How to be a “Fixer Upper”

I discovered the program, Fixer Upper, on HGTV and now I am hooked.

fixer upper

Chip and Joanna Gaines own and operate Magnolia Homes, a remodeling and design business based in Waco, Texas. The show “Fixer Upper” shows the process by which this amazing couple turn dilapidated but potential-rich houses into amazing showplaces. These two are helping revitalize whole neighborhoods throughout central Texas.

They show clients a series of houses based on the client’s total budget for purchase and renovation. Typically, the houses are the worse houses in otherwise good neighborhoods. However, sometimes they go off on a tangent and take a real chance, always it seems, with incredible success.

This show actually has me wondering if I should move to Texas on the off chance I’d be lucky enough to have this amazing team remodel a house for me. Maybe someday!

Chip manages the demolition, construction, and realty side of Magnolia and Joanna is the lead designer. I think she is brilliant as a designer. The tears and looks on their client’s faces during the big reveal says it all. And the couple play off each other in a manner that is very humorous, entertaining, and wholesome. I also like how they include their children in their remodeling business.

Chip and Joanna also act as part-time counselors to clients who can’t always initially see a homes true potential through the current damage or blemishes. This dynamic duo saves homes that look beyond redemption by renovating them, and revealing them as the forever-homes they were intended to be. Sometimes, they do get into the unexpected “oops,” but always find some way to make it work. I have been total amazed at the work they do and have also learned a great deal about renovations. The show is very educational.

I find very little worth watching on television these days, but this show is certainly an exception. I give it a 6 out of 5 Star Rating and highly recommend it to anyone. It is good on so many levels that anyone can find something to enjoy. You really need to check this program out. I don’t know what HGTV’s plans are, but this is one program I hope they continue for awhile.

A Hero’s Death …

The once sturdy frame, now withered from age, leaned into the wind and he made his way unsteadily down the quiet street. His ninety-four-year-old knees ached. These same knees had carried him safely across the island of Sicily. And later, they’d carried him ashore with the U.S. 4th Division at Utah Beach. He’d been wounded twice before Herr Hitler was finally defeated; before the evil that was the Third Reich finally ended. They Army had given him a medal, and President Truman had shaken his hand.

But now, without the help of his old wooden cane, his knees would never be able to make it the two blocks to the bus stop. The was proud, and did not ask for, nor would he accept help from anybody. He was a soldier. Pulling the worn out World War II Veterans’s cap down onto his head, he leaned into the wind, and pushed forward.

It was a daily ritual, this journey to the bus stop. His aching knees would painfully announce their displeasure as he slowly climbed those three stairs up into the bus, paid his fare, and found a seat. The bus driver, Joe, always had a pleasant word to say. He knew Joe pretty well. Those worn out knees had been complaining about climbing up into that same bus every day for almost fifteen years now.

It was a twenty-minute ride to the veteran’s hospital where he would spend the day talking to younger veterans less fortunate than himself. At least he had his knees to remind him he was still alive. Too many of these younger men were missing too many limbs. They hadn’t seen these things called improvised explosive devices back in his day. They had land mines though!

Memories of the horrors of war haunted a brain as sharp as when he’d first landed in Sicily. His hands were gnarled. His back stooped. But, those two eyes still burned, clear and bright. Inside, he was still the same proud, honorable, tough patriot he’d always been.

At eighteen, he’d answered his country’s call and unflinchingly did his duty. His young knees had supported him well as he fought for his country, for freedom, and for the man standing beside him in their shared foxhole. He’d walked across Sicily, France, and into Germany.

He survived being shot twice to return home and marry his high school sweetheart, Rose, and put two children through college. A strong back and two still pretty good knees had gotten him through almost thirty years as an iron-worker.

A widower now, his daughter called a few times a month. Judith lived in Florida. He did not know where his son was, but knew from Judith that John had made it pretty big; in real estate she’d said.

The bus slowed to a stop at the bus stop near the veteran’s hospital. With the help of his cane, his knees were forced to unbend and grudgingly supported his weight. He made his way down the aisle to the door of the bus, nodded to Joe, and listened to his knees bitterly complain as he climbed down the three stairs to the sidewalk. Leaning into the wind, he slowly made his way toward the veteran’s hospital.

A crowd dressed in black was gathered. He’d seen them before, protesting something. He did not know what. They always seemed so angry. Now they even wore masks and carried sticks. The old warrior was unafraid. He had nothing they would want. He adjusted his hat and just leaned into the wind. It was not much farther to the veteran’s hospital entrance.

Hate. He could feel it swirl around him. Black clad figures, hoods and masks, carrying clubs. An angry voice screamed obscenities. Was the voice screaming at him? Stopping, he forced his aching knees to turn and confronted a masked face, eyes filled with hatred. The old man looked into those hate-filled eyes and … smiled. He faced worse evil than a kid with a mask and a stick in his life; faced it down and survived.

Aching knees complained bitterly as he took a single step forward. Gnarled hands gripped the cane just a little tighter. His smile never left his face. He heard a single word screamed at him, “Nazi,” as the stick swung hard. What were they teaching kids in school these days, he wondered.

He saw the blow coming. There was nothing he could do … to old, to slow, to proud, his knees ached so. No point even to try. The old man just leaned into the wind once more.

Betsy Ross, A Founding Mother!

Elizabeth Griscom Ross was born on January 1, 1752, the 8th of 17 children. Ross worked as an early American upholster and seamstress, and claimed to have done tailoring for George Washington. She had seven children, five of which lived to adulthood.

According to the popular story of the origin of the Stars and Stripes, George Washington, commander-in-chief of the fledgling Continental Army approached Betsy Ross with a design for a new American flag. He was accompanied by two members of a congressional committee, Robert Morris and George Ross.

betsy ross

Betsy Ross convinced General Washington to change the shape of the stars in the sketch of a flag he showed her from six-pointed to five-pointed stars by demonstrating that it was easier and faster to cut the latter. While there is no real historical evidence this meeting ever took place, it is known that Betsy Ross was hired to make flags for the Pennsylvania Navy during the Revolutionary War. Below is an order entry dated May 29, 1777 to pay Mrs Ross for her work.

An order on William Webb to Elizabeth Ross for fourteen pounds twelve shillings and two pence for Making Ships Colours [etc.] put into William Richards store……………………………………….£14.12.22.2

Wikipedia

Betsy Ross was a Quaker, an outspoken abolitionist, and a strong supporter of the women’s right to vote movement. She died on January 30, 1836 and has been buried in three different locations:

  • Free Quaker burial ground at South 5th St. near Locust
  • Mt. Moriah Cemetery
  • On Arch Street in the courtyard adjacent to the Betsy Ross House.

What Is It About The Electoral College?

electoral college

The Electoral College has recently been the subject of heated debate. However, most of what I’ve seen and heard makes it clear not too many Americans today understand why and how the Electoral College came to be. This is not all that surprising, given the state of our public school system. The truth is that, at one time, the Electoral College was not controversial at all. This was because people understood how it worked and why it was put in place.

Today, more than a dozen states have joined in an attempt to remove or circumvent the Electoral College. This is because Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election while receiving a majority of the popular vote. However, if you examine how that popular vote broke down, Clinton received a large number of votes from densely-populated urban areas like New York and California. In fact, if you remove California, President Trump would have won the popular vote by 1.4 million votes.

This is a somewhat flawed argument. You could arbitrarily remove any state’s electoral votes and the outcome could be altered in some way. But, it still illustrates the central point. The Electoral College was instituted to ensure that a President must have broad national support to win. The president is the president of the whole nation, not just president of the most densely-populated urban areas.

Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution states:

Each state shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in Congress.

Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution insures that each state retains equal representation in presidential elections, exactly like they do in Congress. It is genius and it insures a nationwide “fair” representation in presidential elections.

The Electoral College was designed to make sure that each candidate took their message to the whole nation, and subsequently won based on national support for their policies. The Electoral College was designed precisely to prevent a situation where a state like New York or California become the defacto policy decision maker for the entire nation. Since its inception, it has worked brilliantly in doing exactly that, sometime benefiting the Democratic Party and sometimes the Republican Party.

One has to ask if those currently clamoring for ending the Electoral College would be doing so if their side had won the majority of Electoral College votes and the election.

electoral college

Perhaps the Electoral College is a victim of its own success. Throughout American history it has shaped American politics in many ways that were beneficial to this country. It only becomes an issue when one side loses a closely contested election and just cannot make themselves accept the results.

For those interested in states rights, abolishing the Electoral College would give the states less power against the federal government. The Electoral College also prevents a strong, charismatic person from using a fickle surge in popular support to consolidate more power and become a dictator.

If you truly understand the role of the Electoral College in making sure the entire nation has a voice in its presidential elections and you believe in fairness and the Rule of Law, it is hard to imagine why anyone would call for its abolition. I can only think of two reasons.

  • You do not understand what it does
  • You are making a power grab, and you can’t win national elections … therefore, you have to change the rules.

CELEBRATE AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE

July 4th, 2019: 243 Years of American Exceptionalism

The 4th of July is just around the corner. Take a minute and think about what that means, and think about how many patriots gave their lives so that we have the opportunities we do have as Americans.

America is a land of equal opportunity. Nobody has the right to tell you how to live, what you can be, how you have to think, what you can say, or whether or not you can protect yourself or your loved ones.

In this country, you have the opportunity to be whatever you choose to be. Yes, you may fail a few times. But you get to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again.

That is America. And, it is an America we all need to fight to protect from enemies both foreign and domestic.

Anyway, that’s my political 2 cents for the day.

To help celebrate the 4th of July, check out my great Kindle sale!

On July 4th only …. just .99 for 1/2 day, then 1.99 the second half of the day.

If you are looking for great tales to share around the campfire, then Adirondack Bear Tales is for you. If you are looking for a patriotic action thriller that you won’t be able to put down, then Serpents Underfoot is for you! Get yours at these great holiday prices!

Sophie would certainly appreciate it. It helps keep her in kibble and biscuits!

July 4th

A MAGICAL TALE OF TRUE FRIENDSHIP

Can you imagine if there was no longer a Spring, Summer, or Autumn? And, there was only Winter? Well, winter is what the North Wind wants, and why he tries to come between two wonderful friends; the Moon and the Sun.

friendship

Children will love this delightful tale of friendship and magic by Oscar Malenar called The Sun and the Moon Friendship Tale.

In this wonderful story, the North Wind is unhappy. He does not like warm, sunny days, and green grass and trees. The North Wind longs for a cold, snowy winter that lasts forever. Therefore, he is determined to end the friendship between the Moon and the Sun that keeps the seasons of Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn in place. The North Wind has finally hatched a plan to get rid of the Sun!

Will the Moon and Sun fall victim to the North Wind’s plan? Or, is their friendship strong enough to save the day? If the Earth turns cold and stays covered in snow, all the Earth’s people, animals, and birds will suffer. Everyone will become sad and depressed.

But, there is hope. And, that hope lies in a special gift the Sun has given the Moon. Can the Moon come to understand how special that gift is before it is too late?

Read this beautiful story and learn how sometimes even the smallest and most ordinary of things can still be big enough to save the day!

This is a wonderful bedtime tale for children. A story of true friendship and magic with a beautiful ending. Highly recommended for parents with small children they love to read to.

Thank God I Failed by DES

A Collection of True-Life Stories That Will Change Your life

Thank God

Thank God I Failed by Des is a moving, often poignant collection of stories about actual events in her life; events that many of us would not have the courage to share.

From the sometimes painful memories of early childhood through bad relationships, depression, and addiction to forgiveness, acceptance, and peace, this is a story of real Faith. The kind of Faith that can move mountains or simply change one life for the better.

This author courageously shares with her readers her stories of pain, depression, drugs, alcohol, and toxic relationships. She also shares stories about mental illness and even attempted suicide. Her story is one of sinking to the bottom and then, somehow finding the strength to climb up out of the abyss.

Today, Des lives as a happier, healthier, fulfilled woman, living a life about which she previously could only dream. While life may never be perfect, she now lives a life that is truly at peace with who she is and her place in this world.

It was her constantly growing Faith that gave Des the strength to change the course of her life. That same belief provides her with the courage to share her story with her readers in the hope that they too, can transform their lives. The stories contained in this book will touch readers, heart and soul, and they are a real example of the wondrous change true Faith can achieve.

When I read this author’s compelling book, I was struck by the brutal honesty and sincere feelings of pain, despair, hope and compassion in her stories … as well as the valuable life-lessons to be found within them. Des’ story is an amazing tale of redemption, forgiveness, and change driven by a deep belief in a loving God.

I believe this is this author’s first book and therefore it may not be as polished or smooth as something written by a more experienced or professional author. But it is that fact, that allows the author’s honesty and courage to shine through. Her voice has not been edited out of the narrative and because of that, this is not just another dry self-help book. This is her story as told by her. It is that raw, unfiltered honesty that makes this book unique and special, and therefore, very powerful.

Yes! Faith can indeed move mountains. And therefore, it can also transform a life for the better.

Walk a mile or so in Des’ shoes. Take a look into her life and perhaps you will find the hope within yours. You can check out Des’ moving and inspirational story on Amazon!