Homemade Christmas cards and other stray thoughts

Today is the first “back to the old routine” day in a while. I love all the holiday activities, and God was kind to grant me some pockets of quietness and rest amid the busyness. Getting out of the normal routine for several weeks was fun and refreshing. Getting back into it feels both good and sad at the same time. We had a wonderful Christmas with all the family home and then a very quiet but enjoyable New Year’s Eve and Day.

I thought I’d show you the Christmas cards I made for the family. I buy boxes of them for extended family and friends – I’d never be able to make as many as I send out – but for our own family I like to make individual ones.

This is Jim’s:

Jim Christmas 17

It doesn’t show up in the photo, but the white words are flocked. If I had been thinking, I would have cut off the bottom pine cone so more of the word Noel showed up.

This is Jeremy’s:

Jer Christmas 17

Sometimes ideas come from others I’ve saved on Pinterest, sometimes from something in the Cricut design space, and sometimes they come as a result of looking over the materials I have. This one started out with the fox sticker, as Jeremy likes foxes, and then the other elements came one by one. This is one of my favorite cards I’ve ever made.

This is Jason’s:

Jason Christmas 17

I had wanted to use blue because he likes blue, and I had also wanted to use the snowflake embossing folder on one, so those came together here.

This is Mittu’s:

Mittu Christmas 17

I love that cozy sweater background paper, and they love coffee, so these seemed like a good pairing. The cups were done with the Cricut.

This is Jesse’s:

Jesse Christmas 17

This started with the word sticker – that just seemed to fit him. Everything on the white part is a sticker.

This is Timothy’s:

Tim Christmas 17

I had seen the cookies on a cookie sheet idea on Pinterest, but the shapes on it were three of the same gingerbread men. As I looked through my scrapbook paper, I found one with these gingerbread figures on them, so I cut them out. Thankfully I had enough of a scrap of the metallic paper for the cookie sheet. πŸ™‚

This is Jim’s mom’s:

GG Christmas 17

And this was for Jim for our anniversary:

anniv 2017

Other stray thoughts this morning:

  • We had turned on the TV New Year’s Eve long enough to see the ball drop, and I commented that I always wondered how they did bathroom issues in Times Square during that event. I envisioned a long row of port-a-potties somewhere. Jeremy looked it up and said there are no port-a-potties – and businesses don’t let the crowds come in to use the restrooms. And some people are there as early as 8 in the morning! They also don’t allow backpacks or large bags, don’t allow people to sit down, and they kick out the food stands to make more room for people. I looked up a couple more articles this morning (here and here). I never had aspirations to go to this anyway, but it’s definitely on my “Nope, I don’t think I’ll ever do this” list – which is guess is the opposite of a bucket list. πŸ™‚
  • I’ve rediscovered cheese and crackers as a snack. My mom used to always send Swiss Colony cheese and sausage packages for Christmas until the kids all got older and it got too expensive to send them. But usually one of us gets a Hickory Farms package at some point during the Christmas season. This year we opened it on Christmas Eve. Then I had mentioned earlier that somehow we got started having the Chicken in a Biskit and Easy Cheese during the holidays, so I have enjoyed munching on them all month. They may not be the healthiest snack, though – especially the Easy Cheese – so I probably need to find a better salty snack.

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  • One of the things I miss most about putting Christmas decorations away is the lights. But not enough to keep any up year-round.
  • I’ve also enjoyed several weeks of Christmas music. I got a new Christmas CD this year, Worship the Newborn King from the Wilds Christian camp. I especially loved the Candlelight Carol. I’ve loved that for years but rarely hear it. Other long time favorites have been their Christmas With Friends album (although that doesn’t seem to be available any more) and Sacred Music Services’ King of Glory. I also like some of Pentatonix – not the more raucous stuff, but I especially like their versions of Silent Night, The First Noel, Carol of the Bells, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Mary Did You Know, and others in that vein.
  • I don’t make resolutions per se, but I do like to make reading plans for the year and map out some projects I want to work on, so I hope to do that this week. I like to incorporate some purposefulness in my reading but with some flexibility in case I come across something new I want to read during the year. I hope to have my reading plans posted in the next day or two.
  • Also this time of year you see a lot of people writing about words for the year. I’m not sure how that got started. A lot of people derive great blessing from it, and that’s great. Personally I have never felt led to do so. Usually God has more than one word to work on in my life at any given time. πŸ™‚ But can I say, if you feel stressed about choosing a word for the year or guilty because you don’t have one, don’t worry about it. Seek God about it, and if you sense His leading toward one area of concentration, then go for it, but if not, just seek Him in His Word and seek His will every day.
  • This is also a good time of year to find a good Bible reading plan if you haven’t already. I wrote on that extensively here. There are all kinds available. Probably the best plan is one you’ll actually use. Reading the Bible through in a year is a good thing for several reasons. A Christian radio station I listen to reads through the Bible throughout the year during daily 15 minute segments, not really too difficult for anyone. The last few years I have continued to read the complete Bible, but not in a year. I am not sure how long it takes me. I aim for a couple of chapters a day, but vary it according the the length, difficulty, or density of the passage I am in and whether I want to stop and slow down in certain passages.

And now I had best get on to some of that daily routine that needs attending to. Thanks for visiting. πŸ™‚

(Sharing with What I’m IntoΒ atΒ Leigh Kramer)

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Even more stray thoughts…

I don’t usually post “rambling” posts too closely together, but I forgot some things last time. πŸ™‚

  • On the health front: Since going off one of the medications I was put on post-afib surgery, I have not had any more major episodes lasting hours. They said it would be rough going off of it, but instead it’s been the best I’ve felt since the surgery. (Thank you, Lord!) I’ve had some little flutters lasting just a few seconds at a time – they seem to come in clusters for a bit during they day, but then nothing the rest of the day. But that’s MUCH better than 2-6 hours!

 

  • Since I was doing so well, I was hesitant to start the new medication. I read the information that comes with a prescription – something I don’t usually do because they tend to make me not want to take the medicine – and, yep, this made me not want to take it. I know they have to include everything that could possibly happen, and most of the time when I go ahead and take it, I don’t experience any of the dire potential side effects. But this, first of all, said it is usually given in the hospital under a doctor’s supervision. Yikes! Nothing was said to me about that, and I am assuming since they sent me home with it, it’s a low enough dose to be ok. But that definitely is scary. There were a few other things that make me reluctant to take it, but that was the main one. I can’t decide whether to call the doctor’s office and ask if I can avoid taking it, since I am doing so well – or whether I should just not take it and then talk about it at my next appointment. Probably the first course is the better one, but I don’t want to get into a position of him saying yes, I should take it, and then me deciding I don’t want to after all, and then having to explain that. πŸ™‚

 

  • Things I’ve seen that make me wonder:

  • Why do they charge delivery charges if that doesn’t go to the driver? Well, this doesn’t say it doesn’t go to the driver, but that’s what I assumed. Maybe it’s like waitresses: they get paid a little but less than they would normally and the rest is made up in tips. But by the time you had a delivery charge and a tip, that’s a significant amount – and one of the reasons we don’t often have food delivered.
  • I was rummaging around for some dental floss in the back of the bathroom drawer (trying to get better about flossing) and found one that had come from the dentist’s office a while back. It had an expiration date from a year ago. Dental floss has an expiration date? I don’t know why it would. It would make sense if it had a flavoring on it – I’ve seen some with a minty taste. But this didn’t have that. I don’t think it would shred or fray in just a year’s time. My husband thinks it’s a scam to make people buy more floss. πŸ™‚
  • A note on prescription information insert from the drugstore: “For faster refills, call 24 hours in advance.” That does not seem faster to me. πŸ™‚

 

  • I don’t think I have shared the most recent birthday cards I have made yet. Jason had a “milestone” birthday this year, and in looking for ideas for his card, I came across several listing things that had happened during his birth year. I ended up doing this one on the computer – I told him that even though it wasn’t hand-made, it was Mom-made. πŸ™‚

Jeremy likes foxes, and I was aiming for a design that didn’t look childish.

Jesse is an avid video gamer, so this seemed appropriate for him.

  • I mentioned last time being frustrated with complicated issues being reduced to zinging tweets and snarky memes in public forums. I’ve been thinking that we ought to bring back forensic debating in schools. Not the farces that we call presidential debates during election season. When I was in college, one of the regular commencement week activities was the championship debate, a culmination of different groups who had been debating a particular topic all through the school year, and the top two teams debated the final round before the entire school body. At the time, I am sorry to say, I found it quite boring. But now I wish more people were educated in this kind of logical thinking, giving out and responding to facts rather than conjecture, name-calling, and shouting each other down. I hope school debates are still conducted like this. I know some schools still have them, but I think more should and they should receive more emphasis.

 

  • I have also been alarmed to see more and more anti-capitalist rhetoric in recent months. Some equate capitalism with greed and oppression when it should be equated with opportunity (the little guy who pursues a big idea, the family restaurant that grows into a national chain). I lived through the Cold War and helped pray people out of Soviet prisons: believe me, you really don’t want communism. Talk about oppression. There is no perfect economic system: every one has its flaws. And because we’re sinners, there are people who are going to exploit the flaws in any system for personal advantage, so there needs to be safeguards in place. This is an area requiring study and thought, not just sound bytes.

 

  • Our family is currently going through some major changes. My husband was asked to take on a different position at his company. He’s had to turn down a few of those requests before because they involved travel, and he felt he couldn’t be away more than a couple of days at a time due to his mom being in our home. She tends to get a little more disoriented when he’s away for very long. But that’s also out of consideration for me, so I don’t have the bulk of her care, and I appreciate that. This position will not require that kind of travel, so that helps. It’s an area he has been partially involved in for years, so I hope being in it full time is enjoyable for him. Right now they are still in a transition phase.

 

  • Another big change is that we have decided to leave the church we have attended for seven years and look for a new church home. There really isn’t any one major issue, but my husband has been unhappy there for some time. We talked it out and decided it was time to move on. We didn’t visit around various churches when we first came here because we knew the pastor at this church (who has since passed away) and knew from the start that’s where we would attend. So we’re going through that visiting-around process now, which is always…interesting. This is the first time we have ever left a church for reasons other than moving away, so it feels a little awkward in many respects. I always feel a little homeless without a church family, but I do have a sense of excitement to see what the Lord has in store for us.

And that wraps it up for today!

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More stray thoughts…

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I have a couple of posts percolating in the back of my mind but haven’t had the opportunity or the mindset to work them out, so for now I thought I’d just share the other odds and ends floating around there. πŸ™‚

  • I feel like people must be getting sick of me talking about the ablation surgery and atrial fibrillation by now. I’m getting sick of it myself. “Shouldn’t that be all over with?” Well, that’s what I would have thought. Recently I had four different afib episodes in the space of a week, from 2-6 hours each. I’m not sure why – I was at rest when most of them started, even dozing when one began. I contacted my doctor, and he wants to put me on a different medication, but first I have to go off one of the ones I am on for five days so it is out of my system before I start the new one. They told me I might feel a little “rough” during the days without the medicine I am going off of. But I am about halfway through that five-day period, and so far there have been a few little ripples, but no major episodes, for which I am very thankful to God. I’m three months past the surgery, so I hope we’ve turned a corner and I won’t have any more major episodes, especially as the rest of this medicine gets out of my system before starting the new one. If I don’t have any more major afib episodes between now and then, I’m even toying with the idea of asking if I can avoid taking the new one. But we’ll see.
  • When I first heard they wanted me to go off one of the medications for five days, I was alarmed, thinking that surely without the medicine I’d have even more episodes. I have this tendency to run through all the possible “what if” scenarios I can come up with.

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But one thing this experience has helped me with is that I decided I just could not live every day fearing I might have afib (and that it might not go away on its own and then I might have to go to the hospital and then we’d have to make arrangements for Jim’s mom, or it might cause a blood clot, etc., etc., etc.). I prayed about it, asked other people to pray about it, and just decided to go on about my business, and we’d deal with whatever happened when and if it happened. I’ve had to go through this all again in my mind a few times, but overall it’s much more restful to live this way! Who knows, maybe learning this is one reason God allowed all this to happen.

  • I had a clear birdfeeder that attached with suction cups to the kitchen window so i could watch the birds a little more closely. But not long ago we had a little mouse in there! I wish I had caught a good photo of it. I took the bird feeder down — I don’t want any more uninvited guests there! I think this is the first mouse I have seen or even seen any evidence of since we moved here seven years ago.
  • We’ve been hearing some kind of creature scurrying around the attic, larger than the little mouse in the birdfeeder, so my husband put a trap up there, the kind that will catch it but not kill it so he can release it in some woodsy area away from the house. It kept getting the peanut butter out but evading the trap. Reasoning that maybe the trap was too small to close on it, my husband got a larger one. But after several resets with both peanut butter and peanuts, we kept getting the same results: missing food, but no trapped animal. So finally Jim hot-glued some peanuts to the metal plate where the food goes, thinking that when the animal tried to pull it off, that would trigger the trap door. This is what he found the next time he checked it:

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He said the paint on the trap was getting a little sticky from the heat in the attic, so he sprayed it with WD-40. But it may be time to go to a mouse-trap type trap sized for a larger animal – as well as writing some manufacturers about their failed traps!

  • Do you have a process for reading blogs? I have all the blogs I read on Feedly, and I usually start looking through them while I am eating breakfast. I guess because I am eating and not in a mode to comment on them, I tend to go through first and eliminate some I’m not interested in reading. For instance, I follow some recipe blogs, but if I can tell by the title I’m not interested in a particular recipe, I delete it.Β  I follow some craft and card-making blogs, but this time of year when there is a lot of Halloween stuff, I delete those, too. Maybe it also makes me feel like I am putting a dent into my blog-reading if I eliminate a few right off the bat. πŸ™‚ Next there are a few blogs I read but don’t comment on, usually bigger blogs with a significant following who get several comments a day already. I figure they don’t really need my two cents, so I don’t comment unless a post has particularly meant a lot to me or unless I feel I can add something to the discussion. Then there are some bloggers who are friends now and I comment on almost all of their posts, so I go on to those next, and if a particular post needs an especially thoughtful comment, I usually save that for last, sometimes coming back to it later in the day. Often some time in the middle of that I have to go run errands or accomplish something, so sometimes I finish blog reading in the afternoon. I usually avoid it in the evening so as not to be off on the computer while my husband is home.
  • How do you feel about “tweetables,” those sections of a blog post specifically designed for someone to tweet a line from your post? Some will even be labeled “Click here to tweet.” When I first saw that, I thought, “Wow, the audacity!” It seemed a little too self-promotional to me. But then I saw someone ask a blogger for those – I guess she wanted to promote the post but clicking on something like that was easier than copying and pasting. So now I am caught between wondering if it comes across as a push to promote or as a service to readers. It’s difficult because bloggers want readers – otherwise we’d just be writing journals. And I always appreciate when someone shares my post on social media in some way. But it’s hard to know how far is too far to go. I guess it’s not that much different than the little buttons I have at the bottom to share a post somewhere.
  • This will sound awful, but I get frustrated when missionaries put you on their mailing lists without asking. I DO believe in supporting missionaries and reading their prayer letters (carefully!) and praying for them, and I have signed up for several prayer letter lists. But when you rediscover someone you used to know 30+ years ago on an online forum or social media and then all of a sudden you start getting their prayer letters – it shouldn’t bother me, but it does. It’s always better to ask than to assume to let the person ask the missionary so he or she doesn’t feel put on the spot. Maybe because I do want to treat them carefully and pray for each one, it’s easy to feel overloaded. But then, it’s doesn’t take all that much time to read through a prayer letter, pray for the requests immediately, and then delete it, and it’s a ministry to them. And, obviously, if I have time to blog and watch TV and do other things, I am not so pressed for time that I can’t spend a few minutes reading about and praying for someone. So why am I complaining? I don’t know. I guess my inner curmudgeon is coming out.
  • Like everyone else in the country, I was horrified and deeply saddened by the LA shooting a few days ago. I haven’t felt inclined to write a separate post about it – probably anything I could say has already been said somewhere. But I am saddened as well by the hateful rhetoric following the shooting, especially the backlash against people offering “thoughts and prayers” instead of doing something. Well…as this post says, thinking of and praying for someone is “doing something.” That doesn’t mean some kind of action doesn’t need to be taken as well. But what that action should be is a big and complicated question. I do believe in citizens having guns if they want them – but do they need machine guns and the like? Are there not laws currently in place for whatever this man was doing? Lots of people have had guns for centuries without doing something like this – is there something else to consider? Mental illness, perhaps? And what should be done about that opens another whole set of complicated questions. I haven’t heard whether anyone has ascertained a motive for the shooter. Was it just hate? Or a warped sense of fun? What do you do about that? I’m probably making a mistake opening up this can of worms at the end of a post like this when I need to stop in a minute and get some other things done, but I’m just trying to convey that there are a number of issues involved that are not simple, and a differing opinion is not in itself a stupid one. It doesn’t do a lot of good to rail against the hatred out there and then treat people hatefully within our own sphere of influence. I don’t want to throw this out as a cliche, but, truly, the gospel is the only thing that is going to change people’s hearts in the long term. May God give us wisdom and grace in how and when to share it and live it out, and soften people’s hearts to be receptive to it.

More Stray Thoughts…

This is the first weekday in about a week and a half where I haven’t had to go somewhere during the morning. I thought that would provide for a busy day getting things done at home, but instead I’m tired and a little fuzzy-brained and fighting off a headache (due, I think, to the air pressure system). So It seems like it would be a good day for a ramble. πŸ™‚

I had my post-op visit with the cardiologist yesterday. I had been discouraged because I’ve still felt a number of heartbeat irregularities, mostly minor, but some longer, one as long as 12 hours. The most recent long bout was five hours last Friday. They had told me to expect some irregularities, that the surgery itself could cause some. But in my mind there shouldn’t have been that much, and certainly not 5 1/2 weeks out from surgery. But the doctor was cheerful and said everything was “just the way we like to see it.” I see him again in 2 months. I’m still not feeling particularly cheerful about it myself, but I am a little more hopeful, especially as the last couple of bouts were considerably milder than usual. I’ve been told that occasionally people have to have an ablation for atrial fibrillation more than once, and if we have to do that, we’ll deal with it, but I sure hope the one I had will take care of it.

Part of the longer healing process is due to the fact that what they’re trying to accomplish with the ablation (as I understand it) is creating little teeny spots of scar tissue along the nerve that’s causing the irregular beats, either by heat or freezing – not so much as to impair heart function, but enough to disrupt that particular nerve’s signals. So not only does all of that need to heal and settle down after surgery, but then it takes time for the scar tissue to develop – longer than I had thought, evidently. I had thought everything would be “done” by this visit, which led to my discouragement at still having issues.

So we’ll see where we are in a couple of months. I also got some much-needed clarification about what to do if I do have a longer bout of afib at home – how long to just rest at home and when to see a doctor.

Well, enough of that.

Other thoughts that have been accumulating recently:

  • My own little corner of the Internet has been on the quiet side recently. Some blog friends have taken a hiatus for the summer, or for a longer spell, for various reasons, and some are only posting sporadically.
  • Is anyone thinking of doing Write31Days in October? The idea is to choose a topic, any topic, that you’ll blog about every day of October. I’ve done it a few times before with 31 Days of Missionary Stories, 31 Days of Inspirational Biographies, and 31 Days with Elisabeth Elliot. I enjoyed doing them, and they were well-received. But so far I don’t have anything in mind to write about this year, and I don’t know if I have the “umph” to do it. We’re coming off of a busy time between the surgery, the eclipse, the family stay-cation, and “birthday season” (several family birthdays July-September). I was just thinking today that it was nice to look forward to nothing major on the schedule in October. But I am praying about it. Let me know if you’re planning to participate.
  • Recently I’ve seen a few comments on social media judging people for not commenting on particular issues. Seriously, people. Not everyone wants to participate in every online debate or wants to strew their thoughts on every topic, particularly divisive ones, all over the Internet. Plus, some issues are too big for the 140 characters of a tweet. I’d rather have a serious, in-depth, informed, and thoughtful discussion on a issue than trade snarky sound bytes. So don’t take media silence as indifference or lack of caring. I’m not saying it’s wrong to discuss divisive issues on social media, but, honestly, a lot of those discussion that I see are more about scoring points for one’s own side and portraying the other side as stupid or dangerous or uncaring than they are about shedding any light.
  • I never saw or heard of leaving two spaces between typed sentences until fairly recently, and I’ve wondered where that came from. I never had a typing or keyboarding class, so I have wondered if it’s taught there, or if it is a regional thing. I just looked it up, and this article delves into the history and tells why it is considered wrong. This one says it’s especially a no-no in writing proposals.
  • Do you ever go back and edit old posts? I’ve discovered some of mine have some photos missing or broken links. I used to use sources like Photobucket to upload and share photos so I didn’t use too much of my free storage space provided by my blog. Though Photobucket is still in business, I think some of the others must have gone out of business over time, because I’ve discovered some old posts with a place for a photo, but no photo there, and nothing happens when I click on the icon that is there. Plus there are some broken links here are there, where the post or site I linked to is no longer online. It would be a lot of work to go back through 11 years worth of posts to fix that kind of thing, yet I hate to leave posts like that, especially the ones with missing photos. So I’ll probably correct them as I come across them and have time. I know for some of you, whenever I do anything with an old post, it shows up in your feed as a new one. I apologize for that. I don’t know how to avoid it. If I start fixing old posts on a larger scale, I’ll try to let you know.
  • Do you find yourself living back in the “dark ages” in some respect? For me, it’s the price of clothing. I can accept that the price of gas and food changes, even though sometimes I am horrified by it. But I still find myself not wanting to pay more for clothes than I did back in college – almost 40 years ago. A lot of times I can still find clothes at those prices, or close to it, but it’s getting increasingly harder to do so. I recently upped the price range I consider acceptable, but there are some clothes catalogs I immediately toss because they are so ridiculously high.
  • ‘Tis the season…for corn mazes. Have you ever done one? They do not sound like fun to me. πŸ™‚

Well, that’s probably more than enough rambling for one day.

Like many of you, we’re still praying for those still dealing with the effects of the hurricanes on the east coast and the wildfires in the west and for the help they need, financially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

 

Eclipse 2017

When my husband first told me he wanted to view the eclipse on Aug. 21, which would involve traveling an hour or so away, I wasn’t all that excited. He has always had an interest in astronomy and has even bought and sold a few telescopes on Ebay. I always figured I could see much more detailed photos of the stars and planets online. Plus the eclipse day was my birthday – a milestone birthday.

But – this event meant a lot to my husband. And it was a “once in a lifetime” event. So plans were made.

The closer we got to event day, the more concerned I became about traffic, bathroom facilities, crowdedness, etc. Jim originally wanted to go to Sweetwater, but the news made it sound like that was a prime area that would be overrun.

We decided to try to get to Maryville a little before lunchtime. We took a picnic lunch (Mittu made some great wraps, orange slices, carrot sticks, and cookies and we contributed chipsΒ  and drinks) since we didn’t know where we would end up and what eating places would be nearby. Our goal was to go to the park by the library there. We ended up in a grassy area next to a government building (I forget what it was) by the library. We saw a few cars and people there and pulled in — and someone came out from the building telling us we couldn’t park there. BUT, she didn’t say we couldn’t park on the property, just that spot, and she very nicely directed us under the (shaded!) awning of the drive-through lanes they weren’t using. That was just a few steps away from a large grassy spot. A few people were set up there and on the library grounds, but it wasn’t crowded. Jim and the boys set up the canopy, a table, lawn chairs, and…a telescope and screen. πŸ™‚

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Jason accompanied Mittu and me to the library to see if we could use the restroom there. I didn’t really think they would let us – but they did! Jim had brought a portable camping potty just in case, but we were glad to have access to an inside, nicely kept up bathroom.

I was very pleasantly surprised that, at least in our experience, all the businesses and employees we encountered were very welcoming and accommodating, deciding to roll with the situation rather than trying to keep non-customers away.

We had a couple of hours to wait after eating, and the grassy areas filled in, but were never uncomfortably crowded. Several people stopped by to look at Jim’s microscope set-up and even asked to take pictures of it. I took pictures at intervals until “totality” – here are just a few:

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Mittu made Timothy an expanded set of eclipse glasses, using one of the ones we bought and gluing it to a paper plate.

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At one point clouds covered the sun for several minutes, and people cheered when they moved away.

Of course, the 15-20 minutes before the total eclipse were the most dramatic. As it started getting darker bit by bit (someone said as if by a dimmer), we noticed it was a different kind of darkness – no sunset colors. And around the horizon looked light, with the darkness above. As it got “nighttime dark,” the cicadas started chirping and other stars were visible. People cheered and oohed and aahed. I tried to get a photo of the dark circle of the moon with the white ring of the sun around it, but in the photo it just looked white.

And then, as the process started to reverse, people started packing up to go. Jim’s traffic app helped direct us back ways that were a little less crowded, and we got home hot and tired and got pizza for dinner.

I had wondered about the “once in a lifetime” part of it since the next one is due in 2024 and the last eclipse was in 1979 – which was still in my lifetime! But I looked that one up, and apparently it was only visible in the US in the Northwest – I’m not sure about other countries. So maybe “once in a lifetime” doesn’t mean only one total eclipse occurs every 70 or so years, but it only occurs in a particular location in that time frame.

In a few other interesting eclipse articles:

The International Space Station photo-bombed the eclipse.

The umbra, or shadow of the moon, as seen from the International Space Station.

Eclipse photos from Greenville, SC.

Eclipse photos from Eastern TN.

Jason filmed Jim’s screen and then put a time-lapse video together. They had to move the screen and telescope a few times to accommodate the sun’s progression, and the time it went blank was during the cloud cover.

So in the long run I was glad I had gone. It was neat to actually be a part of the experience, both with my family and even with total strangers. The day could not have gone better, and all the issues I was concerned about turned out to be wonderfully taken care of.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Β Psalm 19:1.

Stray thoughts

A few weeks ago in the store, a family of three was across from me in the aisle, and the wife asked where the Shake N Bake was. The man quoted from the old commercial, “It’s Shake N Bake, and I helped!” The wife and 10-or-so-year-old son looked at him like he was crazy, and then he saw me smiling and said, “She remembers!” I’m glad I could help vouch for his sanity with his family. πŸ™‚

Am I the only person in the world who is nauseated by the scent of lilacs? I was delighted to learn that one of our bushes outside was a lilac bush a few years ago, and cut off some for a vase inside – but had to throw them out. Someone recently gave us a flower arrangement with a few lilacs in it, and first I had to put it in another room but eventually had to pull them out of the arrangement and throw them away. I was so disappointed.

I was telling my husband there needs to be a word or phrase, something like “friendly fire,” for problems you pick up at the hospital that aren’t directly related to your original issue. Like bruises from ivs and blood draws – I always look a little beaten up after a hospital stay. I also have anΒ  allergic reactions to some adhesives, but this time was the worst ever with the dressings plus some patches on my back. With this surgery they have a more extensive kind of heart monitor, and I had three big (four-inch across) patches on my back for that plus the outline of a pad of some kind I must have been lying on that all left itchy welts (I called them my crop circles). We’ve been using lots of Benadryl cream! Then, I had been on my back for so long, and my bottom took the brunt of that pressure, so that my sciatic nerve got irritated or inflamed or something, making it extremely painful to sit down for the first few days. Thankfully all of that is much better now.

So it hasn’t been the cozy, restful recovery I was anticipating. πŸ™‚ I’ve been doing more sleeping than reading, which is probably for the best. Years ago when I had my first surgery, Jim came across an article about an experiment in which they put healthy, fit football players under anesthesia to measure the effects of the anesthesia itself without an underlying illness, and it showed that it took about six weeks just to get back to normal from having that in their system.

Monday night I had a scare with an episode of afib that lasted about 7 hours. I had been told that the ablation itself could cause some arrhythmia, just from all the poking around they did in there, and it takes about a month for all of that to heal and settle down. I had been feeling some ripples and spasms and am on a couple of anti-arrhythmia meds, but when this went on and on, I was discouraged that the surgery hadn’t worked (I was told sometimes they have to do it twice). I wanted to go to the ER, but my husband felt we needed to talk to my doctor directly – with having just had surgery, there might be something they’re supposed to do or not do. Everything resolved by morning, and when I finally heard back from my doctor’s nurse, she reassured me that this was normal and didn’t mean the surgery wasn’t successful. So I was still a little dismayed that it happened but not as much as I had been.

But otherwise I do feel I’m gaining back strength and getting a little more back to normal every day.

July 27 was my eleven-year blog anniversary. Usually I mention that in a special post and sometimes even have a giveaway, but this year it completely slipped my mind until WordPress sent me a notice. I guess I was a little distracted with the upcoming surgery. πŸ™‚ It’s interesting how the blog world has changed over the last decade. I miss some old blog friends who are no longer online. But I am extremely thankful for you who are reading! I’ve made some lifelong friends online! I’m still amazed that people read here, but I am grateful, and your care and comments mean the world to me. Thank you.

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Home From the Hospital!

I mentioned last week that I was going in for an atrial ablation to try to fix my atrial fibrillation. That was yesterday morning. Everything went well, and God helped me have peace beforehand.

I did have one setback in the hospital. They don’t stitch the little incisions they make when they thread their instruments from the groin area to the heart. You have to lie flat on your back for 6 hours so that they can heal. But when they had me stand up for the first time, one of the incisions started pouring blood – so I had to lay back down while they put pressure on it for several minutes and stay flat again for several more hours. So – that was no fun. But when they had me get up the second time, everything was fine.

Jim’s off the rest of the week, and he is a wonderful caregiver. Jason and Mittu brought over three meals, so we’re set for dinners for a few days. I am looking forward to reading and relaxing and maybe watching some TV along the way while I recuperate. πŸ™‚

Thanks so much for your prayers and your notes!

Upcoming Procedure

Some of you who have read here for a long while may remember that I’ve had bouts with irregular rapid heartbeats for a number of years. At first I was diagnosed with SVTs, supraventricular tachycardia, with sudden jumps to 200 beats a minute that wouldn’t go back to normal without an ER visit. The last few years the symptoms have changed to smaller versions of palpitations with my heart feeling like it’s vibrating or quivering, usually for just a few seconds at a time, but sometimes longer. When I first shared this with my doctor, he said that it’s not unusual for “middle-aged” women to experience palpitations. But when they seemed to be increasing, I spoke to him again, and he sent me to a cardiologist. They had me wear a monitor for a couple of days and I was again diagnosed with SVTs.

From the beginning they mentioned a surgery called an ablation in with they go in through the blood vessels in the groin to the heart and “zap” the nerves causing the problem. I learned later that what they actually do is burn very, very small areas to create scar tissue to disrupt the nerve signals. I didn’t want to do anything invasive at first and tried to control it with medication, but it was getting so bothersome I finally decided to have it a couple of years ago. Some of you may remember my profound disappointment when, after putting off this surgery for years and looking forward to finally fixing the problem, they were not able to complete the procedure. With an SVT ablation they do an EP study of the heart first (for which I was awake – no fun), and that showed not SVTs but atrial problems, which required a different kind of procedure, which they evidently couldn’t do while they were in there. I distinctly remember being told that the other procedure was more risky and they only did it if the patient was at a higher risk by having diabetes and blood pressure problems, but I was later told that was a misunderstanding.

I was told that the atrial tachycardia carried a higher risk of blood clots, so I was put on a full dose of aspirin. I didn’t seriously consider an ablation for this because of my understanding that it would be riskier.

Then in June I had a bout of atrial fibrillation that lasted 13 hours and ended up spending the night in the ER. At the follow-up visit with my cardiologist, when he brought up the possibility of an ablation, I brought up what he had told me about it being riskier. He said that somehow we had miscommunicated on that and it’s actually better to do it without the risks of diabetes and high blood pressure. He said that one good thing about the ER visit was that it documented the afib: when the previous attempted ablation left me in afib, they weren’t sure it wasn’t triggered by something they did while they were in my heart. So the EKG readings they did while I was in the ER confirmed that this is what I have. He wants to do a cryoablation which uses cold rather than heat.

I wrestled a couple of days with whether to go through with this kind of ablation. They always have to tell you the worst possible scenarios (damaging the heart unintentionally, blood clots, even death. Yikes!) But that long afib event in the ER with its own possibility of causing blood clots scared me. I figured if there was a risk without having surgery and a risk with surgery, the better course would be to have the surgery and fix the problem.

So that is scheduled for next week. I’m purposefully not naming the date here because I don’t want it generally known when I won’t be home – even though it probably wouldn’t be a problem, you never know who is reading what’s online. πŸ™‚ If you’re someone I have communicated with previously and you’d like to know, feel free to email me.

I was telling a friend on Sunday that there’s a song I hear on the radio sometimes that says something like, “If your heart keeps right, if your heart keeps right, there is joy and gladness in the darkest night.” My mind has been converting that to, “If your heart beats right…” πŸ™‚ I am praying that this procedure will indeed help my heart “beat right.”

I you feel led to pray, I have some specific prayer requests:

  1. That this date will stick if it is God’s will. It was rescheduled by the doctor’s office once already, and that involves my husband having to rearrange his time off and rearranging care for his mom – besides prolonging everything.
  2. That this procedure will fix the problem this time.
  3. They said some people have to have the procedure done twice. Please pray that it will get taken care of with just the one.
  4. I have to go off the medications that we’re trying to keep this in control with five days ahead of the procedure, so please pray that I won’t have any serious afib (or blood clots!) during that time. One wrinkle here is that when I was in the ER, one of the medications they used was something that stays in your system for a couple of weeks, and my cardiologist said they couldn’t do the surgery while that was in my system. So not only do I really not want to go through another ER experience, I don’t want that to cause a push back for the surgery.
  5. That I won’t have any blood clots or negative side effects.
  6. That everything will go well with my husband’s mom at home. Though we have a hospital just minutes from us, the one we have to go to is 30 minutes away. At the closer hospital it’s easier for Jim to just run home for a few minutes and check on things or turn her or whatever. All of her needs should be covered and she’ll have someone with her at all times, but just pray that all goes well with her.
  7. That God will give me a calm and peaceful heart, mind, and spirit about it all.

So far I am approaching it much more calmly than I did the last procedure, though I do have moments of “nerves” about it all. It’s like when you have to give a speech, and you’re as prepared as you can be and have given it all over to the Lord, but you still have that butterflies in the stomach feeling. I just keep giving it back to the Lord and reminding myself that He is in control and reminding myself of several people who have told me their dad/uncle/grandfather/friend/etc. has had this with no problems.Last time I was greatly helped by reading Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of RestΒ  by Ed Welch in the time leading up to the procedure – I may look back over my notes or over passages from that this time.

I’ll have to be in the hospital overnight and avoid lifting or anything “strenuous” for several days. Jim is taking off the day of the procedure and a few days following. I’m getting some housework done ahead of time, both to keep myself and my thoughts occupied and also so hopefully nothing will be needed besides the everyday meals and dishwashing.

That’s probably much more than you wanted to know. πŸ™‚

I appreciate your concern and interest and especially your prayers. I’ll let you know when it’s over and how it went.