Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Perfect Pass

For the football lovers, this book is a must read.  S. C. Gwynne, who wrote Empire of the Summer Moon, details the life of Hal Mumme and how he created the Air Raid offense.  As a football fan, but not a strategist, this book helped me know what to look for in a play and why the Air Raid offense has been effective.  I loved this book, and I will probably read it again!

Sweet Baby Mia

Two months ago seems so long ago, and yet it seems like yesterday.  Rest in peace, sweet little one.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Death of Expertise

What a timely book this is!  The author's contention that people in the US disregard the advice and information of experts is well presented in this important book.  He discusses not only how people seem proud of the fact that they are uninformed, but he also shows that not all opinions are created equal, despite the conventional wisdom these days.  He takes on higher ed and its failings (even though he is a professor), the internet and its influences, the media and their troubles, and even experts themselves.

His advice to read more quality information, read from several sources, and examine carefully claims made by so-called experts should be fair warning to all.  Unfortunately, this will probably not be a book that is read by the masses but instead by those who already do those things.  I found many examples of myself in the book (I hate to admit it, but it is true), and I gained a great perspective.  I highly recommend this book - it is a fairly quick read and well worth it!

The Holiday Blur

And now it is 2018.  Between Thanksgiving with Diana and Daniel, the Gaskills, and Kenton, Kylie and Chase, a quick trip to KC for Di and Daniel to see Mia and Caleb, and then a KSU game, Daniel quickly found out the Norton family does not let moss grow under its feet.  We had a marvelous time, culminating in a big KSU win.  The weather was perfect for tailgating, and by the time Di and Daniel left for Austin on Sunday, we had had a great weekend.

Pre Christmas was highlighted by a concert by Chris Mann.  It was so fun to be in the audience and see what a great performer he is.  That voice!  On my way into the concert, I hit a pothole and fell flat.  Don said I looked like the Wicked Witch of the West when my cape folded up around me.  I wasn't hurt badly, was able to walk into the concert and back to the car, into the restaurant, and knew I was fine.  Except once I went to bed, my foot stiffened and I literally could not walk.  Luckily, by the next evening it was better and by Monday morning, I would never have known I had fallen . . . except my hand still hurt a bit.  Four weeks later, it was still hurting, so after the x-ray revealed a healing fracture, I am now in a splint.  Oh boy . . . thank goodness it has not been real painful and is almost healed!

Kenneth, Melinda, Mia, and Caleb came down for Christmas, which was a true joy.  Caleb loved my snow globes, the train, and all of the other decorations, and when we lighted the luminarias, he really enjoyed watching them.  Santa's footprint the next morning intrigued him (it is now a plaster cast), and the fact that the reindeer carrots were gone sealed the deal.  Little did Caleb know that Jordy and Nelson had gotten ahold of the carrots long before the reindeer did!  It was hard to say goodbye to them on Tuesday.

Finally we spent New Year's Eve with a group of church friends.  It was a great way to usher in the new year and we are praying this year is a better one than the last.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Forest Friends

It is funny how sometimes things just happen perfectly.  I needed one of those times . . . and this weekend I got it.

When Kenneth and Diana were little, Don went on a perpetual quest to find a game called Forest Friends.  He and his brothers played it until the spinner pad had been wiped of its images, and he knew it would be a good game for our little ones to play.  But alas, we never could find it.

Two weeks ago we were in a toy store looking for a gift for Caleb.  They did not have our desired gift, so we began to look at games.  Indeed Candyland and Chutes and Ladders were there . . . but not Forest Friends.  Phooey.

With Don's birthday upcoming, I decided I would try to find Forest Friends.  An initial attempt came up with a few games, but I was not going to spend $40 for one.  So I went to EBAY.  Amazingly, several choices came up, and I was able to acquire a nice, barely used version for much less!

Within a few days, the game arrived in the mail.  Using some ultra-swift, sneak techniques, I managed to keep the emails hidden, the wrapped game under "wraps," and the game a secret until Sunday, when Caleb gave Papa an early birthday gift.  He helped Don unwrap it, and within about 5 minutes, they were playing it.  Caleb caught on quickly, and it became the game of the day.

Don was thrilled with having a fun memory of his times as a child . . . and the best thing is we got to leave it in Kansas City!

Thursday, November 2, 2017


Our summer read for our book club was Barkskins, by Annie Proulx.  It is a lengthy tome (though not as bad as Anna Karenina or Atlas Shrugged) about the lumber industry in colonial times.  The brutality of the colonials, the prejudice toward the Native Americans, the lack of concern about the wanton pillage of the forests depressed me to no end, but I could not quit reading the book.  Proulx's writing kept the story interesting, and her descriptions were beautiful.  It was not hard to visualize the beauty and mass of the forests, the cruelty of the masters, the arrogance of the colonials . . . all of it, yet the book ended with a spark of hope.  I had read a review in Oprah and she highly recommended Bearskins.  At first I wasn't so sure, but after reading it, I recommend it, too.

Into Every Life Some Rain Must Fall

Many years ago - maybe 1982 - Liz McClure, the mother of two of our students, was talking about her daughter who had passed away.  I expressed my condolences, and I will never forget her comment to me . . . "Karen, into every life some rain must fall."

Don and I, Kenneth and Diana, Melinda and her family . . . we have all led charmed lives.  We still do .  But this year the realities of life have hit us in more ways than I can count.

Have there been good things?  Of course.  We had a wonderful trip to Spain, the cabin addition is awesome, CJ and Kara were married, little Mia joined our family.  Unfortunately little Mia's challenges have kept us on our toes, and they are not over yet.  Combined with the break-up of several relationships, the death of our 20-year-old godson, and illness among several of my friends, I am ready for the rain to lighten up.  I am beginning to feel like I need an Ark.

It is times like this that I remember the poem about the footsteps in the sand.  When there is only one set of prints, God reminds us that He is carrying us.  His one promise to us is that He will not abandon us, and this string of difficult times has certainly been proof of that.

We will continue to plug forward, knowing that we have great support from our family, friends, and God.  That is the best we can do.