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??