Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 In Review

It is an interesting exercise to look back over the year. Much has happened in my little corner of the world. As a review of 2010 I've chosen a sentence a month from the past year.

My main occupation since the beginning of this new year has been trying to stay warm.

Our winter road trip through the deep south was a wonderful experience. Each day was different from the day before, full of different sights and emotions.

I spent the weekend in the Pennsylvania mountains with forty of my girlfriends. The speaker was my older daughter. She shared her journey of faith with words and music that inspired a room full of women.

It is hard to find words to describe all the emotions involved in watching our grandson become one of the nation's newest airmen. Of course we are very proud of him.

Today I received an email from Iraq.

“HI MOM! happy mothers day i miss you and the family i would like to talk to you soon”

If you had asked me a year ago if Paul could walk a 5K I would have laughed at the improbability of the idea. Saturday Paul was laughing as we all cheered him across the finish line.

It was obvious the our Todd had found the perfect woman to be his wife. Pam adores Todd and is so proud of her soldier. Courtney refers to him as Dad. They are counting the days until he returns home again.Todd called the next morning. For the first time in more than eight years I heard his voice. He sounded so good. I cried.

I have been spending a lot of time with pain since my foot surgery five days ago. Pain just takes over your life and colors everything you see and do.

Sunday I was finally able to get to church. It felt so good to be back.

I saw the doctor this morning for a follow-up appointment. He is quite pleased with my recovery. It will be a little longer than I expected, but I will walk again.

This morning my seventeen-year-old granddaughter Sofie had her keys blessed. Sofie received something quite wonderful when she returned to the church parking lot. She had received a phone call from the admissions office of the University of New Haven. Not only had she been admitted, she was awarded a significant scholarship.

I can walk!

Monday, December 27, 2010

10 Joys of Christmas 2010

We've enjoyed a wonderful Christmas holiday this year. I'll share ten of the joys.

1. Joy one came on Thursday evening. We had just finished a Christmas Eve Eve supper at daughter number 2's home. We were trying not to talk about our young airman because he would not be home for the first time this year. The US Air Force wouldn't let him off. Then the door opened and in walked John. There was much screaming and crying and laughter as we rejoiced that he was home. Our family does love a good surprise.

2. Any grandmother will tell you that getting the whole family together at the same time in the same place is one of life's greatest joys. Here we are posing for a picture for gramma.

3.This year the simple act of walking around my house and being able to help with day's festivities was glorious. Not being able to walk for more than four months makes me very appreciative of my growing mobility.

4. My grandsons the manly men were having such fun together. They do make me smile.

5. My beautiful granddaughters bring us hugs and great joy.

6. Being part of the candlelit singing of “Silent Night” always makes me cry. Sharing it with family and friends makes it seem like a bit of heaven.

7. My husband, who is still a little boy at heart, spent most of Christmas Eve putting together a marvelous marble machine so he would have a toy on Christmas morning.

8.Our daughter adopted a blue-footed-boobie in our name. I love blue-footed-boobies.

9. No Christmas would be complete without festive neon yellow sweatshirts for the whole family.

10.The greatest joy is the love that fills the air and surrounds us all with love that makes us count our blessings and remember who we are. God is good.

Monday, December 20, 2010

"What's A Virgin?"

One evening just before Christmas, 1969, I was at the piano picking out some Christmas songs. My six-year-old daughter joined me on the piano bench and we sang together,“Silent night, Holy night, round yon virgin..,” when she stopped singing. She looked at me and asked,”Mommy, what's a virgin?” Ahh, one of those questions every mother looks forward to answering. I said something to the effect that Joseph didn't help Mary get pregnant like daddy helped mommy get pregnant. She looked startled and said, “I didn't know daddy had anything to do with that!” She then seemed to loose interest in the subject and went off to play with her little sister and brothers.

The next day my six-year-old went grocery shopping with me. I was in the check-out lane and she was sitting in the cart's child seat. Just as the clerk began ringing up my order my daughter decided she had one more question. She asked in a loud, clear voice for all the store to hear,”Mommy, just what did daddy do to help get you pregnant?”

That little girl is now the mother of two grown children. I have greatly enjoyed watching her answer their questions.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I can walk!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas 1963

1963 was one of those years when everything in my world changed. I left my full time career as a nurse because I was pregnant. Hospital policy did not allow nurses to work after the second trimester. I became a mother. My husband accepted a job at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. We packed all our worldly belongings into a moving van and sent them off to Maryland. We moved out of our cute little house in Santa Monica and moved back to Whittier where we lived with my parents for the last month of the year. I was so in awe my beautiful newborn daughter that all the big changes going on in my life faded into the background.

Christmas morning I dressed my baby in a cute little red Santa suit. My day revolved around her. She seemed to delight in the Christmas lights. My family all delighted in her. The importance of our impending move across the country had not really sunk in with me. I didn't realize that this would be the last time I would celebrate Christmas with my parents, my brothers and my nieces. I did not realize that my role in life would largely change from being a daughter to being a mother. Two weeks later we left California and flew to Maryland.

The next Christmas I was large with child and my doctor advised against traveling across the country for the holidays. Santa found us in Maryland. Our house filled with children and we always stayed home for Christmas. I missed my California family. Every year when we put up our tree I would call home and exclaim, “ It's the pettiest tree we've ever had!” just as my mom had said every year. Every year on Christmas Eve we would open the big packages that had come from our families and celebrate California Christmas. I would have a few pangs of loneliness. Christmas morning we awoke to the happy squeals of our children as they discovered the pile of goodies brought by Santa. Our children all have wonderful memories of Christmas.

Was there a year in your life when everything changed and you just didn't realize it at the time?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Christmas 1989 & 1990

Some Christmas memories are melancholy and always bring a touch of sadness into the joy of the season.

One Sunday afternoon in early December 1989 we were sitting at the kitchen table when the phone rang. It was my brother-in-law calling from Colorado to tell us that my father-in-law had just died of a heart attack. His death was unexpected. He had been in the midst of a busy retirement and enjoying life. The day before he died he had put up the Christmas tree and gone to a children's party where he had played Santa Claus. That morning they had gone to church. In the afternoon he and his wife had sat down to watch their beloved Broncos play football. She turned to say something and he was gone. We flew to Colorado and drove across the snow covered mountains to be with the family. The mountains were beautiful, with all the small towns twinkling with Christmas lights. It looked like a glittery holiday card. Christmas lights reflecting on the snow always remind me of that drive and my wonderful father-in law. Bill was a good man. We still miss him.

Just over a year later we were again sitting at the kitchen table when the phone rang. This call was from my brother. After a very long, difficult illness my father had died of pneumonia. He had been in a nursing home for five years. His last years were hard. I was expecting the call, but it was still hard to believe that my sweet daddy was gone. We flew to California for the funeral. The church was full of friends and family who came to honor this good man. We flew back home on Christmas eve. My children, my grandchildren, and my mother-in-law were waiting for our arrival so the Christmas festivities could begin. My grandchildren were little and very excited about Santa Claus. It was a hard thing to celebrate that year. The joy and the sadness kept getting mixed up.

We love Christmas, as did our fathers before us. I feel their presence every year as we gather to celebrate the joy of being a family.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Christmas 1975

This time of year is so full of memories of times gone by that on many days I tend to get very nostalgic. Recently I came upon this letter to Santa written by my children in 1975. I cherish the memories of my house full of children.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I love my teen aged boys. They always make me smile.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Foot Report

After our feast yesterday my daughter decided to give us all a tattoo. She is learning the fine art of tattooing with henna and wanted to practice. My good right foot was blessed with a beautiful design. My husband's hand was tattooed with the solar system and my son had Mom with a heart around it for his arm. It was a fun activity. I could commit to a two week tattoo.

Several people have asked for a report on my left foot. It is getting better. Recovery has just been harder and is taking longer than I had expected. I am now sixteen weeks post-op. I still have to wear the big orthopedic boot and use crutches in order to walk, but I am starting to walk. I am able to put full weight and the foot. I no longer need to take pain medicine. Yesterday I drove the car for the first time since surgery. My goal is to be walking without help by Christmas. Not being able to do the things I usually do has been frustrating, but this to shall pass. I will dance next year.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Today is Thanksgiving Day. We are headed over the river and through the woods to our daughter's home where we will feast on turkey with all the trimmings. (Actually it's just up the road, about ten minutes from here.) There will be a small but thankful crowd around the table. Two of our children and their families will be sharing the day with the in-laws this year. Our grandson will be gone for the first time this year. He is in Texas where he will celebrate with his Air Force buddies.

Take time to count your blessings today and have a wonderful day.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Teetotaler's Fruitcake

My parent's were teetotalers, as were all their friends. When I was a child I never saw anyone drink anything alcoholic, no beer, no wine, no alcohol. Occasionally I heard a sermon about the sin of drunkenness and I grew up just assuming that good people never drank alcohol. I tell you this so you will understand the following story.

Every Christmas my mother made a fruitcake. The fruitcake making was one of the rituals of preparing for Christmas. One year one of my mom's fellow teachers told her how much better the cake would be if she soaked a cheesecloth in peach brandy and then wrapped it around the cake. The brandy would impart a peach flavor and keep the cake moister. Mom wanted to try this idea, but she had a problem. Dad was an elder in our church. The church did not approve of alcohol . She did not want any of the congregation to see her going into the liquor store, so she drove to a neighboring town to make her purchase. She parked at the store and looked around, then hurried inside to make her purchase. As she left with her little brown bag of brandy she literally bumped into the wife of the other elder in our little church who had also driven to the neighboring town to make a similar purchase. They were both embarrassed and vowed to keep their secret.

I was a young teen that day when mom came in with her arms full of groceries. In an unusual gesture of helpfulness I hopped up and helped her unload groceries. The first thing I pulled out of the grocery bag was her little brown bag with the peach brandy inside. I shrieked with amazement. “Mom, is this really brandy? Did you really buy alcohol?” My poor mom. She was so embarrassed as she explained the whole story to me.

The fruitcake was exceptionally good that year. It was so moist with a hint of peach flavor. Everyone asked for a second serving that year.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


One of the sweet traditions in our congregation is “The Blessing of the Keys.” Shortly after a young person gets their driver's license the congregation blesses their car keys, praying for safe driving. At the beginning of the service the young person is called to the front of the church and there is a brief prayer. Then the young driver goes for a drive with a selected sponsor. At the end of service they return and the sponsor reports on the young driver's ability. The new driver is then given a new key chain as a token of our blessing.

This morning my seventeen-year-old granddaughter Sofie had her keys blessed. In fact she drove our youth minister to Starbucks and they talked until time to return. Her sponsor gave her an A+ on her driving skills and then said Sofie had received something quite wonderful when she returned to the church parking lot. She had received a phone call from the admissions office of the University of New Haven. Not only had she been admitted, she was awarded a significant scholarship. Her family heard this exciting news with the rest of the church. She truly did feel blessed this morning.

Yesterday I attended my first Bar Mitzvah. It was a beautiful, moving service. I cried several times as this young man was blessed by his family, his religious community and many friends. It is a wonderful thing to watch faith and heritage passed from one generation to the next with such love. Mazel tov David. You filled us all with pride.

I hope all our children all feel blessed with love by their families and their community.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


"OLD" IS WHEN... Your sweetie says, "Let's go upstairs and make love," and you answer, "Pick one, I can't do both!"

"OLD" IS WHEN.. Your friends compliment you on your new alligator shoes and you're barefoot.

"OLD" IS WHEN.... A sexy someone catches your eye and your pacemaker opens the garage door.

"OLD" IS WHEN... Going bra-less pulls all the wrinkles out of your face.

"OLD" IS WHEN. You don't care where your spouse goes, just as long as you don't have to go along.

"OLD" IS WHEN..... You are cautioned to slow down by the doctor instead of by the police.

"OLD" IS WHEN..... "Getting a little action" means I don't need to take any fiber today.

"OLD" IS WHEN..... "Getting lucky" means you find your car in the parking lot.

"OLD" IS WHEN..... An "all-nighter" means not getting up to pee.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Thanksgiving Times Six

In honor of the fact that this is the sixth day of November, the month of Thanksgiving, I will list six things for which I am thankful today.

1.There are no political ads on TV. I think I prefer ads about erectile dysfunction and feminine products than the filth politics produces.
2.Today I took a shower without any assistance from anyone, my first solo shower since surgery last August. I am thankful for the shower stool and long-hosed hand-held shower that made that possible.
3.I am thankful for a laptop computer that has allowed me to stay in contact with the outside world.
4.I am thankful for Mark, my daughter's sweetheart. Happy birthday Mark.
5.The world outside my window is filled with beautiful autumn leaves, I am so thankful for the beauty of nature.
6.I am thankful for Dennis, my sweet, loving husband, who has been such a wonderful caregiver as I recover from surgery. I could not have survived the last few months without his steadfast love.

What are some of things that you are thankful for today?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


One of the things that has kept me sane for the past few months has been going to bell practice every week. I roll into the practice room each week in my wheelchair where I find of group of friends who help me forget my troubles for a little while. There is something about counting, 1-and-duh – 2 – 3-and-duh 4, that just makes everything else disappear. It is kind of like musical yoga. We hit a lot of wrong notes in practice and sometime we get pretty silly. We have agreed that happens in bell practice stays in bell practice. Between laughs we practice hard. Our official name is the Clinquant Choir. We call ourselves the ding-a-lings. Occasionally we get to make glorious music.

We joined the vocal choirs, the Westminster Trombone Choir, and the organ this past Sunday to play, “Lord Speak To Me.” I hope God smiled at our song of praise.

To hear us play click here, then click on the mp3 audio for the anthem on Reformation Sunday.

Psalms 150

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Victory Over Breast Cancer

October has been designated as breast cancer awareness month. Before the month is over I wanted to share my all time favorite story about a victory over the disease.

For many years I was a nurse in a big family practice clinic. It was a great job. Over time I became very close with our long-time patients. One of my favorites was Heidi, the fifty year old mother of one college age daughter. Heidi was a delightful, funny lady.

One day Heidi came in to see the doctor about a lump she had just discovered. She was concerned. Tests were done and the results were not good. After the doctor told her the results indicated cancer she came to me. I held her while she cried. She was afraid she would die and never her see her daughter graduate and marry. She would never know if she had grandchildren. Cancer is a very scary diagnosis. After a good cry Heidi pulled herself together, told her daughter, and arranged to be treated for the disease. She had a double mastectomy and chemotherapy. The treatment was difficult, but after a year she was declared cancer free. Heidi was there to celebrate when her daughter graduated, married and gave birth to Heidi's first grandchild.

On the five year anniversary of being cancer free, Heidi and her daughter celebrated with a trip to mardi gras in New Orleans. There is custom at mardi gras about beads involving the showing of your boobies. A man with an armload of beads approached Heidi and her daughter, offering their choice of his beads in exchange for a quick peek. Heidi asked if he was sure he wanted to see her boobies. When he assured her that he did, she reached inside her blouse and removed both her prostheses and placed them in his hands. He starred at them for a moment before he realized what she had done and then started laughing. He told her that she was one brave woman and returned them to her and then placed everyone of his beads around her neck. He thought she deserved them for her great courage and humor.

Heidi came into the doctor's office when she returned and brought us all beads from New Orleans. She said to share her story of victory. She wanted women everywhere to know that victory over cancer is possible and that life can still be full of joy.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Doctor Said

I saw the doctor this morning for a follow appointment. He is quite pleased with my recovery. After eleven weeks the bones have healed and are now in alignment as they should be. I was expecting to be referred to a physical therapist and be walking again in the near future. It will be a little longer than I expected, but I will walk again. I can start walking now with my orthopedic boot on and using crutches until I am strong enough to not need them. This will take six to eight weeks. In the office today he manipulated my foot an toes to break up the adhesions and scars that have formed during my recovery. I'm sure most of the people in the hospital heard me scream. It hurt a lot. I will have to massage my foot three times a day and stretch the toes back to prevent the adhesions from reforming. I will not be seeing a physical therapist now. I should be walking without the boot before Christmas. He said it would be spring before I would be walking without being aware of foot. Looks like it may be next summer before I can take dancing lessons.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Day of Birth

Today is my daughter's birthday, or as I often tell her, it is the anniversary of my suffering. It is fortunate that women are able to pretty much block out all memory of labor and delivery or none of us would ever have a second child.

The day before giving birth I woke up before dawn aware of intermittent back pains and cramps. I got up and walked around trying to decide if this was really labor. If this was it was it wasn't so bad. I had fixed myself some coffee when my husband came out ready for work. He asked why I was up so early and I told him that I was in labor. He went pale, sat done and asked what he should do. I told him it was going to be a long process and to go on to work. He did, but he was home before noon, saying there was no way he could concentrate. He wanted to be home. I thought things were progressing nicely and we left for the hospital later in the afternoon.

I had worked in labor and delivery until hospital policy required me to resign after my second trimester. I knew the staff and the routines well. I was excited, but not too nervous as we went through the admission process. The hospital was a big, modern teaching facility. It was a very progressive place allowing fathers in the labor area. It was a long labor. The pain was far greater than I had expected. At one point a young nurse came in and told me that if I just took long, slow breaths it wouldn't hurt so much. I was tempted to hit her, except I could remember saying the same thing to patients I had cared for when I had worked there. At one point my husband assured me he would do everything else if I had the babies instead of him. Finally the next afternoon it was time for delivery. My husband was sent to the waiting room. Fathers were not permitted in the delivery room. I was given an epidural that brought sweet relief from the pain. As the nurses moved me from the gurney to the delivery table my leg slipped down and prevented me from getting where I needed to be. I remember seeing my leg hanging there and thinking how strange it was that I could neither feel nor move my leg. Finally I was on the delivery table. Then a miracle happened and my beautiful, perfect baby girl was placed in my arms.

The baby and I were checked out, pronounced healthy, cleaned up and placed in my hospital bed to be transported to my room. My husband met us as we rolled down the hallway. He kissed me and then just stared at the little face staring back at him. Finally he said that he had never seen such big beautiful eyes in a baby. Then he asked if this beautiful creature was a boy or a girl. He was thrilled to be the father of a daughter.

The lifetime of joy and love that little girl and her sister and brothers have brought us far outweigh any of the pain of childbirth.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Two of My Favorite Things

There are two inventions that have made my life immensely better.

The first is the mute button on my TV remote control. The airwaves have been totally polluted with obnoxious advertisements. During this election season whenever a political ad begins I happily hit my mute button. The lies, innuendos and half truths are silenced. An ad begins that extols the wonder of a pill that enhances a man's erectile function and I hit my mute button. I just don't want to hear it. I also hate ads for feminine hygiene products. It just seems some things should not be shouted into my living room. My mute button is a great stress reducer in my life.

What advertisements make you hit the mute button?

The other invention that improves my life and reduces it's irritations is the caller ID on my phone. I think ninety percent of calls made to our house are junk calls. If you call from an 800 number or the ID shows up as an unknown caller I don't answer. I miss lots of pushy salesmen and lots of politicians that way. I figure if it is important the caller will leave a message. The fact that I own a phone does not mean I have to talk to you. I love my caller ID.

Do you screen your calls?

Friday, October 08, 2010

Ten Things To Do While Waiting For My Foot To Heal

1.Feel sorry for myself. This is depressing so I try to limit this activity, but I have managed to have a couple of very good pity parties.
2.Take naps. This was much easier when I was taking the good drugs.
3.Play free cell. This is a big waste of time but it is better than number one.
4.Watch daytime TV. I can only do this if I am taking the good drugs which prevent me from thinking.
5.Tour the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I have been watching a series of illustrated lectures by an art historian about the great works in these two museums. I am learning a lot about art history. It really is interesting. Someday I plan to go see both theses museums.
6.Eat. I wonder if I will be able to fit into an of my clothes after three months of boredom and inactivity.
7.Read. Since I quit taking the good drugs I have been able to enjoy reading again. Currently I am enjoying “Peace Like a River,” by Leif Enger. It is a sweet story about family, love and faith with delightful characters. I tried to read “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” but found it just too boring. I didn't like any of the characters and didn't care what happened to any of them.
8.Try to think of something interesting to post on my blog. My life has not been very exciting recently.
9.Visit with friends and family when they come to visit. I love to listen to stories about the people in my world.
10.My very favorite thing is to get out of the house and go anyplace else. Since I travel by wheelchair I have really come to appreciate handicap accessible places. I am grateful that our church, the senior center and several restaurants are all wheelchair friendly.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Lexie Sue

Thirteen years ago today I had the honor of being present at the birth of my seventh grandchild. What a breath-taking moment that was! After a long labor, suddenly there she was, a beautiful, perfect baby girl. As the doctor handed this new baby, fresh from heaven, to my daughter a feeling of amazing joy filled my heart. My daughter then looked at me and said that her name was Alexandra Susan. This child's middle name is in honor of me. I felt overwhelmed at such an honor.

I love this wonderful girl who today begins the exciting adventure of being a teenager.

Happy birthday Lexie Sue.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Two Month Follow-Up

I have just returned from my two month follow-up appointment with the surgeon. I heaved a very large sigh of relief when he said that everything is healing well. Recovery looks to be right on schedule. I am now allowed to start puting some weight on my foot as long as I wear my orthopedic boot. He expects me to be able to be completely weight-bearing by the time I see him again in a month. I was quite happy when he gave me permission to take this hot, uncomfortable boot off when I go to bed. I am greatly looking forward to a comfortable night's sleep.

I feel like I can see a light at the end of this long tunnel of recovery. I will be able to walk again.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


After a week of fighting boredom and cabin fever I was really looking forward to going to church this morning. My expectations were well met. The singing was uplifting and the sermon left me feeling hopeful. The gloom and doom of the news combined with the cabin fever that has attacked me had left me feeling pretty down this week. Today I was reminded of all the good things going on in the world and in my life. After the service I enjoyed a cup of coffee while visiting with many friends. Six year old Abigail told that she really was the smartest girl in first grade. Five year old Grace let me look in her kaleidoscope because it is always pretty in there. How can you not be happy when Grace lets you look in her kaleidoscope? I came home counting my blessings,

What is something good going on in your world?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Moment of Panic

This morning I was sitting in the chair where I spend most of my life these days just chatting with my husband and our daughter. As we talked I glanced down at my hands and felt a moment of surprised panic. The diamond was missing from my engagement ring. How could that be? That diamond has been sitting in that ring on my hand for over fifty years. It is always there. My husband and daughter both jumped up and looked at my hand. I was not hallucinating. The ring was still on my finger, but the diamond was not in the ring. I jumped up as fast as a one legged woman who can't walk could stand up and wheeled myself and my scooter to the couch so the chair could be closely investigated. My daughter slowly removed each pillow and cushion. She turned the chair upside down and look in all the crevasses. She found lots of dust, but no diamond. My husband took the blankets off the bed and looked closely for my diamond. No shiny diamond in our bed. I was trying hard not to cry. Suddenly there was loud, “Eureka! I found it.” Somehow it had fallen into the trash can in the bathroom. It sat there shiny and bright under the collection of trash. I felt such sweet relief. It can be reset and fixed as good as new. My hand just feels naked without my diamond.

That which was lost has been found.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Love Thy Neighbor

With all the upsetting news recently about people behaving badly in the name of Christianity, I found this story to be very hopeful.

The Heartsong Methodist church near Memphis Tennessee recently learned that the property next door to their building had been purchased by the Memphis Islamic Center. A mosque and Islamic Center was to be built there. Instead of reacting with fear this church responded with Christian love and hospitality. Following the command to love their neighbors they put up a large sign that said the Heartsong Church welcomed the Islamic center to the neighborhood. They hosted their new neighbors for dinner. During Ramadan they invited their new neighbors to use their building for evening prayers while the Islamic center was under construction. They are cooperating in programs to help needy children in the neighborhood.

I think I would enjoy worshiping with my fellow Christians at the Heartsong church. It makes me smile to know that there are people who still believe that God really is love.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

River of Life Park

I used to love doing yoga. It was a wonderful way to stretch my muscles and relax my body and soul. I quit the classes when my joint pain worsened and many of the poses became too difficult for me. I have continued to do some of the poses to stretch my muscles and quiet my mind. My favorite pose was always the one that was the last pose of the class – relaxation pose. I would stretch out on my my back and just try to relax my whole body. That is easier said than done. Frequently our teacher would guide us through a visual imagery. Think of a place that is quiet and beautiful. Try to feel yourself there just relaxing.

One of the things that I have found helpful during this long recovery period is practicing the relaxation pose and visualizing a place of pain free peace. It has gotten so that I look forward to taking myself to this perfect place as I escape the pain and frustration of recovery. I am getting better each day and I think part of that is due to my daily escape to what I have called the River of Life Park. Let me tell you about my wonderful world of imagination.

In the Bible's book of Revelations the River of Life is said to flow from the throne of God right through the golden streets of heaven. The Tree of Life, with it's healing fruit grows along it's banks. In my imagination as this river flows outward from God's throne it goes through a wonderful heavenly park. The banks are covered with green grass and shaded by the Tree of Life. I swim in the river and feel it's healing power. I come back to the tables and chairs scattered along the bank and sit down next to my mother. We laugh and talk and feel the joy of being together. We look out to the river where my dad is fishing. I'm sure heaven's river is good for fishing. My children and grandchildren are all around us, playing and laughing. My beloved is counting the birds nesting in the tree of life. The sound of God's heavenly choir is carried by soft, warm breezes. There are tables filled with all the things we love to eat, bananas for mom, blackberry cobbler for my dad, My crazy, loving Aunt Rubye is there serving the children orange juice from Doctor Pepper bottles. In a rocking chair nearby my grandmother is rocking her babies who died shortly after birth. There is no pain here. There are no tears. Love permeates everything.

For now my excursions to River of Life Park are a brief respite from the long journey to recovery. Someday I plan to live there forever.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Since my surgery it seems like time as just been just barely moving by. I wonder how I can survive the remaining long, slow two months of my convalescence. Then something comes along and reminds me that time is moving by at incredibly fast speeds.

It seems like just yesterday that my second daughter gave birth to her much wanted first baby. I remember each moment that day so clearly. After a very long labor, suddenly she was here, our perfect baby girl, our Sofie. Today Sofie is seventeen years old. She is a beautiful, happy high school senior. Being Sofie's gramma is one my greatest blessings.

Happy birthday Sofie. I love you.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Labor Day

Considering I am still an invalid,we had as good a Labor Day weekend as possible .

Saturday my friend Evelyn came over for Chinese carry-out and some good conversation. We had not seen each other all summer and I was way behind on the gossip from her side of the world. A few tidbits of juicy gossip always makes for some fun conversation.

Sunday I was finally able to get to church. It felt so good to be back. I was hugged and grandly welcome by so many friends. I was on the edge of tears all morning because of my barely controlled emotions. One of the hymns of the morning was, “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” My mother used to rock me to sleep while singing this hymn. I always feel my heartstrings pull when I hear it, especially when it is the sweet acapella version we sang Sunday.

Monday we ventured over to our daughter's house for an end of summer cook out. I really wanted to go, but spent some time trying to figure out how to negotiate her porch steps safely. I finally sat on them and skooched up on my behind. It was pretty undignified, but I got up and down the steps without falling. By the time this foot heals I should have some strong arms. The delicious kabobs and fine company made it well worth the effort.

Tomorrow we are going back to the doctor's office in Baltimore. This orthopedic boot is driving me crazy. It is so uncomfortable. I took it and the dressing off today for my shower and noticed the skin is red and raw on my ankle and heel. I sure don't want to develop any pressure sores on that foot. I think I need a different style boot. Hopefully a solution will be found.

That's all the news for now from the healing room.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

A Good Day

Today was a good day.

I went to rehearsal with the senior chorale. It felt so good to be out of the house, with a room full of friends practicing notes and rhythms for the holiday program. It was good to feel normal for a little while. My sweet husband took me in in the wheelchair. I was only able to stay for about an hour, but it was a good beginning.

Son number two is here tonight. It was nice to have him here for dinner. He is having a minor medical procedure at o'dark-thirty in the morning. He needs a ride to and from the hospital, so he is sleeping over so his dad can drive him tomorrow

Today is my newest granddaughter's sixteenth birthday. Happy birthday Courtney. I'm so glad to have you in our family.

My husband got a bunch of new left-handed dice (don't ask) to add to his collection. He is very happy about this new addition to his collection. He is easily entertained.

In only eight more weeks I will be able to take off this orthopedic boot and start physical therapy.

Life is good.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Did You Hear the Angels Singing

Did you hear the angels singing this morning? There were rainbows in the sky and happy little bluebirds were dropping flower petals around me. It was a moment of sheer bliss in my little world. Their song went something like this, “ Praise God for great blessings. Sue is taking a real shower. Rivers of warm water flow down her back. Water washes the wounded foot. She feels so clean, so fresh. Showers of blessings are falling, Soon Sue will be well.”

Monday, August 30, 2010


It has been four weeks now since surgery. I know I am getting better because the boredom has begun to set in. The pain is pretty well controlled with the meds, but I just can't do much. Yesterday I had hoped to go to church, but I just didn't have enough energy to really go. My stamina has gone to just about none. It is frustrating. I've watched a lot of TV, but that wears out quickly. I don't mean to complain, I am healing. I know this is a temporary situation, but it just looks like a long boring road ahead right now.

I've had a lot of colorful, kind of scary dreams. I assume they are the result of the good drugs I have been taking. The dreams are not pleasant. I can't understand why people would take these pills for fun. Last night the dream seemed more real than normal. My husband was holding a flashlight and running around the bedroom with a flashlight and a flyswatter whacking the floor and yelling “Gotcha!” It seemed to be odd behavior for my studious, sedate husband. In the morning he said he hoped he hadn't bothered me, but he did kill two crickets who were driving him nuts during the night. He has now lined our bedroom with cricket traps in an effort to prevent another night of wild cricket hunting.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Precisely Where it Should Be

The nurse finished cutting away the many layers of bloody dressings and pulled it all away from my foot when the surgeon walked into the room. I looked down at my bruised, swollen foot, crisscrossed with sutures and said that my foot was ugly. The doctor smiled and said that my foot looked great. He put the x-rays on the screen. It looked to me like someone had dumped an erector set into my foot, there were screws and plates everywhere. The doctor said everything was precisely where it should be. He was extremely happy with the way everything looked. I was extremely relieved to hear all was okay.

I am now wearing a much smaller dressing and a big orthopedic boot. In a week I will be allowed to remove the boot and take a shower. No weight-bearing until he reevaluates me in five weeks. I am still taking my good drugs for pain, but I can go almost six hours between doses. Mobility is difficult and frustrating. But just knowing that everything is precisely where it should be gives me courage and hope for the rest of my recovery.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Post-Op Day10

It has been ten days since my foot surgery. I knew it would be painful and hard, but it has been more painful and difficult than I had expected. The pain is beginning to ease up some, but I am still very grateful for the good drugs. Everything just seems difficult. My foot is very heavy. I'm pretty sure that there are concrete blocks wrapped under the bandage. My right leg should be very strong when I get to the other side of this recovery.

I have a big stack of books that I was planning to read, but I think my brain has turned to mush. I just can't concentrate. My big diversion each day is to watch House Hunters on HGTV.

My minister came by and prayed for me. My friend Jack came by laid his big hands on my foot. Jack has the hands of a healer. My daughter came by and did reiki on me. My friend the rabbi has prayed for me. Sometimes I am very aware of the energy of divine grace and healing filling me. It is wonderful to have friends who have faith enough to pray.

The yummy food, the cards, the visits and the phone calls have really helped. It is good to have tangible evidence of love and friendship.

I have the most awesome husband in the world. He has done all the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry and shopping. He washed my back and shampooed my hair. He gets up in the night and helps me when I feel wobbly. He holds me when I cry.

I will be better tomorrow.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I have been spending a lot of time with pain since my foot surgery five days ago. Pain just takes over your life and colors everything you see and do. While I was in the hospital the nurses kept asking me to give my pain a number, “On a scale from one to ten, where is your pain right now?” I was never quite sure what to answer. Once I said, “Eleven.” The nurse said my pain could not be eleven. I disagreed with her, but I was not in a very good place argue.

I know the pain scale can be a very useful tool for the nurses, but it just doesn't seem to be complete. I know several of you are very talented writers. Help me to find some descriptive phrases so others will understand just what the pain feels like. Think of a time when severe pain has overwhelmed you. How would you describe that pain. For the purpose of this discussion, limit your description to physical pain, not the pain of a broken heart or great grief. Broken hearts are another whole discussion of pain.

I do know that bravely facing theoretical pain that has not happened yet is far easier than it is to endure the messy, overwhelming floods of real pain.

Here's a couple of descriptions. There are just so many good words that describe pain.

I felt like I was on the rocks near the bottom of Niagara Falls. The pain just kept pounding me against the rocks with unrelenting fury. (That pain would be an eleven.)

A dull ache spread everywhere, like a poisonous snake growing larger and more menacing. It felt dangerous.

You try to describe a moment of great pain. When I publish my great novel, I will give you full credit for any of your words that I may use.

Right now my pain lever is rapidly rising. The floodgates are about to burst open and overwhelm me. It is time for some of those good drugs.

Monday, August 09, 2010


The house is clean. The laundry is done. The shopping is done. The bills are paid.I think everything is as ready as I can make it.

Tomorrow I am having a talo-navicular fusion, naviculo-cuneiform fusion, first and second tarsal-metatarsal fusion and a medium infusion of bone grafted from my tibia. All that means I am having reconstructive surgery on my left foot. Walking has become increasingly more painful over the past few years. Our last trip convinced me that it was time to do something about the pain. The surgeon assures me that he can fix my problem. I will be on crutches for the next three months, then after some physical therapy I will be better than ever. I expect to be able to run a four minute mile with my new bionic foot, or least happily walk a mile and be pain free.

I am actually pretty nervous about this surgery. I am told that is the appropriate emotion. I will gladly receive all your prayers, happy thoughts and positive energy for a quick and complete recovery. A few prayers for my sweet husband who will be my nurse would also be in order. I do not have a history a being a very good patient.

I'll be back as soon as I am able.

Friday, August 06, 2010

A Tale About a Driver's License

Moe got his driver's license today.

Let me tell you about my friend Moe. Last year Moe was ecstatic when he won a lottery in his small African homeland and received a coveted visa to emigrate to the United States. He is a well educated man who had been employed as a social worker. He had heard about how good life was in America and was excited about being allowed to move here. He was full of dreams. He arrived in America four months ago and moved into a home with several other newly arrived immigrant families. He immediately began to search for a job. This was not as easy as he had anticipated. He speaks very good English, but his accent is noticeable. He almost got a job as a bellman in a downtown hotel, but was told he would have to get a driver's license first. The job might require some driving. He is thirty-five years old and has been driving for many years. He expected it would be something easily accomplished. He had no idea the hassle an American MVA can cause a man.

Moe does not own a car. You cannot take a driver's test without a car. A friend told him to call FISH, which is an organization for which I volunteer. We provide transportation for people who need it. Most of the rides are for older folk who need to see the doctor. When Moe called with his request a volunteer was found to take him to the MVA. He took his green card and his African driver's license. That was not enough paper work. He needed to provide all sorts of papers to prove he was a legal resident. He went home and gathered all his papers together and another volunteer took him to MVA again. The papers were in order, but now he would have to do a drug test. I don't know why this was required since none of the questionable looking teenagers in the room were required to provide a drug test. Another volunteer was needed to take him to another town, the only place that does drug screens for the MVA. He passed the drug test and returned again to the MVA. This time he was told that he would have to have a complete physical to certify that he was physically able to drive. The man has no job and no health insurance so this was a problem. Finally a local charity provided the funds for the medical exam. He passed that and returned to the MVA. He was allowed to take the written exam and received a perfect score. He was told he would then have to schedule a road test. He scheduled the test and a volunteer let him use his car for the exam. When the examiner got in the car he asked Moe to demonstrate that the lights and turn indicators worked. He did that. Then the examiner asked him to turn on the heater. Moe did not know how to turn on the heater. It was 95 degrees and no one had thought to show him the heater. He was not allowed to take the road test if he did not how to turn on the heater. He rescheduled the test. This is when I first met Moe. I went with him to an empty parking lot where he quizzed me about the heater and air-conditioner. He wanted to make sure he knew how to work every knob and dial on my dashboard. He practiced parallel parking and three point turns. The man is an excellent parallel parker.

It was obvious that he was nervous when got in line for the road test. He parked beautifully, but then, at the stop sign he stopped with the front tires on the white line, and that automatically disqualified him. He was greatly disappointed. He rescheduled and once again I took him to practice parking and then to the MVA for another road test. This time he was calm and confident. As he was demonstrating parking my car started making a loud rattling noise. The examiner said the car sounded unsafe and stopped the test. Once again Moe rescheduled his test. My car never made the noise again, but I did take it to the shop and they tightened up some things that might have caused it.

Today we once again practiced parking and then went to the MVA with all our paper work. His papers were in order but the computer did not show that he had scheduled an appointment. We went to the scheduling office to check on their error, but we were told that there was no appointment in the computer. He would have to reschedule. No amount of arguing helped. I asked if she could schedule the next appointment while we were there so we could be confident that it was indeed in their computer. She agreed to do that. As she was entering his information she stopped and asked him to repeat his phone number. She looked up and said that using his phone number the computer shows he had an appointment today after all. Someone had made a typographical error. We had to go stand in line again , but this time we were cleared to once again take the road test. There were no more problems. He drove back into the MVA lot with a smile as big as his American dreams. He had passed. The two hours we waited for the license itself were easy waiting. The nine trips to the MVA with all their hassles were gone. Moe just grinned with happiness. He called his wife and friends with joy overflowing.

On the way home today he said that today was his best day since coming to America. He loves his new country.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Why I support the Mosque in Manhatten

This post from Brian McLaren's blog says exactly what I've been thinking. Thanks Brian.If you want to read more of what he has to say,his blog is on my blog list.

"I don't really like proof-texting - pulling a verse out of context to try to prove a point. I'm not even a big fan of the fact that the Bible is divided up into chapters and verses. It wasn't always that way - our modern schema of chapters and verses is a relatively late addition to the Bible, having evolved since the 13th Century. Chapter-and-versification allows people to kidnap a quote out of its context in a longer narrative and apply it in potentially irresponsible and harmful ways, as if the Bible were a legal constitution and its verses were articles, sections, subsections, and amendments in a legal code.

But I'm about to engage in chapter-and-versing, consciously and intentionally - and with regard to context, because in this case, the ancient text applies powerfully to our own situation in America today. Consider Exodus 23:9:

"Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt."

The command was originally for ancient Jewish people. After a famine, they became refugees in Egypt and eventually were enslaved for generations by Pharoah's regime. But according to the Bible, God isn't on the side of the oppressors; God sides with the oppressed, and so God liberated them from slavery. God then led them through the wilderness and ultimately provided them a place to live. The oppressed became the blessed. (continued after the jump)

But being blessed by God gave them no excuse to oppress others, so they were commanded to never forget - never forget what it's like to be oppressed, so you never become complicit in the oppression of others. The command is repeated often, and even strengthened, as in Leviticus 19:33-34:

When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

You find a similar strengthening of the command in Deuteronomy (10:19):

[The LORD] defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.

Lately I've been thinking about Exodus 23:9 and its companion verses in relation to the current controversy about a group of Muslim citizens - full American citizens in a democracy, not even aliens! - seeking to build a mosque in Manhattan. Among others, Sarah Palin has called for peace-loving Muslims to "refudiate" the mosque, calling it a provocation and saying that it stabs the hearts of people in the heartland. But I wonder if people in the heartland have forgotten that they are only a few generations away from ancestors who were also immigrants, who came to the United States in many cases to experience freedom of religion.

Shouldn't it stab the hearts of caring Americans like you and me to imagine forbidding Muslims to experience the same freedom of religion in their new homeland that our own ancestors sought here in the past? Shouldn't we remember how it feels to be seen as aliens, and shouldn't we love our Muslim neighbors as ourselves, wanting the same religious freedom for them that we cherish?

That's why I think it's valid to bring Exodus 23:9 and its companion verses into the equation at times like these. We Christians - and Jews too - should enthusiastically support Muslims in their desire to build a center devoted to peaceful religion near the site of an atrocity committed in the name of violent religion. We are not called to mistreatment, prejudice, oppression, or even to mere tolerance - we are called to something far higher: to empathy, to generosity, to hospitality, and to love, fueled by empathy and memory. To violate those values should truly stab the heart of all Christians everywhere.

Knowing that Sarah Palin respects the Scriptures, I think if she gives it a second and prayerful thought, she couldn't help but change her mind."

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Mount Saint Helens

On our last day of adventure we rode up into the mountains to see Mount Saint Helens. WOW! Seeing it blew me away. Mount Saint Helens used to be a beautiful domed mountain peak. In their journals Lewis and Clark referred to it as the most beautiful mountain they had seen on their journey. On May 2, 1980, Mount Saint Helens exploded in the biggest volcanic explosion in American history. A mile of the mountain top just blew off causing a massive landslide. In the blast zone everything was blown away, leaving nothing but a barren, devastated landscape. Two-hundred and thirty miles were leveled in moments, just as though an atomic bomb had been dropped. The ash and debris spread around the world.
We viewed the mountain from six miles away, where the scientists who were monitoring for a possible eruption were killed instantly. When the mountain exploded everything on that spot was destroyed and became part of the ash and rock spreading across the land. It has been more than thirty years since the eruption. It was interesting to see how nature is healing it's wounds. In the field where lava flowed flowers now grow around the seismic monitors that still measure the tremors in the ground.

We took one more look at the mountain as we drove away, then, with our minds full of the memory of our western adventure, we turned our hearts toward home.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pendelton & Walla Walla

One day we left our boat and drove into the little town of Pendelton, OR. This is a town where the Old West is still alive and well. It is the home of world's largest rodeo. While we were there I joined in with some friends for a friendly game of cards.

Walking down the main street I ran into my old friend, Betty Boop.

We went over to Hamley”s Saloon for lunch and had a drink at the very same bar where folks like Teddy Roosevelt, Wild Bill Hickok and Annie Oakley had been before. I could feel their spirit of adventure just oozing out of the wood of that bar.

Another day we went into Walla Walla, WA. I love saying Walla Walla. It just makes me grin. It is said that Walla Walla is so nice that they named it twice.

We learned about the fine art of wine making in Walla Walla. The countryside is full of beautiful vineyards and wineries. Did you know that a French oak wine barrel costs over $1000?

After sampling many of the wines we headed back to our floating hotel for one more day of adventure.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hells Canyon

We left the Columbia River and sailed up the Snake River to Clarkston, WA, which was as far as the Spirit of 98 could go. There we climbed into our jet boats and headed up the shallow Snake River toward Hells Canyon.

Along the way we passed homes and ranches and columnar basalt cliffs.

We saw ancient petroglyphs. We didn't know what they said, but our guide thought the translation was something like, “Welcome to Idaho.”

After a couple of hours we stopped for lunch and then finally entered Hells Canyon.

There we saw waterfalls.

We saw lots of Rocky Mountain sheep along the shores.

High on a cliff we saw an Idaho potato playing the piano. The guide said he was playing hard rock.

The Salmon River joins the Snake in Hells Canyon. It was know as the river of no return. If you go down the river you won't return because the current is so strong.

After eight hours of exploration we were happy to return to the Spirit of 98 say we had been to Hell and back.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I'll take a small break from my travel-loge to extol the wonders of electricity.

We had a great big, huge, awful storm blow through our town Sunday afternoon. We were left without electricity for thirty hours. We have camped for long periods of time without electric power, but we were prepared to do that. At home everything seems to depend on it. Every time I walked into a dark room I flipped on the light switch and it stayed dark. With no power the house got hot quickly and we opened all the windows. It was strange to hear all the outside noise that we miss with the windows closed and our AC running. The most annoying noise was the loud electric generators a few of our neighbors were running. They really are loud. Our family had come for lunch on Sunday leaving a large stack of dishes. It would just take a few minutes to stick them into the dishwasher. After a day without power the dishes began to stink and I finally washed them all the old fashioned way in a sink of soapy water. It really was not that hard, in fact it was actually a pleasant, quiet feeling. In the evening we lit our old oil lamps and played a game of Scrabble and went to bed early. When morning came I had a problem. I am truly addicted to my morning cup of coffee which I was unable to make. A trip to the local coffee house took care of my addiction and gave us an air-conditioned place to read the morning paper. I had to call my daughter's office where there was power and have her print up a form I needed for a medical appointment. My printer just won't work without power. After a morning of running errands we returned home to a still powerless house. When I found my husband sitting and staring at the blank computer screen I decided it was time to load up the food from our powerless freezer and spend time at our daughter's fully powered house with available freezer space. I really don't want to complain. The storm only caused us some inconvenience. Others had great damage to homes and cars. There were even a couple of storm related deaths.

Life has returned to normal for us.

What is that you would most miss without your electricity?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The River

We spent a week on our floating home, The Spirit of 98, as we sailed on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

The scenery was beautiful as we sailed past lush green mountains and waterfalls

We went past so many dams that I lost count. The dams have make the river a great source of electricity.

Each dam required us to go through a lock. I found the locks fascinating. As we rose or lowered in our watery elevator, we would watch until the gates finally opened. It was like watching the curtain open on a much anticipated show.

One of Dennis's favorite things was taking pictures of all that we saw.

He,of course,took pictures of the many birds we saw. The white pelicans were beautiful.

There were osprey all along the river.

The green of the mountains gave way to the brown of the high desert. All along the river the wind blew continuously making the riverbanks the perfect place for wind farms. We saw these giant windmills all along the river.

The wind also make the Columbia river the windsurfing capital of the world. The windsurfers are beautiful to watch.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about Hell's Canyon and how I've been to hell and back.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Here are some of the things I loved about Portland.

Mount Hood looks like a mountain is supposed to look with it's snowy majestic peak.

The Rose Garden is full of beautiful, colorful roses.

The Saturday Market is full of food, crafts and street musicians.

It is a city of bridges, making crossing the Willamette river easy.

Powell's Books is the most wonderful bookstore ever. I could stay there for days.

Voodoo doughnuts are so good that people stand in line for hours just to eat one.

You just have love a city whose motto is,”Keep Portland Weird.”