Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: October 2011

Thirty-six years ago today a shrunken, bloody-faced demon with slimy black hair nearly scared me into an early grave. I still carry the physical and emotional scars.

My worst nightmare began in the bone chilling night, a thousand miles from home in the backwoods of North Carolina. (Not Deliverance, but close.)

Something overpowered me in my sleep. I could barely walk and was incoherent by the time they wheeled me to a cold place with walls that moaned every 15 minutes.

The next morning, men in green with empty eye sockets probed my body until I was paralyzed from the waist down. There was a blinding white light. The end was near.  Suddenly, like a scene out of a horror film, an ugly little gremlin plopped on my chest and let out a spine-tingling scream.

In shock and awe, I starred into an impish face only a mother could love.

A few hours later, my precious Gollum looked more like cute little Dobby.  The gore and birthmarks on each cheek of his elongated head had disappeared. He cleaned up real nice for his hospital photo.

Such an unnerving chapter in my life story. I was young and naive and didn’t take birthing classes. I felt so quilty for letting someone nearly twist his head off with a pair of cold, surgical steel forceps. I was scarred for life, but he grew up with a healthy addiction for Halloween masquerades  and a good thriller movie.

Every season my little hobgoblin decorates his house and yard like a Clark Griswold Christmas and wears the ugliest face he can find to scare unsuspecting souls into an early grave.

Until we meet again …

Camping season at our Thousand Trails Nature Preserve comes to an end this month. We won’t visit Horseshoe Lakes in Vermillion County, Indiana, again until April.

“King of the Cowboys” Roy Rogers and his wife, “Queen of the West” Dale Evans, sang Happy Trails to sign off their television show in the 1950′s. They owned Happy Trails Resorts in conjunction with the Thousand Trails Organization. A large corporation now maintains over 80 Thousand Trails/NACO preserves throughout the United States.

Our 290-acre home preserve is named for its large horseshoe-shaped lake, surrounded by 10 smaller spring-fed lakes. We take our golf cart on “bunny” trails through the wooded landscape to get to the best spots for fishing and taking photos of the flora and fauna.

My best friend and I tried tent camping in August 2003 during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota before trading up to a  toy hauler RV in Spring 2004. We have been happier campers since, and now own a 32-foot Salem toy hauler so we can take along our Harley-Davidson or golf cart and still comfortably sleep 4 to 6 kids, plus our personal body guards Pooch and Lola.

We try to go camping every Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend at different campgrounds within a 1 to 3 hour drive. For summer vacations, it’s cheaper to leave the fifth wheel at home and reserve a getaway cabin in another preserve several states away.

In 2009 we found a campground near the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind. Those who embrace the RV lifestyle will appreciate the museum. There we found a Terre Haute connection to the RV industry’s humble beginnings.

I had no idea the pea gravel we used to landscape our home was so colorful until I got down on my hands and knees for closer inspection.

“Pea gravel provides a unique appeal to a space,” according to “The location where it was excavated will determine its undertones. There are reddish ones, rose-colored ones, egg shell colored ones and beige to gray colors. You can play with a variety of colors and tones of pea gravel to create depth and a unique look …”

Another blue ribbon winner in 2009. Judge’s comments: “Very pretty. Looks good. Like the colors.”

Below, the fall countryside at our place is even more vibrant. Our house is off the beaten path, tucked behind a tall stand of trees with corn and bean fields for blinds ~ privacy is only vulnerable in winter.


Just an area of grass and clover in my backyard. Flashbacks of the scratchboard art of the ’60s as well as black light of the ’70s told me to go with the concept. I chose a black matte with the same purple inside edging. A blue ribbon winner in 2010. 4-H judges commented, “Very interesting! I love the colors. Matte really goes well w/pic. Pic on back is a little out of focus, but looks good on front.” Yes! They got it! (See If I only had a brain … and Bluebird of Happiness posts for further explanation.) Scratchboard is a technique where drawings are created using sharp knives and tools for etching into a thin layer of white China clay that is coated with black India ink. Scratchboard can also be made with several layers of multi-colored clay, so the pressure exerted on the instrument used determines the color that is revealed. Scratchboard can be used to yield highly detailed, precise and even textured artwork.

I’d tell you how she did it.

October is one of my favorite months … aside from being my birthday month … fall colors, Covered Bridge Festival, wiener roasts, S’mores, popcorn balls, hayrides, jack-o-lanterns, ghost stories, haunted houses, howling winds, a pair of eyes glowing in the dark, and things that go bump in the night!

This sentry near the field behind my house was colorful but nothing to crow about. LOL. You see one, you’ve seen them all, right? So another Photoshop trick turned this not-so scary guy into a spooky treat. I used a black matte with pumpkin orange inner edge to show him off.

Same 4-H judges in 2009 commented, “This is really neat! A little hard to judge – especially since pic has been modified so much, but does look very cool,” and awarded me a blue ribbon. Go figure. (See Bluebird of Happiness post for more explanation.)