It's been the girl chatter all over town.  "Are you going to Medora?  Are you signed up for the retreat? Have you made your reservations?  Are you on the bus list?  Do you have a room?" 

Medora is the only resort town in North Dakota and anybody who's anybody in this town goes to the  annual retreat - Lutheran, Baptist, Assembly of God, Catholic.  And I - the outsider- the Texan - got invited to join them.  I was so excited.  I was excited for the opportunity to get to know some of the gals I've only had brief conversations with.  I was even planning my blog all about it.  I had planned to tell you all about Corrine (the P.A. from the clinic), and Claudia ( the Christmas Angel) and Kim (my neighbor in the yellow house) and Kristie (a published author) and Heidi (the cute Canadian hairdresser/Avon Lady/ older mom), and Deb (from the bank) and Louise (Deb's mom from the drug store) and  Lila  (recent widow) and Sally (the mom - not Salli the daughter) and Mary Ellen (the church pianist) and Suzi (our - well - his diabetes counselor) and Marilyn (from Minot).  Those are just the one's I knew were going.  I have a running list of people I've met with a note beside their name to help me remember.

But then - the day of departure - I got sick. I lost my voice. I felt rotten.  I prayed for healing.  I went to the clinic. I got a prescription.  I still planned to go.

At the clinic, the nurse talked to me about the wreck out on crazy oil field traffic filled Hwy. 2 that morning.  Her husband drove the ambulance.  One man died.  He was from Florida - up here just trying to make a living.  The other was my husband's coworker.  Don has sat at my hundred year old dining table, always being gracious about my cooking.  He likes my house.  Then the doctor said he had just came from the ER and said that Don was going to recover.  He only had broken bones - a lot of broken bones.  Don's recovery will be long.

I came home with a prescription and looked at my packed bags and finally decided that I shouldn't go.  I spent the next couple of days with my head tucked under my wing pouting through the chills and choking coughs. 

Later, I went into the furniture store to pay for the new floor in the laundry room and visited a bit with Judy.  Judy very wisely said, "Now, Renee, I know you are disappointed that you didn't get to go, but sometimes these things happen for a reason.  You can always go next year."  Oh, Lord, I hope it's not because the bus is going to crash and I'll be the only one spared.  Surround that bus with  your angels.

For three days I have croaked and coughed and choked.  They would have quarantined me if I had gone.  Or sent me back home...

Yes I was disappointed.  But Don is disappointed that his life is interrupted, that his career is on hold, that his body may never be the same and that someone else will have to take care of him for too many weeks.  Someone in Florida is disappointed that the husband, father, son won't be coming home, that life will never be the same without him.  My missing the retreat is a small thing. 

Tomorrow I go to Texas to take care of stuff there, to help with the kids, and for Nana Camp. Now that's what's really important.

I've heard my daughter say this to her kids.  I do believe I hear God saying it to me:

So says Ella... =)

 Don't sweat the small stuff, Renee.


Yummy Bread Recipe

 Don't write a blog when a head cold is throbbing
 because you just might forget to include the

(and if you need step by step pictures
check out

Multigrain Bread
Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook
1 1/4 cup (6 1/4 ounces) seven-grain hot cereal mix
2 1/2 cups boiling water
3 cups (15 oz) all-purpose flour (not bread flour)
1 1/2 cups (8 1/4 oz) whole wheat flour
1/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled*
2 1/2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 tablespoon salt
Optional (I omitted): 3/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) old-fashioned rolled oats or quick oats
*If you’re using salted butter, just decrease the additional salt by just a bit.
Place cereal mix in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook and pour boiling water over it; let stand, stirring occasionally, until mixture cools to 100 degrees and resembles thick porridge, about 1 hour. Whisk flours together in separate bowl.
Once grain mixture has cooled, add honey, butter, and yeast and mix on low speed until combined. Add flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, and knead until cohesive mass starts to form (*note: some at high altitudes have noted they have not needed all of the flour, go by look and feel and stop adding flour if you need to!) 1 1/2-2 minutes; cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 20 minutes. Add salt and knead on medium-low speed until dough clears sides of bowl, 3-4 minutes (if it does not clear sides, add 2-3 tablespoons additional all-purpose flour and knead until it does. Don’t add more!) continue to knead dough for 5 more minutes. Add seeds (if using) and knead for another 15 seconds. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand until seeds are dispersed evenly and dough forms smooth, round ball. Place dough in large, lightly greased bowl; cover tightly with plastic and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 45-60 minutes.
Grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and divide in half. Press 1 piece of dough into 9×6 inch rectangle, with short side facing you. Roll dough toward you into firm cylinder, keeping roll taut by tucking it under itself as you go. Turn loaf seam side up and pinch it closed. Repeat with second piece of dough. Spray loaves lightly with water or vegetable il spray. Roll each loaf in oats to coat evenly and place seam side down in prepared pans, pressing gently into corners. Cover loaves loosely with greased plastic and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size 30-40 minutes. Dough should barely spring back when poked with knuckle.
Thirty minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake until loaves register 200 degrees, 35-40 minutes. Transfer pans to wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove loaves from pans, return to rack, and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours, before slicing and serving.
Storage: Bread can be wrapped in double layer of plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. Wrapped with additional layer of foil, bread can be frozen for up to a month.
For those without a stand mixer, Cook’s Illustrated recommends: “Stir wet and dry ingredients together with a stiff rubber spatula until the dough comes together and looks shaggy. Transfer the dough to a clean counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, roughd ball, 15-25 minutes, adding additional flour, if necessary, to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter. Proceed with recipe as directed.”


Yummy Bread

Whole grain bread is so good and so nutty and so healthy and so unavailable in our small town North Dakota grocery store. So I tried making my own and am hooked on this bread recipe.  I am so hooked that I have to share it with you.

  And it has passed the most important taste test of all - the Man Test!  Not just the one I'm married to, but also the one's he brings home for supper. 

As with any bread, it's best served warm and slathered with butter. 
Have you noticed that cooking sites seldom have their own recipes, but refer to recipes from other sites?  It could get to be an endless loop of recipes - which it may already be.

This recipe is from Pinterest via Our Best Bites via Cooks Illustrated.

The catchy name for this bread is:

Multigrain Bread

Try it!
I think you'll like it!


National Grasslands

The great white hunter and I drove over to the National Grasslands -
one of our favorite places in North Dakota.

Where we went on a Prairie Dog Hunt.

(Prairie Dogs -  burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America.  They are named for their habitat and warning call, which sounds similar to a dog's bark. The name was in use at least as early as 1774.The 1804 journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition note that in September 1804, they "discovered a Village of an animal the French Call the Prairie Dog.".

As cute as they are, their homes are dangerous to livestock and a nuisance to ranchers. 
Hunters are welcome.

So we walked for miles

and set up camp on a little hill
where he hunted

while I played with my camera.

Then he asked if my camera would zoom out there to that poor unsuspecting little guy
enjoying the sunshine on his front porch.

Yep, there he is.

"Ok, on the count of three, I'll shoot and you snap."

Bet he wondered where all that dust came from!

It was a great day on the prairie.

it appears that
No animals were actually killed or injured in the making
of this blog.



Because He Lives

Sometimes I write, then wait to post it.
Other times I can't get it posted fast enough..
This post is one I've sat on for a while.
It was so personal that I waited to see if I really
wanted to share. 
And I wanted to make sure I've said it all the best way I can.

New aches and pains
have brought
and questions
and fear.


Getting old, I guess.

Getting older
and things are changing.

I have questions.
I ask them in the night
when I hurt.

Why am I all of a sudden hurting?
Do I have something seriously wrong?
Will I live another 30 years like my parents?
Will I hurt for the next 30 years?
Will my life be shorter?
Will I be brave?
Do I have enough faith to believe God for healing?
Do I have enough faith for anything?

An Easter season message
was all about resurrection
and hope.

We sang a hymn
that I haven't heard in a while.

Because He Lives

Because HE lives
I can face tomorrow
Because HE lives
All fear is gone
Because I know
He holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because HE lives.

I remember standing in church
as a new believer
 singing passionately...with tears of joy.

God sent His Son
They called Him Jesus
He came to love
Heal and forgive
He lived and died
to buy my pardon
An empty grave
is there to prove
My Savior lives

With the blessing of children
and grandchildren
and a niece that asked God for,
I sang with tears of joy

How sweet to hold
a newborn baby
and feel the pride
and joy He gives

Then having a child with health challenges
I sang with tears of hope

But greater still
The calm assurance
This child can face
Uncertain days
Because He lives

I know that fear
is the opposite of faith

And I have found
that my God is who He says He is,
that HE does what He says He will do,
that He can be trusted.
I know that.

So that Sunday with all things aching, throbbing, twittering
and my brain wondering and wandering.
I glanced over at the 96 year old nursing home resident,
who never misses a Sunday at church.
She says that angels sing to her every night.
And she was singing
Because He Lives.

And again I sing.
And I trust fearlessly.

And then one day
I'll cross the river
I'll fight life's final
war with pain
And then as death
Gives way to victory
I'll see the lights
of glory
and I'll know
my Savior Lives


And my fear has turned again to faith
and my pains are gone

Whatever challenges you have in your life,
know that you are loved and you have the victory
Just Because He Lives



Today's North Dakota temperature is a cool breezy 48.
Tonights low is to be 28.
A couple of mornings ago it 12 degrees - burrr,
and last week we had near 70 temps.

Green leaves are cautiously pushing through bark.

The rhubarb is bravest,

along with something - maybe chives- in the herb garden

ignoring the harsh reminders of the neighbors and store clerks
that the worst blizzard of last winter was
May 1.

But the geese are overhead shouting,
"honk if you see Canada!",
  ducks are resting in thawed ponds,

and robins are already drilling in my northern yard for tastey worms.

I love spring - it is new and fresh and clean.
It is goodbye to cold darkness.
It is full of hope.

On our last trip to Texas (last month) 
Spring had sprung!

This wedding planners dream of a bush has a name with rose in it,

but I don't remember the name, and I guess it doesn't matter.

It is photogenic and worth a sit on the porch to bask in it's beauty.
That's Papa and his girl having a little chat.

This is a field of the most fragrant,
best smelling
I have ever, ever smelled.
It should be bottled.

I smelled it first from the back seat of a Harley.
From then on, it was our sping ritual to ride out to the lake -
driving slow - breathing deep.
Did I mention that is smells good?
It's the shorter flower below
with bluebonnets.
I've been doing some research on it-
It's proper name is
Astragalus crassicarpus,
also know as groundplum milkvetch
buffalo bean
buffalo clover
purple clover.
Whatever it is called,
it sure makes my nose happy.

And my sweet neighbor sent me a text picture of
(the state flower of Texas)
blooming in my Texas yard. 

I love spring.

The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing has come 
(Song of Solomon 2:12)

Happy Spring Ya'll!!



Waiting in airports can be boring,
unless you find a way to entertain yourself.

I am fascinated by all communication going on in airports.
(Not with others in the airport, but with
someone miles and miles away)

 Are they checking their next flight,
checking in at the office,

doing their homework,

Or shopping for his next set of wheels like he has done since the first one
- the 1963 Ford Starliner, that broke down on our first date.

When I get tired of analyzing the miracle of modern communication,
I watch shoes.

I believe, like Forrest Gump,
 "you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes".

But mostly I wonder

why they choose
the shoes they choose

for all that walking.

Then other times I just wonder.....

During our layovers in Denver,
I visit with a lovely lady from Ethiopia

who works at the magazine shop
and plays beautiful African music on the cd player under the counter.
She tells me it is "worship to God"
and interprets for me. 

While I juggle the computer, camera, carry-on,
and coffee,
I think about the instructions Jesus gave the 12 disciples
when he sent them out,
"Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag,
 nor bread, nor money;
and do not even have two tunics apiece."
(Luke 9:3)

Then when he sent out the seventy others, he said,
"Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes"
(Luke 10:4)

That kind of travelling takes a lot of faith. 

I try, try, try to travel light,
still end up packing things I can't get in North Dakota, like,
cans of chipotle adobo sauce,
jars of my favorite seasonings
craft projects,
a candelabra from the antique mall,
and sometimes a hat or two.

People watching is great entertainment.

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