More stray thoughts

The last time I did a post like this, someone suggested I should make it a regular feature, especially considering my blog name. 🙂 I don’t know if it will be a regular feature, but it will probably be an occasional one. So here are some of the things running through my brain lately, from the trivial to the more serious:

  • Have you seen those pans for brownies or bar cookies that look like a maze and are designed so that all the pieces come out like edge pieces? The edge pieces are my least favorite – mine tend to get much harder than the middle. But I guess some people like crunchy brownies – or are better bakers than I am and don’t get the outside edges too hard.

 

 

  • I’m working on a poll about blogging that I hope to have up in the next week or two.

 

  • Have you seen that there is a trend now to stop capitalizing pronouns referring to God? This post explains some of the reasons for it. I admit the middle part of it is too technical for me, but I do understand some reasons for it: those pronouns are not capitalized in the original manuscripts and even some of the oldest translations, like the KJV, don’t capitalize pronouns referring to God. Still, it has been a tradition for years, one that many people (myself included) see as respectful of God. And I think it does help clarify a sentence to have He vs. he (especially if you’re referring to another he and him in the same sentence). It’s not a hill to die on, but I hate to see it changed.

 

  • One day last week I was trying to get something done on the computer while doing laundry, and I was getting aggravated at having to get up every 30-40 minutes to change loads. Then I got ashamed of myself. We have about the easiest way to do laundry of anyone in the world. A day or two later I saw photos on Facebook from a group in our church on a short-term medical mission trip to another country. They’re in an area of dire poverty where whole families live in the city dump. I’m sure the people love to have access just to clean water. A washing machine and dryer would seem like pure luxury to them. So while it would probably help to rearrange my tasks so that I am not doing something require a steady train of thought on laundry day, I hope I remember to count my blessings.

 

  • I think I have mentioned that I have a medical procedure coming up called an ablation which is supposed to take care of the atrial fibrillation I’ve been experiencing. It was originally supposed to be next week, but Monday I got a call from the doctor’s office that they needed to move it back into August. I was so disappointed. I’ve been counting down the days to getting the procedure itself over with, not to mention being relieved of the afib. I don’t know if doctor’s offices realize what it means to a patient when this happens – not just the disappointment and living more days with a condition that needs surgery, but rearranging of days off for Jim and care for my mother-in-law. I know it can’t be helped sometimes, and I’m reminding myself that ultimately God is in control and there may be a good reason I shouldn’t be in surgery on the original day.

 

  • This is the latest card I’ve made, this one for Jim’s mom’s birthday earlier in the month.

I hadn’t originally intended to use both the rickrack and the lace trims. I put the rickrack on first, and it was thin enough that the plaid could be seen through it, and I just didn’t like how it came out. But I didn’t want to take it up and risk tearing the paper underneath. So I was going to put the lace one over it, but it wasn’t quite big enough to cover it completely. In fiddling with it I got the idea to layer them a bit, and I really liked how that turned out. The yellow and white scalloped circles were done with two different hole punches.

  • Speaking of Jim’s mom, some of you have said that you like to hear how she’s doing from time to time. There have not been any major changes, but we continue to see a gradual decline. Her hands have been contracted for some time, and though her caregiver keeps her fingernails cut short, now we have to keep a small sock rolled up under her fingers so that her fingernails don’t dig into her palms. One finger is contracted to the side and looks like it would be painful, but the only time it seems to bother her is when it is washed. She was having physical therapy for this a few years ago, but it was all pain and no gain, so it was discontinued. In addition, the times when we can tell from her eyes that she recognizes us and is following what we’re saying is less and less. It’s heartbreaking to watch in many ways. Jim has described it as watching someone die one brain cell at a time. But she seems calm and content, and we’re trying to keep her as comfortable as possible until God takes her home.

That’s about it for now. Yesterday I enjoyed lunch with Melanie downtown, but I’ll say more about that on tomorrow’s Friday’s Fave Five.

Father’s Day Cards

I thought I’d show you the cards I made for this last Father’s Day.

This was for my step-father, adapted from an idea seen on Pinterest.

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I love that it’s simple but still makes for a nice design. The buttons were made on the Cricut machine. I toyed with using real buttons and thread, but I was afraid they might fall off in transit.

This was for my son. My grandson likes super-heroes, so I thought it was fitting for a super-dad. 🙂

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This was from one of the Cricut Design Space’s “Make It and Take It” cards, but I tweaked it a bit from what they had – they didn’t have the “Super” at the top, and their whole card was the size of the blue frame.

For my husband, I wanted something to do with grilling, so I searched the Cricut Design Space’s files for “grill.” Both this grill and the little man showed up, so I used both of them. The design kind of evolved as I worked. I cut little snippets with scissors in the “grass” so it would look like grass blades. I started to stick the figures in the grass, but we grill on our patio, so I used the textured-looking grey paper for the patio. I was going to put “Well done” at the top (a play on the idea of well-done food and well-done fathering), then decided I would put that in a cloud. I had everything centered in the middle but thought the cloud looked odd centered right over the figures as if it was about to rain on them. So I moved it to the side and added another for balance, cutting them both out freehand (I had typed the “Well Done” and printed it on cardstock, along with the inside sentiments of the cards). Then the bottom corners looked like they needed something, so I looked up flowerpots. This flower design actually had a couple of other layers on the flowers and leaves, but they were so tiny they didn’t come out well. I decided the flowers looked ok as is.

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That was it for this time. I think everyone liked their cards. 🙂

(Sharing with Made By You Monday)

Friday’s Fave Five

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

I usually start my FFF posts on Thursdays, but this week I was drawing a  blank. It wasn’t a bad week, but nothing really stood out at first for this week’s post. But, as always, once I start to think about and look for blessings in the week, I find them.

1. A quiet week. Just the fact that it was an uneventful week, spent mostly at home, was a blessing, especially after last week’s ER events.

2. Zaxby’s Grilled Cobb salad. My errand-running usually occurs later mornings, culminating in my bringing home something for lunch for Jesse and me. One of our occasional lunch places is Zaxby’s, and I love their chicken strips, fries, toast, and sauce. But I’ve been trying to make better heart-healthy choices lately, so I got their grilled Cobb salad. It was wonderful! I can’t wait to have it again. I’ve been trying to choose grilled instead of fried at restaurants, with mixed results, but this was so good. The calorie count, which they helpfully put on their drive-through menus, was still pretty high, but I have to believe the choice was still a better one with all the fresh veggies. I’m not usually one to have a salad for a meal – I tend to think of them as appetizers or side dishes, even with meat in them. But this lasted me until dinner.

3. Timothy’s “playground,” as he calls the set we got for him. It took Jim and Jesse, with help from Jason as he had time, a couple of Saturdays to put it together. Timothy was taking a nap when it was completed, and we couldn’t stay til he woke up, so his parents filmed his first reaction to it and sent the video to us. Priceless! When he climbed up to this little perch, he said he was “so high in the sky!” And then he wanted to FaceTime with us so we could watch him play on it.

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4. Surprise visits. Sometimes when Jason, Mittu, and Timothy are out in the evenings, they ask if they can stop by to visit. I treasure living close enough to have that happen!

5. Naps. I don’t know why I seem to be unusually sleepy this week, but I’ve been grateful for naps in the daytime to give me enough energy to then get something else accomplished.

As a bonus, we found out that some of my family is driving down from up north this summer to visit two of my sisters in SC. We can’t stay overnight because of Jim’s mom’s care, but we’re making plans to at least meet halfway between here and there for lunch one day. There is even a possibility the rest of the family in TX might come – if they did, that would be the first time since my mom’s funeral 11 years ago that all six siblings were together, so I hope it works out!

Happy Friday!

Stray thoughts strung together

These are some of the random things crossing my mind this week:

I don’t remember which Jane Austen book I was looking up or why I was looking it up in the first place, but in the comments section of it either at Goodreads or Amazon, someone wrote, “I’ve seen all her movies!” That struck me funny – as if she were a movie star rather than an author.

In my Things You Might Not Know About Me post a while back, I forgot to mention a major one: I can’t type. At least, not like you’re supposed to. Somehow I never had a class in it. I developed my own method (using only 2-4 fingers), and it is so ingrained now that I don’t think I could learn the right way. When my husband and I were dating in college, most girlfriends typed their boyfriend’s papers, but in our relationship, he offered to type mine. I also make tons of mistakes and hate when that shows up in my writing, making me look ignorant. I know how to spell – just not how to type. I try to let most of my writing sit a bit and come back and check it later before publicizing it so I can catch more typos that way.

We were watching America’s Got Talent one night, and whenever the “danger” acts come on, someone always says, “Don’t try this at home.” Recently I thought, “But…all these people started out by trying this at home.” Nevertheless..don’t try this at home! Those acts are not my favorite anyway – I don’t enjoy seeing people risk life and limb for entertainment.

Dontcha hate when someone calls and then doesn’t leave a message?

It seems that one of the current decorating trends is open shelving in the kitchen. Am I the only one who doesn’t like it? It just seems busy to me, plus the shelves would be constant dust magnets. I’m not a big fan of subway tiling, either – that also looks too busy to me. I’m not a fan of tile in general: the times we have had it, keeping the grout clean was a major frustration. I wonder if I’d be thought of as the “difficult” client in those shows. 🙂

When people talk about having accountability partners, it seems to me that it’s easy for that to cross over into doing things because you know you’re going to have to face that partner about it rather than doing it as unto the Lord (Ephesians 6:5b-7: “in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.”) I’ve heard people say things like that. For instance, a friend who was memorizing verses with another friend mentioned that she needed to work on her verses so she wouldn’t be ashamed when it was time to say them to her friend. I do think the Bible teaches that as Christian brothers and sisters, we’re accountable to each other, but personally I don’t know if these partnerships are the best way to work that out. I know that they seem to be a help to many, so there are probably ways to do it with a right focus.

Mittu asked me recently what I had on my “bucket list, which, if you’re not familiar with the term, is a list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.” I had to think about it. I don’t travel well, so going exploring and seeing sites aren’t on my ideal list of things to do. The only two places I can think of that I’d like to see some day are the “Anne of Green Gables” house in Prince Edward Isle and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Rocky Ridge farm, her last home. But I don’t want to see either of them enough to make the effort at this point. I’d also like to visit where my son lives in RI some day. We were just talking about that last night. My one overarching thing I would like to do is write a book. Or two. I thought when all the kids graduated and the busy school years were over, there would be time for more writing. Not so far, at least not in wide open swatches like I thought there would be. So I struggle with how to arrange my time and whether that desire is from the Lord or a personal ambition. Most of the things I’d like to do someday involve learning something: how to play the piano or cello, how to quilt, how to use Photoshop, taking voice lessons. Except for Photoshop, I don’t know if I’ll ever delve into those. I have often thought that the practice it would take to be able to play music enough to enjoy it would probably be more than I want to put into it at this stage. That’s another aspect of “middle age” that I should have mentioned in a recent post: when you know you only have so much time left, you become selective about how you it. But I do want to keep challenging myself and my brain with new things, and from time to time I do entertain thoughts on those possibilities. For now, most of my ambitions are quiet ones: finishing some of the projects that are in the back of my mind to do, spending time with loved ones, reading, blogging, etc.

How about you? Do you have any burning ambitions to pursue with the rest of your time on Earth?

A night in the ER….

…is not a very restful one.

Some of you may remember that I have some heart rhythm problems, originally diagnosed as supraventricular tachycardia, but a couple of years ago was changed to atrial fibrillation (or maybe I’ve had both – I have never gotten a straight answer on that). Anyway, the afib feels like heart palpitations, or vibrating or quivering or jumpiness, then usually goes back to normal within a few seconds or minutes at most. But Friday afternoon it started up – and kept on. By the time Jim came home from work, it had been going on a couple of hours, so we went straight to the ER.

When I was having SVTs, the ER would give me a dose of adenosine which, I was told, stops the heart for just a second. It feels like you’ve been kicked in the chest, but it “resets” the heart to a normal rhythm. Then I’d have to stay under observation for a couple of hours to make sure everything was stable before I was released.

With afib, however, they don’t use adenosine. They said they had to try to bring down my heart rate slowly, making sure my blood pressure didn’t go too low, especially with one of the drugs they tried. They tried 2 or 3 before going to this last one, which required an iv drip that took six hours to run. Because I needed to be monitored while on it, I had to stay in the ER. They did bring in an actual hospital bed, which was much more comfortable than the ER bed.

It ended up taking 13 hours all together before my heart rate “converted” back to a normal rhythm, and then I had to stay a few more hours to make sure everything was ok, so I was there about 18 hours altogether.

The hardest thing was being so sleepy, but just about the time we drifted off, something would beep or some noise would happen. I was going to take a nap when we got home (after a good shower!), but that kept happening then, too. Well, not beeping, but something or someone making a noise that woke me up. But maybe that’s just as well — maybe I’ll sleep better tonight.

Anyway, all is well now. I have to follow up with my cardiologist and primary care doctor in the next few days and discuss whether to change or adjust medications.

As far as ER visits go, this one went well – except for not being able to sleep and my heart rate taking so long to convert. The RN was probably the best nurse I’ve ever had, as far as explaining things, answering questions, being attentive, etc. I hadn’t eaten anything since about 3 p.m. Friday afternoon, and around 5:30 a.m., he scrounged up some turkey sandwiches, soft drinks, graham crackers, and animal crackers for us. I told Jim we could pretend like we were having a picnic. 🙂 Not quite the atmosphere for a romantic get-away, though. 🙂

Jim’s mom’s caregiver was able to come feed her dinner and get her ready for bed, and the rest of the time, while she was just sleeping, Jesse kept an eye on her with the monitor. We have another monitor also that works through a camera in her room and an app on our phone, so Jim could look in on her through the night. Thankfully the hospital is near where we live, so he could run home in the middle of the night to turn her over and then in the morning to make her breakfast before her caregiver came again. Then we were back home before her caregiver had to leave.

One frustration with the whole scenario is that it feels like a colossal waste of time. But I trust God has some purpose in it. Now I am praying for wisdom about what, if anything, we need to change in how we treat it. I’m going to do some research on the new drug they sent me home with before I see the doctor next week.

And that’s how my weekend has gone so far. 🙂

Book Review: Lavender and Old Lace

Lavender_and_Old_LaceLavender and Old Lace by Myrtle Reed, written in 1902, opens with 34-year-old Ruth Thorne coming to occupy her aunt’s cottage while her aunt is away. She’s never met her aunt, Miss Jane Hathaway. Miss Jane has never forgiven her sister for running away to elope, but for whatever reason, she decides to establish relationships with her niece. However, she ends up having to leave before her niece arrives, so Ruth finds only Hepsey, the farm-girl working as the maid, at the house. Her aunt left a letter with various instructions, the most mysterious and inexplicable of which was to leave a light burning in the attic window every night.

Ruth worked for a newspaper in the city, but has six months off to house-sit for her aunt. Bored and restless, she explores her aunt’s attic, the first “real attic” she’s ever been in, until she comes across her aunt’s unused wedding dress and some newspaper clippings about a couple’s wedding and the wife’s death. At first Ruth thinks the couple had been friends of her aunt’s, but then surmises that the man was Aunt Jane’s lost love who married someone else. Feeling she’s intruding into her aunt’s privacy, she leaves the attic and vows to stifle her growing curiosity.

She visits her aunt’s best friend and neighbor, Mary Ainslie, who is thought a little odd by the community because she never leaves her home. But Miss Ainslie has a reputation for being kind and sending things to people who need help. Ruth finds her gracious and beautiful, and they soon become friends. Miss Ainslie also leaves a lamp burning in her window at night for unknown reasons.

Soon Ruth has unexpected company: a young man named Carl Winfield looks her up at the recommendation of his editor. Carl works for the same newspaper as Ruth but has developed a problem with his eyes and is ordered not to read or write for several months. He’s staying in town, and their excursions eventually blossom into romance.

In fact, there’s a lot of romance happening in the book:

  • Ruth and Carl
  • Hepsey and a young man, Joe
  • a long lost love recovered
  • a long lost love forever gone

Ruth comes across as somewhat prickly at first, easily offended and angered. Carl is laid-back and merry-hearted, and once they got to the point where they expressed their feelings for each other, I enjoyed their banter and their relationship.

There is a bit of a mystery with one of the characters having an unknown connection with another that, to me, was pretty easy to put together, but no one in the book did until they came across evidence of it. The one person who did know of it, for some reason, never tells anyone else. There’s also the mystery of the lights in the windows and why Miss Ainslie never leaves her home. There’s one odd section where two people have the same dream of an old man saying the same thing to them.

The title comes from Miss Ainslie, who has dark violet eyes, always wears some shade of purple or lavender, and scents all her things with lavender. She often, if not always, wears lace as well. Various types of lace are mentioned often in the book: “Ruth was gathering up great quantities of lace—Brussels, Point d’Alencon, Cluny, Mechlin, Valenciennes, Duchesse and Venetian point.” I think in those days it was a precious commodity, possibly made by hand.

The emotions in the book seem a bit overwrought sometimes:

Ruth was cold from head to foot, and her senses reeled. Every word that Winfield had said in the morning sounded again in her ears. What was it that went on around her, of which she had no ken? It seemed as though she stood absolutely alone, in endless space, while planets swept past, out of their orbits, with all the laws of force set suddenly aside.

The earth trembled beneath Ruth’s feet for a moment, then, all at once, she understood.

That may be due to the author’s being twenty when she wrote the book, or it may be due to the times.

But quite a lot of the writing reminded me of Lucy Maud Montgomery, though her first book, Anne of Green Gables, was published six years after this book. The relationships and romances and quarrels are similar to hers, as are some of the descriptive passages:

Have not our houses, mute as they are, their own way of conveying an impression? One may go into a house which has been empty for a long time, and yet feel, instinctively, what sort of people were last sheltered there. The silent walls breathe a message to each visitor, and as the footfalls echo in the bare cheerless rooms, one discovers where Sorrow and Trouble had their abode, and where the light, careless laughter of gay Bohemia lingered until dawn. At night, who has not heard ghostly steps upon the stairs, the soft closing of unseen doors, the tapping on a window, and, perchance, a sigh or the sound of tears? Timid souls may shudder and be afraid, but wiser folk smile, with reminiscent tenderness, when the old house dreams.

The rain had ceased, and two or three stars, like timid children, were peeping at the world from behind the threatening cloud. It was that mystical moment which no one may place—the turning of night to day. Far down the hill, ghostly, but not forbidding, was Miss Ainslie’s house, the garden around it lying whitely beneath the dews of dawn, and up in the attic window the light still shone, like unfounded hope in a woman’s soul, harking across distant seas of misunderstanding and gloom, with its pitiful “All Hail!”

That night, the gates of Youth turned on their silent hinges for Miss Ainslie. Forgetting the hoary frost that the years had laid upon her hair, she walked, hand in hand with them, through the clover fields which lay fair before them and by the silvered reaches of the River of Dreams. Into their love came something sweet that they had not found before—the absolute need of sharing life together, whether it should be joy or pain. Unknowingly, they rose to that height which makes sacrifice the soul’s dearest offering, as the chrysalis, brown and unbeautiful, gives the radiant creature within to the light and freedom of day.

One of my favorite lines occurred after Ruth and Carl profess their love, but he has to return to the city for a doctor’s visit: “She had little time to miss him, however, for, at the end of the week, and in accordance with immemorial custom, the Unexpected happened.”

The ending was bittersweet – in fact, one character’s whole story was mostly shaded that way – but overall the book was a sweet, clean read.

I listened to the free audiobook at Librivox, which was, unfortunately, read with almost no expression. I enjoyed going over some passages at Project Gutenberg, where one can read the whole book online. I had thought that a movie was made of this in the 40s, but the only movie of it I found mention of was made in the 20s. I may have been confusing it with Arsenic and Old Lace, another classic film and book I’ve not yet read or seen.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books and Literary Musing Monday)

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It’s March!

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“March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes and a laugh in her voice.” –  Hal Borland

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:  when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” –   Charles Dickens

Spring Musings

March bustles in on windy feet
And sweeps my doorstep and my street.
She washes and cleans with pounding rains,
Scrubbing the earth of winter stains.
She shakes the grime from carpet green
Till naught but fresh new blades are seen.
Then, house in order, all neat as a pin,
She ushers gentle springtime in.

– Susan Reiner, Spring Cleaning

I’ve used all of these quotes before on the blog, but it has been a few years, and I wanted to share them again. I like the Borland one especially.

March sure is “coming in like a lion” here, with a severe thunderstorm warning for a good part of the day. I am hoping we don’t lose power, always a concern with this kind of weather.

We have a lot of flowers and trees budding already. I’m hoping they don’t get destroyed by a late freeze. Spring officially begins on the 20th, but I’m very much enjoying the early spring-like conditions!

I’ve got to get back to work now, but I just wanted to pop in and say I am glad it is March!

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