Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Scenes About Town

Library Reflection

Red Azaleas in My Garden

Flags Wave on Main Street

Flag Flies Over "the Ponderosa"

Civil War Monument in the Town Square

Soldiers Row in the Local Cemetery

The Conclusion

by J. A. Williams

In Flanders field the poppies bloom

Above your lowly, hallowed tomb.

That your brave deeds shall never die

The torch of freedom lifted high

Shall shine forever where you lie.

No more in Flanders fields will grow

The crosses, endless row on row,

For crushed and conquered lies the foe.

We kept the faith—We've seen it thru,

Our myriad brave lie dead with you

In Flanders fields.

Sweet be your rest! Our task is done;

The tramp of armies, boom of gun

And furious cry of savage Hun

Are silent now. The victory's won!

Peace to your souls! The victory's won

In Flanders fields.

This poem was written during the Peace Conference in 1919. It is the fourth poem to be written in response to John D. McCrae's In Flanders Fields. Some day we will see an end to wars. This poem looks forward to that ultimate day when wars will end and no more will die. Amen!

With heartfelt gratitude for every sacrifice made to keep us free. Thank you.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Behind the Scenes

Ahhh, so you've found it. What have you found? The spot where I am tucking many of the behind-the-scenes events, which I feel have a place on my blog even if they should not be front and center. The comments are off in this place and this post will expand as I add to it from time to time.

Mother is currently residing in a Rehab Center where she grows stronger daily. She has recently been hospitalized for cellulitis in her right leg. After five days, she was released last Monday, June 15. (Yes, one thing you'll discover is that the dates may be whacky since I am placing this behind the scenes post on an earlier date.)

Update: June 19, 2009

The report from the oncologist yesterday was grim. This cancer is particularly rare (only a thousand women in the world will get it in any given year) and it's particularly aggressive. There was good news, too, it's only spread in two places. Chemotherapy begins in approximately one month depending upon the results of a CAT scan. My mother will be released from the Rehab facility to my sister's care at the end of June. One day at a time...

Update: July 2, 2009

Because of a bout with cellulitis in her leg, my mom's release date has been set back to July 15 or 16. (My grandmother's has as well.) So there they sit, albeit quite happily, in Rehab getting stronger and hanging out together. I visit them every other day for several hours at a time. They have had lots of company, for which I am grateful. It certainly helps to pass the time.

Update: August 3, 2009

Mother has tolerated the chemotherapy last Thursday very well. We are all praising God for His goodness in this and thanking everyone who lifted her in prayer. She knows that she is being carried on prayer...says she can just feel it. God bless you all!

Update: August 23, 2009

Mother has completed her radiation therapy without too much difficulty. We are so grateful that that is behind her now. She had her second chemotherapy, which thus far has not given her too much trouble either. She has medication for both weariness and pain, but doesn't have to use it more than a couple of days following treatment. She did lose all of her beautiful white hair. My grandson upon seeing her said, "You had a bad haircut, Grandma." She asked him if she could borrow his baseball cap and he said, "Sure." That's all that she's using for right now...a baseball cap as she fears anything else would be too uncomfortable.

Update: October 7, 2009

So much has happened making describing it a real challenge. A week ago, we were planning hospice care and a funeral. Today, the world is ever so much brighter.

My mother finished her third chemotherapy and became intensely ill. She was taken to Portland where she has been hospitalized for three weeks. She was placed on massive amounts of antibiotics to fight infection. Her doctors told us to prepare for end-of-life. At one point in the first week, the doctor thought of doing surgery but decided against it saying that my mother's intestines would "disintegrate" in his hands. By the second week, fearing that the cancer would "blow through" the abdominal wall, he was now recommending surgery. She had that surgery a week ago.

Though we were told that there was a large cancerous mass on her left side and that her intestines would be coated with a frosting of cancer, the doctors found none of that. Instead they found a hole in her bowel, which is now in the process of healing. All biopsies came back clean. The doctor never says "healed;" nevertheless, we are rejoicing today. I can't think about it without becoming amazed all over again. My mother is expecting to be released back to Rehab this week...the same home that she went to to recover from her earlier surgery in May.

December 18, 2009

Mother was finally released from the nursing facility this week and is happily staying with my sister. We were delighted to all be together for a chicken dinner one evening this week where my mother declared how tasty the food was just because it was so nice and hot ... a rare commodity in her recent world. She has lost a lot of weight, but is happy and doing better all the time. We continue to praise God.

April 29, 2010

Last October, my mother was given a second lease on life. Because of infection in her system, she was given an ileostomy. Unlike a colostomy, an ileostomy is an opening in the small intestine for waste. I'm not going to go into the details, but suffice it to say that it is not something anyone should have to endure. My mother never tolerated hers well, which was why she was on hydration and nutrition therapy. In addition, the opening never properly healed and it was quite painful.

Yesterday, the entire process was reversed. Because of the length of time in surgery, my sister believed that our mom was having a colostomy performed. It had been explained that if the surgeon couldn't reconnect easily, he would do a colostomy. (It is preferable by far to an ileostomy.) So my sister and I were very pleased when we learned that he had been able to reconnect...with great difficulty because of adhesions and mesh material used for a former hernia repair that had become infected. Oh my! More medical stuff than some like to read. My daughter would be white as a sheet by now and quaking. Anyway, we are more than thrilled for the return to "normal" and that this phase is behind her.

I've just been able to talk to Mom via the phone and she sounds tired and in pain and hoarse. So any and all prayers are always welcome. Thank you!

May 7, 2010

Mother called yesterday from my sister's home. She's been home since Wednesday so that was just a week in the hospital. We were getting concerned that the time would be longer because of those complications during surgery. As it turns out, my mom can be most forceful. She wanted to go home, straight home, no rehab, no delay, home. She wanted to tell me that she had just spoken with her doctor and all the tests came back negative — no cancer. The doctor does not say "healed" nor does he say "remission." Just that everything is all clear. I told my mother that I was delighted to hear it, but not surprised to hear it. When God does something; He does it all the way. Now it's hers to hang onto. There are challenges ahead, but we shall cross those bridges as we come to them. As always, thank you for praying!

May 8, 2010

Mom looking lovely at our Mother's Day Tea

January 3, 2010 2011

Love this photo taken of my daughter and my mother on
Christmas Day. I can't believe how much alike they look...perhaps it's the weariness for both were very busy over the holidays...

Mother learned the week that my grandmother passed away back in November that tests revealed troubles. The cancer was back. We had gone to Portland in late October for her regular check up with the oncologist. She was feeling fine...still is for the most part. The doctor said that she was doing great and everything looked good. Then she told him that she was having some lower back pain. He decided, hoping to give her peace of mind, to order a CAT scan. This was followed by a PET scan. Both revealed the same story. She has been having lots of medical appointments all culminating this week with a new oncologist (working in tandem with the main one), a port placement, and the first chemotherapy. Mother amazes me. I'd be a quivering mass under a table somewhere, but she carries on just as she always has done. Her greatest sorrow is not her health; it is my father.

January 19, 2011

Mother passed away on January 15, 2011 at a Hospice Home after having been rushed to the ER as the result of a fall. She had been sick with the flu the weekend before and had recovered. The oncologist had examined her and cleared her Thursday morning (1/13/11) to go ahead with her chemotherapy treatments. She did want Mother to have a flu shot, which I took her to have on Thursday afternoon.

Thursday was a good day as most days have been since learning that the cancer had returned. Some might find that surprising, but it is true. Mother had been feeling well and eating well and she'd kept busy. John had taken her in the morning for her doctor's appointment because the roads were still bad from Wednesday's storm. They had a wonderful conversation to and from with John telling her how much he thought of her and how she always had a home with us whenever she said the word. She would later thank him for taking her by giving him not one, but two Musketeer candy bars. We all enjoyed lunch together and then she and I went to get her the flu shot followed by an afternoon of shopping. She was doing very well. In fact, at some point I told her that I needed to take a break and she told me to go right ahead since I'd had such good shopping results and she had not.

Mother returned to her home with my niece and they had a pleasant supper together and a nice evening. She spoke to several people on the phone including my sister.

Around ten she began feeling poorly and later my niece called me to say that she didn't think things were quite right. I zipped on over and found mom feeling punky and saying that if she just went to bed and got some sleep that she'd be all right. She complained of a headache and **I gave her a couple of T*ylenols. We got her to bed and I told her that I'd be over first thing in the morning. She did not want me to call 911 although both K and I suggested it. The three of us were all blaming the flu shot and thinking that by morning Mother would feel much better.

The phone rang around 4:30 Friday morning; it was my niece saying that she had heard Molly barking and had rushed in to find her grandmother on the bedroom floor. Both John and I raced over and found her just as K had described. K had been unable to get her up (nor could we). Mother was feeling chilled and complaining about a bad headache and so we called 911.

We followed the ambulance in with my kicking myself for not remembering to grab some clothes, a coat, and shoes, etc., for Mother who would surely be booted out of the ER in a few hours' time. As my niece described it, "It's the 21st Century and everything is fixable."

Not this time. What the doctors discovered after a cat scan was a massive cerebral hemorrhage. They were clear and direct with my mother and Kirsten and me. There would be no coming back from this. She had from six hours to, in rare instances, a few days. Then mother's own doctor arrived. She asked my mother what she wanted and mother said, "I want to go to the Hospice House." We asked her who she wanted with her and she named each of her grandchildren and her pastors. My mother was calm and peaceful throughout all of this. She never expressed any regrets or sorrows; she neither wept nor complained. I called my sister and said simply, "Come home."

My sister lives seven hours away and time was of the essence. I will always measure that day by how far my sister had made it on her journey home. "Mom, they're on the ferry." "Mom, they're in Connecticut." "Mom, they're in South Boston." "Mom, they're in Kennebunk."

At two in the afternoon, the ER released her to Hospice Care and Mother and I made the ambulance ride with the others following in cars. We consider that hospice experience the last gift that she gave us. I can not recommend a hospice experience highly enough. No tubes, wires, bells or whistles. Comfort and blissful peace.

Surprisingly or perhaps not knowing my remarkable mother, she hung on with us, not really able to talk, but aware who was with her and responding with a "yes" or "no" about her pain levels for seven long hours until my sister arrived. When she arrived, my mother tried to lift her head, opened her eyes, and reached out her hand.

My sister (a nurse) and her husband stayed with my mother all night. John and I went home to get some rest as did all the grandchildren. In the morning, 4:30 again, we returned and spent the final hours with my mother telling her how much we loved her, how glad we were that she could go to a better place, how beautiful the morning was with the pink blush of the rising sun, yet how much more beautiful the day would be on the other side. We can only imagine.

(I refuse to reduce my mother's life to her final hours on earth. She was more, much more and so there is no doubt that I will talk about her again. Right now, I am still waking in the night weeping and saying over and over, "Oh, Mom. Oh, Mom." I look forward to the day when I will smile with every sweet memory of her.)

** As you might think, my niece and I have been doing a fair amount of kicking ourselves. However, the doctors all have told us that even if we could have somehow known that this was a massive brain bleed on that Thursday morning before there had been any indications, it would not have changed the results; the story would have ended the same way. My mother's own doctor came to the ER and told us repeatedly that this was a Godsend. We are trying to receive it that way. Trying.

(Comments here are always closed. This is a big part of my life, but not meant for front page discussion. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for any and all prayers. God changes things.)

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Proper Tea Pot, etc.

There's a consignment shop that I've always wanted to visit and have never found open because of their unusual hours of operation. Wednesday, they were not only open, but I had a willing driver. You know, the kind who is willing. to. stop. I'm not familiar with consignment shops so perhaps they all operate this way, but there are dates marked on each item and if that date has been reached, the item's price goes down accordingly. This tea pot was originally on sale for $36. I thought that I was buying it for $21, but it was actually $17. How can I have my grandmother live with me if I can't make her a proper pot of tea? ;>

Thanks to Linda at *Restyled Home,* I knew that a trip to the Christmas Tree Shops would be in order, too. You can read about her purchase if you follow the link. I purchased an even less expensive version...$19.99 for what will be my grandmother's beside table/bookshelf. It's a little cluttered with her lotions right now, but we'll be switching to books.

This pillow was also at the consignment shop. I thought I was getting it for $7; I got it for $9. Guess everything balanced out in the end... The lamp was also a Christmas Tree Shops find. Nine dollars and ninety-nine cents including the shade. It's so cute. I just love it and now wish that I had purchased a couple more.

Though I'm not a fan of plastic (except I do love plastic bags from the grocer for the *obvious reasons* ), I really like this tablecloth for the deck table. That metal can get pretty hot and the table is easier to clean.

These were the not so fun items to purchase, but necessary. John took the first shower using the hot-stop-safe-water-temperature-every-time-hand-held shower and had trouble getting the temperature that he likes. I'm not sure if anyone'll ever be able to take a hot shower again. Nana won't like that.

Just tossing in these kitty photos. She used to be fed in that corner and hasn't adjusted to the fact that her feeding station has moved. It has taken me weeks to capture these two rather poor pictures. Every time I get the camera, she steps out of the frame. Ha!Hey! Wait a minute, I think that I've been framed!
Finally, this message is for Carol and anyone else who has seen me pop in and pop out on your blog. What in the world can this mean? I think it means that my service provider (Fairpoint) is on the fritz. I'll have to Google it if IE will let me. Don't worry, Carol, I'll find my way back as soon as I can.
Have a wonderful Friday!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Day Away

Yes! We did it! We just took off and had ourselves a fun day. We had errands to do that involved gathering in some things for making my grandmother's space a pleasant one. This involved some shopping, which I'll share with you tomorrow.

For today, let's focus on the mini-driveby and our time at the ocean. The mini-driveby was really a walkby. Such a cute little cottage on a city street corner across the street from the shop where I found a lovely tea pot. I digress...

Isn't it darling?! Can you see the starfish along the check rail? Here's a closer look...

And here's a closer look at the left side where you can see a model masted ship in the window. I saw that decor at least three times today.

Then it was off to get John's state park pass, but no one was manning the gate when we arrived. The first sign we saw after parking the car was this one warning about rogue waves.

Then we had a bit of a climb...

Our first view of the water...

We enjoyed sitting on this bench overlooking the rock formations...

I took lots of photos of flowers, but these were the only ones that turned out...

I hope to add a video of our time there. (See sidebar) You can hear the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks and see them, too, of course. I only wish that I could share the smell of the Atlantic Ocean. It's unlike anything else. I understand that the Pacific doesn't have much that true?

Ackkk, do you suppose that John is too close to that rogue wave? Have a great Thursday and bye for now...

P.S. All photos may be enlarged.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

That Missing Survey

Sayyyy, do you gals remember way back **here** on February 25, 2008 when I told you all about Tara at Bella Pink who was taking a survey about blogging and I suggested that you should take it because I had taken it and because it would prove so interesting? Uh, uh, d'ya? I kept checking back waiting for the results...for a long time...I did, but then I just gave up. It was obvious to me that there would be no answers. You don't remember? Allow me to explain...

In a moment of delicious serendipity, I just so happened to be visiting Alison at Brocante Home when she mentioned this book all about blogging by Tara Frey.

Tara has a blog called Typing Out Loud. Guess what? It used to be known as Bella Pink, and, in fact, the addy line still has that title. Then it was known as Bella Cafe for a while. I can see how I might've become confused. So, do you suppose that if we read the book we'll find some results of that survey? Hmmmm???

Still gotta wait until August 4...

Just had to share...I do love a tidy ending. Have an excellent Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Found Mrs. Lincoln and Her Cake, Too

The Recipe: Mary Todd Lincoln's Almond White Cake

The Blogger and Blog: *Suzanne of At Home With the Farmer's Wife*

The Frosting: Buttercream Tea Frosting

The Blogger and Blog: *Marye at Baking Delights*

When Suzanne shared this recipe, I knew that one day I'd be baking it because wouldn't it be cool to bake such a cake for the local Historical Society? Ours is called the hysterical society, but that's another story. Anyway, that day was last week. No, I didn't bake it for the Historical Society unless you call two aging folks living here at the Haven and one visiting 99-year-old grandmother a "society."

Sadly, the baking of said cake didn't work out as well as I'd hoped because I made a mistake that is embarrassing to confess. First a picture showing how thick and dense this cake batter was. I think I'd use extra liquid next time.

(John calls the above picture Owl on a Perch.)

This was my big mistake...I didn't check the cake. I set the timer and left to work in the yard. Not good. Now I had an overbaked cake with 19 seconds left on the clock.

I used Marye's frosting recipe substituting almond tea to infuse the cream. The frosting was yummy!

The cake had a mild almond flavor. Should I try it again, I will use almond flavoring in addition to the vanilla and almonds for some added flavor, and I will start checking at 35 minutes for doneness. Live and learn. Still, we've managed to eat it...just two pieces left for lunch today.

Have you ever tried baking a vintage recipe?

In other news, things are getting quite hectic here. My mother's surgery is scheduled for next week and my grandmother is coming to stay with John and me for a while. This means that we are busily making a place for her and hoping and trusting that she'll feel at home while she's with us. If I don't visit as often or if I skip a day or two here and there, don't worry, I shall resurface soon. And, though it may be selfish of me, I so want to take my groom off for a day this week knowing that time alone will become precious indeed after the weekend. Thanks so much for all your prayers, support, and concern.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mary's Mosaic Monday

Welcome to the first edition of Mosaic Monday.
Confession: I have cheated. I looked at the participants' offerings last evening and what am I doing here? =D They're beautiful!

But I have been practicing. I grow better by leaps and bounds drips and splats.

For my first entry, I decided to do a mosaic focused around this blog. I had fun doing it and perhaps that's more important than being my usual perfectionistic self.

If you should find your way back for tomorrow, I'll give you the lowdown on Mrs. Lincoln's cake. Have a great day...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Do You Ever Allow God to Just Love You?

At long last we have finished The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey. We use such texts as part of our morning devotions. There were days when I was quite sure that I'd toss it into a corner and start something new. I didn't always like it; I didn't always like Yancey; but it always made me think.

Perhaps we read it because there were some rich nuggets in amongst the things we found unsettling. (We found it unsettling to read that Yancey doesn't believe that anyone should be a patriot or concern himself with politics. He says that God doesn't care about countries, He cares about people, that the only nation He cares about is Israel. I disagree. I think God cares not only about people...all people...He cares about nations, too...all nations.)

Anyway, back to the nuggets. There were enough to keep us going. I want to talk about two of them today. One of the final ones concerns that Saturday between Good Friday and Easter morning. Yancey says it is an unnamed day and that we are living in that Saturday right now, metaphorically, of course, until the Lord's return. Well, not quite, because we know that we know that we know that Sunday arrived and Jesus arose and we have been sent the Holy Spirit. But there are still qualities about that day that we are experiencing until His return. I'll allow you to ponder them. I've been pondering them at some length.

The second nugget I'd like to share is a story that Yancey tells about being in an airport for five hours because of a flight delay. Fortunately, he was not alone because a companion was on her way to the same conference. They had plenty of time to discuss all the disappointments of life. He described feeling melancholy and anxious about things. When the waiting was almost over and the discussions had ended, his companion asked him this question: Philip, do you ever allow God to just love you?

Now that question will sit with me for a long, long time.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~Romans 5:8

God bless your Sunday...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Just Practicing

My mosaic making that is and I see that I need a lot of practice. Why oh why won't my lines go straight and uniformly? My subject is "Breakfast on the Deck." Breakfast out there was good fun as it was sunny and pretty warm with lots of birdsong. (Don't let that much loved flannel shirt fool you!)

I'm practicing because Mary at Little Red House is going to begin a "Mosaic Madness" if she has enough takers. Would you like to join the party, too? Just stop by and let her know.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Procrastinators Party-The Big Reveal

If you are arriving via Melissa's The Inspired Room, welcome! If you're a regular reader whom I have been teasing with a big reveal since *this post,* I'm so glad that you put up with me and thank you for checking back.

Here are a couple of the before photos so you needn't travel back to the former post unless you'd like. As a brief refresher, this is a jelly cupboard. After some reflection, I realize that I've hesitated to paint it for years because my daughter painted the little picture on the side. I was treating it as a treasure not to be destroyed under any circumstances. Now I see that I can have a picture and the memories and be perfectly okay with it.

Without any further ado or drama or anything even remotely like that, I present to you... Gee, I do hope that you will tell me what color you thought that I might paint it. Only if you really want to, of course. But I would be very curious to know. Course as many of you know, since I talk about it often, my favorite color is yellow...a creamy sort of buttery yellow, but any yellow really is nice. Yes, yellow is my color. Okay, on with it...

Oh, Melissa hinted yesterday that we all might have little secrets to share. I confess that I do and here's mine:

I've been so excited about this party and can't wait to visit all of you to see what you've been up to as well. You may join the party right *here* and I hope that you will. It's going to be fun!

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Where is Everybody?

It's been so quiet in Blogland. I hope that it means that everyone is enjoying fair spring weather, that planting has begun in earnest or even that lawns must be mowed. I'll mow mine today for the first time this year myself.

Don't forget to swing by tomorrow for the big reveal.

Wasn't I clever not to give a thing away? Have a wicked good Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ready for the *Tin Man

(*photo deleted)

Another sweet little haul from the local flea market this week...a book, a spatula, and an oil can. Funny how these things delight us so.

The oil can is a vintage Singer made in the U.S.A. I love a "made in the U.S.A." label.

Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot tells the story...oh I'll just pop in another picture...

Perhaps many are familiar with this quote: He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. ~Jim Elliot

The thing about this is that John has been talking about this story a lot in recent weeks so to find this book on top of a stack of others for a pittance was almost providential. Further, it has a little provenance as there is a bookplate inside that says that a copy of this book was placed in a certain church library in memory of a loved one. That church happens to be in my dad's hometown. Whom has John been discussing this story with? My dad. Father's Day coming up next month... Hmmm... We'll see. Gotta love God breezes.

Look at this fantastic spatula. I have nothing like it and have always wanted one to frost cakes with because I frost cakes all.the.time. once or twice a year.

I was planning to bake Mary Todd Lincoln's Almond White Cake posted by Suzanne on May 8, but found that I had no almonds. Figures. Anyway, I had to make it up to the man somehow. Have you ever seen a man's face fall when he's expecting cake and realizes that it isn't going to happen? Sad...very. I remedied it this way...Crumb Cake for breakfast.

Crumb Cake Receipt (An Old Family Recipe)

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
¾ cup shortening (I use butter)

Make the above ingredients into crumbs. Save 1 cup for topping.

1 cup sour milk (add 1 TBS white vinegar to fresh milk)
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cloves (I used a half teaspoon of ground cloves in this house either)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg

Add to the crumb mixture, beat well, cover with crumbs.
Pour into an 8x8 pan.
Bake at 350° for approximately 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Create yourselves a wonderful Tuesday...

Monday, May 11, 2009

It All Went By in a Blur

And you thought that I was kidding!

No, Mother's Day really took off with bang once my son and the grands arrived. They were very busy grands. One is terribly interested in photography...

The other terribly interested in flower arranging...

Yes! That's my beautiful bouquet, which I discussed on Saturday and which you can see in better times in my footer.

Sorry that I didn't take photos of the gift I made for my mother. As it happened, I did no sewing because the ink in my printer ran out. Specifically, the yellow ran dry. (Go ahead! Try and figure that connection. I dare ya! =D ) I was able to finish a journal and another small project. Then I wrapped them in vintage linen...a table runner and a doily...and called it done. Only I (and now all of you) know that I didn't do all that had been intended.

I received petunias from my son and daughter-in-law, pansies
from my beloved, and a fuschia from my daughter. I also have a very nice gift certificate to Olive Garden. (Don't read that last bit, Pat.)

So much to share this week and I'm really excited about Thursday. Have a happy Monday, everyone!