Category Archives: Nature

the heavens declare the glory of God

Snowy Range and Home on the Range

Bruce and I and Sitka drove to Snowy Range. If you don’t know about this gorgeous place, it’s located  on the southern border of Wyoming. You take I-80 west from Cheyenne and then exit south onto Hwy 130 at Laramie. The drive from there is scenic in a kind of old west way.  Some rather ancient log buildings, but mixed with modern ranches. A few miles in, horsey and cattle ranges. Deer and antelope roam—yes, just like the song—sometimes grazing along the cattle fences, giving us a close-up view of these beautiful creatures.

We come to the town of Centennial (pop. 270) which has some fun touristy shops and places to grab a meal or snack. Then, the climb to the range. At about nine thousand feet, we encounter places to camp, spots to pull over for a photo, and lots of trail heads.

I got all geared up with a rain jacket—just in case—my cell, my lip balm, car keys, and my trusty hiking poles.

This is a pretty moderate 2-mile hike. At first, I think it’s an easy hike, but around the corner, the trail turns up and down, and the downs can be treacherous if you’re not watching where you put your boot. Sitka loves this. Her nose is getting a work-out. I always feel that a dog’s sniffing is comparable to us humans reading a really interesting magazine or newspaper article.

But at one point near the end, my confidence took a nose-dive when we encountered a very, very steep descent to get to the last quarter mile of the hike. At the top, I saw a sign that said, “Alternate Route.”

I wish it had said, “Please strongly consider taking this alternate route.”

But I  thought, Hah, I can handle this little steep part. I’ve got my hiking poles. Well, even with my poles, I nearly fell several times.

By the end of the trail, Sitka is taking frequent breaks, sitting and panting, her eyes searching ours as if to ask, “are we almost there?”

Poor girl! She’s so young she hasn’t learned how to pace herself. When we get back to the car, she jumps inside and practically passes out. We don’t see or hear her until we pull into our driveway, an hour later.

A couple of reminders for me about the ‘hike.’

Approach the  ‘hike’ with enthusiasm.

Come prepared for the looked-for and unlooked-for demands of the trail.

The first danger of the trail: getting off the trail. Whoa! Don’t do that.

Second danger: growing complacent. You stop being alert, you stop considering carefully where to put your feet, you stop listening and looking. This is when accidents happen. Don’t be complacent.

Before I close this post, I just wanted y’all to know Elk Lake Publishing and I have just finished edits for my adventure/suspense novel, The Girl everyone Wants. My editor tells me the novel could be out as early as this coming fall! Yay.

Now I have to get to work, searching for my tribe of Advance Reader Copy (ARC) readers and shout-out people. Is this something you might find interesting? Would you be willing to shout out about my upcoming book release on your social media and to your friends and family?

If so, you can reply on Facebook or contact me on my website or comment on this post or email me at dena,.netherton@gmail.com

Also, if you find music helpful for memorizing scripture, I’ve started a new page: Scripture Songs. The Lord is helping me write music to accompany scripture verses. If you would like to listen to my scripture songs, you can scroll up to the top of my home page and click  my new page. So far, I have three mp3s ready to listen to. More are coming.

God bless,

Dena

 

A New Baby!

Remember when your kids were toddlers. How curious, how destructive, how maddening, but how cute they were?

Well, we’ve gone back in time. This time, with the canine variety.

This little four-month cutie-pie is our puppy, Sitka. She’s half Husky and half Heeler.

Sitka loves her crate and likes to nap in this position.

She is endlessly curious, endlessly mischievous. Smart but stubborn.

Look at the next photo. See the look in her eyes? She’s asking me, “Am I allowed to chew on this?” (Yes)

“Please don’t take this chew toy away. Please don’t scold me.”

The potty training is coming along … mostly. When Bruce takes her out to do her business, I sometimes watch from the window to assure myself I won’t have to clean up after her when she comes inside again.

Sometimes I ask Bruce, “Did she potty?”

“Yes, she did.”

“But, was is just the pee-pee?

“No,” Bruce answers. “She also did the poo-poo!”

“Yay!”

And then we both laugh because it sounds exactly like the way we talked when our kids were potty training.

I regularly buy her toys and chew objects to keep her occupied.

But some things are forbidden.

She’s not allowed into the master bath because there are so many items she won’t leave alone.

She especially loves the master bath trash.

And beyond the master bath is the walk-in closet where all sorts of delectable and smelly items of clothing rest in the hamper. Sitka thinks, “Aw, smelly socks are the best. Underwear? Almost as good.”

“But the absolute most funnest, bestest, tastiest ever,” she thinks, “are books. Yes, books. Those bits of paper are like dessert. They almost melt in my mouth. And ripping them into little pieces, chewing them into pulpy pieces to decorate the carpet is so satisfying. It’s almost worth destroying my lady’s books even though when she discovers me and the book she screams like a cat. Yeow! I don’t like that loud sound. And she gives me a swat and a ‘No, no, no, no! Bad dog!’”

 

Sitka chases and terrorizes Link, the cat.

She steals the kitchen towels, any socks left on the floor, wires, the tv remote, tags on towels and blankets, anything not tied down, etc.

And she’s a digger. There are bunnies and ground squirrels in abundance on our eight acres. And, by golly, she’s gonna dig one up!

She hasn’t learned to come. Well, I take that back. She comes when I have a treat to offer her. Otherwise, she comes when she feels like it.

She jumps on us. We’re working on that. She doesn’t jump on me too much ‘cause I thrust out my knee. But Bruce is so nice, she keeps it up with him.

Oh, but this sweet puppy is so adorable. When I praise her, she gazes up at me with liquid dark chocolate eyes that seem to say, “I’d do anything for you.”

And so, we hold on. Because the reward of our consistent training and praise and patience will be a loving, loyal, civilized adult dog who will bark to warn us of prowlers, protect us from all dangers, and lie at our feet when we sit by the fire, dreaming contented doggie dreams.

And, unlike raising humans, we don’t have to wait for twenty years to finally see the fruit of our labors.

I’d forgotten how much patience it takes to raise a young one. It’s all coming back.

Embrace Your Elements

We’re in the process of making a transition from the wet, but beautiful northwest  to cold and windy southeast Wyoming.

Each year, in the state of Washington, I geared up (literally) for the onslaught of constant rain and dark during the fall and winter and spring days. It seemed as if as soon as October arrived, so did the gloomy weather.

Now, before the covid lockdowns this wasn’t much of a problem. I’d just load up my backpack with writing supplies and my laptop and head on over to my favorite coffee places. I’d sit by the fire, with my laptop, enjoying its warmth as I occasionally gazed outside to watch the boats glide by in the harbor. 

I found ways to enjoy the rain. And sometimes there’s something kind of romantic and mysterious about the cloudy weather that lends itself to imagining all kinds of potential stories to be stored away for future writing days.

But in Wyoming, dark clouds are rare (yay!) and sunshine is plentiful (big yay), but wind is an almost daily occurrence.

And I don’t mean whimpy wind. I mean WIND. The kind of wind that knocks semis off the interstate, and makes  walking a challenge of strength just to maneuver in a straight line. The kind of wind that screams around building corners and sends clouds of dust powerful and gritty-sharp enough to scalp a hatless man or woman.

I woke up this morning to another windy onslaught and gritted my teeth. Another day of wind? Oh no, God. Please make it stop.

But the wind is not going to stop. This is the way of Wyoming. The high altitude and treeless prairies invite the wind to fill the empty spaces. And the wind obliges, with gusto.

I saw some pronghorn antelope recently. I’m amazed how these creatures survive out in the open range during the cold and wind.

We’re building a nice, big house on acreage where we intend to plant fruit trees and berry bushes and anything else that is able to stay grounded. Everyone around here with land plants wind barriers of bushes and evergreen trees on the north and west of their property to shield their home. Good idea!

So, what’s good about the wind?

  • It cleanses. Not too much air pollution around here!
  • It brings good things like much needed precipitation from the west.
  • It gets my imagination rolling because the wind sounds like music, and music is the brain’s  great motor.
  • It makes me strong. Otherwise I’d blow away!
  • It reminds me of the power of God, and calls me to pray.

The Source of Harvest

 

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A dear friend gave me a beautiful flowering plant called “Oxalis.

This particular species’ leaves are a deep maroon color and each is shaped like a triangle. Oxalis triangularis is what I have. They bear pale pink trumpet shaped flowers. I placed the plant on the window sill, and when it got bigger, I re-planted it to a bigger terra cotta pot. All year that beautiful plant gave me joy.

Then, my oxalis seemed to grow weaker. The leaves became sparce and fewer flowers decorated its foliage.

It seemed to refuse any of my nurturing, or watering, or plant food.

Finally, I gave up and put the dying plant in my cool storage room and forgot about it. I felt a kind of grief, like when the vibrant reds and oranges of fall give way to bare branches.

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Next year, I needed a good-sized terra cotta pot for some new pansies I’d picked up at a local plant sale. I took the pot I’d used for my now-dead oxalis, turned the soil, added more potting mix and fertilizer, then planted the new pansies.

I put the pot of pansies out on my bistro table on my deck. Each morning I enjoyed coffee out on the deck, savoring the beauty and variety of colors and textures, of the dappling of sunlight across the banister and over my impatiens, pansies, and marigolds, and geraniums.

Then something almost miraculous happened. In the middle of summer, a speck of maroon-colored foliage peeked through the green leaves of my pansies.

What?

Sure enough, as I delved through the greenery and bright purples and pinks of the pansies I saw the children of my oxalis straining beyond the shadows to reach life-giving light.

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The two plants lived harmoniously for the rest of the summer and into the fall. But as the weather has cooled, the pansies have reached the end of their time-lines. But the oxalis will live on.

That plant goes through cycles where it seems to wither and die. But wait a while. Leave it. Go away and look at something else. And when the time is right, come back and scratch into the soil and find a new creation, straining upward.

This is the story of the miracle of God’s creative power. Like the oxalis, we artists—made to reflect God’s image—also go dormant at times. It is not strange, as I once thought about the oxalis. I didn’t understand about such things.

But as writer, I have found that we must be patient when we cycle in and out of creativity and productivity. We need those quiet times while we rest from our frantic pace of growth and reproduction. We must let our minds lie fallow for a time.

And trust God to prepare the new seeds for germination and to enliven the old, dried up roots.

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In the book of Galations, Paul is speaking about those who live to please God, how they will reap a harvest of everlasting life. And for Christian writers, as well as others who love God and seek to care for others, we can draw the same conclusion.

Here is what Paul says in Galatians 6:9, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

 

 

 

Love Needs Memories

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Quinn’s grandpa, my loving husband, Bruce

 

My grandfather was an enterprising, intelligent, successful, and moral man. But Alzheimer’s disease stole all of that when he was only in his mid-sixties.

Once, he took his grandchildren down to the San Francisco financial district and gave us lessons about business and banks (all age appropriate) and people, and manners, and proper deportment. He took us on trips to the ocean, even though he was allergic to the sun, to the zoo, and Golden Gate park, and rowed us on Stowe Lake, and treated us to tea and cookies at the Japanese Tea Garden.

 

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Oh how I loved Granddaddy. He also played duets on the piano with my uncle Harold and sang funny songs from another era. He was a good provider, president of his import/export company, a loving husband, and a good gardener.

But Alzheimer’s gradually robbed him of an articulate tongue, of recent memories, and how to do simple things.

I remember visiting my grandparents when I was about fourteen. One night, my grandmother had put Granddaddy in the other bedroom in a twin bed. He was too restless to sleep in the same bed with Grandmommy. I was sleeping in the other twin bed. Granddaddy kept waking up yelling, “Help, help!”

i got up and tried to soothe him. “What wrong, Granddaddy?” He looked scared, and my grandfather had never been scared of anything.

He finally came to full consciousness and said, “It’s nothing. Don’t listen to me. Go back to sleep.”

Eventually my grandmother had to put him in a nursing home. We went to visit him but he didn’t remember us. Didn’t remember that he ever loved us or that he had done so many grandfatherly things with us. All of that was gone.

The last time I visited him, he was very close to death, was in a hospital, and didn’t have a mind. His emaciated body and sunken eyes shocked me. I think he only weighed about 80 pounds. My granddaddy had once been a robust 170 pounds on an average five foot nine frame.

Mercifully, pneumonia took him. I had just turned sixteen. My aunt June, the wonderful singer, tearfully sang for his funeral.

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A recent memory of a drive with my honey on the Cascade Loop and Diablo Lake

I thought, how terrible to lose your memories. When that happens, you don’t remember that you loved someone, and you don’t know that that woman or man standing over your bed loves you.

Being loved and loving others is the most important thing in the world. But if you don’t have any memories of that person or all that you’ve meant to each other, then you don’t love.

Nearly fifty years later, I’m thinking about my love for Jesus. How grateful I am to have memories of all that He’s done for me, His lovingkindness, faithfulness, His provision, His protection. If I lost those memories of all the times He’s revealed Himself to me, would I still love Him?

Psalm 103 says:

“Let all that I am praise the Lord;

may I never forget the good things He does for me.

He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.

He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.

He fills my life with good things;

my youth is renewed like the eagles.

 

How grateful I am that I can still remember all these things. I’ve learned not to take memory for granted because I’ve seen how quickly it can be stolen by disease. Yet even though we forget, God will never forget us, or that we are held in His mighty hand. What a comfort!