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.


May 26, 2010 was a very good day


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


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.

Embers and Starlight


A few days ago we woke to rain.  The temperature had dropped and it looked like another dreary day. 

Then the sun came out and changed everything into a perfect afternoon—warm with a cool breeze. 

That evening Better Half built a fire—the first of the season.  We spent some time watching the fire, some watching the stars, and some watching the animal nightlife.  It was a pleasant evening, sitting and talking without electronic interruption. 

We had some “remember when”s and planned some more.  Quiet conversation in a soft circle of embers and starlight.

Kind of puts things into perspective and balance.

Makes me long to go camping…

So Busy


100_3263The past week few weeks have been…well, challenging. Thankfully, we’ve had a refreshing bit of a reprieve the last couple of days and expect a less stressful week ahead. I am looking forward to going in fewer circles in the weeks to come.

Youngest Son and Better Half seemed to have gotten the truck fixed. Apparently, a new part bought to replace a broken part was defective—working intermittently, giving the illusion that the replaced part was not the original problem and making the defect difficult to locate.

Auto mechanics was so much simpler before computerization. A person could dismantle an engine and transmission, examine each individual piece, visually determine what was broken, worn, misshapen, unaligned. Then correct the problem with adjustment or replacement, reassemble everything and drive off merrily on your way. Now the problems are usually hidden in a sealed black box, a computerized module, that can’t be visually examined and often can’t be externally tested without specialized and expensive equipment that only professional shops can afford. The number of shade tree mechanics diminishes with each new drive train innovation.

Still, when a vehicle is paid off and loved as much as our old truck, it’s hard to give up on it–even when it’s too expensive to take it to a professional shop. So Better Half and Youngest Son have tinkered with it for the past three years. They refuse to be outsmarted by a fourteen-year-old technology. Time will tell if they’ve solved the riddle. I hope so, I’ve missed the old truck. It will be nice to be able to take the travel trailer on trips and down to the lake. And it will save the minivan thousands of miles of wear and tear.

While the men worked on the truck, Grands #5, 6, and 10 helped me with a few chores around the gardens and in the house. They filled the bird feeders, weeded the window boxes, cleaned the flowerbeds in front of the house, and started weeding the raised bed vegetable garden. I hope to get everything planted in the coming week.

Inside, the Grands helped with odds and ends. Grand #5 vacuumed. Then we made a late lunch and celebrated with the first picnic of the Spring. Afterward, they all helped clean up and then played the rest of the day. Well, not quite. Ten-year-old Grand #10 wanted to make dinner by herself. We started with canned chicken and noodle soup, then she scoured the pantry for additional foods and spices for added substance and flavor. She needed just a bit of supervision choosing the right spices and getting the right “dosages.” It was wonderful and nourishing. I look forward to watching her integrate her loves of cooking and science.

Last week I found a few got-to-have books. Among them was a single volume collection of Dick and Jane readers. Four-year-old Grand #10 learned to read “Look” and “Oh” in various combinations. He read them, first with help, then without, after they arrived on Friday and on Saturday he needed no help. Sight reading, for sure, but still reading. I bought a spiral bound pack of fifty index cards, glued an unbound card to the front cover and wrote “My Word Book” on it. Then I tied a small sharpie to the spiral with a red string. (Did you know some sharpies now come with rings on their caps so you can put them on a necklace or tie them to a notebook?)

I used a pencil and lightly wrote each word he could read on its own page to show him how to “collect” his words. He traced them with the sharpie. He’ll be writing without tracing in no time—just needs to get the hang of using lines. Every time an adult hears him read a new word without help two days in a row, the adult can give him permission to write the new word in his word book (which will double as flash cards later). Writing one word on the front and one on the back of each page in his book, he can collect 100 words. By then, he’ll be well on his way to reading. Grands #5 and 6 said they wanted word books too. I’ll have to buy them larger books. Both are accomplished readers already.

Grand #6 went home with both the Dick and Jane book and a book of science experiments tucked under her arms. They are on loan. I put one of my sticky address labels inside the front of the book to remind them that these books are mine. That means they will be extra careful with them, being sure to only handle them with clean, dry hands. But more importantly, it will keep one from claiming ownership and remind all that the books have to be shared with everyone in the house. I don’t expect to ever get the books back. (But don’t tell the Grands that. They might forget to take good care of “Grandma’s” books if they don’t think I expect them back.) These books will be well read and loved, then passed on to other Grands.

While I was loading the dishwasher, Grand #10 came twirling into the kitchen behind me. “Gwanma,” he said, “I am busy, busy, busy….  Do you know why I am busy? Fwom spinning awound!” 

Perfect summary of not just our day together, but of my last few weeks.

The Long Winds Blow

Long Winds 2

The long winds blow today.

So I can not go out to play

Or fly my kite to amazing height

On this warm and sunny day.

Up from the south they blow

Full of pollen from Mexico.

I will wheeze and sneeze ‘till on my knees

I cry out, “My head aches so!”

I must stay in today

For the long winds want to play.

They call me out while I sit and pout

On this warm and sunny day.

The Sun, My Gardens, the Birds, and I

The sun, warm and bright, took me by the hand and led me to my gardens.  Barren and overgrown, my little gardens hold Spring promise—and debris from the fall harvest and weeds and leaves and trash blown in on the winter’s winds.

When I can find the garden tools that the Grands have played with all winter, I will begin rescuing each container from its barrenness, mix in new life-giving compost, and cover with mulch until the frost is gone and seedlings are grown enough to be outside all night.

In the meantime, I reset the bird feeder poles and filled the feeders to the brim.  Cardinals and finches flocked to the garden-side feast.  The hummingbirds will be here soon. 

Rain will visit a few times during the next week, and the sun will be gone.  But today, we had a gentle visit, the sun, my gardens, the birds, and I.