Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Getting Some Christmas Spirit

It is early Wednesday morning, and my house is filled with wonderful music playing through the TV's surround sound system.

Yes, I have pulled out my Christmas CDs--and I have a lot of them. Then I also have a considerable number of Christmas tapes, collected before CDs were the way to buy music. I also have three Christmas albums on my Kindle fire, so I can have Christmas music no matter which room I am in.

It hasn't been easy finding that wonderful Christmas Spirit this year. My mind has been too full of all the medical stuff going on with me, my sister, my daughter, my granddaughter, and even my daughter's family pets.

One way I awaken some Christmas Spirit is through  music and through the multitude of Christmas movies on TV. The movies may be silly or predictable or sentimental (which can be good or not so good) and of varying quality, but they are reliably upbeat and a happy ending is insured. So with these mood lifters I find my Christmas Spirit growing.

Our Christmas tree would normally be up in the corner of my living room by this far into December. The plan was for Megan and I to put it up and decorate it last weekend. She and I have been the tree people for years, but this weekend she was not feeling well. However, I did get out the little tabletop tree.

The little tree is looking just a bit worn, as it well deserves. It was originally Chad and Anne Marie's tree twenty-some years ago. They passed it on to Jerry and I when we were living in the mobile home in Rapid City. Then, while I was staying with Mother in her last years, I put it out in her house. If it is looking just a bit battered, it is still a loved piece of our family Christmas history.

For Christmas shopping I went to the Internet. I get lots of catalogs every Christmas, and after looking them over I go to the websites and order things. When the boxes arrive I am usually surprised by the contents, having already forgotten what all I ordered in my shopping frenzy. Some of the items may seem a little odd, but at least my shopping is done!

By the time we get to the Christmas Eve service at church, the Christmas Spirit will prevail.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Selfies, or I Need an Updated Photo

My Photo
Taken October 2011
"Selfies" made it recently as a word to be added to the dictionary. In this age when nearly everyone is carrying a phone that also is a camera, selfies have become a popular item of exchange through the electronic media.

August 2014

I am one of the few people I know whose phone does not take photos. However, three years ago I used my ordinary camera to take some selfies, one of which I have used for my blog and Facebook.

November 2014
In trying to take selfies, I learned that it's not so easy! If the camera is tipped a little one way or another, you end up with an oddly distorted face. It is also very easy to get the aim wrong and to end up with part of your face cut off. I have an additional problem in that I wear glasses with differing nearsighted prescriptions for each eye. This has the effect of making one eye appear smaller than the other.

I finally got a photo I liked and I've used that one for three years now.

Unfortunately, that photo is no longer very accurate. Three years have added age to my features. I also had a very fattening winter last year and am still wearing those extra pounds. (I'm working on that but it is slow going. Now that I'm in cardiac rehab, I hope that may help.)

November 2014
So, in the interest in truth, I tried to take an updated photo of myself. OK, so I don't want to be so truthful that I use the very worst photos--i.e., every wrinkle, sag, or flaw emphasized. I hoped to get one that looked like I look now without making me cringe by its overemphasis on said flaws! (Maybe even de-emphasize them a little?!) When it comes to photos, honesty is all well and good, but let's not overdo it!

Most of the selfies I took that weren't blurry, partially cut off, or just plain spooky, are still not loved by me. But I can't go on using only old photos.

So, I have sprinkled some of the most recent selfies through this blog. I hope they don't frighten any small children!

Maybe I need to get another photographer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Going Places, Having Adventures, and Meeting New People

A standard piece of advice for senior citizens is this: stay active, get out of the house, socialize with other people. It is bad for both mental and physical health to become isolated.

My sister Grace and I--who, at ages 76 and 73 certainly qualify as senior citizens--have recently being doing a lot of going out, having new experiences, and meeting new people.

The only problem is that the places we have been going are medical facilities and the people we have been meeting have all been medical professionals.

In the past four and a half months I have had a trip to the ER with an unstoppable nose bleed, nasal surgery to remove the cluster of bleeder veins, tests that revealed heart problems, and a cardiac cath with insertion of a stent. I cancelled my scheduled cataract surgery, because of all the things involved in the cardiac situation--I'll get that done in a few months. My high blood pressure has been brought under control, at last.

Although our problems differ, Grace and I have both had close calls with the Grim Reaper. It is due to the care we have received from all those new acquaintances that we are both still here and growing stronger.

Years ago there was a lot of controversy over the expression "It takes a village to raise a child." I can definitely say that it has taken a village of medical personnel to keep this senior citizen on the path to health. When I started reviewing in my mind all the people involved, I was quite astounded!

Since the last week of June there have been: 
  • 10 doctors (ER doctor, General Internist, Radiologist, Cardiologists, ENT specialist, Ophthalmologist specializing in glaucoma and cataracts, Geriatrics specialist, Hospitalist)
  • More nurses than I can keep track of, all of whom have been highly competent, professional, caring and comforting
  • Many technicians, who have drawn blood, taken EKGs, performed scans, taken X-Rays, and more
  • Numerous receptionists and patient registrars
  • A dietitian
  • Two cardiac rehab nurses
And I am thankful for each and every one of them!

Chad took this picture a few hours after the
stent was inserted and sent it to my son.
Jeremy was being very anxious and feeling
helpless since he was 2000 miles away.
Many things came together to bring about the discovery of the 90 percent blockage of the heart artery popularly known as The Widowmaker. The insertion of a stent to open that blockage saved me from a certain fatal heart attack. It has not been fun, but I am, nevertheless, grateful for each and every step that led to the saving of my life. I am also extremely thankful for all the people that prayed for me when I suddenly found myself in the ICU headed for a cardiac cath and stent. We can never know just what part prayer plays, but I believe it truly makes a difference.

Grace's story is her own, but I will only say that she also has a long list of caretakers and prayers that saved her.

We are moving on.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Five O'clock This Morning

Today is September 11, 2014. It is the anniversary of the dreadful destruction wreaked by terrorists. I don't forget that.

But today my thoughts are on something else. I woke early and when I wasn't going right back to sleep I got up and looked out my bedroom window.

This is what I saw.

Last year the first snow was the last week of September and was six to eight inches. One week later, first week of October, we had 14-18 inches that created terrible destruction in the fully-leaved trees all over town. That was, we thought, an unusually early snowfall/end of summer.

Just gotta love this terrible Global Warming!

Reminds me that in the 1970s I read an article in Time Magazine all about how the earth was heading into a cooling period that could bring in a new ice age.

Weather fluctuates. It always has.

But I am still extremely disgruntled about the shortness of our summer this year!!

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Yesterday was granddaughter Megan's Seventeenth (!) birthday. It was also the first day of school (Senior Year). She had a long school day, followed by two hours of marching band practice.

Needless to say, by suppertime she was exhausted and barely functioning.
Stay awake just a little longer!

Last year her birthday fell before the first day of school and we had quite a party with all her grandparents and her boyfriend included. The highlight was when she discovered that her parents had bought her a car (used, but well-rehabbed by her dad).

This birthday was a lot quieter. She had requested a spaghetti dinner and a dinosaur cake. Anne Marie makes a great spaghetti sauce; the bakery made a cake with a dinosaur motif. Since it was a school-marching band practice day, we just had our little family, which includes friend Gwen.

Megan was so wiped out that she dropped on the sofa and napped until the meal was on the table.

Before birthday cake she opened her gifts--nothing to match last year's car! In fact, they weren't even wrapped; they were just in the mailing packages they came in, because they arrived just before dinner time. (Whew!) So there was opening, but no pretty paper.

Trying out her new manga art pens.
Megan had perked up a bit by the time the cake was brought to the table. In fact, she had a goofy contest with her mother: as Anne Marie lit a candle, Megan would blow it out. Finally, both candles were alight at the same time and we got to sing "Happy Birthday."

Do you remember a nutty video that was on You Tube last year in which a couple of young guys did a "Do you want to see how animals eat their food?" demonstration? If you do, you will understand the final photos. Take one tired-silly teenager, cake, and the above-mentioned video, and this is what you get.

And that was the end of her brief energy revival. She washed her face and headed off to bed at 8 o'clock.

The rest of us visited for a while longer.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pirates of Penzance

Yesterday I posted on Facebook a quick review of the local production of Pirates of Penzance that I attended with my sister Grace and niece Tina. It was done by the Gillette Community Theatre group with the High School Drama Club.

It was terrific fun!

It will be performed again on August 15 and 16, and it would be a bargain at many times the $5 price of admission.
The piratical orchestra on the ship's deck. The pirate hat in the back is on the head of
grandnephew Steven Matsunaga, trumpet player. From where I sat I never saw his face.
Pirates is an old Gilbert and Sullivan musical comedy, totally nonsensical and totally fun. We have some good singers and actors in this town! It was a tremendously ambitious undertaking, as it is not only a musical with some challenging vocal ranges required, but it has a huge cast. And they pulled it off!

I snapped a few photos, but put my little camera away when I realized it was on an auto setting that was using the flash even though I had manually cancelled the flash (flash forbidden in the theater). In the dim lighting I could not see well enough to reset the camera for low light and no flash. So I did not get any photos of one of my favorite parts, which came in the second act, after the intermission. The (very goofy) troupe of Her Majesty's Royal Police Force was made up of children--some as young as five years old. There were a lot of them and they did their part amazingly well. A five-year-old in a police uniform and a mustache can't help but be funny and adorable. I was amazed at how well they did their part. It was quite complicated in action, song, and dance.

I want to go see this great show again!

Friday, August 8, 2014


It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day. . .

Can't you just see Mr. Rogers hanging up his jacket, taking off his shoes, donning his cardigan sweater, and sitting down to put on his sneakers? That song ran through my head all morning yesterday, as a perfect summer morning pulled me out onto the deck with my coffee and a good book.

After a time, I put the book down and got my watering pot. The flowers and tomatoes looked a bit thirsty. My watering pot holds two gallons, and it takes six fillings to get everyone watered. (About the only thing I forgot when planning my house, was to have a water spigot on the deck. So I carry water from the bathroom--I tell myself it is good, and needed, exercise!)

After watering, I decided to take some photos of my flower "wall" around the deck. While I was doing that, I had a visitor. I hastily tried to get some photos of this fast-moving target, but didn't know until I downloaded and enlarged the pictures whether or not I had captured him (or her, as the case may be). I was delighted to find that I had, twice.

I don't know the name of this insect. Can anyone help me with that?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

It Happened at McDonald's

Judy and Ed, July 29, 2014
Jerry's cousin Ed and his wife Judy passed through town yesterday on their way to Glacier National Park. They had a long drive scheduled for the day, but took time out to meet us at McDonald's for a quick visit. It had been 19 years since I last met Ed and Judy, and I think the last time Anne Marie had seen Ed was in 1985 (he wasn't married yet then).

It was a very short visit, but so enjoyable! Ed works for the Salvation Army in Kansas and their two sons are now grown and pursuing education in the fields of their interest. Ed and Judy are such a fine couple that I wish we lived closer and could share our lives more often!

Ed brought with him a flash drive loaded with photos covering his family's history from his parents' marriage to almost current times. I enjoyed watching the progress of the family! And Jerry's family (Jerry's mom Emma and Ed's mom Marian are sisters) appears in some of the photos. It is always fun to see Jerry in his growing up years. There were also photos from Emma's funeral last month. In those photos we were able to "see" family members that we haven't been with in a long time.
August 1995: Ed, Judy, and their sons Nathan, and Jeremy
 at a family gathering picnic in Salida, Colorado

While we were sitting in McD's visiting, someone came up beside me and said hello--it was another friend I had not seen in a long time. She was back in town spending time with a friend, so we spent a few minutes catching up. I found out she is on Facebook also, so I sent a friend request when I got home so we can keep up that way.

It had been a long time since I had been inside McDonald's. Maybe I should go more often!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mouthbreathing, Buttermilk Skies, Tomatoes, and Other Odd Bits

When someone is described as a "mouthbreather," it is not a compliment. It implies that the person is dull-witted in the extreme. In the last week I have become a mouthbreather. I hope that does not mean my IQ has taken a precipitous drop.

My daughter and granddaughter tell me that when I was slow to wake from the anesthesia after my little nose surgery, the nurses kept telling me I needed to breathe. I apparently told them I couldn't breathe through my nose. They told me to breathe through my mouth and I told them, "I'm not a good mouth breather." I'd take a breath or two and then they'd have to start telling me again to breathe. Apparently, this went on for some time. Of course, I remember none of that!

Less than two days after the procedure I came down with a cold. Then there's the ever-present summer allergies and the smoke from distant forest fires. The result of all these insults to my poor abused nose is that a good deal of the time it has been swollen shut and, like it or not, I've had to become a mouthbreather. Necessity rules. It should be much better soon, but in the meantime I must have oxygen!

Last evening was so beautiful here--the air was calm, the temperature pleasant, the skies lovely, the flowers gorgeous, and the green treetops I feel surrounded by on the deck soothing to my eyes. Why, then, did I water my flowers and scurry back indoors? Smoke. Even though I could not see the smoke, even my nose could smell it and my lungs felt it. So disappointing. I feel pouty to complain--think what the folks who live close to the areas that are burning must endure.

Last night we had a nice little rain shower. The air felt clean and lovely early in the morning, so I relaxed on the deck for a while and cloud-watched. There is an old song about Buttermilk Skies--I do not remember what the lyrics to the song are, but I wonder if this is what a buttermilk sky is.

This year I decided to put tomatoes in some of my deck pots. I bought two different varieties. One was already quite large and I thought it would fruit first. The second was much smaller, so should provide fresh tomatoes a little later. Then I planted a third tomato from some old seed that Grace found in a kitchen drawer at our mother's house. It is seed from the old Victor strain. My sister Terry has grown them, and saved seed, for years. I planted two seeds, wondering if they were too old to germinate. Both sprouted, but one got wind blasted and died. The other was in a slightly more protected spot, survived, and thrived. Tomatoes love heat. June's cool temperatures did not harm the plants, but they just sat there. Since we've had some hot days the plants have really taken off.

Tomato plant # 1--the large plant at time of purchase. It was slow to begin putting on fruit, but once it got hot it quickly put on many.
Tomato # 2. It was quite small when I got it, but put on a tomato long before the big one did. With heat the plant has quickly grown. It must put all its energy to building the plant, because I haven't seen anymore tomatoes. Lots of blooms now, though.
This is the old fashioned Victor tomato. Although I didn't even plant the seed until a few days after I transplanted the purchased tomato plants, it has proven to grow enthusiastically. It has lots of blooms and I saw one little tomato this morning.
While being housebound by the smoke, I've been reading and listening to books. I even--finally--finished Irish History for Dummies. Now, in my continuing education project, I will start on European History for Dummies. Just a glutton for punishment, I guess!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Happy Birthday, Grace!

Today is my sister Grace's birthday. As she turns 76 the thing that makes this birthday special is that she is now cancer free. We are so very thankful for that.

Here are some photos from the impromptu birthday celebration yesterday.

Looking good three days after major surgery!

Grace's "kids"--Sue, Mike, and Tina. In the background, Megan and Steven.

Three lovely ladies: Averi, Rachel, Vaida
Grandpa Mike and the girls

Sue crocheting a soft blanket for her mother.


Mike and Vaida
After yesterday's gathering, I hope Grace gets some rest today!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


My husband Jerry was a critter person. He always had pets. He was the kind of little boy who came home with a snake or a lizard in his pocket. I remember thinking about this before we had children. I had a deep foreboding (if you have read the Amelia Peabody Emerson books you'll get that reference!) that our children would be critter kids too.

I was right.

I don't think there is a critter alive they wouldn't like to make a pet of. And my grandchild is most definitely the same.

Don't get me wrong--I like animals. I just don't feel the need to live with them. Which is a good thing since I am allergic in some degree to pretty much all animals. I like short visits with my daughter's family's many pets. I get a kick out of watching animal antics. I recognize their varying personalities. I like to watch nature programs on TV and find the animals fascinating.

Sometimes I even think I'd like to have a nice cat or a smallish dog for a companion. Because of my critter-oriented family, we always had pets in the house.

Here are the pets best suited to me!
However. . .I remember all the vet visits, the daily doctoring of multiple animals for their allergies and other ailments, the cleaning up of the inevitable "accidents" that sick pets, like sick kids, have. I think about how I hate living with a cat box and how I really have no place in my house to keep one. I gag at the thought of cleaning up the daily dog poo donations to the yard or wherever a dog is walked. And then there is the expense of vets, grooming, medicine, and food for the pets.

And I decide that I am happy to visit and enjoy other people's critters, but I am better off without my own!

Please, all my critter-loving family, friends, and relatives, don't scorn me for this!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

It Was a Good Day

Yesterday the USA and I both celebrated birthdays. It was number 73 for me. The USA is a bit older--238!

I am at a stage of life where I am very into keeping it simple. I don't want to spend the day in the kitchen and I don't want Anne Marie to either. (She did have to do a little cooking,) So our plan was to have a simple picnic-style lunch with a few friends. Life being, as it is, what happens while you are making other plans, it was just too hot to eat on the deck. Which was too bad, because all my flowers are at the peak of perfection and beauty. Then two people had to cancel--one for health reasons and the other for her dog's serious health problems.
Blowing out the candles. Fortunately, there weren't 73 separate ones!
This is me at 73. (I know that is not grammatically correct, but it rhymes!)
Our friend Gwen, whose primary job is as a surgical nurse, was spending the day as paramedic for EMS. She and her shift partner, Jeff, came by for lunch. It can be iffy on whether such personnel will be able to finish a meal before the next call comes in. It turned out to be a quiet day as far as medical emergencies were concerned. They had time to eat and we all sat around and visited for a few hours before they got a call and hustled off.

So, there was an ambulance parked in front of our house for several hours. I wonder what the neighbors thought!
And, just for fun, this is Megan. Yes, she is facing forward. She flipped her hair over her face and donned her sunglasses!

The Birdies went to the big fireworks show, but I was ready to stay home and go to bed. I did hear the big booms and explosions going on for quite awhile after I was comfortably abed.

It was a good day.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Sunrise

I awoke this morning a few minutes after five o'clock. The light coming into my room had such an orange tint to it that it looked like there was fire outside.

I grabbed a camera, stepped out on the deck, and pointed my camera eastward.

While photos don't do it justice, this is what I saw.

An hour later we were having another rain shower! Overnight and this morning put .6 inch rain in my gauge.

I'm thankful for the wonderful moisture we have received over the past few days.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Today is Tuesday

Tuesday means it is Ladies' Bible Study Day. Today was special because niece Tina was able to schedule a ride in the handicap accessible bus and join us.

We are a small group, but leading the lessons has a special joy for me. That is because these women actually read the book of the Bible we are going to be surveying for that day! They are so well prepared that I have to really make sure I am prepared (which is good for me).  Today's book was Daniel.

We have a concern because my sister Grace just learned she has cancer. From what little we know at this point, it should be very treatable. She has to see a specialist before she will know what happens next. But Grace is a faithful Christian and many, many more people than just our little study group will be praying for her

This is the most recent picture I have of Grace. (Sorry, Grace, that I wasn't a better photographer.) We were decorating graves for Memorial Day, and she had done
some clean-up, picking weeds.

I so hate that she has to go through this.

I know God never promised us trouble-free lives.

Our Bible studies have certainly underlined that fact--his greatest prophets and faithful servants met the greatest obstacles.

But Tuesday has given me joy in the midst of concern.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

This Morning

This morning I woke up early. Not an unusual thing in the summertime, with daylight arriving early and leaving late (which I love). After my morning getting-ready-for-the-day routine, some breakfast, and the daily morning dosing for my various medical issues, I watched TV while waiting for the day to warm up.

We had about an inch and four-tenths of rain earlier in the week, and last night had another tenth.

The petunias are coming along nicely (please ignore the view across the alley
of the hoarder's backyard).
By ten o'clock the sun was shining, it was pleasantly warm, and a perfect morning to be outdoors. I had two last plants that needed transplanted, and it was time to do it.

One was a lone, leftover petunia. I just put it in a small pot I hadn't planned on using this year.

The other was a rather large tomato plant.

I had decided this year to grow tomatoes in the two large corner pots on my deck. I bought two sizes of tomato plants (different varieties), in hope that the fruiting season would thus be extended. One is a nice, healthy, sturdy, but small yet, plant and the other was a large plant. I planted the small one at the same time as I was planting flowers.

There was a problem with transplanting the big one. It was in a large, tough plastic pot with an equally tough attached cage. I thought about just leaving it in the pot it came in, but really wanted it in the big pot.

This morning Chad was working in his backyard and I called down to him for help. He performed successful surgery on the plastic cage and got the tomato extracted. It is now living in the big pot and I hope I'll get a nice tomato crop from it.

Now I'll just be worried about hail and wind storms!

Having finished my little planting chores, it was time to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee on the deck.

There is a lot of humidity in the air, and the clouds began rapidly building up. Between ten and eleven o'clock we went from sunny to cloudy. The clouds were moving fast. I watched a large black cloud move in and then, just as quickly, it moved over and was gone. But there were more following it. I sky-watched for awhile before I came in. Clouds are always fascinating.

And that was my morning.