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CHRISTmas has come and gone . . .

This old gal has been very busy and so very grateful. I managed to finally finish the double wedding ring quilt for my oldest grandson and his wife. We delivered it to them last Wednesday . . . Jack cooked up a pot of chili and made grilled cheese sandwiches for us . . we had a good visit and got the grand tour of their beautiful new home. I’m so happy for them. They both work very hard and it is their first home. I also had fun making some special Christmas treats (Giant marshmallows, dipped in chocolate then decorated with sprinkles, coconut etc.) with Colton. I love my family so much.

Monday, the 19th, was our 47th wedding anniversary. We didn’t do anything spectacular, but we enjoyed each other’s company all the day long, did a little of everything and a whole lot of nothing and ate to our heart’s content. I would do it all over again.

Since I was a young child I have adored Christmas and like most kids, the focus was on what I would receive. The true meaning of Christmas was taught in the schools in those days and all the schools put on a Christmas Pageant telling the real Christmas story. Religious hymns were learned in school as well. Though in our household, the real meaning of Christmas wasn’t the focus, it was a time for family, friends, lots of good food and celebrating and enjoying one another.

The older I grow, the more special Christmas is to me. I truly miss having young children around for seeing things through their eyes keeps it all fresh and new for us. . . however, as I have learned to simplify the season more and more, I also enjoy it more and more. For too many years of my life I regret to say, I was far too busy and caught up in the retail and fairy tale fantasy of Christmas but now it is my fondest desire to keep the Spirit of Christmas alive every single day that I live.

Yesterday during church (and for a long time I’ve wished we could have a church meeting on Christmas EVERY year and not just when it falls on a Sunday) I was truly touched by the sweet spirit the message and the carols and hymns bring to me. As we were singing the closing hymm, Silent Night, my thoughts wandered to heaven and I tried to conceive of what a Christmas in Heaven Celebration might be like . . . then I thought of my deceased son and the tears started. At first it was an easy cry, hardly noticeable to anyone, but suddenly I missed him so terribly and the flood of feelings and memories opened the flood gates. Soon I was sobbing and I couldn’t stop.

This year, Christmas dinner was at my daughter’s. She been down in her back so I made desserts and arrived in time to help put the dinner together and also to help cleanup. I love my family sooooo much! We exchanged gifts, frugally as always (NEVER go into debt for gift giving!) and had a pleasant afternoon.  I talked with my mother early in the day and wished everyone via Facebook and emails a Merry CHRISTmas. We talked with a couple of good friends . .  it was a good day.

Christmas is special every year, but this year it was special because our youngest grandson, TJ, had barely made it home from his deployment in Afghanistan to spend Christmas with us. This Grandmam (as I am called) was so relieved to have him out of that dangerous situation. That was gift enough, and yet nothing can match the gift our Heavenly Father gave to each of us on that First Christmas long ago when Mary tenderly wrapped that first present in swaddling bands and laid him in a KING sized bed, a lowly manger. It is my desire to keep Christmas in my heart and in my life. Merry CHRISTmas to one and all, today and forever.

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Thanksgiving is almost here!

Thanksgiving is this week (on Thursday). It is my favorite holiday and the reason is simple–so far it is the only one that hasn’t been commercialized! It is sandwiched in between Halloween (which has become huge in our society and that is a bit scary in and of itself) and Christmas, which has been so overly commercialized and dramatized to the point that it is barely recognizable any more.

Our society so full of political correctness has taken it’s toll on Christmas (and lots of other holidays as well). I will save that for another post at a later date, but Thanksgiving is steeped in tradition, family, friends and food. First of all the food for Thanksgiving never changes much in our household. I still do 95% of the cooking as my choice. When I feel I can no longer manage this, I will make an announcement and step down. I hope that someone else will be willing to step up when that day arrives.

While I detest it, my husband eats oyster stew for breakfast for Thanksgiving and Christmas. For dinner, turkey is of course the main thing with all the trimmings. I used to cook on Wednesday all day and Thursday morning but now I find I must start preparing dishes on Monday and Tuesday as well in order to get it all accomplished.  Tomorrow morning I will buy a frozen turkey and a turkey breast. My husband loves to smoke at least one of them so this year it will be the turkey breast (since most everyone prefers the white meat anyway). I will roast the whole turkey stuffed with my traditional cornbread/sage stuffing. I prefer fresh sage. From the pan drippings I will make gravy and we will eat it over the stuffing, turkey and mashed potatoes. Other side dishes include baked yams, homemade oatmeal yeast rolls, cranberry salad (Raspberry Jell-O, sugar, ground fresh cranberries, apples, oranges [including the rinds] and pecans. Also there will be green bean casserole, dishes of olives, celery sticks, pickles, etc. I like to serve creamed corn and a fresh green salad too. Then comes dessert; traditional pumpkin pie, pecan pie, cake (maybe coconut again this year) and Kentucky Derby Pie. Of course there will be appetizers and snacks of some sort and a huge bowl of fresh fruit.

I cook a LOT of food so that everyone (including us) can have leftovers for several meals. I save the turkey carcass to make a big pot of soup too. Whoever said, “As easy as pie,” NEVER made one! There is a LOT of time in the kitchen required for this meal but I adore doing it and eating the traditional foods is one of the highlights of the season for me. Before we eat, we have a tradition of going around the table and one by one naming three things that we are grateful for. Then we have the blessing on the food and dig in. Actually, I rarely overeat at this feast because I am frankly too tired to. I eat an adequate amount and then the cleanup and packing up begins while the rest of the crew retire to the living room to watch football.

I wish with all my heart that my whole family could be here each and every Thanksgiving. Two grandsons in the army, including one in Kabul Afghanistan will be absent as well as both granddaughters and two of our three great grandchildren, but our oldest grandson and his family are always here along with Dear Daughter and her husband. We have a friend who shares this and most other holidays with us as well and some years others are included who don’t have another place to go.

Black Friday is not celebrated here. I wouldn’t go to the stores on that day if they gave me everything for free. I traditionally spend the day after Thanksgiving taking down my fall decorations and putting up the Christmas ones with the exception of the Christmas tree; that is traditionally put up closer to our wedding anniversary on the 19th of the month.

In a way it is funny to me that one day is set aside for giving thanks because I truly believe that we should be (and I try my best to be) thankful EVERY day of the year, every year of my life. I’m sure there are those who don’t really even become very grateful or thankful even on this day, and there are many who don’t give it much thought the other 364 days of the year. . . But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:25) with a grateful heart full of thanks to our Creator for ALL our bounteous blessings! What are you thankful for?

Posted in Daily Life, Faith & Gospel Living, Food and drink, Gratitude | 1 Comment

Oregon Trip . . .

What a trip! It was a long trip out and back. Fourteen hours each way including layovers but it was fantastic.

This was my first trip much more than an hour west of the Mississippi River and it was memorable. Though tired when I arrived on Wednesday, November 2nd, I was able to rest a bit on Thursday morning (my birthday) as my friend Donna had to work until noon. We enjoyed catching up, did a little shopping at Harry & David and then she took me to a friend’s home for dinner. I very much enjoyed meeting the Ebert’s; Dan, Ann and six of their nine children, Spencer, Ada, Claire, Travis, Abbygail and Alyssa. What an awesome family they are!

On Friday, November 4th, we drove south through the Giant Redwood Forest and then to the California coast and up the Oregon coast. Here are a few pictures:

Me in the Giant Redwood Forest in Northern California, the only place they grow on earth!

                                     Me along the California coast near Crescent City.

                          The Oregon coast near Brookings Oregon, November 4, 2011

One of the things I noticed about this area of the coastline is the color of the sand. It was almost a charcoal gray . . . very dark and unlike the sand along the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico where it is as white as snow. I picked up a few stones and put them in my pockets but had nothing to grab a sample of the sand. The water was blue and beautiful. It was brisk that day with the temperature about 50° but it was sunny. I saw a few guys out there surfing.

We enjoyed a great lunch of fresh codfish and did a little shopping before returning to Donna’s home.

On Saturday, we spent the morning at the Medford Temple then went for lunch and shopping. That evening we attended the baptism of Abbygail Ebert then went to another friend’s for a dinner party in celebration of Renee’s birthday. There were twelve of us who were served a delicious and low fat dinner of salmon, shrimp stuffed potatoes, green beans with sugared almonds, fruit salad, dinner rolls and miniature pumpkin cheesecakes and buttermilk pie. The hostess Wendy, is an excellent cook and hostess. They all made me feel very welcome and part of the group. I had a great time with lots of laughter despite the fact that we watched Alabama lose it’s first football game of the season in overtime to LSU.

On Sunday, we attended church and then spent the rest of the day talking and catching up. I packed what I could for my early departure on Monday morning to return home.  I missed having Dear Husband with me, but I had a memorable time and made some new friends!

On the flight home, I was able to see the Cascade and Rocky Mountain ranges. Thank you so much Dear Husband for such a thoughtful and amazing gift for my 64th birthday!


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Cousins! Reunited after 52 years!

What a crazy, busy and hectic week this has been. . . by Wednesday I had resigned myself to hire someone to come in and clean on Thursday while I cooked for expected houseguests. Uh, it didn’t quite work out that way. Wednesday was especially busy and I had someone contracted to come in the next morning. I had several appointments (plus errands and grocery shopping to do that day). In between doctor appointments, I got a call from Mary, my cousin Ike’s wife that they were coming in a day early! Though I tried to remain calm, I know my mind was racing (and perhaps my heart too). I had just pulled into the grocery store parking lot. I wouldn’t be home for several hours yet and I silently prayed I might arrive about half an hour before they did. . . As I locked the car door on my way out of it, just as I heard it close, I also heard my keys, however they dropped INSIDE the now locked car. Great! Just what I needed when time was at such a premium. As it worked out Dear Husband was coming into town at that time so in lieu of my workout at Curves, I walked around the parking lost hoping to relieve some stress.

He arrived and let me retrieve my keys. I grocery shopped, watched the clock, ran some errands, watched the clock, grabbed a bite of lunch, watched the clock and arrived at my last appointment. These doctor appointments were important to me with all the new developments in my health and prior to my flying out for vacation next week. Amazingly enough, I got called right in to see the oncologist/hematologist and despite my inner stress, had a good conversation with him. He somewhat alleviated my health concerns but not really.

I got home, unloaded the car, put away the groceries, cleaned the guest bathroom, dusted the main surfaces with a feather duster and ran the vacuum cleaner. I set out some canned chicken (for a quick pot of Chicken & Dumplings) and green beans and threw a Waldorf salad together. I freshened up and sat down on the porch swing to take a much needed break with a can of diet soda in my clutches. I had been there about 2 minutes when Ike and Mary drove in. Thank You Lord!

Ike and I grew up together . . . he is almost three years my senior but he lived across the rustic road from the house I was born in. Our parents had been born in those same two houses, long since torn down. Everyone in that holler was related to us in some way. On my 5th birthday, my parents moved to Detroit as Daddy and most of the men in our family had gainful employment in the auto factories there. After a few months, we moved into the same building (a huge Victorian Home that had been converted into five apartments) on Orangelawn in Livonia Michigan. For a couple of years, my family moved to Willow Run where we lived in former housing for the Bomber plant during WWII but then we moved back to the house on Orangelawn. When I was in the 4th grade we moved into a rental house of our own about 1/2 a mile away. I still continued to see Ikey, Mikey and Davy as we called them at school. The last time I saw Ike, I was in the 8th grade. That’s when we moved to a little farm community about 50 miles away and where I would eventually meet my Dear Husband.

Ike joined the Army and met his wife a short time later. The rest is what we spent the next few days of this week catching up on. It was a GREAT reunion. Both of us are still so in love with our spouses which is pretty amazing in itself. We have both lost children. We have both been through many ups and downs and overcome much. It was almost like we had never missed a step.

Dear Husband and Ike are so much alike it is scary. I loved his Mary as soon as I met her. We have vowed that we will not wait another 52 years to see each other again. Dear Husband and I hope to make a trip to Abilene Kansas where they live next year! Family is a wonderful thing and is so precious to me.

We are preparing now to attend a Church conference this evening and tomorrow and then I will have a short couple of days to prepare for my trip to Oregon. Though I face many challenges, the Lord continues to bless me and put opportunities for exquisite joy in my path!

Posted in Aging or Maturing, Daily Life, Faith & Gospel Living, Family History, Gratitude | Leave a comment

Glorious Fall . . . My Favorite Season

The days and weeks since my last post have flown by. I’ve been busy and that is always good. I’m always busy actually but have been more than usually so. I have managed to paint both bathrooms. I still have the trim to paint but plan to wait until I get the entire house painted and then I can chip away at it a little and a little there. All the trim in the house is white and it just needs to be repainted a bit.

I’m feeling pretty good considering all the issues I have going on . . . I have spurts of energy and then exhaust myself for a few days but I have always been a very productive kind of person. It’s really difficult for me to simply sit and relax when there are so many things to do.

Our fall garden is doing well. We had our first frost yesterday morning and I am so glad I covered my lovely Angel Trumpet blossoms. I enjoy them so much. We’ve been eating radishes, onions, lettuces and greens from the garden. I’ve put up some apple pie filling and I’ve been baking a wonderful dessert about once a week. Of course that aids in slowing my weight loss but I am plugging away and have lost a total of 35 lbs. since March.

I’m still working on a quilt, doing a little writing and trying to do some much needed organizing here in our home. It is very time consuming to try on all the clothes in my closet. I’m getting rid of anything that is too big and fitting into some things I have been able to wear in a number of years.

Dear Husband surprised me with a plane ticket (round trip) for my upcoming birthday. I am going to fly to Oregon on Nov 2 to visit my dear friend Donna. I am excited because I’ve never travelled much west of the Mississippi River and while there I will get to see the Giant Redwoods in California and the Oregon coast. We are also planning a day trip to Crater Lake. I will return on Nov 7th and it will be time to start making plans for Thanksgiving Dinner. I can’t wait to see my grandson and his family.

This coming week will be a very busy one as I have doctor appointments nearly all day on Wednesday, then Thursday and Friday we will have houseguests. I’m really excited to see them as I haven’t seen my cousin Ike since I was in the eighth grade. That was in 1961. I’ve never met his wife and he and I are both excited to catch up. Next weekend will be a church conference and they are always so wonderfully uplifting and then I will have only about a day and a half to prepare for my trip.

Though the fall colors are not as vivid and intense here as they are further north, they are beautiful and glorious nonetheless. God created such a very beautiful world for us to occupy. I enjoy the beauty that surrounds me. I am so thankful for all the many blessings in my life and also for the challenges. It is only through them that I grow and stretch and truly become what the Lord have me be. His plan is so wonderful and I am thankful for so much!

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Six Years Overdue for a Meltdown

It’s been almost seven years since my last ‘meltdown’ so I suppose I am entitled. . . I haven’t had one yet but I’ve been on the verge since Friday evening.

I have a pretty full plate right now . . . I just got over pneumonia and Dear Husband has been pretty sick since Monday. At first I thought it was just a MAN cold but I believe he has had the flu and he has had it bad. Finally today he is beginning to get better. Of course, he refuses to go to the doctor but I threatened him that if he wasn’t significantly better by Monday morning, HE WAS GOING! The last thing I need is for him to get pneumonia too. Anway, Tuesday I also developed an intestinal virus and was pretty sick until late Wednesday. We were pretty pathetic.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to do some painting in the house. With all my health issues at this time, it is good for me to stay busy and the entire interior needs to be repainted. Silly me. I thought starting with the smallest room in the house would be smart because I could say have one room all done. Well, the smallest room in the house is the guest bathroom and it has a LOT of trim and edging to be done. First of all, I’m not much of a painter to begin with. Thursday afternoon I washed down all the walls and planned to paint it Friday, which I did. However, there wasn’t much room to set up a ladder in that small room with all it’s fixtures and we have vaulted ceiling throughout the house. I finished painting the walls but still need to buy paint and do the trim and door. That shouldn’t be too bad.

Totally exhausted, I sank into my recliner about 7:30 PM and looked around at all the rest of the house. This is going to take major determination for me to complete . . . but I’m no quitter.

Anyway, I had sore muscles and was dog tired and I sat here pondering all the work ahead of me as well as the ongoing medical problems I’m having. In a nutshell, we still don’t know why my platelets continue to run so low. The liver function tests are elevated and being off the anti-cancer drug concerns me. I still have almost 2 years to go of it and now it is the one thing I take that is terrible for my liver. The best I can for my liver right now is to tightly control my blood sugars and to continue losing weight.

About a month ago, following an EKG (which is about useless in my opinion), I was told that my heart function had gone from 35% to 45%. My exercise paid off. Good news indeed and I was so excited to finally get some good news. . . however, just before 8PM Friday night my phone rang. It was the cardiologist’s office calling to give me the results of my last echocardiogram. I knew I had a lot of heart damage from heart attacks and I also knew that I have FIVE diagnosed heart conditions including Congestive Heart Failure. Well, at any rate the news stunned me.

After him recently telling me that my heart function (pumping efficiency) had improved by 10%, I was devastated to hear the news that it had actually dropped. Instead of the 35% it was previously, it has now dropped to 30%. That may not sound like a lot, but with all the workouts I’ve been doing and trying so hard to lose weight (36 pounds so far since March of this year), I was just crushed.

Adding that to the fact that I was exhausted was a blow. I needed someone to talk to but Dear Husband was sick and that means he didn’t want to or was unable to be there for me. I went to bed and after prayer, my body aching, I envisioned myself sitting on my Heavenly Father’s lap. He wrapped His arms around me and I could almost feel them . . . I finally drifted off to sleep but it was fitful and not restful.

Saturday was busy and I tried to keep it that way. Not being able to share all these feelings with my rock and best friend was hard to bear. When he got up on Saturday morning, I told him that I really needed to talk about all this and what it meant . . . he said, “Yeah, I know you do” and then promptly laid back down and closed his eyes. I know that he was sick . . . but even when I’ve been close to death, I could still listen!!!

He’s always been my solid rock and has seen me through good times and bad, but this was a hard blow to me–another one in less than a day! I’m not sure if I was mad or hurt or both . . . so that is why I stayed busy ALL day long. When bedtime came, I was again exhausted as pulled up the covers and tried to block out his snores.

Church and worship today were good and much needed . . . but once I got home, prepared dinner and then watched him go back to bed, I just about had that meltdown. . .I vented a little bit to my Dear Daughter but I simply feel so alone. My family doesn’t stay in contact with me unless I do the calling and that made me feel even more alone. I’m not one to complain and whine and most people have no idea just how sick I am. My motto has always been “I just put on my Max Factor and a smile!”

The last time I had a meltdown was almost seven years ago. I remember it well and I won’t go into what I was so distraught about at that time. I honestly haven’t cried but one time since then and it was tears of relief and joy at hearing that my cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes. I just may end up a blubbering fool before this night is over and if I do, I am not going to feel bad about it. Frankly, I think I deserve one–a good one! I know that this too shall pass . . .

Posted in Health and wellness, Uncategorized | 2 Comments