Archive for May, 2019


I really need to get in the habit of taking “before” pictures.

Decluttering my life is very fulfilling and brings me a lot of pleasure. Actually, I’ve been “kinda sorta” working on it off and on for many years, but it’s become a primary, regular focus in the past eighteen months or so. Decluttering applies to all kinds of stuff: digital stuff (scrolling through files), emotional stuff (working through feelings), and physical stuff (sorting through piles, boxes, drawers, shelves… and smokehouses).

I tend to take pictures of a space after it’s been decluttered because I’m so proud of having finished the task and I’m so pleased with the fresh, new look. But whenever I take those “after” pictures, I always regret that I didn’t think (or was too ashamed) to take a “before” picture, so that there’s no documentation to show the comparison.

In this instance, I once again forgot to take pictures of the smokehouse before Scott and I tackled it, but those of you who have seen it may remember – or can imagine – how embarrassingly messy and dirty and piled-up it was.

Well, here’s how it looks now. This first picture is looking straight in through the door toward the backyard side and far right corner. I tied all the tomato stakes in same-size bundles, and we threw out several tubs of junk. I think the Chuck Pennel sign adds a colorful and sentimental touch.

Turning 90 degrees to the right, this one faces the Coffee Road side and corner nearest the laundry room door. We moved the shelf from where it had been (straight ahead when you walked in) to this corner, where the two beat-up, super-heavy file cabinets full of birds’ nests and other grahdoo had been. Scott insisted on keeping the slightly shredded kickball bases and all the scraps of wood. I agreed as long as the wood was neatly stacked (it is), and the other items were totally contained on the shelves (they are.)

Another 90 degree turn to the right has me facing the house side, where we hung our sleds. We ditched a number of the plastic ones because they were cracked or defective in some way. I was also going to ditch the wooden sled with metal runners because the runners are bent so that I’m thinking you can’t sled on it, but Scott said, “Oh, but isn’t it a heritage item?!?” And yes, of course it is. It’s the sled we had on Kingoak Drive when I was a kid. We moved it to NLR where it almost never snows – although we did usually get a nice ice storm the second week of January – and it came with me to Missouri. We Robertses used it for years to sled down Smart Lane before Mr. Zahner had it paved. The sled still says “VARNER” on the bottom in my dad’s handwriting, and Scott’s right: it is precious enough to merit a place in the smokehouse, even though it may not be functional. Although now that I think about it, there may be a way to straighten out those runners… hmm… It’s hanging up behind the red and green sleds.

One more turn to the right leaves us facing my gardening shelf, which I cleared off, throwing out a truly crazy number of pots, saucers, and useless items, and retaining only the essential products and tools I actually use. The orange bucket and green tub were cleaned and relocated to the playroom, and the pots to the left of the orange bucket were neatly re-stacked after this picture was taken. We swept up a Pigpen-sized cloud/pile of dirt, and then, since it is, after all, the smokehouse, we shoved as much of that pile as possible down into the large cracks between the uneven sheets of plywood flooring. What we couldn’t shove down we scooped up into a tub of junk that went out to the street where Raintree Disposal gladly hauled it off.

I am very satisfied with the results. Now I can go into the smokehouse with pleasure instead of dread. Over time, I’m expecting the same to become true of the rest of my life.  = )


We’d done Pedestal Rocks, and all that was left of our four-day, three-night getaway was to drive home. On our way, we took a picture that will surely live in infamy.

Back when we lived in Little Rock (23+ years ago), we made MANY trips north to the Buffalo River area and/or to a remote youth camp called Castle Bluff that Scott had helped construct. On the way, we’d always stop in Russellville to eat at our all-time favorite burger place, Feltner’s Whatta-Burger. Their made-to-order burgers were awesome (still are), their orders of fries were huge, and Scott often got either a limeade and/or a banana shake to go. He was always driving, and we’d take Hwy 7 north through Dover an on up. I remember Dover, with its sharp left turn at the grocery and then that bridge over Illinois Bayou where that one guy had a wreck coming home from a Singles Life float trip because he wouldn’t stay in Scott’s caravan…

Anyway, sometime after Dover and before we turned off 7 onto 16 for the Deer/Nail/Swain section, I’d always doze off for a while. (After all, doesn’t a belly full of cheeseburger and fries plus a car ride obviously equal a nap?) And when I’d wake up, Scott would always tell me that we’d gone through Cowell, but that I had missed it AGAIN. For many years I had the privilege of listening to the “You slept through Cowell” refrain every time we went to Castle Bluff, and through the years, my desire to actually see Cowell grew and grew.

Well, our route home from Pedestal Rocks took us west on Hwy 16 to Lurton and then north on Hwy 7/16 toward Jasper. Shortly before Hwy 16 cut off west for Deer/Nail Swain, Scott said, “Hey, we’re about to go through Cowell!”

Oh, boy! What an opportunity! And I was actually wide awake!

“Now don’t blink or you’ll miss it!”

Eagerly, I stared ahead. There was really nothing to see except grassy rolling hills and deep wooded valleys, but then… Sweet Georgia Peaches! We spotted it up ahead: the actual, literal, green-and-white Cowell sign! Oh, the joy! I was, of course, definitely going to get a picture of the sign, but Scott insisted that I needed to be in the picture in order to document for all posterity that I had actually experienced Cowell. He pulled over where Hwy 55 (a less substantial thoroughfare than Coffee Road) cuts off down a hill to the east, and I hopped out, grateful that there would be no good old boys around to see me grinning like an idiot in front of the green Cowell sign.

But while Scott was getting the shot set up, wouldn’t you know it? A couple of local men in their 40s and overalls came driving up “Hwy” 55 pulling a trailer of equipment, and they stopped to ask if we needed help. Well, thank you, but no, we were just going to take a picture of the wife and the sign and be on our way. They were fine with that, smiled, waved, and drove off. I guess they’re used to touristy types posing by that infamous landmark…

And now, here’s proof positive – after 33 years of passing through it – that I have indeed been to Cowell.

Pedestal Rocks

I really want to break my habit of not blogging immediately after or within a short period of time – like a week – after something interesting happens. When I get too far from an event, I simply can’t remember the details, and then I’m sad that I can’t write about it very well. “Discipline, discipline, discipline, Patty!

Our final excursion on our April getaway happened on our way home. Scott had heard from a tennis buddy about a great hike at a place called Pedestal Rocks. Neither of us had ever heard about it, which was odd, particularly because it’s on Highway 16 (of Deer/Nail/Swain fame) only a few miles east of the extremely well-beaten Highway 7 Little Rock-to-Castle Bluff path. And after doing the hike there, Scott was aghast at the fact that we had somehow failed to take our own children there. “This would’ve been an AWESOME place for the kids! I can’t BELIEVE we never brought them here. How is it that we didn’t know about it?!?”

There are two trails there, Kings Bluff and Pedestal Rocks, and we chose the latter and had no regrets. It was basically flat with lots of opportunities for Scott to leave the trail and explore rock formations, waterfalls, and odd crevasses. The scenery was gorgeous and the pedestals; well, they are hard to describe, and there were so darn many of them! The trail weaves along the edge of a bluff where erosion has left these odd “pedestals” just standing out there, begging to be investigated and/or climbed.

We stopped for a picnic lunch on a big flat rock. Our little site overlooked a lovely waterfall, so Scott was compelled to hike down and do some exploring.

    There’s an intermittent waterfall down there. It was running that day.

Needing handholds, he grabbed the lower trunks of these very tall, very skinny trees, only to find out the hard way that they were… thorn trees! OUCH! And of course, we had no Band-Aids. Well, there were some a half-mile back in the glove box of the Durango. Decidedly unhelpful, but oh well. It was only a little blood.

I rested on the rock while he explored.

                                   Not my most flattering portrait

The trail was lovely, and with Scott carrying the remains of our lunch along with most of our other “gear,” I was free to focus on stepping carefully and enjoying the scenery.



We found this scenic arch, and…


of course, Scott was compelled to conquer it!

Soon thereafter, we rounded a curve and suddenly there stood a very strange pillar jutting up as if placed by some giant chess player!

Its shape was just weird, almost like a chimney, and it was hard to get a full picture of it through the trees. Evidently this was THE pedestal of “Pedestal Rocks” fame – and there would surely be another one to justify the plural. Little did we know!

We just kept seeing them over and over. The trail was at the same level as the tops of the pedestals. Walking on the level is much easier for me, so I stayed on the trail while Scott frequently climbed down to explore the bases of the pedestals and the interesting cracks, crevices, and little caves below. I guess what happened was that over time the ground was washed away, and these odd towers were of hard enough rock that they remained. Erosion leftovers, so to speak. Very, very interesting topography.

   No, didn’t climb up there to pose; I just walked a few paces off the trail.                         Scott climbed down to explore and take my picture.

We really enjoyed the hike and all the wonderful views. Did I mention that the weather was perfect too?  = )


I was pretty worn out by the end of our 2.2 mile hike, but we were both SUPER glad to have fully experienced Pedestal Rocks.


2017 Christmas Games

I’m decluttering my life, and that includes all the sticky notes and index cards stuck on the wall above my desk. I can’t remember if I already posted these, but this particular index card has been hanging in front of me for 17 months. I’ve kept it because it was so impressive, and I wanted to type it up so I’d have a digital record of… ALL the games our family played over the 2017 Christmas break. Here they are:



Dominion (7 times)

Code Names


Minus Five


Pandemic (3 times)

3-Handed Bridge

Hail to the Chief

7 Wonders

Settlers of Catan



Ping-Pong (regular and hand/air)

Bookworm Adventures

Worms World Party

Roller Coaster Tycoon


I have now thrown one index card into the trash!

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