December 2008


There’s not even a picture with this post. What is wrong with me?

No, I’m not down as in feeling bad or depressed or sick. (Not being sick seems unusual for the past few weeks. Thanks for all of your kind words while I was REALLY sick the last time.)

No, my computer is down. Apparently too much blogging can be bad for a computer’s health. This is not necessarily proven, but visiting so many places with so many hackers and viruses out there, it just didn’t bode well for the old thing.

So I am without computer for a few days… maybe a week. Maybe more. The old one is in for some major rework (including killer anti-virus software and a different browser), and we’ll be getting a laptop for the express purpose of blogging and Facebook. (Thanks, cousin and cousin for sucking me into THAT trap!) And don’t worry about my inviting you to be my friend on Facebook. I won’t.  (Even though I’m really tempted to invite you.) I’m somewhat anonymous here, and somewhat not anonymous there, so I won’t be mixing the two.

So until then, I only have limited access to my husband’s work computer which is here in the event of an emergency. I’m thinking blogging doesn’t really qualify.  So AGAIN, I’m not visiting, and I won’t be posting, even for Sky Watch and My World.  When I get back, I’ll attack my way-too-full reader with a vengeance (between the last-minute baking/wrapping and all). I’m not sure when that will be. My “old” computer will be back in 4-7 business days, but I’d really rather just do it all on the “new” one so there are no risks of more infection. Believe it or not, I have a lot of other things going on besides blogging, and that missing computer is putting a major cramp in a lot of the work I do. (Including finishing my Christmas cards because my photos and formats for the inside part are in there.)

In the meantme, don’t hesitate to catch yourself up on all my unbelievably funny, enlightening and interesting older posts!

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In this post I showed you our extinct volcanoes. Today we were returning from a weekend trip to Mesa, AZ, and drove in snow most of the way. When we got close to home, the volcanoes were nearly obscured by the snow. It has been snowing since, and the snow  has gotten heavier, so if it were light outside, the volcanoes would look much whiter now.

My World today is VERY snowy! My wish is that there will be no school tomorrow!

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

We got our first dose of cold and snow this week. We only had flurries at our house, but it is definitely more chilly than last week.

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This is a squall northeast of our house. I love how open it is here because we can see things like this miles away. I DID happen to be on the roof at the time because Prince Charming was putting up the holiday lights, but I could have seen it from my bedroom window as well. I did not even notice the bright spots on the clouds until I uploaded the photos this morning.

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures or to find out how to participate in this meme, head to the SkyWatch blog.

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In an earlier My World post, I mentioned Cottonwood trees and that I would probably post about them more as part of My World. Well, here I am with another Cottonwood tree post.

I take Chic to gymnastics in a neighboring town every Monday. When the trees were in their blaze of autumn glory, we noticed this tree. We did not have time to stop that day, but we KNEW it was made to be climbed. Since then on every nice day (most) when we had time (some), we have stopped to play in the tree.

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It has ten giant branch/trunks sticking out. Two more have been cut off. My girls love to play and climb here and usually pretend they are the Ingalls girls (as in Laura Ingalls Wilder) living on the Kansas prairie and making friends with “Indians.” The girls are in the first two pictures, so you can get an idea of the size of the tree compared to them.

Climbing trees are probably part of the everyday world of many of you, but they are not for us. They are special treasures.

A view of the mountain from the climbing tree

A view of the mountain from the climbing tree

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

There have been four times in my life when I have been REALLY sick. Sick enough to think about mortality, even if I knew that probably was not going to happen. Sick enough to take more than a week to recover.

The first time I was eight. I had a horrible case of strep throat that kept me out of school for three weeks and in the hospital for one week. I was actually probably too young to think about mortality then, but I remember my dad threatening to make me eat potato chips if I did not drink enough pear juice in the hospital. (Pear juice was the ONLY thing that did not feel like it was ripping my throat to pieces as it went down.) I think my parents might have been a little worried at the time.

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The next time was twenty years later. I had just moved into my first house with my first husband. It was December, and I got the flu. The BAD flu. I do not believe I had ever had that before. I suffered a week off work without getting any better and finally realized I was not going to get better, and I needed to go to the doctor. I did not care if I lived or died. I lost 15 pounds in one month, and it was a full month before I could work full days.

Ten years later I was pregnant with Chicklet. That little creature sucked everything from me. She took every nutrient and bit of strength I had, then she took my immunity. In a 7-month span I got three sinus infections, three stomach flus (more than I had had in my entire life before that), and the BAD flu. Most days I worked as much as I could in the morning and lay on the sofa all afternoon. It was not a good time. My midwife did not really believe I was sick. She treated me like I was trying to get drugs. (Twice in this time I got to see a doctor who was kind, understanding and gave me medicine to get through the current problem.) A week after Chicklet was born, I was in nearly perfect health. She was not, and I have to think it was because I was so drained that even though she took everything from me, it was not enough for her.

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It has been five years since then and I am really sick again. (For those of you who are into numbers and trends, are you as frightened as I am about what is going to happen to me in about 2-1/2 years?) I have “severe” esophagitis. I noticed it a week ago yesterday when we were headed out of town. I could feel (and it was uncomfortable) every bite of food that I took from the swallow until the opening to the stomach. It got progressively worse over the weekend to the point that Sunday I did not want to eat. When we got home Sunday night I ate a small amount because I knew I needed food. I have not eaten more than 300 calories in a day since last Saturday, and the 300 calories is a HIGH number. I have only done that a couple times. (Thus the title of the post–which I must say is the silver lining to this problem.)

Eating is painful. It is usually not a burning pain, but a pain that grips my whole chest and radiates to my back and into my neck  and ears. This happens for anything swallowed, even a drop or two at a time. This has created another problem in that I am not getting enough nutrition and am incredibly weak. The problem with this is that my life is busy and it is the holiday season and I have more going on that usual.

My stamping business is somewhat intentionallybusier than usual for December. Last Thursday evening I had a workshop and Prince Charming arranged a babysitter and did it for me. I went with him, but mostly just sat with the guests and heckled him. Thank goodness for him because I would have been in bad shape had I done it alone. My personality would have made me suck it up and put on a brave face, but I probably would have collapsed in the car when I left.  Tomorrow I have another one, and a friend (who is assuming the role of my mother at the moment) is going to fill in as Prince Charming did. I will go, but she will do the presentation for me.

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This friend has made me face humility in other ways. Right now I am home when I normally would be headed to church. She insisted that I stay home while she takes over leading the program for the 4-6-year-olds today.  I am so grateful for this because I am weak and tired, and tonight is our church’s biggest annual event, the “Festival of Lights,” a holiday musical program. I am planning on pulling all my strength together so I can go. The music is always incredible.

Which leads me to the other thing this friend did for me and is making me be humble. Who would you guess makes the programs for the Festival of  Lights? Of course it is me! Last year was the first year I did it. I made 500 of them. We used less than 400, however, so this year it was decided to make 400. Not because I procrastinate, but because I have so many things going on in my life, those were not finished when I got sick. Another friend had volunteered a couple of weeks ago to do part of the stamping, so I allowed her. I had done a little more, but with my schedule and being sick, I just was not even close to being finished. My motherly friend (who is only a few  years older than me) decided that she was going to take an afternoon off of work to help me with them. Her daughter called, and she came as well. The two of them finished the program covers on Thursday afternoon. THEN yesterday morning, another friend and her mother-in-law came and helped me put all the inserts (with program information) on the inside. The programs are finished, and I probably did the minority of the work. (Prince Charming is proud.)

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So why am I sitting her painfully sipping  liquid nourishment to tell you this? Somewhat because I am weird like that, but mostly to explain my absence in visiting you. The only reason I have posted this week is there were time sensitive (to me) things about which to post, or I would have been completely absent.

When I went on a trip in October, you know I got way behind in blogging. I was slowly catching up with my visits, but then we went on last weekend’s trip. Now I am sick. I have not looked at my reader much at all this week. I am sure it is over 1000 again. I am going on another trip next weekend to visit my cousin. I am coming to grips with the fact that I may not catch up on the reader at all. I may just have to start with what is current when I can do it again. I may not be able to return every visit here. My personality tells me I must, and I will definitely try, but I am not just a little sick, and I have a whole lot of other life that needs attention in the moments when I can get up and do something.

Thank you for your visits even when I have not been visiting. And this post was definitely not for you to feel bad for me or wish me well, but only to tell you why I am gone and that I will be back when I can. Having not eaten substantially for a full week and likely not to be able to for another few days (the doctor said it would take at least a week from when I saw her last Wednesday for the esophagus to heal), my recovery is probably going to be slow. I will probably be weak and tired for a long time.  I will come when I can.

Incidentally, this is my 100th post. I had determined not to even mention it when it happened, but I find it amusing that this is the topic for my 100th post. And I probably would not have noticed it, but when I got online this morning, WordPress had changed their screens and the number of posts I have published was right in front of my eyes.

The flower pictures are a bouquet Prince Charming got me this week. I love them. They look like an antique painting to me–not really real. I think I will be surprised when they wilt.

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Last weekend we went to the Purgatory Ski Resort with some friends who have a condo there.  This is a picture from the condo parking lot.

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To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures or to find out how to participate in this meme, head to the SkyWatch blog.

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In my mom’s birthday post I explained why I made the scrapbook page for her and wrote some things I remembered about her.  That was in 2004, and her birthday was the day before Thanksgiving that year. The very next day my dad went to the hospital with respiratory problems. This is not uncommon with him. When I was little, I remember spending hours and hours days on end at the hospital because he had pneumonia. There were many winters I thought would be his last due to it. So a trip to the emergency room was nothing out of the ordinary.

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But what WAS unusual, is that his breathing was so bad he was put on life support. Then they discovered he was septic in many places in his body and had a very bad strep infection in his lungs. His organs started shutting down. He was in Missouri; I was in New Mexico. I did not go. Many of my family and friends were more than somewhat unhappy with me for not going, but my point was that unless they could wake him up and I could talk to him one last time, there was no point for me to be there waiting for him to die. My mother’s situation would require a lot of time to sort out if he died, so I could not leave and take extra days waiting for him to die. Call me cold, but he was in a coma.

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What I did do at this time was make a list of reasons I loved him and things I remembered about him like I had done for my mother’s birthday just a few days before. I e-mailed it to my mother’s caretaker so someone could read it to my dad–just in case in the far reaches of his mind he could hear something.

Well my dad is tough, and he pulled out of that to the amazement of every doctor and nurse caring for him. I DID go visit then and arrived the day he was discharged from the hospital. (The picture you see in this post of my dad and me was from that visit.)

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Below is a list of things I wrote then about my dad. Like my other lists, it is certainly not all-inclusive, but it gives you a peek into why he is so special to me. (A lot of these will not make sense to a lot of you, but I decided to leave them in anyway.)

The pictures are from a small (3-1/2″ x 3-1/2″) book I made for him for Father’s Day the following year that included everything on the list. (The best picture here of him is the black-and-white one. It just looks like who he is. It is the photo I held while he was in the hospital and I did not go.)

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Things I remember about you….
-The maroon Dodge.
-Always wearing safety belts, years before the rest of the population did it.
-Saturday nights at car dealerships.
-Your calling my boss at my first job in high school to make sure I was doing a good job at work. (I answered the phone.)
-NEVER late to church!
-TV Santa.
-Fireworks on 4th of July.
-How you put your all into everything you did.
-Taking us to see Mom at night when she worked at the nursing home.
-Hours at the foundry and DPC when I was little.
-Mason Shoes work boots.
-Model airplanes.
-Robert Hall.
-Pocket Watches.
-Home movies and slide shows.
-Visiting you at the academy when you lived there to build the new plant.
-Helping you change the mold on “my” test machine at work.
-Hanging on for dear life on the boat.
-Dinner wherever we pleased on our birthdays.
-Overalls.
-The Class of 1960.
-Interesting Sabbath School programs at church when you were the superintendent.
-Your business presentation at Union College.
-Brush-hogging and mowing.
-The cows.
-Driving tomato stakes.
-Eating out. 
-Your big heart for everyone.
-Business lunches.
-Giant Cannons.
-Steam Engine Exhibits.
-Big M&M’s cookies.
-Tractor Pulls
-MO trips:  Johnson Shut-ins, Elephant Rocks, Big Spring, Silver Dollar City, St. Louis Zoo, KC Zoo

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Things I especially love about you….
-Instilling in me a love of gardening.
-Teaching me that I am responsible for my own life and to not make excuses or blame others for my problems.
-Assuring I had a college education and the ability to support myself.
-Making me believe that no matter what I wanted in life or what I wanted to do, I could have it or do it.
-Your example of standing up for what you believed was right even if it was very unpopular.
-You made sure I was exposed to life by many various experiences and visits to unfamiliar places.
-You made sure we periodically saw all the distant relatives we could, especially great aunts and uncles and great grandparents on both sides of the family.
-Weekend visits while I was at the academy.
-That you never bought me a car.
-You raised me to know right from wrong, but rarely lectured me when you didn’t approve of my choices.
-You made me feel like there could be no better, smarter daughter in the world.
-Providing 16 years of Christian education for me (but making me work to pay for a giant portion of it).
-You are the most generous person I know, probably to a fault, but you passed to me the desire to be generous also.

So Happy Birthday to my dad, whose birthday is tomorrow. And if you have been following this series, that means his birthday was the day after my mother died. He spent his 65th birthday in a funeral home taking care of the arrangements for his wife. But that is life, and we have to make the best of what life hands us. He, more than anyone, has shown me how to do that.

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