Saturday, December 31, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Fallout

'Twas The Day After Christmas

Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the house,
Every creature was hurting -- even the mouse.

The toys were all broken, their batteries dead;
Santa passed out, with some ice on his head.

Wrapping and ribbons just covered the floor, while
Upstairs the family continued to snore.

And I in my T-shirt, new Reeboks and jeans,
Went into the kitchen and started to clean.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the sink to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the curtains, and threw up the sash.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a little white truck, with an oversized mirror.

The driver was smiling, so lively and grand;
The patch on his jacket said "U.S. POSTMAN."

With a handful of bills, he grinned like a fox
Then quickly he stuffed them into our mailbox.

Bill after bill, after bill, they still came.
Whistling and shouting he called them by name:

"Now Dillard's, now Broadway's, now Penny's and Sears
Here's Levitz's and Target's and Mervyn's--all here!!

To the tip or your limit, every store, every mall,
Now chargeaway-chargeaway-chargeaway all!"

He whooped and he whistled as he finished his work.
He filled up the box, and then turned with a jerk.

He sprang to his truck and he drove down the road,
Driving much faster with just half a load.

Then I heard him exclaim with great holiday cheer,

Author Unknown

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Years ago in Dhahran, at one of the holiday parties at the golf club, I won a Christmas CD by Amy Grant, whom I've just recently seen in Savannah. Every Christmas it's one of the CDs that spends the most time in the player and this particular song is one of my favorites. So, I'd like to share it with you, along with all of the hope and good wishes it expresses for all of us and our world.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Another Quick Update

Just a note to update you on my mother.  Saturday night she slept like a rock. She went to bed around 7:30 and, when I checked on her at 10:30 before going to bed myself, she was in the exact same position as earlier and was making snoring sounds. The next morning she looked and felt much, much better.  There was very little confusion and she was even aware of some of the things she saw and did. We had a leisurely morning and then went to PetSmart for a truckload of kitty grub.  She also wanted to walk around outside a bit to keep her legs going, so we took a little walk.  I didn't want her to overdo it but at the same time I thought the activity would do her good.  So, by Sunday evening, I was more encouraged.

Unfortunately, the "other mother" showed up yesterday.  It was like walking into her room in the hospital on Saturday and taking one look at her and knowing something was wrong.  She was not out of touch with reality as she was in the hospital, she was just totally, totally depressed, fatalistic, miserable.  She had a followup appointment with the surgeon, who gave her a good report and dismissed her.  Her response to that was "I hope he's right."  When she's like this, there is absolutely no good or hope in her world. She just sits and lets her mind take her to the darkest extremes she can imagine.  It makes me very sad for her and it sucks any joy right out of the room. 

It's 8:45AM on Tuesday and so far she seems good.  She looks rested and sounds herself. We're still taking it one day at a time. Here's hoping!!  Thanks to those who have been in touch and those who have kept us in your thoughts.  It means more than you know.

Merry Christmas!
Is it over yet?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dimes Spinning....

Anyone my age knows that life can change on the turn on a dime and for the last few days the dimes have been spinning.  No sooner had I posted the message on Thursday evening than I heard my mother in the back of the house.  She was up and active after a day of hardly being able to get out of bed, not being able to eat and generally depressed and fearing that she wouldn’t make it through this round of antibiotics.  Then suddenly, energy abounds and she’s 180 degrees from the person earlier in the day.  But after an hour or so of this (and as things get more and more bazaar), and thinking that she’s settled in bed for the night, I hear her talking in her room.  I get up and she’s taken the bed apart and is seeing something that she needs to get off it.  That’s when I know she and I need help.  I just go back to my bedroom and get dressed.  I ask her if she wants to go look at Christmas lights and she agrees.  We put on her robe and we go to the ER.  She walks in with me without question or complaint, which is the second sign that something is terribly wrong!  She goes through the entry and triage with great ease and jocularity…….which is not my mother when it comes to doctors and hospitals.  She didn’t even register a complaint when they told her she was going to be admitted overnight.  Anyway, I got her settled and in bed at the hospital and got home around 3:30AM, returning the next morning (Friday) at 9AM.  By that time they were administering fluids, sodium and magnesium (which were low), and loads of antibiotics for the infection associated with the abscess.  She also had white cells in her urine which might be a urinary infection and, I was told, that can often play havoc with older people.  Friday seemed to go well and her spirits improved, though there were fleeting moments of seeing things that were not there and general disorientation.  The doctor came around 7PM and was pleased with the improvement and thought it was basically under control.  I got her settled for the night and went home to prepare to bring her home today.

Today when I went into her room, it was like night and day…….she was angry (accused me of trying to dump her), combative (even to the nurses before I arrived), not wanting to leave the hospital!!  She wanted to go to her home in NC, not home with me!  She was combative to the point of the nurse calling a discharge officer to speak with her to determine whether or not she was in touch with reality enough to leave.  Eventually she settled enough that they could get her out the door, but I was not feeling confident about being able to handle her.  Actually, the discharge officer talked with her first and seemed to have as much trepidation as I. He came out and spoke with me and said, “Let’s just go in and see how it goes and we’ll go from there.”  Not a lot happened that made me think I could handle her single-handedly (how can I even go grocery shopping if my mother is at home talking to people who aren’t there?), but he moved forward with the discharge, telling me to call her doctor if things got worse!  

I’m hoping that some genuine rest and familiar routines will bring her back to normal.  If not, I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do.  In any case, we came home and had lunch.  We stripped (not a lot left to do) and made her bed, and I put on the laundry while she rested.  She seems less combative but is still seeing kitties that aren’t here (as though we don’t have enough in reality!).  Needless to say, I’m playing this minute by minute. While I'm really too emotional to talk about it, I do appreciate being able to express my feelings here and I hope you will keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Just a Quick Update

My mother had three medical appointments in three day, so not much else has been accomplished.  On one of our trips to the island, we went to the Westin Hotel for their Christmas tree display.  The trees were sponsored by various groups or businesses and then put up for auction.  In many cases, something very nice came with the, services, etc.  I just thought it would be something Christmasy that my mother could do easily.  After that we stopped by the quilting guild that I'd discovered when Eileen and Tom were here.  Eileen will probably be surprised to know, as I was, that the whole display had been changed to a Christmas theme.  There was only one quilt in the whole display that was there when we first visited.  It really was a delight to see, so here goes........more Christmas stuff than you ever want to see!!

This always seems to be the season for giving and my tradition is to make a donation in honor of my treasured friends, most of whom are fortunate enough to already have everything.......and worldly-wise enough to recognize the needs of others and appreciate the gesture. So, I'm always looking for charitable organizations that really stretch a buck.  I ran across this article in O Magazine and wanted to share it with you, as it perfectly exemplifies my idea of the Christmas spirit......and shows that even a small donation can do a lot.

How to Spend a Little and Give a Lot - Small Donations
From  |  From the December 2011 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

Twenty bucks buys movie tickets or a weekend's worth of lattes. But you can do a world of good - from feeding an endangered animal to educating a child - for even less.

   $1    Two books shipped to a classroom in Africa. In many schoolrooms on the continent, 20 children share one textbook.

    $2   A set of drumsticks for a low-income public school student learning to play the drums.

   $3   A field trip to a museum, concert, or theatrical production for a high-risk youth.

    $4  Two hours of prepaid phone time for a soldier stationed overseas to call home. Started by teen siblings in 2004, Cell Phones for Soldiers has since mailed more than 1.5 million calling cards to American troops.

     $5   A one-burner kerosene stove for a family that would typically rely on an open fire. The stove is reusable and less environmentally taxing than the cutting of timber.

      $6   Measles vaccinations for 15 children in a developing country.

     $7   A week's worth of food for an abandoned dog or cat at a shelter run by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

       $8   A medical teaching doll, to be used in educating a child about his or her cancer treatment.

       $10   A box of nails used to adapt a disabled veteran's house, from Homes for Our Troops, an organization that provides full accessibility to the injured at no cost.

        $10   A day's worth of fresh fruits and vegetables to feed two chimpanzees—most of which have been orphaned by poachers—at the Jane Goodall Institute's Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of Congo.

       $10   Two specialized bottles for babies born with a cleft palate, who otherwise might suffer from malnutrition before receiving corrective surgery.

    $10  Cloth and tools so an Afghan woman can become self-sufficient by taking a six-month tailoring course through Creating Hope International and the Afghan Institute for Learning.

        $11   Eleven trees to be planted in Alabama communities devastated by the April 2011 tornadoes.

       $12  Twenty pounds of multipurpose soap to help keep families germ-free around the world, through Oxfam.

       $14   Two nutritious meals delivered by volunteers from Meals on Wheels to a housebound senior citizen.

       $15  A backpack and school supplies for one homeless or low-income urban child.

Merry Christmas to All

Monday, December 12, 2011

Are We There Yet??

For some reason I feel that if we can make it through Christmas things will settle down a bit and get back to "normal".  Deep down inside, I know that isn't likely to be  the case.  Things kind of came to a head for me Saturday when I spent the entire afternoon in bed - not ill, just lying there resting.  That's something that I NEVER do, but I didn't even fight it....and the longer I lay there the better it felt.  Once up, I feared it would interfere with my night's sleep, but it didn't.  I slept like a log and Sunday morning I felt human again.  It never dawned on me that I might just be physically tired.

Things have not been uneventful.  My mother had what we later found out was an abscess.  After a week of home treatments, I put my foot down and made a doctor's appointment, totally under protest.  He sent her straight to a surgeon who opened and drained it.  She will see him again today Monday but there has been relief.  She has had to go on another round of antibiotics, which just totally wrecks her system.  I'm going to talk to the doctor about that to see if there is anything that will prevent the nausea, weakness, light-headedness, etc.

My car was well overdue for an oil change and tire rotation, balance and alignment.  So, Thursday afternoon was devoted to that, which should only have taken about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.  All was going well until the girl called me over to show me something about my car.  I knew it was bad news when I walked into the garage area and saw three men looking up at my car as the oil drained out.  The screw that is opened to allow the oil to drain had been over torqued and stripped.  It could not be repaired and would require a new oil pan.  The folks at Firestone were very nice and called Toyota, where it had last been serviced, and explained the situation.  They sent a tow truck and took my car to their place.  I was waiting for excuses as to why it would be at my expense, and there was a hint of that, but I wound up paying for the cost of an oil change and they covered the rest (including tow truck and loaner car).  Even so, I was gone from about 1:30 until 6PM, turning an otherwise good day into an ordeal........but I'm thankful that it wasn't worse!

After a shaky start, Sunday turned out to be a pretty good day (and seems to be carrying over into today!).  We had plans to go to a local Christmas musical review but Mama wasn't feeling well in the morning.  I told her we could do whatever she felt like doing but to take it easy and see how she felt by early afternoon  (program started at 3PM).  Finally she said she didn't want to totally miss Christmas and began to get dressed.   Once she got up and got going, things began to improve......which reinforces my feeling that her biggest problem is the mental strength to keep going.  We got dolled up in our Christmas colors and went to the show, which we both enjoyed.  She has been feeling better since.  My challenge is to get her out of that silent room where she liescontemplating all things negative, past, present and future.  That can't be good!

In the evening, my friend Elaine and I went into Savannah to see Vince Gill and Amy Grant.  When Elaine called, I accepted without knowing anything but who was performing.....I didn't know that it, too, was a Christmas program.  It was totally enjoyable from beginning to end.  It was also nice just to have a relaxing evening out.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Update

It's been a while since I've written, though I haven't forgotten you!  There continues to be so many ups and downs here that 1) I find it difficult to plan very far ahead or 2) to find the emotional energy to write when I do find the time.  My mother seems to have one physical problem after another, compounded by her feeling of hopelessness.  I've tried to provide distractions, including a radio/CD player and several books on tape.  As far as I know, she hasn't even turned on the radio once and the books on tape were returned to the library unopened.  She also has a TV in her room, which she never turns on, preferring to lie in a totally silent room.  She has been up the last several days and night-before-last we rode around the neighborhood and Bluffton to see the Christmas lights.  Yesterday, we went shopping and she seemed to have a good day until evening when she went to bed at 6PM.  I keep hoping that she will come to grips with the past and the future so that she can enjoy some of the present.  That isn't to say that it will be easy, at her age and with her physical problems, but from my perspective much of it is emotional and mental outlook (she won't even call her friends in NC), as well as the physical.  Anyway, that's where we are, which is why there hasn't been a whole lot to write about.

 Midweek we finished the decorating of the house and I'm now contemplating holiday baking.  While my enthusiasm is low, it is something we can do together and something we usually at some point we'll undertake it. There is also a Christmas musical review on Saturday at 3PM which we plan/hope to attend.  In the past we've taken in some evening shows but my mother rarely stays up past 7PM anymore.  So, I'm looking for things that take place earlier.

One of the pleasures of the season has been the online Advent calendar that Eileen sent me.  It's done by Jacquie Lawson and those of you who know her online greeting cards are familiar with the quality of her work.  It's absolutely fantastic.  The holiday scene is of London and each day there is an ornament to click for a full scene to develop.  Once that is done, there is an information center which gives more information about that particular area of the city.  It's beautiful and informative......and at night, the London scene turns dark and the holiday lights come on.  When the calendar is minimized, the icon of the desktop is a snowglobe----believe me, it has been thoroughly and creatively developed.  Thank you you can tell, we're really enjoying it.

As for me, I try to make a conscious effort to continue some of the things I enjoy.  Our weather has been fantastic (76 today) and my walks are a lifesaver.  PAL is also very calming and rewarding for me and I look forward to it.  I also have plans to have lunch with a friend on Thursday and a concert in Savannah on Sunday.........but I have to confess that sometimes it's easier NOT to do something than to muster the energy to be social!!  Bah-humbug!!

I hope the Christmas spirit is more lively where you are and that you're enjoying the joys of the season.  Please add a comment or drop me an email and let me know how you're spending your holiday.
Merry Christmas to All!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Down, Christmas To Go!!

Wednesday, November 23:  I no sooner boasted of our great weather than it turned cooler, with a rain storm sweeping through.  The dark morning was a prefect prelude to Thanksgiving as we spent it doing a few things in the kitchen for Thanksgiving day.  By the afternoon, when I went to PAL, the sun was out and the temperature mild.

Thursday, November 24:  Needless to say, with only two people in the house, it was a quiet Thanksgiving.  It would be nice to have more people with us to celebrate the day; but, to be honest, I'm into reducing my stress level, not raising it.  We prepared several dishes yesterday and finished everything by noon with no rush or bother.  It was not your traditional Thanksgiving as there was no turkey.  We did a small pork roast for my mother and I ventured into baked tofu for me.  Since becoming vegetarian, this is the first time I've cooked tofu.  I guess if I missed meat more, I would have gone there sooner, but I really have not felt the need.  The baked tofu was okay, but still not anything I will have on a regular basis.  For some reason, I wanted roasted Brussels sprouts......and they were as good as I'd hoped (sprinkled with a little Parmesan)!  I'll definitely be doing them again.  The meal was rounded out with potato salad, a green salad, okra, butterbeans, biscuits and Artisan bread.  As is typical of so many of us, we had more than we could eat, finishing with a fruit trifle.  It was all stress free and delicious, for which I was thankful.

After our hearty lunch, I took my walk and then offered Mama the option of either going out to PAL and socializing the cats and playing with the dogs OR putting up the Christmas tree.....which really was a set-up!  It was a no-brainer to go to PAL!!  We actually stayed for 2 hours and went into all of the cat rooms and touched noses with all of the dogs, including 6 black puppies and Reese (whom you saw in the last post). My mother seemed to enjoy it as much as I thought she would, which is not an easy feat. It was an afternoon well spent.

Saturday, November 26:  We were thankful that there was nothing we wanted enough to brave Black Friday!  That whole process kind of baffles me.......wouldn't the deals be just as good and exciting at the usual opening time on Friday??  Anyway, to each his own.  We used the day (Friday) to "rest" in preparation for putting up the Christmas tree today.  Most of the task is very enjoyable, once the lights are on the tree.  I love seeing the strange assortment of ornaments that I've collected over the years from many locations, with the latest one being a wooden salmon from my visit with Jan in Seattle.   It's an eclectic collection that holds wonderful memories of people, places and time gone by.

Tuesday, November 29:  The tree is up and complete.  There was a delay as we have not yet found the tinsel, which to me finishes the look.  Yesterday we went to Sam's in Savannah to stock up on staples and other things.  The tinsel was purchased on the way home and the tree finished.  A little fine tuning is required as the angel on top has stopped shining.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

It's been a busy week, including a trip to NC to pick up my mother's repaired hearing aid. As luck would have it, the temperature dropped 20 degrees and it was cold, requiring the use of her heating unit.  It came on immediately but shortly thereafter began to make a loud noise.  It got us through the first night but eventually failed the next morning.  So the time we had hoped to spend with family and friends was spent trying to get the pump motor repaired.  With the short time we planned to be there, we were happy to be able to get it repaired and everything on our "To Do" list accomplished before returning. 

On the way up we stopped at Pearl Fryer's Topiary Garden (which you may remember from a previous visit).  My mother had not seen it as we usually have kitties in the car and can't stop, so this seemed the right time to do it.  It was even nicer than expected because Mr. Fryer was there and took us and two other ladies on a guided tour.  He's a real people-person and loves showing off his garden, so it was a delightful visit.

On the way back home, we took a detour down Hwy. 1 to look for Hebron Church, which was the church my mother first joined.  We had found it once and wanted to start there to see if we could also fine the grist mill that her father ran.  It seems that most of the land in that area had been bought by a major peach farmer and all roads were gated and posted.  So, we didn't get far on that front; but, we did stop at a little store and asked about things.  When we went inside, there was a young kid behind the counter listening to an iPod, so I wasn't sure we would get very far.  We told him why we had stopped and he called over his grandfather, who had all the answers.  While we weren't able to get to the mill and artesian well, we found that we could get to her first school, Midendorf School.  It really was a distinguished building, but totally misused.  Part of it is being used as a junky garage (car repair) and the remainder just junked, with stuff just thrown inside and lots of tires, etc. all around it.  We stepped inside the front door and even the flooring was still in good shape.  It's so sad to see those wonderful, old buildings in such disrepair and/or abuse.  Even so, my mother was very surprised and pleased that it was still there......and that we were able to find it.

Since getting back it seems that I've been constantly busy with something; yet, to look around the house, everything seems to be in total disarray!!  It's hard to keep all the balls in the air for myself, my mother and 5 cats.  Just today I had to take two of the kitties to the vet.......Tuffy to get his periodic shot for Irritated Bowel Disease and Chloe to have her eye examined.  I think there was a slap somewhere down the line and she had what looked like a bloodshot eye.  Luckily, all is well with her.  Anyway, an hour every day is devoted to my walk, which I thoroughly enjoy and need.  While sometimes it seems easier not to do it (or other things) than to do it, I'm trying to maintain those things that add meaning to my life and that I enjoy (which really aren't all that many......walks, Living Liberally, PAL, maintaining friendships).  And, I hate to keep harping on it, but our weather continues to be fantastic.  The last two days have been 80 degrees and I've walked in short it's wonderful to get out and clear my head.  It's like therapy! 

Well, Thanksgiving is here, which means Christmas is right around the corner.  I wish I were more "into" it but I feel like I'm just waiting for it all to be over!  It seems there is a long list of things to do to make it all happen, and then everything will be a big letdown!!  So, regardless of the mood of the day, I think I'll focus on the meaning of Thanksgiving and bring to mind all of the things for which I'm thankful........good health, wonderful family and friends (many of whom I've seen over the last few months), the luxury of time to do the things I enjoy, and so much more. I hope your Thanksgiving list is a long one.

Gratitude consists of being more aware of what you have, than what you don’t. –Unknown

We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. --Cynthia Ozick

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. 
--Thornton Wilder

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. 
--Melody Beattie 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Time Marches On

Today has been a "glorious" day.  When I went for my walk at 10AM, it was already warm and summery, absolutely splendid for the middle of November.  Last week was challenging, to say the least, and I was on a bummer; but, after lunch with Sharon on Saturday and Janeen today, I feel more encouraged.  I spent about three days talking to myself, defining what I'm able to affect in any significant way and what I can't.  Oprah (and life) convinced me that the only person I can really influence is me AND that each day we choose, one way or the other, what we bring to that day and what we get from it.  But, in my effort to make things the best I can, I'm met with criticism and failure.  So it's taken a while to get my head around it all and get back on an even keel.

The beginning of last week was fairly cold, or at least the first cool days we've had.  It seemed perfect for the Scotch Broth recipe provided by Eileen.  When they were here we had our Southern vegetable soup and I mentioned looking for a soup recipe using barley, which I wanted to try.  She immediately thought of Scotch Broth and sent the recipe upon their return to England.  It was thick, chock full of veggies and yummy.  Eileen and Tom may think I defiled it with Parmesan cheese, but to me it was a nice addition.....delicious!

Earlier I had made a Broccoli Cheese Soup and purchased a small take-and-bake loaf from Kroger.  I'm not usually that fond of soups but I find that I really like thick soups, especially when accompanied by a crusty bread.  So, it seemed the perfect time to try "Artisan bread in 5 minutes" which I'd learned of on my trip to visit Jan.  It truly is as quick, easy and tasty as advertised.  I've baked the second of a four loaf batch and both have turned out well.

My mother is slowly coming back from the negative effects of a 10 day round of antibiotics, which pretty much ripped her system from one end to the other.  After a week of trying to get lancets for her diabetes testing machine, we went to pick them up at the pharmacy, along with the test strips which we thought we only needed to refill online.  Once there we were told the doctor had to send a new script for the test strips, too!!  That was on a Thursday and I was so disheartened by it all that I surrendered until Monday, not being able to face the task immediately.  Lo and behold, on Saturday we get a message from the pharmacy saying that the strips were ready for pickup.  Unbelievable!!  One of her hearing aids is also on the fritz and was sent to NC for repair.  So, at the end of this week we'll pick it up and give my mother a few days at home......which may or may not be a good thing.  Ever the optimist, I hope things will settle a bit once we're back.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

November is here.....

It's been busy since Eileen and Tom were here.  My mother has not faired well with her second round of antibiotics and is very weak and disheartened.  Yesterday was her last day with it and I'm hoping she will begin to regain her strength and optimism. The last two days have been cool and windy but, if it's less windy tomorrow, I'm going to try to get her out, even if it's only to drive around a little and enjoy the sunshine and scenery.

I've tried to find perks wherever I can and a special one was a brief get-together with Cheryl, Phil, Kathy and Joe......Aramco friends.  They were on the island for a few days and we got together for lunch.  It was non-stop chatter and all too short.  It was so much fun that I only got one photo, which is almost indistinguishable.

I met them at Pinckney Preserve and took this as they approached.  They were so far away that I can't even crop it adequately to bring it closer!!  And, the conversation over lunch was so much fun that I totally forgot to get one of us in the restaurant........all the fault of not having enough time together!  It was great fun and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing them......and I hope we can do it again soon.

The remainder of my time has been spent with the usual things.  My walking is now taking shape again, and I feel like it is a breath of fresh air, both literally and figuralively.  The weather is perfect and it's nice to be able to do it anytime throughout the day. And lest you think we have no change of season, I took these photos on the last half of my walk today. While it isn't New England and I do prefer the green to the gray of winter, it is nice to see the beautiful change of color signifying the arrival of fall.

PAL has also been a nice diversion......and the quieter the day, the more time I can spend with the animals.  I was behind the front desk on Wednesday when the Director came out of her office with a tiny kitten wrapped in a soft blanket.  It was Hemingway, a five week old kitten found in a wood pile......and he is a Hemingway (polydactyl) cat with the extra toes on his front paws.  He was not eating or pooping and Amy said he "needed some loving."  I said, "I can do that" and Hemingway spent the afternoon with me.  He was so young that he nuzzled around for his mama.  Whenever he did that, I popped a little baby food to his mouth and he ate a little here and there.  By the time I left, he had eaten and I felt like I'd been helpful.  I'll check on him this coming week and hope he's well on his way to getting stronger.

The remainder of my time I've spent trying to be helpful to my mother.  One of her hearing aids went on the fritz and we sent it back to NC to be repaired.  We've also spent the entire week (unsuccessfully) trying to get a script for lancets for her blood testing machine.  She has refills left for the test strips but for some reason we are finding it impossible to get the prescription for the lancets.  My question is: why would they require separate prescriptions in the first place?  As I help my mother through these mazes, I wonder what it will be like for me.  Those of you in my age range should give serious consideration to our health system as it relates to the elderly.  If I live to be my mother's age, how will I be able to do what is required to maintain my health and well being??  Our system should be comprehensive but much simpler......and we'd better start working for that right now!!  The experience of signing up for Medicare signals how overwhelming it can become.  The medical insurance I have through Aramco can become a "secondary" insurance once I turn 65 and go on Medicare.......not a "supplemental", but a "secondary" insurance.  Try getting someone to explain what that means.......and I'm 24 years younger than my mother and consider myself compos-mentus!!  How will I be able to navigate all of this stuff when I'm 90??  I think I have a new mission......any takers??

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Eileen & Tom's Visit.......and After.

Though Eileen and Tom left on Monday, it's taken a while to get around to posting again.  This week has been busy with one thing or another, and I've been pooped.  Also, I had lots of photos of their visit, as well as copying those from each of their many photos that I really didn't know how to approach the task of consolidating them.  It was only today that I actually had time to devote to it.  There are probably more than you want to see and many of the places are familiar to you by now, but I hope you enjoy them.

Needless to say, we had a great visit and I hope they enjoyed their time here as much as we enjoyed having them. First and foremost, it was great to see for myself that Eileen was doing so well after her bout with breast cancer. All reports from friends who had seen her were good, but I'm relieved to see for myself. She looks great (as you can see) and has boundless energy, and it's wonderful to see her come through it all with such a positive outcome. The years have treated Tom well and it was good to see him in such good form, too. Those of you who follow this blog will certainly recognize our site-seeing spots:
  •  The little town of Beaufort
  •   Savannah
  •   Harbor Town, South Beach and Coligny Beach
  •   Palmetto Bluff (whose beauty and tranquility seem to appeal to all)
There were some unexpected surprises and variations.
  • One of the pleasant surprises was the Palmetto Quilting Guild's display that we happened upon on the only rainy day of their visit.  The owners of Pineland Station houses the guild free of charge in one of the vacant shops, which I think is a wonderful idea, as well as being a colorful attraction.  It was tailor made for Eileen, who is a quilter. 
  • Rather than doing the usual carriage ride in Beaufort, we did a walking tour, had lunch and then went to Hunting Island, which is more remote and rugged than most.  It was a beautiful day for walking in the surf and looking for shells.
  •  It was the week on the Bluffton Arts and Seafood Festival so we participated in some of the events associated with that: the blessing of the boats and gospel singing on Sunday and the street fair and fireworks on the following Saturday, for which my mother joined us.  Who would ever expect to see fireworks in October??
Thanks to Tom for the video.
  • During their time here, there was only one day of rain, which I believe was also the case during their time spent in the Indiana/Ohio area.  The first few days were wonderfully sunny and warm, then after the rain we had our first real fall, crisp, but still sunny.  In the photos you'll notice that Eileen and Tom are still in short sleeves, but I've gone to a jacket!!  Fall is officially here. The crispness remains but the days are sunny and bright.

I'm sure I've forgotten something.  If so, I hope Eileen will add it or refresh my memory.   As I've said many times before, longtime Aramco friends are among the best.  The years just melt away and we pick up where we left off.  It was great to see both Tom and Eileen and I'm so glad they came.

As for the intervening time, I had a dental appointment on Tuesday and my mother wasn't feeling well.  She stayed in her pajamas all day and was complaining of her head feeling funny.  She had just taken a course of antibiotics for the mucus build up, but a sinus infection seemed to linger.  So, on Wednesday I took her to the doctor again.  After rest and the meds, she seems to be feeling better physically.  Wednesday afternoon I worked at PAL.  On Thursday, I took Mama Mia to the vet as she was not acting herself and seemed to be having trouble pooping (more info than you want to know).  They kept her and "flushed" her out but I'm afraid it might become an ongoing problem as she eats only dry food.  The doctor suggested mixing mineral oil with her food (which she won't go for) or giving her pumpkin (won't go for that either!).  Sometimes I wonder if they know cats!!  So, I'm just keeping an eye on her and hoping all goes well.  I can't remember what I/we did on Friday but on Saturday from 10:45-3:30 I helped with the first birthday celebration of the PAL facility.  I really didn't intend to stay the full time, but it was so much fun seeing it all and being a part of it that the time slipped away.  Animal and animal lovers are wonderful!!  I really enjoyed it and I know I contributred to the adoption of one kitty (which were fewer than the dog adoptions).  On my way home, I stopped at my local wine shop for the wine tasting.

That brings us to Sunday (today), which was my day to catch up on photos and the blog. We began the day with a southern breakfast (minus the sausage for me) and I even managed my walk, which I did several other days this past week.  Though there is a long list of things to do this coming week, slowly but surely I'm getting caught up.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Just a Quick Update

Monday, October 10, 2011:  What a weekend!  My mother continued to suffer from the mucous problem and would not go to a critical care office to get medication that would solve the problem.  I did get an over-the-counter decongestant that helped a bit and this morning I've called in a request from her doctor.  Am hoping to have that in hand by the end of the day.

I'm happy to report that I feel better today than yesterday, which was terrible.  Even so, I knew I had to go to Sam's for a load of kitty litter, as well as running some other errands before the week begins.  With Eileen and Tom arriving on Saturday, this week will be devoted to cleaning, cooking and getting somewhat organized.  The weather is cooperating as this is our second day of mostly slow, steady rain.  Normally I would not look forward to that but right now it seems perfect for staying in and getting things done.  Now I just have to motivate myself to get busy!

Friday, October 14, 2011: It's been a busy week with preparing for Eileen and Tom's visit, as well as some previously scheduled personal appointments.  My mother's doctor did not want to prescribe anything before seeing her, which I can understand, although this is a recurring problem and I would have liked her to get some relief sooner rather than later.  The earliest he could see her was Wednesday, when he prescribed an antibiotic and prednisone.  She slept better Wednesday night and was up and about yesterday.  She also seems to have rested better last night so I'm hoping she will be feeling better by the time our guests arrive.

Writing the above reminds me of a lesson learned in this experience.  Early on in the weekend, I asked my mother about going to a critical care office to get something for her congestion.  She immediately nixed that idea, which prolonged the whole experience.  I need to trust my judgement more, especially when it involves  my mother and a doctor!  Because she is still compos-mentus I keep feeling that I should defer to her, or at least include her in the decision making......but I know how she is about this stuff.  So, I need to trust and act on my judgement in these matters.  Feel free to remind me of that often!!

After about four days of rain, the weather is cooperating.   It's been bright and sunny and should be in the low 80s for the next week.  The rain was much needed and it was actually perfect for being inside and doing the types of things I needed to do. It was also a steady, gentle rain that seemed very peaceful and calming.  Even so, I've missed my walking in so many ways but hope to get back to it soon......this weather makes it easy to do it anytime of the day.

Well, I've had my  morning coffee so it's now time to have breakfast and get busy.  I just wanted to touch bases as it may be a while before I get back to you.  I hope all is well where you are and that you're having as much fun as I hope to have with Eileen and Tom.  There is absolutely nothing better than getting together with long time friends.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

To All the Strong Ladies I Know, a Word From Betty White....

Am not sure where the time has gone, but I'm pooped.....and have had to dig deep, as suggested by Betty's advice!

I went back to NC for a family reunion, which turned out to be lots of fun.  Usually everyone is chomping at the bit to get to the food, and then leave as soon as they're full.  This time, everyone brought old family photos, which were very entertaining and sparked a lot of conversation, memories, and laughter.  My mother and I also enjoyed looking at our old photos the day before.  It really is addictive and lots of fun.  Anyway, everyone kind of lingered and it was a nice change.

My mother agreed to come back with me, which is earlier than she usually comes for the winter.  She was having a hard time coping with things on her own and I think she welcomed the invitation.  It's certainly added to the drama here.  The first night she was again bitten by her cat.....not a "nip", not  "he just broke the skin", this time it was a full dental imprint with five puncture wounds.  She was up in the night trying to get him to do something he didn't want to do (conform to her idea of how he should be rather than how he is), and he bit her.  It was only when I heard her close the hall closet door for the second time that I got up to see what was happening.  She had dripped blood down the hall and was trying to find a band-aid!!  We got her arm bathed, medicated and covered, but I was fully expecting to have to take her to the doctor the next  morning.  For some unknown reason, it was only badly bruised, with a hard cap to it, but the infection was not running up her arm. So, we've been doctoring it at home.  I can identify with the cat;  but, in spite of my shortcomings, it appears that I handle the pressure better than he!!  

Then, this morning she woke up coughing and choking on phlegm (which is an ongoing problem for her). Naturally, it happened on a weekend when no one is available short of the emergency room. So, I got online and looked for remedies.  Honey and ginger seemed to do the trick.  I'll call her doctor on Monday so hopefully everything will be okay until then.  Never a dull moment!

Yesterday I told her that Eileen and Tom were coming for a visit next Saturday.  Had she known beforehand, she would not have come down, and her first words were, "Well, I'll go home."  My response was that I couldn't make that trip to NC  for the 4th time in 7-8 weeks.  Being with people might just do her good....I think part of her problem is spending too much time alone.  She's met Tom & Eileen before and remembers them, so I think once she realizes it's just friends visiting friends she'll be okay and on her best behavior. Eileen and Tom are also aware of the situation so there will be no surprises for them (I hope!). Having my mother here will allow me to know what is actually happening with her rather than trying to figure it out by phone......That's my thinking, anyway........

This may be the biggest surprise for Eileen and Tom!!