In defense of Christmas cards and letters…

I love sending and getting Christmas cards, and it pains me that the tradition seems to be dying out.  With Facebook and email, people just aren’t sending cards through the mail like they used to.  I think that’s tragic.  I refuse to succumb to this new normal, though, so my Christmas cards got mailed this week.  Tucked inside each card was an even older tradition/dinosaur – the Christmas letter.  Now I fully acknowledge that Christmas letters are passé, but I just can’t give them up. I write them with the hope that I’m staying in touch with people who have been important in my life but that I have little current contact with. And. I write them as a special kind of diary for myself.

See, I have a notebook that contains nearly all the Christmas letters I’ve written.  From 1984 until this year, I am missing four years.  I’ve just spent the last hour or so reveling in the last thirty plus years of my life.  In 1984 – the first one – Sam was not yet in school, Amy was in kindergarten, Hillary in second grade.  Karl had knee surgery and I wasn’t even a teacher yet.  Since then each letter chronicles how our three children grew up and moved out, and how we changed states, houses, jobs and dreams. There are terrific highlights.  The first mention of my cat and our terrific sons-in-law Jason and Bret, introducing Sam’s wife and our new granddaughter Madison make me smile.  As my technology advanced, letters evolved from dot-matix pages with stickers embellishing the margins to inserted pictures of smiling faces in color and with captions.  One of my favorite letters includes small pictures of each family member, including an ultrasound of Peyton before we knew she was Peyton.

Little Riley, Mom Hillary, Dad Jason,     and baby unknown (Peyton)

The letters are telling for what they say and also for how the news is phrased and what got left out.   As I read them, I feel again the pride of accomplishments and also the loss of loved ones, ended relationships, or news of hardships or sadness.  Of all the letters, Karl has written one.  I remember that year.  I was discouraged and world-weary and just couldn’t muster the joy necessary for writing.  He stepped in, and that too documents how he’s always been the rock and support of this family.

Maybe some year I’ll decide to stop mailing Christmas cards and letters.  I certainly have pared down the mailing list.  But I think that even if I don’t mail them, I want to continue to write a yearly Christmas letter.  Something healthy and important happens when I encapsulate the year into seven or eight hundred words.  It helps me focus on the blessings and dwell on the positive.

Categories: Living on St Croix, Random thoughts on being me | 5 Comments

Christmas Decorating

Sometimes, perhaps many years, Christmas is daunting.  It is a lot of work.  Decorating for Christmas at my house can be a time consuming proposition.  In the past few years, I’ve done the minimum.  Last year, we put up a tree and sat out our favorite decorations – we were newly arrived on island and had many other things to do.  The year before that, my decorations were on island while we stayed in Wyoming, so I had to go to the dollar store and buy a few ornaments just to make it feel Christmas-y.   This year, I felt daunted and tired just thinking about decorating.  Usually I like to put up the tree the day after Thanksgiving.  I didn’t.  I toyed with the idea of just ignoring the whole season all together, what with the worry of hurricane recovery and no electricity.  But on Friday, I looked around my clean house and decided that it was time to do something.

I enlisted Karl to help bring the eight bins of decorations down from the attic.  Yes, I said eight – hefty, full bins.  Then, he kissed me on the cheek and disappeared into the back yard to build shelves.  I dialed up Christmas music on the MP3 player and started work.  And at first, it felt like work.  I was trudging, grudging that I had so much to do.  Then.  Something wonderful happened.  Something Grinchy happened.  I unpacked a wreath and loaded new batteries in it and turned it on. A student named Cameron gave it to me back at the beginning of my teaching career.  The wreath has a little track on it.  It’s motion activated, and when it turns on a train goes around the wreath, lights blink and Jingle Bells – an actually kind of annoying version of Jingle Bells, plays.  Every year I put it on our dining room table so that anytime someone walks by, the little thing goes off.  And I smiled to hear it.  I thought about Cameron, who would be about 36 years old now (I had him in 1992 when he was a 4th grader…)  I hope he is in the midst of a terrific life.

train wreath

From then on, decorating became fun.  With each ornament or decoration I was immersed in memories of past Christmases and of precious people and times.  I reveled at the two nativity scenes that I acquired  when I lived in Spain, and later the fragile glass ornaments that I bought there – when I was a different person living such a different life that even my name wasn’t the same – splurging because we really couldn’t afford them but they called to me.

I smiled at the beautiful hand crafted ornaments my sister Nancy made me over several years – and frowned that she stopped making them because of an unkind word from someone.  (Not me!)

From my sister Nancy. This delicate beading must have taken hours.

I got a little teary when I hung up a little ball that looks like a pixie face.  It came from my Mom, who purchased it well before Christmas- and even before Thanksgiving the year she died.  Mom didn’t spend the holidays on earth that year, but her love and her gift remain to keep me company.

A last gift from my mom. Beside it is a glass bauble from Spain.


There’s the bone china ornament from Catherine – a first grader I had in 1993.  Her mom always impressed me as one of the most dignified and regal women I have ever met.  Here’s the wooden angel my friend Lula gave me.  Here’s a mechanical ‘Hop-On’-Pop ornament that I have no idea what it has to do with Christmas but makes me smile.

Hop – on – Pop for Christmas?

The afternoon slipped by and by the time Karl came in, I’d heard Miss Piggy and Kermit sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” stream happily out of the stereo speakers and my house had been transformed into a joyful celebration of the birth of our Lord.

My finished living room. Hanging hand-crocheted snowflakes and all!

Somehow, amid all the pressures life can throw at us, Christmas reminds us of the simplicity and beauty we’ve been given.  Our Savior is here.  He came to save us and each Christmas we can let the season either bog us down or remind us of all that is right.



Categories: Living on St Croix | 3 Comments


This week I have been showered with gifts of goodness, grace, and kindness from lots of directions, and I have to admit that the joy of receiving them has been a salve to my heart this week. This good sweetness has come in lots of forms and through many types of delivery systems. Some were from people who know and love us.  This week, Karl and I were showered with lavish generosity from our mainland church body.  Though I’ve written to tell them thank you, I am certain that they have no idea how much their generosity and good support has bouyed me up. A call to check on me and tell me she loved me from my sweet ‘bonus daughter’, a long conversation and heartfelt offer for help from the daughter I birthed, a box in the mail full of wonderful goodies from my sister, an afternoon out to the movies with new friends from church.  Those reminders that I am thought about and important and loved has gone a long way this week.  But then there are the other little gifts that came from more random sources: a lady at the FEMA office recognized me and remembered my name, though I’m certain she’s dealt with hundreds of people in the month since I last saw her.   Several quick conversations with perfect strangers have also been a gift this week. I shared my bug spray and a smile with a couple at Jazz in the Park, had a chat with some ladies while in line at the post office,  had a car stop and wait for me to go first though it wan’t my turn.  Looking someone who is different from me in the eye and taking a minute to cherish the connection is sweet.   Being recognized, being important enough to have your name remembered is a gift that costs nothing but is worth much. Other random goodness hasn’t come from people at all.  Watching a hawk soar just because he can, taking a moment to watch the antics of an anole (like a gecko only cuter), having my hibiscus plant flower.  Yes.

We are told often that we need to see the big picture and that we need to be global in our thinking.  Well, right now the globe is too big for me to take on.  I’ll stick with little slivers of my world that are beautiful and gentle and that promote calm and peace.  I will hold on for dear life to the tiny acts of goodness and grace and kindness and joyous surprise that get me through each day.

Categories: Living on St Croix | 1 Comment

Call the ‘Whaa-ambulance”!

Since we only have generator power right now and no internet, that means no TV – except for movies on DVD.  We only have a few DVDs so we put a call out to a couple of friends who threw some of their favorite movies into a priority mail box and mailed them to us.  So, in the evenings we’ve been having fun watching a movie.  The best part for me is how the movies our friends sent us reflect them and their love for us.

Saturday night, we watched a movie called “The Kid” with Bruce Willis.  The basic story is that the Bruce Willis character is a successful man who is visited by his eight-year-old self.  It’s not a hallucination, others can see the boy, and the two Rustys eventually realize that they are together to somehow change their own life.  It is a funny and touching and poignant.  (I don’t think I’ve ever actually used that word before, hmmm, maybe a little ostentatious, but it works…).  Anyway, one of my favorite recurring lines in the film is when the older, harder, colder Bruce Willis tells others who are complaining that he’ll call the “Whaa-ambulance” for them.  (And I love that our friend, Liz, who sent us the movie says that’s her favorite part, too!)

So Saturday evening I went to sleep thinking about how often I whine and need someone to call me a “Whaa-ambulance”.  Certainly often enough for the 911 operator to lose patience no doubt.  I’ve blogged several times about whining.  I talk with Karl and friends about my worries.  It’s how it works.  There’s nothing wrong with needing a “Whaa-ambulance” once in a while. On Sunday morning we went to church, and Pastor John’s sermon was the last of a series based on 2 Corinthians 1: 1-7.  The point of the series was that God is the God of all Comfort.  I’ve been listening carefully to this series, wondering why it is I don’t feel all that comforted a lot of the time. Thinking that this sermon was going to provide me with the key to accessing God’s comfort.  How to call the Divine “Whaa-ambulance”, if you will.  But.  That didn’t happen.  Instead, one of the points he made was that when we are complaining, we are shutting out God and not being open to the comfort He is providing.  Ouch.  He went on to say that the afflictions we face in our lives are not about us.  Wait, what?  Of course it is about me.  I’m hurt, I’m sad, I’m worried, everyone should know that, God should know that, and God should fix it.

Right?  right?  oh dear…


Hmm, where was I?  Oh yes, afflictions and trials and sadness are not about us, they are about glorifying God and showing others how His power enables us to walk on the water despite the stormy seas. The Corinthians passage tells us that Christ’s comfort overflows in us so that we can share it with others.  Okay, then.  Here’s my Thanksgiving week aha and challenge: When I whine, I am talking so loudly that I can’t hear the still small Voice that speaks to me.  So, I’m going to work on rebuking that childish donna’s voice in favor of listening to God’s!

Categories: Frederiksted Baptist Church, Living on St Croix | 1 Comment

Make Your Own Fun

Wherever you go, (in my philosophy of life), you have to make your own fun.  Rarely does life just hand you frivolity and because of that, we are almost wholly responsible for finding and / or manufacturing our own fun.  I was just reading a devotion that discussed happiness and how happiness is the byproduct of doing something meaningful.  It went on to look in depth at how living in the Spirit and walking in God’s Will brings a deep joy (and happiness) into our souls.  I agree with this, certainly. However. That is not at all what I’m talking about this morning.

What I’m talking about is when life is hard or the day is mundane and humdrum, or I’m verging on bored or crabby and Karl grabs me, sings a ‘ditty’ in my ear and dances with me around the kitchen.  Or hanging out laundry and being worried about life’s troubles and then noticing one of the neighbor’s turkeys standing right behind me with the blank silly face that only a turkey can have, and laughing out loud.

A couple of late afternoons ago, Karl and I had just finished trimming about twenty five miles of overgrowth at the side of our road (ok, it was about two hundred feet, but it took hours, I ran into stinging nettles several times, and I was filthy and tired and HOT so it felt like miles…) Anyway, we were surveying our work and talking about the construction that will soon begin to shore up our hill and keep our house from falling over the edge.  My body was tired, by legs ached and I was feeling overwhelmed.  While we were standing there, I noticed an iguana sunning himself on a limb.  Now I’ve talked about iguanas before.  They are so pre-historic looking – mini godzillas that do damage to our yard and dig holes in our hill.  We do not appreciate iguanas much.  So the fact that this arrogant fellow was at his leisure on one of my tree branches when I was so dirty and tired was enough to just tick me off.  Clearly, Karl felt the same way.

Karl picked up a rock and, channeling his younger days of playing baseball and softball, he threw a fastball straight at that relaxing lizard and knocked it right off the branch!  Yay!  One for us.  Then, of course, the fun was on.  We forgot how tired we were (sort of) and began hunting for tree top iguanas.  By the time Karl’s arm was tired and we couldn’t find any more near us, my pitching ace mate had knocked three more of the handsome reptiles totally out of the trees they were enjoying and annoyed three others enough that they climbed down on their own.  We had no illusions that he’d done any damage to his targets other than simply aggravating them, but by the time we were done and heading up the hill to the house for a shower, we were both laughing and congratulating ourselves on not only ridding the trees of iguanas but also a good days’ work done.

I can’t really think of a place in the Bible that talks about fun. There’s not a commandment about it.  I can’t imagine the likes of Abraham or Solomon playing practical jokes, or dancing in the kitchen or lobbing stones at iguanas (though I do think David, who danced with all his might would certainly understand!).  But I know for sure that the ability to have fun is a God-given blessing. So here’s my advice for the week:  Make your own fun!

Categories: Living on St Croix | Leave a comment

God of all Comfort

Pastor John at Frederiksted Baptist preached a timely and thoughtful sermon yesterday (as he does every Sunday!).  Since the hurricanes he’s been centering his thoughts on II Corinthians 1:3 that says “God is the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.”  John’s messages for the weeks since the storms have been full of hope and reminders that even in the hard parts, God is with us and offering us respite from our suffering.

Now I have a small piece of notebook paper in my Bible, tucked into the gospels, that has listed on it the seven things Jesus said from the cross.  The paper is a result of another sermon, years ago.  On the cross, Jesus’ words were sparse, but significant.  He first asked God to forgive, then he gave one of the robbers beside him Hope by promising that he would join Jesus in Paradise. Third, he made it clear to his friend John that he needed to look after Mary for Him.  Next, Jesus stated ‘I thirst.’ It wasn’t a complaint, just a fact. After that, with the full weight of all the sin of the world on Him, he cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”  His sixth statement was “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”  And last – and this is my favorite one – He said, “It is finished.” Apparently, this three word phrase in English was from Jesus’ lips just one word, and the connotation of that one word was of victory.  The underlying meaning, then, meant “Yes!” and had His hands not been nailed down, the statement could have been accompanied by a fist pump.

There were seven statements and as Pastor John pointed out yesterday, “Jesus didn’t give a mumbling word on the cross.” – Meaning that Jesus wasn’t up there complaining and whining.  The question John was exploring was why didn’t Jesus complain? The answer is clear – it was because of the ‘super abundance’ of comfort and hope that Jesus was wise enough to keep in his thoughts and mind as He was suffering.

That’s the whole thing, though, isn’t it?  There are times when I’m successful at keeping the Hope of the Lord in my mind.  There are times when my eyes stay strongly fixed on the face of Jesus and I walk upon the waves on my way to Him.  And then.  Drat.  There are other times when I lose that focus and the noise and the bad news and the trouble all around me take up my attention and I feel alone and lonely and scared and sad and I start to drown.  It’s easy, when I wake up and check the news and see that at least 26 people were killed while they were worshipping yesterday in some sort of random act of hate, and then I read that nearly immediately people were blaming anything but the hate and sin  (Republicans? guns?) or insulting anyone who prays, then it is pretty easy to not hear the still, quiet voice that offers me both short term and eternal – and complete – Comfort.

So, here’s my goal for this week and a challenge I extend to you:  I am going to do my very best this week to stand firmly on II Corinthians 1:5.  Every time my stomach begins to hurt, or I start to worry, or I feel hopeless, I am going to try to stop and focus on this.  When Jesus was on the cross, he cared about others, He identified his own needs, then when He was feeling forsaken and alone, He gave up His own will and rested in the Father. Finally, he finished His job and actually saw that comfortable light at the end of the tunnel. That’s where I’m going to live this week. “For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”

Categories: Frederiksted Baptist Church, Living on St Croix | 1 Comment

Rock or Sand?

The foolish man built his house upon the sand.  The wise man built his house upon the rock.  The Coulsons bought a house that is perched on a man-made flat spot half way up a hill.  Hmmm.  Sand or rock?  Not sure now and we are having our doubts.

Clean up on St Croix since Hurricane Maria is actually really pretty exciting.  Last week it was nearly impossible to drive around on this end of our island.  Every main street and many side streets were (and now others are!)  blocked by men with huge trucks, front end loaders and saws cutting back broken trees and snapped off electrical poles and removing debris from the sides of roads.  Then, nearly the minute that part of the project is finished, the dump trucks and loaders are replaced by beefy bucket trucks and crews of hard-hatted men (the ones on Queen Mary Highway were from New York but there are close to 500 linemen from the mainland here on island from all kinds of places), and all of a sudden there are brand new power poles with brand new electrical lines on them lining the roads, inching their way across the island!  People are working seven days a week.  The territory’s goal is to have 90% of the homes territory wide to be enjoying electricity by Christmas.   Beside linemen from around America, there are teams of FEMA reps here.  Their trucks are parked around the island so that they are easily accessible.  There are also lots of military – National Guardsmen (and women!) here protecting assets and lending a hand.  Our local park and playground in Frederiksted was a total mess.  I noticed it as I drove by on Friday – tree limbs and ripped roofing littering the park, the fence annihilated by blowing debris.  Across the street is the beach.  Wait, that’s where the sea is, but the sand has been missing since Maria – instead of a gorgeous beach, there are just rocks.  All the sand is across the road and drifted against the park fence.  Or I should say was.  Yesterday on the way to church we saw an army of people in fatigues working there.  An hour later we came back by and stopped.  The park is usable again – debris is picked up and the fence was being repaired.  A crew was beginning to work on the bathroom building.  And.  Front end loaders, a skid steer, and a dozer were returning the sand to its proper place!  We stopped and talked with and thanked several of the guys working.  They are volunteers from the Alaska National Guard.  Yay!  Heroes!

We’ve been so encouraged by the progress we can see, but there’s still so very much to be done.  Everyone is doing their best and there are so many true heroes here – local and visiting.  But. There are no phone land lines so getting ahold of businesses is impossible.  You just go to the site and hope they are open (or wait until they are in the parking lot waiting to get your propane tank refilled…). If you don’t know exactly who you need to contact, you are really in a maze.  For example…

Remember our house upon the undetermined underpinning?  Well, here’s the deal.  Our house, happily called Pirate’s Perch because it rests on a man-made flat spot, has always been surrounded by a nice yard on all four sides.  The sea side next to the house had about a 10-15 foot wide yard, then dropped down a pretty substantial grade filled with trees and green.  When we got back here two weeks ago, a large portion of that yard had disappeared.  The huge mahogany tree and all other plant life were in a mangled heap 83 feet down, leaving a precipice just three feet from the back of the house.  It’s clear that the soil got so full of water that as soon as the banshee winds of the storm hit, they took the trees and a lot of the hill with it. It’s also clear that what is there isn’t stable.  Scary.  Sleepless for the first night.  God’s heard a lot from me lately.  Clearly we need to build a retaining wall (the size of one in China!).  We need equipment and expertise and advice.  For two weeks I have been talking with FEMA people, calling public works, having no luck at all.  Now please do NOT hear that as a criticism of FEMA or anyone else.  The FEMA people we have met are all here to focus on roofs and structures, they are not engineers and soil experts.  They have taken our name and number and have been trying to help.  With a load as overwhelming as this, every issue is an emergency and there are only so many hours in the day.  So.  Yesterday we stopped to thank the crews at the beach and park, and noticed that a soil and roads truck from Public Works was parked next to the dozer moving sand.  We talked to the guys working, explained our need, and asked them who to talk to.  They gave us info on how to find the right person at Public Works, but then smiled.  The advice one man shared then was precious.  Talk to this man, he told us, he knows how to help.  He gave us the man’s name and directions to his house.

Summoning up our chutzpah, we drove directly to the man’s house, into his yard and asked to see him. (Not really something we’d normally do, but…).  His grown son reported that the man wasn’t home, but kindly took our names and number and promised to have him call us.  Which he did!  Less than two hours later both the man and his son were at our house, talking about retaining walls and remedies to keep our house from falling down.  Yay!  He left us with the promise that he was going to look into some ideas and get back to us with some recommendations.  Yay!

Sometimes God speaks to me by calming me inside.  This has happened a lot in the last two weeks.  After that first sleepless night worrying the house was going to fall in at any minute, I have been really quite calm.  Confident that God can and will provide for us in any eventuality, electricity or no, house on a rock, house on sand at the bottom of the hill. It’s all good, because God is all good.  Now, He has brought into our lives a local man, willing even on Sunday to come and share his knowledge to help a neighbor.  We are blessed by God’s hand in every situation whether it is hard or easy. Right now He is easy to see here on St. Croix.  He’s in the new leaves on trees that had been made bare, He is in the hands of hundreds of willing people who are here to help, He is in smiles and tears and joy and fear and frustration.  My prayer for you this week is that you are aware of God’s care and love for you wherever you are.  😊

Categories: Living on St Croix | 5 Comments

Back home again!

This has been a difficult week. When the wheels of our plane touched the ground on St. Croix last Monday, the passengers broke into applause. It was a plane load full of people just like us. People who love and live on the island, but who had been away for the hurricanes. The lady in the seat beside me showed me pictures she’d been sent showing the half of her house that had been destroyed – she was going home to put the pieces back together. Our neighbor, William, picked us up from an airport without all of its roof. Since it was mid-afternoon, we took the long way home and we saw for the first time the evidence of the power of a cat five hurricane.

Though I have owned a home on this island for six years, there were several times on our drive home that I couldn’t recognize where we were. It looks that different, a barren war zone. Driving is a challenge – you have to keep an eye out above you for low branches and power lines, beside you for branches and trees sticking out in the way and side of roads that are undercut by water and dangerous to drive on, as well as for traffic.

I am thankful to say that our house itself is actually fine. (We do have some other damage, and I’ll blog about that another day… THAT story is still unfolding and needs prayer…) The damage the house sustained is easily and quite economically fixable – one small roof section that was over the patio missing, a little water on the ceiling of our bedroom, the eight foot sliding glass doors that stood behind the hurricane shutters pushed in a bit. There are lots of broken limbs and trees down outside we’ve had to deal with. But. We’ve just begun meeting friends and hearing reports of roofs and walls gone, of water damage. Worse are the stories of hunkering down for the twelve hours of the storm, listening to the house groan and give with the terrible wind and pressures outside.  As we’ve found our way to the store and the post office this week, we see cars driving on the roads with no windshields, or any glass at all. Karl’s pickup has a broken rearview mirror. Maria ripped off his front license plate, but I found it in the yard among some debris. My Jeep had water in the back, but it’s a Jeep, it didn’t mind. We were so lucky.

Everyone is shell shocked. Maybe the worse damage is in the hearts and minds of the people here. People are trying to smile and be patient, though it’s clear that just accomplishing that isn’t easy. Communications are virtually non-existent. My phone works for voice and text most of the time, but there’s no internet even on my phone. ( I am writng this with the intent to drive about three miles to a place reported to have an active WiFi hotspot so I can post it, we’ll see how that works!) I think there might be a radio station working, but since we are on the west end of the island behind a hill, we can’t tune it in. No one knows even essential info. I went to the post office at 9:15 thinking it would be open when curfew lifted at 9. Not so, it didn’t open until 11. I stood in line with strangers with haggard faces , listening to stories and watching them try to be patient.


The rumble of generators has replaced all other sound, and the low growl of the combined force creates a low grade of anxiety in the pit of my stomach. Many don’t have generators, and they are cooking outside even though it has been raining off and on every day still. They are living by candle light. We, like many, have a small generator that doesn’t power the whole house, just the essentials and not 24/7. We run it for three hours in the morning to keep the frig cold and run the water pump. We turn it back on for maybe three to four hours in the late afternoon and evening to renew the frig, take showers (by flashlight! really!) and have some semblance of normality, even while I have to take a flashlight to the bathroom with me.

Yesterday was Sunday. There were only a few people at church since getting around its still so hard. Hearing from our friends about missing roofs, collapsed walls, no water to drink but plenty of water damage made me feel thankful and guilty. We sang acapella praises to God, through tears and smiles. The sermon was a short one – since there are no lights and no AC and people just can’t handle more – and it was about God’s comfort. Right now my head knows that God is the God of all Comfort, but my heart is bruised and hurting for myself, and my friends and our island home and I’m not sure where to find Him.

Even though I feel overwhelmed, through it all, I know that God is good all the time. Evidence of that is as plentiful as the destruction. It is amazing how quickly the leaves are sprouting out on barren tree branches. We can’t help but be encouraged by the groups of strong and positive people f who’ve come far away to replace light poles and cut up and cart off the millions of tons of debris. Armstrong’s Ice Cream – the very best ice cream on the planet – reopened on Wednesday and we had ice cream yesterday. We go outside at night and revel in the stars that we can see since there’s so little light pollution. Life here is good… even though it is hard right now.

Categories: Living on St Croix | 4 Comments

…and our vacation from retirement ends for this year!

We are going home on Monday!  The St. Croix airport opened on Thursday, and we have reservations for Monday, so God willing, we will be home by late afternoon.  Yay!  Since our flight to Miami leaves at 6 am and we’ll be traveling all day, I’m posting my blog today.

We’ve spent four months and twelve days on the mainland – (on vacation from retirement as Karl puts it) living most of the time in our fifth wheel, camping and traveling and enjoying.  My blogs since the first of June have documented some of the highlights. For many, many years, Karl and I have kept a journal of our trips and adventures in our campers, and this summer was no exception.  So not only do I have my blogs, we have a journal with lots of memories and places to hold our memories. As this trip was so long, we decided a fitting end to our journal for this year would be a set of lists to recap the summer.  I decided it would be fun to share some of those with you:

Top four tourist sites we visited:

Monticello (Virginia)

Niagara Falls (New York)

Buffalo Bill Canyon and dam (Wyoming)

Seneca Caverns (West Virginia)


Top three meals:

Jen Leman’s chicken in foil while we were camping together

Karl’s chicken Frangelico that he made at Liz and Greg Luce’s house

BJ Nation’s Walleye fish fry


Worst night:

The night we had a mouse in the camper


Best night:

Camping near Douglas, laying on the picnic table watching the stars


Top three musical experiences:

Sawyer Brown, Bellamy Brothers and Joe Diffie at Frontier Days

Michael Martin Murphy at Frontier Days

The Cowboy Gathering in Encampment


Top four whole days:

Experiencing the Eclipse in totality

Sharing the celebration of Amanda and Jarrett’s wedding day

Discovering a gorgeous waterfall in the Sierras

Spending time near Haggarty Creek


Hands down funniest moment:

Playing Uno with Branda and Dave Steege while camping together.   Dave was sitting across from me so I couldn’t drop a ‘draw four’ on him, but he kept changing the color to something I didn’t have.  I merely said, “Dave for every time you change the color, I will visit my wrath on Branda (who was sitting next to me) threefold.”  We didn’t play again for close to 20 minutes while Dave laughed uncontrollably.  Priceless!

It doesn’t take much thought to add item after item of great moments, beautiful vistas, spending time with precious people, and being blessed.  Now we are off on a new adventure – living on our beautiful island and doing what we can to come alongside our friends and neighbors to rebuild what the winds of Maria swept away.



Categories: Gypsy life, Living on St Croix | 1 Comment

My new novel is now available!

I preempt this week’s blog for an important announcement:


Just in time to combat the chill in the air and the coming cooler weather, here’s your chance to curl up on the couch with a terrific new novel, hot off the presses!

The Archer’s Perspective

by award winning author donna coulson


One Action

Three Reactions

A beautiful fall day in Wyoming’s Sierra Madre Mountains turns tragic and life changing with the twang of a bowstring.  Three people are involved that day and their responses to the challenges that follow reveal not only who they are down deep, but how they see God.


The Archer’s Perspective is available in softcover or as an e-book at (just search the Archer’s Perspective or donna coulson!)

I’m inviting you to be among the first to read this contemporary Christian novel and then write a review!



Categories: The Archer's Perspective | 1 Comment