Lending a Hand

Sometimes making a difference in somebody’s life doesn’t have to cost you anything or expend your resources. Sometimes making a difference is as simple as lending a hand and a little bit of time. More often, the giver receives greater joy.

 Variations of Lending a Hand

We’ve all applauded a splendid stage performance or the accomplishment of an individual. Some people say that recognition is what children cry for and grown men will die for. Every individual (no matter how shy) needs to be encouraged for a job well done and for the dedication and hard work it took to achieve a goal or level of competency.

Health care professionals have an entire ministry based on lending a hand in the form of providing treatments, performing procedures or helping repair the body to bring about healing.

Reassuring HandsThe intangible gift of lending a hand was taught to me by my high school friend Patty. She sat silently by my side and held my hand at my mother’s funeral. There were no words she could have said to make it less painful for a 19-year-old expectant mother with a broken heart. Many people ministered to our family in many different ways during that time of grief and loss. Of all the flowers and cards I received, what I remember most nearly 44 years later is Patty simply sitting there beside me and silently holding my hand. Sometimes the best form of lending a hand is just to show up and say absolutely nothing (and listen).

In early November, I spent some time with my adult son, daughter-in-law and the most precious granddaughter in the entire Universe (in my humble, and somewhat biased opinion). Visiting them is always a joy and leaving them is always the hardest thing I do. Pulling out of their driveway, I leave a bit of my heart behind every time I go. Our time together is always too short and there are always things we wish we had more time to do together. This visit was no exception.

The first snow of the winter fell while I was there in the mountains. There wasn’t a lot of ground cover, yet the temperature dipped drastically, reminding us that it is “game on” for winter weather. My son has been very industrious for the past several months gathering firewood from fallen trees in his effort to provide an adequate store of firewood for his buck stove to keep his family warm during the winter. In addition to being a husband and father, holding a busy full time job, playing an active role in his church, and backpacking the Appalachian Trail, he has taken on many other small jobs that require a huge amount of his time. He works very hard and sometimes there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all the things that need to be done.

After we returned home from church and ate lunch, I began packing my car for the return trip home. “You don’t have to rush off.” He said. He always says this and it always makes me glad he wants me to stay longer. “I was hoping you’d come out and watch me split logs and talk.” The words I heard him speak were like music to a mother’s ears. Mother-son bonding time occurred amidst the roar of the motor of a log splitter. Hearing protection meant neither of us could really carry on much of a conversation.   It didn’t matter. We were together, sharing the moment and I was literally lending a hand. The joy was mine.

Mother-son bonding splitting the winter firewood.

Mother-son bonding splitting the winter firewood.

Many times I have personally been on the receiving end of someone lending a hand.   Once when I was a struggling single mother who needed help paying my electric bill, a neighbor helped me keep the lights on. I have never forgotten that kindness.   Many times I have needed a ride to work because my vehicle was in the shop for repairs. I have a wonderful friend who always comes to my aid.

A Biblical example of lending a hand can be found in Ecclesiastes 4:10 “For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. “ The simple act of lending a hand costs nothing and means so much to the recipient. Have you ever been the recipient (or the giver) of a lent hand? I’d love to hear your comments.

Pam Baker, RN


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Best Bet

Lessons learned with the harshest consequences are those you never forget.   Your best bet is to learn from someone else’s experiences without making the same mistakes.

One thing is sure. There are few “sure things” in life. There are always those curve balls life hurls at you and you didn’t see them coming. When you get struck by one of them, it can knock the wind out of you. When you manage to pick yourself back up, you are a lot wiser at ducking future curves.

My dad was not a gambler. The best bet to have a nest egg, according to my dad, was to work hard, earn your own money, be frugal and save what you could of it. That was the lesson I learned from the older, wiser version of my dad.   Little did I know that my dad had once learned that lesson the hard way.   There were only a couple of times dad repeated this story. Whenever he did, I could still hear the pain in his voice reflecting the suffering caused in the learning of this valuable lesson.

It was the late 1930’s/early 1940’s in the midst of World War II.   My parents married in 1936 and were still newlyweds. They were both in their 20’s and my dad had been working as a coal miner since he was 16. (He had lied about his age and said he was 18 in order to get the job. That is the only lie dad ever openly admitted telling.) Neither of my parents had much to bring to the table in terms of financial security or worldly goods.

Never gamble more than you could afford to spend on an evening of entertainment.

Never gamble more than you could afford to spend on an evening of entertainment.

A traveling carnival had come to town. In an isolated coal mining community, a carnival in town was a big deal. As a young man in his 20’s, my dad was no doubt fascinated with the novelty. He had just gotten paid when he decided to go to the carnival and had taken a portion of his paycheck with him.  Soon he was wooed into some type of gambling game. He never said whether it was a roulette wheel, rolling the dice, or an actual game of Poker. Whatever it was, he was losing. The more he lost, the sicker the feeling in the pit of his stomach. In a very short time, he had lost all the money he brought with him.  His best bet would have been not to take more money with him than he could afford to lose.

The truth was, dad couldn’t really afford to lose any of what he lost. Desperate to win back his own money so he could break even, he came back home, got the rest of his paycheck and went back to the carnival to continue playing. I’m sure you can guess how that scenario ended. Dad lost his entire paycheck that day. I cannot even imagine how sick that must have made him. I could still hear the pain in his voice as he remembered the ordeal and retold the story over 30 years later. Dad had learned a valuable lesson at a very high price. He wanted to make sure I learned the same lesson without having to repeat his mistakes.

If you’re going to gamble, your best bet is to be good at it. (How, I wonder, does one learn to be good at gambling without a great deal of financial losses?) What could you afford to pay for an evening of entertainment? Whatever that amount is, you should view the gambling as your entertainment and not have expectations of winning. Otherwise, you’ll be just another sucker and lose what you brought to the table.

What an anti-gambling lesson my dad had taught me! I internalized the pain I heard in his voice more than the money he lost. I never wanted to feel that pain or desperation he had felt.

Over the past 15 years, I have been to Las Vegas 3-4 times to conventions. The motels where I stayed all had large casinos. Up and down the strip were places that would allow you to mortgage your home so you could continue gambling. Plaques near the entrance doorways offered “gambling help” for those addicted to gambling.Every time I walked past those various gambling machines and tables, all packed with people depositing their money in the hope of “beating the house” I could hear my dad’s story over and over again in my head. I could still hear the tone of desperation in his voice each time. The house always wins. Your best bet is to know that in advance.   Consequently, feeding my money into those machines was about as much fun as striking a match and watching it burn. Either way, it was going to be gone.   Every single time I’ve gone to Vegas, I have “beat the house” by simply refusing to lose.

Do you know your odds of losing?

Do you know your odds of losing?

The same applies to lottery tickets. By one calculation, the odds of winning the Powerball lottery was 1 in 175,223,510.  If you’re looking for better odds, the odds of being struck by lightning in the U.S. in any one year is 1 in 700,000.   Essentially you have roughly the same chance of being struck in the head by a cow falling out to the sky than you do of winning the lottery.  Who would gamble with odds like that?  The deck is already stacked against you.  It’s a lesson in both futility and absurdity.  Thanks, dad. In your hardest lesson, I truly found an Ace that I could keep.

I’d love to hear your comments!

In my dad's hardest lesson, I found an Ace I could keep.

In my dad’s hardest lesson, I found an Ace I could keep.

Pam Baker, RN











Posted in Gambling, Mindset, STORIES, Uncategorized and tagged by with no comments yet.

A Love Story

Some can say "I care for you" but choke on the words "I love you"

Some can say “I care for you” but choke on the words “I love you”

Choosing to love is a decision to be made without expectation of reciprocation. This is a love story from my personal journey.

Most of us have spoken the words “I love you” many times over the course of our lifetime. There are many different types of love . Perhaps we would save ourselves confusion if we simply asked for clarification when we hear those words spoken to us! Love is far more complex than the romance and intimacy version “eros.” Love is ultimately a gift one person chooses to give another, whether or not it is rejected or reciprocated.

My dad was the first person who demonstrated the profound meaning of love through action. He was the 10th of 11 children, so his ability to show love had nothing to do with his ability to lavish me with material possessions. Through his story telling, giving of his time, gentle touch and comforting after a childhood injury, piggyback rides, defending and providing for my safety, he showed me a love story in small intangible ways. I always knew I held a special place in his heart. I also knew I could unconditionally trust my daddy with my whole heart. He was my childhood protector and “knight.” My dad exhibited a love story of the natural affection a parent has for their child.

As I grew older and became a young adult, I experienced a disconnect between those outside of my own family who said they loved me, but whose actions failed to demonstrate that love.  Suddenly the words “I love you” became twisted into deceptive, hollow words that had no value whatsoever. This deceptive counterfeit love became not only conditional but temporary and revocable.

Real love should never result in brokenness or dishonor of the other person. Love is not a consuming fire that leaves the one who is loved in ashes. Love should not cause pain or result in drama or destructive behavior. Rather love should build up the other up and result in joy.

Sadly, some have spent a lifetime in pursuit of love that seemed to evade them at every turn. What then, does it mean to love and why is it important to be able to extend love to others? I think God’s word demonstrates a love story toward each of us far better than I ever could.

1 Corinthians 13 New International Version (NIV)

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part,

10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I mentioned earlier that love is an action word. “God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8   Do you know someone who would actually die for you regardless of whether your behavior was good or bad? I do. His name is Jesus.

John 4:18 tells us “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in        love.” Isn’t the insecurity of fear really a lack of trust in the other person? Lack of trust comes from a place of brokenness.

If you truly know how to extend love to another person, then you are bearing fruit as described in Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

How is this a love story from my personal journey? “I have been persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” 2 Corinthians 4:9

On my journey, I have been loved with empty words and actions. I have been “loved” as a consuming fire and left to gather up the broken pieces and sweep up the ashes of what was left. I have given of myself and been left a broken, wounded person afraid to trust and love again. Over a period of many years I finally forgave myself for my own mistakes and errors in judgment. I was angry with myself for choosing to accept crumbs rather than the feast God had prepared for me. I mourned the wasted years and broken trust. Where, I wondered, was this man by God’s own design who knew how to love and to demonstrate love to me? My Daddy had taught me about this kind of love, so surely it still existed!

Do you recall the movie “Forrest Gump?” Remember the day Forrest decided to start running? He ran without a purpose or destination in mind. He amassed a huge following of other people willing to run aimlessly alongside him. Just as suddenly as Forrest decided to stop running, so did I. One day I decided I had run long enough and had lived as a broken person long enough. I finally decided to allow God to reassemble the broken pieces of my heart and restore me to wholeness. It had only taken me 26 years in the healing process!

What happens when love dies or when you realize you were given counterfeit love versus the real deal? Does the love you once freely offered then turn to hate or scorn for the one who rejected your love? The answer is: only if you allow it.   We can choose to allow God’s unconditional love to transform and restore us from a place of brokenness to a place of wholeness.   First we have to release the crumbs and hurt we are holding onto with clinched fists, give it to God and allow Him to heal us.

I have now made the choice to love—even without reciprocation. When I say “I love you” I truly mean it. My friends hear these words from me and know I mean it through my actions. I have learned to love the person and the heart and soul of the person, rather than the gift wrapping on the exterior. If that person rejects the love I offer (whether it is the love for a friend or something deeper), then that is their choice not to accept the gift I offer them.

I am finally strong enough and confident enough to walk away from any relationship that is not fashioned by God’s design and still remain a whole person. No longer will I leave broken pieces of my heart and my life strewn behind. That is a love story for me, a gift from my Heavenly Daddy whose capacity for love far exceeds anything my Earthly Daddy could ever give. I choose to love, knowing that giving love to another doesn’t diminish me, but enriches my own life in the process.

What about you?  Have you ever known someone who simply could not say the words “I love you” and the best they could say is “I care for you”?    I’d love to hear your comments!

Pam Baker, RN


Posted in Dating, Dating Relationships, Fear, Seniors Dating, The Journey, Uncategorized by with no comments yet.

Daddy’s Girl

If you are a “daddy’s girl,” nobody has to tell you are.  You know it because your daddy will always be your hero, whether he is still with you or not.  Daddies like my dad and my son continually raise the bar for dads everywhere by exhibiting love in action. Through their determination and creativity, their little girls come to believe there is nothing their daddies can’t do (or fix).  I am not talking about the kind of daddies who hand over a credit card or who are financially able to buy their children everything their hearts desire (or enable them by bailing them out every time they get in trouble).  I am talking about the evidence of love through intangible gifts of time.  One such friend is Bryan.  He recruits an entire team to join him as he jumps in the chilling waters every winter to support Special Olympics and honor his daughter.  My friend Jonathan supports his children in their sports and musical aspirations (even the basic cooking and baking skills).  These dads are part coach, part mentor, part hero and each of them exhibits love in action in their own unique way.  THIS is the kind of daddies that inspire this story. 

As a child, I thought my daddy could do just about anything. My earliest memories of him cannot be confirmed. Apparently a baby of crib age doesn’t remember. The experts can’t disprove the memory I have of my daddy’s smiling face leaning over my crib wearing a red plaid cap. Granted, as an adult I can’t imagine my daddy wearing anything other than a UK blue cap, but that’s a different story altogether.

I remember the tender moments shared by the little girl version of myself and my dad. I remember him teaching me to tie my shoes.   I remember the piggyback rides. I remember writing notes back and forth with him when he was on evening shift and gone to work before I got home from school. I remember the storytelling, the banjo playing and his infamous “Bottle Rump Jim” jig he did while playing that banjo. I remember the whistles he made for me from the stalks of Speckled Jewel Weed  But of all these, the thing that stands out in my mind as a huge gift of time and love was the hand made swing set.

I grew up in the 1950’s when children still spent a lot of time outdoors playing instead of indoors on electronic devices.   My dad had grown up in the early 1900’s when there simply were no toys in a family of 11 children in the rural areas of southeastern Kentucky.   As a child, he and his siblings learned to play games and create their own fun. They swung on grapevines and climbed trees. But the 50’s were different. On our playground at school, we actually had a real swing set. Unfortunately, there was also a really long line for those swings at recess. I must have mentioned this to my dad more than once, but I never remember actually asking him to buy me a swing set.

One day, my daddy went into the woods with a double bit axe and came home hours later carrying a huge locust post on his shoulder. I didn’t ask why. I didn’t even get curious when he made several more trips on subsequent days, bringing home still more locust posts. However, I became curious when he started digging holes in our back yard below a huge Mimosa tree. At this point, I began to do what any daddy’s girl would do. I stuck by his side, watching his every move as the poles went in the ground, holes were drilled, boards were cut for the seats and chains were hung suspending 2 swings—one for me and one for my brother. Our swing set was constructed of rough-hewn, unpainted locust posts, but it was so sturdy, nothing could tear it up.My daddy couldn’t afford a store-bought swing set, but he cared enough to use his creativity and take the time and energy  to build one for my brother and me.  I spent hours every day swinging on that swing set while singing the lyrics of Que Sera Sera.  I was a child and I didn’t have a care in the world.

We were the only children in our neighborhood with a swing set and it wasn’t because we were rich. My daddy loved us enough to want to give us the little things he couldn’t afford to buy.   As you might imagine, neighborhood kids enjoyed that swing set right along with us for years to come.

Since my own daddy was a stand in dad for my children, I am sure my son learned a lot of those same wonderful attributes from him.

“I'm not a carpenter. I'm a Baker who's a farmer. But when your little girl begs for a doll bed, you cobble something together.”

“I’m not a carpenter. I’m a Baker who’s a farmer. But when your little girl begs for a doll bed, you cobble something together.”

“I’m not a carpenter. I’m a Baker who’s a farmer. But when your little girl begs for a doll bed, you cobble something together.”  These were the words of my son, Shad as he began construction of a doll bed. He is that special kind of daddy inspiring yet another little girl (my granddaughter) to become a “daddy’s girl.” With all the doll houses and dolls my eight-year-old granddaughter has to play with, what she lacked was a suitable bed for them. Thanks to a little girl’s “need” for a doll bed and the creativity of two loving parents, my granddaughter now has a doll bed that may one day be handed down to her own daughter.

In writing this, I give due recognition to my wonderful daughter-in-law as well as my son. My daughter-in-law Melanie makes doll clothes, furniture, and even made the mattress, pillows and blankets to complete this doll bed project. She is extremely creative and talented and is inspiring the same in my granddaughter. Together she and my son are a great daddy/mommy team (which is as it should be!)

Are you a daddy’s girl?  What special memories do you have of the way your dad showed love in action through the intangible gift of his time and/or talents?  Please share in the comments below.

Pam Baker, RN


Children today don’t have to wait for the Christmas catalogs from Sears, Roebuck and Company, Montgomery Ward or J.C. Penney to shop for toys. Children know how to search for the newest and greatest on the internet. They haven’t yet learned about budgets and the fact that money doesn’t grow on trees. Sadly, children are continually the targeted for advertising on television as well as the internet. Advertisers know how persistent children can be when they want something.   This is why it is important to teach children the difference between something they actually NEED versus something they WANT. It is important to teach them the value of money and saving their money to buy the things they want most. It is also important to inspire children to be creative.

Posted in Leaving a legacy, Mindset, STORIES, The Journey, Uncategorized by with no comments yet.

Nurses Are From Missouri

Representative Willard Duncan Vandiver was credited as coining the famous “show me” comment about the virtues of his home State of Missouri in a speech at a Naval banquet in 1899. He commented that since he was from Missouri, others had to show him something, rather than just saying something without anything tangible behind it. After having been a nurse for 26 years (and counting), I could make the case that all nurses are from Missouri as well. 

Actions speak louder than words.

Actions speak louder than words.

Nurses are from Missouri. After all, we are taught through stringent training, to question and to look for scientific evidence. We are taught to insist on actual proof of any and all claims regarding health care products and treatments rather than rely on information presented to us by third parties (who may have a profit to gain by our endorsement of those products). We are taught to make certain those claims are scientifically valid and factual before sharing that information with others.

We are trained skeptics, but because of this, we maintain a very high level of trust and credibility with our patients and the public. Nurses are from Missouri in that we must be shown before we will believe and accept information as truth. As nursing professionals, we will do the “research” to make sure the information we give you is true.

Nurses I’ve been closely associated with are focused on the quest for evidence in other areas of their lives as well—even their personal lives. *A statement is not true just because someone says it is true. As nurses, we conclude that the statement is true because we have done the research to make certain beyond a reasonable doubt. It is true because we have seen the proper evidence and determined those claims to be valid.

We search for facts and solutions for our patients every single day. We do it for our families, and if our friends ask us for our professional opinions, we will do it for them as well. We will not officially offer medical advice, because we have been wisely trained for legal purposes not to do so.

This may explain why the 2013 Gallup Poll revealed that nursing is (once again) the most trustworthy profession.  You may be surprised to learn that the nursing profession ranked higher for trustworthiness than the following professionals:

  • Pharmacists
  • Grade school teachers
  • Medical doctors
  • Military officers
  • Police officers
  • Clergy
  • Day care providers
  • Judges
  • Bankers
  • Lawyers
  • Members of congress
  • Newspaper reporters

And the list goes on. Why is that? In addition to our quest for scientific evidence in the information we share, we generally have the best interest of our patients at heart. We are not motivated by profit, secondary gain, status or power.

This quest for evidence spills over into our personal lives as well. Whatever you say to a nurse, you may be asked to back up with facts proving that it is indeed true. We’re not purposely trying to give our family, friends and significant others a hard time, we just naturally continue to need to be shown what is true. (Remember nurses are from Missouri!)

For this reason, in personal relationships, trust may be something that has to be earned over time with a nurse. We need to know beyond a reasonable doubt that we can trust. We need to be shown through actions. Actions speak much louder than words. Nurses are from Missouri. It is just that simple.

The biggest professional challenge in extending trust comes for nurses who work in the correctional environment and are surrounded by convicted felons. Correctional nurses are confronted daily by inmates trying to manipulate them in order to gain special favors. We learn quickly (if we are to continue to work in this environment) to say “no.” On a daily basis, we hear the grandiose claims of status and wealth possessed prior to incarceration. We are neither impressed or amused. It is then that we roll our eyes silently thinking ‘You can be anything you want to be 25 miles from home.’ Remember, nurses are from Missouri.

Each of us in the correctional environment is constantly under scrutiny by our peers (as it should be). It is one way we keep each other safe in our environment.

Each nurse in the correctional environment has had to submit to background checks. We were asked a barrage of intensely personal questions that spanned our lifetime and included our relationships with family, previous employers, ex-spouses and close contacts. The answers we gave an investigator were then validated through a very intense background check. Lying under oath to an investigator over the simplest things would have made us guilty of a felony.

Correctional nurses would like to know we are surrounded by those could pass the same scrutiny. We all make mistakes, convicted felons or not. The thing you should remember is …“you may be sure that your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23) Be honest if you’ve made mistakes and don’t try to hide them. When you are honest about your mistakes, you will gain trustworthiness through your willingness to be transparent.

Regardless of your profession, somebody somewhere will always want to see the evidence to support any claims you make. Somebody somewhere is always going to say “show me” and so nurses are already prepared through training to do just that. Maybe it’s a really positive thing that nurses are from Missouri. We ask no less of you than we are willing to give of ourselves.

Pam Baker, RN


Footnote: ‘A statement is not true just because someone says it is true.’  If you happen to love a nurse, you will need to show evidence through action (in addition to saying the words).  You may think this is unnecessary, but you already know nurses are from Missouri!

Feel free to share your comments!



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A Natural Repellent for Black Flies

This article (thanks to my Appalachian Trail section hiking son) is a follow up to Ticked Off: Repelling Ticks Naturally (which I recommend you read first). Black flies are small enough to pass through window screens or come indoors on or in your hair. According to University of Florida Entomology and Nematology, “DEET” formulations are not very effective. In fact individuals wearing “DEET” may even have more black flies attracted to them than individuals not wearing “DEET.” Permethrin products cannot be applied to the skin. This article focuses on a non-chemical natural repellent for black flies that can be applied directly on the skin.

Black fly feasting on a human

Black fly feasting on a human

Flies on the landscape

Flies in the air

Flies in your whiskers

Flies in your hair.

Flies up your nostrils

Flies down your neck

Flies on your eardrums

Flies by the peck.


Black flies are such a hateful and insidious problem for trail hikers, wilderness adventurers, and fishermen a lamenting song was even written about them!

Black fly bites

Black fly bites

Who wants to be a human feast for blood-sucking female black flies? From about the middle of May to as late as July, black flies can make being outdoors miserable, especially in the Midwest, Northeast, Florida and Canada. Black flies tend to swarm the faces of their prey, attracted to the exhaled carbon dioxide from breathing.  Their bites are painful, itchy, slow to heal and in some cases cause severe allergic reactions (and even death). Bite reactions include headache, nausea, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.


Unfortunately, black flies are small enough to pass through window screen or come indoors on or in your hair. Their preference is to bite you outdoors during the daytime.

They are attracted to dark colors, so light-colored clothing such as khaki, tan or white is best. A long sleeve shirt, long pants and fine over-the-head screen netting helps prevent feeding, but what will repel them on the areas they manage to find exposed?


My son Shad on his recent 131-mile hike from New York to Connecticut.

My son Shad on his recent 131-mile hike from New York to Connecticut.

My son is a section hiker on the Appalachian Trail and recently completed a 131-mile hike with 2 of his backpacking companions, crossing from New York into Connecticut. Because he was venturing into the epicenter of Lyme’s Disease, I wanted to make sure he was protected so I prepared a blend of essential oils based on my own research. My review of the literature focused on natural alternatives to chemical repellents that were effective against ticks.

My son is brutally honest and I knew he would not sugar coat the truth when giving me an unbiased field-testing report. I mailed his blend (dubbed Baker’s Blend 131 in honor of the mileage he covered on this trip) to the motel where he stopped to pick up trail supplies he had shipped to himself in advance.

This is what he reported: Prior to using Blend 131, he had been pulling off 7-8 ticks daily despite treating his clothing with permethrin. Not only did the ticks not bother him, but a totally unexpected benefit was that Blend 131 was a natural repellent for black flies also! The swarms of black flies he encountered wouldn’t even touch him, much less bite him. I honestly believe he was more excited over the fact that Blend 131 repelled black flies than ticks!


My original purpose as a mother (and a nurse) was to eliminate the chemicals (and the side effects they cause) and to provide some natural protection for my son against ticks and Lyme’s Disease. I am extremely pleased that my vigilance paid off and a natural alternative was effective.   I am even more pleased (and surprised) that my essential oils blend worked to repel black flies as well!

In my original article Ticked Off: Repelling Ticks Naturally, I mentioned the essential oils I used in my blend. I posted links to where those essential oils are available and why it is important to buy the most potent grade essential oils. However, it only takes a few drops of each of those essential oils listed if you only plan to use the oils as a natural repellent. (Example: A 15 ml bottle of each of the oils contains 250 drops)

Among he oils I used in my original Blend 131 are rose geranium, lavender, cedar wood. have since extended my research to repelling black flies. (A good product can be made even better.) I am adding a new oil and an additional ingredient to potentiate the repellent activity of the essential oils and increase the protection time.

If you don’t want to buy multiple bottles of essential oils and are only interested in purchasing the premade Baker’s Blend 131 (enhanced for black fly protection), please complete the contact form below, and I’ll be in touch.

Pam Baker, RN


Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition, Uncategorized by with 1 comment.

A Tribute to Well Manicured Lawns

Reel Lawn mowerThose who think only women are OCD have never watched a meticulous male manicure his lawn. This is a tribute to well manicured lawns and the OCD men who mow them.

Lawn Mowing “Old School”

I grew up in a time before gasoline & electric powered lawn mowers. There may be a few around who still remember, but for those who don’t, class is in session. Riding lawn mowers were probably not even conceptualized in the late 50’s and early 60’s and would have been totally impractical for the hillside lawns in my small hometown in southeastern Kentucky.

A Man’s Home (& His Lawn) Is His Castle

Male versus female roles were very traditional “Ozzie and Harriet” style during that era. While we had cookie-cutter style coal camp town houses that lacked originality in design, no owner of a half-million-dollar estate could’ve taken greater pride in his lawn than my dad. Our lawn was a reflection of the male of the family and the pride he had in his “castle” just as much as the interior of the home was a reflection of the female domain.

Observations of a Lawn Manicurist

While our home furnishings were Spartan on the inside, by contrast we had the most lush, green lawn in the neighborhood and my dad manicured it to perfection at least once a week. Lawn mowing was typically reserved for Saturday evening when the sun was going down and dad carried out the task with an old reel type push mower, the kind that is powered by muscles and oomph rather than gasoline or electricity. Despite the sweltering humidity and heat, dad mowed in long pants and a shirt. You didn’t see men my dad’s age wearing shorts and sandals. (Neither did they work on anything vainer than a “farmer’s tan” from rolled up sleeves while working in their vegetable gardens.)

Gasoline or electric powered string trimmers to edge the lawn were also tools of the future. Dad had only a pair of hand held (manual) clippers, with which he dutifully squatted down and edged every inch of our property line every time he cut the grass. For this reason, dad knew the value of keeping mower and clipper blades well sharpened. Too often those sharp blades failed to discern which were weeds and grass versus which were my mother’s treasured perennials and he justified the cutting by insisting she had planted her flowers in the wrong places.

Sense of Pride

My brother and I were taught at an early age that littering was totally unacceptable and were rebuked for tossing down even a small chewing gum or candy wrapper, which we were responsible to promptly retrieve and dispose of properly. I remember dad taking me out to the back yard, extending his arm from left to right over a freshly mowed lawn, then pointing out how even the smallest piece of litter detracted from the appearance of his masterpiece.

From a child’s perspective, it was comforting to step barefoot on that lawn and roll downhill in the grass on a sunny summer day. Searching for 4-leaf clover and picking dandelion seedpods from the grass were child’s play, and nobody sprayed chemicals on their lawns.

High traffic areas around the front and rear porches (& our homemade swing set) refused to grow grass and were therefore swept with a broom to remove pebbles that would bruise a child’s bare feet.

Changing Equipment

I remember when dad finally upgraded to a gasoline-powered mower. With its heavy cast aluminum frame, it was a monster in size by comparison to the old reel mower and very hard to push on the slopes of our hillside home. Dad didn’t get a smaller, lightweight and more manageable mower (still not self-propelled) and rechargeable battery powered lawn clippers until the early 1970’s. By this time, dad was in his 60’s and retired.

The Frustrated Mower

I remember the exact day dad decided to retire that aged gasoline mower.  By this time I was married, living only 2 houses above the home of my birth. One day I was sitting on my front porch as dad was taking on the task of mowing his lawn. First I watched him bring the monster mower out of the tool shed to a level spot in the lawn where he always cranked the mower engine. I knew the routine well. As I was watching him, he began to yank the pull cord to crank the aged engine. Yank. Yank. Yank. Yank. Yank. Sputter. Sputter. Sputter. Start. I watched as dad began to push the sputtering mower out onto the slight slope of the yard, speeding up the engine as smoke emitted from the exhaust. About 3 feet out onto the lawn, the mower died.

Without a word on his expressionless face, dad dragged the mower in reverse back to the level spot and began again. Yank. Yank. Yank. Yank. Yank. Sputter. Sputter. Start. Sputter. Die. Yank. Yank. Yank. Yank. Sputter. Sputter. Smoke. Sputter start, and away he goes, not giving that old mower another second to change its mind.   About 2 feet out onto the slope of the yard, it died again.   Dad repeated his efforts once more, but this time, the mower was making no effort to start. I remained silent, watching this whole scene played out from the vantage point of my front porch. I could feel my dad’s frustration on that hot summer day.

As I continued to watch, dad turned and walked back to the tool shed. I expected to see him emerge with wrenches and tools to beginning working on the ailing mower. Instead he came out of the tool shed flourishing a razor sharp double-bit axe.   I was extremely puzzled at this point, wondering how he was going to repair the lawn mower using a double-bit axe.

My answer came soon enough. Whack! Whack! Whack! Whack! After about 4 whacks on top of that old Briggs and Stratton engine with his axe, my dad, still silent, finished his “repairs” resulting in some enormous gashes on the mower engine and replaced the axe in the tool shed.   Next he pushed the dead mower carcass to the curb for trash pick up.   I continued to watch, still speechless. I was torn whether to acknowledge the scene I had witnessed followed by the obvious question: ‘Are you okay dad?’

Sometimes it just makes more sense to remain silent, which is exactly what I did.   It was late evening after the heat and my daddy’s temper had cooled when I finally paid a visit to dad’s house to inquire (rather tongue-in-cheek) whether he had gotten his mower fixed.

I already knew the answer and he responded that indeed he had; he had just bought a new mower.

Keep That in Your Yard

Have you ever noticed how your neighbor’s dog never does his business in his own yard? The same was true of our neighbor’s dog.   Dad believed a certain chocolate Doberman named Max watched and waited, spitefully and with malice intent, for the opportunity to unload his business on his freshly mown grass rather than the unkempt lawn of his owners. Our neighbors, including the dog owners, all knew how particular dad was with his lawn.   They didn’t even get upset that day, while they sat on their back porch watching, when my dad carried out a small shovel and began flinging doggie poo airborne over the fence into the lawn of the rightful owners.

Modern Day Mowing

photo-12Spring has finally emerged and once again I hear the myriad of mowers as I drive by meticulously mown lawns, now striped with crisscrossing patterns by those just as OCD as my dad was; when I smell the essence of freshly mown grass, I remember my dad and I smile.   Then I wonder whether there are children to appreciate that plush green carpet with bare feet.   Is there a wife who appreciates the man who takes such tremendous pride in his home? I certainly hope so.   However, the thing that makes me burst into laughter is when I spy an appreciative dog living next door.

Pam Baker






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How Much Apathy Can You Afford, America?


I'm Watching You photoIn case you hadn’t noticed, America has changed.  It has been slow and insidious over the past 40 – 50 years, but “while you were sleeping” or otherwise busy with your own life, real justice (and what it is costing you) changed.  With a stroke of many pens, politicians you did (or didn’t) help elect made decisions by introducing and/or supporting bills you probably had no knowledge about.  After the election hype was over and politicians assumed their collective offices, you quit watching and listening to what they supported, went back to your own busy life and looked the other way. When things turned really sour and those bad decisions came to light, the finger pointing turned to blaming one political party over the other for a poor decision or the balance (or imbalance) of power in Congress.

You may never have checked voting records of those you helped put in office to determine whether you agreed with what they stood for beyond their political party affiliations. So the question now becomes:  Just how much apathy can you and your wallet continue to afford, America?

Just to make sure you’re fully awake, here are a few facts you may not know about.

1)  A U.S. Court has started precedence by ruling that taxpayers fund gender reassignment surgery for an inmate serving a life sentence for murder.

(Please click on the links below for more information on each topic.)






2)  How do these U.S. Court Judges get in office?


3)  Taxpayers are paying for Medicare for illegal aliens.

Check your pay stub.  How much are you contributing to Medicare every pay period?  Those who literally crawled under the border fences and never paid a dime really appreciate it.


4)  Taxpayers are paying for Welfare, Food Programs, Housing and Medicaid for illegal aliens.


5) Why do we continue to ignore the border security of America?   More and more illegal aliens slip into America bringing illegal drugs and/or signing up for welfare and other benefits as entitlements.  We can’t afford to support those already on our welfare roles.  Exactly WHY would the “pathway to citizenship” notion trump border security?  Do you believe this poll truly represents the collective opinion of America on this critical topic?


6)  Affordable healthcare:   incarcerated inmates are being signed up under Obamacare.   Thanks again, America.


Ultimately, WE THE PEOPLE still have power, but we continue to choose not to use it beyond Election Day.  We blindly trust elected politicians to do the right thing on our behalf and then don’t monitor their decisions to make sure they are truly representing us.   Are we allowing those deaf to our opinions to be our collective voice?   Are we even speaking up and using our voice?  Please understand that our U.S. Congress is comprised of mostly millionaires.


NO, they really don’t know what it is like to work from paycheck to paycheck and wonder how they’re going to stretch their income to pay for healthcare, housing, food, utilities, education and other living expenses.  Additionally, they have no clue what burdens they put on the backs of the bulk of taxpaying Americans by their poor decisions.

Therefore it is entirely up to us to protect and preserve America for future generations and ourselves.  Would you trust to leave the doors to your home unlocked to strangers?  These are our security borders, America, yet they are NOT secure.   People who are not invested in our Nation and never worked to build it are bleeding it dry.

How much do you trust others with what you have worked to earn?  Would you leave your car unlocked, setting in your driveway with the keys in the ignition?  Do you trust people you don’t know with your bank account and your wallet?  I doubt it.  So why would you turn over the “keys” to America to elected officials who continue to prove they can’t or won’t govern in the best interest of all taxpaying Americans?

Do you get performance evaluations at work?  If you make an error in judgment, it is usually called to your attention and you’re expected to correct it or face disciplinary action.  Then do the same for those holding political office!

Here’s how you can hold your elected officials accountable by tracking issues currently being discussed in Congress and monitoring HOW your Congressman voted on the important issues:


You can even sign up to get email alerts from the link above.  This is an excellent way to see for yourself how a Congressman voted on a particular issue.  If he/she voted “Yay” and actually supported an issue, then denied it to the public later in an attempt to get re-elected, you can find out firsthand. You have a voice.   Use it, America!  Let your elected officials know you are watching and will hold them accountable for their decisions on your behalf.

Pam Baker, RN


I'm Watching You photo

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