17 January …

 

Another week …

Weather has been all over the place.  Snow, rain, fog, cold, nice … you name it. 

Mark dropped three trees last week so the chicken house gets some winter sun again and there is a bit more sun on the front of the house as well.

~~~

John and I spent last saturday in the local cemetery photographing grave markers.  I have a friend who used to work there and did all the photo requests from genealogists who use the “Find a Grave” site, but he moved to Idaho and the list of requests had gotten rather long.  So, list in hand, John and I went grave tracking.

We were able to find six of the requested ten and I am following up on the others.

But now I find there are requests for at least five other cemeteries in this area.  Guess I’ve better get back to driving myself again. 

This activity gets me out in the fresh air with a purpose and there is a friend from a bit ago who may want to go cemetery hopping with me.

~~~

Yesterday was a Medford day.

As usual, the drive was an adventure.  The scenery is different each time we go.  Yesterday a lot was brown with occasional bursts of red-orange.  And at the rest stop there were raindrops on the trees.  From where we parked the light was just so and there was one tree which appeared to be decorated with wee lights.

We did some shopping.  There is a new, bigger CostCo near the airport.  The layout of the store is very close to that of the older store with just enough variation that when you think you know where you are and which direction to go to get where you want to be next … you find you are lost.

Oh well …

I was surprised that the book section had shrunk and that several grocery items are cheaper at the local Grocery Outlet less than five miles away.

We made a stop at the retinologist office, where George and I had been going once a month, to leave them a gratitude gift of a box of premium See’s chocolates.  I know it is a cliché gift, but I couldn’t think of anything else. 

The staff had always been kind and thoughtful with us and I wanted to let them know I had appreciated it.  It was a bit awkward … it seemed to surprise them and left some in tears. 

I’m glad I did it however.  Those visits could have been awful (after all, who enjoys having a needle stuck in their eye?), but their attitude helped and I wanted them to know.

~~~

I’ve been doing the breakfast and dinner cooking and dishwashing thing for the family for over a week now.  It is more of a challenge than when it was just George and me.  Different people, different tastes … and Kamille has a gluten sensitivity so I’m learning new recipes such as that gluten free flour seems more “glutinous” and requires extra liquid to reach the same consistency for pancakes and waffles.

Another lesson in the-more-things-change-the-more-they-stay-the-same … standing at the sink, washing the dishes, just like I’ve done for 40 years or more and crying because nothing is actually the same.

But there are smiles as well such as when Paul ends grace with   “… and make sure Papa is having a good time.”

~~~

Did I tell you I’ve returned to spinning? We have been changing the arrangement of the living room and I abandoned my rocker place beside the wood stove for a more central location on the other side of the room.  It took some rearranging but I think things are now in working order so it feels “normal” (there’s that word again).

I have two sweaters in the works and planning for next winter holiday gifts has begun.

Can anyone say THERAPY?

~~~

Radio club tonight. Several items to discuss.  The club, like so many things in my life, is changing.

~~~

… and a thought related to chocolates …

 

Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.

 

So … ‘til next week …

 

 

10 January …

These past few weeks have been (insert your choice of adjective here and you are probably correct) …

Kamille and Paul were here for Christmas Day and then they flew east to be with the Plociniks in Baltimore.  They got back home last Thursday and normal school/work routine resumed last monday. 

I have etched out a role (however temporary) for myself as cook and bottle washer.  Mark has enough to do and fret about, so I make breakfast and their dinner.  They eat at 1700 and I have my big meal at noon, so I get for my dinner what they have the night before.  I plan it that way and it seems to be working.

Positive side effect is that I once again feel that I have a role, if not yet a purpose.  

Another current step is getting back into the radio club.  It is time for election of officers and I’ve been nominated to run as Presiding Officer again.  I think I will.  Not that my technical knowledge is great, but I do know how to run a meeting.

And I’m working on getting back into genealogy.  The friend who used to fill photo requests for the local cemetery has moved to Idaho and the requests are piling up.  Once the weather clears, I plan to tackle that.  A morning outdoors followed by lunch sounds okay.

~~~

We’ve been having rain on and off.

This morning we have fog and a slight sprinkling of snow. 

This winter is nothing like last year (in oh so many ways) …  at least not so far.

~~~

Late last year the oil painted animation film “Loving Vincent” was released.  George and I were both impressed.  It is a miracle … each frame hand-painted in the style of Van Gogh.

As a result, I decided to explore the lesser know works of Van Gogh as my art project this coming year.  

I begin with a work titled “Self-portrait with Pallette”. 

All in all, Van Gogh painted 36 self-portraits.  This one was painted in 1889 when he was 36, the year before his death.  He painted himself when he was unable to pay someone to sit for him, which was often.  This was painted after he cut off the lower part of his left ear but since he was painting what he saw in a mirror, it is actually his right ear we see in this painting.

The colours are what grabbed me … the many blues, the contrast with the ginger hair and beard, the death-like shadows on the flesh, the eyes, the blue halo …

So … what do you think?

~~~

There are still unexpected knocks-upside-the-jaw which leave me in tears, but there are also glimpses of sun …  

Omni fine initium novum.

So … ‘til next week …

 

3 January  …

 

A milestone was reached last New Year’s Eve.  It has been exactly seventy years since the fateful party I gave which ended with my Daddy sticking his head in my bedroom at 0500 (as George left with a roar in his “Frankenstein” Ford) asking why George didn’t stay for breakfast. 

This is the first New Year’s Eve without him since 1949-50.  My how rapidly that time flew …

~~~

Healing continues at the two forward, one back pace making it difficult to write an upbeat blog.

So  …

For all of you, here is my end-of-the-year prayer …

 

May you walk gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life.

Apache Prayer

 

… ‘til next week …

 

20 December …

 

Another week gone …  and the sunrise yesterday was spectacular.

~~~

This morning, Mark (using radio club equipment) will make a connection with Santa Claus via ECHO link on the radio club’s repeater and a group of third graders will get to talk with the old boy using what ham radio operators call “third party traffic”. 

Mark also has plans to see that each child will receive a QSL card from Santa whose call sign is “C 1 AUS”.  QSL cards are postcards ham operators send to anyone with whom they make a long distance contact. 

Bet it’s a holiday those third graders won’t forget.

~~~

Some evenings Paul and I are left to babysit each other. 

We are developing a pattern.  I settle in my rocking chair (which is nearly an antique now) with my knitting and he pulls his rocking chair (which is now being used by the fifth or sixth child) next to me and either reads or plays MindCraft (which I don’t understand at all … but I have developed the ability to say “Wow” or “Yea” or “Oh oh” at appropriate times).

We are five and eighty-seven …

~~~

This has been and continues to be a busy day for local ham radio operators. The contact with Santa this morning will be followed by an exam session this evening for a wannabe and an operator looking to upgrade his license.  That will be followed by the annual holiday potluck.

Last year, George and I prepared a game for the holiday get-together this year … a BINGO game using RADIO as the headings.  I won’t be going to the party.  I thought I could, but this morning I realize I’m not ready for condolences in large servings … yet.  Family can take over for me.

For the three door prizes, Mark and I got a large holiday decorated plate with matching bowl and I made up a batch of pimento cheese dip.  Boxes of crackers were included.

~~~

Snow this morning … but nothing like winters past.

This is George on the front loader clearing the road …

and this is looking at the house from the driveway (the window you can see is on the second floor).

I wonder if we will ever see those winters again.

~~~

I had an appointment with the Social Security office last monday.  Tying up leftovers is a chore.  Fortunately, I had Mark for support while facing the bureaucracy.

I will be receiving a lump sum death benefit and a slight increase in my monthly allowance.  Now to work on a new budget.

~~~

Recent big setback was a phone call with the daughter of a friend from 63 years ago.  Her mother died unexpectedly, shortly after George.  We had served in an American Friends Service Committee group composed of college age folks the summer of ‘54.  George and I were the “leaders” since we were the oldest of the group at 26 and 24.

Liz is second from the left in the middle row.

Can you find George and me?

How young we were. I would guess many of the others are also dead now.  After all, we must ALL be in our 80s.

Memories …

~~~

I’m doing much the same as same …

The upside-the-head blows hit when most unexpected.  One evening last week I burst into tears when I came in from closing the chicken coop door because there was no one waiting to ask me how many eggs had been collected.

Two steps forward to every one step back … but those forward steps seem to be accomplished with less fuss and fewer regrets.

It will have been a month tomorrow.

Reassure me again how it gets easier.  

The things we need to learn before we can do them, we learn best by doing them.

… but no one promised us “easy”.

 

So … ‘til next week …

 

13 December …

 

Another week gone.

Life adjustments are never easy, but trying to make as few ripples as possible while adjusting is a real challenge.  Even when doing your best …

If you goof and don’t succeed … try try again.

~~~

Last week John returned “Grandmother” clock to me.  She needed work but it hadn’t gotten done over the years.  John took her and did the work.  Now she is next to my bed singing on the quarter hours and marking the hours !!!

Maybe I should explain her name.  She was given to George’s maternal grandfather in lieu of payment for some work done and he gave it to George’s Grandmother.  Hence the clock is called “Grandmother”.

She seems to be a bit temperature sensitive (after all she is 110 years old), but I don’t care.  Just having her with me is a blessing.  The fine tuning can wait for Spring.

~~~

Weather has been not-Winter … cold but no new snow.  Morning frosts.  Sunny days.  Not at all like last year.

~~~

Short post this week.  I am making headway in whatever, but there are the inevitable set-back days.  I am learning the backstory for “widow” behavior I didn’t understand before such as just sitting and gazing off into nothing and the tea and toast diet and empty morning time between 0300 and 0500. 

As long as the two-steps-forward-and-one-step-back routine continues … I’m okay.

 

After all …   

 

Success is a matter of attitude and appreciation. Every day you look at the grass from the top down, you are a success.

 

So … ‘til next week …

 

6 December …

Well, I’ve been a widow for a bit over two weeks.  I am gradually piecing “me” back together as I start the third part of my life.

One thing I learned for sure is that all the ideas, thoughts, assumptions, hopes, desires, anticipations, plans, etc. I had for this time in my life were all wrong, misleading, useless and that “off” days will catch you unaware.

I also learned that there is joy and laughter even in the hard times.

Case in point … one evening a couple of days after George died, Paul (who is nearly six) was doing his “homework” of reading to an adult before bedtime.  He was reading the children’s book “Are You My Mother?” in which a baby bird, whose mother has gone shopping, goes looking for her asking various animals if they are his mother with obvious results (i.e. “I can’t be your mother. I’m a cow.”). Paul reached the place where the baby bird asks a steam shovel which replies with a snort and Paul put everything he had into that reply …

*** SNORT !!!  ***

He then looked up at all of us and said “Well, that would have woke Papa up if he were still here.”

~~~

Both Mikayla and Tyler were here from New York.  Tyler took this picture while he was here.

Mikayla left last thursday and Tyler on friday. 

That meant the entire family was here with George for those last days and each got time alone with him.

It was great having them here, in spite of the reason, and I look forward to summer when we will see them again.

~~~

We have reached the time of the year when school kids leave home in the dark and return in the dark.  I remember those days very clearly from all those many years ago.  I worked weekend nights and so slept weekend days.  That meant for a few weeks each year I didn’t see the boys in daylight.

Oh well …

Fortunately, this is also the time of year for the most holidays  and “No School” days, so Paul spends more time at home.

The tree went up last week and the living room is now colourful.  George and I had reached the point of a small tree up on a table.  But there is once again a child in the house so this year it is a seven footer on the floor with a roundabout train.

~~~

Sunday morning was the first more-than-passing snow. There were still patches on the firewood at nightfall.

~~~

My first day away from the house (“to air off the stink” as per my Grandmother Tyler) in nearly six weeks was yesterday.  I went to Medford with John and Mike. 

It was a mixed day.

I got my sewing machine back from the repair shop so I will be able to make a pinafore for Brenda (Kamille’s teaching aide doll) and get started on the dream pillows for holiday gifts.

The hard part was saying goodbye to Jeff, the server at Sizzler in Medford who has been taking care of George and me each month for nearly four years on days when we went to the retinologist.  George always liked going to Sizzler for the salad bar.  Without him, I doubt I will be going there again.

I did enjoy the trip.  Watching the seasons change … the madrone trunks are now bare, even of shreds of old bark, and a light red-beige in colour … and there was hoar frost on trees, bushes, and rooftops all the way into Ashland.

~~~

Things are moving forward … slowly.  I am not yet ready to talk with folks.  I still cry too easily.  Even answering cards and emails is difficult.  But that too shall pass. 

 

 

How lucky I am to have [had] something that makes saying goodbye so hard. ― A.A. Milne

 

 

So ‘til next week …

 

17 November …

 

 

While doing this blog over the last few years, I have endeavoured to share all the wonderful, beautiful things in my life. I have enjoyed sharing them and can only hope you enjoyed sharing as well.

But … now seems the time to share some unwelcome information which will explain why, if in the future, this blog is missing or drastically shortened.

George is failing.

 

It is a real roller coaster and it is all happening so rapidly.

There had been the really tiny changes we all experience as we grow older.  Changes no one but a life partner would notice.

 

Then the 30th of September, while working the Headwaters Trail Runs, something changed.  George and I were working Net Control, he on the radio and me transcribing, when I noticed he was unable to repeat information to the stations.  Then he told me he couldn’t remember what he was supposed to be writing down on the communications log and was unable to read what he had written.

After that, things settled into a new pattern.  He no longer argued about me doing all the driving.  He did what he could around the farm and that was enough.

 

Mark and his family, except for the older children, have been living here since summer, so I have good support with John just a few miles down the road and Mark right here.

 

George and I went to the radio club swap meet and potluck the 28th of October (you saw the pictures) and he wasn’t too bad … a bit confused but still able to walk and talk.

Then suddenly, within a two week period, George’s right foot began to drag (it had been shuffling for some time) and his speech became almost unintelligible.

We knew of a similar situation, which happened to a man about George’s age, which turned out to be the result of an atypical geriatric urinary track infection, so we got George to the doctor and started him on Cipro. 

That was last wednesday.  He has had five doses of the antibiotic, two of which were never swallowed but dissolved in his mouth and drooled out, and things have continued to worsen.

He now tries to talk but ends up making unintelligible noises which angers him.  He walks only by being physically supported.  That too angers him.  He appears to have right-sided weakness with loss of control.

 

There have been funny happenings along the way such as when he was mumbling and the word “dog” came out very clearly followed by, also clearly, “Where the hell did that came from?”

And yesterday morning he greeted me with “Hi, Babe” and a smile.

So that’s where we are right now.  I don’t leave him for any extended period of time … hence no or late blogs.

 

I know you all wish us well and for that I thank you.

 

For now I must remember …

 

Fate will break your heart … and break your heart … and break your heart … over and over again … but things are as they are and will end as they must.

 

So  … ‘til next time …

 

8 November …

 

It’s been a fairly quiet week.

Soft rain began during the early morning friday and continued until it snowed.

The birch trees are nearly bare, and it had just occurred to me that I should rake and gather the fallen leaf carpet to spread in the garden when it began to rain.  Oh well … maybe next year.

Paul and I had gotten 30 out of the 50 narcissus bulbs planted.  John suggested I put some bulbs in the refrigerator to force bloom during winter.  As soon as possible, I will plant the rest.

And it is currently raining with a rather strong wind.

~~~

Here are some pictures from the swapmeet-potluck at the radio club house …

 

 

the cook …

 

 

                                         and some “elmers”.

The food was good and plentiful, and George didn’t buy anything.

~~~

Mark’s idea to offer an amateur radio class at the middle school is solidifying.  There are thirteen students signed up.  They will learn morse code and physics and math and who knows what else, and those who pass the exam to become amateur radio operators will be given a free handheld radio courtesy of one of our club members.  The textbooks were provided by members of the local Masonic Lodge.

It will be interesting to see how many make it all the way to the radios.

~~~

The time change threw me for a loop AGAIN.  I hate it.  The one clock at which I look first thing in the morning is the one clock in the house which didn’t get changed.

~~~

And time isn’t the only change.  George is having cognitive changes.  We first really noticed them the day of the Headwaters Trail Runs.  He has seen the doctor and they have done some tests, but we do not as yet have a diagnosis.

It is causing us to rethink chores and times.  So with combining the two households and now this … life is undergoing changes big time.

~~~

But there is still beauty in which to walk. 

John took this picture of a section of Old Stage Road just to the south of us.

The white winter cactus is in bloom.

Winter approaches across the meadow.

And the Mountain has donned her Winter attire.

~~~

 

So here’s something to remember …

 

Every life situation has been sent to you as a test and challenge to help you grow.

 

 

So … ‘til next week …

1 November …

 

Chilly mornings … still dark at 0700 and dark by 1800.  Must be getting close to the shortest day.

Fire in the living room woodstove mornings.

Soup more often than salad.

More trees going bare.

Yup … must be getting close to Yule.

~~~

George has been having minor aphasic problems as well as a bit of confusion.  It could be delayed concussion from when a tier of firewood fell over on him and he got a hit on the head, or it could be transient ischemic attacks, or it could be old age.  We went down to the VA clinic in Redding last Monday for a series of tests.  No results yet.

The trip down through the canyon was full of colours.  This was the only picture I could get.  Spring is pink and white.  Summer is greens (plural).  Autumn is as you see.

Then on the way home we got to see a bit of the Mountain.

~~~

 

Next to last of the “reading” pictures. 

Girl Reading, 1853, William Morris Hunt

Looking at art through reading has been fun.  And I learned a bit by looking closely.  Surprise …

 

~~~

Mark’s knee continues to improve.  The puncture wounds are nearly healed.

I have a bit of a time warp when I see the amount of surgery being done through punctures rather than incisions.  Time and technology moves on.

~~~

Hallowe’en began at breakfast when Mark appeared in a wig.  Kamille became a seasonal RN.  Paul was Vader. The front door jack o’lanterns were by Paul and John.

I had time out under the waxing Moon.

 

AC has resumed his place under the bell beside the boardwalk.

 

There is still firewood to be moved.

The spinning for Paul’s sweater is almost done. 

Tyler’s sweater is started.

All is right with my world.

~~~

As we start November know that …

 

If you are super brilliant, there is nothing holding you back from being silly.

 

‘til next week …

 

27 October …

 

I know … I know … I’m late. 

I’ve been busy. 

The big event this week was Mark’s surgery.  He has had a bum knee ever since high school football.  It has now been repaired. 

He is handling the no-weight-on-that-knee restrictions pretty well.  And as soon as it is completely healed, they’ll fix the other one which wasn’t as bad.

~~~

Tuesday was the monthly trip to the retinologist in Medford.

Weather was good so we didn’t need to bundle up.  However, as we left about 0800 it was still cool and there was mist over the spots where there is water … as in this picture where the Shasta River wends toward the Klamath northwest of Montague.

It was interesting to really look at the landscape.  This year we watched it turn from fresh green to thousand tint green to flowering to lush to beginning to fade to now …glorious colour. 

Frost and/or snow next month?  Won’t matter … we have plenty of firewood.

The madrones are part of the change.  Last month their bark was bright orange.  This month it is shredding and peeling off.  I had never before given a thought to the way madrones reproduce … but this trip it was very obvious that there are male trees and females trees … some trees with loads of bright red berries and other bare.

Nature never fails to amaze and entertain.

We did have some rain last week.  Not very much, but any is welcome.

With the rain came some gusty wind and overnight the red maple was striped nearly bare.  The leaves were blown all over and are a bit of eye candy.  Nice …

The clotie tree in the courtyard is eye candy as well …

~~~

At the radio club meeting last week the summer events were wrapped up and the year’s activities are drawing to a close.  Next event will be the swap meet and potluck tomorrow.

As Presiding Officer, I have never had a gavel.  Whenever the meeting threatened to get out of hand, I had to speak louder than the rest to get things back on track (the whisper ploy didn’t always work).  But one of the members handmade me a set. The gavel itself is of Port Orford cedar and the base piece (I can’t recall its proper name) is a beautiful piece of oak.  Now all I have to do is learn how to use it.

~~~

AC is not dead!  He came home three days ago … more rotund that he had been so wherever he was, he was eating well.

Our first encounter after his return was a rub-the-feet greeting with purring so loud you could hear it without bending down.

It is nice to have him home even if it is only until the next time he decides to roam.

~~~

Last Saturday I was able to plant some perennial bulbs to brighten next spring … daffodils and narcissus and fritillaries. I’ll keep an eye out for more bulbs, mainly lily-of-the-valley.  But no tulips.  The deer love them and will go out of their way to get at them to eat.

~~~

Events around here the last few days/weeks have led to the thought …

Don’t leave unsaid how you feel about those in your life.

So … ‘til next week …