–2011 in Review–

This was the year to round out my half a century on the planet…and the first year in as long as I can remember that I haven’t (at least not yet)  composed a year-end letter…So I’ve been flipping back through old photos to jog my memories…

Another year of many trails and travels—with destinations as close as Scout Mountain and the Ragged Islands and as far away as Alaska and Las Vegas…



We gained a beautiful granddaughter this year.  Which has of course necessitated more travels to visit…



And as always, I’ve been out and about capturing the seasons in nature…




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…walking and praying…




…and watching for seeds planted to begin to grow…


…and wonders to appear…

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It was a year for a family reunion to celebrate an 80th birthday…



…and the year for losing my most faithful hiking companion of the four-legged variety, reducing markedly the amount of hiking I’ve done since…


Instead, I became an A-1 stoker for my life companion!  Oh the miles we did ride and the sweat and smiles we did share…



September ended in Alaska, giving my mom a hand in making plans for my dad…He’s now in a private care facility in the city, far from home and mom most of the time…waiting to go Home.


By October the little tykes had grown so much they needed another visit!


And the rest of the year has found me out and about enjoying the scenery closer to home…




…continually grateful and amazed at this world God has let us inhabit for another year…



Which brings us ‘round to December again…treasuring family near at hand, carrying on with all the family traditions, for who knows if this will be the last year they are home under this one roof… (gulp)


Our present to ourselves this year was a (near)new Tandem to replace our homemade and not-as-strong-as-it-should-be relic…We are stoked to start putting on the miles together!


And that is a smattering of our year here.

Here’s wishing you and yours a God-Blessed New Year!


–LS, for the Skelton crew…

My Good Dog


My good dog chased one bear too many on our behalf and pulled his ACL (a crucial ligament of the ‘knee’) bringing a halt to our favorite pastime—discovering new trails together.

That was almost 8 weeks ago, enough time to weigh options, fortify resolve and make the dreaded appointment with death.  I had always wondered how he’d go but had hoped it wouldn’t have to be at my hand. But here we were with the choice of continuing on in pain with never another care-fee walk, or choosing death.  And the decision was mine as his caretaker, and now, undertaker.

Decisions.  My dad used to be the one to deal with these things, protecting us kids from such harsh realities.  He hated to do it.  I cried.  But now roles are reversed.  Dad scarcely makes a decision for himself.  His life is managed by others.  Protest is futile.  And I am cast in the role of making hard decisions—must be a grown-up thing—an evidence of maturity (and sanity?)

Well, but enough of philosophizing.  For this post I will indulge in some fond memories of a good dog now laid to rest where willows weep…


He was always a sport (once all the squirrels had been chased) to patiently sit as sentinel on any given scenic bluff while I mused or ‘cat napped’…

I remember the dusky summer evening up Scout when he detoured a bear looming big and oh so black in the narrow homeward path– while my heart raced and time stood still…

…and the charging St.Bernard that turned tail in surprise and fled for home when Louie was unleashed!

He fetched sticks as if it were a serious profession, looking the part of a police dog in action; no game this!

But never quite mastered swimming without getting water in his ears—he hated that—but loved to hike down to the lake and plunge into the icy water to retrieve driftwood.  If I sent him in over his head too many times, the wood was his to keep; game over.

Bringing his ‘bucket’ at dinnertime on command –“Go get your bucket’”—was a favorite trick that Bethany taught him and always made him look so clever.

One time overhearing me exclaim, ‘What is it, Louis?!’ as I was reading aloud to the kids about Louis Braille, he jumped up barking in fierce readiness to avenge me of any perceived threats…

“BEAR!” and “Cat” and unfortunately “Go Home!” were other serious signal words he rarely failed to catch whether addressed to him or not.

And of course, the “W” word, as we came to call it—no word could call forth such animated tail wagging, eager whining (Jim hated that) and prancing.  It was his favorite pastime, always in hopes of trying a new trail.  “WALK”s are what he lived for.

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But now no more.

I’ll miss them.


When they were young…
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2004coolpixSarah with L2004me and my dog

On the Lookout!


So, I slung my camera around my neck and headed off on an ordinary walk on a much traveled trail to see what I could see—something new and different, fresh and wonderful would be nice…


Never know what you’ll find when you look up!

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These trees think it won’t always be winter… and this ivy is undeterred by the rainy cold from its climb to the heights!


Something about the curls makes me smile…


And nature has its ruffles too…


My trail is at present a stream bed but who minds a little water when it’s gurgling and rushing with such grace…


And those are my notes from nature for this week.

~~Keep looking for the unexpected. Looking up is a good place to start.

~~Remember seasons do come to pass. Winter will not stay.

~~Look for grace notes along the way—the curls and frills that add beauty to life.

~~And if your trails turn to rushing streams, listen for the gurgle of grace to accompany you.


“But I received mercy…and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”
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I Tim.1:14 ESV