Thursday, January 24, 2013

Being Organized Is Not Easy

Knowing an evening aide was coming in, I had gotten home early last night from Katherine’s after helping some there.  I already had chili thawed for our supper, and after supper, I had time to organize for today. Since I don’t always have time to organize, I was enjoying that feeling.  Next I brushed my teeth, arranged  my pillows for sleep in our bed, and come down to write a letter and then relax on the computer.

The first thing that happened to change my plans was Gerald appearing at my office door with a smile and a bowl of freshly popped corn. Earlier in the day he saw me start to make popcorn, something I had not done for weeks or months. I found out that the electrical outlet we use downstairs for the popper, which is permanently situated on its little table in the grandkids’ den was in use. Not wanting popcorn enough to unplug anything, I forgot about the idea.  Gerald didn’t and he came presenting me with popcorn not knowing I had brushed my teeth to be all ready for bed soon. Of course, the popcorn was gratefully accepted and worth brushing my teeth again before bed.

Next the phone rang, and Gerald appeared at the door with the phone saying we had an invitation from our friends Bill and Mickey Tweedy, whom we were supposed to meet for breakfast last week.  They wanted to treat us to breakfast this morning. Could we?  Sounded great to me, and I nodded yes.

In 1998, when I retired from my brief career in family literacy (only the last two years were 52-weeks full time), my house work had piled up during the last months.  So after retirement, I was able to find a younger woman to come in two hours a week to vacuum the house.  She could do it in two hours, whereas if I started, I would invariably be interrupted and it might take me two days or longer to finish.  I have been so grateful for Linda’s help for a couple of years over at the other house and for over 11 years in this house. Our home is on her way to town and she changes here, so in a way, she had no transportation costs. 

Not too long ago she started coming in on Thursdays since sometimes we were having family members sleeping in on Friday morning and there was traffic congestion in the kitchen.  For some odd reason, ever since we switched to Thursday, I often end up having to be away from home that day.  But I just leave her check and she does fine without me here.  As I said, she is a great blessing and a real friend to me. So not being at home was not a problem when I realized we were going out for breakfast on a Thursday.

When I organized for today, I had my grandson’s birthday card and the new roll of stamps I just bought laid out to get in today’s mail.  I’d stopped at Small’s on the way home yesterday and bought a roast large enough for our noon-day dinner and for tonight’s supper for Katherine and Sam. (I have tried to take supper on Thursday nights for a couple of years now, but the last two or three weeks, I have been at Katherine’s house helping out and so I didn't.  When I first started, I tried cooking once at her house and the fumes set off her asthma as did a horrible experience I had not long ago when I burnt something in her microwave and filled the kitchen with smoke.)  So anyhow I wanted to get back on schedule by taking supper tonight since I was not needed there today. It was easy to just switch plans on the roast for our supper too and have something easy for lunch since a late breakfast would not leave us very hungry at noon.

But I wanted to be sure and get the grandson’s card and birthday check in the mail today.  I did not think about it last night after the breakfast invitation came or I could have done it then.   I am a late sleeper, and consequently this morning I was hurrying around getting his card addressed to mail.  That was not as easy as it might seem as I knew I had his college address from last year somewhere on some list or scrap of paper.  Not long ago I had asked his mother to make sure what it was this year.  She messaged me back that it was the same as last year and resent it to me. 

I figured I could find it quicker on her message than looking upstairs at my messy address lists I have used for too many years.  So I wrote his and Linda’s checks and rushed down here to my computer.  I turned it on hoping that I did not have trouble getting on the Internet or on Facebook as I sometimes do.  It all worked beautifully and there was his address in Jeannie’s message—except there was no zip code for Normal, Illinois.

I rushed back upstairs, signed the card and enclosed the check, addressed the card and stamped it. Once upon a time, I could find Illinois zip codes in the front of the phone book, but as I was afraid, that page is not there now. So I started looking for the address upstairs, which was what I had gone downstairs to avoid.  I did not find it, and by now it was past time for us to go.  We were going to keep our hosts waiting.  Gerald was patient with me, but I grabbed my charged cell phone and believed I had the post office number keyed in.  I would call them on the way to town and find out Normal’s zip code. Alas, the post office number was not on my phone.

Bill and Mickey were smiling and welcoming even though we were a tad late, and we had a wonderful visit during and after our breakfast.  Since Gerald’s appointment to turn in our farm books for income tax purposes was this afternoon, I did not suggest stopping by the post office.  When we got back to the farm, I made it my primary goal to start finding that zip code. 

Or at least that was what I intended to do first.  But Gerald said, “Look, Linda left her check.”  I looked and there was Elijah’s birthday check, which meant Linda’s was inside his sealed card.  So the first thing I had to do was put water on to boil and steam open his card and switch the checks. And find a glue stick to reseal his card. And then I called the post office and got the correct zip and rushed the card down to the mail box because although our mail often comes late in the afternoon, if I want to insure something gets mailed that day, the mail gets delivered early that day. When I got back, I served Gerald that quick lunch and had time to think about Linda.  She really should not have to wait for her check although she would have kindly told me to wait until next week.  So I addressed an envelope for her and also took it down to the mailbox.  So much for my organization skills….

I browned the roast and put it in the oven and scraped the carrots to add later. After Gerald left with the farm records, I read a bit and took my nap, which is a new development in my life.  I have never wanted to nap in daytime, but now when I start to read, I frequently fall asleep.  (I excuse that by saying it is not my age but that I go to bed too late.)

In the late afternoon I left a house smelling good with garlic added to the roast like daughter Mary Ellen taught me. I enjoyed a brief visit with Katherine and also with her aide when she arrived, and then I came home to enjoy our roast with Gerald.  With any luck at all, Elijah will get his card on his birthday. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Leslie and Mike's Wedding

I just found this link on my daughter Jeannie's Facebook page tonight.  I am not very knowledgeable about knowing how to post things, but I am going to try to post this in case you are interested.  One correction to the photographer's story--Jeannie's dress was made from one of my college dresses--it wasn't what I wore to  her wedding. (I passed that one on to someone else long ago.) Jeannie wanted to wear my going-away dress from my wedding in 1956, but it has developed holes in it for some reason, so she went with one I had dated in. The barn in the photos is on Brian and Mary Ellen's new farm they had recently had bought from the sons of  the late Harold and Novella Rix.    When Leslie decided to use the barn for their picnic reception, Jeannie gave strict orders that it must not be painted before the wedding. This barn had the well-known large star on it again this Christmas--the one Harold made and we all enjoyed for many years.Let's see if this works:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sitting Pretty

One of my best Christmas presents was a last-minute agreement with Gerald that we would wait until after the holidays to think about a gift for each other. Our live had been so over-full that there had been no time for shopping.  Neither of us had an idea for the other one—and neither of us had a suggestion to give of what we wanted.  One of the blessings of being elderly is that you have more than you need and ought to start disposing of things, so it is hard to come up with something you want to obtain.  I did not even have the name of a book in mind to suggest because all I could think of was the ones already acquired and waiting for me to read. (I do have some out-of-print books I’d like, but two days before Christmas would not allow anyone to find such books.)

Well, I was shopping for groceries at the local warehouse store and accidently walked through the book aisle.  And Proof of Heaven in $9.95 paperback caught my eye.  Back when Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s book came out about near-death experiences, we had read and been interested.  For me that interest was intensified in that same era when a friend and pastor’s wife Nita Robinson shared her own near death experience.   I don’t know what happened to Ross’s book, which I think we may have owned, and I can’t really remember much other than its subject matter of death. (Now I want to read it again.) 

Anyhow I made the mistake of pausing to look at the Eben Alexander book and soon noted two other paperbacks on the same subject right by it.  Suddenly I had cheated and broken my pledge to Gerald by buying all three paperbacks for him.  At the end of Christmas day, I apologetically gave them to him as my first installment of his Christmas gift.  I still did not have any ideas for him or for myself.

Last week on Thursday we were supposed to meet friends in Carbondale for breakfast, and I’d packed the car trunk the night before to recycle while there.  And I had put in my hearing aid in the front seat.  It had gone bad two days before Christmas, and needed to be checked out by the technician in Carbondale. The next morning we had to cancel our breakfast date unexpectedly, so I began to try to plan again for a trip to Carbondale as I did not want to unpack the trunk. 

So I told Gerald he would get the rest of Christmas present on Monday and to reserve that day.  We would go to lunch together, recycle the stuff in the trunk, drop off my hearing aid, and do his usual errands at the large office supply store there where he gets camera and computer supplies.  Then late in the afternoon we would see Lincoln at a Carbondale theater and go out to dinner together afterward on the way home. (We were able to stop at Katherine’s house on our way over and again on our way back and do some adjustments for her and help just a mite there.)

It turned out to be even a better gift idea than I had thought.  We thoroughly enjoyed our day together and the movie.  And at the office supply store, we saw a very nice desk chair on sale. Gerald said my computer chair was broken and he had tried to fix it but it could not be fixed.  Didn’t I want a new chair?  This was all news to me.  I live life pretty much unconscious much of the time.  As far as I knew, my chair was fine, but I did believe him when he said it wobbled or something or other was wrong with it.  And the chair in front of me was much better looking than the one at home.  So suddenly I knew what I wanted for Christmas, and by the next day he had it out of the trunk and put together for me.  The old one is pushed over to another desk area in my office and can hold a guest, I suppose, until it falls apart.

I am sitting here enjoying my new chair as I write you this blog.  I am indeed sitting pretty.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January Days--White, Black, Gray, Green

The week started with snow all over the ground, and the world looked white..  Tuesday morning when Katherine’s aide called in sick, I took off for town. Even though it was daylight, my main sensation as I scanned the landscape was blackness—dark road, dark tree trunks and bare branches in the surrounding perimeter with even the many evergreens looking more black than green in that early morning light.

The next morning I drove to a morning doctor’s appointment as a follow up for blood work.  Gray-white fog  surrounded me.  It was not enough to bother driving visibility as the fog seemed to move away as I drove through it. But that day the world seemed whitish gray with the distant  trees dimmed by the film of fog. 

The last two days have been spring-like with temps in the 60s. Yesterday was sunny, but today was drizzley. As I drove in for a haircut this morning, with the snow completely melted, the green and brown grass now revealed permeated my vision.  The evergreens were green again despite the drizzle and wet highways. 

Mary Ellen was down briefly yesterday with Brian, and we enjoyed hearing about their holiday trip to Hawaii.  With their daughter a senior in high school, Mary Ellen knows what every parent feels when they realize children will soon be moving on.  So this special  family vacation was very meaningful to them, and it was good to hear how well it went after having their flight cancelled in the middle of the night after they had finally gotten to bed only an hour before.  Mary Ellen said they spent the rest of the night arranging another flight to Dallas with a different air line. When they went to bed, they had bags packed and waiting at the door  for their early morning drive to the airport. Fortunately, all details were completely organized and planned, and miraculously they made it to Dallas with a different airline and then by van over to the right airport there to catch their flight to Hawaii.

Our Christmas trees are down and put away for next year. The Christmas cards have quit coming and the mailbox holds mostly advertising pieces or periodicals. I tried a new recipe for chicken stew from a woman’s magazine—as usual making a substitute or two for ingredients not on hand.  Katherine and I really liked it, bit Gerald was less enthusiastic.  It is the right time of year to clean a closet or two and try new recipes and look forward to spring. 

Friday, January 04, 2013

After Christmas Thoughts

Driving home Christmas Eve afternoon, I thought of what I might write in a blog and picked what I thought was a perfect title:  “Almost Ready—Maybe.”  But when I reached the farm, I wanted to enjoy our son and wife, Gerry and Vickie, and Geri Ann and Bryan and Tara, Aidan, Maddux, and Payton, all of whom were up from Georgia and in and out for a few days.  I also knew I needed to go to bed to be rested for the next day, so I did not blog.

Once again this year our Christmas dinner guests were just the Glasco-Archibald families and Dave and Katherine and Sam from Marion. There were supposed to be 14 at dinner, but granddaughter Erin’s flight was cancelled because of the weather.  That was my one big disappointment although we had had nice visit with her at Thanksgiving.  The Eilers celebrate in Freeport, and this year the Taylors were fulfilling their long dreamed of vacation in Hawaii

Christmas preparations were greatly reduced for me this year, but I put up the tree in the living room and decorated it.  Fortunately, Gerald put up the tree in the downstairs family room, so he wrestled with the light problem.  (A few years back I had replaced our trees with prelit ones, and this was the first time we had ever had a problem, but Gerald solved it.)  I added a few ornaments but left several boxes of them off intending to add them later. That opportunity never came. (The downstairs tree is the one that usually holds all the ornaments from our 56 years of marriage and that includes handmade ornaments by our kids and grandkids—including the ones they became creative with made of toilet paper tubes.)   Regardless, the tree looked pretty and no one missed the extra ornaments but me, and I am glad now I won’t have to spend the time taking them all off.  

I am reluctant to take the trees down although I used to do this New Year’s Day or the day after. (A couple of times I left the tree up until Old Christmas when the kids were snowed in and could not go back to school on schedule.) I note lots of outdoor lights still burning beautifully when I drive to and from town, so I have a feeling many people are wanting to enjoy their decorations longer. 

My holiday baking this year was limited to cupcakes from a mix that I made on Christmas morning.  I had some little sugar Christmas decorations to put on top of the icing (from a can of course).  I thought the little great grandsons might like them.  When I made the Thanksgiving pumpkin and pecan pies, I made enough to freeze for Christmas also and had them during the pre-Christmas visits even though our visiting children and grandchildren had made a point that they would not be around for me to cook for during the day. (They have lots of friends and relatives to also visit while here, and of course they are in and out of Gma Shirley’s house also.  The Archibalds left to make a trip to Chicago area to pick up Bryan and celebrate with all the relatives up there, but they returned on Christmas Eve.) With a cheesecake from the warehouse store, we had more than enough sweets for Christmas Day.

Although all the visits ended too soon, it was wonderful having the ones here who could make it. Gerald was able to give the three little guys lots of tractor rides, and Jake was able to go squirrel hunting with three generations. Sam had his first hunt and brought back a squirrel, which is now in my freezer for me cook one of these days.

The little boys so wanted it to snow while they were here, but they missed out.  Two big snows came after they left. Sam and his friend Josh had great fun playing in it since it had evidently been three years since we had had big snows. Gerald drove me to and from Katherine’s house to help there, and the snow-lined limbs overhead the country roads were beautiful in the truck’s lights. Roads are mostly cleared now, but the ground is still covered and roadside parking places are mounded by city’s snowplows. One of the prettiest sights I have seen was a perfect shaped pine in someone’s yard with brilliant colored lights shining through snow-topped branches.

I think many people were pleased to see the huge star back on the Harold and Novella Rix barn.  A master welder, Harold had made the star years ago, and seeing it was an annual tradition for people driving on the highway in front of their house. Their sons had left it for Mary Ellen and Brian to continue its use, and Brian made sure it was up along with the lighted tree that Mary Ellen had in the front room window.
This year provided one of the longer breaks since most local schools are not going to resume until Monday.  So the children have had lots of time to make snowmen and memories during this holiday season.