Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Musings on a winters night...

 It's way past my bedtime but I can't sleep.  I'm working on a conference program and it's driving me crazy. I'm just not computer literate enough, I guess. I finally got the template I need from someone in another town though, so hopefully this will solve my problems. Grrr,,,

  I had a relatively relaxed and peaceful was one of my twice a month volunteer days in the office and I puttered around the house up until tie to leave. Not enough time for a project or anything (like canning apples), but enough time to make supper so that when I get home about 20 minutes after himself, I can heat some stuff and finish off the vegetables (green beans tonight) and we can eat by 7. I baked some chicken thighs and cooked some quinoa. Swept the wood floors. Cleaned the chicken coop and was off by 1:15. 

  Lots on my mind today. Going down to see my sister-in-law and spend time with my brother and niece tomorrow (today).  I had baked an oatmeal spice cake Monday for a friends birthday and posted a picture of it on Facebook and she saw it and said--ohhh you know how much I love that cake... lol. 

 So her old auntie will bake one early tomorrow morning and take it down for her.  It's an easy cake and has a broiled frosting on it, which goes on while the cake is still warm. My sister-in-law's sister has been here from California and I guess she's going back home on Friday. I'll get the skinny tomorrow. I may be spending a lot of time down there and maybe some over-nighters if my brother needs me. She is still hanging on, bless her heart. Can barely sit up and can't stand much at all anymore, her muscle tone is fading fast. Hospice is there to help as much as they can. Life on life's terms.  Thanks for any prayers you can send this way.

  How did I allow myself to get into this conference thing ? lol  It is a kind of big deal and lots of work organizing and presenting these things. I am only the co-chair at least.  But there are a million little things that have to be followed up on and done and re-done. Negotiations with the venue itself (which has been a nightmare) juggling costs and trying to find volunteers to help with all the different committees.  I keep telling myself to just breathe...the dates for it are in March (11th and 12th) and the time is flying by suddenly. My worst fear is that the docs will sudden;y agree to do my second knee replacement and it will fall in the middle of all this. lol  You KNOW which choice I will make...commitment be damned. I want to be pain free and able to walk and kneel by spring garden time. 

  My latest INR was 2.3  That might mean a surgery date. Fingers crossed.

  I just realized a bit ago that in a couple of days I will have been blogging here for 7.5 years. Is that crazy or what ???  Not well or regularly, necessarily...but still. 7.5 years people !!!  wowza

I listened to an interview on NPR today...Terry Gross (Fresh Air) doing an interview with a scientist who wrote a book about the brain. Stress. meditation, etc. It was very interesting and renewed my motivation to really get back into the Mindfulness meditation practices. So very good for one's body and mind and soul.

 I am also getting back into the study group out at the ecological center (I took a hiatus) and we are going to be watching a series called  Inner World Outer World. The first day of it will fall on the Irishman's birthday, February 8th.  There's also the annual winterfire coffeehouse coming up out there this Saturday. It's always a good time. I have missed those people.  A lot.

  OKay...I am dragging this old butt to bed.  It's 2 AM and I have to get up early tomorrow. Hope you're all dreaming of spring...


Saturday, January 23, 2016

...a bit of magic...

  For some reason I have had a quote from English author J.B. Priestly on my mind...

  " I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning."

 This was a day of ... curious and interesting phenomenon.  I didn't sleep well last night-tossing and turning and flipping and flopping around. Hot flashes causing me to kick off the blankets and then the chill from winter's cold causing me to grab them all back up again.  We keep our bedroom rather cool and the nighttime temps here have been in the single digits.  I was in bed around midnight and then up at 7:30 this morning with a full day planned. I did go out and do most of the things I had planned but skipped the evening portion because I was just tired enough to be cranky and to really be feeling the stress on my knee.  I looked at canes today, but didn't buy one. The jury is still out. lol Hoping to hear from my ortho doc this coming week. The regular doc is back from his vacation and I should have a new set of blood test results in on Monday, so hopefully they will communicate and I will get a surgery date set.

  In the meantime, my husband surprised me today with a collector's gift box set of George R.R. Martin's  A Song of Ice and Fire that the Game of Thrones series is based on. I nearly had a seizure when I  (Frugal Freida) saw what he paid for it. He got a bonus at work this year and most of it went into the New Roof Fund, but he kept a small portion of it and bought me these books.  What a guy, huh ?

  The snows are melting finally, although we still have quite a bit. Temps the next few days are supposed to be in the low 40's, and rain on Monday, so that will take care of it. Then of course we have flash flood warnings. lol  Never a dull moment here on the prairie.  Strange weather, without a doubt.

  Watched a good film tonight called My Old Lady, starring Maggie Smith, Kevin Kline and Kristen Scott-Thomas. It was  set in Paris and turned out to be better than I expected. Then (since it was early) we watched another episode of Downton Abbey. I really am liking that show. It is hard to turn it off and not finish a disc, but it was almost 10 by the time we finished that episode and so-off it went. I did up the supper dishes and cleaned up the pudding mess I'd made.  Found a can of organic coconut milk in the pantry and between that and making up the rest of the quart with coconut milk that we use for cereal...I made a lovely coconut pudding, topped with more toasted coconut.  nice supper of comfort food--roast pork and gravy. mashed potatoes and then pudding. Even though it was still warm (the pudding) it was delightful. We LOVE coconut...

  I have to bake a birthday cake on Monday for a friend. I have to make a townie run tomorrow because I have a friend who has a bunch of business work clothes she can't wear because she's lost weight and is giving them to me to pass on to another friend who is job hunting and has gained weight and none of her clothes fit anymore.  Just spreading the love around, folks.  lol

  My taxes were ready to be picked up today. The federal money should be deposited with 7 days, but-they said- God alone knows when the great state of Illinois is going to pay people's refunds. Possibly by May, but don't hold your breath. This state is a mess, like many other states in this country lately.  Like many other countries in this world. Interesting things happening around the globe...I think about shifting paradigms and balances of power and wonder if I will live to see how this movie turns out. Something has to change, that's for sure. 

As for me, I shall go to bed now and dream of bright days and the follies of my youth and the upcoming gardens of spring. I am already drowning in seed catalogs.  It had to happen....


Thursday, January 21, 2016 feels like winter...and I'm spring cleaning

 When it snows even this much, it's too much to go out in. lol

  We actually got between 3 and 4 inches. And it was beautiful powdery snow. The main thing is that the temps have been way down in the single digits and low teens.  And windy. SO it's a miserable deal out there. I still have to march around the house and go out checking chickens several times a day, otherwise the eggs are freezing and breaking.  I have been taking warm oatmeal out to them in the mornings and they really love it. I only open up their coop into the run for about 5-6 hours, sometimes less. Depends on how cold it is. We have a heat lamp in there but with the door open it doesn't stay very warm. So once the afternoon sun starts it's descent, I close them back up. So far it has worked pretty good. I'm walking very slowly and deliberately to make sure I don't slip and fall. Although if I busted that, no.  Never mind.  lol The snow plow has still not made it's way to our road. One of the farmers up the road came through with a tractor and a blade, and mostly just packed it into a slippery sheet. I cannot risk going off the road out here because I would never be able to walk back home. So when it's like this, I stay home.  sigh...

  Speaking of that pt/inr numbers went all screwy again. They have upped the dose twice now on the coumadin.  My regular doc has been on vacation the past 2 weeks and when he comes back, the ortho will have a conversation with him and hopefully I will get this knee done.  I am this close to stopping the coumadin completely and drinking apple cider vinegar with garlic and ginger in it. The first time I had a blood draw after they upped the dose, the numbers had fallen yet another point. sheesh...

  And as always, life goes on here at Honeysuckle Hill. I haven't left the premises since Monday night and am starting to get a little bit of cabin fever. lol  Not too much though--God knows there is enough here to keep me busy til spring if I would just hunker down and get to it. I have been doing a little cooking and a little of this and that. Finally yesterday I attacked those cabinets and drawers in my kitchen. I have a mouse problem (nothing new--every winter we are the Ritz Carlton for touristy rodents) and had bought some of those sonic rodent repellers. I don't think they're working really. After I cleaned out all the drawers--vacuumed. scrubbed, new liners-- the next morning I saw evidence that they were still here. next exercise in control is going to be peppermint oil on cotton balls  We'll see.  Either one of the cats or one of the dogs caught one the other day...the dog had it when I saw it, and the cat was standing over her while she growled and bared her teeth at him. I won eventually and got the chewed up mouse away from her and tossed it into a snowbank. It galls me that I have mice while there are 4 cats living in my house. lol

  I have had a couple of friends/family members wind up in the hospital this past week. Both were TIA's and stroke. One also had had a heart attack that did some damage.  And 2 or 3 more musicians have died too.  Is there a great culling of the planet happening ??  I wanted to thank all of you for your kind words on my last post. I have not responded,  but I have read them all and they comforted me. I'm trying to rearrange my emotions surrounding all this.  It does me no good to be  walking around all dismal and despairing. None at all. I need to find that fine balance where I can acknowledge my grief and fear and still look for and see the millions of tiny miracles. I was chatting with a friend last night, and reviewing the conversation, I was aware of how intolerant I am becoming in my old age. This will simply not do. SO--what to do ?

  I spent time today cleaning up and uncluttering this office space. It has been a mess. It started last fall when I got a new computer but was in so much pain and limited mobility that I just threw it together willy-nilly so I could use it. I had cords and crap strung out all over the top of my desk and there is such a pile of medical bills and notes to myself and just crap that I couldn't use the desk without constantly knocking over the modem and pulling cords that would knock other things over. Sounds almost cartoonish when I say it out loud. Suffice it to say that it was a mess with a capital M. There were also all kinds of things piled in the floor near the desk and by the bookcases. You could barely walk in here. Since I spend an inordinate amount of my life in this room (altars, computer, bills, books, writing) I thought it might be a starting place for creating a serene place to be in.  When there is chaos surrounding me physically, it leaks into my head and my heart and I become someone I don't much care for. Since I spend a lot of time alone, that just won't do. lol  So I spent a couple of hours re-routing cords and clearing away clutter and putting things back where they belong (hair combs and ties and earrings), recycled empty bottles of medicines and liniments and bio-freeze and Vicks  and all that.Dusted everything, vacuumed and although it is still very messy by some people's standards, it is a comfortable place for me to be now/ And I can even see my desk calendar.

  My behavior so reflects my spiritual well being. When I am not right (and I am sometimes the last to know) I start behaving badly.  I swear more. I become very critical of other people. I become very intolerant and impatient and judgemental. I become irresponsible. Lazy. Mean. Sarcastic.  I don't want to be those things. I want to be ...well, maybe not Miss Suzy Sunshine, but certainly a pleasant and loving human being. I want to have a quiet mind and a peaceful heart. So,,,let it begin with me. Let it start right here, where I am.  With  a clean desk and a clean house. Well...clean as it gets around here.  That will be good enough.


Monday, January 11, 2016


  Rest in peace sweet soul...David Bowie has left this worldly realm and gone on to the next great adventure.  I have been listening to him through the years since about 1969 I think... and I know that the world will never forget him. Fly on, on.

"Look up here, I'm in heaven," sang David Bowie on Lazarus, one of the songs released on his final album, Black Star, which came out on his 69th birthday -- just two days before his death on Sunday. "Oh I'll be free. Ain't that just like me."

  Ah, the world is full of it. Full of disease, full of heartbreak, full of the unimaginable.  Sometimes I think of the people in the 1700's and how they rarely lived past 40 and maybe that's not such a bad thing after all. We, on the other hand, have desperately chased every possible opportunity to stay on this planet as long as we can.   I'm not saying I want to die, but maybe the realm of man NEEDS to be shorter. We can do less damage that way. I just read an article (about 4 months old) about the mass killing of feral cats in Australia. By poisoning with a gut wrenching poison--drawn out horrible way to die.  My God...Hopefully, the rodents (that are NOT in the government) will run out of control and show them that there is a balance in the world.  I am watching my sister-in-law ie of brain cancer, and they have finally stopped all the madness of treatments and experiments (that did maybe give her an extra year or so to anticipate the end-- is that a good thing ? I don't know).  I have watched several people die long drawn out deaths thanks to the miracles of modern medicine. And the good news is, you don't really get to choose. Much. I could be wrong here, but I feel like my family was bullied into all this time of clinical trials and new drugs...holding out an insidious carrot of hope that MAYBE a miracle could happen, while at the same time saying that this aggressive cancer is fatal. It was almost passive aggressive at times.  Until finally, my sis said--no more. No more.  And even then they wouldn't just let it drop and respect her wishes...until they said a lot more things trying to convince her husband and children to do one more thing, just one more. And when they wouldn't budge said...well, we always told you this was fatal.  The hospital systems in this country are abominable in their business first dealings. It hurts my soul.

 I am so full of thoughts today about living and dying and hope and despair. Not my usual genre of writing subjects. I have had a year of remarkable losses and still as much joys...little packets of joy that drop around me. I can pick them up or not. Small miracles and devastating realities. Not that miracles are not a part of my reality, because they truly are.  I am incredibly grateful for that.  I was listening to an old interview with natalie Cole --daughter of nat King Cole-- last night with Tavis Smiley on Public Radio. She died on New Years Eve from idiopathic hypertension disorder, She had a kidney transplant about 10 + years earlier. It was so refreshing to hear her saying that her getting a kidney that was donated directly to her was a miracle, and that God had things she still needed to do, and messages she needed to spread.  She was a remarkable singer too.  I have lost family members, fur babies and friends this past year. And it isn't over yet.

 And I guess that this is the way of life. And the older I get, the more people I will have to learn to live without. And the trick is keeping my heart open, no matter how badly it is broken. Remembering that learning to let go of the ones I love will always break me a little...and a little more...and that has to be where the light comes in.  And I will learn to be better at letting go. And keeping in mind that my needs are not the most important. That sometimes people need to not suffer anymore. They need to not be forced to stay here and be subjected to one more minute of anything, just so I can not be without them.  To learn the compassion that comes with life on life's terms. To remember that we are all stardust....


Friday, January 8, 2016

The years they come and the years they go....

This is a photograph of me from 1975 ( I think). In my big old farm kitchen  I loved that


  Not sure why I wanted to post that. Probably because I was 22 or 23 years old here. And a couple of days ago I turned 63.  It was a quiet birthday, no fanfare. And that's probably the way it is supposed to be at my age. But I have to say, that little girl inside me (who never got birthday presents or parties because it was soon after Christmas and there was no money and I was the oldest and surely I UNDERSTOOD that...) still feels so hurt when nobody makes a big deal about it.  Silly huh ?  Oh well. A couple of my girlfriends are taking me to lunch tomorrow and that will make up for the rest of it. It always does. Sooo thankful for the women in my life.

  I had dr appointments the past 2 days as well...trying to convince these doctors that I NEED to get this other knee fixed. It hurts terribly and has thrown off my balance and all so much that now the new knee is hurting.  The regular doc, who has me on the Coumadin and is saying not for 6 months, reconsidered after watching me walk down the hallway at the office wincing and in tears.  He said if the ortho was willing to bridge the treatment with Lovanox for the week before the surgery and then put me back on the rat poison after the surgery, he would agree. When I told the ortho that, he said it was a good idea and we could do that. The ortho today told me that he has done some research and that  a person who has surgical blood clot issues as opposed to history of blood clots, is a viable surgery candidate after 3 months of coumadin. I've been on it for 3.5 months now.  So he is going to call the other dr this afternoon and  will get back to me early next week. Hallelujah.

  The bad news is that I had the PT/INR drawn yesterday and they called me today and told me it was low again. 1,8  crap.  So, they altered the dosage again. Good thing I'm not totally senile yet...I'd never be able to keep up with this constant prescription change.

  Did I tell you that we finally started watching Downton Abbey. We are loving it !!  Hooked.  lol

  I took down the decos before my birthday this year...something I rarely do. Just tired of looking at them. And of the moose cat knocking everything off the tables over and over and over. lol He's a great cat, but a bull in a china closet. I think I have a picture of him...

 He thinks he owns everything and everyone.  He's a hoot.

  Lots of upcoming stuff in the next few months/weeks/days..committee meetings and conferences and book club and on and on and on. We are still having pretty ridiculous weather--it was 55 today. Before that we had record rainfall and serious flooding all around here. We got about 13 inches of rain in 2 and a half days. It was crazy. But an arctic blast is supposed to be moving in after the weekend and we will supposedly see some single digit temps. More like January, though I must say I am not looking forward to the icy roads and stuff. Of course except for drs and my sister-in-law, I don't really have to go anywhere...

  Enough about me.  Did you all have wonderful holidays ??  Are you marching into 2016 like the warriors we are ?  lol   Tell me more...

 I'm up early and so must try to get to bed before midnight. I am not getting enough sleep lately (pain and stress, I guess)  and need to try to be more disciplined about it.  It makes a big difference if I even just set a constant bedtime and stick to that, regardless of how many hours of sleep I actually get.  Beats me ??  (And speaking of Beets, lol--I was given 3 boxes of small beets that were pulled up out of the mud and mire and got about 14 jars of beautiful pickled baby whole beets out of it.  Sure felt good to can something (AND, my pantry was devoid of beets.)  Yay !!!

OK--I'm outta here.  Cheers !


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Janus the 2 faced God

 Ah, January.  Looking forward, looking back. Closing out the old year and opening the new. Memories and resolutions and retrospection and introspection. It's exhausting, really.  And it's cold and dark and one should just take a cue from the animals that hibernate through the winter. Get thee to sleep and wake up when it's spring. 

  We had a lollapalooza of a storm last week. Way warmer than it should be. Our place got over 13 inches of rain in two and a half days. Everything is leaking everywhere. Peoples homes flooded. Roads were closed (some still are, even after 3 days of no rain). The big floodgates were closed in several areas. We live on the Mississippi River (well, we don't, but are within 20 miles of it) and the old girl has taken a hit. The river reached flood stage before the rain was halfway finished.  Our place is a mess. The mud room took a hit from a tree branch and has been leaking like a sieve. Himself got up there today with some plastic and some 1x2 's to get us through. We need a new roof, but can't afford it right now. Even if we could, there's not a roofer available for months.  The yard and gardens and the chicken run are big sloppy messes. I have to be so very careful walking out through the yard getting the chickens in the morning because I have already slipped once. Bad knee is very unhappy. New knee is sore. Sigh...I go see both doctors this coming week. Hopefully I will get scheduled for second surgery ASAP before my walking cockeyed causes a problem with the new knee. It will depend on the other doctor appointment when we see how the INR is looking. Hopefully all is well and I can get off this damned Coumadin. I really dislike taking it...

  Christmas and New Years both were very low key here and quiet. My son came for supper on Christmas Day and that was about it.  My youngest sister and her family all went to Florida the day after Christmas and got home last night.

 My sister-in-law is on the last leg of her brain cancer adventure. They have now stopped all treatments and called in hospice. She has lost most of her muscle control and speech. She is sleeping about 22 out of every 24 hours. Thank God she is not in pain. We went down for a visit yesterday on New Year's Day and I am going back down tomorrow afternoon. I will try to be there with her as much as I possibly can.  Her sister from California arrived last night and will stay for the duration of her time with us.  It is all heartbreaking, as these things are.  My brother is holding up much better than I expected him to and I am so grateful for that. Her children are hanging on and having a hard time as they watch their mother slip away.  We are all at that place of grief and relief that comes when someone you love will finally not be suffering, as you face the finality of their impending death. It is hard to not want to hang on. To keep her with us as long as possible...when that is not in her best interest. 

  And so it goes. Life on life's terms, we call it in the recovery rooms. The circle of life continues on, with or without my permission.  No matter what.

  I have about 2 bushels of beets in my kitchen waiting to be canned. I should have gotten on them today, but a half dozen other chores really needed my attention and the beets were just pulled yesterday and gifted to me by a friend. My pantry is completely devoid of pickled beets and so I am tickled to pieces. They are nice and small so I can pickle them whole. I am excited about getting to do some canning. 

  I am off to bed. Busy day tomorrow that will be starting early.  It's midnight already, and one of my resolutions was earlier bedtimes. Gotta run.

  Welcome to 2016 , friends. Let's live it to the fullest !