Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tiger Swallow Tail Butterfly, Et cetera

Although it is pouring down rain, we are warm and snug in our home on wheels.  We knew yesterday that today would be a rainy day, so I made sure I got outside for some needed sun.

Daughter hung her Spring flag

I have been corrected -- what I thought was a Monarch butterfly is actually a Tiger Swallow Tail butterfly -- what do I know about butterflies?  In a previous posting, I stated I had worked most of my life and never really had any hobbies and didn't know much about wildlife.  Well, I proved that today by talking about Monarch butterflies when it is a Tiger Swallow Tail instead.  So, I stand corrected, but I do love looking at different animal species and hopefully, I will continue to study and learn more.  We're never to old to learn, right?  After I made the revision to this post, my husband reminded me that he was the one who told me it was a Monarch butterfly, so I guess we both need to learn more.  Now I want to purchase a butterfly and a bird book -- maybe a flower book -- so I will be better informed!

However, Tiger Swallow Tail butterflies go through the same stages of life as the Monarch -- four stages during one life cycle and four generations in year.  Does that sound confusing?  Well, it is -- at least it is to me.  The four stages are the egg, the larvae (caterpillar),
the pupa and the adult butterfly.  The final generation comes out of hibernation to find a mate, usually in February or March.  They then migrate north and east to find a place to lay their eggs.  This starts stage one and generation one of the butterfly. 

In March and April, the eggs are laid on milkweed plants and hatch into baby caterpillars.  It takes about four days for the eggs to hatch.  The baby caterpillar doesn't do much more than eat the milkweed in order to grow.  Approximately two weeks later, the caterpillar is fully-grown and finds a place to attach itself so it can start the next process -- that of metamorphosis.  It will attach itself to a stem or a leaf using silk and will  then transform into a  pupa. The ten days of the pupa phase is really a time of rapid change.  During that time,  the old body parts of the caterpillar undergo a remarkable transformation to become a beautiful butterfly.  The  butterfly will emerge from the pupa and fly away, feeding on flowers and enjoy the short life it has -- usually two to six weeks.  This first generation will then die after laying eggs for generation number two.

This is the stage I saw yesterday as the butterfly flitted from one wild flower to another:

The second generation of is born in May and June and the third generation will be born in July and August.  These butterflies will go through the same four stage life cycle as the first generation, dying two to six weeks after it becomes a beautiful butterfly.  The fourth generation is born in September and October and goes through the same process as the first three generations, except for one part.  The fourth generation does not die after two to six weeks.  Instead, this generation migrates to warmer climates, like Mexico and California, and will live six to eight months until it's time to start the whole process over again.  It is amazing how the four generations work out so the butterfly population can continue to live throughout the years, but not become overpopulated.  God's creation -- there's just not anything quite like it.  

New apartment building waiting for the Martins to move in!

Has anyone seen my Mama?

I have a few more pics but am having probs loading them -- just very slow Internet connection, so I am ending this for now.  

Thanks for stopping by.  Now go out there and live each day to the fullest -- as tho it is your last.  And may God bless our family and friends everywhere!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Tax Man Is Coming

After spending most of yesterday trapped in a web of tangled paperwork, working on our taxes, we are thankful our fulltime lifestyle has simplified most every aspect of our life -- including our income level and our tax liability.  No longer do we sing, "Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho, it's off to work we go."  We can now choose to work, where to work, how much to work --  or not to work at all:)  It's not that we have a ton of money -- because we definitely do not, but we have what we's all about priorities and need versus want.  It doesn't matter how much, or how little income one has, Uncle Sam wants, expects, takes, and will get his share.

Thanks for all the positive comments and encouragement on our volunteer opportunity.  Reading blogs has become a favorite past-time and makes us want to do what others are doing, as well as see all the places everyone shares on their blogs. And we always learn something new.  Thank you for your posts and your willingness to share your lives and great adventures with us.  And just maybe we'll see you one day "down the road."

Hope everyone has a great's gray, cold and in the 40s in North Carolina -- this time last week it was 75 degrees.  What is wrong with this picture?

God bless.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Ant and the Contact Lens

I received this in an email.  We all experience tough times from time to time -- may we remember who is in control in the good times and in the tough times. 

Remember this when things get tough!!!
The Ant and the Contact Lens:  A TRUE STORY
Brenda was almost halfway to the top of the tremendous granite cliff.  She was standing on a ledge where she was taking a breather during this, her first rock climb.  As she rested there, the safety rope snapped against her eye and knocked out her contact lens.

'Great', she thought.  'Here I am on a rock ledge, hundreds of feet from the bottom and hundreds of feet to the top of this cliff, and now my sight is blurry.'  She looked and looked, hoping that somehow it had landed on the ledge.  But it just wasn't there.

She felt the panic rising in her, so she began praying.  She prayed for calm, and she prayed that she might find her contact lens.  When she got to the top, a friend examined her eye and her clothing for the lens, but it was not to be found.  Although she was calm now that she was at the top, she was saddened because she could not clearly see across the range of mountains.  She thought of the bible verse 'The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth.'

She thought, 'Lord, You can see all these mountains.  You know every stone and leaf, and You know exactly where my contact lens is.  Please help me.'

Later, when they had hiked down the trail to the bottom of the cliff they met another party of climbers just starting up the face of the cliff.  One of them shouted out, 'Hey, you guys!  Anybody lose a contact lens?'

Well, that would be startling enough, but you know why the climber saw it?  An ant was moving slowly across a twig on the face of the rock, carrying it!


The story doesn't end there.  Brenda's father is a cartoonist.  When she told him the incredible story of the ant, the prayer, and the contact lens, he drew a cartoon of an ant lugging that contact lens with the caption, 'Lord, I don't know why You want me to carry this thing.  I can't eat it, and it's awfully heavy.  But if this is what You want me to do, I'll carry it for You.'

I think it would do all of us some good to say, 'God, I don't know why You want me to carry this load.  I can see no good in it and it's awfully heavy.  But, if You want me to carry it, I will.'  

God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
Yes, I do love GOD.  He is my source of existence and my Savior.  He keeps me functioning each and every day.  Without Him, I am nothing, but with Him...I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13) 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

First Volunteer Opportunity

We have been discussing the possibility of volunteering and/or working for some time.  We joined and created a resume.  We were very surprised how quickly we began receiving emails and phone calls with workamping/volunteering opportunities from New York to California.  The manager of Lakeside RV Park in Branson, Missouri, called to discuss the possibility of us coming to Lakeside for the summer.  Lakeside is a city-owned RV park.  Because of that, there is no bathroom duties, yard work or trash pickup -- the city is responsible for all that.  After our initial telephone interview, we were offered a volunteer position for the summer months at Lakeside.  We will work 22 hours a week for a full hookup site.  That leaves plenty of time for sightseeing.  I will work in the office where I will learn the campground reservation computer program.  And Alan will escort RV'ers to their designated sites.  Of course, we realize things happen and the hours may increase as we  go  along.   There's a lot to see and do, not only in Branson, but the surrounding areas as well.  An additional perk is discounted show tickets, which we may or may not take advantage of.  Since we are from Arkansas, we are somewhat familiar with the area, but we have not been to Branson in years.  We also hope to see family and friends who frequent Branson during the summer. We are praying this will be a positive experience for all.  

Prior to retirement, all my work experience has been in an office setting.  I think I'm afraid to expand my horizons beyond the walls of an office.  I have always worked and have had very few hobbies.  I envy those who garden, quilt, sew, bead, paint, etc, but am intimidated by the likes of a  sewing machine and what I presume to be a lack of knowledge in most creative activities.   Although I love the outdoors, I don't know much about nature and gardening, but I sure like seeing and watching wildlife and smelling beautiful flowers.  Following this assignment, I should know if I wish to continue working in an office or try something new and perhaps conquer some of my insecurities.

If you come near the Branson area, please stop by and say hello.  We will be heading that way in early May.

God bless.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Winter Jam 2011

On Saturday, our daughter, son-in-law and grandson joined us in Fayetteville for  Winter Jam 2011.  If you've never been to a concert with 10,000+ kids, you have truly missed something...LOL.

I have been to concerts like this before, but the kids had not.  I told them we needed to be there early to get a good seat.  It was $10 at the door and no tickets were sold ahead of time and the doors didn't open 'til 5:00.  We arrived at 3:00 and stood in line for two hours.

The door opened and we all were ready to sit down, but everyone waited patiently for their turn.

The first to perform was Jason Castro -- you may remember him from American Idol, where he finished fourth in 2009.

Chris August

Sidewalk Prophets

(This is the only group we could not understand the words of their music)


Francesca Battistelli

David Crowder Band


Newsboys ROCKED the house and put on quite a show!

Grandson Dalton had his own light show:)

Did I mention this was a Christian concert?  Yes, all the groups are Christian and you can't beat seeing all those groups for ten bucks.  It's awesome to see so many young people standing, clapping, singing and praising God -- it was a blessing.  And it was great to share it with our daughter, son-in-law and grandson.

Some of you have probably never heard of these musicians.  Let me encourage you to listen to a couple of their songs.  If you only want to listen to one or two, I'd recommend Newsboys, David Crowder Band, Francesca Battistelli or Newsong.  Just click on one on the sidebar.  They are all wonderful and have tremendous musical ability and write a lot of their own songs.  We LOVE music of all kind, but we listen mainly to Christian contemporary music, but I do love the oldies but goodies of Southern Gospel music, as well as the great 50s music.

Grandson Dalton
Until next time, live each day to the fullest -- as if it were your last!  May God continue to bless our voyage, as well as our family and friends everywhere.   Thanks to you for stopping by.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Airborne and Special Operations Museum

Friday we visited the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  It took us a couple of trips around the block before we found the parking lot -- there was street construction around the parking area which made it difficult to find.  There is no entrance fee for the museum, but there is a fee for a short movie and a simulator ride.

Fort Bragg in Fayetteville is the home of the 82nd Airborne  Division and the XVIII Airborne Corps.  The world famous Golden Knights (The Army's Parachute Team) also call Fort Bragg home.

Meet Iron Mike who stands guard at the entrance to the Museum.

The term "Iron Mike" is American slang used to refer to men who are especially tough, brave and inspiring.  Because the use of the slang term was popular in the first half of the 20th century, many statutes from that period acquired the Iron Mike nickname.  This particular Airborne Trooper is the newest Iron Mike statute and was placed in front of the Museum on June 14, 2010.   The statute depicts a World War II-era Airborne Trooper with a Thompson machine gun and stands 16' 4" and weighs 3,235 pounds. 

The inscription on Iron Mike's plaque states:

            "Iron Mike stands in honor of Airborne Troopers  
            whose courage,  dedication  and traditions  make 
            them the world's finest fighting soldiers." 

These paratroopers are hanging just inside the Museum's doors.

We continue to find military museums uniquely designed, informative and well presented. One aspect I found interesting was the repair and packing of parachutes.  The parachute is stretched out on a long table and folded and packed in the small pouch at the end of the table.

Those who repair parachutes are known as "Riggers." 

The red baseball cap is a signature piece of  the rigger's  uniform and immediately identifies a troop as a rigger.

Their job is very important as depicted in their pledge:

During WWII, a detachment of Women's Army Corps (WACs) served at the Parachute Training School in Ft Benning, Georgia.  WACs were put through strenuous training before they became certified riggers.  In the five weeks of parachute school, the women learned the fundamentals of packing, how to sew parachutes by machine and hand, how to pack trays and mend harnesses, how to repair canopies and finally how to pack all kinds of parachutes.  However, the women were not allowed to be paratroopers.  On Graduation Day, a WAC packed twelve parachutes and went with twelve paratroopers making a jump.  If one parachute failed to open properly, she would not earn her rigger wings.  They thought women with textile mill training would make good parachute riggers, but nearly 40% of those women failed to complete the training.  On average, a WAC could rig six parachutes a day, compared to men who rigged ten a day.  As the Corps better understood who made better riggers and picked more suitable women, the WACs became more proficient and eventually were considered equally qualified with their male counterparts.  One hundred fifty-thousand women served in the WAC during WWII.

Another story I found interesting was the one about the wedding dress.  As the story goes, the year was 1943 and a young paratrooper was in training with the 101st Airborne Division.  He and two other friends went in together and purchased a car so they could "socialize" with the local girls.   It was during one of those dates when Eugene Deibler met Mary Smith and he knew she was "the one."  Following his training, Sergeant Deibler shipped out to Great Britain.  In the early morning of June 6, 1944, he was part of the airborne assault on Normandy.  The unit landed in a field near the German headquarters.  Sergeant Deibler said he doesn't know why he did it, but he took out his knife and cut out half of his unused reserve silk parachute canopy and stored it in his knapsack.  He kept it there through 76 days of combat.  At the first opportunity, he mailed the material back to Mary.  She took the silk from the parachute, put it with a little more material and with the help of a seamstress, they made her wedding dress.  Mary kept it ready until the two were wed on December 22, 1945.  Now, that's a love story!

One more story before I end this post.  By December 22, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, the German offensive had surrounded the town of Bastogne, Belgium.  Inside the town, General Anthony McAuliffe commanded the 101st Airborne Division.  That morning a German contingent approached the 101st under a flag of truce and handed a surrender ultimatum, stating the battalions were ready to annihilate the US troops.  The note demanded a surrender within two hours or shelling would begin.  The note was presented to General McAuliff, whose response was -- "Awe Nuts!"  

This was the entire content of the note delivered to the Germans by Colonel Joseph Harper:

"""To the German Commander:
The American Commander"

Depiction of  Colonel Harper presenting the message to the Germans.
A few moments later, Colonel Harper made sure the note was clear.  "If you don't know what 'nuts' means, in plain English, it is the same as 'Go to Hell.'"  That night the Germans began a four-night bombing assault against the town; and on December 26, 1944, after a ten-day siege, American tanks from General George Patton's Third Army lifted the siege of Bastogne.

Alan loves watching old military and western movies.  He actually watched the movie "Battle of the Bulge," starring Henry Fonda and knew all about this particular scene.  Guess I need to watch more movies with him, so I can learn more history.

A few more pictures from the Airborne and Special Operations Museum.

Each waiting for their turn to jump

As we exited the museum, there were numerous memorial squares on the sidewalk.  This one honored members of one family who has served.

As I close this post, I leave you with this message:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Short Note

This is really going to be a quick post.  We returned to Fayetteville, North Carolina, today to have the fridge recall fixed.  We were told it would only take about an hour, but as we all know, it seldom happens as quickly as they predict.  Our appointment was for 1:30 and we finally left near 4:30 -- guess that's not too bad.  They also had to look at our steps.  Alan was absolutely correct when he diagnosed the step problem as the gears were stripped. 

We were told the plate with the gears would actually have to be  "made" by Kwikee -- the step manufacturer -- and would take 4-5 weeks before it would be received at the service department of Hawley's Camping Center.  We had to pay the $580 up front, but because of our extended warranty, we will be reimbursed by Hawley's when the gear plate is installed.
We are staying in the Fayetteville area until Sunday.  Our kids are driving over on Saturday and we are going to Winter Jam -- a Christian concert where we will see the Newsboys, David Crowder Band, Sidewalk Prophets, among others.  The campground we are in has I-95 to the west and railroad tracks to the east, not to mention the flight path for Ft Bragg's helicopters.  Hope we are able to get some sleep:(

My grandson, Dalton -- who will be 13 in May -- is happy he is finally taller than

A few more Spring pics:

Bradford Pear Trees


          Blooming Collard Greens              (At least that's what we were told)

 We will see what else we can find in the area over the next couple of days.   May God continue to watch over our family and friends, wherever they may be.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Girls Night Out

WOO-HOO, Girls Night Out -- Since my daughter's mother-in-law and I both have birthdays in March, my daughter, Alissa, treated us last night to a Girls Night Out at church with Anita Renfroe and Mandisa.

Mother-in-Law Gail, daughter Alissa and Me
It was a sold-out crowd of 2000+ in the sanctuary of the church we attend when in North Carolina -- Englewood Baptist Church.  You can see a few men showed up too.

Anita Renfroe is a Christian Comedian from Atlanta, Georgia, and the wife of a Baptist pastor, who is now her business manager.  She became famous for her comic rendition of everything a Mother would typically say in the course of a day, set to the William Tell Overture.  You can listen to "The Mom Song" by clicking on it on the sidebar to the right of this post.  She is the mother of three and grandmother of two.  She is so funny -- we laughed and laughed and laughed.

During intermission, I was clowning around with my camera -- attempting to take a picture of the three of us.  Apparently, it's not easy to take a good picture of yourself while holding the camera too -- anyway that's my excuse.  Maybe I should have held the camera up higher, I don't know.  We laughed even harder at how distorted I appear.   My daughter said it was like those houses with crazy mirrors you find at a carnival.  This is the best one of several possibilities -- the distortion isn't quite as bad as the others...LOL.

Following intermission, Mandisa took the stage and rocked the house

As most of you probably know,  Mandisa was a part of Season 5 of American Idol and she gave a powerful testimony about her experience on AI.  She shared it was the last year age-wise she would be eligible to try out for American Idol, and she had once heard Joyce Meyer say, "If you're scared to do something, do it scared." So, the first time she stood before Simon Cowell, she was scared to death and intimidated by him.  She further shared she had always struggled with her weight -- even as a child, food was her comforter.  However, five years after American Idol, she has forgiven Simon for his derogatory comments about her weight, and with God's help, she has now lost 106 pounds.  Mandisa's five step program for weight lost is:  1)  Getting into God's Word; 2) Eating healthy -- no particular diet; 3) Exercise -- she loves Zumba; 4) Counseling to help her overcome her food addiction; and 5) Prayer.  And she  gives God all the Glory for her success.  

And she looks great

I have also put one of Mandisa's songs on the sidebar, "Broken Hallelujah."

If you want to laugh, please listen to "The Mom Song" by Anita and if you really want a blessing, please listen to "Broken Hallelujah." 

I have a small pillow on my couch Alissa gave me many years ago and it says it all:

I thank my daughter for being willing to share this night with both her mother and mother-in-law.  I am truly blessed with the love of a beautiful daughter.  Thanks, Alissa, for who you are...I love you very much.  

Before I close, I want to say our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan.  The devastation is incredible and we pray for everyone who has been affected by this tragedy.

God bless our family and friends, near and far.