My Life Needs a Pacemaker


 

I’m getting too old to hurry up and wait.  I need things to move along at a steady, unrushed pace.  And for starters, let’s smooth out seasonal transitions.  Surely there is no excuse for dragging out one season and jumping into another.  Really.  Summer lasted until late October this year, then “BAMM!” we had a hard winter freeze. 

The very next day we have fall weather.  It’s like the weather was strolling along without paying attention to where it was going, tripped, got up, looked around (hoping no one noticed), straightened itself out, and rushed onto the path it should have been taking.

Maybe the weather can recover without any damage, but I’m an old woman.  I can’t.

I need time between running the air conditioner and running the furnace.  High electric and gas bills may overlap, but my income doesn’t.  I can only afford one at a time. 

But mostly, I need many pleasant fall days to harvest my garden and prepare it for winter.  What did I get?  Two.  I got two fall days between summer heat and winter freeze.  Thank God for family members who rushed to my rescue.  The harvest was in mere hours before it all turned to popsicles.

“Problem solved,” you might say.  No.  More problems created.  Now I’ve got twenty-six pounds of green tomatoes, gobs of green peppers (I haven’t weighed them yet), some celery, and a few carrots to deal with….right in the middle of a minor kitchen remodel.  I can’t can, let along blanch, anything because I won’t have a functioning stove.

26 ibs of green tomatoes

I’d put it all in the fridge until the remodel is finished, but first I’d have to clean the fridge out.

See what I mean?  All this work got crammed together and piled up because the weather went wonky instead of marching on at a predictable pace that would allow an old woman to do things on a reasonable schedule.

Okay, okay.  I can chop up the celery, carrots, and peppers and throw them in the freezer without blanching.  No problem if we eat them soon because they won’t last as long as they would if they were blanched.  But the tomatoes…what am I going to do with the tomatoes? 

I could spread them out on the dining room table and deal with them a few at a time as they ripen.   We’d just have to eat our meals in the living room.  But the plan is to build a new dining room table next weekend.   My cousin is coming into town to build it.  What will I do with the tomatoes then?

Isn’t life complicated enough already?  Why can’t the seasons just come and go at their appointed time so old ladies can get an occasional nap?

***This post is part of the WordPress Blogging 101 challenge.  Hopefully, this will get me back in the blogging habit.

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Yo! Yo! It’s the Cushie Life for Me!


Living with Cushing’s Syndrome is much like living on a yoyo. It certainly has its ups and downs.

 

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Some days I have so much brain fog that it feels like I’m just spinning in big circles around the world.

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And some days I’m just plain loop-the-loop.

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Some days I have so much ‘roid rage I could skin a cat.

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Other days I just cry and rock the baby.

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Once in a while, I feel well enough to walk the dog.

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I have no control over this yoyo illness. All I can do is hang on for dear life until I get my surgery. Then I will finally break away.

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I’ll be “me” again when I get off this yoyo. See you around the corner.

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Images from http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/easy-yo-yo-tricks.htm

Lunch at The Pink House


The Pink House

Today I had an extraordinary luncheon date with my "Mom" and "sister." 

 
This story began forty years ago when my siblings and I went to visit our uncle and his family during the school winter break the last week of December.  While we were gone, my folks moved into another school district.  Just in time for my last semester of high school.

I went to live with my friend Donna, whose family "adopted" me.  Nothing legal.  Just took me into their hearts and home like I was born among them.  None of us ever recovered from that experience.  And I will be eternally grateful. 

My folks had recently divorced.  It got ugly.  So my biological family was pretty dysfunctional at the time.  My friend’s family gave me the stability I needed to get me through my last semester, graduate, and enter the work world.  They had high expectations for me and gave me encouragement to make my own.  They celebrated even my smallest achievement and taught me how to live in a functional family.

Make no mistake, they had their own form of craziness.  But theirs was not born from, or dependent upon, chaotic power struggles.  Their craziness was never at another’s expense.  It was born in humor and the occasional chain of events that resembled a screw-ball comedy. 

It wasn’t all fun.  I had to do my share of the chores, and I deserved, and got, the occasional lecture.  At seventeen, I still had a lot to learn.  My first family, busy with their own problems, had abandoned me to my new family, who had no legal authority or claim on me.  It put them in a difficult position when I needed discipline.  I wasn’t a bad kid.  But like all teens–especially those raised in a dysfunctional family–I made mistakes, bad choices, and had lapses in judgment.  I hope that after forty years they have forgotten at least the worst of those.  Thankfully, it is never mentioned.  If not forgotten, I know that those things were forgiven.  They did that quickly.

My new family saw me through my stupidity, heartbreak, and illness.  Whatever I needed, they provided without hesitation or reluctance–without financial compensation from my first parents.  They had made a commitment to me.  They simply took me for one of their own and never looked back. 
Donna, her sister, and brother never showed jealousy of the time and resources their parents gave me.  If they ever resented my being there for so long, they never let me know it.  They treated me no differently than if I’d been part of the family all along.  I was picked on, argued with, subjected to sibling mischief, and defended against outsiders.

Dad was often ornery, sometimes strict, and never mean.  He wasn’t a big talker.  So when he said something, it wasn’t idle.  He was a master of the kind of one-liners that surprised and cracked everyone up.  He was just as quick to laugh as to make others laugh.  I’ve lost track of how many years exactly (but more than two decades) it’s been since Dad died.  I think of him often and will always carry his influence with me. 

Donna died of emphysema March 21, 1997.  We had been with her at the hospital for two days.  We all knew it was time.  I’ll never know if she waited for the 21st to keep from dying on the 20th (my birthday) or if she was waiting for the birth of my oldest son’s first born–a daughter.  Moments after my friend left us, I got the call that my granddaughter had been born in a hospital a few miles away.  Maybe that was just a coincidence of timing.  Maybe those events are directly related.  I don’t know.  But that’s why I remember the exact day Donna left us.

It was Donna’s mom who first knew I would write a novel.  My first parents believed I could.  But Mom knew I would.  It only took me forty years to find my voice and my first novel-length story.  I gave her an autographed copy of the first draft.  She will soon be eighty.  I wasn’t making her wait to see whether it will ever be published.  I hope she lives to see it in hardcover on her bookshelf.

Donna’s brother lives in Texas.  I see him occasionally when he comes to visit Mom.  He still picks on  me. 

Her little sister is still close by, and we still make memories together.  Like today when we took Mom to The Pink House in Claremore.  It’s a wonderful place–open only for lunch and specializing in unique soups, sandwiches, casseroles and quiches.  And let’s not forget the tea–served iced or hot in fifty-four varieties–by the glass, cup, or pot.  It’s a landmark.  A place for gathering and celebrating.  A place to laugh and remember when.  (My face still hurts from the laughter–deep full-body, from the bone out, laughter.)

Wherever the three of us are together it becomes a place to love and be loved.  A place without pretense in the presence of those who know the deep truths of you and love you anyway.  Wherever we are together, we are home.  Today, home was at The Pink House. 
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I "borrowed" this picture from The Pink House website.  If you get the chance to visit this unique restaurant, don’t hesitate.  It’s excellent food is very affordable, the service is exceptional, the atmosphere is a perfect combination of homey and elegant–reminiscent of an old-fashioned English tea house.  Wear your jeans or your best dress, both belong in The Pink House.

July 26, 2010 Daily Life


As usual, we were up until 4 am.  Then slept until almost noon.  We woke this morning to Better Half’s cell phone ringing.   There was no way to get to it before the caller was sent to voice mail.  We rolled over and went back to sleep.  A few minutes latter the land line sounded off.  We got up.  Better Half checked his voice mail.  The call had been from his brother who lives about thirty miles away and wanted to meet him at a cafe in Kansas.  Not the state, the little town eight miles east of here.  A brother visit is a good thing.  Always.

But today, it is an especially good thing.  We were late filing to vote absentee, so by the time we got our ballots last Friday we only had three postal days to get them back in.  They can only be submitted by mail—no hand delivery.  Friday and Saturday, we were busy and didn’t have time to finish reviewing candidates.  Late Sunday, we finally got our ballots marked (part of what kept us up so late).  We couldn’t put them in the mailbox because they have to be signed by two witnesses.  Better Half and I witnessed each other’s, but we still needed one more witness each.  So Better Half took them with him and had his brother sign as our other witness.  Since his brother lives in the town where the election board offices are, he will take the ballots to the post office in that town.  They will be delivered tomorrow—just in time to count.  Now that we are registered to vote absentee in the rest of the elections this year, we will get our ballots earlier next time.

Our seven-year-old Grand #7 has spent the past few days with us.  We were left to fend for ourselves as Better Half took off to visit with his brother.   Normally, Better Half does the cooking.  Not always, but usually.  This morning Grand #7 put an apron on and did the cooking.  We had cinnamon oatmeal and a biscuit.  She was full before finishing.  However, being diabetic, I need protein at every meal.  So I cooked some Egg Beaters (egg whites—no yolks—to reduce cholesterol intake).

My sister started a chat by instant messenger in the midst of all this.  It didn’t last long, but was welcomed.  We haven’t had a good chat in a while.

After breakfast Grand #7 wanted to do dishes.  I told her we could use the dishwasher, but she insisted.  After all, she already had an apron on.  So she washed up the few breakfast dishes while standing on a stool and singing a song to herself.  I took the opportunity to check my email, FaceBook, and begin typing this up.

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Better Half has returned.  Time for us to sort and fold Grand #7’s clothes that we washed last night and get them packed for her return home.  This was her first time to spend time with us without her parents or siblings.  She had us all to herself and we had a splendid time, part of which was spent learning to make friendship bracelets from embroidery thread.  Well, we didn’t actually complete one.  It takes more time than we anticipated.  But we got a good run on it and she did enough to be able to finish it at home.  School will start soon, so we’ll probably pick up another Grand to spend a few days alone with us when we take Grand #7 home.  With thirteen grandchildren, it’s nice to have them one at a time.  We haven’t really been able to do that much.  They have busy summers and we have a lot of doctor appointments.  So the logistics don’t always work out.  But we’re hoping to eventually get each of them alone for a few days every summer.

Grand #7 was all packed up, so I washed my hair and was preparing to dress when one of Grand #7’s bracelets broke, so I got out my jewelry fixin’s and did the repairs—replacing some split rings with the spring rings.  It will take a lot more doing to get those off.  Then we added a found charm.  While I did this, Better Half and Grand #7 watched TV and had a last snuggle before taking her home. 

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(Ok, that looks like he is smoking with a child in his lap.  Not exactly.  It’s one of those “e-cigarettes.”  So, no smoke, smell, or ash.)

Before I could go get dressed, Better Half announced he needed a nap.  He’s driving, so if he needs a nap before we leave, he gets a nap.  I fixed a snack for us girls.  While we ate, I checked email, Facebook, and responses to my blogs.  Better Half woke up and decided he need to cook the fish he had thawed.  So while he’s doing that, I’ll go get dressed.  About time, too.  It’s nearly 5.30 pm. 

Better Half took Grand #7 to the garden to gather tomatoes while I dressed. 

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Then we headed off for the 85 mile trip to take her home.  Ran into rain about half way there.  It didn’t last long, but did travel far enough to water my gardens while we were gone.

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Made a quick stop at Sam’s Club (a members-only bulk purchasing warehouse store) to pick up a few things and ran into a long-time friend I’d been trying to get in touch with for the last few months.   She had parked just behind us and was carrying out two gallons of milk.  Unthinkable!  She went into this huge store for two gallons of milk.  I’d have gone to a much smaller store for that little bit and saved the walk around the big store for major shopping.  Anyway, we had a good visit and exchanged cell phone numbers again.  She’d gotten a new phone with a different service and couldn’t port her old number or contact list.  So she lost my number and couldn’t call to give me the new one.  But that’s all fixed now.

Back on the road another long time friend called me.  We’d been out of touch since ‘87 and had been trying to find each other.  She had divorced and remarried, so I was looking for the wrong name.  She finally found me on FaceBook and I gave her my number.  We had a good visit and will talk again soon.

Youngest Son’s wife had BBQ chicken waiting when we arrived.  We had a great visit.  Youngest son used an architectural program to draw out the plans for our next home.  It’s coming along nicely.  I’ll share the floor plan when things become final.  Until then, we could scrap the whole sheebang and start over.  Anyway, we left there at midnight with Grand #5 in tow.  She’ll go back on Thursday and we’ll pick up Grand #10 for a few days.  School starts August 12, so we’re trying to get in as much visiting as possible.  Four of the Grands live too far away for spontaneous visits, but I’d like to find a way to get them here before school starts.

We got home at 1.30 a.m.  Better Half and I have evening meds we need to take with food, so a refrigerator raid was in order.  When I open the refrigerator a bag of chips (crisps for my UK friends) clung to the top of the door.  I moved the door several times and the bag stayed there.  I finally had to reach up and take it down.

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Another check on email and FaceBook, and finishing up this blog brings the day full circle at about 3.30 am.  Time for bed.

I know this has been long and tedious, but the challenge is to describe how we spent the day each 26th of the month.  So a busy day takes a while.  I encourage those who are not participating in this challenge to give it a go.  It’s just once a month.  And loads of fun!  Thanks, Jilly!

May 26, 2010 was a very good day


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This post is my first attempt at following Jilly’s lead in providing a slice of life every 26th day of the month.  I’m not as good at it as Jilly is, but I’ll keep practicing.

The morning was busy with emails, facebook, and forum posts.  Unfortunately, a lot of it was redundant as I have posting notifications sent to my email.  Whenever someone posts something on facebook, Multiply, or the discussion forums I participate in, I get an email.  I could turn off the notifications, but then I would forget to log in to some of the places and would miss important posts.  I’d rather have the redundancy.  But I am behind on reading Multiply posts and will try to catch those up during the next few days.  Well, that is, of course, if you don’t all go crazy posting a million things.  Then it will take a bit longer….

Better Half brought in the mail.  This time of month the bills begin to arrive.  But today it was just statements from my insurance company detailing bills they paid.  I’m always surprised when I don’t get catalogs.  I’m overrun with the things and appreciate days when they don’t arrive.  One per company per month would be quite welcome, but some companies send new catalogs every week.  Waste of paper and ink, if you ask me.

Early in the afternoon our “summer neighbors” arrived at our door.  They are good boys.  If I remember correctly, they are about fourteen and eleven years old.  Though we are not related, they call us “aunt” and “uncle.”  We miss them during the school year when they live in another town.  Like our grandchildren, they are polite, thoughtful, eager to help, imaginative, and full of joy.  They brighten our home with the light in their eyes and huge smiles.  And they never fail to bring me a hug.  I would have taken a picture to share, but couldn’t find my camera.

Jimmy Dean Owens escaped a few days ago and has been living in the thicket just across our property line.  The oldest boy reported that he chased his basketball into the woods and saw Jimmy Dean sleeping.  Nobody seems to mind that he escaped—even when he pals around with the neighbor’s dogs.  In fact, Jimmy Dean is a local amusement and a hot topic for the Spit-n-Whittle Club.  So long as he is foraging for himself, he’s not eating feed.  That saves us a good bit of money.  If he stays out of local gardens and doesn’t get into any serious trouble, we’ll leave him alone until closer to time for butchering.  Otherwise, we’ll gather the neighbors for a  pig hunt and have a luau. Pigs are supposed to be the smartest farm animal.  I’ll get back to you on that.

I spent some time updating my address book and organizing my medical notebook. Then focused on cleaning the kitchen.  I don’t do that often because it requires so much energy and is a bit tricky from a wheelchair.  Besides, my daughter or daughter-in-my-heart (daughter-in-law) do a better job than I can, so I generally leave that to them.  Recent logistics, however, have kept either of the girls from coming out for a cleaning day.  And it had to be done because we are having company from Friday night through Monday—three more adults and six children staying over the nights and others dropping in during the days.  I won’t be home from Thursday evening until Friday evening.  So it had to be done today.

Found my camera.

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This kitchen was designed to be more accessible for my wheelchair.  Notice that there are no upper cabinets and all the lower ones are drawers.  There are still a few things that are hard for me to reach—like the pot rack.  Better Half wanted it for his iron skillets.   I don’t use them much because they are heavy.  He does most of the cooking and uses them all the time.  But he never hangs the skillets on the pot rack.  So I put them in the oven out of sight.  The pots and pans I use are in the drawers next to the dishwasher.

It’s a small kitchen that two or three adults can work in together.  The bar provides a good place for the grands to sit and help with the cooking.  It lets them be part of the action and keeps them out of the traffic at the same time.  You can’t see them in the picture, but on the kitchen side of the bar are four huge drawers that hold my dishes, mixing bowls, drinking glasses, and food wraps and cleaning supplies.  The drawers under the coffee pot hold coffee fixin’s and small appliances that aren’t used every day

Speaking of cooking, I cooked dinner tonight!  Meatloaf and mixed vegetables.  Nothing fancy, but I did it by myself while Better Half was working on the travel trailer, getting it ready for summer camping.  Cooking by myself is a big deal because I often need someone to fetch items from the pantry (can’t get to it with my chair), help with chopping vegetables, or lift heavy pots, etc.

After dinner, I got a couple of loads of laundry pre-treated and ready for the washer (can’t get to that with my chair, either) and Better Half got them washed and dried.  Now, I just have to put them up.  But that will wait until tomorrow.   

Yep, it’s been a very good day….

A Mother’s Day Rescue


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Things weren’t going well.  Haven’t been for a long time.  Spring chores have fallen far behind.  Among other issues, we have had a great deal of rain which grew weeds profusely while keeping me out of the garden.  I was beginning to despair of having a garden this year. 

Then came Mother’s Day and a convergence of generations–just ahead of the next round of storms.

One family arrived the night before and the other came that afternoon—eight in all.  The gardens didn’t stand a chance. They were quickly weeded and planted.

The men hung new shelves and fixed an amazing dinner.  Better Half replaced the small wooden ramp with concrete.  Youngest son gave me a Blackberry Curve.  Youngest Son #2 surprised all the women with flowers.  The Grands colored pictures for my “art gallery.”

While Youngest Son’s wife was loading the dishwasher, I thanked her for all the help and reminded her that it was, after all, Mother’s Day and she should take some time off to enjoy it.  Whereupon she replied, “That’s okay.  I don’t want you to work today because you’re the Supreme Mother.”  Well, the room went silent as everyone tried to figure out if she was praising me or cussing me.  Either way, I didn’t care because it was followed by the kind of hug a daughter gives when she means “I love you.”  And a lot of laughter.

Just a bit more proof of how very spoiled I am.  And how grateful I am for it.

Salad Season at Last!


100_3425 Finally, the weather has gotten warm enough for salad—a really big, nothing-else-needed-for-dinner salad.  It started innocently enough.  Just iceberg lettuce.  I didn’t have any romaine or spinach.  Then came freshly boiled chicken (thanks to Red Dog’s new diet) followed by sliced yellow squash, chopped tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, and baby carrots.  Top it off with shredded cheese and a drizzle of Vidalia onion vinaigrette.  Ahhhh.  Tastes like summer…..