All of Us!

All of Us!
Finally! All together with enough time to spare (??) to capture a picture of all six of us in the same spot, same time. Now this is a precious photo! I tried to get one last year for our Christmas card and didn't succeed. So when I had the chance I threw out the lasso and rounded everyone up (at my niece's graduation party) to grab a couple snapshots. My oldest son, Casey, and his girlfriend Nika are on the left; and my youngest son, Brady, and his girlfriend Jenne on the right; that leaves Bob and I in the center. (Bob is the one who doesn't look very happy about having his picture taken!!)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Work, Work, Work

Wow, Fall has simply dropped in fast. The leaves are turning and falling from the trees. A soft and then harder frost the last couple nights have taken my plants to the brink of no return. I didn’t cover them because they were due to be weeded out of my planters anyway. My roses, surprisingly, have still survived.

I have tons of Fall planting to do, but am waiting for my shipments to arrive. Some old beds are going to get some new looks come Spring, and hopefully, once all is planted, they will survive the Winter. That word - Winter - is like a bad four-letter word in my vocabulary. Ewwwwww! Yes, I like the looks of a new-fallen snow. There is nothing more pretty when the sun is glistening off of it. That is, if I don’t have to go out and drive in it. If I can stay inside where it is toasty, then it is okay (or semi-okay). I have gotten to dislike snow. The older I get, the more I hate it because I hate to the fight of driving in it. But, for now, let’s put thoughts of that on the back burner.

Some of the plants I’ve ordered this Fall were : Rembrandt Tulip Mix, “Apeldoorn Elite” Tulips, “Cote D’Azur” Asiatic Lilies, “Destined to See” Daylilies, “Blue Pearl” Dutch Irises, “Lingerie” Fringed Tulips, Oriental Lily Mix, “Ruffled Patty” Ruffled Poppies, “Meringue” and “Pink Double Delight” Echinacea (Coneflowers), “Magic Star” Double Oriental Lilies (not shipping til Spring), “First Cherry Blossom” Darwin Hybrid Tulips, “Survivor” Mayflowering Tulips, “Cappuccino” Tango Lilies, “Candy Apple Delight” Tulips, and “Purple Flag” Tulips. These were all originally supposed to be shipped after September 27. Now, my orders show that they will be shipped, some on or about October 27th and others on or about November 11th. Hmmmm...good chance the ground will be frozen by then or it will have a cover of snow. Well, I might as well plan out my planting guide now, till up the old beds, plant what bulbs and plants I have already, put a pot where the ones who haven’t arrived yet go, get my mulching done and then see what type of weather we have by the date they arrive. Understandably, though, that since I have to arrive over 150 bulbs and/or plants, I am sure that I will be a bit cranky when it comes time to plant them. Plus, they will need to be watered once planted, and who wants to water plants if it is cold outside. Not me. But for the love of my plants, I will dutifully do so. Geez....

My time for the Fall projects is closing in quickly. I’ve got many to do and have to carefully plan out my calendar in order to get them done. We have been frantically working on my Aunt’s (Auntie) house in order to get it ready for sale. The inside now looks great, but still have a little yard work to complete. So most of my weekends have been spent at her place with little time to do things at home.

I finished getting some of the furniture rearranged at home this past weekend, after spending Saturday at Auntie’s. Yesterday was spent doing that plus making a run to the pharmacy for some prescriptions I forgot to pick up Friday. Now I need to tackle the garage and my “back room.” My back room contains all my storage totes and I need to dig out my Fall floral arrangements, because now it is getting late and I will be needing to dig out the Christmas decorations soon. Speaking of that, I was in Kohl’s last week and low and behold, the Christmas decorations were out. Not quite in full force, but they were there. And my nose was right in the mix of things there, too. I spied some new Christmas Village buildings and accessories I would like and I also saw some Christmas ornaments I wanted to get my hands on. But I held back. Didn’t quite feel right to bring home Christmas decorations when I knew I still had to pick up pumpkins for decorating. Which, by the way, I did pick up yesterday on my way home from Madison. Got some large ones, some medium ones, some small ones and some table top miniature pumpkins, gourds and Indian corn. If I would have had more time after I got back yesterday, I would have tried to tackle the back room to get the Fall decorations out, but I needed to get the mowing done. Plus once that was done, I was P-O-O-P-E-D. But that didn’t stop me until about 8:30. Then it was time to eat, and sit down to watch Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters. I really didn’t have much energy left at that point. Okay, well just enough to finish up and fold two loads of laundry.

Then it was time to go to bed. Bob had made it up there before I did, and as I was shutting off the TV and lights downstairs, it was only to hear “Do you want to make the bed so I can go to bed sometime tonight!” Ooopppps, I washed bedding and had taken it off the clothesline while I was mowing and forgot about it. It was still sitting in the basket waiting to go up and be put on the bed. Yuck! There is nothing I hate worse than having to make the bed right before I crawl in, because I am usually bushed and that is the last thing I want to do. And last night I was bushed, and cold, with temps outside dropping below freezing and we refusing to turn the furnace on yet, the house was a little on the cool side. Well, at least the sheets smelled fresh like the outdoors. The only thing better than that would have been if they were my flannel sheets instead.

Needless to say....I turned the furnace on for a few minutes this morning. I had run a couple loads out to the dumpster at about 5:30 and it was brisk outside. The cats were up and ready to be fed, but Pongo was having none of that. He wanted a quick jolt outside to do his duty and then back in to crawl under the covers. I had made some cinnamon rolls last night before going to bed and set them out to rise so when I got up around 4:30, I stuck them in the oven. The smell of them baking this morning and the warmth of the oven might have made others feel warm, but I was still chilled, so against my better judgment, I turned the furnace on for a couple hours...just enough to take the chill out of the house, make Pongo quit shivering and make me finally come to the conclusion that I did not really need to soak in a warm bath this morning. Crap...maybe I should have left the furnace off. I guess I really didn’t have much time before going to work anyway since I was puttering around doing this and that this morning, I wasted any hope of a soak in the tub anyway. A warm shower had to do instead.

Temperatures around here are supposed to be back up into the 70's this week so maybe I can still get the flower beds done on Friday, but I wanted that day to be mostly a “clean the garage out” day. That is always a day Bob and I put off until we really NEED to get it done, whether it be Spring or Fall, but I’ve been in such a “get-it-done-and-organized now” mood lately, that I will probably try to do both.

Yep, my “Do It” calendar is quickly filling up. I only wish it wasn’t dark by the time I get home from work now, because if I only had a few more daylight hours at night, I could still accomplish a lot outside. Oh, well, it will still be there waiting for me on the weekends.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fall Projects Galore

Fall seems like it is the time to get projects done around the house. This past weekend, it seemed as if I was trying to accomplish so much, and I actually did, even though it was little iddy-biddy projects. I’ve been cleaning out cupboards and re-organizing, organizing and then re-organizing. Last night, I went to Menard’s because they had a sale on their blinds. I have been meaning to do this for some time to hang up in the kitchen windows.

I met up with my cousin, Jo, and she helped me out. It was a fun, fast little shopping trip that actually meant so much because I got to spend a little quality time with Jo, and accomplished a lot in the meantime, too. She even helped me pick up more (120) tulip bulbs for my flower gardens, so it was a very productive shopping trip. Now, Bob has to hang them for me. To aid in that situation, I even picked him up some peanut M&M’s that were on sale. (A little bribery goes a long way, sometimes).

Jo was in search of some more mini-lights for her faux fiscus tree. She wasn’t successful there, as they didn't have their Christmas decorations out yet and nothing in the Halloween department. The Halloween decorations were out and seemed to even be a little picked over. We had fun looking at some of the big, big blowup decorations. One in particular Jo pointed out was a horse-drawn hearse. It was comical, needless to say. There were shelves of planting items which were on sale, I suppose to make way for the incoming slew of Christmas items. I should get back over there to help them make some more room. I could be good at helping to clean out a few items of their summer garden stock. Hmmm....that is sounding like a plan. Jo even remarked about it when she saw the sign on the doorway that went into the garden center stating “50% off garden items” and which was boldly whispering my name saying, “Shari, come in, come in.” But, Jo held me back and stated, “you probably shouldn’t go in there. Save it for another trip.” Such a good person she is!!

Next, on my list, is I have some furniture that I want to re-do and paint, so before snow flies, I want to pull out the sawhorses in the garage, lay down some plywood and get at it before I put them on the back burner and another year flies by.

Wow, when I talk about the garage, that will have to be another weekend project, as it is in desperate need of cleaning and reorganizing before Winter sets in and the car goes back in the garage.

So many projects and so little time. Menard's was not a good place for me because it was giving me more project ideas, which means more shopping trips. I’ll have to make a note to take Jo along on some more of my next shopping trips. She sure knows how to help me spend my money, but then she knows just the right moment to hold me back, too.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fall, Football and, yep, Christmas

Well, the air is getting a little crisper and cooler in the mornings and evenings. Fall must certainly be settling in. Hmmm...that means the hot, humid, dog days of summer have flown by, football season is upon us, the vegetable gardens are waning and the flower beds are wanting some attention. My flower beds have certainly been calling for me the last couple weeks. And it has been easier to stay outside working in them, too. I’ve dug up one big bed and am waiting the arrival of plants and bulbs shortly. The estimated shipping dates are starting next week on the 21st. Waiting for the arrival of plants is like waiting for the stork to drop in with arrival of a new baby – a much anticipated day-by-day waiting game. But, I’ve transplanted the plants that I had there and the tiller is sitting waiting for the day to be put back into use. I’ve also got quite a pile of mulch leftover from the spring planting. The only thing I will have to engage once the plants arrive is my husband, Bob. He will do the tilling, I’ll do the planting and then together we will put down the mulch. Next, I'll have to do my planting layout. That is always the fun part.

I’ve decided to change up my beds in the back of the house and am going to color code them. The big long oblong one is going to contain 3-season pink, lavender, and white plants. My round one by the clothesline is going to be the hub of the red, yellow and blue. And, finally, the smaller oblong one is going to contain the orange, yellow, salmon hues.

I am currently awaiting shipments for the big oblong one. So far, for tulips I’ve ordered the following: First Cherry Blossom (pink/white), Mayflowering Tulip Survivor (pink), Purple Flag (purple), and Rembrandt tulip mix. I absolutely love the Rembrandt tulips so that will be a nice mix in this bed. These will bloom in March - May.

Next, I’ve added the Tango Lily Cappuccino (white lily with a purplish-maroon throat; June-Sept.), the daylily Rosy Returns (big rosy flowers which are 3" across and have a darker pinkish-purple eye-zone and yellow-green throats; June-Sept.), a Bi-Color Blue Grape Hyacinth (which is a bluish-purple; April-May), Allium Roseum (pink; Mar-April), Allium Purple Sensation (purple; March-April), Dutch Iris Mix (purple, pink, white, yellow; May-June), Fox’s Grape (purple-yellow; April-May), Grape Hyacinth White Magic (white; April-May). My plan is to pick up a few more plants and/or flowering shrubs that are on sale now around local nurseries to fill in. I may order some more day lilies or pick up some roses to complete this bed.

To add to my round red, blue and yellow bed I’ve ordered the following: Apeldoorn Elite Tulips (yellow-red; March-May); Candy Apple Delight Tulips (red-white), and Sky-Blue Lillies (blue; May-June).

In all, so far I’ve ordered around 125 tulips to add to my gardens this year. But, knowing me, if I make it into any nurseries now, I’ll be picking up more fill-in tulips. Nevertheless, I still always like to have the “show-stopping” ones, some of which I have in my “save for later” lists with different plant companies, just waiting for a sale so I can hit the “ORDER” button. I’m still getting more Fall catalogs every day, so the weekends are fun to do my wish lists from each catalog. Then when I get an email telling me there is a sale, I can quickly go to those lists and do my ordering, carefully making sure I haven’t already ordered each plant or bulb somewhere else.

With all the Fall plant and bulb ordering I have been doing, I’ve also simultaneously been doing some on-line Christmas shopping, too. This has been somewhat confusing to me, as now I’m not sure what season we are really in. Seems like we get to this time of year, when a few weeks ago the Halloween stuff was appearing on the shelves, signaling that Fall was fast approaching. But sometimes it seems like Fall never arrives because by the time the calendar hits that 21st or 22nd day of September, official first day of Fall, the Christmas decorations are on the store shelves and we have officially bypassed Fall and gone straight into Pre-Christmas season. Unfortunately, for Fall, he is now short-changed, becoming the smallest of his bigger triplet clan who have taken over to dominate this time of year. What do I mean? Well, the better known family tree of Four Seasons have now turned into the Three Seasons and their cousins, a three-headed Cerberus fourth season, named Fall/Football/Pre-Christmas – never quite knowing who got the bigger, broader shoulders in that family but it is definitely a fight between Football and Pre-Christmas. Fall is now just the runt of the bunch.

Nevertheless, Fall has brought about the color changes in the trees above and those leaves have started falling softly from the trees, Football is now conclusively dominating the TV sets and, yes, Pre-Christmas is also here. I wouldn’t doubt that once I go to the stores tonight in search of blinds for my kitchen, that I will see Christmas decorations starting to go up. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit, since I have already begun my Christmas shopping. This must, though, undoubtedly mean it is going to be a cold, hard Winter, because I never start shopping this early. And, as my sweet little sister Suzi pointed out, I’ll hit the stores on Black Friday and yet won’t even be done then and will continue to shop until a couple days before. It is always hard for me to stop.

Yes, I’ll admit that Christmas is definitely my best holiday of the year. So, right now while my hubby might enjoy Fall’s triplet brother, Football, I’m definitely much more fonder of their triplet sister, Pre-Christmas.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kicking It Back With A Little Me and Gal Pal Time

I spent the early part of my evening last night with one of my best gal pals, Kim. We went to a concert in the park series. It is only for the month of July so I was finally able to sneak one in before the month ends. The last concert is next week.

I’ve never really given to myself the time of relaxation with friends much lately and this was a big treat. Kim and I shared a night out on the town a couple weeks ago, and that was fun but last night was just pure kickback relaxation. I have to say that I’m truly looking forward to next week’s and am sad that it will be over for the summer. My mind will now just have to ruminate a little to find the next form of get-out-there-and-relax ideas.

I got to Kim’s house at about 6:20 and after she gave me the tour of the house, we sat for a couple minutes jawing about this and that. Then she, her daughter Emily and I packed up our stuff into my car and off we went to the park to find a spot to sit. Upon unloading the car about a half a block from the park and as we walked closer, a couple of Kim’s friends were wildly waving her down to come park ourselves where they had last week. Chairs unpacked, our coolers opened up, sunglasses on – it was time to sit back, feel the breeze and take in some music. Okay, there was no breeze, the temperature was 84, heat index 86, humidity 42% and the dew point was 60. Not exactly what you would call the perfect weather to be sitting back and enjoying the night, but it was still young and the mosquitos hadn’t found us yet. There is always a pro side to things – you may have to think about it for a while – but there’s always the positive.

Kim opened up a bottle of wine for Emily and her to partake in. I chose an ice cold bottle of . . . water from my cooler to start out with. Funny, but I packed beer and water and the only things I could find digging in there was beer – I think they were saying “drink me, drink me.” But at the moment I needed a water quencher first. As we sat there and talked -- okay, my husband would say the proper term is “gabbed” – I had an actual sense of tranquility. With three-quarters of my water bottle down, I decided to opt to bring out the big guns and had an ice cold beer. Now I was down to business – yep, pure relaxation.

Next, we brought out the Parmesan and Basil Wheat Thins (my newest find – yum), cheese, sausage, crackers, grapes. With their bottle of wine gone, Kim and Emily decided the beer was going to be just as good for them, too. Kim’s friends brought out some homemade salsa that I have to say, was really to die for. It had black-eyed peas, tomatoes, peppers, mango, beans and more in it and was really more on the sweet side. It was refreshing on the crackers and on some tortilla chips. What more could you ask for at this point. I wasn’t really hungry so a little nibbling was all I needed. For a little over an hour-and-a-half concert, that one beer and part of the bottle of water was all I needed for the thirst, too. I must have really been unwinding.

Jeena Salzer and her band from Milwaukee provided the music last night. Although I could not tell you what songs were played, except for one noticeable Lady Gaga song, it was the backdrop one needs when you are out in the open air and kicking back. More of Kim’s old classmates gathered to sit with us and we had our own little line-up of people amongst the tons of other people who had congregated to partake in the community event.

It gave one time to sit back and watch people – one of my favorite pastimes with time permitted. As we were sitting more toward the top of the hill, most of the people who were there were below us. Right next to us was a “Pie Me” stand. It consisted of a sheet of plywood painted up with the words “Pie Me” and the name of the charity or organization it benefitted plus the necessary hole. The workers were young kids. Those who did the “pie-ing” were mostly little kids, ranging in ages of a toddler to maybe 6-7 year olds, who got a kick out of just doing the pie-ing. Hmmm...makes you wonder if they will try this at home. But it was the young workers who were taking a pie in the face who seemed like they enjoyed their “job” more than dreaded it. If a little one missed, they would pick up the paper plate decorated with whipping cream and spread it on their face. They would then proudly parade around the area with their face covered in white cream. Good thing that is not fattening or high in calories. The stand didn’t get a lot of business, but yet it got just enough that the rest of us who were close by were clearly entertained.

Also entertaining was watching the dancers. If you looked down toward the stage, there were quite a few that swirled and bobbed and jiggled and juggled with their inhibitions and shyness left in the closet for the night. Their ages are hard to say but I would venture to guess that they started at one year old and went all the way up to around . . . 10 years old. Yep, no oldies but goodies out there last night, just a crowd of youngies. Oh, to be that young again when you didn’t care who was watching you when you were out on the dance floor; when you didn’t care if your booty or your arms jiggled more than they did a few years ago; if you tripped or missed a step that you would be worried about who saw you; that if you got down on the ground and did a little wiggle, you didn’t make a fool of yourself. I suppose those days may come soon enough when I am older and might do those little jigs and not care or worry about who is watching. I probably just won’t know or realize it at that point! Hahaha!

But the dancing didn’t stop at the stage. The little ones who were too little to make their way down to the stage area were dancing all around us where we sat. There was the cutest little redheaded girl, about 2-3 years old, in front of us who got her boogie on. She was wiggling her butt to the music, shaking her arms up in the air like she was saying “hallelujah” and twirling around as if she were on her own little personal merry-go-round. To the right of our chairs was another little redheaded boy who was probably about one. He would walk or toddle up and down the hill, dancing a little, going from point A to point B until one of his parents, taking turns, would come scoop him up, take him up the hill, just for him to start back down again. Yes, there is something to be said about having grown-up children – you can remember the days when you used to have to chase after them, but that is just it – you don’t have to leave your chair thinking about it.

Then there was the older, fit gentleman Kim nicknamed “Condor” because he hiked up and down the hill constantly going after this or after that. His neck stuck out from his body the same as a condor does. It was more pronounced as he walked back up the hill. He would pat the little redheaded boy on the head as he passed him up or down the hill. He was definitely getting his exercise.

As I sat and took in the whole scene, it was fun just to watch the different little groups of people. There were the groups of friends, groups of middle-age women, younger mothers with their children, families, groups with extended families, groups of couples, all out for the night at a free, fun event on a sultry summer night. Sitting there toward the end of the evening with a little breeze beginning to kick up and the damp air starting to set in, I complimented Kim on a great idea in inviting me along. As we packed our stuff up, we decided that we would do this again next week. Kim mentioned that next week’s musical entertainer would be Willy Porter and her friends chimed in to say that they have heard great things about him. When I got up this morning, I went on-line to check out Willy Porter. He is a folk singer and songwriter and I was able to listen to little clips of his songs. Indeed, he is good and with hearing what I did, I am truly looking forward to next week’s concert.

Interestingly, though, being so relaxed last night with two hours of carefree time, I still contemplated asking Kim’s friend, Cory for her salsa recipe – see, I can’t seem to stay out of the kitchen even when I am outside enjoying the open air. Cory seemed very proud of the salsa (and, boy, she should be) and I was afraid she would shoot me down if I asked for the recipe. So, I think I will just have to try doing some “research” and see if I can come up with something similar. It might take a few tries, but hey, it is all in the name of “research” and I don’t mind sacrificing a few tomatoes, peppers, beans, etc., in the name of “research.”

Dang, but this relaxation thing just puts me in the mood for more work. I’m feeling like a hamster on that never-ending wheel.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's Good I Have a Three-Day Weekend, Because I Think I've Earned A Day To Play

It’s 4:45 on Saturday morning, and I want to slap myself. Why is it that on the weekends, I wake up so early. Most times I don’t have to, but I do anyway. Lots of times it is my diabetes telling me it is time to get up and check your blood sugar. My blood sugars are what is to blame for making me get up early. If I get up, I’ll just want to try to compete with what I accomplished on Friday. It is a horrible game that I play with myself – I’m competitive, even with myself. Okay, I’m game; I’m up. Bob is thinking he wanted 15 more minutes, but since I’m up, he’s up, too.

Cats are fed, Pongo has gone out and done his morning duty, I’m fed, Bob’s fed, cardio exercises done, half hour on the treadmill accomplished, and I'm thinking today is going to be one of those outside days. It’s a little after six a.m., and there is still dew on the grass. Unable to mow, weed-eat or hand-weed yet, without some part of me getting wet from the dew, it is a good time to do some computer work.

With my Friday post to my blog completed (oops, again, I can’t post it yet because then Sierra will find out what we’re giving her for confirmation), and 3 hours completed on the Sponem book and research, it’s time to go out and tackle the outdoors.

I’ve got lots to do and every time I come outside to work on my gardens, I think back to last week when I got an email from my cousin, Carol, in Minnesota. She finally shared with me some pictures from her garden, but she also told me what was happening in her gardens. I’m so jealous, or maybe more in awe. This woman can rattle on and on about her gardens with all the specific names of the plants. I still think back in amazement as I read her email. In fact, let me share it with you, so you can see what I mean:

"What a beautiful spring it has been although the strong winds this week made short admiring of the Crabapple trees that were in bloom all over our city. My Lilacs (both Old Fashioned and Miss Kim) are blooming and the Poppy heads are about ready to burst forth in all their orange splendor. Jacob's Ladder has been so pretty this year along with my three kinds of Bleeding Hearts (pink, white and everlasting), Violets (not in my garden by choice and really take it over but they are lovely), Violas, Virginia Bluebells are nearly done with their show for this season and the Allium should be open any day. Anemone and Peonies are blooming in another garden and oh so very pretty. My last two mail-order perennials arrived yesterday so need to get them in the garden soon.

Today was spent weeding out weeds and some of the self-seeding annuals, trying to pot up some of the Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate as I always have so many requests for those every spring, people just fall in love with them when they see them in my garden. Sounds like it is going to get very chilly tomorrow with even a chance for snow in the forecast. My garden shed and garage will be full when I move all the Fuschia into them again.

Have started browsing the garden shops for ideas for the containers for the cemeteries but have only bought seven hanging baskets of Fuschia, Spifer plant and one with Million Bells in it. I vowed this year I would wait so that I don't have so much to keep hauling back into garage and garden shed because of the chilly nights and really am proud of myself that I only have seven hanging baskets thus far. Still trying to decide where the Indigo Baptisa will go as I thought I knew just the spot when I ordered it from a catalog and now that snow is gone and I am looking at the spot it just doesn't seem like the right place for it. Have only half of the Cannas planted that my friend, Jane, gave me and still trying to decide where they should all go.

No Orioles or hummingbirds yet and I have had food out for nearly two weeks now (my brother has not had any at his acreage either). I never have them until Mother's Day weekend and they are so reliable but we are getting very close and I have not seen any yet. Don't you just love this time of the year though? Every day when we walk the Blazing Star Trail we see so many beautiful sights with the deer (usually 11 in the group), Canada geese, mallards, wood ducks, and lots of birds and of course the pelicans and turtles......I just can't wait to see what appears every day."

Okay, so she not only knows the names of all her flowers, she knows all the names of the feathered friends that visit, too. What a nature diva!!! LOL! By the way, my hummingbirds have finally started showing up and that makes me happy. They are still shy, as they haven’t buzzed me yet, but the level of the nectar in my hummingbird feeder is starting to slowly decrease.

So, I decided today is going to my be “Carol” day for the weekend.

Armed with the weedeater, I’m off to once again create some nice looking edges to my flower beds and yard. I haven’t weed-ate (is that a word?) my lawn for a couple weeks, so it is time. With Pongo out running about and playing with the cats, I can see where he is pretty much at all time, so I don’t have to worry about the milk truck or any other big trucks pulling in and making a pancake out of him. With my goggles on, I start attacking my flower beds and the edges of the yard. An hour later, I can hardly feel my arms. I forgot to mention that a couple years ago, Bob decided bigger was better. I had bought what he called “cheap” Wal-Mart weed-eaters (some I had gotten at Ace!) which didn’t seem to last long. So he decided he would buy me a Stihl weedeater. Now, I have to admit, the Stihl weedeaters are good – expensive, real expensive – but good. The other thing, and it is a bad thing, they are . . . heavy. And, he ain’t my brother! (Okay, sorry old joke – some maybe don’t even know the song!) I have to admit I can’t run that thing for very long at a time. In fact, Bob admits that once he runs that for a couple hours at a time, his back and arms are hurting. too. So, now my arms and my back are hurting. Time to quit with the weedeater and go inside to bring some more laundry out to hang out on the line.

With another load in and one on the clothesline, I decided I would do some hand-to-hand combat with the weeds. I hunkered down in the shade garden and starting yanking away. The shade garden, the 3-season garden, the cutting garden and my huge butterfly/hummingbird garden did not get mulch last year. These were some of the new beds that I put in last year. So I’m trying to see what is establishing itself for the hundreds of plants I put into these beds. I’ll get to putting the mulch on these beds in the next couple weeks. Until then, I need to weed out what is and what isn’t working –the weeds are working but I don’t want them to! Hahaha! Digging in, I’m finding that I will have to replace some plants. But that will come later, once I get the beds done. I’m not putting any more plants in these until I have them weeded and mulched. I can always dig back the mulch to fill in the bare spots. My rose garden is looking good for putting small bareroot rose plants in there last year. The hostas are doing good in there, but then hostas always do good. It will take a few years for the roses to establish themselves and grow bigger but I am pleased for now.

Oh, boy, I just realized that I really need to get some lunch on. So, I hustle inside and throw together some manicotti – we’ll see how Bob likes this! He is not much for anything tomato-sauce-based but sometimes he surprises me. Hopefully, today will be a surprise kind of day. Once in the oven, I am back outside for another 45 minutes. (By the way, I will post this recipe for everyone later). After weeding away for quite awhile, I’m thinking that it is time to head in to pop some cheese bread in the oven, check on the green beans and see how the manicotti is fairing. Bob looks like he is about ready to come in, so the timing might be just right.

All scrubbed up, Pongo’s given a treat (and checked over quickly for ticks – which I try to do each time we come in from outside), and I decided to throw together some brownies quick to put in the oven while we eat, as long as the oven is warm already. Bob’s first impression when I open the oven – which is the same usually when there is something new on the table – is “what the hell is that?” I tell him the same thing each time, try and see first. A few minutes later and no complaints – mission accomplished. He is a picky eater so if it passes the “Bob test,” it’s good. Many years back, he would find it hard to say anything bad about my cooking; now, he knows I won’t divorce him over comments made about a new dish. He has become my guinea pig, of sorts.

Many, many years ago, when I would decide to try something new and would prepare a meal and ask my sisters and mom over. The boys were too little and too picky, but the “women in my life” had more varied tastes and could handle trying something new. My sisters were also starting to come into their “own” as far as cooking went and the women could pick out the simpler things that might be missing. Although I do go by written recipes, a lot of my cooking is trial and error and a little of this and a little of that. Sometimes in the past, it has been hard-pressed to get a “true” recipe out of me, because I might not be positive about the exact quantity of something (a dash is always a dash – isn’t it?), or I may put something different in it the next time.
Anyway, the manicotti just passed muster today and that is all that counts.

With the brownies now out of the oven, the table cleared and dishes in the dishwasher, Pongo has decided he doesn’t want to go outside with me right now. Good time to start up the rider as it is time to tackle the mowing around the farm buildings.

A few days ago, Bob took out one of his most recent presents – a chainsaw he got from the boys for his birthday. While he was out playing, he cut down some little annoying saplings along the house and around the barn and other outer buildings and old rotten branches off some of the trees that were hanging way to low and in my way when I mow. What he did forget to do, however, was to pull them away, so it looks like today I am going to have to mow around these fallen soldiers until he gets the skidloader out to deal with the messes he has created. Boys and their toys – they like to take them out, play with them and then put them back again all neat and pretty in their packages, but how they forget about cleaning up the mess they make in the meantime. Do they ever grow up? Hahaha!

Three hours later and I am ready for some water, so I run the rider down by the house, kill the engine, get a drink and have a seat for a moment. Our riding mower’s power steering isn’t what it used to be, and with winding around so many objects, my arms are pooped and need a break. I’ve got a brilliant idea, maybe, so do I.

I think a 15-minute break, a glass of water and a little slice of brownie will do it. (Hmmmmm....there is a whole row already gone; I wonder where that went...a little detective work shows evidence on Bob’s face plus an empty ice cream pail. Case closed). As you can see, it doesn’t take too much of a detective to solve a case around my house!

With another load in the washer and one on the clothes line, I guess I am up to a little more weed-eater action. Very little, but just a little. A half hour later and I think I need to go pull some weeds by hand. Boy, I will be glad when these flower beds have their mulch in them, so it won’t be such a traumatic start to the gardening season next year.

Nestled in the middle of a flower bed, I’m feeling pretty proud of myself when I am digging around because as I look at my plants, I can rattle off their names just as quickly as Cousin Carol can. The only thing is . . . I’m looking at the plant markers and can see their names! LOL! Yep, Carol, I’m not as good as you are, but I can sometimes pretend to be. I’m working on it, though, I promise!

Okay, a few hours later, I’m now a dirty mess, and need to go inside to rest a bit, wash up and get my clothes off the line. Once the clothes are off the line and put away, I have a little time to sit and catch a few pages on my latest David Baldacci book, Deliver Us From Evil. I’m not going too fast on this one, which tells me I am not as interested in this series. But I know that there is a new John Sandford book, Storm Prey, coming out in the coming week, so I have to hurry to finish this first.

A few pages read and Pongo and I need to go for a walk. Once we’ve taken our little stroll and he has done his “big” duty for the night, it is time to think about supper. I’ve been contemplating it all afternoon and early evening, and I’m thinking a cheddar bacon quiche. I love to play around with this quiche recipe. Quiches are something that are nice for an evening meal because they are light. So I’m gathering the bacon, frying it up, take out a pie crust (oh yes, it is one of the few prepared things that I do buy), crack some eggs, mix it up with some milk, grab some cheddar cheese to shred and am thinking I want some other kinds of cheese, too. Okay, we’ll add some grated Romano and Parmesan, too. A pinch of sugar, some salt, pepper, and a variety of other spices (I always have to have a variety!), mix it up, throw it in the pie crust and in 35 minutes, supper will be on the table. Whew! I’m thinking I would like a drink, but I’m tired enough from all the outside work today, if I have one, I’ll be sleeping before the quiche comes out. Boy, it sure sucks to get old! This recipe (in it’s original state) is a Swiss Quiche recipe I have used over and over again from The Primrose Church Cookbook. It is a tried and true recipe that has seen many varieties in my household. I’ll post it, too, with the manicotti recipe in my next post.

Bob’s coming in from the barn, and I forgot about bread portion with our meal, so I take out some dinner rolls from the freezer and throw them in the microwave and, heaven’s to Betsy, you’d think I just pulled them from the oven! Boy, those new fangled kitchen devices are so sweet!! Hahaha! Bob’s happy with this take on the quiche recipe, so I’m going to heading to bed satisfied. A note jotted in the recipe book seals the deal.

A long day, but another fruitful one. Tomorrow’s Sierra’s confirmation and I have scalloped corn to make in the morning to take with. I think tomorrow will have to be my play day for the weekend. Excellent idea – boy, I just surprise myself sometimes when I pull these great ideas out of the hat! But, I'm thinking that I'm just going to be myself tomorrow; I can only handle trying to be Carol for one day -- she tires me out too much!

Monday, May 17, 2010

If My Maid Could Accomplish All That I Did Today, I Wouldn't Need Her Anymore (oh, yea, I don't have a maid!)

I had such a busy, productive weekend, I should just kick myself.

Up at 5:00 a.m. on Friday, I let Pongo out, fed the cats, Bob and I ate breakfast and I’m on the treadmill. Forty minutes later, Pongo has to go out again, so time to end my workout session.

My productive phenomenon sprang into action next by just cleaning out two junk drawers. Yes, I said two junk drawers. Normally, everyone has one junk drawer. Not me. I have so much junk, that I have two junk drawers. After cleaning out those two junk drawers, I now have . . . two junk drawers. Yep, I pitched out all the useless junk, but kept all the “gotta have” junk. But, believe me, it is now “organized junk.” Organized junk in two drawers. Well, actually it is now down to 1-1/2, if that makes it sound any better. But this is junk like, pens/pencils, crayons/chalk for when the little ones come to visit, batteries, etc. So, do you see what I mean when I say it is the “gotta have” junk? Unfortunately, there is still the “really don’t have to have, but I don’t want to get rid of it” junk. Everyone has to have a little bit of that. Maybe I just have a little more than everybody else.

After cleaning out the junk drawer(s), I then went on to my filing cabinet. I pitched out all the old folders that we didn’t need, filed some of the bills, etc., that needed to be filed, and resorted the “junk” file drawer. Yes, I also have a “junk” file drawer. It contains things that I put into folders – organized, mind you – of things that maybe I wanted to do, make, buy, review, etc. Some things were old, some things were never going to be and I had now come to terms with that and felt I could throw the contents of those folders out. It is cleansing myself of as much junk as I can subject myself to getting rid of. I went through some of the farm business folders and pulled out old bills that now have reached their 7-year cycle for tax purposes. I’m holding onto anything after that just in case of the A-word. I won’t say it, as I think it dooms a person/business once you do. So we will just call it the A-word – a nasty five letter word from a nasty three-letter agency that usually only has something bad to give you instead of something good. Nasty, nasty people! But they are nice, nice people as long as they stay far, far away. Oh, well, I am pretty sure that we are in good shape no matter what, but who wants to have to pull out tons of paperwork to hand over to someone just to have them mess it all up. Hmmmm. . .not me or anyone else I know. So, I cleaned and purged my file folders as best I could, or dared.

Next, the refrigerator. I have gotten so much better in the last few years about cleaning out the fridge on a pretty timely basis. Yes, this is a confession – years ago I hated cleaning out the refrigerator. It was always like a 10-ton chore sitting in the back of mind and hanging on my shoulder. But with age comes wisdom – you learn to tackle it before the little army of green guys march in and take over and now you can’t identify what was in that good container which now the whole thing needs to be pitched out because, heaven’s sakes, you wouldn’t want to open it and get a whiff of that!

I am good at keeping leftovers. This is leftover (pardon the pun) from my days of young, when growing up we kept all our leftovers - if there were any. My dad never minded eating leftovers. He would go to the fridge to pull out leftovers rather than eat any junk food or chips, etc. He was good to his body and didn’t clog it with the crap that a lot of us eat today. Unfortunately, he died too young. He was a Type I diabetic like me. Bob is supposed to be my “dad who eats the leftovers” person. He does, sometimes. I take leftovers every day to work for my lunch, so maybe I am more that person than he is. He will eat the leftovers; but not the next day after we have initially had them. He has to wait a day since he doesn’t want to eat something two days in a row. Me, on the other hand . . . I will eat something four days in a row and it doesn’t bother me – as long as the food stays good. It is food and if I made it and it is good, I’m going to eat it. For God’s sake, there are starving children all over the world . . . (okay how many times have we heard that growing up, cringed at it, ate what we didn’t want to eat, but still hated hearing it; then turn around now and use or used that same line on our kids; cycle of life, I guess. Or should I say . . . cycle of lines!).

See, it is therapeutic to get rid of stuff. Old stuff, good stuff, bad stuff, little green stuff – toss it and see how much better you feel. I know that I should follow the motto of others . . . set it in a pile and if you don’t need it within so many days, then toss it. Well, that might be good for some . . . not for me. I am always of that mind set that some day I might need it, so for now I’ll keep it. My someday might not be for a couple or three, four, seven years, but, by George, I’ll have it if I need it. I think maybe that nasty three-letter agency has the right idea of purging things after seven years. Maybe that is what I need to do – have an A-word of my “stuff” every seven years. If I haven’t used it in seven, then I guess it was not meant to be and it can go the way of the “stuff” in my junk drawers that I just pitched this past weekend.

Wow, it is now 8:30 on Friday morning and I have cleansed and purged myself of a lot of stuff. I’ve also gotten three loads of bedding done and hung out. Nothing like crawling into bed with freshly laundered sheets after they have been hung out to dry in the fresh air!

I have promised myself that I would devote a half hour to my cookbooks each day on the weekend, so that was next on my agenda. With the cookies and bars folders cleaned out, it is time to quit putting new recipes in my cookbook binders because I have just run out of glue sticks. Another item to add to my shopping list.

Another chore down and I next spied my niece, Sierra’s confirmation present sitting in the bag, recently purchased the night before. With her confirmation coming up on Sunday, time to get that wrapped and set aside, so I don’t have to deal with that at the last minute Sunday morning. Satisfied with my wrapping job, I still contemplate my choice of gift. Sierra is athletic and more on the, shall I say, tom-boyish side. I wanted to give her something, as with the others, to commemorate their confirmation. Maci, when she was confirmed, got a ring. I try hard to pick something that may be appropriate for the personality of each. My choice for Sierra had to have a little more thought put into it, because she is not much into jewelry, but I went with my first instinct and that was supplemented with something else I spied when I went into Things Remembered. I wanted to get Sierra an ID bracelet – not real feminine, and not masculine, but something in between, so that it fit with her active, athletic lifestyle now and in the future. What surprised me the most was sitting right there in front of me – a not too feminine/not too masculine ID bracelet and dog tag set. Gorgeous! Oops, not gorgeous – but excellent!! Spot on (at least in my mind; and I was hoping Sierra would like it just as much). I added a shiny keepsake box, had all three engraved and out the door I went. Reminiscing over the purchase, I hoped once again now that my choice was spot on. I guess the only thing that will tell for sure will be the look on her face when she opens it. Well, I’ll have to wait until Sunday to see. (Note: I won’t be posting this to my blog until after Sunday, because I don’t want to give away the surprise!)

Wishing now that I had a list for what I wanted or needed to accomplish this weekend, (I’m big on lists – I organize, organize, organize and write lists), I quickly wandered around the house to see what I should be getting done next. I know I am going to be limited on time, because as soon as we eat lunch, Bob already has my afternoon planned. We are heading to the freestall barn to replace some broken boards, reset the freestalls, put in new screws and fix whatever else needs to be done. I throw another load of laundry in and then decided to tackle some housecleaning. In between cleaning jobs, I take out the pan of chicken drumsticks I have marinating in the fridge. It is a morning of simple things – I just took a bottle of Italian/Balsamic Dressing & Marinade and poured it over the drummies. A couple hours later and I am ready to throw them on the grill over low/indirect heat. I grabbed a bag of mini-red potatoes, sliced them in half, added some seasonings (garlic & herb seasoning, salt, pepper, onion powder, parsley flakes), added some butter, tossed them and then put them in an aluminum pan with a little water added so they don’t burn; covered the pan with aluminum foil and then off to the grill everything goes. These will be okay to leave out on the grill for at least 30 minutes and then the drummies will need a quick check and possible turn. After 1-1/2 hours roasting on the grill, everything will be good to go. Back to cleaning.

After checking the drummies and realizing they are getting close to being done, I note that it looks like Bob is going to be heading in soon. So I quick throw together some sliced garlic bread, set that aside, and put a pan on the stove to heat up some frozen corn. Once I know Bob is on his way in, I put the garlic bread in the oven, check my blood sugar, take my insulin and 15 minutes later we are eating.

Once done eating, and while I clean off the table, put the dishes in the dishwasher, set that to start, Bob is out in the garage gathering his tools and putting them in the skidloader bucket. We head down to the freestall barn so that I can spend some quality time working side-by-side with my hubby and our ladies. We herd the girls out of one alleyway so that we can work on the freestalls there. Next it is carrying in the tools. Bob gets to use some of his new tools for the first time. A couple of his recent Xmas presents - a 28-volt Milwaukee rechargeable reciprocating saw and the same style orbiting saw – are going to be christened today. We (I) have been adding to his 28-volt Milwaukee collection ever since he went out and bought himself the 28-volt Milwaukee impact wrench. I have a feeling we are going to get our money’s worth out of this baby today. We have two rechargeable batteries for these three and let’s hope they hold out for the afternoon or we might be quitting earlier than we think. Armed with his two drills, a bucket for the tools, hammer, coffee cans and plastic containers (from my kitchen) full of lag screws and bolts and nuts, I think we are ready to start.

Four hours later, after running out of bolts and the batteries finally going dead on the impact wrench, we are 3/4 of the way through with what needed to get done. Satisfied with what we had accomplished, it is later than we think and Bob needs to start chores. I, on the other hand, have to get at my mowing. Two hours later, the yard is done, and I am satisfied with what I have accomplished so far. After taking the clothes off the line and folding them, our bed is made and the boys’ bedding will have to wait until tomorrow before I make those beds. No one is staying at our house tonight anyway, so no need to rush that process.

With daylight left, it gives Pongo and I just enough time to go for a little walk. He has been in and out all day, but while we were working on the freestall barn, he had to stick to the house. Back from our walk, I figure I still have some time to hunker down and try to concentrate on researching and writing the Sponem History book. Two hours later, really, two hours, seems like once you get started you sort of lose track of time – and I figure I better make some hot ham and cheese sandwiches on the griddle to feed the hungry milking man once he comes in. Plus, it has been a long day and my blood sugar is telling me I need a little something-something in my belly and veins, too, to get me by.

Tired, mentally and physically, plus full from eating so late, I’m off to bed for sweet dreams in my freshly-laundered-and-hung-outside-to-dry sheets.

Mmmmmmm . . . now this is what makes a good night’s sleep. The only thing that is missing is one of those little chocolate candies the maid is supposed to leave on my pillow. Dang that maid, anyway!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothering Never Stops - Especially on Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all my female family and friends out there! Whether you are a mother or have never experienced being a mother at all, I still say Happy Mother’s Day to you. Being a mother does not necessarily mean giving birth to a child. I think being a female puts “mother” in part of your job description. There is hardly a female that I know that hasn’t at some point in her life taken on the role of care giver, mothering someone whether it be a younger/older sibling, parent, another relative or friend. It is in our nature.

And, Happy Mother’s Day to me, too, if you don’t mind if I say so. My Mother’s Day has not started out as I wanted, as I am writing this from the early depths of the morning of Mother’s Day, awaiting a call from a doctor one-hundred-and-sixty miles or three hours drive away from me. I have been told to stay put until I get that call. That is hard to tell a Mother Bear to stay put when there is something wrong with one of her cubs. I have packed my insulin and pills, my G.P.S. is set to go, I have researched, but I am told to sit and wait, so I decided to write. It is 3:00 a.m. on Mother’s Day, but let me go back to Saturday, the day before Mother’s Day to fill you in on how my Mother’s Day weekend started.

It is Saturday, and untraditionally, today is my Mother’s Day. My boys and Bob are taking me out to eat today as both the boys will be gone on Mother’s Day – Casey back to Chicago for his football game and Brady off to play Home Talent baseball. Casey and I had to take a quick trip to pick up the boys’ present to Bob for his birthday (which was last weekend). When you have one son out of state, you learn you have to wait on gifts sometimes. After milking and chores are done and Bob comes in, he opens his gifts – two glazed donuts, a bag of peanut M&M’s, and a new chain saw. Happy that he has another new toy to play with, he jumps in the shower to get ready to take me out to eat. Casey and I are showered and ready to go. We are now waiting on Brady, who has been golfing since 8:30 this morning. It is cold, rainy and windy — not ideal weather for golfing, but it is a fundraiser for one of his good friends who has cancer. People learn to tough it out when it comes to doing special things for people close to us. Nine holes later, Brady is at the house and we are all off to eat at Longhorn Steak House in Madison.

Back at home again, after eating and I have a new addition to my gardens. For Mother’s Day the boys bought me a gorgeous blue stone/ceramic bird bath. It adds a little extra needed color to the dreary day in my gardens.

Brady headed back out to the golf course to help with the rest of the day’s fundraiser and Bob headed to the barn. While waiting for some of Casey’s clothes to dry, we decided to watch one of the Netflix movies I had recently gotten in the mail - Brothers. Casey initially said he would only be able to stay for a half hour, but probably a half hour before it ended, he headed out. It is now between 7-7:30 p.m. After the movie finished, the rest of my non-traditional Mother’s Day evening was spent working on my recipe books. I grab something to eat. Bob, in from the barn, isn’t hungry. It is now 10:00 p.m. and Casey calls to say that he is now home in his Chicago apartment, safe and sound. So tired from the day, I head to bed.

At 11:30 p.m., my phone (charging on my bed stand and after the last four months with my Aunt, never far from my reach) starts to ring. It announces the caller, saying “Casey.” I wonder as I quickly grab for the phone, why he is calling at this hour. The caller speaks, “This is Bobby, Casey’s friend. He wanted me to call you right away to tell you that I just rushed him to the hospital.” I “calmly” shout into the phone, “Bobby, what happened?” Bobby say, “I don’t know. I only live five blocks from Casey and he called me and said he felt like he was having a heart attack, he couldn’t feel his left side and he had been vomiting black stuff for 20 minutes before he called me. So I ran over and got him and we are at the hospital.” “Which hospital,” I inquired. He said, “UIC (University of Illinois Medical Center).” I quickly told Bobby that I would pack up and be out the door in just a few minutes and would head right down. He said he didn’t know how long he would be able to stay and I said that is okay, I will get down there right away. I’m packing my insulin and pills, chargers and speedily getting ready. I tried Brady, but to no avail, so left a phone message and then texted him. I started texting his girlfriend, Jenne, (knowing that she was out at a bachelorette party, but maybe she had caught up with Brady by now), when Brady called me back. I told him I was heading to Chicago and wanted to know if he wanted to come along. He said Jenne was just meeting up with him and he had been out at the bar next door to his house with his friends after the golf fundraiser. I said that is okay, and I could pick him/them up. Then my phone rang again, the phone calling system on my phone announcing Casey’s phone. This time when I answered, I was greeted by still another new voice - the charge nurse from UIC. She immediately told me that Bobby had mentioned to her I was going to head down. She said, “I don’t know exactly where you are at, but I understand you are a few hours away.” I confirmed that I was about three hours from the hospital. She said, “Can you just hold tight until we get a diagnosis, because I know the weather is not conducive to travel and we don’t need you out on the road in inclement weather, if you don’t need to be. I should be able to let you know something in 45 minutes”

Okay, as I grit my teeth – you want me to wait almost an hour while you diagnose my son which would then put my ETA at almost four hours. Hmmmmm....pretty brave to tell a Momma Bear to put away that maternal instinct of run to take care of a situation or just to be there, if need be. “Okay, a compromise of sorts then,” I said to Kathleen, the charge nurse. “Tell me what exactly what you are thinking is a possible diagnosis. I know (1) he is in a lot of pain, (2) that he didn’t have feeling on his left side, and (3) he was vomiting up ‘black stuff’ for almost 20 minutes before coming into the ER. Are we looking at possible appendicitis, something worse, or what” She paused for a moment and then said, “Kidney stones. My gut reaction at this point is kidney stones, but we won’t know anything further until we get the pain under control and we run some tests. Give me 45 minutes.” Okay, I conceded, “45 minutes.” She ended with, “here is the number at the ER and if I don’t call you back in 45 minutes, call this number and ask for me.”

Forty-six minutes later, I called the ER and asked for Kathleen. She came to the phone and said she was working at the moment in a different part of the ER and would put me on with Casey. Casey, in a raggedly painful voice, said, “they are 99% sure it is kidney stones, but I can let you know a little later. I just need to sleep so I don’t feel the pain.” Kathleen then got on the phone and said, “I would suggest that you don’t travel tonight, if you want to come down, but wait until morning breaks and then we will know more.” Morning breaks? Isn’t that what happened at midnight? Okay, then I will do what I do next best, research. Okay, if this is what they think it is, let’s find out what kidney stones have to say about themselves...

Well, a half hour later and I am now up to full speed on everything I needed to know about kidney stones, that I didn’t know before. I’ve never been up close and personal with kidney stones before, never had to research them. But what I did find, perplexed me (and later I find out has perplexed Casey’s doctors, too). Kidney stones are most common in men. More so, men in their 40's and up. Casey is today, one week shy of his 26th birthday. Hmmmm... Kidney stones are more prevalent in males who drink beer and pop. Casey does neither. He has never drank any alcohol and does not drink pop. Hmmmmmm... I have now learned how you treat kidney stones that are passable, how you treat those that are not passable, and that it is more than likely once you get a kidney stone, that you are going to get another.

It is now 3:30 a.m. and Casey calls me to say, “my phone is about to go dead, but the CAT scan showed that I have two kidney stones. They say that I can go home shortly, so I called my friend and co-worker, Kimberly, and she is going to pick me up and take me home.” Casey then went on to say that he felt so sorry for his friend, football comrade and hero, Bobby. Shortly after they arrived at the hospital, Bobby got a phone call saying that his best friend since fourth grade had just passed away from an overdose. Casey said he felt so bad, because this big guy who has Casey’s back on and off the field was crying and there was nothing that Casey could do for him at the time. He went on to say that apparently Bobby doesn’t “use,” had come from a bad neighborhood in Chicago, now lives a couple blocks from Casey, has turned his life into good and had been trying to get his friend to stop using. Sometimes, I have learned, even our best intentions don’t always turn out how we want them to. My sympathies to Bobby for his loss. My kudos to Bobby for having Casey’s back one more time. Casey then ended our conversation with “I will call you when I get home.” I told him I loved him and would wait for his call.

What to do until then? I started to write this post to my blog.

At 5:30 a.m., Casey called to say that he is home and needs to go to sleep to get away from the pain. I told him I would call him in the morning. He said that if he felt better and a little more pain free, he might go to his 11:00 game just to watch, not to play. This game, in which he, as he is called by the league as “Deuce Deuce” (because of his love of the number 22 – it’s a Dallas Cowboys thing – need I say anything more than Emmitt Smith!) where he will have to sit and watch. This game where this scrawny little kid runs as one of the best in the league, catching a broken finger eight weeks ago, then a broken thumb the following week, and two weeks later, a concussion. This game where his team is covered by ethnic diversity. This game where the teammates have your back, on and off the field. He’ll watch, just because he wants to be there if he can.

I called him at 7:00 this morning to see how he was doing and to ask the mother’s prerogative question, “Should I come down?” Hey, it is Mother’s Day! It is the one day I don’t have to explain my actions, just because it is my prerogative. “No,” he simply said. “I’ll be fine, plus I’ll probably be sleeping most of the time and there is nothing you can do.” Hmmm... “okay, then,” I answered. “Just promise me you will drink plenty of water. I mean two to four quarts. It will help.” “Yes,” he said. “That is exactly what the doctors told me. I’ll do it if it is what is going to help get these things out. But they said the first one is ready to come down through and it will pass in a day or two. The second is in the intestines and will take probably up to a week. They also told me that passing kidney stones is a lot like childbirth.”

Yes, I thought to myself, it probably is. But once you pass that stone, you don’t get to hold, cuddle, coddle and protect it for the rest of its or your life. Being a mother, that is my prerogative. I get to do just that and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As for me, for now, I'll stay put. I'll do my mothering from the every-reaching tentacles of my cell phone. But I'm there in a flash if either of my boys needs me -- its my prerogative. I'm a Mother.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I "Shrewly" Am Busy, Busy, Busy

My horoscope today said that I should “Remind people how much they mean to you.” What better way than to do some of what I do best, and that is to share a recipe I recently received.

Everyone who knows me, knows that I love to cook and bake, and bake and cook, so I am always adding more to my list of recipes. By the way, I was finally able to sort through my ever-growing pile of recipes last weekend and now have them in folders, ready to be bound into my individual category binders. One step down, major step to go! I love doing this because it gives me a chance to revisit recipes and try some new and try some old. My binders have been crying out for some major attention from me and it is about time I give them their due time. Each gets tender loving care when adding new recipes, as I index and cross-reference each with other category binders (i.e., a Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo recipe may go in the Pasta binder, but it will be cross-referenced in the Seafood binder index so I know where to find another shrimp recipe when I want it). But it will also be indexed in a few different ways in the Pasta binder index (i.e., under fettuccine, under shrimp, under Alfredo). It is all in the details, baby, all in the details. That is my forte’ and if I can’t busy myself with details, I am not a happy camper.

Busy, busy, busy. All my time spent nursing and sitting with my dying Aunt, (God rest your beautiful soul as I love and miss you so much), things were sort of getting behind at home. I am now trying to catch up on all those little things that eventually turn into big things when left unattended to. I caught up on my filing for the farm. When not able to do that for four months, it becomes quite the pile. This is now all neat and put away in their respective folders in the filing cabinet. The next thing I have to catch up on is putting everything into Quicken since the beginning of the year. I don’t like to fall behind on this as it gets to be an even bigger pain in the butt later down the road. So, that is probably going to be priority number one on my “next to do” list.

Well, that would be after I catch up on my outside work which actually needs to head to the top of the list. There are more plants to plant, mulch to put down and trees to trim. But Bob and I have other projects around the farm that also needs to be done. He has his priority list and I have mine. We try to combine a little of his with hers and work together on some of these. He has a “need your help” project in the freestall barn that is at the top of his list now that he has crossed off working on the mower.

My mower is starting to get to that point of “no return.” It was also in need of some tender loving care. It has a hole on the top of the deck where it continuously spews out grass right at me until it finally gets plugged up. Then at the beginning of the mowing season this year, one of the tires that guide the deck cracked right where it is welded onto the deck. It started to become more of a pain wondering when it may fall off, so Bob just yanked it off where it was cracked at the deck. This caused a hole on the right side of the deck, which then created an eruption of grass from both sides of the mower. At some points during the last mowing session I had, I looked like what is left on the ground after Edward Scissorhands had a go at a few hedges – covered with expelled green stuff. This became too big a problem so I got my major mowing done this past weekend and Bob took the deck off to take it in to get some welding done. They called last night to say it is done, just in time to get started again this weekend. At least now I won’t have to don a rain jacket to stay away from being bombarded with mowed grass.

The poor seat on my 20+ year-old Cub Cadet mower was also shot. Our anniversary was not a very happy one this year, as it was the day before Auntie died. But Bob tried to brighten it a little for me by pimping my mower out. Well, as “pimped” as a couple of old fogeys like us can get. He got me a new seat for the mower. (You can see it doesn’t take too much to please me.) At least now I don’t have to throw a towel over it to cover up the rips in the old leather seat, plus it has a higher back. A little more comfortable on some of the bumpy rides I have to take over my mole-tunneled lawn.

Now, that is another problem. I need to get these moles (or maybe they are shrews or voles) under control. I’m not the only one with a yard pest problem. My sister, Suzi, confessed to me a couple months ago that they have new “friends” who have decided it was time to party in their yard. Voles. Voles, shrews, they are all about the same, aren’t they? I’ve been calling them shrews, so maybe in Wisconsin they are the Shrews and in Minnesota they are their up-north cousins, the Voles.

According to Suzi and Greg’s pest control person, they have adopted around fifty! My yard is bigger and it is part of the farm – I must have a whole village-worth. I imagine they have retired here now and are building condos and whole retirement villages. Hopefully, they don’t invite the Minnesota cousins down, or I am having thoughts of putting the tiller on the mower and just having a go at it with the entire yard. Now that would be almost comical to see, little shrews flying through the air as I furiously dig paths through the yard. They probably burrow too deep to even get them that way. I bet they are putting me on their terrorist alert list, as we speak.

Our cats find them, and apparently don’t like the taste of them, because they leave them laying around for me to find. I yelp when I do find them, and then get a shovel and throw them over the fence and just hope they decay or that something bigger, that doesn’t have such a persnickety appetite, will come along and eat them. Thank God, Pongo just sniffs at them and walks away. He is as picky as the cats, which is good for me. I don’t think I would want him feeling he overate on a shrew meal and then leave me a little present in the house. (Okay, wish I had never said that because that will be all I can think of now for a while.)

All this work to get done, now I am starting to feel a little tired. Maybe it is nap time . . . but then, I am not really sure what that is anymore. I’ll just have to grab one of my new books (David Baldacci’s “Deliver Me From Evil”) and work on that for a little bit. At least, then I don’t have to think about dealing with those shrews. And, I “shrewly” am not up to that at the moment.

So, before I forget or doze off to sleep, here is the recipe I wanted to share with you:


Rich, dark chocolate sandwiched between two layers of shortbread cookies.

Shortbread Cookies
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup salted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour

Chocolate Sauce
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon salted butter

1. Preheat the oven to 325*F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. To make the chocolate sauce, melt the chocolate chips and the 1 tablespoon butter in the top of a double boiler, being careful not to let it get too hot--the chocolate will burn and the butter will separate. Set aside at room temperature until ready to use.

3. Cream the sugar and 1 cup butter until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and the flour, 1 cup at a time, and stir until well incorporated.

4. Shape the dough into 20 1-inch balls and press them into 2-inch-long ovals. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on the baking sheets and bake 17 to 20 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely.

5. Dip the flat side of each cookie into the chocolate sauce and press the 2 chocolate sides together to make a "sandwich." Let the cookies rest on the cooled baking sheet until the chocolate hardens a little.

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Auntie's Eulogy

Some have asked if I would post the eulogy I gave for Auntie on my blog. I thought about it and so here it is:


First of all, on behalf of our family, I wanted to start out by saying a huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone for all your kind words, prayers, thoughts and expressions of love and kindness during this time, to Saether’s for the fine job they have done, to Pastor Mark for all his consoling visits, to the New Glarus Nursing Home, Hospice and Meriter Hospital for the excellent care that Auntie received.

Next, I wanted to make a confession. This eulogy will be familiar to Auntie. A few weeks ago when Auntie and I started making arrangements for her funeral, she asked me to speak today. She also asked that I read bits and pieces to her as I composed this. Her final and main request was that she didn’t want to hear the finished product; she wanted to wait until today so she could hear it along with everyone else. So, Auntie, here it is:


First, I wanted to read a poem that may be familiar to some which I think is truly appropriate during our celebration of Auntie/Doris’ life. She had also requested it.


I'm Free

Don’t grieve for me,
for now I’m free
A friendship shared,
a laugh, a kiss,
Ah yes, these things
I too will miss.

Be not burdened
with times of sorrow,
I wish you
sunshine of tomorrow.

My life’s been full,
I’ve savored much,
Good friends, good times,
a loved one’s touch.

Perhaps my time
seemed all too brief;
Don’t lengthen it now
with undue grief.

Lift up your hearts
and share with me,
God wanted me now;
He set me free.


Doris, wife to Freddy; Big sister to Herbert and Al, and sister-in-law to Vera and Lana; Dorie - special friend to Cloyance; Auntie - Aunt to Gary, Shari, Lori, Marci, Kristi, Suzi and Debi, and great aunt to our kids, but still Auntie to them. She was known by many names, but mostly she was known as Auntie. Even to others, the name Auntie caught on. The name caught on while she was in the hospital and in the nursing home so that everyone knew her by that, too.

In the past, I’ve apologized for using the term Auntie when talking about her to others and would try to use her given name, but it wasn’t natural as I’ve used the title for 50 years. It’s hard to correct me after all this time. So, I won’t apologize to you today when I call her Auntie.

Daughter, sister, wife, aunt, friend, cheesemaker, waitress, Dept. of Revenue Clerk, retiree, snowbird, busy bee and putzer. Such is the succession of her life. A wide and vast array of titles and duties, but mostly, many of you may or may not know, she was a caregiver. She liked to take care of those close to her.

While her mother, Grandma Bertina, was sick, Auntie took care of her. After her death, Auntie took care of her brother Al and her dad, Grandpa Oscar. After Grandpa died and Al moved out of the area, she squirmed into my family to help out taking care of the circus of kids in our family. And yet during this time, and even though he was quite independent, she also took care of her husband, Uncle Freddy, and especially more so during the months when he got sick before he passed away.

When I was very young, I had my appendix out the day before Xmas eve. I wanted to be home for Christmas. So that I could come home for Xmas, Auntie took care of me at her house because the doctors were afraid that I would be inclined to absent mindedly pick up my baby sister, Lori. Auntie’s home was my sanctuary to heal.

A little while later, I was set to go on a class field trip. I had the unfortunate luck to have my mom go into labor with my sister Marci in the middle of the night. Auntie came out and stayed with us while my dad took my mom to the hospital. When my dad called home to tell Auntie how things went and that we had another girl, I was more concerned about whether or not I would be able to go on the field trip because Auntie was soon going to have to leave for work. Auntie eased my burden by staying home from work and taking care of things at our house while my mom was in the hospital and so I could go on my field trip.

When Auntie had her heart surgery in 2001, I took care of her and nursed her back to health. She reciprocated when I had my knee surgery four years later. Relieving my husband Bob from some of the burden, she drove me through treacherous winter weather to my rehab appointments. She came out to check on me every day to make sure we had something to eat, to tidy up the house and do laundry. We have always laughed about how we had each other’s back, and of course, as some know, I mean that figuratively and literally.

Through the years, Auntie and I have gone on various road trips, too. Many times if I was going to Monroe or Madison, I would call her to see if she wanted go along. Many times those trips would include a stop for lunch or a longer drive on the way home driving the back roads just to check out what was going on in the other neighborhoods. She would furnish me with timeless and priceless stories along the way.

We had gone on many smaller Xmas shopping trips together, but one year, she went Christmas “power” shopping with me to the mall in Madison. She soon found out that when I power shop, I really do run from store to store with my lists and after trying to keep up, she finally resigned to tell me that she couldn’t keep up anymore, and that she would sit in the middle of the mall and I could bring packages to her and she would play the part of a dumping ground until I was done.

Each time I deposited a package or a bag by her feet, I found she had struck up a new conversation with a perfect stranger who was also the deposit point for another power shopper. Exhausted after we finished carrying packages to the car, she told me on the ride home that she truly enjoyed this particular shopping trip because she loved to watch the people and talk to them, too.

Auntie also liked to play the part of chef’s assistant, although I’m not sure who was actually the chef and who was the assistant. There was the time when the boys were younger that the three of us and Auntie went to the strawberry patch by Mt. Horeb to pick strawberries. We were armed with 5 gallon buckets and lots of smaller pails. Obviously at the beginning she and the boys did not think that we would be picking very many strawberries. She was decked out in shorts and her straw hat to protect her from the sun. The boys were decked out in strawberry appetites. I was on a mission that would conclude in freezing as much strawberry jam as I could.

After a couple hours of picking and squatting on a small bucket, Auntie looked up, squinting in the sun, saying “do we have enough yet?” No, I would reply. A little while later, “do we have enough yet?” Again, I would reply no. Finally, after the boys were full from eating more than they had picked and our hands and gloves were bright red from the strawberries. I declared I was through. Auntie, never complaining through the whole ordeal, was ecstatic. We went to weigh them in and discovered we had picked 48 quarts. “Now,” Auntie asked of her ambitious niece, “what do plan on doing with all these?” “Why,” I said, “I plan to make strawberry jam.” Then, she questioned, “do you plan on doing this today.” I said no, since it was late in the afternoon, but I will start tomorrow.

Without being asked, she showed up at my doorstep the next day armed with a strawberry hull picker and large bowls for mixing up jam. I reciprocated with a generous offer by making strawberry shortcake. Okay, it was as much for me as it was for her. Two days later we had put up more strawberry jam than a third world country could appreciate. That was the last time Auntie and I went strawberry picking. Oh, we went on many strawberry runs together after that, but we just never picked them again.

Later that year toward the end of summer, I got another ambitious burr up my butt. A farmer Bob and I knew that had plenty of sweet corn told us we could pick what we wanted. Never tell me there are unlimited resources of vegetables that I can freeze or can. I’m like a hungry lion that hasn’t seen meat in months. We came home with four large trash bags full of sweet corn and all the while we were picking corn Bob gave me the same looks of “are we done yet” as Auntie had during our strawberry excursion.

I called Auntie up and asked if she wanted some sweet corn. She sure did. “How much do you have” she inquired. “A lot” is all I said. Then she asked what I was going to do with all of it. “Freeze it,” I said. “When” she said. “Tomorrow,” I ended. Again, without being asked, the next day she appeared at my doorstep not with just a bag for her own sweet corn, but with her antique electric knife and bowls in hand. I had a brand new electric knife that had only been used for delicate cutting projects like angel food cake and homemade bread. Hers was old and I was afraid it wouldn’t stand the test of time. But she insisted it would.

So we put the boys to work husking corn. (You would think that after sitting in a strawberry patch with the two of us for hours, they would have learned by now to head for the hills, but they were caught in their tracks before they could make a break for it. Of course, there was also the bribe...... I mean..... allure of having fresh buttered sweet corn that made them want to help. Oh, yea, I forgot to mention, they didn’t realize how many bags of sweet corn I had. They just thought there was one.

So, Auntie and I dug in determined to get this sweet corn put up in record time. When the corn is sitting in the bags, it doesn’t really look like that much. But when you empty the bags out, you are sort of exhausted just looking at it. Auntie was armed with her electric knife and I with mine and off to the races we went. By the time we hit the middle of the second bag, my knife burned out. Auntie’s was still going strong. I had to run downtown to buy another one. By the time I returned, the boys were long gone – an obvious lesson learned – and Auntie was sitting husking corn. We sat and husked corn and husked corn and husked corn. All the while taking a break by cutting the corn off the cobs, cooking up batches of corn to freeze and bagging it in freezer bags. By the time we were getting a good portion of the way through the third bag of corn, my electric knife – purchased just a few hours before – called it quits. Auntie’s was still the Energizer Bunny.

At that point, our internal batteries had given out and we decided to call it quits for the day and just finish up with what we had cut. I sent her home with some bags of freezer corn and some fresh corn to eat. She said she would be back the next day to help finish up the last bag. I told her I could do it myself, but no, she walked in my door the next day with her trusty electric knife – both recharged and ready for the job at hand.

That was the best sweet corn I have had. You know, though, I have to say, just like the strawberries, that was the last time we took on that big of a sweet corn job. After that, a sweet corn run for the two of us meant just a dozen or two at a time. Maybe, Auntie should have taken lessons from the boys and headed for the hills after the first bag.

That would not be the first or last time for any food marathons between us. When Bob and I butchered, Auntie and my mom would come out to help cut up and can meat and mixup and can meatballs. An all day event, but one that she was satisfied with if she took home just a couple jars of canned meat.

She has even come out to help me plant my ambitious vegetable gardens. If we hadn’t talked during the week, one or the other would traditionally call the other on Saturday morning – to check up on each other, to catch up and to find out what the other was doing over the weekend. If she found out that I had plans to do something like plant my garden, she would show up unannounced just to help me. Our phone calls would often include where we could find the cheapest but best sweet corn, or once Spring came around where we could run off to together for a geranium shopping trip.

Through the years, we have become more than just Aunt and Niece – we had also become best of friends.

Then there also came the Norwegian treat marathons. Auntie has religiously made lefse, stryl, and rosettes since before I can remember. She and her mother actually taught my mom the tricks of the trade in making Norwegian pastries such as these. Hence, started an annual tradition in the Eidsmoe family of our Norwegian Baking Day which occurs a week or two before Thanksgiving. There have now become a lot of ambitious Eidsmoe women, little girls and let’s not forget the boys who love to eat it more so than make it, who gather each Fall at my house for a long day of baking. This past year, Auntie was only able to stop out for a short while when we were in full swing. The whole event was chronicled by Paula Maki who did an article for our local newspaper. It will now become an event savored in our minds because it will be our last Norwegian Baking Day with her. She gave me her Norwegian tools last year, maybe in foresight, but told me that we should keep the family tradition alive. It will be hard this coming year, but we will do it in her honor.

Holidays and/or get-togethers in our family always meant that when Auntie asked what she could bring, it was always the same answer – “bring your rommegrot and sugar cookies.” Everyone in our family loved her rommegrot and sugar cookies and the younger ones soon learned to beg for them even as much as the older ones. Although it will never be quite the same, but because of her, that sugar cookie tradition will also stay alive in our family. Someone else will have to bring the rommegrot for the holidays, but it will never be the same.

Living up on the hill overlooking Blanchardville, Auntie and Freddy were blessed with a fantastic scenic view of the town and the valley that spread out along the Pecatonica River. She was also blessed with great neighbors, Dick and Darlene Ewing, who planned the building of their new home at the same time that Auntie and Freddy did. The Ewings had two children, Ellen and Tom, whom after Darlene passed away, and even though Auntie had never had any children of her own, she soon became a semi-surrogate mother to. Auntie has always expressed how loved she felt from the two of them, especially since on every Mother’s Day, Ellen has always presented Auntie with flowers. The love she bestowed on others shone through, because every year she also always received a Mother’s Day card from her dear friend and long-time hairdresser, Mary Ellen Erb Ganzhubner.

A caretaker, a mother without the official title. Wikipedia defines caretaker as a person who takes care of another in the general sense. That is just exactly what Auntie did. She generally took care of people. She didn’t want any accolades, any pay; she did it as sort of a family duty, out of respect, out of love. I learned that from her. Sometimes people can take care of people simply out of love. There isn’t anything greater than that. And I think that is why she became to be known with just a one-word simple endearment like Auntie.

In fact, how would you like to grow up in our huge household and be surprised that you did not know what her first name even is. A few weeks ago at the nursing home, my teenage niece Kristal walked down the hall to Auntie’s room with my sister Kristi. Before they walked into the room, Kristal asked inquisitively of Kristi, “why does the name plate by her door say Doris Scheidegger. That’s not her name. Her name is Auntie.” Kristi had to tell her the truth and I think it sort of bursted Kristal’s bubble that she was certain her real name was Auntie. Of course, we laugh about it now, but, again it just goes to show, that you can love someone so much that titles and names don’t mean a thing. It is what they do in life and how they do it. It is the simple gestures in life that show how good of a person you are.

Having said that and hopefully helping to remind us and give insight to others of who Auntie really was, I wanted to end with a couple poems in honor of Auntie and to show you how much she meant to our family:


He Only Takes the Best

God saw you getting tired,
And a cure was not to be.
So he put his arms around you,
And whispered “Come to me”.

With tearful eyes we watched you,
And saw you pass away.
Although we loved you dearly,
We could not make you stay.

A golden heart stopped beating,
Hard working hands to rest.
God broke our hearts
to prove to us,
He only takes the best.


A limb has fallen from our family tree.
I keep hearing a voice that says,
“Grieve not for me.

Remember the best of times,
The laughter, the song.
The good life I lived
while I was strong.

Continue my heritage,
I’m counting on you,
Keep smiling surely
The sun will shine through.

My mind is at ease.
My soul is at rest.
Remembering all
How I was truly blessed.

Continue traditions no matter how small.
Go on with your life
Don’t just stare at the wall.

I miss you all dearly
So keep up your chin
Until the day comes we’re together again.”

****************************** last huge favor before I end, you are probably seated right next to him with a hand resting on his, so please lean over and give Daddy a kiss from us.

And, now rest, my little hummingbird, rest.

Monday, April 26, 2010

It Is Never Easy To Say Good-bye

When each new year rings in, you wonder what the year ahead is going to be like. You make resolutions, you keep some, you keep some for just a short while, and some you never start. Life is about each new day and what you make of it whether you have resolved to do something, whether you plan to take the day by the horns and pull everything together, whether it is a day that just blows by – it is a day in your life and you should, no matter what, make the most of it.

This year didn’t start as I would hope. I lost almost four full months of the beginning of this year. I don’t like the ending of those four months because it culminated in the death of my aunt, Auntie. It was a heart-breaking ending. We buried her this past weekend. I would give anything to turn back the hands of the clock, but yet I will still cherish those four months. I spent almost every waking moment, when not working, with her by her bedside. I know in my heart that at least when she passed on to see my father, her brother, that she knew that I loved her very much.

Death is something that I don’t like to talk about. It is inevitable, but it is hard. Hard to explain, hard to understand, hard to take. I was reminded about it recently when my sister had said that her 9- and 7-year-old daughters would inquisitively, but hesitantly ask each morning if Auntie had died. They went to the nursing home to see her a few weeks ago and they saw the change in her physical form. They could also sense it in her mental state, too, I am sure. It was not like she could ever before run and play with them, but before she was able to talk to them easier. They loved the cookies she made. So, it wasn’t hard to understand the devastation they showed at the visitation at its conclusion when before we left when my niece Autumn had an uncontrollable hysterical crying attack of “I don’t want her to go.” Even as adults we don’t want them to go. It is hard to explain this “policy of life” to young children. I remember it distinctly when my dad died and my sisters, the mothers of these now young children experiencing the same thing, went through this.

My sister, Suzi, tried to console Autumn. When things had calmed down somewhat, I asked Autumn if she wanted to go out to say good night to Auntie. She and I and the other young girls arranged ourselves around the casket in prayer. I had to explain that we were saying goodnight to Auntie tonight, because tomorrow we will see her once again. I had to say that tomorrow, though, we would have to say our goodbyes but that we would have lots of memories of her and that those will stay with us forever. How do you really explain this to young children? You can say the words to kids but you also have to believe them yourself. Some may say it comes down to faith, and I believe that, but yet it doesn’t console me entirely. I/we still have to say good-bye and that is never, ever easy.

As I have said before, I have my faith, although it waivers occasionally, especially in times like this.

For now, it is easy to reminisce in our minds, to look at photos and to talk about “old times.” It doesn’t take away the hurt but it eases the pain a little.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Little Hummingbird

I love hummingbirds. I have a hummingbird feeder right outside my front door and front window in the kitchen so I can watch the hummingbirds gather. There are four spigots at my feeder and though very rare, I have had four at one time suckling at the nectar I religiously place in there. I can quietly sit on my front steps and be buzzed continuously through a summer afternoon as the hummingbirds swoop in and out to the feeder. I learned to love the hummingbirds from watching them at my aunt (Auntie’s) house where she had a couple feeders set up along her roof line. She had faithful hummingbirds, so you would never be surprised to see them.

So I thought I would try my hand at them. At first, the hummingbirds didn’t know they had a diner set up on the farm and so had to wait for my flowers to bloom. Now they know that I am there for them. Once they caught on that I was ready to offer them a free lunch and I had put up a feeder for them, they came. Slowly, but surely, they came. They have never failed to disappoint me either.

I received the call from the nursing home around 1:30 a.m. last Thursday morning (4/15/10) that Auntie was in distress and that I had better hurry in case it was time. I called our pastor just after daybreak and he came an hour later to give her last rites. He stayed a good portion of the morning, but she didn’t waver. I stayed as long as I could by her bedside. First, on Thursday I was there from 2:00 a.m. until 9:00 that night. I returned the next morning at 5:00 a.m. and stayed until late that night. She held on even though the nurses weren’t sure she would. She has surprised us before so it didn’t come as a total surprise to me. I just wasn’t sure how she had the strength to hold on and wasn’t quite sure what, if anything, she might be waiting for.

Our anniversary was Saturday, so I took my dog, Pongo, over to visit Auntie in the morning in case we had some time to go out for lunch. I thought maybe she would like that. When we entered the room, Pongo began to whimper. I set him down on the bed and he whimpered more. Auntie began to utter little moans. We hadn’t heard a peep out of her since Wednesday night. I rubbed her forehead and talked to her. Pongo just sat there keeping watch over her.

I know why Pongo was whimpering. He wanted her to get up and get him some warmed-up ice cream. Whenever we went to visit her, he would get excited the minute we drove in the driveway. He would jump all over me trying to get out the door. Good thing he is only 7 pounds! As soon as I opened the door, he would bound out and run into the yard, quickly marking his spots like any good dog would do, and then head to the front door. He would stand there waiting for her to answer the door or for me to open it and he would run inside and do a little dance around her feet. After giving him a good rubdown and a few good pets and, more sooner than later, she would head to the freezer and take out the ice cream. Auntie would place a couple small scoops into a bowl, microwave it for a few second to take the hardness away and to slightly warm it up and then set it on the floor for him. All the time, Pongo would be doing a “happy dance” at her feet in anticipation. Once he had satisfied his ice cream fetish, he would jump up into her lap for a scratching and petting marathon from Auntie. He would be content.

Sometimes if it was nice outside, we would go out to sit on the front porch and Auntie would take Pongo’s ice cream outside. His lapping-up-of-the-ice-cream would only be interrupted momentarily by a few quick barks if he would get buzzed by the hummingbirds. They were quite a bit up in the air at Auntie’s but even there they were daredevils taking a dive-bombing effort to spook off any that dare invade their territory.

Maybe that is why I love the hummingbirds so. They are tiny little birds who dare to tempt fate and put themselves out there for someone to snatch up quickly, but yet they are sly and know that if it is not their time, their speed will carry them through.

As Auntie’s condition worsened and she shriveled up to nothing at all, I had grown to begin calling her “my little hummingbird.” She liked that because as I said, she loved hummingbirds just as much.

Sunday morning came and I got up early and thought I would try to get a few things done around the house first and then head over to see Auntie in the morning for a while and then come back later in the afternoon again. I went into a series of two lows that morning so I decided I had better not go over until after lunch. I did some laundry and was ready to wash the kitchen floor (which I have to admit I had not done since Easter as I had been at the nursing home so much with Auntie). Taking out the floor cleaner under the sink I found my hummingbird nectar concentrate. I thought it was time to put this out and it shouldn’t freeze because, feeling a little selfish, I really wanted to see my little hummingbirds. I filled the feeder and no later than an hour later I saw two. They had been waiting for me. I felt like maybe I had neglected them, but I was yet satisfied because they had come home again.

Less than an hour later around noon, while we had just started lunch, I got the call from the nursing home, that Auntie was once again showing signs. I told them I would be right over and quickly grabbed just a little lunch and headed out.

Throughout the afternoon I sat with some of my family while we watched as her breathing deteriorated and her color began to show signs of jaundice. My mom and two sisters and their kids left and I promised I would head out soon. I sat there for awhile talking to Auntie and rubbing her forehead. Little moans were all I got but they were not very often.

I went to tell the nurses that I was going to leave for a couple hours, as I knew I needed to go home to get something to eat. I could feel a low coming on. When I returned to the room, her color had changed to a light grey. I decided I had better stay for a while longer, so I went out to the car and grabbed the Sunday newspaper and a couple magazines and my book. Lately, it has been a little hard to concentrate lately so I was not sure what I would read.

I went back into the room and hunkered down, beginning to feel the signs of a low coming on. Pat, one of the nurses and the one in charge of Auntie that night until 9:00, stopped by to check in on her. She sat down and we talked. She could tell I was beginning to shake, said she knew I was diabetic and that we had better head to the kitchen to get something for me before it got any worse. I thought I could stay for a little bit and then head back home before it got worse. I guess not; I got caught and the patient’s visitor just became the patient. Pat came back with me and we sat and talked a little about Auntie. She kept checking her and I could see signs that she was going, but she had held on so long before, and Pat agreed that maybe I should go home for a little bit.

I left and less than 15 minutes later pulled into the driveway. I ran into the house, set my phone on the counter and hollered for Pongo to let him out to go potty. By the time I came back into the kitchen, there was a voice message and a missed call on my phone. The nursing home. I quickly called back only to be told that Pat had gone in to check on her shortly after I left and she was gone. My little hummingbird, she was gone. I couldn’t help to think that if only I had stuck around for just a few more minutes, I would have been there for her, with her. The nurse reassured me that maybe she was just waiting for me to leave.

I drove back quickly to the nursing home and picked up my sister, Marci, along the way. As we sat there and said our last goodbyes to Auntie, I couldn’t help but remember what happened that morning.

By filling their feeder, I had hung out my “shingle” to the hummingbirds, telling them it was time to come home. Maybe that was a sign Auntie saw, too – that it was time to go home.