Monday, December 31, 2018

bullet thoughts

As some years end, we hope the new year will be better. For us, this year contained both good and bad, some momentous things, many mundane, and many reasons to give thanks. We welcome this new year as we, in a sense, enter the unknown. The Gardener officially retires tomorrow and we begin to walk a new road.

Now to some random thoughts organized in bullet points:

1. One of my favorite things about this time of year are the Christmas cards or greetings that arrive in the mail (or, more and more, by email). But either way, it's just great to catch up with distant family and old friends. A wonderful tradition. I love to brew a cup of tea and sit down and digest the news and study the family photos.
2. I came upon a batch of old books from the early 1900s that belonged to my grandmother and one to her sister, Annie. About the same time I learned about a second cousin once-removed, who is great-granddaughter to Annie. She wanted Annie's book and I happily mailed it to her. As I continue to work ever so slowly on cleaning out our house, I find great pleasure in passing things on to people who want them. My nieces wanted the rest of the books, albeit mainly because they love old books.
3. It's always bittersweet to take down the tree. Sweet memories of good times, along with a desire to unclutter and begin a new year. And so down it comes today.
4. There was so much joy in receiving this mini painting from my five-year old granddaughter who gave with as much joy and excitement as I received it. I'm sure she'll smile when she sees the place of honor it has. There is more joy in giving than receiving, but I'd say this gift was about equal on both counts.
5. I've missed making collages or mosaics for blogging. Here are some highlights of this past year. Each one represents a special time, a special trip, or a simple every day moment. But each one brings a reason to feel gratitude.

I think I've discovered my difficulty in leaving comments, so hope to be visiting and commenting more regularly. Have a happy 2019! 

Sunday, November 25, 2018

the writing of a book

Last night the Gardener and I watched a movie about Charles Dickens writing A Christmas Carol. I never realized what an ordeal that was for him--but I know no book is easy to write. He suffered from writer's block and wrestled with his characters who pestered him in almost ghost-like form, and would not let him alone until he got the story right. It reminded me of listening to author Jan Karon talk about how her characters would show up on a street in town, and she was so curious she had to follow them to see where they were going and what they were doing. Some she wasn't thrilled about, but they were what they were, and into her story they went. She couldn't help it. 

The story was very dramatic, just as Dickens' books are. His tortured soul, as he tried to write, was realistic. Like Jan Karon, his characters took on a mind of their own and seemed to know best. The main point was that the story was going to end sadly, and his characters would not stand for it. Tiny Tim must live!


But of course once he gave it a good ending, all fell into place. He got it to the print shop just in time before Christmas and all copies sold within a few days. He was a popular writer.

I didn't know that A Christmas Carol is noted for causing a big increase in charitable giving at Christmas time over these many years. Of course tax breaks eventually helped as well. 

Coincidentally the very day we watched this I discovered a tiny volume on one of our bookshelves. It's dark and can easily go unnoticed. A lovely, tiny edition of the novella, along with another short story. It's very old as you can see, and we don't remember where we got it! Probably a used bookshop in London. 
It's beginning to look a bit like Christmas around here. I like decorating right 
after Thanksgiving so we can enjoy the fruit of our labors for as long as possible.

I love reading your blogs but am having difficulty commenting. When I can comment,
the "hoops" they make me jump through are time consuming and frustrating, so it's
discouraging. I'm looking forward to having a little more free time soon 
and maybe I can figure out what's gone wrong.
Meanwhile, enjoy December and all the joy the Reason for our celebrations brings to us.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Friday Five

1. We won't forget autumn in 2018. Two hurricanes in two weeks. We cleaned up from Florence the best we could before leaving for two weeks down south. Florence had been anticipated blow by blow for over a week but didn't amount to as much as expected, thankfully.
While in FL I visited a new market with my sister that is full of 
fresh produce to the extent that it's truly "eye candy." 
2. We visited with old friends and went out for lunch to a place E. chose because it reminded her of me.   
Blue and white everywhere! Another delight for the eyes, and so thoughtful of her. 
I think my love for blue and white is well known!

3. Back home in time for Hurricane Michael, this one not nearly as well
planned for as it seemed to come up suddenly. 
And caused more damage than the long anticipated Florence.
A leak sprung around an upstairs dormer window, decorating our dining room ceiling.
The good news on this was that when the guys came to repair the roof
––since they were all over the roof top with such agility––
I asked if they would clean mildew off the high gutters and siding,
a job we wondered how we'd get it done. And they did. So grateful.
 4. Things were busy once we arrived home, besides the storm. 
Bookclub, delayed by the first hurricane, 
met for a lovely British tea at Rhondi's house. 
We had a lively discussion on Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey
Then a birthday lunch at my house ...
 And a luncheon at church where each table was set by a talented tablescaper!
Have a look at three of my favorites.

5. I am enjoying being home for an extended time. SO MUCH! 
There are things to be done and grandchildren to enjoy, 
and   a   little   of   just   BEING. 
Cooler temperatures just might be here to stay, and it feels like fall. 
The leaves are hinting of a change coming soon.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

my numbers are falling

At a funeral recently, the Gardener nudged me and pointed to some scripture written in the 
program. "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the 
ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 
Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." He's always the 
encourager and I knew he was trying to remind me God has every hair on my 
head numbered and knows what's going on with each one, 
whether it's falling out, growing longer, or turning white.

Years ago I read about a beautiful woman with long dark hair who was in the throes of chemo. 
She told about her hair falling out and used this same scripture. 
She called her story, "My Numbers are Falling."

I'm not sure why my hair is falling out--more than ever before. 
I've always been proud of my very thick hair. 
There's still plenty there, but if this falling continues, there may not be.

It's been an unusual summer. Lots of travel interspersed with two surgeries to remove cataracts. 
With each surgery I became allergic to the post-operative drops, but not until two weeks after. 
What followed was concerning: very blurred vision (after wonderful 20/20), and with one eye, 
a lot of pain and itching. All is well now.

I could have titled this post "The Great Thirst." For indeed I had a thirst to end all thirsts 
earlier in the summer.  I ignored it for weeks as we were traveling. Deep inside I knew 
what it meant but was in denial, hoping it was something else. 
It was unquenchable, and I marveled at it's depth and insatiability. 
I hadn't noticed I'd lost weight until a friend asked about it. Sure enough, almost 15#.

Once home I began to panic. I couldn't get in to my doctor for several weeks so the 
Gardener gave me his appointment. The doctor didn't even come in to 
see me until his nurse had pricked my finger. Sure enough my blood sugar was "sky high." 
I wonder how long it had been that way. He came in the room with an insulin syringe.

Type 2 Diabetes. It is a hard diagnosis to accept. It took me awhile--I think 
I was a little in shock. Maybe what was hardest was to know this is forever 
(though I have a goal of getting off my medication through diet and exercise.) 
I remember the first time the Gardener and I went shopping for new food for me, 
reading all the labels. 
So discouraging as the primary concern is very low or no carbs. 
But I am adjusting well. My blood sugar is down to normal range 
and I've lost more weight. God's grace has been abundant--my appetite has decreased 
and I rarely am tempted by old favorite foods. Friends have been encouraging and helpful 
and I even had a "keto recipe" cooking class with a friend. I feel better than I've felt in years.

I find a lot of people don't talk about their diabetes, as if it might be something to hide. 
I've decided not to keep quiet about it, because if I can encourage one diabetic to eat properly 
or one "pre diabetic" to watch his or her diet, it will be worth it.

As far as my hair falling out, I suspect it could be related. 
A major stress in my life ... possibly the weight loss. 
I'm just trusting it stops soon.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Five bits about the summer

1. It was very exciting for me this summer to get drawers put
in our lower cabinets. Finally, no more almost crawling into the
recesses of those low cabinets to find something I needed for cooking.
There was a little less space when the project was done, so it was
a good reason to purge a bit, and so began a "text sale" (without funds exchanged) to
see who of the next generation wanted some of my give-aways. 
 And it further caused a purging and redo of the regular drawers as well.
What a wonderful feeling of something new.
2. A friend and I enjoyed a drive to the country to get peaches. I got enough to eat
some and make four pies, which were delicious--most likely due to the peaches, not my efforts! 
3. Another beautiful summer evening at our favorite restaurant--an outdoor picnic
by a fountain in the city. We've probably done this at least once a summer for 25 years--
since our boys were young enough to play in the fountains. 
4. Festive centerpieces at a women's gathering at our church. There were also
marshmallows on sticks scattered among the "rocks" which I thought were cleverly
designed and made by someone! 
5. It's so fun when a friend knows what you like. I collect hall creamers and
a friend stopped by and pulled these out of her purse. I shrieked in delight, as I've
never seen them in this shade of blue! She saw them in an antique shop in Pennsylvania
for only 50 cents apiece. That's a real steal!

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Not a Lincoln Continental

My husband shares my father's love of corny jokes, and often uses the 
same jokes. When the subject of cataracts is brought up, I often hear, 
"I want a Lincoln Continental, not a Cataract." Silliness.

I have wanted a cataract removed for a long time, but it wasn't until recently
that Insurance said my eyes were bad enough for them to pay.
Meanwhile I've suffered with dark images against a sunny window, glaring
headlights at night, unbearable sunshine, and fuzzy vision.

I was a little apprehensive about it all, but it was as close to a "piece of cake"
as surgery can be, IMHO. Granted not all cataract removals go
smoothly, but I'm thankful mine did. I am enjoying a new world of clear
20/20 vision and enhanced color. If I cover my "new" eye, I see what
things used to look like––as if in photo editing, I beefed up the "warm" tones.
I am looking forward to having the second one done soon.

My sister had hers done the day after I did and it is fun to compare notes. 
Our docs were very different in their approach. 
The two little ladies above are not us, but our great-grandmothers 63 years ago.
I only remember the one on the right.
I'm just wondering how well they could see as they aged.

When I was a young nurse, cataract surgery was far different.
People would lie very still in dark rooms with sandbags around their faces. I'm sure
they stayed in the hospital for several days.

I'm certainly glad for medical advances! 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

a surprising rest

We've been on the road a lot in recent months, driving here and there and some in-between. 
The purpose for our trip to KY was a week of meetings for the Gardener's work.
I went along to help with logistics for those meetings, and simply 
because the Gardener and I enjoy being together.
Midweek in those meetings we took the afternoon off to visit 
the nearby Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.
It was a warm afternoon and we were tired.
I expected to do a lot of walking and looking at this historical place--
which, to my surprise, had eventually turned into a busy street with gas stations and shops, 
and then, in more recent years, restored back to the original village it had been, 
or as close as possible.
 The original buildings had remained through the changes, 
and are slowly being repaired as needed, but, as with the
Shaker beliefs, certainly in a minimalist way. Some of them have guest rooms that
can be used by tourists for overnight visits.
It certainly would be a lovely place to spend a day or two.
And thats' what the surprise was for me. It was so serene and restful.
We didn't feel the pressure to go see everything, rather we soaked up the atmosphere of
the place, trying to wrap our head around a group of people who lived in such
a different way from what we may consider as the norm. Guides had time to talk and tell stories;
and we enjoyed sitting on benches, cooled by the soft breeze, relishing the shade of old trees.
We came away so refreshed and rested. 



Thursday, June 14, 2018

I Never Expected ...

I never expected to enjoy Kentucky so much.
We have driven through the state before, spent time in Louisville, 
but on our recent trip there, I soaked in its beauty like never before.
The stately horse farms and beautiful fences,
the deep green of Kentucky bluegrass ...
So much feasting for the eyes.
We stayed in a very small town, and I may just have
enjoyed that most of all.
I loved being able to walk everywhere.  I loved the sound of the
train coming through town, and the old fashioned drug store
where time has stood still.
On the way there, we spent a few hours at the ark.
Truly amazing.
And yes, big!


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

tradition

 It seems we've developed an end-of-school-year
milk shake tradition.
It's quite nice--cool and refreshing whether
during a sultry sunny day or a downpour, as we've been having lately.
Strawberry, chocolate m&m, and double chocolate.
Good conversation too on a wide variety of things ...
including the possible ban on straws in England.
Did you know metal straws can come with tiny bottle brushes for cleaning?
Big sis was a different day at a different place.
It was our fifth year of the tradition at this diner.
The owner even came up to congratulate another year.
He remembers us.
Between the milkshakes, a simple supper with
friends and hydrangeas.


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