Saturday, January 30, 2016


This past week one of the cardiologist PA's chatted for a few minutes before finishing rounds. A few years ago this PA had a patient whose spinal cord injury was one level above Bobby's (meaning paralyzed neck down instead of chest down), and was not only young, but in very bad shape. He was paralyzed at a young age while jumping on a trampoline. He was placed in a nursing home. This part of the story actually doesn't surprise me. An injury that high would require a lot of care and time, and if the Mom was single or working, there would simply not be the time or energy needed to do what this child would need. Even many adults who are Bobby's level or higher wind up in nursing homes because of the cost and time involved in caregiving. But what horrified us both was when she said no one came to see all. Not for meetings with the doctors, not for a five minute visit....nothing. This young man had no one.  The PA was concerned enough to call the nursing home and see if they would call the boy's mother, just to make sure she was aware of the hospitalization. The nursing home replied they had called the mother and would call again, but not to expect anything. She never visited the nursing home either.

The PA talked with the young man, and found out that early on a lot of his friends would visit, but as they entered their teen years and beyond, their interests took them elsewhere and they simply forgot about him.

I know there are at least two sides to every story. I understand friends falling away. That happens even with moves or life in general without their being a health complication in the mix. But I cannot understand not having a visit from family during the weekend or even a phone call. There may be more to the story and some valid reasons for why she doesn't visit. But it's simply beyond me.

I pray that when the day comes that we need outside help for Bobby that God will bless us with health aides we can afford. I know many people can't, and nursing homes are the only option. But should that ever be the case for us, I will do my utmost to make sure that the above story will never be said of our family.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


I had all these plans for our big snow. I even went to the fabric store so I could spend half of my inside time working on a quilt.  And then we lost power. And had two roof leaks. Then Bobby got sick. I am very grateful for our generator, as much as I've griped every year about it. (It was one of those marriage situations where "this is happening and it really doesn't matter that I've not consulted you", and for the first nine years we had it I complained every time I had to take off work for the maintenance guy to come or with every bill we've had to pay on it.) But I cannot imagine having to look after someone who is sick without lights, heat, water, or the microwave to heat things. More than once this week I've felt more than a little chagrin for all my griping.

Last night, in the midst of Bobby's fever spike, and in one of those "I simply cannot do this again; I just want to sleep one hour" moments,  I headed to the bathroom for a cold washcloth. Outside the bathroom window, the clouds had parted and the full moon was finally shining through. It was hitting the ice on the upper branches of two trees, making it look like the tree tops were illuminated with little white Christmas lights. It took my breath away. After I got Bobby settled, I tried to get a picture so he could see, but it was a no go. Later, the sight was gone as the clouds had come back. I was more than a little happy when it happened again around 5am. I know such circumstances are not unusual, but for me, the timing of that sight was a breath of fresh air, a gentle reminder from God that I am not alone and His grace is sufficient. Sometimes it's the little things that give me the strength to keep going.

And as I know everyone wants to know - Bobby's heart is doing well. We'll start with the urologist tomorrow to try and see what is causing the fever and weakness. Praying they can work us in.

Friday, January 22, 2016


We've had sleet/freezing rain since about 5:30am. By 3pm the ice had backed up in the gutter and on the roof, which meant as it melts, the water accumulates under the ice and has nowhere to go...except through our ceiling. It's happened once before - only during ice storms, never snow or rain. It was becoming quite bad (as in 1/4 a buck of water in about 30 minutes) and I was texting my brother-in-law for suggestions when my neighbor stopped by. She had just found out about Bobby being in the hospital and was bringing a meal and checking on him. We both just looked at each other, and I wondered why on earth I never thought to call her husband, who builds houses for a living. She went and got him, and he came, crawled up in the attic and found the spot, put some pans there to stop the downpour, then got a ladder and broke away the ice from the roof AND our gutters around that area so the water would have a place to go. He told us more than once to call us if it backed up again, as well as what I needed to tell the roofer when the weather cleared up. I'm sitting here listening to an occasional drop and feeling more than blessed and overwhelmed at how God has placed the right people in the right place at the right time this last week. I have captured a few pics of the ice laden pecan trees and the tiny icicles on the roof, but those will have to be uploaded another day.  For now I'm counting my blessings and cleaning up messes.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

traffic jam

Sometimes the communication wires in my brain are a traffic jam. There are simply too many thoughts rushing in too many directions for anyone to keep up with one train of thought. And that's okay.

My husband is a very private person. There are times I write a post, only to delete it because I realize it's not just my story, but his as well. And he's not into social media.

Other times life is just very busy, and there's simply not the time in a day to sit down and write. (Although one of the many reasons I started this blog was to help me do that very thing.)

As much as I like to write, and as much as I do an okay job of teaching, I find that I'm not the best communicator in the world. I was reminded of that this past weekend.

We spent three days at the hospital. Day one was in the ER as they ran tests and waited to see if things would improve on their own. The nurse in charge of our section was laughing a little. She remembered us from last fall, only because the doctors kept going through their checklist of questions (that mainly involve pain levels and symptoms) and we had to constantly remind them that as a quadriplegic, Bobby does not feel pain in those areas. She found it a little funny. One of the cardiologist nurses came by, and in answer to one of her questions "How did you know..." I responded, "Well, he was beginning to show the classic signs of..." She shook her head and said "And what is that? How did you know?" I was totally stumped. After it was all over, I thought of many things I could have said in response. She did later inform us that she had worked in a rehab facility with many paraplegics and quadriplegics, and she was always amazed at how they knew, or had a very good guess, as to what was wrong. There are some things that once you've experienced, you just never forget.

Probably one of the funniest things to me that happened during our stay (and there were several) was the cardiologist PA sitting across from Bobby explaining what was going to happen for the day, then asking "How are you feeling? Are you hurting?" and him glibly responding "No. I feel fine." and the look of utter disbelief on her face. After she responded "I've seen your heart monitor." I reminded her that pain in the area was in the cut-off region of where he could feel sensation. I think that was a little more than her comprehension could process at the moment. Yet, after it was all over, she had some answers to our question "How can we know when this is a problem? When do we seek help?"  And for me, that is one of my biggest traffic circles. When do I push for answers? When is it unreasonable to expect doctors to help find answers when we can't totally explain the problem? How do I articulate something is wrong when SCI symptoms are so different from those of everyone else?

Then throw into that mix thoughts of housework, and groups, and studies, and elections and dead chickens and dogs and weather and such, and I think you can see why sometimes I need to debrief before writing. Otherwise, this blog might resemble one of those elementary writing exercises where the student is supposed to strike out all the sentences that do not belong in a paragraph or essay. Some days, I could easily write those.

For today, I'll just write about exit one from the roundabout. And maybe one day I'll get to those cars that drive into the middle and just park. :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Dear Jane

About 10 years ago, I met a woman who was working on a Dear Jane quilt. I looked at all the teeny tiny pieces, and thought "No earthly way. Not in this lifetime."  Since then I've seen a few at quilt shows, briefly admired the chosen color scheme or the handiwork, then moved on. I was never one of those to stand and focus or think in front of the quilt. It was simply too much, too tiny.
Here's a picture of a quilt in the original style, from

See all those tiny squares? The entire block (each square) measures 4.5" when finished. Those are tiny, tiny pieces in those blocks. Smaller than my fat fingers even care to think about.

I bought the book yesterday. WHY? Curiosity for one reason. But also, with all my fabric accumulations from last year and leftover scraps from quilts I made, this is just one of many possibilities to help use it up. I don't know if or when I'll ever start. In the introduction, there's a note that the original quilter of this pattern (civil war era) made an embroidered note on the quilt that it has over 5,000 pieces in the quilt.  I am absolutely mind-boggled that someone would not only quilt it, but keep track (or go back and count) the number of pieces.

Here's a look of the quilt with modern color schemes:

There are some quilts I've mulled over in the back of my mind for many years before I actually start them. There's quite a few rolling around in there now. I suppose I can add one more to the jumble. :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

a crazy kind of fun

Over the years ladies in our church have always said "We should do a cookbook." And everyone would nod and say "Yes, we really should." And we never did.  Over the last month I've been thinking about that, and actually researched it, and came up with the crazy conclusion that it actually might be doable. Sunday our Pastor's wife handed me back all the paperwork, said her husband had looked at it and "go for it".  And now I have this crazy fear that no one will give me any recipes.

Several years ago we did a Bible study that involved cooking classes. One lady would give a cooking demo (and have recipe handouts). While the food was cooking, we'd have Bible study. Once the food was ready, we'd eat and have discussion groups. It was awesome. So I do have almost all of the recipes saved from that. I've spent most of today typing them in (only 6 more pgs to go!).  This is the type of stuff that I actually enjoy doing. Well, I'm not crazy about the time constraint (we need to be finished and have orders taken by the first of March) but I think with all my helpers we'll have a product everyone will be proud of (I hope).

The software this company uses allows for multiple typists to enter recipes, so if someone else volunteers that will make data entry a lot easier, and I've already had one lady volunteer to help proofread.  My thought was that I'd do one section of the book at a time, but realistically I think we'll take anything as it comes in.

I think my husband is wondering how/why on earth I volunteer for such projects. Or rather, why I do them at the last minute when I have a few other things happening at the same time. But such is life. Or at least, such is my life. :)

Monday, January 11, 2016


Earlier this winter (that seems so strange to type as most of our winter has been spring/fall temps) our neighbor gave us a huge bag of persimmon seeds. Evidently Bobby's uncle had planted a persimmon tree near the mailbox, and the new homeowner, knowing that it will likely be cut down in all the upcoming construction, said all many of the seeds from the fruit this year. So my dearest husband looked up instructions online on how to properly tend the seeds. The seeds have been in refrigeration for the last six weeks, as instructed, and today I'll pull them out and put them in water to soak for two days. But from that point on, I'm seriously contemplating deviating from the instructions.

The instructions call for planting the seeds directly in the ground, then as they grow into seedlings, thin them out, then the 2nd autumn, thin the row out again according to the number of trees you want to keep.

Umm, dear nursery people...not everyone has a nursery, or space for planting rows upon rows of seedlings on a hill that teenagers (or an older woman) might not see while going downhill on a riding lawnmower at breakneck speed.

So I'm thinking I might plant one or two on the fence line and mark the spot. The rest I'm considering planting in pots and sticking in the old dog pen until they develop. Except now that I'm reading the instructions for a second time, it says to plant in spring or early fall. I don't think we're anywhere near spring yet.

Now that I've purchased two bags of potting mix that are currently propped up in my kitchen driving us crazy and have been mentally prepping what I need to do and how to get all this done without making too big of a mess or creating even the slightest temptation for the dogs or chickens, I realize I've gotten way too far ahead of myself.

New item on my schedule for today...move these bags of soil to the shed and the seeds to a different section of the refrigerator.

Friday, January 8, 2016


It's so hard to believe that today marks the end of the first week of 2016! So here's my first list of thankfulness for the week:

1. Rain - I know we've had a lot, but with all the droughts of last year, it truly is a blessing (unless you're one of those who lost your house due to flooding.) One of the leaders in CA was saying they were able to store up enough water from rain run-off this week to provide for 40,000 people. That's not a lot for such large cities, but it's truly amazing when you stop and think about it.

2. Heat -  We've joked some this year as I've upped the temp in our house a degree or two (our thermostat is now on 70). And yet, there are days I've still been cold. Bobby is normally the cold one in our house, and he claims it's been too hot for him a few days. I'm thinking maybe I need to invest in some sweatshirts. Either way, I am very grateful for the heat we do have, and that it's more than adequate.

3. A Dryer - we had to replace our dryer right before Christmas. I am AMAZED at how much easier it is to do laundry now. I guess I ran the dryer 2-3 times to get some loads dried for so long that having everything ready to be folded or hung after one cycle is mind-boggling.

4. Flexibility - Even though our schedule is full in the mornings and evenings, we do have some flexibility as to how early/late that schedule can be (which we would not have if we had a health aid come in) and our daytime schedule is very flexible. We tend to fill it up, but it's nice knowing that I can adjust and rearrange things as we need it.

5. Laughter - We had a great time at Christmas, and since we've been back we've laughed at little things quite a bit. And that in and of itself is a blessing.

I could list so many more things, but I'll stop here!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

book review and musings

The other night I FINALLY finished reading A Plague of Frogs by William Souder.

The first chapter or two was riveting, giving background details to what I remembered hearing on the news many years ago. It was horrifying to think about. Because so many scientists and areas and viewpoints were involved, Souder's book simply follows the timeline of the story, meaning a LOT of jumping around from viewpoint to viewpoint and area to area. It was a little hard to remember who was in what area if you're only reading the book a little at a time like I was. The last 125 pages of the book are probably the best. The pace has picked up and you think an answer is finally in sight. Only, it's not. Well, at least not in the way readers are accustomed to have endings. Basically, there are multiple reasons to the decline/extinction of the frog population, scientists don't agree on all of the answers, the tests are inconclusive, and other than the fact that frogs are dying in massive quantities and some breeds have become extinct in the last 15 years, that's about all the resolution you're going to get.

Climate chaos, climate change, global warming, (and my older cousins and aunts laugh that it had different names but same meaning back in the 1960s and 1970s) does play a factor in the environment, regardless of what we believe about its causes (or even its existence). The irony of the whole situation to me is the reaction from the various worldviews. Some of the scientists in the book were clearly Darwinists, and yet, they seemed to be the most concerned about the result. If the whole concept of evolution is that the fittest will survive whatever is thrown their way, then isn't extinction of some animals a good thing? And for the record, there were many scientists interviewed in the back, mainly biologists, who saw this as a very small part of a larger picture, one that was too complex to bullet point certain answers. I gathered from my reading (and my conclusion here could be totally wrong) that while they were very concerned, they were also somewhat acquiescent about whatever nature doles out.

To me the irony comes not only in the panic of those who believe this is how nature is supposed to play out - some make it; others don't - but also in the mirror image attitude of Creationists. Some deny the whole concept of earth warming and changing (yet to hear any explanation for why species are dying out or temperatures are clearly changing as any gardener will tell you), which means they're also denying the reality of Scriptures that there will come days of famine, a day when the sun will clearly die out (and if you remember middle school science, stars get hotter before they die) and they see no cause for concern or change in behavior - whatever comes, they'll accept. That whole mindset reminds me of the acquiescent biologists. And then there's the others who are concerned and think we should modify our behavior and fulfill our command to "tend the earth" and stop things from getting worse. They're very concerned, and like the Evolutionists, I can't help but wonder if they've forgotten their theology that will come to pass.

I'm not sure what camp I belong to. I do believe the earth is warming. What percentage is man-made and what is natural demise, I can't say, but it's quite obvious that it's happening. Bobby has commented that the frog population in the pond (which he helped his Dad build at age 5) is miniscule compared to what it was in his younger years. While we've not seen the deformities found elsewhere, in my adult years I've also not played with the frogs enough to notice such things. I have heard many bird watchers and older people comment lately about certain birds they always enjoyed hearing or watching when they were younger no longer being around. And I know there are certain trees that used to be everywhere you almost never see anymore. There's a small part of me that makes me wonder if the Amish didn't have it right. Granted, I have no desire to give my up heat, AC or electricity, but I also know that in China their source of heat is one of the many factors that is giving them excessively dangerous air quality these days. I can't imagine having to choose between being slightly warm (when I lived there I had "heat" and still wore 3-4 layers inside in the winter) and the ability to breathe.

So while I was disappointed with the book's ending, even in my own life I don't have definitive answers or thoughts about the issues and potential causes themselves. Perhaps that is why I found the lack of conclusion so unsettling - I was looking for a conclusive answer to an endlessly vague issue.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

headache day

There are days that are "lost" to headaches. Most of today was that day. So, no shower head repair, no completion of cleaning out documents from the desk, no quilt work, no prep for election training,  no phone call to check on someone who loves to talk, no reading, no cleaning from my housework list...but I did manage to get in a few errands this afternoon. Gel Tablet ibuprofen is my friend on days like this.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


We had snow flurries yesterday. It lasted for a whopping 20 minutes.

Garner granted approval for Bryan Road Elementary School to be built, without curbs and gutters (which is what the school system suggested to much outroar at the last meeting). I'm not sure why the meetings lasted as long as it did, but I was thankful I made the choice to stay home.

Making a quilt at someone's request is not as fun as doing it as a gift. In fact, it can be stressful.

I never dreamed I'd say this, but the book Plague of the Frogs (about all the deformed frogs found in Minnesota in the 1990s) has become quite interesting in the last 100 pages. Everything I thought was going to be the reason behind the atrocities is turning out not to be the cause. I may be quite surprised by the end of it.

My favorite section of the newscast this morning? The number of people interviewed on the street who have already broken their new year resolutions. Ha!

Monday, January 4, 2016

MC Escher

Friday we went to the NC Art Museum to see the MC Escher exhibit. Our tickets included the exhibit for the journal of Leonardo da Vinci, but you had to go through a security checkpoint and certain items (including cell phones) were placed in a ziplock and held at the checkpoint to be picked up when you exited. Bobby didn't want to empty his wheelchair pouch (he's had a bad experience with that - mainly the Wake County courthouse security team confiscating his adapted fork because "it could be a weapon".  Those things aren't easy to replace!) and as I mainly wanted to see Escher's works and knew we wouldn't be able to read the journal anyway AND was getting more than a little tired of the crowd and my feet were tired, we left after the Escher exhibit.

And for me, it was worth it. I learned quite a few new things about the artist, and I really enjoyed seeing the changes in his artwork throughout  his life. I don't think Bobby was a huge fan afterwards, though he did seem to enjoy looking at the pieces. Some of his work reminded me of my childhood when we'd stretch out upside down on the couch or stairs, and I'd ponder what it would be like if our house was upside down. My sister said it would never work because no one would want to step up and over (the space above the door) to get into the next room. But it reminded me of our visit to the battleship in Mobile, and I knew the doors to the ships required you to step through the opening instead of walking through like we do at home. So it's not that far of a stretch of the imagination to think of that.

I also appreciated his quotes from Scripture in his earlier works, as well as his willingness to leave his adopted country of Italy out of concern for his sons before WWII. Leaving a place you love is never easy, even when it's for the right reasons.

I didn't grow up exposed to art. When I was studying graphic design at Wake Tech, one of the classes we took included a lot of art history lessons. My teacher was horrified to find out that I had never heard of Escher. I didn't bother to tell her I was ignorant of almost every artist we studied. But I liked what we read and saw of his work enough that his is one of the few names I remember from that semester. If you like puzzles or quirky things that are well done, he's an artist worth researching.

Friday, January 1, 2016

keeping pace

Last year I read or completed reading (meaning I started it before 2015) about 19 books. This year, I hope to keep that pace. Ideally, I'd love to read more than that, but I know with the schedule for this upcoming year that's not going to be very likely.

I have two books from last year that I've not finished, one a science/past current event book, and the other a church history book. And lined up on my dresser are several history books, several biographies/autobiographies, a few fiction, and a few church/Bible study type books. My goal is to knock quite a few of them out, and unlike last year, not replace the stack with news ones to read. I'd like to have all books off my dresser unless they're in the process of being read within two years. And that's a steep goal.

Several years ago I joined some friends in a book club. I enjoyed almost every minute of it (there was that one book that I literally had to make myself read) and it pushed me out of my boundaries to read some things that I wouldn't have otherwise picked up. But at the end of that year as I evaluated my time and resources, as much as I enjoyed the process, the reality is I need to read what we already have and not spend anything on new books. Hopefully there will come a day when I fell caught up and streamlined enough in the book department to do that again, but I'm just not there yet.

And almost as exciting as having a lot of books to read, is the fact that Duck Dynasty starts a new season this month. About time!