our mailbox at the edge of his son’s property. (Hmmm…something like the strange nightmare!)

Farm life is fun! And it’s a lot of work! I was tired of doing it! My husband had gone through a cardiac ablation and a hip replacement. Our daughter and son had gotten married. It was all ours, and now it seemed scary with a threat from the past suddenly in our neighborhood again!

My husband happened to read an advertisement about a country resort we’d visited once on whim. That afternoon, in our mailbox, was a postcard from the resort announcing new lots for sale! Noting the coincidence, the next afternoon, we visited it and were shocked to find an affordable lot adjacent to BLM land in a area of the resort not yet built up.

We bought the half-acre lot with gated community safety in a country atmosphere. And then we listed our home for sale.

We hired a designer to work on plans to build what we hoped would be a lovely and affordable house. But our home didn’t sell. There were so many frustrations over the next months! Winter came. We cooled on our realtor and the designer. We fired both. Our hopes were dashed. We couldn’t move forward. Then we went to our little cabin in the woods of NE Oregon. Being off-grid and hiking in wilderness for a week, our heads cleared. We felt a sudden push to list the house to sell ourselves. Within a week we had a sale if we agreed to be out in a month!

We started work with a new house designer who said he could have it built by Christmas! I went to look at rentals. Finding one allowing three Labradors and two cats was nearly impossible, expensive, and depressing after the beautiful home we’d sold!

Then, I had an idea: we like camping! What if we bought a trailer and parked it somewhere? We discovered there was an RV show scheduled at the fairgrounds just a few days later! We found a 19 ft trailer we thought we could tolerate and also pull with the truck we owned. And it was the right price. But where could we park it with that many animals? Then I remembered farm friends…I boldly called and asked to park and rent water and electricity on their 40 acres!

Our possessions were painfully pared and put in storage.

We arrived weeks later like the Clampets with two pickups, a trailer, a car and all our animals on our friends’ property. We were welcome and safe! At least until winter would hit with biting wind and snow. New moving fears might arise then, but for now it was summer and we were debtless for the first time since college.

But there was a shock in our move. The wife of our friend had COPD. And though only in her late sixties, she informed us she was terminal. We felt terrible putting extra burden on these generous friends! But they felt comforted by our presence. We explained how the idea had suddenly appeared and we all felt it was a blessing!

It rained the first three weeks.

And then there was trouble. The resort adopted new rules and the designer was not wanting to make changes. He made a fuss and his designs were rejected!

We’d have to hire someone else and our house would not be done by Christmas! And we couldn’t stay in the trailer through winter. Dozens of calls that day presented only more complications. When my husband arrived “home,” I barked at him, “We need a house to live in until the other one is done! Find us a house.”

“How can I do that?”

“Get on the internet…” I breathed, loudly!

He stomped out of the trailer, sat in the camp chair, and pulled up listings on his computer. Within five minutes, he was laughing.

“What?” I barked out the window.

“This is perfect, but you’ll never go for it! There are neighbors; it’s small, and down a long dusty road…”

We found the cute -didn’t know we needed- little house on five acres next to the resort with amazing views of sunsets and mountains, space for our animals, and no mortgage! And we still own our lot at the resort with use of the facilities: pool, tennis, restaurant, and more!

Here we enjoy the prettiest flower garden surrounded by lilac and butterfly bushes inside a deer fence. We sit on our back porch and laugh!

How could we have been so lucky to find this place just when we needed it? We wouldn’t have ever looked in this area or at this size house -only 1220 sq ft- if not for the strange series of events…We know the answer. “Someone” had a hand in it.

We no longer have moving fears. We are thankful for being led to a better choice and glad to be here!



Lessons From a Son’s Life and Death

My friend, Merrit Hearing, author of Lessons from a Son’s Life…and Death said this:

!I am in shock. My book has been chosen as one of three finalists in the 2017 Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest in the published memoirs division. The winner will be announced at a Awards Night Presentation in August during the OCW annual conference. This is an excellent opportunity for me to possibly get my name and book out there for some publicity, whether or not I win. I am stunned with this and beyond giddy. My heartfelt thanks to so many who have been so encouraging with this project. Jill Bottemiller HearingMariaHearingFaitha HearingValeena CamposJael ShepherdValerie SjodinSue Lepine MiholerAnneli AndersonSharon DuerstRoger SmithAll-Classical Host Christa WesselJack AllenNathan KochendorferJordan CragunRandy MyersEd Skipper. I know I have forgotten someone(s). But my brain is not functioning well at this moment, lol. Wow!! I am so delighted that my son’s memory continues to be honored. For those who have purchased one, I thank you.

Find the book at Createspace

Or on Amazon

Lessons from a Son’s-Life…and Death: one man’s journey into the mystery of grief


A wonderful book on grief, love, faith, and healing! Please buy this book! Help support a loving, ever-faithful family!


Crafting Pleasure

Crafting Pleasure

The biggest challenge of moving toward retirement is crafting pleasure! Not just the physical kind of enjoyment, but also of fun and comfort! Two years ago last month, we sold our home of 18 years, downsized the number of rooms and square footage! It’s great not having a mortgage, but to do with all our “stuff”?

We sold some, gave away a lot. In fact, we’re still finding things to part with as our crowded closets continue to be irritating! We do really like our little house, but it doesn’t quite feel like “my” home yet, partly because crafting pleasure is more like crafting frustration! All my supplies are packed away, and there’s no where to spread out to work on them. With hubby gone fishing though, I’ve gotten out my sewing and beading and painting (I love “faux” painting and distressing colors and surfaces!) . I’ve been able to leave it out, “sit” with the mess, and…suddenly creative re-do idea after idea appeared!

I rearranged all the pictures on the walls in the pantry/kitchen/dining/living/hall. Open concept homes sure make it challenging to find balance overall in colors and theme throughout the house!

The master bedroom is small. Our closets are crowded and irritating!

We’ve been saying lately how we miss our room in the other house! When we bought it, even though it was only a few years old, it had bargain basement wallpaper with tiny pastel flowers and heart shaped “wreaths” in the “chair rail” border and along the ceiling. I had taken that down, but couldn’t decide on a color for the room so painted it cream. That did look fresh with the white paned windows and woodwork. Crafting Pleasure

But when we had a broken pipe during a winter freeze, our bedroom was destroyed! The hazard team textured new walls and painted the color my husband picked: Mauve Finery from Sherwin Williams. I thought it was much too dark! But we loved it immediately! In winter, we had a multicolored cotton quilt and shams with satin ribbons to throw over the linen bedcover to make it cozy warm and pretty. But in summer, I liked the cooling neutral of embroidered linen shams and ribbon detailed bedcover.

We have this same furniture in the little house, though the room is five feet shorter! After looking at this picture the other day, I realized I may need to reprint my new little room in our small house! We picked a creamy grey for walls and ceiling in both bedrooms to work with the carpet of greys and tan/brown. But my creative spirit likes to see how things will work before I can figure out a new color! First, I’ll need to figure out the personality of the room!

I started changing the look of the room by moving out a heavy black trunk to the living room. It makes a good end table. And without the heavy mirror and several boxes stored on top, I might actually open it up and look at some of our treasures: old photos and negatives to be put into albums, yearbooks, newspaper clippings, several childhood dolls, precious artwork made by our children, my wedding dress, our old love letters from our four years of dating over forty years ago…

The 4′ x 3′ beveled glass mirror in oak frame that’d been setting on the trunk could now sit on the floor, freeing up wall space above it. I moved a cute little picture over from the arrangement of tree photos by the door.

I looked around. The lamp shade style light fixture over the bed seemed boring, even though I’d wrapped it with grapevine (buy one wreath and pull it apart for lots of “viney” fun all over the house)! I grabbed a handful of peacock feathers collecting dust in décor quarantine above the refrigerator cabinet…After cutting the stems short, I tucked them into the grapevines which are lightly supported by dark brown thread I’d tied around around the shade.

What do you think? Interesting? Creepy?

I arranged the rest of the peacock tail feathers with some of last year’s flowers in a vase that’s been all over the house looking for its right spot! This may be a winning combination with the heart shaped stone given to me by a treasured friend. On the big dresser, I have earrings in two pewter heart shaped dishes saved from our daughter-in-law’s wedding shower. We love natural elements of metal, wood, and stone! Would you have guessed that from the titles of my books or these pictures? Do you see a theme emerging?

So that brought me back to the empty space over the bed. I wanted something long, something architectural…Where did I see a piece of wood? After hunting around the garage, I found a section removed from an old dresser. Hmmm…Might be good for hanging…Kind of plain though…So I went to the farmers’ co-op to look for an additional architectural or even textural piece of cloth to hang with it. But when I saw a board with wire hooks there, I had an idea! $4.00 later I was ready to dress up the board!

Here’s how it looks now over the bed.

I love the vintage brass drawer pulls with “rustic” patina. But it still needs something more…I tried several things suspended from the pulls, but they weren’t very attractive.

What ideas do you have?

Let’s share some crafting pleasure!

unfurling life

Unfurling Life

unfurling beautiful life
Across many states, hearts are unfurling beautiful life events and remembrances.

Arms and thoughts embrace for the love of

Pat Lorang Armstrong.

We hold each other near – as you would, Aunt Pat, with hearty hug and warming smile, even in grief.

Oh how you touched us!

How your laugh and words rang in our ears!

You gave more than anyone could ask and we are thankful for all you did for us!

And you are not gone! You’re forever in our hearts.

We promise to remember your examples of generosity and the kindness of your nurturing actions.

You are with us even now as we struggle with missing your physical presence on this earth.

Already we miss your glorious smile!

But pray you are wearing it well in Heaven as your beautiful 90+ years are celebrated.

We acknowledge life was not always easy.

There were many hard things.

And yet, you showed a precious outlook – the perfect balance between simplicity and power.

Like your ruby birthstone, you are a treasured gem!

Thank you! We love you!

Mary Pat Lorang Armstrong



Sway of Influence

Why do I bend and sway when

Inconvenient desires conflict with others

Exhausting attempts made at consensus make the give-in seem more acceptable than conflict

Desires are just wants after all

and even needs can be delayed, fulfilled another time

But how many were buried with anger in confounding niceties and strangled words

No. Not anger

Aggravation over missed cues

Not a mind reader! How could I know

Except…I do know what I feel

and I’m mad at myself for twisting around


Who made me like this – so willing to blame myself

Is it me making myself be too reliable, predictable, sensible

What about being real, intuitive, creative, sensual


Who knocked down my will: brutalized, belittled, bruised me

Who made me afraid

Was it you


Damn you, Fear

I’m more than you can hold

I refuse to comply with your demands and heavy handed intrusions

I refuse to hear your requirements of me while ignoring my own

I claim sovereignty, hegemony, sway


Watch what I do without you

sway of influence