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18 February 2024

A New Year, A New Life

 It has been years since I’ve been able to walk around without some kind of issue hanging over me. It’s rather exciting to me to not need a cane anymore. I feel more confident every day and one day soon I will be able to descend steps without stopping to think about it. Life is good!

I recently had a wonderful birthday. One daughter showed up to help me celebrate! Danny surprised me with a beautiful cake and along with my brother and his wife, we enjoyed several meals together. We played catch up and also went to lunch at Coinjock Marina to belatedly celebrate Danny’s October birthday. We didn’t go back then because I’d just had surgery.

I finally finished therapy on my knees. It feels like I’ve been doing therapy forever. I finished knee therapy one week and then started therapy on my neck for a pinched nerve that runs down my arm when I look up. I feel like it’s gotten better since this issue began in early October and if therapy doesn’t get rid of it completely I think I’ll be able to live with it rather than have another surgery. I’m getting very tired of having surgeries!! Counting both eyes and even 2 times for tonsils I’ve had 12 different surgeries!! It gets old after awhile!

Now that my schedule is clearing up some I’ve had more time to work on my genealogy. Here it is years later and I’m still trying to clean p the mess that resulted from a bad merge. Every time I’d sit down and get involved something would happen and I’d have to stop what I was doing…usually heading to an appointment.

One last hurdle to get over and I'm hoping the year will be good. It's colonoscopy time. That's been hanging over my head for a few months now. I have to do them every 5 years and this year I will have a new doctor since mine retired. I'd been seeing him since the 90s. A new guy makes me a bit nervous, but I should be fine. Danny will have his later the same week. Once that's done we'll be ready for a steak dinner to celebrate!

13 January 2024

January Tidings

We had a wonderful Christmas holiday. Both my girls were home for a week, along with their significant others. We ate here and away, we laughed, we enjoyed time together. I truly believe the days of dysfunctional family events is over. Everyone has a great time. This year we were able to get back to our former family tradition of having ribs for lunch. After our favorite rib place closed we spent several years having to make do with other usual meals, including doing brunch a few times (which was not a favorite), as well as the traditional turkey dinner with taters and stuffing. Luckily we discovered a close neighbor has a BBQ business and we got 12 racks of ribs from him on Christmas Eve... heat and eat the next day! It was fabulous!

My 2nd knee replacement recovery is going extremely well even while the therapy is a bit more difficult this time. I've been using the Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) unit for well over a month now with at least another month to go. Nothing like letting people electrocute you so your muscles will jump, right?! It would be ok if I could just sit there while it worked, but no, I have to stand up, sit down, kick out during the ordeal. But I must say I'm getting better results now than I had with my first knee. Getting better test scores, pushing more weight on the leg press, etc. I have a new TENS unit at home now so I can keep doing these lovely events on my own. What a thing to look forward to!

Since the home church of all my life seemed to have developed an 'out of sight - out of mind' policy and dropped caring about me after my surgeries, we have been going to another church now. I heard from that preacher multiple times to see how I was doing, unlike my former church. The people are friendly and seem to really care if I'm there or not. Maybe God had a plan for us to leave that included a new direction for me and Danny. I don't know, but so far it seems to be the case.

I'm hoping to be able to do some gardening this Spring. Gosh, it seems like it's been forever since I was able to walk around and do much of anything. Last year was such a bust with those crazy knee operations. I'm making planting plans, but it really remains to be seen whether I'll be doing much or if Danny will be my volunteer helper.

I've worked on several cases for the lawyer now. I love doing these searches to find ancient information needed for legal cases. My last one was simply to find a date of death for a husband that was presumed to have died before his wife. It turned out to be an easy find. I've been told it was easy for me. I don't know... it's a natural thing for me anymore. I've been doing genealogy research since I was 16.

Since it's January I've been going through my computer and email programs deleting all the old crapola. I try to do this every year. This year I'm deleting some of my email addresses and the store domain names that go with them. I'll just use the default names from now on. I've probably put a fortune out  paying for all this stuff and for a good number of years it paid off. These days, with Google changing how they operate it's been more difficult to get into search results. So why pay for all this stuff if it's not making a difference anyway? I also changed my investment people over the holidays. Looking forward to seeing what Vanguard can do for me this year!

Speaking of money, Danny dad's apartment finally sold and Danny has finally got paid for that. But once again there are problems attached as usual with anything involving his dad. They made the check out to the "Estate of" instead of the "Trust of" so now Danny has to get with the banks and the lawyer to see what can be done. There is now bank account for the estate. Murphy's law strikes again! So we have a nice bit of change sitting here waiting for the outcome! Maybe I'll get a vacation once this is cleared up!!

We're still cleaning out, throwing out, donating out a ton of stuff. What with the last of Mom's things distributed and all Danny's dad's stuff still housed in our garage things are bordering on cluster. I've inherited some more quilts made by my great-great grandmother and possibly even her mother. I certainly don't want to get rid of them! But goodness, what to do with them! I've got tables that were made by people in the family and I want to keep them, but I'm starting to think I need a bigger house for everything! So we've been swapping out thrift store tables and other items for the family pieces. Thus far, I've been squeezing things pretty good, but I'm running out of ideas.

Yes, a vacation is looking like a very good idea now!

17 November 2023

Catching Up

This summer has been an extension of my long recovery-laden Spring. I had my left knee replaced. Being careful and not being able to do things I'd like to, such as working in my garden, has made my days extremely long and lonely. Danny has been able to do things and has kept busy.

In September, right when I was starting to feel normal again I had my right knee replaced. Gosh, but I hated to start the process all over again, but it couldn't be helped. There's just no other way around a rotten knee. Surgery went well; again I came home the same day. But I had a different home therapy team this time and I don't feel like I received the same benefits that I had with the first team. This time my therapist did very little other than push my leg back and forth a few times per visit and have me push his hand down with my foot. Then we'd walk around the outside of the house. I will say that when they did the initial evaluation they said they would have expected me to be walking like I was for another three weeks. That's because I was doing my own exercises before they ever got here!

I also credit my excellent response to the 2nd surgery to my outside therapy team. Pivot helped me through my pain while exercising the first knee and before I was finished with all my therapy they had started doing pre-hab on my right knee in preparation for the 2nd upcoming surgery.

At this point home therapy is finished and I just started back at Pivot again this week. They said my test numbers were pretty much where they were when I'd left so I'm starting off good.

My knees are good, but I have 2 other issues that are impacting my abilities. Two weeks after my surgery I reached for something while standing in my walker but I didn't move my feet. It twisted my leg and I hurt myself just below my knee. I still have a lot of pain when I move or lift my leg, especially when turning over in bed. Pivot will be working with that too.

The 2nd issue is a pinch in my neck that sends tingling down my arm when I turn certain ways. That really sucks. I can't be on my computer too long at all so I'm getting very little done on my genealogy now. This issue has occurred before so I'm hopeful that it will not be permanent this time. Please pray for both of these problems to resolve sooner than later. I'm really hoping that, come January I will be ready to handle a wonderful new year unlike the year I've just had.

Speaking of genealogy I was contacted by the lawyer I'd worked for last year. He had a new case for me to research. Luckily it wasn't too difficult, although I did push myself and made my neck and arm angry. I'd wanted to finish before my daughter visited me this past week.

It was wonderful to see her. She used to come home every other month and it had been over six months since her last visit. We were all going through withdrawal LOL. We had a great visit. I was able to eat out at a couple of restaurants (finally) and we even went to church. My son-in-law wasn't able to come, but they will both be here for Christmas and we can't wait to get together again!

For now life consists of therapy, chiropractor visits and crocheting hats and baby blankets. I've made about 50 hats for the homeless already.

I missed going in September and October, but once a month I get with my old singing buddies and we go to a local nursing home and lead singing along with providing some devotionals. When we went for November we sang patriotic and Thanksgiving songs and hymns. Since husbands participate too Danny even goes! It's really kind of nice.

Our deck turned out great and I've enjoyed many beautiful days sitting outside watching the leaves fall like snow. Danny still has to build some new planter boxes, but that's last on his list right now. After over a year we just learned that his dad's apartment is selling soon. That will be last tie to the senior community and good riddance!

Well, therapy calls me now so gotta run (yeah, like I can run LOL)!

22 July 2023

It's a Progressive Life

 It's been quite a while since my last update. However, not too much has changed as far as my weekly activities which includes therapy, reading, crocheting and genealogy research.

I am now in the final stages of therapy for my new knee. I have always enjoyed doing therapy, probably because to exercise on my own means I'll probably cause more problems than I've had to endure over the last 23 years. It's nice having a therapist to guide me. I've always pushed myself to go the extra mile and knee therapy has been no exception. I must say this time has been a lot harder with many a tear shed. I've been leg pressing 125 pounds and have even done 110 on my "bad" leg alone! I've had to stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down so many times it's crazy! But all the work is paying off. I'm stronger now. I've noticed where muscles had seemed to be atrophying are now back and the hollow places are gone. Every time we leave the house I'm working on conquering those steps. Going up is way better than going down LOL! But I'm doing it!

I am still reading my historical romances every day. I love using Library Thing to keep track of books read. I recently finished a couple in a sequence from early 1800s England and this week I'm reading one that takes place after the civil war. The hero is keeping a promise to a fellow prison camp friend who asked him to care for his wife and child as he was dying after a beating by a camp guard. It's one of my shorter books, but it's going to get a 5-star rating from me; it's really good!

Before my surgery a friend who works for my chiropractor gave me about 12 giant skeins of baby yarn. During my recuperation I've been crocheting daily, and am now finishing up the last baby blanket for a local hospital. I previously took her seven to deliver to Leigh Memorial. This time I will have four more using her yarn plus what I make from my yarn.

My genealogy work is progressing nicely. I've spent the better part of the summer  going through every item that has used "The Heritage of Currituck County North Carolina" by the Albemarle Genealogical Society, for a resource.  I'm changing the book resource to an actual reference such as a census, or marriage, birth or death certificate. I used that book years ago when I started my family quest. I had about 900 references to the book and it's down to 265 right now. I still have a ways to go! I have over 10,000 names in my family file!

Meanwhile, we finally got our deck renovation started. It's going to be awesome when our guy Arlan get's finished. It's been so hot that he's only been able to work mornings, even with an air conditioned break room at his disposal! I had thought the boards would be taken off whole, but he cuts across them into 1-foot sections. Danny has been grabbing boards that aren't in bad shape so he can build some planter boxes later.

I'm very excited about new planter boxes. I can't really get on my knees anymore to work low to the ground anymore! Plus we'll have a plenty of stuff to burn over Christmas holidays when the kids are home. We all love burning and sipping!

The garden is doing really well. You may remember that we over-wintered 4 seedlings from last year. They've done so well, along with the two that Danny bought with his beloved okra and basil. The fig that struggled for years in our front yard is doing great in it's 2nd year in a pot! The peppers are on the side of the house. I'm not too sure about those. We're getting peppers but one set of plants is about 2-foot tall while the other set is about 8 inches. I don't think it's a variety thing. He has a few okra over there too and they're not even close in size to the ones by the greenhouse. Itty bitty things! Perhaps they need my touch... I hate being a spectator!

While I've been out I have continued to do my church jobs except for making the bulletins. Thank you Jennifer for taking this over for me! The church year is almost up and I'm ready to turn the rest of my jobs over to the next workers. I've enjoyed serving God and my church community over the years and wanted to stop last year except I was talked into going one more year. I guess God had a plan and everything coincided with my surgery/recovery. Because a 2nd knee surgery is in my future (who knows when), I thought it best to let my jobs go now. I was so sad for a while about having to let everything go, but now I'm excited to see what God has next for me. Plus, it will be a relief to not have so many church emails and notices showing up in my inbox! To prepare, I've changed from using my email to a church email and changed websites from my user name to the church's name. I'm clearing the slate! And the church will progress with new people at the helm. It's win-win.

I'm so grateful to those friends who have kept in contact with me throughout my recovery. I cannot express how much it has meant to me over the past few months. I love you all!!

26 May 2023

Tough on All Levels

 "Been busy" does not begin to sum up the way the last two months have gone. I had a total knee replacement on March 29. I surely don't want to have any other things replaced, but I have already been told that I will need to have the other knee done, but at least I will know what to expect.

When I had both of my hips replaced, I could at least stand up on my legs. This time I learned that it's a whole different ball game! You literally don't have a leg to stand on LOL! I have worked extremely hard to build up my muscles again. It's been tough and very painful, but I've been ahead of the curve at every turn because of my tenacity. I've exercised like you're supposed to do on the off days when a therapist wasn't around. In April I had a month of in-home therapy and with the therapist's help was able to reach goals a week or two in advance of the norm. We were all very pleased.

In home therapy was so hard. I couldn't even lift my leg off the table for a while. Now it's better, but I have a long way to go. Lifting and rotating to get into the car has been horrible. Bending the knee felt like the stitches were going to tear apart from the inside out! I can tell you I have cried my way through many exercise sessions. Between the time when home therapy ended and outpatient therapy started, I had Danny help me, mostly for encouragement and to wipe my tears away when I felt like giving up.

I'm now in outpatient therapy three times a week. That's sometimes even tougher than it was at home. It is to strengthen my muscles and increase my endurance. They're working to help me be able to get into the car without Danny having to support my leg's weight. I find I still get very sore if I stand too long. I'm still using the cane but take small walks without it when I'm in the house. I guess I'm a bit extra scared to chance falling. I know it's because I've had so many surgeries, I just don't want to have anything to go wrong.

I've got these big ice packs from when I had previous surgeries that I've used almost daily on my knee. It's kind of funny, but I'll be icing my leg and working on a crochet blanket in my lap to help keep me warm. I'm now on my seventh baby blanket and they will all end up at the Leigh Memorial maternity department one of these days!

You've heard the saying "out of sight, out of mind." I have suffered with a great sense of abandonment through this recovery. I've experienced it before with other surgeries for the same reason, but it wasn't so bad then because I had my parents around to offset the feelings of being forgotten. I know people mean well and have busy lives, but I was really surprised I didn't hear from my church much. I got a card from the church, a 2-minute call from the preacher, and a 3-minute call from a deacon. I'm grateful for receiving four cards from people who speak with me when I'm there. I recently got several phone calls from a church lady who I didn't know that well - it really surprised me. Besides my two crochet partners I've had many visits from a family that my church considers troublemakers. Without those wonderful people I don't know what I'd have done. All I can say is that it's all well and good to want to have new people come to church, but don't forget the ones who have been there all along. Danny doesn't want to go back for this reason. Right now, I seriously doubt I'll go back to my church when I am fully healed from surgery. I just don't want to be around people who don't care if I am there or not.

28 March 2023

My Collection of Sticks

I hadn't ever thought to have a collection like this. Unfortunately, over the years I've accumulated an abundance of canes. Even more unfortunate is that I've had too many occasions to use them.

Some were inherited. Several were gifts. Others we found at thrift stores, and one I had to buy at a flea market because I'd forgotten mine and was desperate. They are all very special...

The tan one above came from a little vintage shop near Manhattan, KS on the way home from Colorado one time. It has a lot of carving on it.
The hummingbird is a favorite, but I can't use it everywhere. His snout breaks too easily. As you can see it sporting tape since glue wasn't enough.

My rabbit cane was hand made by Dave Overstreet. His gift is extra special and was a surprise when I received it. He stamped leaves on sides and even scribed my name down the front!

One of the two  adjustable collapsible canes was Mom's. The other was a thrift store need when my body gave out. Too much shopping! The green headed one isn't pretty, but is very sturdy. Works good outside. It was my desperate purchase at a flea market in Florida.

This is my very own authentic Shillelagh Walking Stick! My father-in-law brought it to me from Ireland. It's a bit too tall, but I don't want to trim it in case Danny ever needs one. (All of mine are short).

My two generic wood canes are the workhorses of my group. The light one is my everyday go-to. I love the history the dark one shows of how much it's been used from the wear on the curve.

This has been my view for way too long!
Hopefully my new knee will make this a thing of the past!


16 March 2023

Hating the Waiting

I'm now less than two weeks out from my total knee replacement. It's driving me crazy. The last week or so has been meeting with my doctor for preop exam, EKG, blood work, all the normal crapola you have to go through. This is my 6th go-round. I pray it's my last.

I've always had the normal pre-surgery jitters but this time is different. It's the first surgery since Mom had her "normal" surgery and didn't survive.  But my Sunday School class prayed for me one Sunday and after that, I haven't dwelt on my fears like I had before they prayed. I am ever so grateful to them for their prayers!

Due to recent stressful events my blood pressure went sky-high and I had to stop going to church. Now I've got medication that seems to be helping. I'm hopeful that taking meds is a temporary fix and after all the stress is gone, that my high readings will be a thing of the past too.

Today I'm scheduled for a massage. That ought to calm me down some! Today is also my brother's birthday so after my relaxation session we'll all be heading out to lunch. He's chosen a new place we haven't been before so it's rather exciting!

Home drama with taxes, lawyers, and investment people in other states is getting closer and closer to being over and done with. Can't wait to see that day come either! Danny can walk in his mancave again now that the many boxes and piles of papers picked up from off the floor and every available smooth surface.

Baby blankets
I've been working on my genealogy and making crocheted baby blankets while I have to sit around so much waiting for surgery. I love making these and trying out new stitches. The yellow and purple are both new for me, and they were pretty easy but look hard. Makes me look like I know what I'm doing LOL!

Color me counting the days until I can walk without pain!

10 February 2023

Living Blessed

 Let's see what's happened this year. My knee has gotten worse, but I finally got an appointment for knee replacement surgery. It just sucks that the doctor is taking a month off in February. I've never had to wait so long for a surgery before! You know, it hard to use ice on your body when it's winter. Just saying.

Danny is still plodding along with getting his dad's estate paperwork done. I think the last big hurdle will be getting those taxes done. The man was a high-end company vice president in his day and he had a lot of grand investments to deal with. With that said we just kind of look at everything as a bunch of boxes of paperwork that's, more often than not, in the way.

Church is being church. Fairly normal with all the intricacies of a loving, tight-knit family with a few moments of drama thrown in to make sure we keep relying on our God who made us all. (I must say I love all my adopted moms, grand-moms and brothers and sisters out there). We have had a lot of new people over the last few months. I don't get to move around and meet everyone like I wish (that knee thing again), but hopefully soon.

When we took down the old tomato vines last fall we found a few plants that had come up. About 2 inches tall we brought them into the house to see how they'd fair over winter. I totally expected them to keel over, but they have grown to about 18 inches now. They look pretty ragged right now because we set them on the deck during a sunny moment and the wind changed without us realizing it. You get the idea!

I recently had another birthday. It was so very cold that day, being less than 30° that we didn't leave the house. Danny went shopping the day before and had gotten me a dozen roses which were beautiful, along with a lovely card to go with them. On my special day he made one of my favorite lunches - an open-faced turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy. Hey, you've got to eat, right?! Beyond that I received a lot of birthday wishes from Facebook friends which always surprises me because I'm stunned to think anyone would care. And at church the day after my birthday my pastor busted me to the congregation and they all sang happy birthday to me. that's one of those things where you feel rather good while you want to crawl into a hole. I chose to feel good and still do. My family birthday meal is yet to come... I'm waiting for a nice day to venture down to Coinjock Marina which should be very soon!

So to all intents and purposes I've just started my own new year. Once my knee gets fixed and healed I'll be rearing to go again! I hope everyone else has a great year in store for them! Here's to living blessed!

23 December 2022

Whining and Complaining

I guess it's time for an update. If I posted every time I thought about it, this would be a different blog LOL! But I don't, so you get these widely-spaced updates.

In November and December I was contacted to do some genealogical research for a lawyer who was working on a will from 1944. It was interesting work and I actually went to court to hear the case. Since that success I recently received an email from another legal firm needing the same kind of help. I'm looking forward to starting this next project.

Danny is still dealing with paperwork from two states for his dad's estate. He's had a "bad back" issue that hasn't helped, and it was aggravated by a leak in a wall behind a toilet. That involved removing the toilet, cutting a hole in the wall near the floor, replacing the floor, and making everything fit together beautifully. It took quite a bit to do all this and meanwhile Colorado kept calling.

I've been wanting a handicap toilet for quite some time because of my knees. We bought one a year ago. I'm happy to say I don't have to wait any longer to get that installed! My unplanned new bathroom looks great. I guess we'll replace the counter tops soon too!

Danny's back wasn't helped any when we went from our California king-size heated waterbed to a vintage full-size bed that was my grandmother's. I get up at night so I needed a bedroom by the bathroom on the other end of the house. I didn't want to walk through the house with a cane in the middle of the night! I told him to stay in our bed but he declined, so we endured a tiny bed for a couple of weeks.

We had a great time at Thanksgiving. My oldest and her husband came and we had the big bird at my brother's home. While they were here we also dined at a favorite restaurant and around the fire pit and simply enjoyed being together. I was hoping they could help decorate the Christmas tree before they left but that wasn't to be. But we did get Mom's decorations down from her attic this year. We divided up what we wanted to keep for memories and the rest went to the thrift store or trash (especially if mice had visited).

Even though Danny was overwhelmed with a leaky pipe and paperwork he did get our Christmas tree up, but only because it was in a trunk at the foot of our bed. Our decorations were in the attic. I was kind of bummed at first but I've gotten use to a blank tree with white lights. I put my crocheted do-dads up over the fireplace and added a poinsettia-inspired tablecloth on my table. Since finishing the bathroom Danny has pulled a couple of small boxes from the attic. We've been looking things over and several have gone to the thrift store. This goes along with how we've done presents over the last three years. We eliminated gifts and took all the pressure and drama off of Christmas. Now we just enjoy being together and have a lot of fun with a glass of wine, specialty cheeses, pots of soup and pajama movie night. We definitely down-sized Christmas stress and now keep our focus on Jesus at the Christmas Eve service and family at home.

We will host Christmas this year. Both girls will come at some point and we'll all have a great time being together, eating, talking, having fun, enjoying the memories we make in our own small way. These memories will sustain me until April and make the time go faster, I'm sure. And it's already started. My youngest and her husband arrived yesterday and oddly enough she (the one who hates Christmas decorating), added a glittery snowflake ornament I was going to toss. So now my tree sports that as well as a small ornament spider that I got from Mom's house. She always said it brought good luck to have a spider in the tree. Legend of the Christmas Spider. If that's the case I should have had wonderful luck because years ago, we had a live tree that hatched a gazillion tiny spiders when we put the tree indoors. That wasn't luck at all! I had to vacuum the tree and all the presents under it! 

I'm on a cane full-time now and it really sucks not being able to do things. Bending my knee to get in the car or roll over in bed is awful. We both think this is worse than when I had back surgery or hips replaced. As much as I'm looking forward to getting relief from surgery this time is different. After Mom went in for her 'we do it all the time, piece of cake' surgery and never made it home again I am having more fear. I know there are always risks with any surgery. I guess God and I will have a long talk about it when the time comes. My original knee doctor retired so in May I went to Jordan-Young Institute and met a surgeon who suggested cortisone shots to help. He gave me one that potentially could help six months. It didn't.  So then I thought if I'm going to just get shots I may as well go back to the old practice closer to home. In October I got more cortisone shots in both knees which still didn't help. Weeks later I got gel shots in both knees and again, no help. I didn't have a follow-up appointment scheduled, so I called the surgeon's secretary as to what my next step should be. She mentioned that he only did surgery once an month out of Chesapeake hospital. I don't do Chesapeake hospital. I called Jordan-Young again for a follow-up and am scheduled for a total knee replacement in April. I hope they call with a cancellation so I can go sooner.

Even though walking is good for you, I can't walk much no matter where I am. I try to plan out what I need to shuttle from place to place because I can only carry stuff with one hand (the cane in the other). Bending my knee is always in slow-motion or it feels like a knife in me. I hate feeling like this. I have things I want to do and simply can't. Church is more challenging now. I was in a little Christmas choir with two other ladies and 4 girls. We sang two songs on the Sunday before Christmas. It was nice, but it was a lot of extra walking. On Sunday mornings I try to get in the choir loft before service so I can move across the stage as needed before I have to toddle down to play the keyboard. I quit going to Sunday School class a few weeks ago so I don't have to walk that far, staying in the sanctuary to read or talk with early arrivals for worship. At least I'm still able to sing and I love singing for God.

I've crocheted so much while icing my knee that my hand started hurting. Now I'm in "rest" mode for a while. A couple of weeks ago I took 25 handmade hats to a homeless shelter in Virginia Beach and three days ago we delivered a couple of bags of my hand crocheted blankets, shawls and hats to a Chesapeake nursing home.

While we were out I managed to get some more books to read. The books were just inside the doors of a thrift store so I didn't have to walk far. I hate when I run out of books to read! For several weeks I'd been out. These should hold me for a good while now!

Well, this post ought to get me through to 2023. I hope everyone stays safe and enjoys their loved ones. Don't forget to start a new habit and go to church on Sundays! It'd be the best thing you could do for 2023.

14 October 2022

Maybe Next Year

 My last post was made two days before my father-in-law passed away. Since that time it's been as chaotic as I've ever seen it. My garage is full of stacks of boxes that may take a year to finally go through. My FIL kept everything and sifting through the papers is a time-consuming task. Current paperwork for trusts, investments, and various bank and credit card accounts has to be dealt with first. A lot of this is located in Colorado when FIL lived for nearly 30 years. It seemed like a logical thing to shut down credit cards immediately, but we learned the hard way that credits for some things (subscriptions and automatic payments) can only be made back to the card they were set up on. We actually lost some refunds because the cards had already been closed. Live and learn.

When we finally got to email accounts there were hundreds to go through. Because this man had supported several non-profits (some questionable), he had been added to those dreaded spam lists that get sold to unscrupulous people. We had to check each email because we didn't know which were legit and he actually had dealings with and which were bogus (many were). We discovered that when he got the "free" ad blocker (the same one I use) he'd clicked to set up $1.99 monthly support payments forever. Another phone call and discussion. There were a ton of small items like this to deal with.

The USPS mail forwarding service is a joke. Danny has spoken to several people about it from managers to carriers. By their own admission at the facility Claude lived at, the carrier who keeps putting mail in the box "has problems." So why isn't she sorting mail somewhere indoors instead of putting mail in boxes here where she knows people have died. Claude was getting the former resident's mail for over a year. That man left the apartment when he died! And now there are two people with the same address who have died and are still getting mail. So two months later we still have to drive 30 minutes each way to check the mail.

The Colorado investment man that Danny has been dealing with all summer - you'd think that he would have changed the address on correspondence by now, but I guess that would make things too easy.

Anyway, Claude had donated his body to science so we won't have a  memorial service for probably close to a year from now. Maybe by then things will have slowed down.

Meanwhile, the grass has kept growing and needed mowing, the corn around us has been picked, the leaves are falling like snowflakes as the season changes. We were supposed to go visit my daughter in FL for Danny's birthday. It would have been a good time for relaxing over a weekend. But the hurricane came, FL gas was hard to find, water still surrounds some of the places we would have needed to access. Then we discovered a leak in the attic. Oh crap! We can't leave it. As I write we're waiting for the guy that replaced our roof to come by this morning.

So while we stayed home Danny ended up with a cold so we couldn't even go out for his birthday (or our anniversary, which is the same day). We just looked at each other and thought, "Oh, well! There's always next year!"

18 August 2022

The Next Chapter

 I'm sitting on the sideline, supporting Danny as he deals with the unfolding story of his Dad. After his dad fell at Sams' Club in June he fell again in the apartment parking lot where he lives. This time he was looking up at the jets and lost his balance. He wasn't so lucky with this fall as he was on the first one. He got cuts and bruises all over the place including a 3' gash next to his eye. Needless to say, we spent another afternoon at the ER. That's when we found out he had fluid leaking in his brain from the falls.

He was doing pretty good for a while, riding his new scooter over to the house clinic to have his bandages changed every few days, riding down to the dining hall for meals, working on his computer. Then one day he went to the clinic, seeing a nurse who hadn't seen him for a long time. When she saw his bruises she assumed he'd fallen again the night before. That wasn't true; these were old bruises. BUT he was drifting off to sleep while talking with her. So she sent him to the hospital again for evaluation. Unbeknownst to her it was the Stage 4 Kidney disease and lack of protein in his diet that was causing the drowsiness and extreme swelling in his lower limbs.

This time when he got out of the hospital (on his 99th birthday, no less) he had to go to rehab, which was another building in his home complex.We didn't know then that there would be a rapid deterioration of his abilities. He got it in his head that he wanted to move back to Colorado (he'd lived there over 25 years before moving to Virginia again with his wife who had Alzheimer so she could be with her sister who had Alzheimer). He bought a one-way ticket for the end of August, not realizing that although the airlines will push him through the airports he would still have to be able to stand on his own to sit in the airplane seat. He can't do that! That's what therapy was for - to help strengthen his legs so he could walk again.

Instead of focusing on his therapy he was focused on his phone, calling the sales department at the Community he lived in to see about selling his apartment. He called the movers to get an estimate on moving his small household all the way to Colorado. He called the independent living place he had previously lived in before coming to Virginia. He was blowing up phones across the nation to the point that a complete stranger at the independent living place told Danny he was sorry Danny had to go through this and jokingly said he'd heard there were some places in Wyoming that had no phone reception!

Yes, Danny was spending all his time countering all his dad's plans, calling everyone from the airlines on down to making doctor appointments he couldn't keep because he couldn't get there, his investment firm, and banks. Luckily, by now the health evaluations had determined his dad was not able to make financial or medical decisions. His dad had assigned power of attorney to Danny a long time ago, so with copies of everything pertinent he's gone about trying to keep his dad safe and secure through his last days. They have now given his dad less than 6 months due to the disease. With his memory shot even if everything is repeated umpteen times he doesn't remember. It's all just so sad.

Danny has stepped up and done everything a son should do. His dad's belligerence and determination has made everything so much harder than it needed to be. This week we just learned his dad called the eye doctor and made an appointment, even though he can't leave the facility. And right after Danny got home, we were called yesterday afternoon to come in, that his dad was unresponsive. We didn't know what to expect, but 10 minutes before we arrived he opened his eyes and started talking again. If he's able I'm sure he will be on the phone again today! That is one feisty guy!

We covet your prayers for our family as we navigate these uncharted waters! Thanks!

06 June 2022

Spring into Summer

Spring into Summer is a  busy time. About the time time of my last post we had our neighbor come by and grind down three tree stumps. I am so happy to have them gone. It's all nice and smooth now!

In early May my daughter came to visit in time for Mother's day. We had an awesome time celebrating her being here! The other daughter couldn't come, but I enjoyed a delightful hour-long video chat with her.

I had several doctor appointments while trying to find a new doctor to take care of my left knee. I went back to my old pain management doctor, but that really didn't work out too well and ended up being a waste of time. I found a new surgeon at Jordan-Young and when he did an evaluation he said I should not be doing a lot of walking and should never have been given prednisone, much less twice thanks to my old surgeon. He gave me the shot that the other guy wouldn't give me and it's been quite a wonderful change for my quality of life. I should like to get both knees done at my next appointment!

Danny experienced a falling out with his dad in October. I'm glad to say they have finally moved past that. We had lunch with my almost 99 year-old father-in-law two weeks ago and afterwards they worked on his new motorized chair. Just in time, I might add.

One afternoon last week Virginia Beach General ER called to say my father-in-law was there. It seems on a 90°+ day he went to Sam's Club. The heat must have been too much in the parking lot and he fell, hitting his head and becoming confused. Sam's Club called for an ambulance. Danny and my brother went to the hospital and upon learning they had to wait for tests to done, they went to Sam's Club for the abandoned car and purchases, only to find nothing in the car. They finally tracked down the goods and stowed them in our car. Before they could leave the parking lot to go back to the hospital an employee with a string of carts he was taking back to the building, ran them into the side of my father-in-law's car. Then they had to wait to do a police report since my brother was the driver. Good grief! Long story, short - everyone went home that night and Danny finally got back at 11:00 pm. 

Two nights later the water pump kept running. Danny went exploring and discovered the water heater had given up the ghost and water was all over the garage. The next morning he went shopping. We now have a nice new water heater and a clean garage floor.

While all this was going on Danny was experiencing a toothache. He actually went to the dentist the morning that his dad fell, so his day was full from one end to the other. The dentist couldn't do much and the next appointment was over two weeks away. I'm happy to say he was rescheduled to tomorrow afternoon after they had a cancellation!

Meanwhile, I've been working on genealogy for one of my son-in-law's brother of another father (adoption involved), trying to answer questions the guy has had for years. I've had good results so far and I think he will be pleased.

Our tub garden is finally growing now that the weather has warmed up. We had to move the eggplants to the pepper box, but other than that everything has been good-to-go!


26 April 2022

Spring Is In the Air

So much time has passed since my last post. As usual I often thought about posting, but the time just wasn't right. Today is the day!

Easter was wonderful. We got up early and attended the brief but windy early service at church. The sun didn't start to poke its head out until we left, but that's ok. We went back to church later for classes and worship. Everything was terrific. I was fortunate enough to sing with the Shades of Grace again (we don't get together often anymore) and it made my heart glad. The sermon was great and after church we waited until the last of the dessert auction was over to collect our goodies. We got a wonderful deep dark chocolate cake with chocolate bits in it. Well... they say dark chocolate is good for you, right?!

Instead of heading to a restaurant as we usually do, we came home and with my brother and sister-in-law had our own special meal of grilled porkchops, mashed potatoes, baked beans, skillet cornbread, and of course a couple of selections of church desserts. Our little group of four is a far cry from former days and as we tried not to think about who was missing, we all knew we were thinking the same thing. But we are making new memories now and thus far we've had a lot of fun along the way doing just that.

Since Christmas we've been dealing with aches and pains. Danny's hurt back is now starting to feel better after a 2nd shot in his back/neck area. The first didn't quite do the trick, but I think he's conquered it this time. Meanwhile, I delayed doing much about my knee, wanting to get him fixed first. When I finally got x-rays and saw the surgeon he just gave me Prednisone, which helped but didn't help long. When I called to get on the surgery agenda, I found out he was going to retire in June and didn't sound like he wanted too much to do with me anymore. Well, why didn't he say so before?! Since it's taken so long to get Danny straight I called the surgeon once more, thinking maybe he could at least give me a shot. So what do I get? Another round of Prednisone. Thanks for nothing! I'm now researching for another 'knee guy' and I guess I'll get to the top of someone's list eventually. Stair-climbing is becoming a challenging sport these days!

We had toyed with the idea of tilling a garden space in the yard, but with all our issues decided another year of plants in pots will do the trick. Our planter garden is coming along nicely now. We have 4 tomatoes, 2 eggplants, about 10 okra (Danny likes it), Swiss Chard, 3 peppers, and new basil. Our 5-year-old sage plant, chives, and oregano go from year to year so we don't have to do much but enjoy them.

My vintage rose has just started blooming this week. Oh my! If I could just bottle that smell! It's so divine and well worth the wait each year.

I guess the weather with all it's hot and cold ups and downs was perfect for the Carolina Allspice bush and Clematis. The bush is full this year and the sweet fragrance goes across the yard on the wind so wonderfully! And I counted almost 30 Clematis flowers so far this year, all open at the same time, and there's still more to come! It's the best it's ever done in all the years I've had it!

Last but not least we've had a few visits from the now lone wild turkey. She wanders in the yard from the woods path, pecking bugs and whatnot as she travels across the back woods line and along the ditch bank before heading back into the woods. I know there are other turkeys around here so I hope she can hook up with them and not be lonely. Nothing worse than a sad turkey!

23 February 2022

A Confession

I think I failed an important test the other week. Something happened and I pretty much considered it a catastrophe at the time. I was embarrassed and humiliated by the event. Then  I over-reacted and flipped out, taking aim at the people I felt had caused it. They definitely knew I was upset.

My reaction, although some might call it understandable given what happened, was not what a Christian should do. In that I failed. I could have simply acknowledged what was done and that it was not intentional on anyone's part. I did forgive the people involved and I know they did what they thought was right at the time and had never meant to hurt me.

Within moments of my reaction I felt so bad about my response that it brought me to tears. It was no longer about what had been done towards me or by whom. It was my reaction that broke me. After venting my experience to a kind person who let me share, I went off by myself and cried and prayed for God's forgiveness for my own behavior. I know He forgave me because it's promised in His Word. After finally reaching a place of calmness I went back to those I'd railed against and apologized for being so awful. They graciously accepted my apology and we moved past that moment in time.

But I've not truly been able to move on because of guilt for my actions. It's been stuck in my heart for having responded in such a quick and callous manner. It doesn't matter about what caused it. What matters is how I reacted.

It's hard to stop yourself during a difficult moment and remember to not react quickly. It's especially hard to take the time to think before you speak when you feel that you are right and justified. But that's exactly what is needed - to stop in the moment, think through the details of what's really important, and remember how it feels to be on the receiving end of a tirade; then pray to ask for God's guidance and wisdom to handle things. Only after doing all of these can you calmly respond.

I've come to an understanding that this could have been a test designed to challenge me and my reaction to things outside my control. I didn't do so good this time. Acknowledging this is helping me release the guilt. And release has to be chosen because I can't change what happened; I can only accept how it played out and learn from it. To ignore this would mean everything was for nothing. The greater part of my learning is to continue praying to God to change my heart to be less condemning and critical of others and for His ways to become my ways so I'll be better prepared next time something happens that I don't agree with. Sooner or later something will occur; it always does.

Life is full of challenges. I hope, even though I failed this time, that from it I will become a better person, with more patience, understanding and compassion. I will try my best to bloom when I am planted and to be what God wants me to be and do what God wants me to do. No matter how old we are, we're all still a work in progress, right?

Psalm 86:5 - For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.

Matthew 6:14 - For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

21 January 2022

Vintage Feathers With Gratitude

 As I go through my home in my effort to continue downsizing (has it really taken that many years already?) I recently pulled out three big pillows. They are old and large and full. They are not soft and fluffy, they are hard as a rock. Unless you want to put one under your knees while laying on your back they are useless.

I've had these pillows for many years. They are my vintage feathers.

Nancy Burnham and James Cartwright
on their wedding day, 1875
When I was young my grandmother, Big Mama, had an old feather mattress. It had belonged to her grandmother, Nancy Burnham, who raised her. And it's very possible that Nancy's mother, Lovey McPherson (1830-1867), might have originally made the mattress. My great-grandmother Nancy lived from 1854-1932. This old feather mattress was covered in blue ticking that was disintegrating because of age. Since I was able to help and loved to hear her childhood stories we went into her back yard to transfer the feathers to a new home.

The mattress was for a full size bed, but it wasn't as large as full-size is now. It wasn't over stuffed so it was rather wobbly and we were able to squeeze the feathers to about half that original size. I had taken a large light-green blanket, folded it in half and sewed around the edges to make a giant bag. We crammed as many feathers in as we could and what didn't make it in the bag floated away on the wind or went to a trash can with the old ticking.

That green bag of feathers went with me to Ohio during my first marriage. It came back with me when that was over. When my kids were little the bag was taking up too much space so I downsized the feathers again and ended up with these three pillows.

Happy little bather
I'm pretty certain no one wants to keep these old feathers around for a memorial to ancestors they never met. I hate the thought of just tossing them in the woods or into the trash. I seriously doubt anyone would want to buy them. So I am thinking about having a burning in the fire pit one day.....just burn the three pillows and thank God for my ancestors who made me who I am today.

I've had my DNA done; I come from good solid North Carolina stock. Nothing elaborate, with no fancy genes from exotic places, just good hardworking people. And these feathers make me think on the hard times people had to endure back in the day. The unheated bedroom with several small children tucked under a heap of home made quilts (yes, I've got those too). I can picture these tough grandmothers of mine, outdoors beating the dust out of the mattress covers maybe once a year or so, just to freshen them up. I see the go-to-meeting Sunday best clothes they washed so carefully in a tub of well water. Or maybe even a child or two in a pan of water! Times were tough but the women were tougher. They grew their own food, plucked their own chicken dinners. They made do, or made it up, or didn't need it after all. Options weren't always plentiful. They lost a lot of babies and young children, so heartache was part of things. Good or bad, they got through everything.

We have things so easy these days, yet all you hear around you are complaints. Think of that feather mattress and then think of today's modern automated beds that heat you when you're cold and cool you when it's hot. Some even tilt when you snore... Life is so easy huh? So isn't it time to just be grateful for a change?