Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Living in a World Without Flowers

Weeds mostly. Those are the flowers I have this year. No brightly colored zinnias, no towering sunflowers. My daisies, every one of them, pulled a no-show. I didn't plant or buy marigolds and the beautiful hanging planter full of tiny petunias, a gift from my son for Mother's Day, dried out and died. I don't know how I ever let this happen. Perhaps I was distracted...


Saturday, July 25, 2015

From the Land of Blueness

My sad little blueberry patch is bursting with blueness. I took a little walk out there this evening and found that quiet peaceful spot of years gone by. I filled an eight cup measure and then went back to the house for a basket and filled that up too. There is a little boy a couple miles south of here who wouldn't mind having a few blueberries to snack on, so tomorrow I will be sending some off with Hannah for her friend Raul. (He picked a few of his own when the grandkids were here for Hannah's birthday so he knows they're yummy.)

The birds have been leaving peck marks in my berries too but I guess there are enough to share with birds and snails (who apparently also like blueberries). I think it was last year that I said "Forget the blueberry patch! I'm letting it rest for a year and the birds can have them all." And look. Now I have enough to share again.

Some of the branches are heavy and low to the ground, so I sat down in the grass to pick off the fruits and take a "Lookin' Up" picture. (I think I like it. Maybe I should use it for a banner at the top of my blog...)

I filled this little basket right up to the top and could probably fill it up again once more (maybe tomorrow). If I'm feeling especially kind, I might just make a pie, just one, and maybe I'll dig up a good blueberry coffee cake recipe. Whatever is leftover can either be eaten by James or be popped into the freezer for a future occasion. (If those grandchildren don't hurry back I'll have those bushed picked clean.)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Around Home

I stayed home for once and actually did something. Mom's room had turned into a catch-all the past few months and today I decided to do take action. Fixing Mom's room necessitated changing things up in our "empty" upstairs bedroom, and so things were kind of upside down. for a little while I wasn't sure quite how to get things back together again. Thankfully, Hannah was here to help me out a little (and add in some mess of her own as she cleaned out her closet). The job isn't totally done, I still have lots of stuff to go through and sort out, but it has been started and that is something.

Last night James and I took a walk in the orchard behind the house. (Sometimes we walk across the street instead.) It's been a while since I've walked past the pond and into the farther trees, but it was a good night for walking.My legs don't walk quite as fast as his do and sometimes I fall behind. He takes that opportunity to hide in the trees and make me wonder where he disappeared to. He tried to sneak up on me from behind but was not very successful because I have eyes in the back of my head.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Authors and Illustrators

Sometimes it's a little hard not to miss my kids when they were little. Hannah found a treasure while cleaning her closet the other day. It made me smile to read that she and Ben had worked on this story together. He wrote out the words, "One Day A cowBoy was RiDing ALong..." and Hannah drew the pictures. How cute is that?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Work and the Blues

Feeling fickle and still tweaking my work schedule. I'm cutting back to 21- 29 hours a week. Although the job near home is nice, it means another entire afternoon tied up every week and I am feeling overwhelmed, so... after this week I'll be working 8 hour days Monday, Tuesday, and every other Saturday, and 5 hours on Wednesday. I think I can handle that.

Blueberry season is upon us and there is no way I can keep up. Our wet spring has left our berries plump and juicy. I am glad for grandchildren who find berry picking fun. Maybe they will pick enough to make a pie. I'd be willing to bake them one if they are willing to bring in the blueberries. As for myself, I'm going to avoid pie at all costs. It only piles up under my chin and I can't afford anymore of those shenanigans. I think I'll pick enough for My Darling to snack on and leave it at that.


It was a long day at work. My dear friend has been feeling terribly anxious while sitting in the dining room or common areas. She is her most quiet and settled self when laying on her bed during the afternoon hours. I put a CD in the player while she rests and attempt to keep myself busy with writing, crocheting and... gulp!... doing word search puzzles. I eat my lunch and try to stay quiet.

Some days the Memory Care Unit feels especially sad and life appears terribly short. I have to gather up moments to smile at like when my friend "saw" a woman with a turtle and asked if I ever had one. "What's a turtle good for?" I asked her, "Soup?"
"Well, they're good for soup," she answered, "but they make good pets because they're too slow to get away"
Yes, sometimes Memory Care is lighthearted and those are the moments I must take away to savor.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Last of the Teal Teenagers

Yesterday afternoon we had a birthday gathering in honor of Hannah. Yes, we have survived the teenage years of all seven offspring and are well on our way through the 20 somethings with the rest. Actually, some have entered their 30's (which doesn't seem possible) with another due to hit 30 toward the end of October. Whatever shall we do? Perhaps we should stop counting birthdays and simply celebrate without numbers.

Yesterday afternoon Lucas jumped out of the vehicle and ran up to the porch, homemade birthday card in hand. He stopped directly in front of Hannah and her friend Kelly. "Wait," he said, "Which one is Hannah." We laughed at him not knowing which blond haired beauty was the birthday girl. I never really thought about it much until this morning when Hannah said, "He was kidding." Sometimes I forget that Lucas is a joker. He is six and a half, after all, and has plenty of smarts up his sleeves. Ah, Silly Grandma... Maybe I can blame it on my own blond hair.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to my baby girl! I am officially all out of teenagers. Do I get an award or anything?

Twenty years ago this morning we welcomed our seventh child and second daughter into our family. Our nearly ten year old first daughter was in her glory. She finally had the little sister she had prayed for. (See here)

I worked today but took the day off tomorrow so that we can have a family gathering and celebrate the life of this girl who has brought so much sunshine into our lives.

Happy Birthday, Hannah!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Lucky Me

I was the lucky recipient of a surprise package this afternoon. The puffy mailing envelope was addressed to me with the return address of my cousin Kathy. At first I suspected old family photographs as we had recently been sharing bits of family history, but the package didn't feel like photos.

Inside the yellow package I found a wonderful surprise. A brand new, handmade camera strap, a cool one with an integrated wrist strap and and a built in pocket to hold an extra camera card or cleaning cloth. The only request? To give her some feedback on how I like it or what could be changed. (I already think I love it and I've only had it a few hours.)

Not only is the strap attractive, but I love the idea of a pocket to hold an extra camera card (for those times when I inadvertently leave mine inside my laptop and take off with an empty camera. That pretty little cleaning cloth is a great idea too. Now all I need is an afternoon to go out shooting... That will be the real challenge, finding an open afternoon and an available friend. I'm thinking a Friday sometime or maybe even a Saturday since I'm all booked up Monday through Thursday at work.

If you're all feeling jealous, I'm told she's planning to sell them in an Etsy shop starting in September. She designed and makes them herself and I think that's pretty cool. I'm honored to have been blessed with this unexpected gift. Thanks, Kathy.
:0)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Winds of Change

Blog posts have become much more sporadic this month. It could be because I'm working more or it could be because there is much on my mind that I haven't been able to turn into written words. More than likely it's both.

My children are growing up and life is changing. I'm not quite sure how the little ones, who once clung to my legs with their noses against my knees, turned into adults so quickly. My house, which once had nary a quiet corner, is often quiet for days on end. It's hard to believe I once had to lock myself in my car out in the driveway for just a half hour of solitude. Actually, it's kid of funny to think about now... Once upon a time we stacked three sets of bunk beds in a bedroom, and a few years later we gave up our own bedroom and moved downstairs just to give our kids enough room to sleep and none of them had a bedroom of their own. Everyone shared. Now the bedrooms are almost empty...

More change is coming. I'm not sure how or exactly when, and I will share eventually, but it is coming. Family is an interesting thing. We start life as part of a group that shrinks and swells with the years. Thirty-four years ago My Darling was officially added to my parent's family as we broke off onto our own. Through the years we added children of our own and as they "broke away" they also made our family grow. We have three wonderful daughters in law and a wonderful son in law as well. In the past nearly eight years we've been blessed to see our family grow as grandchildren were added, and we've also bid tearful goodbyes to cherished family members like my parents. It's the ebb and flow of time...

Change often makes me feel apprehensive, whether it's a child making adult life choices or My Darling and I making a decision regarding employment or whether or not to move. Change can be good and, very often, so is accepting the changes that life brings, even when they make us slightly uncomfortable. We're never held responsible for inevitable change, only how we respond to it and therein lies the real challenge.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Off To Work

I was almost ready for work this morning when the phone rang. On the other end was Tammy from the agency that hired me to do home care. It seems there are a few more hours available with the woman I care for, on the days I'm already there. They wanted to offer those six hours (3 each day) to me before finding other staff to fill in. It means working until 7:30 pm four days each week. I told them I would be willing to cover this week's extra hours and check with my husband to decide whether or not to commit to every week.

A few minutes after I hung up, the phone rang again. On the other end were Tammy and Sue from the home care agency. It seems they have a new client who lives about 7 minutes from my house. She needs someone from noon until 4 pm on Thursdays. Would I like to work with her? Four hours a week, less than ten minutes away... "Yes," I said, "I think I can do that." (I think pretty soon my husband will wonder when I'm NOT going to be doing something...)

I had to smile at work this evening. Quite honestly, I wish I'd had a camera in hand, but the only one available was in my mind. Two, slightly stooped, gray haired old women, memory care patients, stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the television set with silly smiles on their faces. What was amusing them? Gilligan's Island. It was too cute. And then there was my own friend who leaned over toward me at one point and said, "Look at the size of that woman!" Since my friend is blind, I decided to play along. "Is she big?" I asked, and she said with slight exasperation. "Is she big?!"  "How big is she?" I inquired. She made a gesture forward and said, "Well, you can see the back of her right there."

Memory care is an interesting place, sad in so many ways, but it's been encouraging to see how tenderly so much of the staff treats these precious people. Many have been robbed of not only their memories, but their ability to communicate. They are still looking for words of encouragement and tender, loving touches. I pray I can make my mom proud of what she taught me in the three years she spent with me, even if I fell so far short of giving her what she so needed and deserved.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Out in Back

I took a walk about the yard this evening...






1. I caught a bit of late afternoon sun on my milkweed blossoms. They are still fragrant and the bees are still buzzing.
2. My elderberry bushes are covered with blossoms. Perhaps there are some pies in our future.
3. Oreo is recovering and feeling friendly once again.
4. I have a nice little collection of plants adorning that wire wheel on my back porch.
5. The blueberry bushes are almost ready to present their harvest. Another week or so and maybe there will be enough to fill up a basket.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday

I looked around the yard this morning and remarked to Hannah how different it is this year. Our vegetable garden consists of peppers; bell, chile, and pablano. No corn or cucumbers, no squash or beans, and no
tomatoes. I didn't plant flowers this spring (I was too busy at the nursing home) and my daisies never came up. There were no children on the swings or in the sandbox. It was weird and I realized why I've tended to spend my time inside rather than out. Thankfully, this afternoon I was blessed with a couple of boys who came to spend the night.

Jake kept me busy in the sandbox and I've come to realize I need a few new sandbox toys. Josh was blessed to have a friend when Raul stopped by for a couple of hours. They kept themselves busy bouncing on the trampoline and checking out Hannah's old playhouse. I didn't take any pictures other than those in my mind. Tomorrow morning I will return the boys to Webster when Hannah and I go for haircuts.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Bumblebee Batgirl

My favorite granddaughter turned four yesterday. Four is a pretty special age, one of my favorites. She's a spunky little thing. She picked out her own birthday outfit which I think says a thing or two about her personality. I've decided Bumblebee Batgirl would make an absolutely terrific, not to mention completely adorable, superhero. Just imagine the adventures! (If she ever shows up out there I'll know you've been visiting me...)

We decided to do cake and ice cream here last night and the kids headed straight to the trampoline as soon as they arrived.I went out to see if they were being properly supervised and found a grandfather on the apparatus. I decided they were fairly safe so long as they were the ones doing the bouncing.

We enjoyed a bit of ice cream and some Candy Land Cupcakes and then headed out back for a few leftover fireworks. Everyone was sufficiently impressed, even Lucas. Apparently the mosquitoes were also impressed, but not necessarily by the sparkly show. They were relentless and neither smoke nor bug repellent kept them a bay. Even so it was a good evening and someone out there (I think it was Bethany) declared it the best birthday ever!

In other news, Oreo appears to be doing better. He stops by for a drop of milk with a bit of Silver Biotics in it each morning. His wounds aren't completely healed, but he's getting around easier and his eyes are looking brighter again. He even comes by to sit on my lap when I let him in the house.

Bouncing

It's been a week or two of conflicting thoughts and sleepless nights. Not something I can blog about at the moment just a few things to keep my mind anxious and unable to rest, and to make matters worse, I go from what seems to be okay back to unsettledness in an instant. The thoughts in my brain are feeling kind of like little people on the backyard trampoline...

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Today

Today was spent with Gail. While Yanni made music on the CD player, I read sappy stories from Chicken Soup for the Golden Soul and dabbed tears from the corners of my eyes...

Monday, July 06, 2015

Still Here

I'm still here. I worked three 8-hour days this weekend, including the 4th of July and Sunday. My butt hurts. Who would have thought I could get paid for just sitting? "Hello?"

 My family had a little gathering on July 4th and I was greeted by several grandchildren upon my arrival home. When darkness descended we set off a few fireworks which they found pretty exciting. Lucas did declare several of them "boring" but then again he did stay to watch.

I was able to be at church Sunday morning. My Darling and I drove separate vehicles for for the first time in years and I went to work from there afterward. It's a whole new schedule to figure out and it's been months since I knew what day of the week it was without stopping to really think about it.

Tomorrow and Wednesday I work a shorter day and should be home by a little after 5 pm instead of a little after 8 pm and then I have four days off. I hope there will still be some nice weather left over. I've been missing the sunshine.

Friday, July 03, 2015

A Thought (or two) Runs Through It

* My schedule for the next five days includes work, three 8 hour days, and then two 5 hour days. The job is easy physically, but tonight my mind is not emotionally prepared to be away from home for so many afternoon/evenings. I don't mind spending time with my new friend, and it has many rewards, it's just that I've never had to spend so much time away from any of my other children. Since Hannah's babysitting job ended with the school year, she ends up being here alone when I'm gone. I guess it's a mom thing, and she's my last baby. Next weekend I won't have to go to work and I am looking forward to that. I'm also looking forward to, hopefully, having another family gathering the day after Hannah turns 20, a birthday celebration. (I had to ask for that Sunday off...)

* Oreo continues to be thin, dirty, scraggly, and old. His abscess, which is now bald, continues to drain. I haven't yet taken him to the vet and he continues to eat, drink, and breathe. He's been a naughty, old man, pooping in the ash bucket and peeing on a piece of cardboard behind the wood stove. Last night we locked him outside in order to safeguard our house. blah

* The news has been rather depressing lately; a bit more conflict and change than my mind wants to digest right now. I read precious little and don't watch the news on TV, but it filters in through other media outlets, threatening to leave me feeling a bit hopeless and helpless, although in reality I know we are never without hope. I've struggled with this before and my anxious heart returns to the verses I once posted on my refrigerator...

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Sunshine has returned to upstate NY and the rain has gone. Perhaps my friend and I can sit out in the courtyard tomorrow and soak up some of that vitamin D that comes with bright, clear, summer days. I spent some time out weeding our pepper plants this evening, but not enough time out during the day. Without small children begging to outside, I can almost forget that I need to be out there myself.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Gifts From Above

She holds my hand and pats my arm. If I were to close my eyes, I could almost believe the old hand now caressing my arm, belongs to my own mother. Although a part of me aches, and tears threaten to sting my eyes, I smile at this gift of healing that God has brought into my life through Gail. What was it she said at lunch yesterday? "Thank you, Lord, for all you've blessed us with." Just like Mom... And today when the nurse came in to rub Ben Gay on her knee she quipped, "I'm getting to be an old lady." Just in case this blond hair should render me a little slow in my thinking, He's blessed me several times. It's not my mother sending me messages from beyond, but the Father who loves me, sending me gifts and reminding me of my mother's love, and I'm pretty sure she's smiling along with Him.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Those Cousins

Almost twenty years ago both of my sisters and I had new babies. Allen (wearing the hat) arrived in early March, Michael (with the hair) in mid-April, and Hannah (She's bald...) made her appearance a little more than halfway through July. My parents gained two grandsons and a second granddaughter. (It only took them just under ten years to acquire granddaughter number two. It's taking us four...)

Mom and Dad always hosted holiday picnics when the weather was warm; Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. Everyone looked forward to family gatherings in Grandma and Grandpa's back yard. In September of 1995 we decided to take what we though might be annual photos of our newest family members.

I'm not sure what became of our plan. Maybe we couldn't get them to be still, or maybe we ended up in different places on those long weekends. Perhaps it was because I hadn't yet discovered the beauty of digital photography. Whatever the reason, I did manage to capture the three at one year old. I have pictures of both the boys "driving" the car, and several of Hannah using it for a house. She even climbed through the back window.

I never even thought of getting a picture on Saturday, but before heading out Hannah asked if I would take their picture. They couldn't remember the exact order of the infant photo, but I kind of like the variety in this collection. They're all grown up now. Well, mostly... and I love this newest picture of them. I can't believe how great they all turned out to be and I'm proud of every one.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Cold and Wet

Not quite the June weekend we'd been hoping for. It's been a cold, wet couple of days, the kind where you wish only for a cozy corner and a warm blanket to curl up in.

There's not been much going on here at home other than feeble attempts to keep Oreo off the furniture. His abscess, which had begun to drain just before we came home yesterday afternoon, is a putrid mess. It didn't take me long to get him off the back of the couch when I saw it, but it did take a few minutes before I realized what had happened. A friend of mine gave me a bottle of Silver Biotics to feed him here and there, along with a tube of Silver Gel to put on the wound once it stops draining. Tomorrow I'll have to decide whether to take him to the vet for an antibiotic shot. I'm not exactly sure how to make that decision on a 16 year old cat...

It's been a big week in the news and on Facebook. Someone posted a photo that said, "My Facebook feed looks like a battle just broke out between the Confederate Army and a Skittles factory." Guess that sums it all pretty good.

Photos are from yesterday's gathering at Canandaigua Lake. The beach was deserted aside from the geese and a few seagulls. Good thing for the pavilion we had gathered in. It was a nice party in spite of the rain.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Blech

We were off to my niece's graduation party today. It rained and rained. Upon our arrival back at home I found the cause of our poor Oreo's agony. He has an abscess. I will spare you the gory details and just say, "It's gross."

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Happenings

Today was a quiet kind of day. After lunch I decided to take a ride out to the nursing home in Sodus to visit some friends.

I signed the visitor's log and headed down the hall to find My Coloring Friend, but when I peeked into her room her bed was neatly made and she was missing. I had arrived on a rare day. She was out of bed, had been to the hairdresser, and was eating her lunch in the library. Another resident was there too and she kept us entertained with her antics. I found myself smiling and enjoying the visit. (I really should take a notebook along so I don't forget the funny things the residents say.) It was Ice Cream Social Day in the activities room and today I was able to sit with a few of the ladies and enjoy a bowl of ice cream rather than have to run off and be a CNA. It was a nice couple of hours.

This evening we had some surprise visitors when my boys returned to finish the trimming job they started on my bushes yesterday. My daughter in law and the kids came along too. Leta doesn't do gardening so she brought along her bag of nail polish and painted my toes for me. (She's my favorite!) I did a bit of trampoline jumping with the kids. It left me feeling dizzy for way too long afterward. I've decided I either need to get up there more often (it's a good workout), or stay down altogether.

It was a good day. Tomorrow we have a graduation party to attend. I've made two pretty jellos to take along. No fruit or vegetables in it, just jello and Dream Whip. It's our favorite kind.



Thursday, June 25, 2015

I Scream...


There was the noise of children ringing through the house today. I made macaroni and cheese for lunch, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Yesterday, on my way home from work, I stopped at the store for a loaf of bread from the bakery. I came home with ice cream sandwiches too. Lucky kids!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Hands Off

My new job is quite different than the previous one. I went from doing total hands on work to total hands off. It's a whole different way of thinking and the hardest thing about being a companion to my new friend is that she requires a lot of hands on care. Since she lives in a long term care facility, the hands on care doesn't come from me. I am strictly a companion. When she needs hands on help, I get to press the call button and wait for a CNA to come help her do what I would have done myself in my other job. It's like I've done a total flip flop.

Whereas my other job kept me running for twelve hours, this job comes with a potential for a significant amount of downtime. Today I was able to take my friend outside to the courtyard where we enjoyed the fresh air, sunshine, and the chirping of birds for about an hour before we came back in to her room for a snack. I'm learning something totally new all over again.