Wednesday, May 29, 2013

In Praise of Caregivers

They say we can’t really understand until we walk in someone else’s shoes.  I honestly don’t know how they do it 24/7. Dean took good care of me when I had my hip replaced. I am taking good care of him after he had his gall bladder removed. And . . . we were and are both taking care of basically healthy people who are healing. I was ready for a nap by 8 o’clock this morning. And that was after a really good night’s sleep last night. So good in fact that I missed Dean’s being in pain, getting up and walking and getting a little something to eat. So much for my good caregiver medal! Maybe it was polished a bit more this morning when I figured out which chair would be the most comfortable for him, brought it in from the deck, dried it off and placed it in the living room.  

Anyway - here’s to caregivers, whether by profession or by love. Here’s to their caring, their persistence, their tired legs, their unflagging spirits (or maybe their flagging spirits as the day gets long), their creativity with environments and food. Here’s to caregivers, for all they do and are ~ blessings and appreciation!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Oops - That's an Error

For some reason I am no longer able to reply to comments on my own blog. Now I don't get a lot of comments but there are several folks who comment once in a while and I like to be able to reply to them ~ or to any of you who comment. So until I figure out what this error really means - the language means nothing to me so I have find a translator - please, know I am not ignoring you. I do read your comments and appreciate them. I just can't reply right now. I'm working on it.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

It's Just a Refrigerator, Susan

Yep, Just a refrigerator. Not even a big fancy one at that. In our 30 year old house, we have space for a 30" wide fridge and that is all. To remodel means more than knocking out a wall. It means Major work that we just aren't going to do. So - 30 inches wide it is. Refrigerators that size do not have ice and water access from the outside. There are no fancy interior designs. But . . . this one has Just the design we needed: the fridge on the top, the freezer on the bottom. 

Sometimes it takes so little to make me really happy!!

It was delivered in the afternoon so almost as soon as we finished adjusting the shelves and filling it with food, it was time to think about supper. One meal and I. Am. Sold. There it all is. No bending. Just looking it right in the eye and choosing the food I want. Wow. 

It does have some interesting updated features like the temperature controls and the fact that it beeps when it has been open too long. 

I know, it is just a refrigerator and I love it!!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

You Make Me Feel So Young . . .

On the way to lunch I heard a report on NPR titled “Seniors and Technology”. I feel So Young when I hear that kind of report. Statistics say that under 50% of people 65 or older are not on the internet or take advantage of newer technology. That is incredible. I feel like at 70 I am on the leading edge of a generation which, even if we didn’t grow up with it, had early enough access to it to be conversant. 

Dean calls me the cyber grandma. I know I don’t use my computer up to its amazing capacity and 
~ I am on Facebook to keep up with grands and friends around the world
~ I chat on Skype with friends in Virginia and Wales almost every day
~ my smart phone syncs with my computer in the Cloud
~ I make photo albums on my computer
~ I email and learned to do that even before one of my daughters who quickly caught up and surpassed me
~ I blog and read friends’ blogs
~ using either Skype or FaceTime, I video chat with grandchildren 
~ I know whom to call to have my questions answered
~ I shop on line
~ etc, etc, and etc. 

Why, oh why, isn’t my generation at least this knowledgable of cyberspace? I don’t have to know How it works - only that it does. There may be things I should be learning so that my grands won’t wonder when I am in my 80s or 90s why Mama Susan can’t do thus and so. Maybe so. And ~ 90s are very different than 60s. I do like anything that makes me feel so young! 

Monday, May 20, 2013

With Gratitude and Prayers

Listening to the news from Moore, Oklahoma where children in an elementary school died when a tornado, unlike any seen in this country, tore through their town and destroyed much of it.

I spent today at an elementary school where my daughter works and two of her children attend. I was in the audience for a DARE (Drug and Alcohol Abuse Resistance Education) graduation. My grandson was chosen from his class to read his essay. Three classes of 5th graders listened with attention, participated, pledged to stay drug, alcohol and violence free. One class stated one by one what they wanted to be when they grew up and in order to do that would remain drug and violence free. Their dreams were wonderful: teachers, vets ~ lots of those ~ chefs, police, and one marine biologist and one professional basketball star. For all those young dreams, for my grandchildren, for every child who still have their dreams, I am So Grateful tonight.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

While We're on the Subject

Dean's office sent this lovely azalea to say "get well soon". In the mountains of California, azaleas come in pots. On the lawns and meadows of Virginia, they are huge bushes. We had several bushes in our yard there and this was their color. I have this azalea on the dining room table right in the middle of everything. I can't tell you if it is helping Dean heal faster. It is reminding me of spring in Virginia and the lovely, lovely look of azaleas and dogwoods and flowers in the yard. Delightful. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Little Miracles on the Path

There were some lovely little miracles on our walking path this morning. 

Pretty little yellow flowers ~ just this one bunch.

Banks and banks of Squaw Carpet blooming since the rain.

Have no idea what these are but they certainly are pretty.

Manzanita "bells" hanging in clusters all up and down the path. 

Snow Flowers: they bloom out of the fungal ground as the snow melt. They are considered good luck and we have been blessed with a few of them on our property every year. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother Spirit

Mothers and those who mother come in all shapes, sizes, ages and titles. First of course are our birth mothers, those who bore us. Most of us are lucky enough to have these women in our lives for a long time. There are mothers who adopt and who feel so fortunate to have a child and that child becomes their own. Step-mothers, literally step up, and have some part in the lives of the children of their husbands. 

Aunts and friends down the street keep a watchful eye out and once in a while speak the truth that even Mom herself can’t quite see or say. Of course grandmothers get to do all things with grandchildren that they couldn’t do with their own, like spoil them rotten. They also carry the wisdom of generations with them and will share that along the way. 

I have been blessed in my life to have mothers that fell into all these categories.

My own mom was delightful and had a real sense of what it meant to be a little girl.

My step-mom came along three years after my mom’s death and although I was married by then, I was young enough to still need a mom and I took her in ~ as she did me. She and I faced the adult life together and I learned from her wisdom.

My mother had 4 sisters and so I had Aunts - wow, did I have aunts!! Very special ladies every one ~ and I still refer to lessons I learned from them (cooking especially).

I learned to appreciate my grandmother as I became an adult and learned of her life. I do remember a peaceful spirit though and sitting quietly at her feet surrounded by love. 

Growing up on a neighborhood block of houses, I had a “mother” at both ends. Tilda up the street and Honey down the street both welcomed me in, played with me, fed me, and of course disciplined me. I also grew up in a close church family - and family we were. There were a small group of us about the same age and everyone at church knew us and took care of us in that “it takes a village to raise a child” way. 

Mother’s Day ~ originally created to rally mothers against war. Now a national holiday and economic bonanza for card companies and restaurants and flower shops. And also a time to say thank you ~ to realize that we are blessed with a Mother Spirit that pervades our lives if we will be aware. No matter what our age or theirs, mothers are there for us. Thank you. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

I May Become a Cook Again

Dean went to Costco a couple of weeks ago and came home with a Cuisinart Food Processor. We had not ever mentioned wanting or needing or even thinking about one. But, evidently Dean had been thinking of it. And there it was the next time he went shopping. 

He took it out of the box this morning and we immediately became fascinated. He took the book, I took the dvd and plunged in. I was ready to cook again. This is going to make some things So Much Easier than I what I have been doing ~ slicing tomatoes, chopping or slicing for a stir fry, bread dough, and tonight, chopping nuts for Dean's sundae and shredding Parmesan for my salad. Even though it is a large container, it is easy to chop a small amount. The container next to the processor itself holds all the attachments. 

We were going to lunch right next to our Hospice Thrift Shop where we make all sorts of donations ~ and occasionally make a purchase. So I cleaned out several of the little appliances that were used occasionally and that became outmoded with this purchase. I donated a hand-mixer, a tiny food processor, a curly slicer, and a set of glasses that were already wrapped and ready to donate. I forgot to put in the little nut chopper but I will next time. 

I already know that I am going to enjoy this machine. It has a place on the counter with the storage container in the cabinet below (in a space that opened up with the donations). The couple of things I chopped and shredded tonight were easy after a few minutes of reading the instructions ~ and discovering there were a couple of things left out of those instructions. I am one of those people who need Every step listed very clearly. And all worked out well. Very pleased with our new purchase. 

I Could Almost be Persuaded ~

What is there about losing a person’s energy from a home that causes all sorts of other energy to go nuts?

When Rex died, the washing machine quit, the microwave quit, three months later the water heater died. Dean didn’t die, thank God, and since he has been totally indisposed as far as doing anything physical, the thermostat in his office died completely and a glass table top fell over and splintered all over the deck. 

After the first two days of using a space heater in his office, it no longer matters as the temperature has risen. He can purchase the new thermostat later. I called a friend to come help me clean up the glass because it really was a two person job ~ although, bless her, she did most of it. I’m just sort of waiting to see what happens next. The accident happened just as the summer work around the house was beginning so even if nothing else happens, it will take friends and hired help to get some of the work done. A friend read Dean’s statement about buying some good bourbon and brought over a Huge bottle of Jack Daniels. About now I wish I were a bourbon drinker. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Wish More Businesses Had This Service

I cannot believe I am complimenting Anything that has to do with taxes. And ~ credit really does need to be given where it is due. The California Franchise Tax Board has a process that once your call is in line to be answered, you can leave your phone number and you will be called back. You do not lose your place in line. You are called when they would have answered your “hold”. Except you haven’t had to be on hold. The first time I used this, my wait was 5 to 7 minutes. Today it was 36 to 54 minutes. For that amount of holding and listening to either bad music or recorded messages telling me how they appreciate my business (!) and will be with me shortly, I am very grateful for this service. Sure enough sometime before the 54 minutes were up, I received the call. And it worked out well which is good too. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Reason vs. Emotion

Reason tells me that the MAX 4 brand of amphibious ATVs is a good brand. The video clips and website show a nifty little vehicle in several sizes tooling around the forest, through streams and even into lakes. With the addition of tracks to the six chubby tires, it glides through snow. Reason tells me that with seat belts and helmets which all the actors are wearing, the vehicle is safe and secure, well-made and handy. Perfect for our property here in the mountains. 

Emotion tells me that I never want to be within 6 feet of one of them again and will Never have one on our property, never, no way, nada. Period. End of story. 

Some day there may be a debate. Right now Emotion would win. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

He What???

As a follow up to the last post ~ we saw our own doctor today and Dean has a couple of fractured bones in his back. His response:

Good news is that I am going to live and in a few weeks be back to normal. Bad news is I have a broken back. Sounds bad and it is certainly a challenge. Two of the small bones that come off the 4th & 5th vertebrae are broken one a bit more than the other. 

The main vertebrae is fine and straight. That's a good thing. My back will be very tender for a while. The only thing they do is give you pain meds and tell you to take it easy. Some physical therapy in a few weeks. Basically it "tough it out". 

Might be a good time to stock up on good bourbon. 

I am quite sure my eyes looked like the deer in the headlights when the doctor said, "He broke his back." I wasn't sure if he were joking or not. Given the nature of the fractures, it was a little bit in between. So - 4 to 6 weeks of taking it very easy. Some physical therapy after a while. No heavy lifting and moving slowly ~ which is all the moving he can do anyway. 

We continue to be grateful for what it is given what it might have been. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Everything is OK ~

Dean wants to buy a Max, a 6-wheeled vehicle onto which you can attach a track. Perfect for our drive both winter and summer. One was for sale in Downieville about an hour and a half away. I really didn’t want to go with him and in the end he convinced me we would have an adventure seeing scenery we hadn’t seen before and seeing a nice little town. So off we all three went, Oso being the third. 

The man who was selling the Max took Dean on a ride. Dean even drove it some. On the way back the owner was driving and he backed the vehicle up their very steep drive. At the top of the drive as he was putting on the emergency brake, something happened and suddenly he had no control except a little steering. No brakes and a steep drive heading to a road with a  plunge down a hill on the other side. Thank goodness, he had sense enough to steer the thing into the wall of the drive instead of letting it cross the road. 

Unfortunately because they were just out on a test run neither had on seat belts or helmets. The owner ended up with a badly scratched and swelling arm. Dean landed on the side of his head and in spite of his saying he doesn’t remember passing out and coming to, that’s what happened. When I reached him he was lying very still with blood under his head. Scary! 

Here is what I am thankful for tonight: 
~ I went with him so could drive us home. 
~ they only fell over instead of down a cliff
~ roll bars
~ the kindness of strangers
~ competent doctors in a small town clinic who knew Exactly what to do
~ Oso for sleeping all the way home and being such a good dog all afternoon
~ being able to call Dean’s family from the clinic when I had no cell service
~ the offer to take care of Oso and give me dog food if necessary
~ the assurance that a hotel room would be found and provided if we had had to stay the night in Downieville
~ Daylight Savings time which allowed me to drive us home in the light
~ Dean, whom I love

Dean has a “cauliflower ear” ~ his left ear is Huge and there are about 10 stitches in the back of it and on the back of the ear itself. And his body aches All Over from being tossed around. Otherwise he is “fine” - and we have a couple of days to take it easy and be careful. 

So ~ given the state of affairs as they stand right now, there is much for which to be grateful. Amen. 

In Which I Learned to Eat Bleu Cheese Dressing ~

and Became an Independent Woman

My first real boy friend and person that I actually dated lived in North Carolina where we visited every summer and many Christmases when I was young. We met at church when I was 12 and he was 17. Rather shocking to my mother and her good Southern family knew his good Southern family so all was well. 
Late in that first summer he asked if he could take me out to dinner ~ he being older, of driving age, and with a car. All was arranged and I was very excited. It would be my first real date. Then my mother and her sisters ~ and I do have a sense of the sisters being in on it ~ decided to tell me how to behave. 

I had been out to dinner many times with my parents so we weren’t talking manners. We were talking food. I knew enough to check the menu with him so I didn’t order over his budget. But then came the horror of it all. Do. Not. Order bleu cheese dressing for my salad!!! After all a southern belle’s breath needed to be sweet and nothing would kill that quicker than bleu cheese dressing. 

All went well. We both decided on the same meal and of course I ordered first. ~ with French (ugh) dressing on my salad. Then he ordered ~ with Bleu Cheese dressing on his salad. WHAT???

Now we have all eaten out and changed our minds before the server left the table. Such an easy thing to do: excuse me, may I have the salad instead of the soup; would you put the sauce on the side? Easy. Except I was 12, on a first date, and a good obedient southern daughter and niece. So I had French dressing on my salad while his came with a gorgeous, delicious heap of bleu cheese. 

And in that moment I Knew ~ there was a flash of light ~ an epiphany ~ and I would Never let anyone make that kind of choice for me again. I would seek advice obviously whether about menu choices, colleges, jobs, raising children.  And then I would make my own choice ~ and live with it. But by golly No One was going to tell me I couldn’t have bleu cheese dressing on my salad!!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Gift of Time

One of the gifts I give myself is gym three mornings a week. Another gift I give myself is gym Only three mornings a week. I have learned that my body responds better to workouts with time in between so I go to gym on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. That leaves Tuesday and Thursday mornings for appointments ~ doctor’s, vet’s, haircut, etc. It also allows for leaving the house showered and dressed before 9:30.

Once in a while, however, there is no Thursday morning plan. That means no hurry. I get up whenever it is time to get up. With the morning light these days, that can mean any time between 5:45 and 7:30. I am able to dress at leisure; take a few minutes to enjoy Dean’s morning fire; actually decide on what’s for breakfast instead of throwing oatmeal in the pot. If Dean doesn’t have to leave until later in the morning, we might even take Oso for a walk. There is something really lovely about the gift of time in the middle of the week.