Prom and Other Happenings

Remember Brody the flour covered dog? He got a date to prom!

This is that very long legged hound, if you recall from previous post!

Here is Ellie in her gown

And with her proud parents!

I was hoping the poppies I bought would bloom before we departed. The first one was orange and I hooray-ed! The second one was yellow and I was delighted!

And yes, spring warmth has finally arrived complete with humidity and emerging ferns!

I bought one fern in 1985. We have shared so many ferns off of the original plant. I have given the root away to friends and now we have them growing nicely at this our third and likely final house!!

Suitcases are packed. Laundry is done. Ride to airport arranged. Cannot believe it is finally time to go! We deliver Lucky to Lizzie tomorrow. Our house sitters are all set up. Woo-Hoo! Happy 52+ wedding anniversary to us!!

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
    His love endures forever.

Psalm 118:1 NIV

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.
His love endures forever.

Psalm 136:1 NIV

And let His people say Amen! And let the Robert Dutina family say Amen! Let all God’s people say Amen!

When you read this we are packing to go to Maui tomorrow! I am stunned writing these details. 🙂


Wowsers! This year has flown past. We attended our Grandgirl’s last volleyball club tournament yesterday. Seems we just attend her first game in elementary school – or was that middle school? Well, no matter, she actually graduates in a few weeks! She will go on to play with University of Cincinnati Clermont campus volleyball team. First though is Senior prom and graduation!

I bought a pot of Asian lilies and planted them in the front garden. A sharp wind during a rainstorm one day broke off one stem of blooms. A bird had also perched in the tree above the lilies and decorated the blossoms with its waste. Yuck. Somehow in all the Scriptures about the lilies of the field and the flowers of the earth to my knowledge that event is never mentioned! Imagine.

By the time you read this we will have landed in Hawaii for our trip of a lifetime! Our one and only visit to the 50th State. We had planned to go in 2020 for our 50th wedding anniversary and our 50th state to visit. The pandemic cancelled that. At that time Hawaii said “You can come but you have to quarantine for 2 weeks.” We can barely afford ten days in Hawaii much less 24! So our trip is finally underway. Married 52 years now!

My mother always wanted to visit to see the flowers growing there, but she died having never been there. Her sister also lived there. I have two cousins living in Lihue, but we will not be able to see them. The commuter flight between islands is $115 per person. We plan to visit Hawaii and Maui. They live on Kauai.

I can barely believe we are actually going. I typed out our itinerary spelling (to us) bizarre names like Waikoloa, Akala, Holualoa, Punaluu. Realized I had misspelled Kilauea once I said it out loud! We are staying at Hapuna beach on Hawaii (not so bad) and Kaanapali on Maui. Monokalani and Kaihalulu are weird. It does not help that instead of trying to pronounce the names while we planned Bob just made up words with lots of vowels and syllables!!

So as long as we remember to get groceries on Maui at the airport city in Kahukui on Kaahumanu avenue, (oh my!) we ought to be fine?

Because every single thing is imported to Hawaii all the prices are high. We will likely return broke. Our daughter says to go ahead and spend!

Please pray for safe travels! Opening photo is by Michael Swiet.

Driven to Distraction

Many things occur in our neighborhood that are accompanied with sounds and noise. When I am writing the blog (preferable on Monday and Tuesday mornings) I pray, play music and try to tune out all the distractions. Today was no different.

Except, there was this clunk. Then later another clunk. Then two clunks in a row. The sounds were not rhythmic like a worker. Finally, I could not take it and had to go try to find the source of the distracting disturbance. What was causing this commotion?

I went outside. Okay the Royce fertilizer guy was down the street, but not making the noise I kept hearing. Nothing to the left of our house. Nothing else to the right.

I went out back. No workers there that I could detect. The trees have filled out so it is a bit harder to see the other houses. I went into the master bathroom. When I came back to the kitchen there was the sound. A Robin at the sliding glass door!

Earlier we had seen robins on the deck which is unusual. They seemed huge and likely were just puffed against the wind and chill. April 24 and 33 degrees! Go figure! One in particular seemed to be liking the rungs under the black metal porch side table. I noticed piles of gooey waste from that bird. Rinsed them off with glasses of water.

Now Lucky wanted in on the act. I told her to chase the birds off. Instead she decided to roll her ear in the most recent pile of waste. I moved the sliding screen door. I moved the lace curtain thinking perhaps she was seeing a “rival” in the door – her reflection. I put plastic planters upside down in front of the door and brought the water hose over the railing. Back to writing.

Thump. Thump. Really? I went to the door declaring, “I need cat!” and called “Here kitty, kitty.” No response though there had been an orange tabby in the yard recently.

I moved the sliding screen over the door where I thought the bird was knocking. This time I left the dog out on the deck. Of all the places in this wooded area, why our deck? Oh well. Those birds should go next door. That neighbor has a sliding glass door, too. She has a deck and no pets!

Do you know the center verse of the Bible? (These are facts that Christians like to collect.) I think the center verse is no accident as it has kept me from many troubles.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to put confidence in man.

Psalm 118:8. Another version reads “than to put confidence in mortals.” Take refuge in the LORD. Not the ones about you who you can see and hear, but who will die. The Almighty LORD, King over angel armies, He is to be our refuge.

The photo above was from online. It reminds me! We are going to make the trip of a lifetime (at least for us). When our 50th wedding anniversary rolled around we had planned to go to visit our 50th state. That was when the pandemic hit. Hawaii basically said, “You can come here, but you must quarantine for 2 weeks before you travel about.” My response was I can barely afford 2 weeks in Hawaii, much less a month!” So we put off our trip. Bob was really liking the idea of our 50th state and our 50th anniversary 😦

So this year we will celebrate our 53rd wedding anniversary and visit our 50th state! We have consulted our Hawaii experts the Cookseys. We have met several times with a travel agent. Bob is trying to overcome his discomfort about being on an island (or two) totally surrounded by water. We want to see the flowers, helicopter over the volcanoes, see rainbows, enjoy the tropics, birds, jungle plants, etc. Bob plans to eat lots of seafood. I think pineapple sounds delicious. I am even thinking about taking a vacation from writing the blog. Yikes, (Can she do that?)

We have a dog sitter. A house sitter. And by the time we return we might actually be broke! Our daughter says to go ahead and spend. We just might on this trip!

Resurrection Sunday

Sometimes when I was growing up I got to go to sunrise service on Easter morning. I think my favorite one was held at French Park in Cincinnati. The weather was often chilly and even at times rainy, but we were determined to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord as the sun came up!

My mother worked for many years at a flower shop in Norwood, Ohio. One year she brought home some purple hyacinths and plucked each flower off, wrapped it in wet cotton, wired and taped it. Then she assembled them as an Easter corsage for me. To this day the fragrance of purple hyacinths remind me of her. Though she lived a troubled life I believe her faith in Christ took her to be with Him when her life on earth ended.

None of these things help my soul celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as much as my gratitude lists. When Ann Voskamp wrote One Thousand Gifts I wonder if she knew how the practice would revolutionize the American Christian church? Certainly it changed her life, but do we ever truly know the impact our writing will have upon others? I wonder.

Have you practiced writing down the gifts in your life that Christ Jesus has bestowed upon you? Have you given Him thanks this Easter? Here are some of my thanksgivings.

  • Sunshine
  • Rain in due season
  • Salvation for my soul
  • You give strength to hearts that are true to You
  • Your righteous shall live by faith
  • our home
  • the longevity of my marriage
  • Justice that rolls down and righteousness as an ever-flowing stream
  • God with us
  • You know the hairs upon our heads
  • The Convent of the Transfiguration
  • my sisters in Journey Together in Stitches
  • crochet and knit group at senior center
  • Your Spirit that gives me life
  • Your breath in our lives
  • My children
  • My grandchildren
  • Laundry now on first floor
  • small gardens to delight my soul
  • the bluebirds at the office window
  • rabbits in Angela’s yard
  • Grogu to make me smile
  • Noodle the Corgi that makes me smile
  • music
  • music memories from over the years
  • The Holy Spirit speaking in my soul
  • My Bible and Bible Gateway tool
  • Rheude’s small group
  • Lucky learning to play with her toys
  • Cooking
  • Great Smoky Mountains and spring wildflowers there
  • Medical care
  • freedom of religion
  • clouds
  • spring peepers
  • gifts
  • dark chocolate
  • coconut!
  • travels we have done
  • travel planned to Hawaii
  • blogging friends
  • New Mexico friends
  • Neighbors who are friends
  • running water in our home
  • crocheting
  • sewing for our home and others
  • museums of art
  • Cincinnati Nature Center
  • red winged blackbirds
  • butterflies
  • armor of God
  • Abraham’s example of faith and obedience
  • Andrew Peterson’s music
  • Learning to be a living sacrifice
  • loving husband
  • forgiveness
  • the Great I am
  • firemen
  • police officers
  • electronic books from the library
  • my sister
  • pinwheels
  • soap bubbles
  • even to old age He will keep me
  • black licorice
  • Spirit of God who raised Christ from the dead LIVES in us
  • I can entrust my soul to my faithful creator
  • iPad with keyboard
  • ear buds for listening while walking the dog
  • Living Water
  • Seashells
  • heating pad
  • ocean sounds
  • He walks with me and talks with me
  • rainbow in the sky reminds me of rainbow around the throne
  • the Psalms
  • friends serving in Nepal
  • New Covenant in my mind and on my heart
  • Jesus is made unto me wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption
  • “Pajama church” when you can’t make it to service
  • His still small voice
  • Bob’s sense of humor
  • a good fresh salad
  • piano music
  • people I know I can ask to pray – knowing they will do it
  • cellos
  • live drama performances
  • good ham salad
  • music by Brandon Lake
  • writing poetry
  • Mizithra cheese sauce on angel hair spaghetti
  • broccoli slaw, just yum
  • Spirit of God helps me write

That is my partial list. How about you? Get a little notebook and begin to list your praises and things you are grateful for! It will work wonders for you 🙂

Death could not hold Him!

Black Ice Consequences

This winter our son fell on black ice while walking into work. He suffered both knee injury and shoulder injury.

For those of you living where ice does not happen, good old Wikipedia describes it as: Black ice, sometimes called clear ice, is a thin coating of glaze ice on a surface, especially on streets. The ice itself is not black, but visually transparent, allowing the often black road below to be seen through it. The typically low levels of noticeable ice pellets, snow, or sleet surrounding black ice means that areas of the ice are often practically invisible to drivers or people stepping on it. There is, thus, a risk of slippage and subsequent accident due to the unexpected loss of traction.

He has been under medical care ever since. This afternoon he will finally receive shoulder surgery. There is a tear and they are going to repair it. Please pray for successful surgery and rapid thorough healing. He has been in pain for months.

If you have ever had shoulder surgery you know that getting comfortable afterwards is a major deal. He will not even be able to use his right hand for a long time after the surgery. And yes, he is right handed.

He is hoping for some major pain relief from the surgery and we are lifting that to the Father also.

I ask your prayers for him and his family (wife and son). I look forward to updating you with great news soon! He has been in physical therapy for his knee (same fall) and it seems to be healing nicely.

Concern for our kids never goes away, even when they are in their mid-40s!

Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.

Elizabeth Stone

Give This Thought and Practice

Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.

Omar Khayyam

This moment. Right now. Just now.

How many of us even think about that idea? We are so far off in “If only” and “What if” that we are usually barely conscious of right now. But we can be conscious of right now? We most likely will have to train ourselves to do this present moment thinking. I cannot overstate the benefits!

Can you stay focused on God for more than a moment?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

Mark 12:30 NIV

This moment is your life and your chance to love the Lord your God. This moment. Right now. Just now. Many people before us have tried multiple methods to accomplish this. What is your method? Have you developed a practice towards keeping happily with His presence in each moment? Turn your heart towards Him as you sip iced tea or hot coffee? As you walk through a door frame do you remember you are walking in His presence.

There are countless methods to mind the moments. What is yours? As we turn our hearts and minds continuously towards the Trinity we will find more satisfaction and happiness in each moment. Take the challenge for yourself. Practice His presence and find ways to be happy in this moment with Him.

Recently I was hit with a bout of nausea and other sickly symptoms. I had to stop everything I was doing to cope with my body and symptoms. Talking with a dear cousin she also was ill for a few days. She mentioned that she just cried out to the Father, “I know You have taken care of me and met all of my needs. I know You will do that just now, even while I am not feeling well.” And indeed, God did. Though she was not as energetic as usual, she was able to take care of herself and her attitude by staying conscious of God’s good care.

“Be happy for this moment.” Were either one of us happy to be sickly? Absolutely not! Rather than wasting time awfulizing or bemoaning our state of being we both made a decision to stay aware of our good Father and invite Him into the situation.

Photo by Valentina Ivanova on Unsplash

Humor of London Broil

When we visited California recently my sister-in-law had her husband grilling London Broil. It was quite tasty. We do not buy lots of beef, in fact hardly any. At the grocery I saw London Broil in the mark down bin so I bought it thinking, “Okay, I can learn to make this.” Looking online one woman said hers was really tough. A writer from Bon Appetit gave advice how to prepare this beef so it would not be tough.

He wrote: “Try this: Rub steak with the cut side of a halved garlic clove and liberally season both sides of your London broil with salt and pepper. Let it sit at room temperature on a rack set inside a rimmed baking tray for at least one hour. The salt will dissolve and will be absorbed into the meat. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat (or heat a grill pan over medium-high). Grill the first side for four minutes, then rotate 45° from its original spot on the grill (but don’t turn it over) in order to get the crosshatch grill marks. Continue to grill for another three to four minutes, then flip and repeat the process, until it’s charred and medium-rare. An instant-read thermometer should register 125°F when it’s ready—about 10 to 12 minutes total. Let it rest about 10 minutes before cutting, and serve it with a pat of butter (I’d say herb-lemon zest compound butter if you’re feeling adventurous).”

The instructions lay on the counter for a week. Finally, Bob asked me if I was going to make this and did I need help? I said sure let’s make it and I might be able to prepare it on my own. That afternoon we got busy on projects in our shared office. When I realized it was time to prepare dinner I had not let the meat sit for the hour! Figured I could still get it done if we loosened up what time we ate dinner. It was cold outside and a little rainy. Bob pulled the grill on the deck around. I said to put it so it was facing the sliding glass door.

He fed and walked the dog while I prepped the meat, set the table, warmed potatoes, made salad, etc. Having never done this before and not wanting to create steak too tough to eat I was following directions meticulously. I went outside to open the valve on the gas tank for the grill. It was cold out there, but the grill was having trouble getting to even 150 degrees. I asked Bob to check it. My thinking was it may be out of fuel? Sure enough, it was. By then it was dark, and cold and I said let me just cook this in the broiler. Not unheard of online, but disappointing after looking forward to the grill in January!

So I fired the broiler on low and proceeded to time the cooking. What a joke. Here I was planning this special meal and wound up cooking it in the kitchen! “The best laid plans ….” It was not seared with grill marks as nicely as if we had cooked it on the grill. Bob said it was delightful. For my taste, it was underdone but the microwave helped a bit with that.

There were two pieces of meat in the package. I froze one of them. Bob replaced the gas tank on the grill a few days later. Some sunny day when craving beef, we will try the recipe again.

Club Volleyball Tournament

Above is our youngest Grandgirl leaping to stop a ball! Ellie, plays on a team whose initials crack me up! NKJV! New King James Version? Nope, Northern Kentucky Junior Volleyball. Recently they played a tournament at the Indianapolis, Indiana. My daughter kept us posted of the standings as the play went on Saturday and then into Sunday.

It was the 2023 Central Zone season. “Not only one of the most competitive junior leagues in the Midwest, but also in the Nation!” Our daughter, Emily, told us there were 900+ teams overall. Ellie’s division had 36 teams. They were in the club division which is the lowest.” Did not matter to us! We are so proud of her! She has been at this for many years.

The team played really well Saturday though Ellie’s first set her play was not her best. Coach moved her to the other side and she did great from then on. Sunday they won a set and then another set. And then another set and they were “golden” playing for the gold in their division.

And they WON! They won the Gold!! First time ever in her club volleyball years that her team has melded and won!!

NKJV – gotta love it!

We read her stats from Emily as the Bengals lost to Kansas City. And life, goes on.

Our son and Chef Jean Robert de Cavel

Our son in 2008 Sous Chef for Jean Robert de Cavel at Jean-Ro’s restaurant

Our son had some training from Jean Robert as he was familiarly known in Cincinnati. We enjoyed more than several fine meals at his places of business. Once we had our friends Dan and Betty Cooksey with us and our son was allowed to create a dinner menu just for us. It was fantastic!

When Jean Robert de Cavel died recently his family invited the people he had trained to attend his memorial service at the Cincinnati cathedral, St. Peter in Chains, located downtown. The prior students were asked to wear their chef jackets and sit in a particular area. After the memorial they had a group photo on the cathedral stairs and they simultaneously said, “Oui, Chef,” as he required them to say in the kitchen.

Prior students in front right rows of cathedral and along side wall

Jeff said it was a bittersweet reunion. There were people he knew and had not been in touch with for some time. He told me it was hard for the students to say “Au revoir,” to their fine instructor. May he rest in peace.

Students on cathedral stairs, our son front row, strap over his chest

What a legacy to train all those folks! Cincinnati was blessed to have him here for so many years.

Columbus Museum Maurice Sendak

Recently Bob saw that the Columbus Museum of Art was having an exhibit of the works of Maurice Sendak. We decided to make a quick adventure to Columbus, Ohio and see the exhibit. I was delighted that it featured “Where the Wild Things Are.” This was a favorite of my son. I did not remember until we arrived that he also illustrated the “Little Bear” series which I used to help my children and grandchildren learn to read. His book “In the Night Kitchen” was a baby shower gift when our daughter was born.

I love that they used the artwork from the book cover as wallpaper for the display!

The trust and love between mother bear and little bear are obvious in the expressions he drew.

One reason I was fascinated with his art in these books, I was working on learning to draw better and his cross-hatching is elaborate. When I read the first part of the placard below it only confirmed my observation!

In 1959, (the museum placard read), Sendak created pictures for the book The Moon Jumpers, written by Janice May Udry, which tells the story of children playing before it is time to go to bed. In this early work, the richly colored full-page scenes of children playing by the moonlight, without words, can be compared to the double page rumpus scenes in Where the Wild Things Are, which he created five years later. This work also shows how Sendak changed the scale of his images to emphasize the narratives, pictures growing larger and larger as the drama of the story intensifies, a method that also appears in Where The Wild Things Are.

sorry for the museum reflections on the glass

In case you ever had a fantasy of being WITH the Wild Things (if not an actual Wild Thing) see this one!

Wonder if this costume for King of the Wild Things would fit my son at his current height! Not likely!

Where the Wild Things Are has been translated into at least 32 languages. Sendak never wanted to write a sequel to this one. He did not want it to be a series.

The exhibit is in Columbus until March 5. If you get a minute, go see it!

photo by r m dutina