Friday, January 30, 2009

It was silent at first. White blanketed the world and muffled any sounds. And then, standing in snow up over my ankles, I heard a gunshot sound, followed by a terrifying crash. The trees were breaking. Snow, followed by ice, followed by more snow weighed down branches already stressed by last year's drought. Each collapse caused me to wince. River birch and evergreens were bowed over. Each ruined tree was like losing a friend. We lost a hemlock and a willow.

We had also lost our electricity. Cedars weighed and bowed, pushed our our lines to modern living and likely shorted the transformer. We gathered wood for our wood burning stove, hunkered down for the day and enjoyed the novelty. I experiemented with cooking: cornbread cooks well on our woodstove top, but not brownies. We spent a not-so-restful night, stoking the fire, uncomfortable beds as the temperature fell in the rest of the house.

By the next day, we realized that we needed to drain water pipes before the house froze. Tremendously generous neighbors offered their house and we moved in with them, where we remain today. Our house sits cold and silent. We hear it may be a week before they get to us and more snow is possible.

Still, I try to find the teachings and beauty in each experience. We've had wonderful meals, teas, enjoyable activities and getting to know even better our friends and neighbors. It has been a surreal stepping out of our "real" life into an alternate existence. We've learned the generosity and patience and giving of people here where I live - how they call one another, offer and insist on helping, how we are not alone.









Notes:

I am a bit behind on my blog reading, not having had electricity. I'll catch up with comments and blogs soon, I hope.

The animals are all fine, with the exception of the silkworms. I'm afraid that science experiment ended badly with this cold.

We are keeping the horses in, not that they don't like snow, but our electric fence is encased in ice and likely not working well. It is solar, so once the ice melts, we'll be good.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Are You Chicken?

It amuses me that people are interested in the chickens. The chickens amuse me, too. I often watched them half-fly or run across the yard, and ponder their dinosaur-like ways. William claims that he'll never again name another chicken "Chicken Lickin'" for it appears to be bad luck (they've all been eaten by varmits). Yet, we still persist in giving them some names, as when they are pets more than livestock, and you see them daily, well, you go a bit batty and start worrying about them, talking to them, and setting everyone in your community thinking you are eccentric. Ladybird World Mother was interested in our chicken names, so I will share a few characters with you.


This is "Cana", so named after her breed "Ameraucana". Cana is the boss hen. Given the lack of a rooster which can appropriately point out morsels that those beneath him might have overlooked, Cana has stepped into this role, clucking like a mother hen would to chicks for the bigger hens to eat this particular food bite. The bigger hens do not seem to mind being told how and when to eat.


This is "Buffy", so named because she is a Buff Orpington and because well, let's just say she's a few bricks short of a load. Buffy is a survivor, though, once mauled by a dog which left her with a four inch gash to the bone. A bit of daily lidocaine spray healed her. She's never the one the racoon snatches. As a result, she is one of our oldest hens, perhaps six years old. And no, she doesn't lay anymore. She's "retired".


The chicken to the left is the hen that morphed into a rooster. Honestly, he looked like a hen for a long time. Until he crowed. (There are documented cases of developing hens becoming roosters in flocks that lacked one. Did this happen or was he a late bloomer?) Because he says hello to the morning and because I was reading Cloudia's book about Hawaii, I wanted to name him "Aloha", picturing each morning that his crow says "A-LOOOOW-ha!" Please, however, do not discuss this with William who is adamant that his name be "Mo", though we've already had a Mo or two. He was insistent to the point of fisticuffs.
The bantam hen to his right is unnamed. She is his foster mother, or perhaps more accurately, surrogate mother, for she hatched him from an egg produced by Cana and the late Lester the Molester Jr. Therefore, Aloha is 3/4 Ameraucana. The surrogate hen is 1/2 blue silkie, daughter of the late Chickin' Lickin'.
So, there you have it, a few of our "personalities".
Notes:
We are expecting a "winter storm". This generally causes a run on the milk and bread at StuffMart and a great deal of expectation. William got his sled out for a test run today on our light ground covering, but is hoping for real snow tomorrow.



Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Town Monday - A Town Within

Did ever you visit someone and think of how different their lives, their space, their houses, are from your own? Perhaps you think you know your town, and yet, you know it only from your own paradigm, your own space. Little do you know all the many lives that live in your town, the secret worlds held behind closed doors. My Town has a flavor and an atmosphere to offer the residents, but it is only the outward persona of My Town. There is another whole story of My Town behind the walls of each home.


Today, we visited a town within my town, though it truly lives only in the imagination of it's creator, Chuck (not Constable Chuck). In a full finished basement, model trains circle and change tracks, running through towns, past one room churches and through tunnels. Based on the topography of Kentucky, the trains click by and strangely, you can become absorbed, feeling drawn into another dimension.

Perhaps it was that the scenery was so real to me, reminding me of places I've been, buildings I've seen. Chuck, now retired, tries to put in eight hours a week working on his model trains and has been working on it for over nine years now.

Tunnels like this exist very near where I live.


Seeing this secret town within my town makes me wonder what other amazing things, hidden from view, are in my town. Of course, Chuck was well pleased when one small boy said that the train display was the best train display he ever did see.

My Town Monday is a secret place created by Travis Erwin, that he shares through his blog. It is a place of blogs sharing what is behind the doors of towns all over the world. Visit him and leave him a message if you want to share what is in your corner of the world.

Notes:

It is snowing! In Kentucky!

Two of my chickens that are free-ranged said it was dang cold outside and tried to get into their cage a bit early today. They now tolerate being picked up on my arm like giant parrots.

My Cabernet Sauvignon is well past ready to be bottled. Will I get to it or will I drink it straight from the carboy?

My Town Monday

My Town Monday was created by Travis Erwin. Each Monday, bloggers across the world send a link to their own blog about their own corner of the world. For the past month, Chris and I have hosted MTM while Travis took a break. Travis is now ready to resume duties, so if you are writing a MTM post and would like it included in the blogroll, please send a message to Travis. I will write my own MTM post tomorrow, and perhaps a Sunday blog later today. Thank you to all who sent links to Chris and me during our stints at MTM.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tu Parles Fran├žais?

While driving one day, I thought to use the time with William effectively to do a little "car-schooling". I pushed in a cassette tape (I told you Euguene the van was old) that teaches beginning French.

Tape: Je m'appelle Teddy. Je suis un ours. (My name is Teddy. I am a bear.)
Me: William, can you say "Je m'appelle William?"
William: Je t'attelle William. Hey, we have a relative that's named Teddy, don't we?
Me: Yes, we do. Please repeat, "Je MA-pelle."
William: Je TA-telle William. Isn't he Matthias' brother and Teddy stands for something else?
Me: Je MA-pelle. Yes, Teddy stands for Theodore.
William: (abandonning all pretense to give a rat's patootie about the French lesson) There's a Theodore in Alvin in the Chipmunks movie. You should see it - it's really funny.
Me: (also now giving up): Yes? (distractedly)
William: Yeah, Alvin puts a hat on Theodore and he farts.

Do all conversations of nearly seven year olds lead to this? Don't answer that. I think I already know.

Notes:
It was warm enough yesterday that Lauren and a neighbor got out ponies Phantom and Jorgen to ride. It was good to see the sun.

About this time of year, I begin to think of planting a garden. Ironic, how I can fail year after year to have a productive garden and still, come spring, I'm ready to start all over again. This year will be different.

Friday, January 23, 2009

That's Not What I Meant!

I was sitting at "tea" with some friends as one showed off her newest phone. She was intrigued with it's ability to GPS, take photos, text, email and access the Internet. Another listening friend sighed.

"I am not good with technology," she said holding out her simpler cell phone. "I can't even get my vibrator to work."

We all paused, and laughed. "Dear Friend," I said, "you might want to rephrase it to 'I can't get my phone to vibrate'." I'm afraid her face was a bit red.

Notes:
Dad went to his home, attached to my sister's house, last night. He still needs a great deal of time to recooperate and appreciates all your good thoughts and prayers.

Our hen crowed, or rather warbled, yesterday. Meaning "she" is a "he". I don't have a rooster right now so that's okay. I rather miss the sound in the morning.

On the other hand, one of the two other chickies is a hen and is leaving a rather small green egg in the mornings. We don't know if the layer is the white or red chickie.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Anna's Paintings in Progress




A Deer in the Headlights

Yesterday, I was driving Anna to her evening art class. It was dusk, and I scanned the roadsides for deer. Just nearing the end of our road, we passed a deer that was lying in the grass. I asked Anna if that deer was dead, and she said she wasn't sure. It's head was down, but it looked oddly composed to be dead. I proceeded to take her to class, not knowing what I'd do anyway as I still mentally turned it around in my head as to how one helps an injured deer. No, I couldn't do anything. Maybe, like many wildlife I find, leaving it alone, it would recover and run off.

On the way we saw two herds in the fields on either side of the road, twenty at least, as cars whizzed by at 55 mph. Anna successfully deposited at class, I determined to at least look for the deer on my way home. I slowed, and there it was, lying down in the grass, but now with it's neck and ears up and alert. Putting on my emergency flashers, I got out and the poor thing tried to run. It's back leg was broken through. Someone had hit it and left it to die in this frigid weather.

I called everyone I knew who hunted, and as luck would have it, no one was home. I called directory assistance to get the sheriff, but the office was closed. Finally, I called 911. "What is the nature of your emergency?"

I apologized for using the service to call about a deer but could they please send the sheriff? The man's voice audibly relaxed, almost happy to take this "emergency" call that was easy and he could handle. Ten minutes later, the sheriff arrived. I explained. "Well, ma'am, I'm sorry but all I can do is put it down." I told him that's why I had called, I wanted him to shoot it, to put it out of it's misery in this cold and before the coyotes tore it apart alive. He was very nice when I said would he mind if I left, not wanting to witness it though I thought it was the right thing to do. He for the first time looked at me and smiled, saying that they do this all the time and he didn't mind. I repeated my gratitude that he was doing this and left.

Later, I returned along the same route to pick Anna up from her class, and there lay the deer along the road, dead. Sad, but happy that it was no longer in pain, no danger to passing cars, and not freezing. Today, it'll feed some vultures, and the cycle continues.

Notes:

Dad called my sister yesterday and said he was going home the next day. Although this was based on a comment by the pulmonary therapist not a doctor, it does appear that he will be able to go home sometime this week. It is wonderful to see his continued progress. Though still winded, he got up and walked yesterday.

Yesterday, it was so cold that when I let out the two chickens that I currently freerange, they roosted on a garbage can and shivered. They let me catch them (an indication of just how cold they were) and I returned them to the crate in the garage (my current solution to the lack of a heated coop for them; dh is not amused).

I still feel like I've just emerged from having the flu. I'm trying to catch up but my limbs feel heavy, my eyes want a nap. It will come, I'm sure.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My Town Monday - Centered

My Town is what I consider "centered". Many modern towns have a name, but not an identifiable center. Prior to moving to My Town, we lived in a place that was a community, but no real place that I could say that is "downtown". Many places these days look like any other, long roads with all the same stores and fast food joints. Our town is developing such a road, but still has an historic downtown. Even at newer places, you often see familiar faces and even if not, some Southern smiles. I suppose the fact that I have come to know many people in My Town who plan to live out their lives here, not move on with the next job, has made it more like home. It is slow here in My Town. That's the way I like it.



My Town was invented by Travis Erwin, who is rebuilding his life after a house fire. Visit him and offer support. While he's busy, Chris and I will host MTM. Please leave a comment if you have a blog on your town that you would like linked from here. I will put the links up as I am able.

Please visit these wonderful glimpses at corners of the world:

Chris in Hong Kong
Cloudia in Kalihi
Chuck in Kentucky
Clair Dickson in Michigan
Barbara Martin in Orangeville, Toronto
Mary in Olmstead, Ohio
Reb in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Patti Abbott in Michigan
Debra in Peninsula, Ohio and One World One Heart
Barrie Summy in San Diego, California
Lauren in Chicago
Gary in Pontyridd, Wales, United Kingdom (to be posted)
J Winter in Cincinnati, Ohio
Passage of a Woman in Kingston, Tennessee (my cousin!)

Sunday

Dad would do better if he could rest, but the hospital is definitely not a place to rest. Last night, they weighed them at 4:30 a.m. and gave him his bath at 5:30 a.m.! Why? The beeps, alarms and tests just don't give you rest, nor the uncomfortable beds. I am here today to do his bidding on this heart monitoring floor in a tiny room. I am happy he is alive and I can be here to do whatever he needs.

He is slowly improving. We dare to think of rehab. Since he has had a bath already today, we've negotiated no weighing in the night and he's off most things that would require them to wake him. We'll see if either of us sleep.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Today

Dad claims he didn't know what he was doing when he pulled the feeding tube from his nose, but I don't buy it. He'd asked about it before, and since no one was doing anything, he took care of it at an opportune moment. So far, the man, who has a heart condition, has been fed eggs and bacon for breakfast (after having a breathing tube for two days and which caused him a set back when he aspirated some of it) and for dinner, steak and baked potato. I'm sure he's happy, but I find their nutritional objectives odd.

He is moved to a floor with "telemetry" for his heart, and I hear back to his old lovable and somewhat cranky self, which means he's healing. Now, to get him on his feet. Tomorrow, I'll be on duty at the hospital. Dh and the girls will hold down the fort.

I spent today with my family. Lauren had two doctors appointments, one to follow up on her dental surgery to remove wisdom teeth, and one to see about the allergic reaction she had to the prescribed antibiotic. Her entire trunk is an itchy, blotchy rash. This is the third medication we've found that caused her to have such a rash. She is not very comfortable, and all there is to do is Benedryl, oatmeal baths and time. Poor baby.

But again, I am supported by friends and humor. Perhaps such difficult times are God's way of reminding us of what is important in life, and how very rich our lives are and can be even in the face of hard times.

Move over Dad, I might need a hospital bed

Hospitals collude to present themselves with future patients by serving terrible food. The cafeteria served oily pizza, pasta with heavy sauces, and french fries with hamburgers. Okay, they did have a soup and salad bar and baked chicken with some sort of fluorescent red sauce, but nothing really appetizing. Aside from that, it was guaranteed that if one steps out of the room for any length of time, the doctor would come and the latest information would be missed. So, my sister and I tended to just cut back on eating much of anything.
When we got a break Thursday night from our sister Diane, we went to Teresa's house, where she packed a lunch bag for me of more healthy snacks. I took them gratefully. I settled in for a restless night at the hospital. In the morning, I decided breakfast would be the three individual cheese servings in there. I didn't even look at them, but opened them and ate. I was surprised at the taste, for Teresa and her son tend to milder tastes, not the sharp cheddar my family prefers.

I ate another. By the third, I was thinking that the sharpness was really remarkable, perhaps sharper than even I buy. When she came in that morning, remarked on the sharp cheese, at which point she said that it wasn't sharp, and in fact it was a colby and monteray jack blend, both mild. I fished in the garbage for the wrapper.

Good thing I have a sense of humor.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Progress

This morning, Dad was weaned off his ventilator, sedation was removed, and he is now breathing on his own. Due to treatment for congestive heart failure, his overall puffiness is being reducing and he is resting comfortably. He is still delicate and weak, but improving. His attitude is good, though he is frustrated with being pestered constantly with necessary tests and treatments.

I can't thank enough those of you have have done our family kindness. It is difficult to be dealing with this, but I see that I am not alone and it sustains me. I returned home today to see my family and regroup myself. My sisters hold down the fort for Dad right now. Two friends provided my family a nights' dinner and another friend delivered it. What a blessing it was, as I was so tired. For each prayer, kind word or action, I thank you.

A Habit I Do Not Need

In the hospital lobby, there is a Starbucks stand. I've never understood paying a minimum of $1.50 for just the smallest cup of coffee, but neither do I like the vending machine which drops a cup and fills it with a liquid that is hot and brown, but somehow not really coffee. At the Starbucks counter, people stand in line five deep each morning for their lattes and grandes. Strange gurglings and grunts come from behind the counter as the man in front of me orders some concoction. The sounds are not too unlike the ones I've listened to all night at my dad's beside. The too jovial coffee barrister expects a tip, loudly thanking each tipping customer who drops change in her obvious jar.

I take my black, nothing in it, no whipped cream, no steam, no cinnamon or chocolate shavings. Just coffee please. She hands me a cup and I have to pour my own from pumping thermos's. the barrister keeps the nickel change with a smile. I walk the long corriders back and sit with dad, sipping the coffee. At that point, I'd had no sleep for 24 hours. After my coffee, I felt I could fly a jet plane without fuel. I had learned the secret.

Notes:
The ventilator has been turned back to encourage dad to breathe more on his own. I sit and watch him breathe.

The wind chill makes it feel like less than 0 degrees F. The hospital is so insulated from the world, I don't feel it. I worry about my chickens going outside back home.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Update

After a brief rest this afternoon, I am taking the third shift at the hospital with Dad. He is stable, sedated and on a respirator. We knew going into this repair of his abdominal aneurysm that risks were involved. He has many health issues to combat, including a history of heart attacks and 50 years of smoking (he quit cold turkey about 15 years ago). It is believed that he has congestive heart failure, something that can be overcome but is a delicate and not easy situation.

As I sit, I hear his ventilator, a Darth Vadar-like soft sound. His body resembles a computer with many cords coming from it powering many applications. In reality, each line monitors some function or medicine. Beeps make me get up to look. What is it now? Likely, they'd rather family goes home, but our experience has been that someone needs to be here always.

I continue to be warmed by the family and friends that gather around me mentally, physically, by blog and Facebook, by prayer. I am blessed indeed.

We are on hour by hour now, learning not to make short term plans but investigating long term ones. Tomorrow, I hope to go to see my family. Today on the phone, William told me that last night, he needed me at bedtime "so bad". I told him likely his sisters and dad were also missing me, and could he help me by keeping them busy and happy, so they would not miss me so much. He strengthened and said he could do that. What a strong boy!

And in the good news department, we received an email today announcing that Anna had won a Gold Award and two Silver Awards on the regional level for the Scholastic Art and Writing Contest. The Gold Award Painting of William will go on to the national competition. We are bursting with parental pride over her accomplishments.

Quiet Waiting

I am sitting in the ICU waiting room and it is 2:30 a.m. The hospital is quiet and I wait. At 11 p.m., Dad was feeling the best he'd felt since the operation took place and he was cheerful as he drifted off to sleep. At each moan or sigh, I got up to reassure myself he breathed. At 12:30, a moan made me ask what was wrong, and he said he was terribly cold. His wheezing made me push the nurse button repeatedly, then run to the hall for the nurse who said he'd be right there. When I returned to Dad, I could see it was an emergency, and my demands for immediate assistance resulted in nine nurses and pulmonary therapists in the room. His oxygen had dropped to 75, dangerously low. A mouth breather with dentures, he evidently was not absorbing the gas that was tubed to his nose.

Because the medicines were not working, he has been moved to ICU and awaits a CAT scan. They have put him on a ventilator and await the results of the CAT to see if he has pneumonia or a blood clot. Today was so good, it is hard to see it change so very quickly. Soon, they'll take me to see him, but until then, I wait. Teresa, my sister is on her way - as a nurse she'll understand all this better than I do. If it can be understood.

Please pray that he is not in pain or scared, and if it is God's will, that he gets better.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Blogoversary Come and Gone! and My Dad

Well, here I was going to have a nice post for my 1000th blog and here it has come and gone. Somehow, based on the last days, I expected that the 1000th post would be the one after this one. Yet, when I logged in I am now up to 1001 according to blogger which evidently cannot count consistently. Like a bank, it must have miscounted but caught its error. Still, I am going back over my blogs to find my favorite top blogs, but maybe I'll just post one per week, instead of a list all at once.



An update on my dad:

The procedure to insert a stint to repair his abdominal aneurysm went surprisingly well. Though it was a long day of sitting and waiting, by the time I left he looked almost good enough to go home. This procedure, however, requires a two day stay in the hospital. I left and traveled home, two hours away.

Yesterday, my sister, Diane, saved his life. I had noticed that his words were slurred when I called and that he said he hadn't eaten his breakfast. Yet, not knowing diabetes like my sister who lives with him, I didn't think about the implications. Diane, on talking to him, immediately was concerned with his unresponsiveness and legarthy. The bottom line is that he was administered morphine for pain, which caused him to lose his appetite and/or fall asleep, and he ate neither his breakfast nor lunch, but was still administered insulin.

The nurse, who was a few french fries short of a Happy Meal, desisted when my sister pressed her to take his blood sugar: it was not time! Diane, by now on her way there, called the charge nurse and by the time Diane arrived, the room was full of medical personnel as they had found his sugar to be 37, which is dangerously low. Later, it was also determined that she'd allowed him to remove his compression boots (they prevent blood clots), not seen that he ate or drank, and he hadn't gotten up all day - critical for circulation in this kind of procedure.

By 6 a.m. this morning, he was on a different pain killer, his sugar was stabilized and he was much better. It was scary and wholly unnecessary. We will see how he is doing today. It has been said that you should never leave a loved one alone in a hospital, even for a short time. It is true.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Town Monday - Priorities

A neighboring big city is tightening the budget which includes closing a city owned park and recreation area, reducing the police force, and by reducing library hours, now closing on Sundays. The mayor of this big city has spent years working to improve the landscaping and parks of the downtown region, building up the police force, and working on the reputation of the city as a place to be. Enter the economic crisis.

Perhaps I am not astute enough to understand all the implications and wormholes that resulted in these decisions, but I do have an opinion. I keep hearing the economy will get worse before it gets better. People might want to vacation a little closer to home. The park, which has cabins and camping, might be a choice destination if marketed properly. Before closing, they charged little to nothing. Perhaps they could charge a small amount to keep the park, a historical treasure, open. Until it closed, I didn't even know what they had to offer. Now, it is too late.

And in times of crisis, people get desperate. Is that really the time to cut back on the police force? Perhaps it won't be as bad as they say it could be, but I'd rather be prepared than not. And as for the library, education seems always to be on the list of economies, yet it seems education is one of the greatest needs our nation has. A strong library system shows the strength of a community.

This was one small dissatisfaction I had with My Town for most of the years I've lived here: the library. As homeschoolers, we are voracious readers. Our house is lined and stacked with books. Because dh works in Big City, we were awarded library cards there. With each card, and we qualified for five, we could check out 99 items. We often had over 200 items out at a time. Picture books were taken out by the crate. The libary system loves us - we increase circulation.

In My Town, the library was small, and during the summer reading program, the children's book shelves were bare. Even during the rest of the year, we'd read most of the worn books in the tired old library. All of that is changing. Plans were laid long before the economic crisis and today, a new libary was opened.









Designed "green" and in a lodge style, it looks like a cool bookstore and a great place to hang out. It also sports many new books. While I doubt we'll be welcome to check out as many books as Big City library, the atmosphere, together with the teen and adult new books will likely draw us in when we didn't bother before.

I'm proud of My Town for making this investment, showing a commitment to the educational growth of all the residents. I will say it looked like a homeschool convention, as I saw at minimum six families, not counting my own, of homeschoolers. Likely, we'll be their biggest patrons.









We had one small "disagreement" while there as they were not allowing books to be checked out. Look only today. William, used to taking whatever pleases him, was very upset that he'd found the Star Wars novel that he always wanted me to read for him, and we could not take it. I promised to return for it another day. Likewise, he can't quite comprehend book stores where you actually have to pay for the books.







My Town Monday brings you to blogs from all over the world. It was invented and is normally hosted by Travis Erwin. But times are not "normal" for Travis right now. Tragically, he and his family recently lost their home and all their possesions when their house burned to the ground. Chris and I will continue to host MTM until Travis feels like claiming it back. If you'd like to show support for Travis' family, go Habitat for Travis. You can also keep his MTM idea alive for him by writing about your own corner of the world. He'd like that, I think.

If you do write a MTM, please let me know by leaving a comment and I'll link to it below.
Other MTM posts:

J Winter in Cincinnati, Ohio


Notes:
William is 100% recovered from his surgery for adenoid removal and ear tubes. He continues to talk through his mouth but the snoring is gone.

Lauren has had two days of nausea following having her wisdom teeth removed. Is she allergic to the cocktail of anesthesia she had or the Percoset? Maybe the antibiotic? Still working on that. She is resting comfortably.

Please pray for or send nice thoughts to my dad, who is having a stint placed to repair an abdominal aneurysm. I will be going to be with him tomorrow. I will get the MTMs up as soon as I am able, but I will get them posted. Thank you for your patience.


Post 997: Word Plays

We keep in contact with Lauren's "host mother" from her 3 week stay in Japan. When I saw her photo on Facebook, I complimented her youthful appearance. She wrote on my wall that thank you, but she struggles with "skin ages". Wrinkles, I would guess, but I like skin ages better.

Today, in Sunday School, our priest came in to answer questions the children might have about the priestly vocation. He prefaced answering questions with a brief talk about the study to become a priest. He said he went to "priest school" which is at the "seminary". Several kids were sure that he attended a pre-school at the cemetery. I think they might need the ear tubes like William.

MTM is coming up. Have you written your post?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Post 996: Managing Your Blog Reading

Do you know about Google Reader? If not, let me introduce you. Do you have blogs you've "bookmarked" and that you mean to read, but forget to go there? By going to Google Reader you can "add a subscription" to keep track of your favorite blogs. When you log in at Google Reader it will alert you to any blogs you are tracking that have new entries.

One down side for you the reader is that you cannot comment from the Reader. You must click on the blog name and actually go to the blog to comment. The down side for me the writer is that unless you plan to comment, and if you read it from the Reader and do not go to the blog, I lose a "hit", meaning my traffic appears to have gone down when in fact you may be still reading. Not that I pay attention to numbers or anything. Not me.

One other quirky thing I have found is that make sure you do want to read that blog. I subscribed to one blog that I read awhile and then lost interest. I tried unsubscribing several times and it keeps showing back up in my inbox. Luckily, it is just one I'm bored with, not one I object to, but it will not go away!

The up side, which is bigger than any downside, is that you can, by going to one website and at one glance, see who has written a new blog.

Updates:
William is back to his old self. He reports, however, that the world is too noisy and he wishes he could put a little water back into his ears. We were all laughing away this evening at the dinner table as he sat with his hands over his ears complaining about our loudness.

Did you ever think you were having a bad day? Ever think that you were so humiliated and it couldn't get any worse? It could, my friend. (This was the cause of our dinner time laughter.) Thank you, Bev, for forwarding it. I think it's gone viral now.

As of this morning, I am away with Lauren for her surgery to remove four wisdom teeth. May she breeze through with little pain.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Post 995: Ten Things About Me

You'll notice the list is 11 items long. One is not true. Do you know which one?

1. I am a brown belt in tae kwon do.
2. I have a degree in Chemical Engineering.
3. I was once a gymnast.
4. I got lost hiking and ended up hiking six miles instead of two.
5. I have always dreamed of becoming a pilot.
6. I have seen "David" and the "Mona Lisa" in person.
7. I like big dogs best, the bigger the better, yet I have toy breeds.
8. I know more about raising chickens than a person should.
9. I once owned and showed a Saddlebred horse.
10. I was once in charge of a department in a factory that made powdered and liquid detergent.
11. I dream of writing a book and living by water.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Mrs. Possum comes to visit each night now, not bothering the chickens but finishing up any food they spilled or left behind. We surmise it is a "she" because of a large white patch on the back, perhaps caused by babies clutching the hair there in another season?

When Daisy (dog) and I saw her last night, she lay apparently dead but really playing "'possum". Daisy nosed it around, but it didn't move, indeed was stiff and smelled dead (caused by a secretion of the anal gland, like we needed to know that). I pushed first with my shoe, and then with a stick, turning it neatly over. No movement. I contemplated picking it up by the tail and popping it in a dog crate, but feared it would curl up and bite my arm. I 'd likely drop it and get rabies shots for weeks.

I put Daisy inside the house, thinking that would be the test to see if it lived still. Sure enough, when I returned, it stood looking at me. Apparently, I'm not as scary as my dog, for instead of playing dead, it lumbered off. Ugly thing. William and I have read a story about the opposum's tail and why it has no hair - it was too prideful of its beauty. Hard to believe anything was ever beautiful about this overgrown rat.

As for today, at the grocery I bought soft and frozen treats, fruit drinks and ice cream to properly mother my son who had his adenoids removed and ear tubes inserted this morning. I picked up a few other items while there. I suppose it is a testament to the healing of the young human body that when I returned, and he starving from having had no food all day, wanted tortilla chips with con queso dip to eat. Naturally, he's not getting that given that he's just had his nasal and throat cavities reamed out, but it is good to know he's feeling better. He is taking every opportunity, however, to play up his invalid status. Relieved to have this over, I'm only too happy to accomodate him. We are hoping that his newly drained ears will keep us from having to shout every word and lower his decibel level as well. He was a very brave boy at the hospital, impressing the staff with his politeness. He is happy, however, to be home.

What's next? Paris (dog) is looking perkier but is as blind as a bat. I'm doing my best by her, but I don't know. Lazarus - he'll have to go to the vet for his sore paw, which I dread because he goes all feral on us when there. Anyone want a mean, stupid cat?

Monday, January 05, 2009

MTM update

Sadly, the creator of My Town Monday, Travis Erwin, lost his home in a house fire yesterday. His family is safe, but they have lost everything. Please leave him a message of encouragement and support on his blog. I will continue to host MTM until he gets back on his feet.

Update to the update: Help Travis' family rebuild. Donate at Habitat for Travis

Sunday, January 04, 2009

MTM - Locals

While working in the Church thrift store, I have come to know Jeanie, an aged black woman, and her sister Hattie. While Hattie is still spry, Jeanie must be an older sibling in a family that had 16 children. She totters in with her walker, misplacing it so often that I jokingly tell her she should tie it to herself with a bungie cord. She looks around a bit, but given that she buys few things, I think she might come more for the company and something to do.

Usually, she is tired by walking to the store, comes in and sits down on a short table that we have for stacking things about to be purchased. With a ready smile in her nearly toothless mouth, she's told Chuck and I about her husband who did a good job of supporting her and her children, though she's had to go on without him after his death. Just when that was, I'm not sure.

Recently, we had a bunch of new-with-tags boys' coats come in, and I asked her if she had any Christmas presents to buy for nephews. Oh, no, she said. She'd lost count of how many nieces and nephews she had, and besides, they were men grown now. She was going to make a big meal, and that was her gift. She couldn't afford to buy presents for everyone, but she could make a meal and they could come or not.

What was she making, I inquired. I got a quick lesson in how to make pig feet. She particularly likes to suck on the toes. How, I asked incredulous, does one cook pigs' feet (as I inwardly squirmed). "You borl (boil) them, with an onion, salt and pepper until they're tender."

Sometimes, she makes a bit pot of chitlin's. I can imagine maybe eating them if they were deep fried, but she said they are made same as the pigs' feet - you borl them with onion (that give it the flavor, see?) and salt and pepper. I confirmed that chitlins were pig intestine, and imagined the texture of the meal. Perhaps it is an aquired taste?

She's lived in My Town all her life, and I wonder at the changes she must have seen in this predominately (93%) Caucasian town. One of the benefits of my work at the thrift store is the enrichment of my life with friends I might not otherwise have met.

Tell us about locals that live in Your Town by writing a My Town Monday post. My Town Monday is the brainchild of Travis Erwin, soon to be famous author. He is taking a break until after the holidays in hosting MTM. Chris at e-Cuneiform Scratchings and I will be hosting MTM in the interim. If you would like a link to your MTM post, please leave me a message in the comments section.

Visit people in:
Kentucky with Chuck, who is also my thrift store partner
Muskoka, Ontario, Canada with Jennifer Jilks
Waikiki, Hawaii with Cloudia
Peninsula, Ohio with Debra
Cincinnati, Ohio with J Winter


Notes:
The opposum was sighted again. I "sicked" Daisy on it, but it wasn't inclined to be chased. It just stood there and hissed at us. Daisy was not sure what to do. It finally lumbered off.

Speaking of sick, gee, am I sick of sickness. First, William then Lauren had stomach flu or virus, and Anna is thinking about it. I washed many sheets (William). I am still doctoring Paris' eyes (dog), and Lazarus, a cat I can barely stand as he is nearly feral, has a sore paw. William has daily earaches now, controlled with Tylenol, and while any surgery is scary, I look forward to his relief from his fluid filled ears when tubes are put in and adenoids removed next Tuesday. Lauren will have wisdom teeth removed on Saturday, and my dad will have a stint put in to repair an aneurysm on the Monday after. And I thought I only had to make it through Christmas!

Jorgen (Gotland pony) took on TJ, a rather large horse in a field fight. Jorgen, it would seem, got the upper hand as TJ came in with two bleeding cuts and some small hair patches missing. Jorgen had only one big bite patch. When it started raining yesterday afternoon, however, Jorgen stood up on the hill while TJ came to the gate to be put in first. So who won?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

My Blog-o-versary

After this posts, only six remain for my "blog-o-versary" of 1000 posts. I began writing this blog in December of 2004, four years ago. I'm going to go back over my four years of writing and try to find my top 10 entries, either blogs I most enjoyed or that readers most enjoyed. If you would and have time, please let me know if a particular blog was your favorite. Otherwise, I might just have a beer by myself to celebrate. Alone. Sniff.

A Day Late...and No Dollars

When dh and I were first married, we reveled in the luxury of not having to go out on a weekend night. It is funny looking back from present time where I sit and wonder why, childless, we didn't go out to a movie and dinner at every opportunity. In our new house that we left all day for work, we wanted to stay home. We would grill fat, juicy steaks and pull TV trays up in the living room to watch the latest "Star Trek" or a movie.

Anyone that has ever known me knows that I've always said I want to write a book, and that someday I would. Perhaps someday, I will. I haven't yet. Back in those days, dh remembers (perhaps I was watching too much Star Trek) that I described an imagined plot of a book where a man discovers the secret of growing younger, only to his horror to determine that it will end in his becoming an infant and ultimately, dying. How would that affect his life and those he loved?

This past week, we saw the Curious Tale of Benjamin Button, and I saw the book, unwritten, I had imagined all those years ago played out on the movie screen. Damn! Had I only written the book! At the end of the movie, however, I saw that the movie was based on a short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald long before I was born. It struck me that had I not known that, and had I had the time and courage to have written my idea into a book, I would have found that the story had already been written. I would have wasted two years writing - or so I tell myself.

During those same early marriage years, computers, emails and forums were a new thing. I remember dialing up to Compuserve, and paying for each minute online, something I am sure is incomprehesible to the youth of today. One month, I was sick to my stomach realizing I had spent over $50 of our tight budget online. What was I doing online? I was a member of a writers' forum. I think I remember reading posts by Diana Gabaldon, now one of my favorite authors, who was at the time writing Voyager, and the encouragement she received on there.

I also distinctly remember an ongoing "conversation" of indignant writers who had been published and had to endure the comments from would-be writers. The published authors, or at least some of them, were incensed to hear someone claim to be an author or writer when the person was unpublished. In some ways, the blogosphere has changed this, and there are many ways to be "published", unless you consider "published" to be followed with money.

I still dream of writing, but even getting to the end of this blog is a challenge. Uninterrupted writing time is now my luxury. The ability to get lost in my thoughts and mind, a luxury. William has just cut his finger on a dull pocket knife dh thought he might be old enough to own. Guess not.

Notes:
I was astonished yesterday to see an opposum in our garden with the bantam hen and two large chicks. He (or she?) lumbered off as I shouted at it. The chickens did not seem phased. Yet, later in the evening, they were not in the fence. Had the opposum returned and finished them off?

I found the two immature birds trying to get into the big coop with the four "girls". Whatever they feared, they should have feared being in that coop with four bossy hens. I captured them and put them in their night crate. Where was their bantam (foster) mother? A quick look didn't turn her up, and likely she lost her life protecting her young.

Daisy, our beagle-dor, was in the yard, so I sent her out with "find it", and she took off. She ran about the yard, likely finding the scent of the oppossum, yet not following the trail. I was about to give up when I heard the distinctive sound of a hen chortle. Daisy had her hunkered down on the back deck, wanting very much to stomp on her find. If a dog could smile, she was smiling. Her tail about wagged off her back end. I praised her heartily and scooped up the hen, plopping her in with her offspring. I have no idea why they were scattered and she'd run up on the deck. I put them in the triangular chicken tractor today to give them peace of mind. The two chickens normally housed there were turned out to free range for a change.

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