Answers: Music, Chess, Pets, & More

Monday, October 10, 2016

We are nearing the end of my series of answers in response to questions posed by readers.  In this post I will answer all the questions about hobbies, pets, and random topics, before going on to my final post Wednesday.
Martha asks: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? 
Ashley asks: What are your hobbies?
Playing chess, running, blogging, photographing, visiting neat places, hiking, singing and playing instruments, watching Studio C and old tv series, volunteering as an admin on FICS, occasionally doing genealogical research, visiting cemeteries, and creating websites.

Darryl asks: With all of the things that you do (chess, blogging, work, travel, etc.) what one activity gives you the most joy and why? 
Perhaps singing and playing the piano.  Playing the piano is very relaxing, and thoughts that cannot be expressed in words can come alive in music.  Singing is also a wonderful way to share the love of God with people. "Spread a little love around... life is full of joy and happiness when you find the Savior's love."

That said, I only like music in moderation.  If I had to play it or listen to it for a long time, it would drive me crazy, particularly since it is difficult for me to concentrate on anything else when listening to music.

Overall, people really make every one of the things I do most enjoyable. I love spending time with my family running.  I love the smiles of the elderly I sing to.  I love hearing the stories of the people I meet travelling throughout the state and blogging.  And chess players are some of the most interesting people I've ever met.

But then I only like being around people in moderation as well.  Ha!

Maybe I should stick with reading the Bible and praying as my response.  Peace of mind and peace with God is what truly imparts joy in every aspect of life.  I like peace all the time.
Anonymous asks: Do you play any instruments?
I play the piano, guitar, accordion, and harmonica.

Cheryl says: I would love to hear more about your family's music! Where do you sing? How often do you sing together as a family?
We mostly sing at nursing homes, senior centers, and retirement communities. Once in a while we also sing at churches and community events. I'd guess we do an average of two or three concerts a month...sometimes more, sometimes less.

Here is a sound clip from 2014.
Ashley asks: Have you ever been to any camps? If so, which one?
I've been to the Susan Polgar Girls Invitational chess camp a couple times, plus I taught at the Des Moines Chess Camp in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Ashley asks: What got you interested in playing chess?
My papa taught me how to play chess when I was about five years old because he wanted someone to play chess with. We started playing in tournaments when I was about 11, and I've always loved the mental challenge, competition, and camaraderie.

Anonymous asks: Do you have any pets? If so, can you show some pictures?
You could have asked me for photos of politicians, and I'd have them uploaded in a moment...but no, you ask me for photos of pets?!
Well, the first one is easy. This is Ginger in 2009. She has been our loving, loyal farm dog for the past 13 years.  I wrote about her in this post.
DSCN3083  392075_196246517132262_1783905364_n
And here I am in 2013 and 2011 with our two outdoor cats, Skippy and Blackie.

Chances are you will never see our indoor cat, Princess. She's a tabby like Skippy, but she darts for the basement or a closet whenever we have company over. I wouldn't want to invade her privacy by posting her photo here.

Contrary to popular belief, however, she does exist. And she loves me. I'm basically the only person in the family who'd usually prefer not to have the cat's affection (I'm not fond of cat hair), it sometimes seems I'm basically the only person in the family she pays attention to.

We also have around 20 chickens. My sisters have them all named, so they are kind of like pets. But we've had chickens since 2004, and I can't keep track of which ones are if I started listing them by name, half might be already dead and buried (we have a chicken retirement home).
Finally, here's Tuxedo, the latest illegal immigrant to our acreage.

Why do irresponsible pet owners dump their pets at the home of some nice person out in the country?! I'm about ready to tar and feather the next person who does it. Do you know how many domesticated cats, kittens, and dogs we've had to find homes for?

First of all, don't get a pet if you can't provide it a good home for the next 10-20 years. And if something suddenly happens where you can't keep it, find it a willing home yourself, send it to a humane society, or put it down. Whatever you do, don't drop it off in the country. We don't want it.

I'm happy to say at least the owner of the stray cow who wandered onto our acreage came and found it.

Oh, and before I feel like a hypocrite for telling people not to drop their pets off in the country, we did release opossums by a creek once. But then, that's not nearly as bad as disowning a cat.
Anonymous asks: How many acres do you have? Do you have a garden?
My family and I live on five acres. About one acre of that is in gardens. We grow just about everything: potatoes, corn, carrots, onions, beans, strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, etc. One year we even tried growing sugar beets, and my sister has grown wheat and old-fashioned corn to grind into flour.

My favorite part of it all is the peach trees. I'm personally not as enthusiastic about live-off-the-land ideas as some in my family (it's a lot of work). But it's nice to enjoy fresh foods.

I have a small flower garden, which is great subject-matter for my photography: there are beautiful colors, butterflies, and sometimes visiting hummingbirds.
Don asks: What plant is this [above]?
Queen Anne's Lace. It grows in ditches around here.

Carrie asks: If you could have lunch with anyone (living or dead) whom would it be & why?
Jesus Christ. Lunch with God would be an amazing experience.

If I have to stick with mortals though... I've pretty much already had lunch with all the living people I want to have lunch with (family and friends), though there are some fellow bloggers and readers of my blog whom I'd love to meet.

As for the dead, perhaps it would be interesting to have lunch with Thomas Jefferson, Martha Washington, or Deborah of the Bible.

"Let all thine enemies perish, O Lord: but let them that love him be as the sun 
when he goeth forth in his might."  --Song of Deborah and Barak, Judges 5:31


  1. You are definitely an interesting ( and busy) person! We also had a pet cemetery when we had chickens. It was called "oven". I agree with you on your comments about people that abandon pets. It is not right! Happy belated Thanksgiving from the North.

    1. Haha! Love your "cemetery's" name. My folks tried that cemetery once, but with all the feed and butchering expenses, each chicken dinner ended up costing about $20! Plus, it was particularly tough when the chickens were exhumed from "oven," and moved to "table" to have their names remembered. Hope you are having a great week.

  2. Bethany,
    Ginger is charming. I love dogs.
    They're friends of man. I marvel at each of your photo.
    You are amazing, very beautiful girl.
    Hugs and kisses.

    1. Ginger is part of the family. She's a wonderful dog. Thanks for stopping by, Lucja.

  3. Dearest Bethany, what a fun and delightful post! I listened to the video and it brings me so much joy and peace! Beautiful voices, beautiful harmony and beautiful images! I loved seeing your pet photos. I have a 3 year old male cat, he is black and white and has green eyes...Romeo. He is a great cat.

    And I think that your singing at retirement communities and nursing homes is a great way to give back, and I am sure they appreciate it! Many seniors, sadly, have nobody who comes to visit them, so I am sure that your visits and singing bring them much joy.

    Thank you so much for sharing about yourself. You are a beautiful lady, both inside and out! God bless you. Hugs.

    1. Blessings to you as well, Linda, and thank you for your kind words. You should post a photo of your cat sometime. If you did in the past, I must have missed it.

      The elderly make for the nicest audience a person could ask for. When we first started singing as small children, we sounded terrible (as recordings attest); yet they still encouraged us, and told us how much they enjoyed listening.

  4. So nice to learn more about you. Such a wide variety of interests sure keep you busy.
    You are a delightful and interesting woman. : )

  5. Thanks for sharing all this, Bethany. It's been a lot of fun getting to know you better.

    1. Thanks for inspiring me to do a Q&A series, Martha. It has been fun racking my brain for answers.

  6. Hi Bethany! Your blog is truly one of my favorites. That is largely because you are such an interesting and inspiring young person. I especially admire the way you are able to weave your spirituality into your blog. I've enjoyed reading your answers to the questions ... some of the questions were pretty tough. Thanks, as always, for sharing!

    1. Some of the questions have been tough indeed, and the toughest questions are yet to come.

      I am glad you enjoy the blog. I enjoy yours as well, and always appreciate your comments here.

  7. I enjoyed your answers and hearing more about you and your family. I really enjoyed your music!

  8. I like everything that you grow - potatoes, corn, carrots, onions, beans, strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes............

  9. Oh, I loved hearing about your family's music! Thank you for responding to my question. It would truly be nice to meet you and your family someday and have a never know what God may work out. For sure, it will be a wonderful reunion/time of meeting when we all get to Heaven! God bless you, sweet friend. :)

    1. Do let me know if you ever head this way! I always love meeting up with fellow bloggers. Blessings to you as well, Cheryl.

  10. Wonderful learning more about you and your family. We also have several pets (two cats and one rabbit). My sister's cat Olivia looks very similar to your Tuxedo.

    1. I'm not sure I want to claim Tuxedo, but she certainly has decided to claim us!

  11. That's neat that your family is so musical and has its own Youtube channel.

    Have you heard of the new movie about chess called Queen of Katwe? The trailer looks really good:

    1. Ah yes! I've heard that is a good movie. Looking forward to watching it sometime!

  12. where the roses never fade was really beautiful!! you have learned many things from your family!!!

  13. I am enjoying this series, Bethany.

  14. Great to see your pets and that Ginger pup. Oh my, she looks great. I'm a dog person but love all pets.

    Growing what you eat is the best and making flours, also the the best.

    Great sound clip too.

    1. Ginger is a wonderful dog to have. Growing your own flours is a lot of work! Probably good for a person, but definitely not something I'd do myself. I cheer for my sister though!