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.

2008-12-05lily

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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2008-11-23box

I got a wonderful package in the mail this week. WONDERFUL!  It was from Smalltown Mom. I won a giveaway she had. (I actually think I did not intentionally sign up for it, but I’m so glad I won!) I have to tell you that I never win anything, but I have been blogging less than six months and have already won TWO things! I know that is a bad average for some of you, but in the span of my life, it is incredible.

So when I won, Smalltown Mom asked me which kind of candy I wanted. Neither of my choices had ever been in my mouth before, but one was seasonal truffles, and I am a bit of an addict to seasonal truffles of another brand, so I went for that. LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT MORE STUFF WAS COMING, TOO!

Prince Charming brought in the box, which I photographed from about 15 feet away because of my only working camera lens only working in the 200 mm position. The photos are not terrific, but you get the idea.

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I still have an ugly cough, so I am going to have to wait on the truffles a while longer (sugar always upsets the cough), but those socks are going on my feet tonight (thank goodness I get to stay home and be cozy tonight!), and that lotion is going to get initiated on bath night.  I can’t decide if I Prince Charming will make the muffins for Thanksgiving breakfast, or if we will have them on a weekend. No matter. Except for the truffles, all of this stuff was locally produced in her area.

Oh, I still have  yet to tell you why I read Smalltown Mom’s blog! It is because she is funny and REAL. Her posts are not always meant to be funny, but she sees humor in most situations. She has two boys that she loves like crazy, and I know a lot about their goings on from her blog. And I am going to say that being female and having dated my share of “Mama’s boys” in my life, that I think she is doing a great job raising her boys, and they are well-grounded and are not going to drive their dates crazy with their mom connection, even though it is strong. It is strong only in the best way. I love the relationship she has with her sons. 

Thank you Smalltown Mom! I love my stuff,  I love reading your blog and I love your kind heart!

Now for the awards…

First, I’m SO far behind on this. I’m so far behind that I am ashamed to admit how long ago I got this award cannot even do all of the awards at once, or you would be overwhelmed and not even think of looking at the blogs to which I am passing these. I was going to do two at a time for a while, but today I only have time for one.

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It is the Art Y Pico Award, and I got it from Nourish the Soul. Deb is on a little hiatus right now after having finished being a parent in three weddings (one of them in a foreign country) in the past year. She said she had some projects she needed to catch up on. Ummmm… WHO WOULDN’T?  Anyway, she is a wonderful person and an interesting writer. I was introduced to her about the time she was headed to rehearsal dinner for wedding #2, but had forgotten her clothes. She is quite industrious and inventive. Her posts are timeless, so you can still check her out.

This award is for creativity, design, interesting comment or for contributing to the blogging community. I am honored to receive this award from Deb.

Now before I pass these on, let’s have a refresher on Louise’s Award Rules:

1) There are no rules.

That about covers it. But it means that I am not going to tell people they got the awards. If they are my readers, they’ll figure it out, but my reason for passing them on is so that I can tell everyone whos reads this about some blogs I really like to visit. If you receive an award from me you may or may not acknowledge it. You may or may not post about it. You may or may not pass it on. It’s up to you.

So here is where this award goes, and I hope you will check out these blogs if you are not already familiar with them:

In a Soft Light. Beautiful photography of nature. Beautiful. It is always peaceful to go to this blog.

Ivar Irvig. Stunning photos. He lives in Norway and is apparently outside all the time taking pictures. Probably not, but he has an abundance of amazing shots.

Murrieta 365. More photography. Jan knows her way around a camera and photographs lots of interesting things. Her eye is artistic.

 Where the Walls are Soft. Les can tell a story. She manages to have a lot of stories about other people, too. She has an excellent way of getting it all into poignant and humorous words. For some technical reason which I am unqualified to identify I have not been able to leave a comment there for AGES, so if you go check her out and see the meme, tell her that I am SO with her on #43! I used to have a “Wayne Wall” in my high school dorm room!

UStamp4Fun. I know Amy in real life. That would lead one to think she would not be getting this award! I really do not think I know a stamper who can stamp any better. Really. I love Amy’s designs, but her real talent is taking ANYTHING (someone else’s (like my) bad design or her own spectacular design) and stamping it so well that it doesn’t look like human hands could have done it. She’s that good. And because I know her in real life, I will say that she makes me laugh. She’s all East Coast. She does not mince words. And she’s a redhead. We know I am partial to red hair on women.

Stay tuned. More awards coming to this space in the near future. (But not tomorrow or the next day!)

 

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.  Eccl. 3:1 (NKJV)

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2008-11-14allonporch

Do you ever feel like you are “good.” Or wonderful? Or special? Like you do so many things (especially on a volunteer basis) for so many people and organizations that no one could keep up with you if they tried? Do you ever pat yourself on the back for all the things you accomplish that you know ten five other people could not do as well or half as fast? Do you ever secretly (yes, secretly–sometimes it is a secret even to yourself) feel like you are a little above most of the rest of the pack due to how much you take on, and accomplish?

Well, Reader, I feel all of those things sometimes. In all my life I have made diligent effort to not praise myself, but inside I know how “good” I am. I do not mean “sweet” or “angelic.” I am not those things. (I laugh, hideously, when people say, “You’re so sweet.”) But I am good at most things I decide to do. Most of the time, better than good. I know a lot of you know what I am talking about because you are the same type of people. (In fact, by some of your comments in previous posts, I wish my readers lived close to me because then I know I would not be so busy!) And when one is like this, like I am, people respond positively all. of. the. time. I am not going to list all the things I (and my family) do that bring us praise, but I will say that almost wherever we go where there is interaction with other people, we are lauded and praised for a myriad of things ranging from my cooking to the behavior of our children. When people praise you all of the time, it has to somehow go to your head. Even if you are the “humble” type (which I believe I am), all the accolades add up, and it is easy to start feeling pretty good about yourself.

Then add blogging. I know there are trolls out there, but I have not had any. Likely because most of my posts are for the most part benign, but people are just NICE in their comments to me. YOU are nice to me! Last week my SkyWatch post had over 100 comments and all were glowing and complimentary. Now I am wise enough to realize that most people are not going to say something unkind in that situation, but still… to read all that good stuff does no harm to one’s self-esteem.

So I am admitting now that I go through life pretty happy with myself most of the time. I do not think my ego is inflated (those of you who know me personally can correct me there if I am fooling myself), and I know I do not think I am better than anyone else. But I do know I can and do accomplish more things than the average person. Sometimes it makes me crazy because I do so many things and some around me do so few, but probably even that feeds my self-esteem a little bit.

So today I was brought back to earth. My doorbell rang. It was not time for the UPS man, so I did not answer it. I quietly went to peek to see if it was someone I knew or a salesperson, and no one was there. I thought I saw a basket. That seemed a little strange, but our neighborhood is good at passing baskets of goodies around (often initiated by yours truly), so I thought it was that. I was in the middle of something, so I left it there and forgot about it.

A couple of hours later I went outside and found the basket you see above. I was astounded. It just seemed like there was too much stuff in there to be a neighborhood goody basket. I brought it inside and looked closely. DEFINITELY too much for a neighborhood gift, and I was sure I saw a gift card. WHAT WAS GOING ON?

I opened it, and there was a note like a scroll:

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It said it was from my church. It said “they” realized how much we do, and it was a small token of appreciation.

If you are a regular reader, you may remember that one of my many church responsibilities is Church Treasurer. That means I know there is no budget for things like this. Also, I would know if it was done anyway because I would have to have the receipt. I know I will not get a receipt. That means one of two things: 1) The Pastor and his wife did it on their own with their own money, or 2) A group of people got together and contributed and did it. My vote is on #1 because I know how the Pastor is. But either way, it was kind and generous and humbling. Sometimes when someone (like me) does so many things, s/he almost thinks that no one else is doing anything. Sometimes I feel like all I do is give, give, give. I do not WANT to “get,” but sometimes I just wish there were a little less giving. But someone else gave to me, and it was a sobering experience.

Here are the things that were in the basket:

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These are little mint tins for Chic and Chicklet along with Ben & Jerry’s gift cards for them:

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Below is a Toys ‘R’ Us Gift card for Chic and Chicklet. 

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Reader, the value of that gift card is $40.

The bread and the wild rice soup is below. The bread was Herb Four-Cheese bread. We had it with dinner tonight. (Remember I make bread on Fridays? This came early enough that I had not started making bread yet. It was nice because I am sick.) It was DELICIOUS!

 2008-11-14soupbread

 

A jar of raspberry jam is next. Did whoever know that raspberry is my favorite? Doesn’t the label just look like what is inside will be good?

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Next is the sparkling cider and munchy-stuff mix. We will have the cider for tomorrow’s dinner after church. (If the residents of this house are not named “Louise,” they will be lucky to get even a bite of the munchy stuff.)

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And finally, this:

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Reader, this is a gift card to Williams-Sonoma for $100. (Can any of you imagine that I was in tears by this point?)

So our family is feeling a little more grounded than we might have yesterday, or even this morning. We still have plenty of self-esteem and we are still doing all the things we were before. We still do not ever get a full day “off.” But we fully realize that we are not the only ones.