The Russell Ranch

Mark 'n Di

Mark 'n Di

Saturday, October 19, 2013


I see it has been one year since my last post. I'm creating quite a track, eh? Since the advent of Facebook, I have really rather ignored this thing called blog ~ and I probably should not do that. There are definitely some things I do NOT put on Facebook; but then, there are definitely some things I will NOT blog about, either. So where does that leave us? Hmmm... I would say that you will learn more about us if you read our blog, but it's been a year since the last post. I guess you'll just have to ride along and see. Well, I left you as we were living in a nice double wide mobile home in the same park my mom was living in. It really was an answer to prayer, as those RV walls were closing in. It put me an hour away from Amanda Coughlin, my Stampin' Up! demonstrator, who has become one of my very BFF's. Amanda, Delma, Marsha and I had some stampin' good times. We laughed and cried and made cards and scrapbook pages and ate and played... You just don't come by special friends like these very often. Love them! And I found a few other gals who were interested in making cards for Operation Write Home (OWH) in Lakeland at Violette's Scrapbook Store. We met once a month and worked on cards to send to deployed military to use to write home with. Great organization and makes you feel like you're using your craft/hobby for a very worthy cause. Gurtha and Rainy became close friends, as well, and I will miss them immensely. You can tell I'm building up to something, can't you? Mark also found a group of guys who loved to get together and play their guitars and sing. He made some relationships that will be kept even though distance separates. Sonny, Bill, Carl, Freddy and so many others. They all met in Sonny's barn and called it Sonny's Pickin' Shed. Along with having such wonderful friends...did I tell you Moffitt decided they needed to eliminate some positions due to the financial crunch? Yep, you guessed it. Mark's position was one they felt they could do without. Mark had five years with them and his employees and co-workers were devastated. And how do you think Mark and Diana felt? Devastated. We lived on the unemployment checks and the savings account for over a year. Then we decided we may as well sign up for Social Security. It really wouldn't be that much more income to wait two more years for 65 to roll around ~ so we did. Mark was rather worried as most of his working career was with RAHD and he didn't have much income (poured everything back into the company). Sooooo when all the figures were plugged in, we were pleasantly surprised to find that SS takes your five highest years of earnings to base your retirement on. So there you are. The reason we were in Florida working for Moffitt Cancer Center ~ which only lasted five years. Does God have a plan? I say most certainly yes! Diana was increasingly restless, being so far from children ~ so far from ANYTHING, really. And no Pilgrim Nazarene Church. I know you can get to Heaven if you're not Pilgrim Nazarene, but that's our church. You know? I was quite sad in Florida. Then, the landlady says out of the blue that she wants us out of the house by the end of August (this is 2013). Wow. It was July! Mark called and asked if we could possibly stay til the end of September ~ and permission was granted. The people were happy with us, but they just wanted to sell the place and get it off their hands. Mark and Diana (and Mom) got busy and packed and packed and packed some more and made arrangements to move to Sherman, Texas! Connie and Steve have taken that church to pastor and it seemed like the right thing to do. Here we are ~ in a 3-bedroom home on 5 acres of land with a 24x30 shop. Thank you, Jesus! We bought it! It's ours! Miracles do happen! Mom is living with us for the time being. We are busily UNpacking everything we packed and getting everything changed over to our Texas address, like car registrations, insurance, driver's licenses, library cards, etc. etc. And that is where I will leave you for now. Hopefully it won't be a year before I update you again.... Gotta figure out how to change the name of this blog ~ we are no longer the Russells at Richmond Place...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Today is the first day of the.....

Oh my! It hasn't only been days or months ~ it's been years since I've blogged. So very much has happened to the Russells at Richmond Place, who are no longer at Richmond Place (for instance), that I cannot give you details. Suffice it to say we have been down a path of sorrow, anger, disappointment, frustration, and left us with lots of questions. Today, we are gone from our beautiful apartment, our daughter got a rare form of cancer, have a 14-month-old grandson in Heaven, Moffitt Cancer Center has eliminated Mark's position, and unemployment has run out. On the bright side, our daughter's cancer has been cured ~ thanks to God and some very fine physicians and care staff (who give God all the credit). And we were able to purchase a really nice 5th wheel RV. And we have spent quite a bit more time than usual with our children. We lived in the really nice RV for a year ~ until I could stand it no longer! I never thought I was claustrophobic ~ but I am! Yes-sir-ree! I had to have my card-making supplies handy, as my hobby helped me keep my sanity (that thought is up for opinions), and slowly, the RV turned into one big craft room. Hubby says "slowly" nothing! ha! While we were living in our totally paid for RV, I socked away the money we would have spent on rent and now we are renting a double-wide mobile home in the park where my mama lives. So living in my mama's back yard is another plus. And now we are facing another family dilemma. My sister-in-law Rachel, is not doing well at all ~ in fact, she will not live much longer. They are in Anchorage, Alaska, and our hearts are all breaking. The first sibling to have to face this. *many tears* Grant is off to college in California (way too far from home, trust me!). Katie is working this semester, and plans to go to Florida to college in January. Nice time to go to Florida. Winter is the ONLY nice thing about Florida...just sayin'... Well, my eyes are crossing, so I guess I better wind this up. I will try to do better, but I know I've said it many times and I have no credibility left... So until next time... Diana

Friday, April 2, 2010

April will be no less busy...

Hello, Dear Friends,

All my good intentions went right out the window ~ it's been a month since I blogged. *big sigh*

Hmmmm...the last time I was here with you, I was getting ready to take Mom home, do her church bulletin board for spring, and attend our church open air Gospel Sing. Two out of three isn't too bad, I guess. I took Mom home, stopping for lunch on the way (keeping priorities straight!). The church bulletin board is done, but the Gospel Sing was cancelled due to cold weather. These Floridians are really wimps ~ hehehe.

Book Discussion at the library was about "The Zookeeper's Wife" by Diane Ackerman. It was a true story about war time in Poland. Quite interesting, actually. I do read books due to this group that I would not normally pick. I guess the librarian would say I'm broadening my! I do enjoy it, though. There is some interesting discussion and varrying points of view that come to light during that hour on the second Monday of every month!

My Stampin' Up! demonstrator has classes at her home (Amanda's Stamp Pad) several times a month ~ I'm sure I told you this before. I attend two Tuesdays each month for the classes that interest me. One is "Get Punchy" where several cards are created using the different paper punches. This is really right down my alley, 'cuz I love to "build" cards. The other one is "Scrap 'n Cards" class, which is making three cards and three corresponding scrapbook pages. Cute, cute, cute! I've used a few of these in Connie's album ~ yes, I'm still working on her album (birth through high school ~ and never mind how old she is ~ suffice it to say, I have enough pictures and projects to last me 'til Jesus comes!). And the Tuesday group at Amanda's is just the best. We have become great friends ~ and lunch at TGI Friday's usually tops it all off.

The pastor's wife had a birthday party for the pastor ~ at their little Italian Wagon on Saturday, the 13th of March. It may as well have been Friday the 13th for me, because as we sat outside at the tables, in a rather chilly wind, for an hour, a little "coughy, bronchitisy" bug entered my body. Sunday morning, my throat was quite sore and the cough was in progress and developing nicely. (nicely???) Badly! Mark and I were due to fly to the San Francisco area on the next Thursday ~ he was going to speak at a medical conference and I was gonna just tag along because I can... so I thought to myself, "Self, just lie here in bed and pamper yourself with lots of vitamin C and orange juice, and chicken noodle soup, etc., and you'll be fine by Thursday." So I did! But I wasn't! *sob* It was very, very sad to watch Mark walk out the door Thursday morning without me. You've seen kids throwing temper tantrums ~ kicking and screaming and pounding their fists? That's exactly how I felt inside. Why, oh why had I gone to that birthday party anyway! Mark was busy with a project at work, so I went alone ~ so WHY had I gone? Waaaa, waaaa, waaaa!

Now, here it is April 2, and I'm just now feeling better ~ really better. I have been up and at it, sort of, for several days, but not really feeling good. Thankfully, I believe it is now in the past. I do NOT recommend whatever it was. If you want to lay around and take it easy for a few days, just do it ~ but don't get sick so you have an excuse.... =(

I have been taking a Conversational Spanish class at the YMCA for the past several Thursdays. One of the seniors who in in Silver Sneakers, is from Spain, and he is teaching the class. I thought it would be a class where we would just learn several common phrases and be able to greet someone, ask a few questions and give a few answers, ya know? I mean how much can you learn in 10 2-hour classes? But this dear, sweet guy gets sidetracked every week with conjugating verbs in all tenses and telling us about all the genders and moods that change words completely. I'm in way over my head and can only remember a couple things, like, Hola! (hello), and Buenos dias (good morning, or good day) and Como esta? (how are you?) and muy bien, gracias (very well, thanks). That's about it. I do know that poco means some and pocito means very little, probably because that sums up my Spanish! lol! It has been enjoyable, though, because the group in the class is fun and we do a LOT of laughing at ourselves and each other. =D

One of my Red Hat sisters has started a Bible Study in her home ~ not as a Red Hat activity, but just a few friends going through one of Max Lucado's books, "Cast of Characters." Max has a delightful ability to communicate ~ his word pictures are great. We have a salad or a sandwich, then read and discuss a chapter in the book, then play games, then go home. Actually quite enjoyable. And what a fun way to share your faith!

The physician I "chose" when we moved to Florida was one of these ~ go down the list of physicians in the insurance book ~ look for an American name (ha!) ~ and when your finger stops, call that doctor and make an appointment ~ kind of thing. I went to him a few times through the first year, but wasn't really happy. My doctor in St. Louis was the BEST and I felt helpless to know what to do about finding a good one here. Then I thought about the many friends I have made since I got here, and decided to ask for their recommendations! Idea ~ there's one! *wink* My Red Hat Queen Mum, Helen, suggested her physician that she has gone to for years (she's from here), so I went to see him this week. Only one visit, but I felt much better about the whole situation. As I walked out of his office, I heard another piece of my puzzle of life click into place. Thank you, Helen. =)

Did I tell you I have two new grandbabies coming soon? Both Connie and Debbie are due in May. Can you believe what that's going to do to my travel schedule? One on each end of the country! Keep tuned ~ I'll do my best to keep you posted! Connie's having another girl, and Debbie's having a boy. I've not been privy to the name choices, but I've contributed quite a list (NOT serious ones, though). lol!

April is shaping up to be a busy month, so as things happen, I will endeavor to get them down on "paper." You'll have to watch closely to keep up with...

The Russells at Richmond Place

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thursday Jaunt

Hello dear friends!

Missouri just seemed to be calling my name during the month of February! I took off again on Thursday, February 25th, to be with my scrapbooking buddies that I worked with at Quest Diagnostics. We were very good friends at work ~ just seemed to be kindred spirits, you know? Then when we discovered our mutual love of scrapbooking, and did a weekend together (years ago), well, we just became friends for life! This weekend was really great. We took turns in the kitchen (because we had to eat every now and then) and scrapbooked our hearts out. We'd stop & visit or just relax at times, too. Jan always has to meet with the resort people when we go, so they can try to talk her into upgrading her plan. It's always good for a $50 bill, so she took us out to Catfish Kettle in Farmington on Saturday night. Now, they can cook catfish! Mmmm-mmmmmm! I told Mark I thought about him while we were there ~ he said, "Oh yeah, like when you said, 'More fish, please!' is when you thought of me." (Can he read my mind???)

I got 15 pages in Connie's album done. I really wanted to finish it, but still have about 10 more to go. The library is picking up the scrapbook nights again ~ and another library is offering it, too, so maybe I can finish up soon. You CAN scrapbook on your own ~ and I have done it quite a bit ~ but it definitely is a social hobby. Just sayin'

Monday evening we met several of the gals from Quest for dinner at O'Reilly's in Cave Springs. That was fun. One of the drawbacks of living in Florida is that I miss my friends from work. I was privileged to work with some really nice people and am happy to have them as friends. Tuesday, March 2, I had lunch with Dianne Lytle, a friend I've had since I was a child. Olive Garden is her restaurant of choice and she found no argument from me! =) We spent two hours in there eating and gabbing ~ trying to get caught up. Then a trip to K-Mart ~ and on to the airport, where I headed home. It was soooooo nice to be home again with the hubs and the cat. It's great to travel and see everybody and "stuff and everything," but there's just no place like home!

The next day was Wednesday, right? Right. I went over to Zephyrhills and had lunch with my mom, Bev Hazen, Juanita Miller and Lynn Horger. We went to Village Inn ~ can you guess why? BECAUSE ON WEDNESDAYS THEY HAVE FREE PIE! Mom came home with me for the rest of the week. She saves up her laundry and does it here every month ~ and often folds a load or two of my own laundry that I haven't gotten to. =) She's a peach! Today we went out to Arby's for lunch, then over to Barnes & Noble. I needed a Spanish Dictionary for class and a Max Lucado book for Bible study, and she got a Scrabble dictionary. We were gonna hit a thrift store, but her knee argued about it, so we came home and let the knee take a nap....

This Spanish class is rather more involved than I expected, but after attending a few sessions, I don't see how you can just dabble in it.... The class is called "Conversational Spanish" and is being taught by one of my Silver Sneaker pals at the YMCA ~ 10 sessions. Ha! I'll be doing good to say, "Hello, how are you?" by the time it's over! Hola! ?Como esta? (that first ? is supposed to be upside down, but my keyboard has not been attending class with me...)

Anyway, one of the books I bought today was "The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Spanish Phrases" ~ think it will help? ROFLOL!

Guess I'll go for now ~ but will be back with more news from
The Russells at Richmond Place

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Again, Out Again, Finnegan!

We have pretty much taken care of February ~ at least we will have when I finish this post...

We arrived home from Missouri on Monday, the 15th, and met Dot (Peggy's daughter) again, and her husband, Rui, and her 7-year-old son, Sebastian. To our surprise and delight, Sebastian gave us big hugs upon our introduction! He really is a sweet little boy! Another very pleasant occurance that day was that Mark's brother, Howard, and his family (wife Barbara & boys Stephen & Joseph) came over to Tampa to have dinner with us, spend the night and have brunch the next day before heading back to Cocoa Beach where he was attending a business meeting. We all got in Howard's van & Peggy's family drove in their car, and made our way to Ellenton, FL, to experience Roaring 20's Pizza & Pipes. It was great fun! The big old Wurlitzer theatre organ was a huge hit with Stephen, who had watched videos of it being played on YouTube, but never dreamed he'd get to see it! We were all very happy to see him so happy. =) The food was very good, also.

The next morning we went to Cracker Barrel for brunch, then said good-bye. I just hate good-byes, don't you? Brings to mind one of Bob Batton's songs; "...where the hand ne'er waves good-by, that's the place my sould is longing for..." *teary eyed*

That evening, Rui took over my kitchen and grilled steaks, made a grilled pepper & onion salad, and fixed potatoes & mushroom gravy. Dot fixed a beautiful tossed salad and we were treated as guests in our own home. What a treat! Rui can cook ~ just sayin' ~ and they cleaned up the kitchen, too! =)

After supper on Tuesday, Rui & Sebastian drove back over to West Palm, where Rui's dad lives,to finish their little vacation, and Wednesday afternoon, we took Dot to the airport & said good-bye again as she flew back home and to work. Thursday morning Peggy winged her way back to Costa Rica. We are so thrilled to have had a part in her cancer care here @ Moffitt. God is in control and doeth all things well.

Mark and I have enjoyed the empty nest again for the last week. He has gone to work every day (bless his sweet heart), but I have just kicked back and lazed ~ honestly just lazed around... Some nights we have gone out to eat, and some nights I have had supper on the table when he came home. I have done laundry and cleaned the kitchen, so I did do a FEW chores (hehehe).

Saturday was work day at the church and Mark put the trim & baseboard in a Sunday school room. What did I do? I took a little trip to Solomon's Castle in Ona, FL, with my Red Hat Sisters! It is really a dorky place, but we had fun being together and laughing and eating in the "Boat in the Moat."

Today I went to a card class & made 3 cards and 3 scrapbook pages. This gal has forgotten more imagination than I'll ever have ~ I enjoy this group of ladies, too. We seem to always end up @ TGI Fridays or Cracker Barrel after class. I am truly blessed with lovely friends.

Speaking of friends ~ I am getting ready to fly away again on Thursday to St. Louis for a scrapbooking weekend with my two best buddies I used to work @ Quest with. We will spend four great days in a condo/resort out in the boonies and scrapbook page after page after page....

So sometime next week you'll read more about
The Russells at Richmond Place

Friday, February 12, 2010

Weekend in Cape Girardeau

Hello to y'all from Missouri! It is really lovely to be here with so many friends and my lovely daughter and her family. Rev. Paul Pierpoint held the Preachers' Meeting for the Pilgrim Nazarenes, and did a wonderful job. We had great fun one evening, after the service, reminiscing about our old stomping grounds...I was at a little Bible school in the Adirondacks and he was pastoring a Pilgrim Holiness church in the area. We know a lot of the same people and my mom and I attended a lot of the PH revivals, rallies, camps, etc. I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God!

We had flight cancellations twice for our trip up here ~ but we persevered! Southwest Airlines only has a few direct flights, and we couldn't access any of them. Our first flight (Tuesday night)was supposed to go through Chicago and the Chicago leg was cancelled; so we booked another flight through Baltimore. Before we went to bed that night, we were notified that the Baltimore leg had been cancelled. So we booked another flight ~ through Chicago again, leaving Tampa @ 9:35 Wednesday morning. And, of course, we didn't "plan ahead" for leaving the house early enough for rush hour traffic... We checked our bags in "late" and ran for the gate. We were the last ones on! The old adrenalin was pumping ~ is that the same as a workout? If it isn't, it should be! We made our connection in Chicago, but Mark HAD to make a phone call, so I boarded without him. I went to the back of the plane where I could get two seats beside each other and guarded the second seat like a terrier! I saw Mark board and stood up and waved. He looked right at me and nodded his head, so I sat back down. Next thing I know, he has disappeared! Sat somewhere else! I am not pleased ~ and the next person that asks about the seat next to me is a hulking mass of humanity. So on one side I have a large man wearing sunglasses who is deaf and on the other side of me is a HUGE man who barely fits in the seat. I am scrunched ~ and ticked! Good thing this flight is only 45 minutes! Mark says later he never saw me...I am wearing red, and who else on that plane even looks remotely like me? Just sayin' ...

Next thing is to get a car in St. Louis and head to Cape. In the car lot, I make and throw a snowball! And I make a second one and take aim for Mark, who doesn't see the humor ~ at all. The car is a KIA, and we actually "put in on" and took off down the road. All the bumps and seams in the road were felt down that 100-mile stretch. Groan!

One note of interest ~ we drove by our old house to see if there had been improvements or deterioration. I had mixed feelings about even driving by, but Mark had no hesitation, so a trip down Inverness (memory) Lane was made. We saw: new windows, white vertical siding on the porch, basement cement blocks painted white, barn windows all boarded up with white boards, and a hot tub in the back yard. Well, good. They're taking care of the place ~ now can we head for Cape?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tuesday's Trail

Hello! Ever had a week when Tuesday felt like Monday? It felt like that for me... I took Mom home today and we stopped @ Village Inn for lunch. I think she was happy to get home to sleep in her own bed tonight. Camp is nice, good, spiritual, needed, etc., etc., but it's good to get back home. Just sayin'

I came home with all intentions of unpacking and totally putting everything away, and all that sort of thing ~ but got my kitchen all put back in order & made the mistake of sitting down in my recliner to check my e-mail and Facebook. 'Nuf said. Sassy came to look over my shoulder (she likes to see what everyone has to say, too!), and when I kicked back in the chair she smiled and started "singing" and we both curled up and took a nap!

We started revival tonight with Rev. Noel Scott. I was really very tired of going to church ~ I know y'all know what I mean. However, Bro. Scott has such a sweet spirit and his message was so refreshing, that I actually felt "soothed" and was glad I went.

Our dear friend, Peggy, who is here from Costa Rica to have cancer surgery, has had her surgery and got the final pathology report today that there is no cancer in the lymph nodes and surrounding tissue ~ hence, no further treatment is needed. We rejoice with her! She will be here for a follow-up visit or two with the physicians, and heads back for Costa Rica the end of this month.

So ends the Tuesday trail for
The Russells at Richmond Place