Thursday, October 29, 2009

San Diego Bay

Ahhh. Two feet of snow of our deck today. But I'm enjoying perfect San Diego weather. I just got back from a two hour ride in a big boat...I think they call them yachts :-) around the San Diego Bay at sunset. What a beautiful sight at night - Coronado, Tijuana, Mexico, the bridge going from the mainland to the island, The USS Midway, the USS Ronald Reagan, the lights and dazzle of San Diego. All this compliments of a company that manufactures some type of medical device. These are some of the perks of traveling for work for which I am thankful. What I am NOT thankful for are my hurting feet. What ever made me think I could spend an entire days at a trade show wearing heels??? Now even my flat shoes hurt. I even had to turn down bumming around the gaslamp district with my peers because of my feet. Tomorrow, I don't care what I look's flat shoes with my business suit!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I'm not ready for this. I would really enjoy a nice, long fall season. I want more days where the sun shines and there is a hint of coolness in the air; walks among the rustling leaves; a few more meals cooked on the grill; sitting on the front porch handing out Halloween candy. I don't even have my fall decorations out yet and it is starting to look like Christmas! The good thing is that I am spending the rest of the week in San Diego -- if flights aren't cancelled. By the time I get back on Saturday maybe the season will be back on track.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Viola Update

Two weeks ago today I was with Mom for her doctor appointment. Today was the follow up appointment. Sister Sylvia accompanied her this time. The doctor thought she was doing better, but she is not yet where she needs to be. There is still some rattling in her lungs, her legs are still very swollen. She is using a special wrap on her legs to force the fluid up so it can be processed through her kidneys. The doctor ordered to keep her catheter in and get some more high-dose shots of Lasix. He scheduled her next appointment for a month from now. Mom is tenacious, but I think we need to recognize that she is very frail. There is nothing but skin and bones, her appetite is almost non-existent and her heart is very weak. Thankfully, she still eats her dish of ice cream every afternoon. Unlike most of us, that daily infusion of calories is helping her. She also has soup once or twice a day. Other than that, her intake is minimal. As of tomorrow her favorite nurse is being moved to another section so she will have to deal with that change as well. She still enjoys her emails and looks forward every day to receiving them. Keep them coming! Sure wish I lived closer....

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Auctions for Causes

I've never been one to bid on things in an auction. But this year I've done it twice - and came away with some pretty strange things. In an auction for the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) I got:
1. The CEO's parking spot for the month of November - something I can use provided I don't have to travel that month
2. Miscellaneous leather desktop stuff, which is okay
3. A pedicure and manicure, which is great
4. A $25 gift card towards a $45 meal at a trendy bar/club downtown that caters to people aged 21-30; not a very good fit for me
5. Two tickets to "Girls Only", a showing at the Galleria Theatre, this is okay, but only good for Wednesday and Thursday nights
6. Some bath stuff, which is pretty but has a really strong scent, which makes my nose twitch
7. Two candles, which I haven't tried yet, but will probably be okay

I had better luck with the auction for the Missions group at the church. There we won:
1. An apple pie, ice cream and ice cream scoop. We shared the pie and ice cream; the scoop is really nice
2. A plate of mini brownies. We gave the brownies away, but I like the plate. And it came with a really cute matching cup.
3. Two nights in a condo in Breckenridge. This one will probably be the best of all. It has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, full kitchen, etc. And Breckenridge is beautiful. We are looking forward to cashing in on this one.

I don't think I'll do any more bidding for a long time. If I didn't believe in the causes, I think I'd feel I didn't get my money's worth.

Friday, October 23, 2009

"Don't Wish Your Life Away"

I must be getting old. Many times throughout my lifetime I heard my mother say, "Don't wish your life away". This was said to me when I would be looking to some future time and wishing I was there "right now". I always let that advice just pass through my mind, not thinking I had to be concerned about my life going away anytime soon. Lately I've had a much different perspective. When I hear someone say on a Monday, "Only four more days until Friday!" or "I can't wait until the kids get out of diapers", or "I wish spring would hurry up and get here" --- when I hear statements like that I find myself thinking, "don't wish your life away". I now have the perspective of looking back on lots and lots of years. Rather than wishing for today or today's circumstances to hurry up and get over, I am spending more time wishing things could slow down a bit. And I'm trying to be more thankful for each day I have. A song I used to know had the phrase, "Time rushes on, life fades away. It disappears and soon you're old and gray". It is a depressing thought - but so true. If nothing else, this truth motivates me to cherish every moment that is mine.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Aunt Wilma

I spent most of my life barely knowing my "out west" relatives. In fact, for most of the relatives, I did not know them at all. Thankfully, in the early 2000's my new job took me to Tacoma, Washington, and I started to connect with my long, lost relatives. I have gotten to know many, many wonderful aunts, uncles, cousins and their families. One person I got to know is my Aunt Wilma. Wilma is 91 years old on October 22. Last year I was able to be in her home to celebrate her 90th and get to know the rest of her family. Another year has passed by so quickly. Wilma is the oldest person I know who spends time on the computer and communicates through email. She is the oldest person I know who goes dancing and who gets her acrylic nails done. She is the oldest "model" I have ever known. (Right after her 90th birthday she was a model at a community event). It's been such a pleasure getting to know such a unique and vibrant individual who, at 91, is still very much young at heart. And it is such an honor to be related to her! Happy Birthday, Aunt Wilma! My wish for you is many more years of health, of happiness, and of new experiences. I love you! (This is a picture of her graduation; I assume somewhere around 1936)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tea at the Palace

What a wonderful time we had! Two daughters, Amy and Rana, and I went to the Brown Palace in downtown Denver for "high tea". It was very, very pricey, but, oh, so good! We sat together for two hours drinking tea, nibbling on all kinds of goodies, and enjoying our time together. Only one thing would have made it better -- Sonia, we wish you could have joined us! After we left the Brown Palace we decided to walk the 16th street mall - and immediately headed for Peet's Coffee and Tea (yes, we really did). We sampled some of their Jasmine tea, and I bought some oolong. Then we took a much needed walk up and down the mall. One advantage of having kids is that they do grow up - and become great adult friends. "Twas a beautiful outing on a beautiful Colorado fall day!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Oscar at 27

He was a handsome young bachelor in North Dakota; one of the few young farmers who had his own car. He had this picture taken to give to the seventeen-year-old girl he loved and planned to marry. Recently I asked that girl if she had a picture taken to give to him as well. "No," she said, "I didn't have the money to get a picture taken." Seventy-five years ago Oscar married Viola. She was barely eighteen. As they started their life together, the country was on the brink of the great depression, the dust bowl, hard times for farmers. Those first years were not easy. In fact they were very, very hard. They planted gardens and they did not even come up; crops failed. I asked how they made it through those years. It was the cows. Each set of parents gave them a cow for a wedding gift. From those wedding gifts came calves, milk, cream, butter to sell and meat to eat. In the midst of these very hard times, what is amazing to me is that each child who was born was a wanted child, a valuable human being, a special gift. And every two or three years there was another child. Yes, they hung together, they persevered, they built a home, a family, a life. In the process they gave me the gift of life, the gift of stability, the gift of acceptance, and the gift of a wonderful example of how a family should be. Thanks, mom and dad!

Friday, October 16, 2009


It's been a long time since I've seen my oldest daughter, Rana. And it's been even longer since she has been home. After more than three years away, she came back to us Thursday afternoon. Of course, it's only for a few days. It's not very often I get to spend time with my distant daughters. Today while I was at work she drove around and saw Sue (Brent's) and her kids. Tonight we went to see Don and Nadine and had a good visit there. Tomorrow will be a lazy morning (I hope), then off to Amy's for Cade's 6th birthday party. (Hard to believe my youngest grandchild is six!). Then Sunday afternoon Amy, Rana and I are going to "High Tea" at the Brown Palace in downtown Denver. That will be lots of fun, albeit expensive. On Monday I believe she is planning to do some more running around while I am at work, then she leaves on Tuesday for her 17-hour drive home. She's taking my dear old Avalon back with her. Time will fly and it will soon all be over. Then it will another memory we'll talk about from time to time the rest of our lives. I do hope the Avalon likes living in Michigan. I'm going to miss my old car. And, yes, I'm going to miss Rana.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Me and Mom

I know I will always cherish this picture. She's looking good, isn't she? She just got a fresh permanent and haircut. My hair, as always, is less than beautiful (it never looks good in North Dakota). But together we make a pretty good two-some.

It was hard to say good-bye this time. After all, she's always talking about her demise - as if it is going to happen any day now. But my birthday is three months away. And she said she would call me on my birthday. I hope it happens.

She gave me a couple pictures to post on the internet so everyone can enjoy them. Be looking for them over the next several days.

While Mom was getting her permanent today, Viv, Syl and I went to Felix's for lunch, then to the Liquid Bean for lattes. How much I enjoy those times with my sisters! We talked and talked and talked some more. And what a pleasant surprise it was to have Karen (Jim's) come on Monday. We, too, had a great lunch together, then went to Sylvia's for "tea" while Mom played Bingo, then had dinner (I mean supper) with Jerilynn. It was good to see her again. And Jerilynn was such a good hostess! I stayed with her, ate her food, and generally took advantage of her hospitality. Thanks, Jeri! You make it so convenient for me.

Hopefully, by this time tomorrow I will be back home. What a wonderful place home is. Wish I could be there more often. Only one more trip in October, though. I'm thankful for that.

Monday, October 12, 2009

An Update on Viola

I think we made some progress today! I went with her to her doctor appointment and came away with the results I wanted. Dr. Moraleda confirmed what I suspected - Mom was in congestive heart failure. He said she had two choices: (1) be admitted to the hospital; or (2) manage it from the Nursing Home. She immediately stated she was NOT going back into the hospital. When he started talking about upping the dose of her "water pill", I spoke with him about putting in a foley catheter so she wouldn't have to worry about getting to the bathroom in time. He immediately agreed and wrote the order. He also ordered IM Lasix (shots) and potassium. I decided I like Dr. Moraleda. He listens, he pays close attention to what she has to say, treats her with dignity, and recognizes what makes sense for her at this stage in her life. After we got her settled back into her room, it was a joy to see the change in her. It was like a big burden was taken off her shoulders. She was in a good mood and even went down to play bingo - after we showed her how we could cover the catheter so no one would see it.

You would not believe how swollen her legs and feet are! It is very frustrating that she had to get to this point before anything was done. She has had a wound on her ankle for months - unable to heal because her ankles kept getting bigger and bigger. I am really hoping it heals up now, as her swelling goes down.

I asked about the pacemaker and how we will know when it has quit working. The doctor said he thinks it is still going because her pulse is still regular. When it goes out, the pulse will become irregular and she make have times of feeling faint or even passing out. And at one point, her heart will just stop. I expect that after the fluid is removed she is going to have a spurt of feeling really good again....until the pacemaker stops. She is at peace with her demise - talks about it very matter-of-factly and wants to be sure everything is taken care of.

I'm optimistic that she will have a good quality of life for a few more weeks or months. And right now she is ahead in Rummy. She won two games and I won only one.

By the way, she LOVES her email. She has kept every one of them in a manila envelope and really looks forward each day to getting "my email". So keep them coming! Even if it is just a short "I've been thinking of you" type of email, it is worth your time to cheer her day. I also showed her a lot of pictures from Facebook and she really enjoyed that.

I leave tomorrow (Tuesday). It's going to be hard this time, as I'm not sure I'll ever see her again......

Friday, October 9, 2009

Every time....

It seems like every time I drive to North Dakota, the weather is horrible. I should know better than to expect good driving weather in the winter - but early October? Isn't this supposed to be the time for harvesting and the time for hunting? Actually, it is Wyoming that is the most miserable. There was lots of blowing snow today, very high winds, and many miles of snow-covered highway. The good news - my new Prius handled it beautifully. I only noticed the wind after I realized my left arm was getting sore from always pulling the wheel to the left to stay on the road. And when I got out for gas -- wow! I thought the wind was going to blow me away! I didn't make any hotel reservations because I wasn't sure how far I would go. I'm glad, because I made it all the way to Bismarck instead of the intended Dickinson. The first hotel I checked was full, but I got a nice "handicapped" room at the Holiday Inn Express. The other good news - Mother is feeling much better today. She has been carrying so much fluid on her body that her lungs were crackling, her legs were huge again, and she had an audible wheez. After much wheelin' and dealin' we finally got her convinced that she MUST take the water pill. And they increased the dose so it is starting to do it's job. She was at the brink of being hospitalized - maybe that's what convinced her. I hope she gets all dried out again so she can have a decent quality of life until her time comes. I'll update more on her condition after I see her.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Major Prophets

If you've been following my blog you know that I have been reading through the Bible in 2009. I am doing this as if it is a book I have never read before; trying to rid myself of all prior teaching and all biases and with no purpose except to read it through. Tonight I finally finished Jeremiah! Isaiah and Jeremiah have been the most difficult for me to get through. I don't blame the books themselves, but with a new job and lots going on in my life, it's been hard to concentrate on these lengthy books that are filled with prophetic judgements. I don't pretend to understand if the prophecies are things that happened in the past or things that are yet to be. But through it all, I came away with a very clear message: God longs for a people who love and obey him, there are consequences when we don't, and He always tries to bring us back to Himself. Over and over it is the same story - disobedience, judgement, repentance, restoration. You'd think we would learn......

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Toilet Paper

I know it's a little thing - but I sure have a problem with toilet paper. I try to pick out the very best toilet paper I can find and I buy it in bulk at Sam's or Costco. I immediately take it out of the big package and store the smaller packages (with no labels) in the different bathrooms and the storage room. By the time I start using the new toilet paper, I have forgotten what brand it was. And sometimes, like now, I really wish I knew what I bought. You see, I get really frustrated when I can't start a new roll real nice and easy. And what I am now using is anything but a nice and easy start. I end up wasting a good portion of the roll trying to get it to un-roll correctly. Grrrr. You may be wondering why I don't just use the "wasted" part. Well, this usually happens after the fact. And I'm sure not going to start stashing it away to use the next time. And then there is the triple-ply. I really like the triple-ply. It starts easy and you don't need much. But this, too, has a drawback. Those who are not used to such plush stuff unroll the usual length - and end up with a huge handful; this leads to plugged toilets and rolls becoming quickly empty. Well, maybe all this isn't so bad after all. When I'm dealing with huge issues, the little issue of toilet paper adds some normalcy to my life.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Oscar - Father of 10

If he were still alive, my dad would have turned 103 today. And he would not have wanted to do that! It was very important to him that no one would ever have to take care of him. And he wanted no fuss about his departure. "Just throw me in the manure pile", he said. But this is the man who had one of the biggest funerals in the area. People came from Benson County, from Towner County and from Ramsey County. And that's not counting all the relatives. Dad was respected throughout the three-county area. He was known as a smart man, a good farmer, a wise man, a man who would listen and a man who would help. Our bachelor neighbor, Little Joe, would stop by rather frequently to speak with dad about one thing or another. He always managed to be there at mealtime. And dad always invited him in to eat. Now Little Joe was really filthy, lived in filth, was a rotten farmer and talked all the time. But dad always had time for him. He even cut his hair for him. That's the kind of guy he was. If someone in the area needed something welded, they came to our place. Dad did the job for them. For no pay. It's what neighbors did. Dad spoke no English until he started school. And he only completed the sixth grade. But he was a wizard at math, knew how to fix everything, could build anything, and was able to raise a large family on a small farm without us ever realizing how tight the money was. I won a trip to Bismarck to accept an award for an essay I wrote. Dad very graciously gave me $20 for the trip. I think he just about had a heart attack when he found out I spent it on a wig! (That wig has been part of many Halloween costumes!) Dad has been gone since 1975. But I still miss him. Maybe if he had lived longer I would have eventually discovered some flaws. But he left us when he was nearly perfect in my eyes. He was my idol and my hero. And he still is. Happy birthday, Dad. I don't know if I ever said this when you were here, but "I love you!"