Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Eleven Hours Left

As of right this minute (as I begin typing), according to my computer clock,
there are 11 hours left in 2008.

I wish everyone a
In spite of whatever trials we may face, I pray each and everyone will find joy in the new year as we live day by day focusing on the blessings we each receive. May we each live each day to the fullest and smile more than we frown, give thanks to those who bless our lives, give thanks daily to God above and forge ahead feasting on the beauties in life and working through the rest.
God Bless!
P.S. According to the "blog counter" this is officially my 100th post. ;-}

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

In honor of this final day of 2008, and since I'm finally back home after Christmas, and I have an ounce or two of energy left in my waning battery (mine, not the computer's) I feel inclined to give an accounting of our interesting Christmas saga.

First, since a wedding was squeezed into the month, we had an extra trip and fewer days for the mad woman at the sewing machine to complete her masterpieces (ha, ha!, or whatever) of gift sewing wizardry. Absolutely NO baking occurred. (Sigh.) I love Christmas baking. It's a LONG family tradition and I must admit, that aside from baking Sarah and John's Red Velvet Wedding Cake, I baked NOTHING.

Husband and I left our home after church on 21 December, wending our way north into inclement wintry weather potential. We practiced a bit of emergency preparation for such weather. We had quilts, warm clothing, flashlights, energy bars, bottles of water, gloves, hats, mufflers, etc. We sighed in relief as we arrived at Amy's home, complete with her husband and darling children, (sans the bad weather) as we crunched through the icy remains of snow, etc. to her door. However, it was COLD. I think their low temp was 3 degrees before factoring in the windchill. It was a happy beginning.

Things were a little chaotic, what with three very young children who'd been troubled with viral illness off and on for the previous few days, (their Mom included). And that's not to mention that the family was preparing to move into the home they'd just purchased!

Amy and her Dad went off the next day to the Bald Eagles that apparently make an annual trek to the Mighty Mississippi River during winter. When the river FREEZES! And there was ice everywhere. My husband said he nearly didn't make it up a hill on the way back to the house because it was beginning to sleet/rain/freeze and his truck fishtailed all over. Amy earlier caught pictures of the eagles fishing the river. Hundreds of them. Yes, I said HUNDREDS of Bald Eagles! Who would have thought!

Day before Christmas, my husband and I also went down to the river--a different town--and saw some eagles and ice. It was frigid. The wind was blowing like crazy and we only ventured out of the truck for about five minutes. But, we too, got some pictures.

Amy and I proceeded that afternoon to prepare a finger-food Christmas Eve evening meal. It leaned toward Mexican flavor with cream cheese stuffed, bacon wrapped Jalapenos, the layered bean dip, and other rich, tasty goodies. When I began eating my first stuffed Jalapeno, my tummy protested a little, so I ate very little. It was a good thing, too.

At about 1 am, Christmas morning, the BUG hit me. On occasion, I've been known to pass out when I dehydrate due to flue symptoms that hit like a Mac truck . . . This Christmas morning, around 5 am, "Grandma got run over by a reindeer." I'd lost so much fluid so quickly that I passed out cold in the bathroom and somehow or other managed to hit the 4 by 4 (posing as a door frame) with my face. Broke my nose, whacked my left eyebrow, and, I discovered after each succeeding day, part of my head above the hairline and my jaw.

I came to lying flat on the floor, and noticed a pool of blood under my face--which faced the wall. It was kind of surreal. I was no longer feeling like I was going to up-chuck. Don't think I felt any pain at all, at that moment. I didn't want to move. I wanted to be perfectly still. But, my daughter and husband were having none of that. (Amy, equipped with a screwdriver to unlock the door behind which I'd been resting, had access to my gory state of being along my poor husband, who's witnessed one or two similar episodes--totally bloodless, however, prior to this sterling display of human weakness.) A trip to the ER ensued in the more than frigid blackness of pre-dawn Christmas morning.

One of the silliest things happened as I entered the ER. Picture this scene: A man and woman drive up to the ER door. The man walks in requesting help for his too-weak-to-walk wife. The ER guy comes with wheelchair and assists the man in getting the woman into the wheelchair to wheel her inside where there's a slight chance she won't freeze to death in the next five minutes. The ER guy tells the man he can park over somewhere else and he'll get the woman into the exam room. This is the good part.

As they enter the exam room, ER guy says to woman: "Okay. I need you to get out of your jacket and just hop up here on the exam table."

Woman is thinking: Uh, huh. And didn't you just help me out of a vehicle because I can't manage on my own, and don't you see the huge bruise forming on my face and the blood coming from my crunched nose? The woman could not see his face due to the hood of her jacket that was trying to keep her from freezing to death and other factors not readily available to the writer at this point. She's also thinking, And why are you working in an ER with that kind of mental process or lack thereof going on? Perhaps he was thinking that another fall and subsequent bruising, etc., would make for an even more memorable Christmas. Who knows?

Woman says: "I'm pretty sure I'll need some help with both those requests, you know."

So, ER guy, does help with both items and woman goes nearly into shock due to the cold and covers her lower body with her heavy jacket.

It was so COLD in that room!!! At some point, my husband re-entered and brought the quilt and Afghan to try to stave off frostbite. The ER guy even managed to bring in a flannel sheet posing as a blanket. Had it been about ten or twenty of those (warmed "blankets"), it might have approximated appropriate warmth. Since my blood pressure was down, my body somewhat dehydrated, and I get cold easily anyway, and it was probably 147 degreez below freezing outside and 30 below in the room . . . At least I wasn't convulsing with cold spasms! I don't think . . . But then it has been almost a week since that lovely experience.

They took my blood pressure, my blood and other samples, X-rayed my head, CAT scanned my head and pumped me up with two (2) bags of fluid, COLD fluid, I might add, and I summarily froze to death. Oh! And lest I forget another fun item: Somewhere along, during the re- hydrating process, someone asked me a question. As I tried to answer I noticed that my tongue refused to cooperate with forming intelligible anything. My brain struggled to force my tongue to work the syllables into coherent utterings. Then it dawned on me. They DRUGGED ME!!!! Without telling me!!!! When I was eventually able to form somewhat cohesive words, I asked what the heck they'd stuck in my IV. The nurse fessed up: phenergan! Ahhhh. That now made sense. It was nice to know that the whack on my head didn't render me totally senseless. What relief I felt! You can't imagine.

The rest of the day is kind of a blur. I only wanted to sleep and recoup. Bless Amy and Darren and their little ones. They waited for Grandma--who'd obviously been run over by a reindeer--to wake before they could open presents! It was the afternoon sometime and I felt like such a slug for making them wait!!!! I was still enough under the influence of the drugs and so worn out by the whole trauma that I must have just drifted back off to sleep. I don't remember much of the rest of the day. I didn't expect them to wait Christmas gift unwrapping for the children on my behalf! But it was sweet that they wanted Grandma, poor and battered as she was, to be part of the celebration.

Stay tuned. The next day was quite another experience. And that's not to mention the day after that!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Wedding

Sarah and her father . . . Sarah and John . . . now husband and wife
Bride and Groom with their parents.

The happy couple cutting their wedding cake.
The Mom's cried and smiled.
The couple was happy.
The Service was simple.
The Spirit was sweet.
A new beginning.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

This May Be Short

In 4.5 days, or thereabouts, my darling husband and I will be heading south and east . . . with two loaded vehicles on a 800 mile or something trek. Our #3 daughter, Sarah, will be getting married in just under 7 full days from this moment--kinda like 6 days and 12 hours and 50 minutes, or close. We're taking her car and some o' her stuff. Somewhere in the next few days, I've also got to bake a Red Velvet Cake for her wedding cake. The festivities following the wedding will be very simple with just a handful of family members in attendance.

After returning from that escapade, we'll be home to work some more on everything, and then, if husband's poor back is recovered enough, we'll be heading north for Christmas with the grandchildren and daughter #2, Amy's, family. And they have already had bonafide snow, sleet and temperatures that literally chill one to the bone. Pray for us warm-blooded folks, please!!!

In the meantime, I have a young friend who's grandma passed just two days ago. I'll be cooking up a few items to take by tomorrow between the snowflakes. Oh, I have to laugh! (No disrespect to my friend's departed grandma intended.) But speaking of snow . . . we received about 3.5 inches of rain today during some "very active" weather in this part of the country. There were tornadoes to the north, south, east and west of us. I'm grateful they passed over, under or around rather than through our immediate area! And our "high" temp today was between 60 and 70 degrees. Tonight's "low" is supposed to be around 36. Tomorrow our "high" is prognosticated at 39, with (yes, of all things) the possibility of snow. We'll see. Snow here is not very common. And what some of the locals call/believe to be snow . . . I have to laugh. I lived in Germany and Utah where it snows REAL snow and lots of it. Some of the stuff they call snow down here is mostly wishful thinking. But, in deference to reality, truth, and the American way . . . (what?) it has, on occasion, snowed real snow here. Occasionally. Once in a while.

Additionally I have Christmas gifts I've been sewing like crazy to get made. Out of the nine or ten projects I've insanely decided I should make, I've completed about 2.79. And because I'm rather insane when these things overtake me, I've been working till the wee hours of the morning and actually getting back up at a fairly reasonable hour to continue the madness. I ache all over. I have bad posture, which is exacerbated by hunching over the cutting board and sewing machine. Nonetheless, the Lord has been very good to me in that so far, I've been helped along with so many things not going too far awry. And since I'm working w/o benefit of patterns, it's been miraculous indeed that things have actually been going so well.

So, if you don't hear from me for a fortnight or more, know that I'm buried under tons of fabric and thread and the likes thereof while singing Christmas carols and other Christmasy songs. Or traveling over vast distances.

Oh. That brings another thought. I've got to practice the music I'm supposed to be singing in Church as a member of a quartet this coming Sunday (and the following week). And I'm praying that the other female in our group, who normally sings soprano will recover her voice. I can, and do sing soprano or alto, which she can do as well, and we do swap from time to time, but if she doesn't recover enough between now and then, I don't know how I'll be able to pull off singing both the soprano and alto parts simultaneously (except for those parts where they're the exact same notes at the exact same time, ha, ha). It could get a little messy, you know. Pray I still have a voice and lung power come Sunday!!!! (We start our first trek after the singing is done on this Sunday!)

Love and Merry Christmas to one and all, till we meet again!

PS . . . I fully intended for this to be short. Sorry it wasn't. ;-}

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sixth Photo in the Sixth Photo Folder? I Think Not

Just back from visiting Jeanie in Paradise's place. She had a meme with parameters about a 6th photo folder with the 6th picture and all that as the foundation for the meme challenge. (I wasn't challenged, which is good. Because the sixth photo folder on my hard drive (and ever so many others) aren't even mine! (My husband's, my daughter's and who knows what else's photos are there cluttering ('scuse me) giving me many folders of pics to choose from whenever I need fodder for blogging--to borrow my #2 daughter's phrasing.) And then that particular folder, the 6th, held only 4 photos. So, I had to think outside the folder--what picture would qualify if ever that kind of challenge came, with those specific parameters attached?

So, in one folder, as I browsed through the first maybe ten folders, this picture was found which is of interest--taken by my husband nearly 4 years ago. I offer it now for your viewing pleasure.

That, my friends, is one HUGE (as in mega) beehive hanging off a huge, red oak tree in my in-laws front yard. It's been estimated that the oak is at least 400 years old. Yeah. That's old. The beehive is external, which I find odd and fascinating. It was also about 40 to 60 feet above ground? We didn't actually measure. And it only lasted that one season. (Don't you know there had to be a massive swarm of bees who worked kajillions of bee-hours, I suppose, to create such a work.) It was so massive, the length might have been well over 6 feet. Don't you know it had some huge quantity of honey stored there? My husband asked around, but no beekeepers in the area owned a cherry picker, which would have been essential to harvest any honey from that particular hive. Nature. It sometimes baffles us, no?

This past weekend the neighbor across the road happened to mention this beehive as we visited for a few minutes, commenting again at how bizarre an occurrence it was.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Bat Cave, or The Pit of Despair, Take Your Pick

Over a week ago now, while cleaning what was once upon a time my mother-in-law’s kitchen—in preparation for the family gathering on Thanksgiving Day—I discovered a cavern. This cavern was so deep, it required a flashlight to discern its depths and *shiver, shiver* ghastly contents. As the original occupants of this lovely home have returned to their Maker in years past, you need to know that I suspect no one has lurked in this “Bat Cave” for years. I don’t think the entrance has been broached in over three years, at least.

The task of cleaning the rest of the very large kitchen (which I’ve envied for nearly 40 years now) has fallen to me on various occasions, and I’ve done a fairly thorough job of it for the most part. After my MIL had brain surgery more than 11 years ago, now, the ladies hired to help with housework, cooking and looking after the in-laws (at least two of them) did a valiant job but had their hands full in the “taking care of” department in many instances which also included chauffeuring to doctor appointments, etc., etc. Hence, deep cleaning, serious deep cleaning of the ‘Bat Cave’ was over-looked. Perhaps it was even “off limits” as its contents were under the FIL’s jurisdiction and not to be trifled with.

So, after who knows how many months, years, of surface attention, if any at all, the Bat Cave and surrounding environs were finally thrust open to view. Now one fact you might need to keep in mind—which has gone unmentioned heretofore: this house containing this kitchen, containing this Bat Cave (convincingly disguised as a corner kitchen cabinet under the counter) is located in a farming area. Because it’s in a farming area there tend to be field mice that frequently seek shelter from life’s little difficulties where they can.

And also in the interest of full disclosure, when one of the women hired to clean house, etc., took little interest in the cleaning aspect, I discovered one weekend, that some rodents had apparently held some sporting events in this kitchen for some time and apparently considered the area behind the microwave oven as their outhouse. Sorry to alarm your sensitivities, but the truth sometimes is disgusting. That said, you may begin to understand why I began calling this particular corner kitchen cabinet under the counter as “The Bat Cave”. In the furthest reaches of the back of said cave, I found a treasure trove of guano—so to speak.

I’d wager no one had, in recent history, ever put light on the subject and found the heaps of “stuff” in the back corner—on both shelves. So, with a trusty flashlight and a long broom and mop I harvested a pile of poop. Dust filled the air in the small space and I coughed, sneezed and shivered through it all. I thought of calling in archaeologists to carbon date samples to determine the age, etc. of the pile, but didn’t want them traipsing around during the Holiday interrupting our family gathering. So, after a relatively good sweep, I sprayed the heck out of that cabinet with Clorox spray cleaner, and mopped my way through as best I could. Had I been able to really enter the cave a far as needed, I’d have done a far better job. The adjoining cabinets also received proper de-junking, spraying and mopping. Before all was said and done, my husband had taken several truck loads of garbage off to the dumpsters from our daily use of paper and plastic dinner ware and utensils, as well as what was cleaned out throughout the house.

Oh, and lest I forget…I caught one mouse in the laundry room closet the night I set out the trap. I suspect there are more lurking about, however, and will have to set out more traps next time I’m in the neighborhood.

One day, for Jeanie in Paradise, I may take better pictures of the very large, enviable kitchen I’d like to transplant to my own home. As you know, Jeanie invited us into her kitchen and I could possibly invite you into the one that’s now much cleaner than my own. Hmmm. Let me see. I could thumb through the pics we took at Thanksgiving . . . maybe . . . yes. Let’s try these on for size . . .

This is #2 daughter, Amy with her #2 son, AFT. (Ain't he cute?!!)

They are standing at the entrance from the den.

This is a better Den's eye view, if you will.

These are, from l to r, #1 daughter, Jana, little AFT, Amy, and the foot and legs of BIL, David, or Amy's hubby, Darren. Can't exactly tell from the shoe. Ooops! Yes I can! It's gotta be Darren! Look at the plant magazine in his lap!

That mystery woman is chopping sweet potatoes and putting them in the pot to cook for Thanksgiving Dinner. (Ugh! She's the same woman who crawled into the "Bat Cave"!!! Yikes!)

This is one of the most important spots in the kitchen, it's the business end. Many a delicious, and great meal has been prepared here. My mother-in-law was a fabulous cook. She taught me lots about Southern Cooking. You can tell I learned a thing or two by checking out my profile!

This charming Gent, who didn't want this picture taken (can you tell?) is my one and only!

This is the other important end of the kitchen--the one where most meals were/are eaten.

This lovely lady is #3 daughter, Sarah.

So, you didn't get to see EVERYTHING in this large, wonderful (clean, though you can't tell that for sure from these pictures) kitchen I wish were in my house. Except for the "Bat Cave" of course. Jeanie, do these picture count? And since you probably did notice . . . the kitchen is mostly part of the den. I really like that in a kitchen/den combo!

Thanksgiving Week Fun

These few pictures show just some of the fun I had during Thanksgiving week! I'll refer to this young man as: LMH
His mantra is: Let Me Help!
He loves to fix things, cook things and help in general! Wow! I'd like to keep him around!
The lovely young lady to his left is his Auntie Sarah.
This little munchkin I'll call: AFT
Angel Faced Trouble (with a capitol "T") (I think his mother came up with that moniker.)
Early one morning he was sitting with his Dad and me on the couch when he nearly clocked his Dad with a metal toy tuck. Fortunately his Dad's lightening speed (Kendo and Tae Kwon Do trained) response saved him a nasty head wound!
Big Sister, otherwise known as: PPG (No. Not some kind of Plexi Glass! But, Princess Pony Girl, you ninny!) Wanted to share the love by helping little brother, AFT, have a go at the rocking horse Great Granddaddy built for their Mom and her siblings many years ago. As you can see, AFT's having quite an enjoyable ride.
Gotta love the smiles! Grandkids are good for Grandparents.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Back Home

Just a short note...I'm back home. (Didn't notice I was gone, eh?) Well, nonetheless, I'm back. I don't know how the scales at this house show no change in my excessive weight, but, it's the same as when I left. Mysteries abound, it seems.

I've been to the bat cave and survived--more on that later!

I've cleaned enough to last me forever. Except that I have ten tons of laundry here at home I'm trying to catch up on, and oh, yeah. I've not been home for over a week, so guess who has a lot of cleaning to catch up on here! Not to mention, that I well, sort of signed up to clean the Church this week, too. It's not small. Maybe that'll be on tomorrow's list.

I have my last Institute Class to teach for this semester this coming Thursday. My students get to report on how their lives have changed since the beginning of the Semester after studying the Four Gospels for the last four months. I am so looking forward to this Thursday.

Friday, following, I'll be taking my youngest daughter to the airport. She and her beloved have decided to elope. So, that was not a TOTAL surprise, but yet not on the "List of Things To Do" for December that I've been keeping.

Cleaning. More cleaning. Eventually she and her soon-to-be-husband will have to come back here and gather up and move all her possessions between now and the first week of January.

After 12 to 14 hour days of cleaning and cooking, I'm a little tired and sore. But, I know if I keep going, I'll be in better shape for it. Right?

Oh, and yes. My dear Mom . . . is currently in a rehab facility 1500 miles away and I don't know the extent of her "situation." She can no longer walk under her own power, i.e., w/o a walker. Something happened, and no one apparently knows what, that's preventing her ability to do what she was doing on her own--including driving--just two-and-a-half weeks ago.

The hospital (ER) ran all kinds of tests, CAT scans, MRI's and whoknowswhatall two weeks ago, but came up with nothing more than "she's a little dehydrated." IV's, of course, take care of that. So what the heck happened? What's going to happen?

My siblings have been great, but they don't seem to have pinned a doctor down yet...(you know how so many doctors don't like being pinned down on things!!!) know what happened, is happening, will happen at this point. Or, maybe I've been so busy with all my chillin's I've lots touch?

Mom doesn't recognize my voice on the phone any more. Which really bumfuzzels me since we were talking on the phone every day for the last year--until her episode--two-and-a-half weeks ago when she didn't have a phone close by. She is getting therapy to strengthen her legs and arms. (She's pretty much been the queen of not exercising for quite some time, though many of her children have encouraged her to at least take a daily walk!) (Note to self: Get busy and get on the treadmill at least every day! I could be becoming the princess of not exercising. well, except for the fact that I do go up and down stairs every day--several times a day, still haul heavy loads of stuff from the grocery store--okay. My buggy to the trunk of my car. From the trunk of my car to the house, i.e., up stairs, and other stuff!) And, it's very hard to be 1500 miles away when one's mother is having distress and one can't be there to see, ask questions, assist. Exceptionally frustrating. For me. Anyway.

So, apparently, life is still happening here and everywhere. Challenges are what it's all about. That and the joy of having family to deal with! (My grandchildren were precious, of course. And very, loud and noisy. Oh! I did have to encourage them to "shhhhhhh" every so often.) Wouldn't have missed them for the world!

Oh. Don't let me forget: I'm thankful for the ability to experience all of the above! Don't want boring. Don't want to be without family. Grateful for the air I breathe, etc. =-}