Friday, February 27, 2015

Followup. Better.

I tried the rambling around outdoors yesterday. What I 'discovered' was 28 degrees with a stiff wind out of the north. I came back inside and watched a couple of movies, washed dishes, played around on the internet a little, then went to town to my book club #2. A good time was had by all…except Charlotte, who has managed to break her foot and this was the last event of a long day. Ouch. After our discussion she and I went to a little coffeehouse for a chat.  It was there, at the counter while ordering, that the blessing I so needed finally caught up with me.
     The girl taking our order had been a student of mine years and years ago. She not only remembered me fondly but especially remembered one song which she loved.  We reminisced about some of the programs we had done and how much she liked them.  Ah, a little unasked for affirmation that the ripples continue to roll outward from love you have shared.  What an infusion of joy she was to me.  Thanks Amanda, blessings on your head my dear.
    My dad also called me for a friendly catch-up on everyone and then I turned on my computer and lo and behold! there were loving, supportive comments from friends wishing me well, virtual hugs if you like. It is unbelievably difficult for the turtle, having retreated into its shell, to see the flowers which bloom on every side. I know this. I know this too when I am inside the shell, but seem powerless, at those times, to look out.
      One of the basic needs to people, most people, is to belong to a group.  The workplace is a second family of sorts for many of us.  I know many, many teachers who, after retiring, become unmoored from that family and suffer the loss of it.  The glue which holds the teaching family together, however, is our shared concern for the students whose lives we touch.  Apart from the students we may share very little and so lose ourselves in our separate everyday paths that often do not cross.  This has happened to me more times than I care to remember.  Friends who were my closest contacts at school drift away into retirement and I rarely see them.  This leads to chance meetings in the grocery or hardware store where we stand for an hour or more, catching up. I'll take it. Most women need friendships, we need the support of other women and their willingness to listen.

      Today the storm arrives, if you believe the weathermen.  It already feels snowy outside.  The air is crisp and I find myself glancing up at the sky, gauging their color, even though nothing is happening except the cold at this moment.  Soon.  I must go out and fill the feeders for the many bright birds that decorate my sleeping trees.  They are calling to me to begin.  The cats too sit looking in the window, urging me to fill their bowls.  They know.
      I am off.  Wanted you to know I am in a better place today, with your help and some time. Stay warm and well, if you are able.  Wander past your bookshelf. Perhaps something will call your name and you can escape into an adventure into the past, the future or another world altogether.  That is what I plan to do.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bah! Humbug!

     I realize I haven't put pen to paper lately. (Ha! 'pen to paper'. I like that. ) In the interest of being honest I will tell you that this week has been….oh, let's see…how shall I put it….not the best ever. When I am so blue that I don't really want to go to my beloved book study group because I know they will see right through me, you know I'm not okay.  I'm not completely sure about the why and wherefores but there were some things that added to the mix.  I turned my knee somehow, though I don't remember turning it or hitting it on anything.  That tends to put a crimp in things in general, especially when snow and ice are covering everything and you have to stay tense every second, making sure you don't fall and hurt the knee a second time.  
     That being said, the snow was beautiful as long as you didn't have to try driving in traffic or walking on a sidewalk.  I also got my foot tangled in a blanket and fell A over TC at Able and Kari's house. Happily the fall did not hurt the knee again, just my pride. The knee is fine now, after a couple of days of wrapping and ibuprofen.  All is well.  
       After weeks of procrastination I have taken action and have spoken to two or three people about building a set of steps for my front porch. That will be finished soon.  I also bought a couple more arches for the wild wisteria. It turns out they are too short.  Either the measurements given on the net were incorrect or else I measured incorrectly.  Either way one will go somewhere else in the yard and the other will be returned (anyone in need of a lovely arch for you garden?) and I will try again. I wish I could find one or two just like the one I have in that spot already, but it was from Atwoods and they order different stuff every year. *sigh*  I try to pull things together but don't ever seem to really make it happen.  Oh, I also discovered that my fountain has a large chunk/crack in it, which explains why it wouldn't hold water for long. No, I did not hit it with anything but it will need to be repaired. I'll do that today if all goes well. Entropy is in the lead around here I am afraid. I do have lots of British blood in my lineage so I will keep 'bashing on' with a will toward winning. 
      I am in a funk about something. I probably need sunshine and fresh air or something simple like that. Feeling a little left-footish of late. Ah, self-pity is an ugly thing, like slogging through deep mud. I will try to climb out of it. Thanks for being a listening ear for me, Christal.  Also, I tend to bug my children when I get like this, sadly.  That doesn't help anything either. I believe I would be safe in saying that my Audra would be happy for me to move away and stay there at this point.  Sorry, dear.  Having a rough week is all. Try not to take it personally; it is my problem, not yours.  
      OKAY…enough of that. I am donning coat and hat against the 'brisk north wind' this morning and going for a ramble with the cats in the great outdoors. Who knows what wonders await me there. 
Let me see…searching for something wonderful to report….oh! My yellow crocus are up and blooming here and there. That's a good thing. 
I will look for more. 
I will water the gardens.
I will mulch around the young trees in Maggie's Wood. 
I will look for blossoms on the Quince.
I will.  (wish me luck)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wednesday Morning Update

      I was finally well enough to head back to The City for work and family play time with the Grands this week-end.  Work was great, especially since Priscilla came to help me on Sunday when I had thought I would be working alone all day. Yipee!  I always enjoy working at the shop. I actually enjoy working. Period. Whatever I'm doing is fine with me and I find most things interesting. I can remember this being very frustrating to my kids when they were growing up.  They would say to me, " Can't we do something together that isn't working, something fun?" That always sort of threw me for a loop because to me, work is fun. I guess that isn't true for them.

      At the shop there are always items that need back stocking, bags of cocoas that need filling, shelves that need dusting, labels to run off, floors to mop, gift sets to make, BDJs to top off; always lots to do.  It makes for busy days and tired feet at the end of the day but the snapshot of the shop needs to be just so, every day, all the time. That is important to us and to the company we represent.
      Due to the short icy period on Sunday night/Monday morning I got lots of quality play time with the Korenak boys and their mom.  All went well. We played pirates, space explorers, camping, penguins, attack by snakes, sword fighting, etc…you get the drift. All sorts of boy things. We also did some crafting of dogs for the dog birthday party this week-end.  How DO you make a decent Collie out of construction paper? Mine was not very good but ….oh well.  Lassie is on the wall at least.  
      I did not fall down on the ice and break my tail bone. A victory I proudly claim.  I came close as I walked up the Richard's iced driveway for a play morning and brunch with Mags, Everett and their mom.  I called for immediate salting and Abb complied. Maggie and I did some puzzles together and she had a show and tell for me in her 'under the bunk' playhouse.  Very neat and organized.  It's nice to know where you've stashed all your treasures so you can find them.  We set about getting all the dolls into some kind of clothes since the weather was more than chilly.  
        Helping children learn to think about how their toys are feeling, their dolls are feeling, is a great way to teach empathy for other people.  Empathy has to be modeled and taught and practiced, just like reading and writing.  I remember a mother, whose children I had in class at the time, asking me with great surprise in her voice, "You mean empathy can be taught?" Yes, it can and it must be.  Her saying that explained why I was having such a difficult time with her sons in that very regard.  Click. There's the missing piece.
       I headed north and made it in time for grocery shopping and the book study last night.  Apparently I was so out of it with the respiratory gunk last week that I completely forgot about the class. Sheesh!  We had a great conversation last night, even though I hadn't read the chapters in the new book.  Love that group of women and the honest, open talks we have about many issues. The winter coughing is making the rounds as usual.  Hopefully I have done my time.  I sincerely hope you are all holding your own, seeing the doc and listening to your body.  Take comfort in the fact that Spring is on the way. Bulbs are poking their little green heads up out of the snow and leaf mulch, looking around, judging their time. Waiting.

        As I was driving toward the farm yesterday afternoon a beautiful weather event happened right in front/around/on top of me.  A small cold weather front and I were headed right for each other; I could see the dark mass of cloud, albeit a small one, trailing its nets of rain, scuttling in my direction as I drove west on Flynn. I turned into my driveway at the precise moment the wind gust arrived, blowing leaves up and all around the car, almost pushing me into the garage.  The temperature dropped ten degrees as I stood inside the door with the cats and watched spats of rain hurtling past the opening.  Brrrr….. So fun! I love being on the edge of and in the midst of changes in weather. It is exhilarating to say the very least.
       On the issue of the front of the house remake: I have tossed the ideas for the new front steps and walk around so long now that I have finally settled on what it is a really want to do.  It does involve a little bit of stone work so I will stop by and talk to the guys at the stone place north of Crescent next time I am by there.  Man it takes me a long to sift through things to the final decision, but I am usually happy with what I decide that way.  I need to do some digging and gravel fill on the south side to divert rain water toward the gardens and away from the patio, where it does absolutely no good at all.  That won't be a big deal but will involve the purchase of some gravel, which I need to do for the porch plantings anyway. See how things are coming together? 
    That's all for now. TTFN

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Repost of Audra's CHD Awareness blog

This is repost of my daughter Audra's blog for today. She speaks to this cause much better than I ever could.

Happy CHD Awareness Day

This is a week full of hearts. Heart candy, heart decorations, heart cards, and stuffed animals with hearts on them. So it's only fitting that this would be congenital heart defect awareness week. For every heart I see I think of all the little kiddos with broken hearts, some repaired, some unrepairable, all bearing the scars of being 1 in 110 babies born with a congenital heart defect, making it the number one birth defect in the world. Some of those families get a diagnosis prior to birth, prepped for the worst case scenario that could happen once their children arrive. Some, like me, have their visions of a perfectly healthy baby crushed soon after birth, their world turned upside down by their children's diagnosis. Some of these babies won't need surgery, most will, and some won't live to see their first birthday, let alone grow up to have full, healthy lives. The scope of all that CHD covers is vast from simple murmurs that one can live with, to multiple surgeries, or life ending scenarios. Every child born with CHD will need life long medical follow up and care. All will have their story forever changed by their diagnosis. Most will have a visible scar that represents all that they went through. Scars there for all to see that they are survivors. 

October 2010

The parents of children born with CHD don't have any visible scars, but they are also survivors. Their hearts were also broken. They have spent hours begging and pleading with God to please let them change places with their tiny baby who they have to hand over to a stranger, who will take them to have their heart stopped. They have cried tears that only other parents who have seen their child face death can fully understand. Their story has been changed and they get the profound honor of having given birth to their heros. They never take a second of their child's life for granted because they know full well that every time their child's heart beats it is a miracle.

I get to count myself among this blessed group of parents whose child has not only survived a CHD diagnosis, but is thriving. The more I immerse myself in the CHD community the more I truly realize how unbelievable Zane's story is. Every single step of the way, from birth, to today has gone absolutely as perfectly as possible. That is rarely the case. No complications, no bumps in the road, just the one, completely successful surgery is beyond amazing. Over the past month I have read story after story of TOF babies who required multiple surgeries, multiple trips to the cath lab, and weeks/months in the hospital. All things that could have happened to our sweet heart warrior, but by the grace of God our battle was much shorter.

 Going home with a little banana just in time for Halloween on the morning of day five.

I have also read lots of tributes to heart angels, children born with a CHD that didn't make it and have earned their wings. Congenital Heart Defects are the leading cause of infant death around the world. Thousands of families each year face the unfathomable reality of loosing a child. CHD kills more children each year than all childhood cancers combined. Little is known about the causes, sometimes there is a genetic factor and sometimes you just happen to be the unlucky one in a hundred births.


So during this week of hearts I celebrated the life of my heart warrior, one of close to two million CHD survivors in the United States. I wore red, I ran a 5K for Mended Little Hearts with the proceeds going to bravery bags for families in the hospital. I tweeted facts & figures about CHD, and Zane rocked his scar. I received emails from strangers who had seen that I had TOF baby and wanted to ask if I needed help, wanted to talk, or just needed to vent. I became part of large community all fighting for CHD awareness and praying for better treatments for those who are still fighting their CHD battles. The scars of my journey were on the forefront of my mind, I prayed for those who are walking now, and I counted my blessings that our story is so miraculous. I looked back at previous blog posts about Zane's surgery and was in ahh at how far we have come and how much we have over come. This week I celebrated every miraculous birthday, all the tears, every doctor's appointment, every difficult conversation, everything that we've been through and tried to raise awareness for all the other heart warriors out there as well.

Happy CHD Awarness Day from my heart warrior!!

First birthday, rocking his scar proudly. This apparently would become a very fitting tradition.

Second birthday

Third birthday

Fourth birthday

Thursday, February 12, 2015



  I had an epiphany today. I had been thinking about the Wisteria and the peach tree, having their blossoms frozen on that freak dip in temps last Spring.  I was wondering what I could do to help them through the cold this year, searching for ideas.  I stopped, on my way into the house, to look at the peach (it grows right beside the porch) and I saw it. The tree was draped with colored party lights left over from the rehearsal dinner celebration and I realized that might just be the ticket.  There are also lights, LEDs though, on the Wisteria.  I don't know if the little LEDs would keep the vines warm enough but I know the Christmas lights would. How about that!  The answer was staring me in the face all the time.  I have other lights, warmer than those tiny fairy lights, that I could drape across the Wisteria vines. They would be like an electric blanket or sorts. I think it would at least save some of the blooms, don't you? Ha!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What's In A Name?

 Remember the garden project for last Spring and Summer?  It started with me wrestling with the design (and finally turning the math over to Zach to straighten out). Then the soil had to be amended in what would become the flower sections; materials were decided upon, purchased and delivered; electricity was brought into the center for the fountain; the digging and sawing commenced.

     I love it that all my children live nearby with their families.  I love it that they like, and are willing, to come out to the farm and help with projects. I believe working together helps bind us together.  It brings us together. I love this picture, above.  Everyone was here. You can't see them, but the Brendan, Maggie and Zane were off to the left, digging in the dirt with child sized shovels, stirring up the gardens.  Abbey was inside fixing lunch and watching over a napper, bringing us water and tea.

                                                                                                                Back to the story.
     I went ahead and planted the beds despite the lack of paths, patio or some of the boards at the time, knowing how long things take. We worked around the growing green. Maggie hand-painted some flags to fly above our bamboo Morning Glory tipis. I laid down a drip watering system. The kids drove Frances' little red wheelbarrow round and round, carrying bricks and dirt here and there; helping.

     We came round the corner of the season and entered September. A wedding was approaching; the dinner scheduled for the farm.  The new garden needed a fence and a completed center. I called someone recommended by a friend and he gave me an estimate. I accepted.
      Three days later it was finished. Amazing what throwing a little cash at something can accomplish.
Now, in the middle of the winter, the garden is bleak, to say the least. The tipi is hung with dead vines. The little boy still gazes at a jar containing a faux firefly. The garden is asleep.
      I have struggled to find the name for this space.  Is it a peace garden? A meditation garden? A contemplation garden? It doesn't need a name, not really. It is. When you step into it you know what it is. I simply call it a garden now, a place out of the wind where I can breathe and regroup. Often, I come out in the starlight and walk the circuit, compass point to compass point, holding those I love and the good earth in my heart.

        Last week someone came by for a visit and to address the problem with the beavers along the creek.  It turns out these beavers are wanderers, coming and going through the area, and not many of them at that. He said there might be two or three. I am to call him back out when I see new activity.

    The beavers are beside the point.  The reason I bring all this up is this: The man, I discovered, was seeking the heart of the sacred, as so many are these days; hungering for more than is being offered in the traditional church at this time. We talked for awhile.  He admired the new fence and, stepping under the trellis, walked out onto the octagonal path. With a slow, widening smile he turned to me and said, "This is a prayer garden." Yes it is.