The Story of the Staghorn(s)

My Mother in Laws name was Shirley. When I came into the family in 1985, Shirleys season of life was difficult and I feel like we never really had the opportunity to get to know one another well. I was just the girl who married her baby boy.

The one thing we had in common, besides Steve, was plants. She had the GREENEST thumb. We would walk around her yard and she would teach me names of the plants. She would give me a cutting off of some and I would absolutely kill every one of them. I didn’t understand plants back then. I wanted to keep them alive but I was trying really hard to keep my small children alive.

After a horrible illness, Shirley passed away in 1996. Cancer Sucks.

Shirley had a Staghorn and after she passed away, Bill, my Father in Law left the Staghorn in the same tree in the backyard. I’m not sure how much he cared for it, but it grew and grew and grew. It was at least 30 years old.

Bill passed away in December of 2022. The family met at Bills house. I opened the back door and immediately saw the Staghorn.

Oh

My

Word

I started asking “what is going to happen to the Staghorn?”

A few replies:

“Mom gave us cuttings once and mine died.”

“I have mine hanging in my tree.”

I asked “I would like to have some pieces if that’s ok and I really REALLY don’t want that beautiful plant sold with the house.”

With everyone’s blessing, I brought my saw zaw and cut the beautiful Staghorn into a bunch of smaller pieces.

It was hanging in that tree by a chain!!!

The sisters took a piece of the Staghorn if they wanted one and I brought the rest home with me.

I began to wonder what I would do with it all. I could not let them die.

I started to search you tube videos because I had zero knowledge how to care for or hang a staghorn. I did however have the perfect spot and I would just need a little help hanging it. It’s a perk having a really tall guy who loves me.

I also had a few friends that I asked if they wanted a piece of Shirley’s staghorn. The only request I made was that they named them. I read once that if you name your plants, it makes you feel more attached to them.

Of course my Staghorns name is Shirley . I will absolutely introduce her to you with her name. I don’t play.

My best girl Becky has a piece of Shirley and she also has one she brought from a nursery . Hers are named Bill and Bea. Bill for her Daddy and my Father in Law and Her Momma and mine both have the name Bea. Her moms name was Beatrice and my Mommas name is Beulah. ❤️❤️❤️

Wendy has a piece of Shirley and she named hers Laverne. Shirley’s best friend. Wendy and I went plant shopping today and every plant we picked up had to have a name. Some were very spicy and so much fun.

Esther has two pieces of Shirley. Ones name is Siesta and the other Charma (How sweet is that) Esther now wants to name more of her plants!

Now you know the story of my Staghorn and some of my friends as well.

Every time I look up into my tree and see Shirley, I just have to smile.

Here’s to memories Bill and Shirley.

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From Shed to THE BIRD CAGE

In 2022, our son in law Justin was working from home.

Now, close your eyes.

Picture yourself working from home with 3 small children, 2 dogs and 3 grown women all home at the same time.

He bought a shed. We were going to turn it into a sweet and professional office for him to work in.

A few months later…he got a better job and went back to work in an office.

That left us with a really nice, brand new shed in our backyard.

One day we had a conversation.

Justin: “Haven’t you always wanted chickens?”

Me: “why yes I have.”

Justin: “couldn’t you turn the shed into a chicken coop?”

Me: “I would think so. Let me ask Steve.”

The Bird Cage was created.

1/4 of the shed was taken for the coop.

With its own screen door and a chalkboard for notes. I forget things!!

The coop has nesting boxes and roosting poles. Things chickens need

It also has things chickens don’t need.

However, if you know me at all, the next things will not surprise you.

MURALS!! Thank you to Grace Owens for her fabulous artistry.

Good morning is on the nesting box side.
Nighty Night is on the roosting side

The gate to enter the run is around the back of the shed.

They have a ramp that they can easily go in and out

They have a watering system

We found this ladder in Steve’s dads garage as we were cleaning it out. The chickens absolutely love to climb and roost on the rungs.

They are getting big. We have bets on who is a rooster

Having chickens is fun. The boys love them and one day soon they will be supplying us with eggs. Chickens will need to earn their keep.

Come on girls, let’s go!!!

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Chapter One – January 2023

January is over already????

Didn’t it just start?

Didn’t we just make new years goals and resolutions and most are in the rear view mirror?

Chapters…..that’s my word for the year. Here’s my first chapter in 2023.

New Years started the month off. It was a cold and lazy day.

I helped a friend and her grandson through a difficult transition from hospital to rehab to HOME!!

I went in a sweet date to the Reilly Center.

I’ve started working again! After back surgery last year, recovery, so many loved ones sick and meeting Jesus and then the holidays, I really didn’t want to or have the mental energy to create…….. now I’m back. I’ve finished a couple of pieces and will be putting them up for sale soon.

We’ve also started a bathroom update, we are building a chicken coop (yes we have CHICKENS) and finally we have began the process of adding an addition to the old house.

I’m tired just writing down all the things happening all at once but that’s how we roll.

Patrick helped me carry home a few treasures we found on our walk around the neighborhood.

We’ve rounded out the month with a few trips to Bradenton to help clean out PawPaw Bills house and help some wonderful friends with a kitchen renovation while in town.

Do we stop?

Not often…. But sometimes we have a weekend fire with s’mores. Of course.

Happy last day of January 2023.

I’m turning the page to Chapter 2.

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Chapters

I try not to have expectations of a “word of the year” or a New Year’s resolution. I try to make goals all year so it really doesn’t pertain to the New Year for me.

I do however try and pay attention if something or someone comes to my attention regularly.

A few days ago, I read this post. It references 12 months without a title.

That would be a chapter right?

I read a quote today. It said “everyone has a story and this is the year to write your best chapter.”

Chapters again.

Tuesday morning on the porch we talked about what the title of your 2022 chapter would be. There were some really powerful titles.

*Don’t have expectations

*Faith

*Celebrations and Challenges

*Rebound

* Just when you think everything is fine…..it’s not

*This year sucked/overdrawn

*We are stronger

*Growth

*Light at the end of the tunnel

*I went from a big calendar to a small calendar

Some chapters were joyful and some chapters were hard and brought tears and hesitation.

I have said for a long time “God wrote my story a long time ago and I’m just waiting for the pages to turn.”

2023 is one chapter and while I have some plans and thoughts of what my chapter titles will be:

1. Mexico baby!

2. Road trip and Renovation in Massachusetts

3. Maybe a new baby

4.Retirement finally???!!!

Some of these might actually happen and some absolutely might not.

I don’t question Gods plan for my life. Sometimes I don’t really like it but it’s not like I have a choice.

2023 has arrived and each month I am going to try and write my current chapter.

January

February and so on.

If I had to title January so far it would be :

***Get moving and putting crap away.

We will see how it pans out at the end of the month.

Can you share your 2022 chapter title?

Happy New Year friends.

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Day Shift/Night Shift

Today we are on the day shift.

The sisters took the night shift.

It doesn’t matter that it’s the Monday before Christmas.

It doesn’t matter that there are gifts to be bought, wrapped and stashed in my closet because little boys have no sense of surprise.

It doesn’t matter that there are guests to come in 5 days.

Today we sit.

We sit in a dark, quiet room.

Listening for pockets of air to escape from a still body.

I watch the grown children of an older man come and go bidding good mornings and/or goodnight and I love you’s not knowing whether it will be the last time.

My Father in Law is 92 years old. His body is done. It has served him well but the time has come for him to leave the earthy shell and enter into eternity.

I watch him in his sleep as he reaches. What is he reaching for? Who is he talking to in his slumber?

Are his parent beckoning for him? Does he see his wife Shirley who left the earth over 25 years ago?

The holidays are hard for so many. Me included. My Dad, my favorite human left on December 30, 2017.

The holidays bring loneliness. They bring exclusion. They bring bitterness and hopefulness.

As I walk through the assisted living facility, I see people alone. I see them trapped in a body or a mind that no longer serves them.

All of this is sad and I don’t ask for pity. I ask that you look outside yourselves this week.

Remember the neighbor who lives alone.

Call your Mom, your Grandparents, the aunt or friend you haven’t heard from in a while.

Be extra kind and generous to the server at your favorite restaurant.

There are so many ways to “see” someone.

Hint: don’t park your big truck in front of parking spaces at the hotel. That’s would be a really kind and selfless thing to do

If you have a moment, would you pray for my family? It’s really going to be a hard week.

This is an older photo but it gives some faces that are really hurting.

I write as to not forget things that happen. All memories will not be fun and life giving. They will not make us laugh and sometimes be sad and heavy.

I’ve had a song stuck in my brain for a few weeks and I wondered until today why.

I no longer wonder.

No matter where you are on the week before Christmas, the song says “Christ was born for you. “

Here it is for you to listen to if you desire.

https://youtu.be/C-QHbpYjuIg

O come, all you unfaithful
Come, weak and unstable
Come, know you are not alone

O come, barren and waiting ones
Weary of praying, come
See what your God has done

Christ is born, Christ is born
Christ is born for you

O come, bitter and broken
Come with fears unspoken
Come, taste of His perfect love

O come, guilty and hiding ones
There is no need to run
See what your God has done

Christ is born, Christ is born
Christ is born for you

He’s the Lamb who was given
Slain for our pardon
His promise is peace
For those who believe
He’s the Lamb who was given
Slain for our pardon
His promise is peace
For those who believe

So come, though you have nothing
Come, He is the offering
Come, see what your God has done

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It’s been a long time coming

Steve Kern is a planner

When he retired in 2010 from the Sarasota County Fire Department after 25 years of service, he worked the two years prior deciding if his second career was going to work out. He traveled from Bradenton to Ocala every week on his off duty days to be put into a territory that was dying. He wasn’t a sales guy but what he WAS, was the lover of E-ONE fire equipment. He knew it inside out, upside down and all the way around. He didn’t know sales lingo but he knew how to make fire Departments comfortable and they knew they could count on him and be dependable. He has since then proven himself to be a kick ass sales guy and I am his biggest fan.

Five years ago, he gave REV his notice. On December 1, 2022 he said “I will be making changes. I don’t know what that looks like, but I want you to have plenty of time to know where I stand.”

FIVE years people.

Who gives five years notice?

We have planned.

We have a financial strategy.

We are prepared and while it’s on on paper how it will work, it’s still terrifying. It’s hard to know how you will feel when things change. You are home…… a lot. You don’t get up each and every morning, put on your work uniform and leave the house.

Time after time people ask Steve “what are you going to do with all your free time?” If I’m in the area, I usually listen carefully. I’m not sure how this will work and I’ve suggested he find a hobby and for anyone that knows me, I will ALWAYS, in capital letters, have something for him to do.

But really? It’s really ok to not have a plan. It’s ok to take a walk in the morning or swing on the front porch swing. It’s ok to be board. I can probably count on both hands how many times Steve has sat around and did nothing. It’s going to be very different in a really good way.

Steve has worked most of his life. During our early married life he sometimes worked two and three jobs so that I could stay home and raise our kids. A lot of times with little to no sleep based on the amount of calls he ran on in the middle of the night.

Rarely complaining.

It would be easy and comfortable to just keep life status quo.

Bring in the paycheck.

Go on a couple nice vacations a year.

Wash

Rinse

Repeat

But recently we have witnessed people dying in their prime.

46, 60 and most recently 62.

Steve just turned 60 on Thursday and y’all are here tonight to help us celebrate.

I don’t want to have regrets. I don’t want to wonder “what if.”

Again with the planning…. Over a year ago, while we were talking about the upcoming year, he mentions a party.

Steve wants a party?

For real?

He wants One Flite Up to play at his party.

He wants to celebrate his birthday and his new season of life.

Who has Thanksgiving, a huge Birthday, a terminally ill father, a camping trip and Christmas all in a 6 week period? Obviously we do. Holidays we have no control, no one wants their loved ones to be sick and sometimes I think we look for chaos, but while life is hard and the holidays are not always joyous, you do it with grace. I watch you in your strengths and sometimes in your weaknesses rarely varying from excellence.

I’m all about a party so here we are.

Thank you for coming.

Thank you for whatever part you play in our story.

Here’s to the new and improved.

Congrats babe.

I love you

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Inheritance

Today is my 58th birthday.

Last night we celebrated because today we leave for our annual camping trip to St Augustine. We sat around the dinner table with banana splits and a Happy Birthday choir from Bigs and Littles.

All I could do was smile. Luke and his “Happy Dirtday” was priceless.

I have a great life. A life full of a loving family, wonderful friends and so much to be thankful for. In Jacks words “BB, you have a birthday close to Jesus.”

What more could I ask for?

In recent months, people near and dear to my heart have left for heaven. In the prime of their lives. Prior to Holly leaving for heaven, I had a conversation with her high school friend Vanessa. Vanessa and I had met in Master Gardener School and had no idea we were both connected to Holly.

One day, I mentioned that I hoped after school was over, we wouldn’t lose touch with each other.

Her response was “No, girl, you are part of my inheritance. I’ve figured out that was one of the greatest gifts Holly left behind; she gave us each other ❤ .”

While I know 58 is not senior citizen status yet, it still makes me ponder my inheritance. Not money that I will be left. I tell Mom to spend her dang money and live life to the fullest.

When Steve and I got married, I inherited family. Sisters I never had.

I have inherited friends through relationships I’ve had with others. I inherited Becky through Glenn playing in the worship band.

See what I mean? The inheritances we have are NOT coincidental.

I have met women of all ages and personalities while sitting on my porch. I have inherited their families as well.

I have inherited the gift of generosity through people I have watched and admired.

I inherited skills from my Dad.

The list could go on and on but this day, the first day of my 58th year, I’m thankful for my inheritance of you. The people who read my silly little ramblings.

The people who fill my home. I could never begin to say what you mean to me.

My sons who live afar. Never underestimate my love for you.

The family so far away. While we don’t speak often, you are part of my heart.

The friends who fill my life with so much joy. You know who you are.

I will read and appreciate every birthday wish today. We will enjoy chili cheese dogs and s’mores around the fire tonight because it’s my birthday tradition.

This is a big year.

Every year is big and I don’t want to waste a moment.

Here’s to 58!

Charma

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Talking Heaven with a Five Year Old

I’d been waiting for the news.

Holly would be meeting Jesus soon and when I rolled over on Sunday morning, October 16, 2022 around 6:30am and my phone lit up, I knew it had happened.

In the blink of an eye, my sweet friend, my porch girl, my HGTV cohort, my music buddy had left this earth and immediately looked into the face of her Savior. Hollys relationship with Jesus was intimate but bold! She loves Jesus BIG and it was no secret. She was my all time favorite worshipper and I always wanted her sitting in front of or by me during a worship set because she felt the music in her whole body and she was not ashamed.

I took a deep breath and read the news.

At 4:22am…….

Ok.

Now what do I do?

The dog was staring at me. He wanted to eat and to be let out.

I didn’t want to wake Steve so I got up, fed Duke and silently left our room to make some coffee.

It was going to be a hard day.

I was immediately met in the kitchen by 3 little men and Courtney.

They wake up ready to play.

I didn’t want to play.

I wanted to be sad even for just a few minutes.

I started making my coffee and I looked over to Courtney and said “I just got the news about Holly.”

Jack wanted to know the news. So I knelt down in front of him and explained that our friend Holly (Gracie’s Mommy) went to live with Jesus in heaven.

He immediately started jumping up and down.

“BB!!!!!!!!!” (my grandma name)

“You’ll get to see Holly in heaven!!!!!”

“Isn’t that great??”

“Yes buddy. That is absolutely the best news. But I’m really sad because I’ll miss her.”

“But BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB”

“Heaven!!!!!!!!!”

I grabbed my coffee and Duke and retreated to the porch. It was a beautiful morning and it was my first Sunday singing in church.

I just needed a minute, but a little knock came from the door.

A sweet little face was plastered to the window mouthing “please let me come out with you.” (We have child locks on the door knobs)

He grabs a blanket from the basket and crawls into the chair with me.

“BB?”

“Yes Jack?”

“Did Jesus make Holly all better?”

“Yes baby. Holly is all better. As soon as she closed her eyes in the hospital, she opened them in heaven. And guess what?”

“Today is her birthday!”

He asked, “How will she celebrate her birthday in heaven?”

I asked him to close his eyes and think about the best birthday party EVER. He smiles as his eyes are closed and a smile comes to his face.

“I bet Jesus throws the best birthday parties.”

“BB, who will go to her party?”

“Everyone,” I replied.

“Papa Peewee? (my dad) ? Will he go to Hollys party?”

“Yes baby. I’m positive Papa PeeWee will go to Hollys Birthday Party.”

“Can I write Gracie a letter so she’s not so sad?”

“Of course we can.”

“BB?”

“Yes Jack”

“If Holly is feeling better and had a great birthday party, heaven must be great.”

“Yes love.”

“Heaven is great.”

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The Rescuer

I’m in Master Gardener School . We were given as assignment to write about anything, as long as it had to do with gardening.

Here is my written report .

These are my people

My favorite humans

My dad was my hero and my best friend. He went to live with Jesus in December of 2017.

Dad gave me the love of searching for items that needed rescued. Dad was the Master renovator of old cars but as he aged and couldn’t do such strenuous and demanding work, he and I became quite the team. We would scour yard sales, thrift stores and score side of the road treasures frequently. Some items would need extensive repairs while others would only need a little sanding and some paint as we gave it a second chance at life.

Since 2017, I’ve done a lot of rescuing on my own. I’ve taught myself, and was mentored by my really cute husband, the skills that Dad used to do for me. While learning new skills, I’ve discovered my love for finding an item that was intentionally meant for one purpose and giving it a new and different life.

Recently, gardening has come to the top of my love list. My best friend Becky and I hunt regularly for our next favorite plant. We talk about what we love and where in our gardens it will go. Do me a favor……find someone who shares your loves, it’s so much fun. Include lunch and make it a day.

I love to be outside. I love watching things thrive in my yard, on my fabulous front porch or especially inside.

My favorite plant is my seven foot fiddle leaf fig. Her name is Felicity.

If a plant is not thriving, it’s fun to figure out why, what it needs, where it should be moved to, even if that means to another persons house. I have a three times and you are out rule at my house. I’ll move you three times and if you still don’t like it here, obviously you want to be moved to someone else’s house.

As I mix my love of finding things that need a second chance at life with my love of gardening, I recently created a tiered basket succulent garden. The tiered basket used to be a fruit basket and when I found it on the side of the road, all it needed was a good cleaning, a little sanding and a fresh coat of paint.

As I gathered the supplies, I could see the final result in my head but making it in person took a little creativity.

Each tier was a different size so when I found the coconut liners, they were all too big. However they were easily cut with scissors. I added a layer of soil to each tier and added succulents. 

I used cuttings from plants I already had but a trip to the nursery is always fun.

If you have succulents in your garden, they are so easy to separate and propagate. As you pull them out of their current pot, sometimes they are already separated or you can just pull off a leaf. Succulents like to dry out before putting in soil so plan ahead.

The coconut liners allow water to flow freely from each tier so make sure you account for drainage when deciding where to put your creation. This one belongs to my friend Diane and it was recently auctioned for my friend Holly who is currently fighting ovarian cancer. It lives on a back porch in partial sun.

I have this garden attached to the side of our shed and it drains directly into the ground.

You are not restricted to succulents for your gardens. This one is attached to the wall in the Pool house and I planted golden pothos. The floor is pavers, so again, water draining isn’t an issue.

I have been able to fill my hurting heart sometimes with my love of junk, sometimes gardening and sometimes both.

Each and every time I think of Dad and smile.

I miss you Pops.

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The 9’ Table

Before we even lived in the old house.

Before we were ready for a table .

Long before we knew we would need a table for so many people.

I stopped at a thrift store to look at 1 table and left with another.

She was a beauty. Nine feet long with two drop leaves on each end with a lovely painted base.

Who needs a 9’ table?

For the space I wanted to put the table…….I did.

Immediately inside the front door. Just to side of the stairs and immediately in front of the brick fireplace we FOUND during renovation.

We put the table in storage with the rest of our belongings because we were living with Mom and Dad since our previous house sold and we were kind of homeless.

When we all moved into the the old house, it was suggested we eat together as much as possible.

That was 6 years ago.

Three boys later and many many meals at the 9’ table. I would say we eat together 5 out of 7 nights with Sunday night being with everyone, sometimes even our basement tenant friend.

We eat

We entertain

We have game nights

We talk

There are arts and crafts , puzzles, legos and many games of candy land at the 9’ table.

It was looking pretty shabby.

Lots of colored markers adorned the table.

The cracks on the top of table definitely needed cleaned out and today was the day.

The old house is always occupied. Rarely is there time for sanding and time to work on something without a small boys wanting to help. Helpers are fine most days but sometimes I just want to get it done.

Today was the day!

It was school day for little boys

Men went to work

I was home almost alone (Mom was next door in her house)

Sander ✅

Vacuum ✅

Polyurethane ✅

Wow I made a mess.

There was dust everywhere

Tonight we will have a picnic while the table dries but here’s to a couple more years of eating together!

I’m always curious if others eat at a table? We didn’t always but it’s another way of intentionally spending time with one another.

Next up……. Clean the gross cushions!

Jack and I sit on the pew together every night 😍😍😍

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