Monday, June 30, 2008

Who Da Bear?

At the bottom of my blog, I've got a gizmo called "Live Traffic Feed" by some company called FEEDJIT. It tells me the city and state of individuals who visit my blog. That's all it tells, not who they are, why they come, or what they do here.

Recently they've been beta testing a new service called "Live Feed" which I can put on and it lets me know when people come and go, and where they came from, i.e., Blogger, Google, Nicole's blog, Bonnie's blog, etc. Still don't tell me who they are, which is fine, but this beta version tells what people were searching for if they came through Google. I was amused yesterday when someone arrived after googling "Where to buy crystal meth Near Philadelphia"! Of course, this led them to my whining post from a few months ago when I had a bad cold and the pharmacist wouldn't let me have my remedy of choice because people use it to make crystal meth.

Anyway, where I was going with the title of this post is here: Lots and lots of people visit this blog and a few faithful visitors leave comments which I read and enjoy, even if I don't usually respond to them. There are people from many cities and countries who are utterly mysterious to me; I've no idea how they came upon my blog, why they read it, what they think of it, any of that.

Daily, and I do mean daily, I get at least one visit from someone in Bear, Delaware. I don't think I know anyone in Delaware anywhere, much less in Bear. I went a-huntin' and discovered that Bear, like most of Delaware, is south of Wilmington, and it is in New Castle County. The closest quilt shop appears to be Lavender and Lace (no website, apparently), in Newark (note to self -- check it out next time we head South on I-95).

Do I know you, Bear? Do you ever comment? Would you, if begged, she groveled?

I'm so curious.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

One Done, Four to Go!

Meadowbrook Pasture is now a full-fledged flimsy! Not the best picture ever, but I'm not ready to ask Joe to put up the outside line for a quality photo at this point. Click to enlarge. Moving right along . . . .

Catch Up Time

So forgive the picture, already. Okay?

First, I have to report that the recovery from the cataract removal continues to go splendidly! I had a check-up appointment twenty-four hours after the surgery and the doctor was very, very pleased with my progress. I was seeing halos around light with the operative eye and he said that would go away and by the next morning it had. I see the doctor again a week postop.

It has been so easy that I have already scheduled the second eye for mid-July! The thing is, there's this blurriness. The operative eye is great for distance without glasses, better than the nonoperative eye with glasses, actually. But with glasses on, there's a slight blurriness, although the nonoperative eye has been impressive in its ability to take over and disregard the blur. We tried taking the lens out of the glasses for the operative eye, but then I saw double, and I really couldn't deal with that at all. There is a complicated eye drop regimen, and Joe is very proficient at their administration. I don't know how long this continues, but we are being conscientious about it.

Summer is a good time for me to be doing all of this; I am on shorter hours at work, and the work itself is less demanding. After the second procedure, I'll need glasses for reading and likely for the computer, but not for driving or walking around!

Second, cooking a cardiac diet has actually been fun. I am in the process of moving my Silver Palate and other marvelous cookbooks downstairs and have only my American Heart Association cookbooks and other light/low fat cookbooks on the shelf in the kitchen. We are both doing okay with this way to eat. When we go out -- like last night -- we enjoy something from the regular menu. The theory that red wine is good for the heart hasn't hurt either!

Third, and this is a real achievement, I'm not overscheduling! Being out for some reason one night per week is plenty. Most of the time. And for the weekends, we are not cramming them full-full of stuff. This weekend, for example, all we scheduled was my attending a meeting for an hour on Saturday afternoon and then dinner out Saturday night with Amy's parents. We went to church this morning and the rest of the time have been at home.

Fourth, my concentration is somewhat better. I put away the book that was flummoxing me and have since read 1-3/4 different books and can actually tell you what they were about! I was putting my leader-ender project blocks up on the wall a couple of hours ago, and notice that even on these super-simple jewel boxes, I've made a lot of mistakes during my non-concentration period. Fortunately, I have some good seam-rippers.

Fifth, and I think last, I've been sewing and am about an hour each away from the completion of Sunday Best and my version of Meadowbrook Farm. For the latter, butting the blocks up next to each other wasn't a good thing. My seams are not that perfect and the secondary pattern was blurry -- like my operative eye with the glasses! And I really wasn't crazy about all those triangles around the outside. So I've made scrappy lattice and cornerstones, and then a narrow containing border and then a generous border. It doesn't look anything like the pattern anymore, and I'm liking it quite a bit. I think, however, I should change the name to Meadowbrook Pasture or something so the pattern designer doesn't protest. Pictures of these two projects will appear soon -- perhaps even by tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Finish Five: Projects Chosen

I'd written earlier that I had decided to enter Peg's challenge to finish five projects by the end of July. Tonight I took some time to go over my spreadsheet of WISPs and select the five contenders. I chose six, and will finish five of them:

1. Sunday Best. A wall hanging for Caroline's room. Needs hand-quilting finished on the last border, binding, and sleeve.

2. French Provincial Charm Quilt. Neecs mitered border, backing french knot tying (what else?) and binding.

3. Civil War Baskets. Needs final pieced triangle border to bring to Flimsy stage.

4. Daiwabo Taupe Jacob's Ladder. Blocks need sewing together and then decide whether to border it or not. Get it to Flimsy stage.

5. Time Began in a Garden. Needs binding and sleeve.

6. Meadowbrook Farm. Needs borders to get to Flimsy stage.

As the five are finished, pictures will be posted in the sidebar.

The thing is, I really, really need to do these five finishes. Because I have finally acquired enough fabrics for "Ruth's Quilt" from "Living the Dream" and am so eager to begin working on it -- and I dare not start another thing until some projects are finished!

A Whiter Shade of White

Can scarcely believe I am only a couple of hours postop! Thanks to Mrs. Goodneedle for suggesting the illustration. It's not quite accurate -- the operative eye is still blurry. But it will clear.

Friends, readers, I am here to tell you that that this "procedure" (realizing how benign that sounds compared to "operation") is nothing to be apprehensive about! Got to the surgery center at 7:30, interviewed and prepped, and off down the hall to the O.R. promptly at 8:30. I believe it was 9:10 by the clock when Joe met me in the PACU and we were out the door around 10:00. The nurse having ordered Joe to take me out to breakfast, we stopped at FilaBagel for an everything bagel with real cream cheese (o, the scandal of it!) and lox. Came home, ate, did the Sudodku and lay down but the neighbor's car alarm cut short a nice little nap after ten minutes.

Yes, the right eye is blurry. But the fascinating thing (just as Bonnie had told me) is the color difference: I now can see that things viewed with the left eye alone have a slightly yellowish tinge that I'd been totally unaware of before. The blurry things seen with just the right eye are cleaner, whiter. The nurses cautioned me that I might see cobwebs that I'd not noticed before! Better not.

The Versed lingers and I'm sure I'll want a nice afternoon snooze. Tomorrow morning I have a check-up at the surgery center and on Friday I'll be back at work -- the deal is that I have to wait until 24 hours after the Versed is out of my system before I can drive.

If I get the left eye done this summer, too, I'll not have to wear glasses except for close work. That would be quite a change -- my children do not know me without glasses; I have worn them for so many years.

The surgery center was part of a Roman Catholic facility and I noticed a cross over every doorway, even the O.R. I like that -- it reminded me of the many who promised to pray for me this morning. And that felt good.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Brown-Eyed Girl

The timing isn't what I would have chosen. But it has been in place for two months and I don't know how far in the future I would have to wait to reschedule. So I'm moving forward with the removal of the cataract in my right eye tomorrow morning.

I'm not really conscious of being anxious about it, though any sane person would have some apprehension about someone cutting their eye. I know that this has become routine surgery and people undergo it every day; I know that my ophthalmologist is widely respected and has done many of these procedures. Compared to what Joe has been through, this really is not a big deal.

Nonetheless, I believe that at some deeper level I have some anxiety and some fear. As I said, the timing isn't what I would have chosen. I'll be relieved when this is behind me.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Widow Maker

I feel as though I am ready to move forward.

Joe is being responsible about attending the thrice-weekly cardiac rehab work-out sessions. The medicines are becoming automatic. The food is more than manageable -- it is actually kind of fun to be learning to cook all over again. And he's resigned from the Church Council, the huge stress-bringer.

But I'm not myself. I get panicky when I can't find something. And yesterday at Sherry's I dropped and broke another dish full of food. My concentration is lacking; I'm trying to read a book at night but honestly can't tell you much about it. I make an inordinate amount of lists of work and home tasks. I do an awful lot of frogstitching when I sew.

I try to remind myself of Guenveur's counsel: One Little Move At A Time. It is sound advice.

When Joe was in hospital, a couple of people from the ER team came up to see how he was doing. One of them told him, "What you had is what we call 'the widow-maker,'" reminding him how fortunate he/we had been.

Joe had what Tim Russert had.

And that is what I think of when I wake during the night and reach out to touch him. That is what I think when I find him napping at a peculiar time. That is what I think when he is too quiet. The widow-maker.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Long Distance Love

The past two days brought love from afar.

Yesterday's mail brought five -- count 'em, five -- parcels. One was an Ebay jumper that looked tan in the picture and has turned out to be tangerine. We'll deal with that another day. Another was the threads for my Primitive Garden. The third was the Marcia McCloskey book I need for the Spool Project (More About Which Soon) and the fourth the fabric for said spools. I'd been anticipating all of these for a week or so.

The fifth package was unexpected and contained a most wonderful surprise. It is an exquisite hand-made gift from dear Guenveur in Ohio. Please, please right-click to enlarge and see its loveliness! Besides getting all of the poses precisely right for Bo, look at how she flatters me in the drawing of the quilter! The message -- One little move at a time! -- is just what impatient me needs as a reminder not to expect too much too quickly. The love that went into this treasure and accompanied it on its way is tangible.

The evening before the package came, the phone rang while I was messing up another block (I really must stick with Nine Patches and the like for the time being). The caller was a friend of nearly forty years. She and her husband are very, very dear to Joe and to me. We saw them frequently when we were neighbors, but in the past 25 years, our visits to one another are less than every two years. We speak by phone a couple of times per year and even our email is infrequent. And yet, and yet, the connection remains strong and powerful. They probably really don't know their influence on us. He helped me so many times with hard theological questions. She, without knowing it, I think, has modeled values that I may not have understood, let alone adopted, without her doing so. We have loved them long and deeply.

Seconds into the phone conversation, she began to cry. She was calling to talk, to ask, about Joe, and was overwhelmed with emotion. She said at one point, "I don't know why I am taking this so hard." We talked about that and about other things. It was wonderful to hear from her. It was also one of those rare, amazing occasions when I realized that someone who has been so significant and beloved in my life loves me just as much. And reminds me of how, when we stop to think -- to take it "one little move at a time," actually -- we know God's love through each other.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Lovely Weekend

Tom and Anastasia (viola and harp respectively) have been hired for the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival for three or four years. After the last season, the music director invited Anastasia to be a soloist this year; she was invited to play the Ginastera Harp Concerto. It was a tremendous honor, and she has been working many months in preparation for the performance. As soon as we heard about it, Joe and I decided we wanted to attend the concert. We'd made our B&B reservations months ago.

Events of the past weeks made us wonder if we'd be able to make the trip, but Dr. Cohen said it would be fine for Joe to go. And so we did.

Driving to the western side of Virginia involves I-81, an infinitely more enjoyable drive than the I-95 we are used to taking when we go to Alexandria or to Richmond. Far less traffic, and nice scenery.

I had looked long ago for a place to stay and was pleased to get a reservation at the Joshua Wilton House, a B&B with a fine restaurant. We arrived late in the afternoon, checked in, and had a nap. We then went to the bar for a couple of appetizers and a glass of wine before heading out to the concert. The food was outstanding and we wished we had an opportunity to have a full dinner there, but Anastasa's parents and T&A's friends Shannon and Amy had also come to town for the concert and plans had been made for all of us to go out together to eat after the concert.

Anastasia looked beautiful, and her performance of the Concerto was dazzling. I felt those tears of pride and we all jumped up to give her a standing ovation. We were not surprised when the rest of the audience joined us.

On Saturday we wandered around Harrisonburg, visiting the Virginia Quilt Museum which was just a couple of blocks from our lodging, and the LQS (where I picked up a few FQs for my leader/ender project). It was a sultry day, and late in the afternoon a long nap seemed in order before that evening's concert.

I cannot say enough good things about the Joshua Wilton House. They prepared special cardiac-friendly egg white omelets for Joe and me, filling them with interesting ingredients, and were obliging when we asked if we could invite T&A to join us for our breakfast on Sunday. We'd stay there again in a minute.

Beautiful music, beautiful surroundings, lovely accommodations. All in all, a truly wonderful weekend and just what we needed.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Be Back Soon

When Sam gets overly rowdy, Sherry will tell him that he needs a Time Out. Usually this involves his sitting quietly alone for two minutes in a place away from the rest of the goings-on but still visible. He generally comes back more placid, more in control.

I'm not rowdy. Far from it. But I need a Time Out.

It is a hectic week at school -- Moving On ceremonies, Commencement, Daisy Chain, Closing Days, Senior Project presentations, all of these wonderful milestone-marking events that are a part of why it is wonderful to work at a school.

Joe is doing well. Medications are adjusted, under control, working well. The new way to cook is settling in (thanks to four new cookbooks all published by the American Heart Association). He's having an assessment and program at the fitness center and a new exercise regimen will begin shortly. Yes, he's more tired, and naps more, but this is hardly worrisome. Rest will help to repair his heart muscle damage. We're working on assessing stress in our lives and also looking into the benefits of meditation.

The stress of having dealt with all of this is showing up for me in little ways. I'm experiencing inappropriate frustration with some tasks at work. I make mistakes sewing anything less than something totally simple. I know that those tears from Sunday are not totally spent yet, and worry a bit about when they might show up next.

I'm going to take a bit of a Time Out from blogging for a few days. If you have been following this blog and Joe's story, please do not worry that something is awry. It is not. Things are good. We are going to a graduation party tonight for a friend. Friday morning we leave for our long-awaited trip to the Harrisonburg Bach Festival. We have some thinking and talking and planning to do, individually and together. And I need to take a Time Out.

Be back soon,

Monday, June 09, 2008


Anybody know anything about Connie? You know, Connie. Of Simply Quilted. Married to The Doc. Forties kitchen. Gorgeous quilts. Gorgeous grandchildren. Theme from a Summer Place. That Connie.

Clicking the link to her blog indicates that it has vanished.

I remember several months back, she was thinking of stopping her blog because it was demanding more time from her than she could comfortably give. She was persuaded to simply lighten up, not go away.

This is sudden. It's unsettling. Connie, are you out there? Could you just check in, please? Hoping all is okay with you and yours.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

A Good, Good Weekend (for the Most Part)

Andrew and Amy drove up from D.C. on Saturday morning. They arrived in time for a late lunch and then we spent the afternoon catching up and catching naps. It was so good to see them; they had been in Europe when Joe's illness struck and they just returned few days ago. Their plan was to stay and help Joe out with things, fix us a dinner, and leave after Sunday brunch.

Sunday brunch. Hmmmmm. Sunday-or-holiday brunch is famous in this house. Usually there is a fresh fruit mix, breakfast meat, a scandalously rich egg-cheese-cream concoction of some sort, something sweet, coffee, juice, and other varied dishes. Pretty much my culinary specialty. But Sunday brunch under the new regime? This required some thought.

Sherry and the kids came over and were their usual entertaining selves. A&A cooked an amazing dinner for us -- lean pork chops, couscous, Sherry's bran muffins, Amy's big salad, and Andrew dazzled everyone with grilled fresh pineapple with sauce. Oh, my!

Made the brunch all the more challenging. But I was up to it! Fresh fruit, coffee, juice -- so far, so good. Turkey bacon -- check. Took one of our favorite french toast casserole affairs and spent some time translating it into low-or-no cholesterol and felt really good about my effort! It is one of those things you make the day before and pop in the fridge and bake in the morning.

Here's the plan, in case you, too, are watching cholesterol:

Strawberry French Toast

1 loaf Arnold or Pepperidge Farm white bread cubed (couldn't bring myself to substitute whole wheat)
10 eggs beaten (Eggbeaters)
1-1/2 Cups half-and-half (Did you know there is actually a fat free half-and-half?)
1/2 Cup melted butter (acceptable cholesterol-free margarine)
1/4 Cup maple syrup (just fine)
8 ounces cream cheese (substitute fat free cream cheese)

2 cups sliced strawberries
2 cups strawberry preserves (used 1 cup of preserves and one cup strawberry all fruit)

Put half the bread cubes in a sprayed 9 x 13 pan. Dot with the cream cheese. Top with remaining bread cubes. Mix eggs, half and half syrup, butter. Pour over top, pressing bread in to soak up the juice. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Next morning bake at 350 for 40 to 50 minutes. While it is baking, make the sauce from the berries and preserves, heating until melted and smelling wonderful.

It came out of the oven looking golden and beautiful. The sauce was in the pitcher, the table beautifully set, Joe had made a magnificent fruit dish. When I carried the pyrex casserole to the table, I dropped it, shattering the dish, spilling juice, scaring everyone, and ruining my wonderful creation. And I pretty much fell apart, totally out of proportion to the situation.

Honna had warned me that this would happen at some point. I hate it when she's right about this stuff.

Friday, June 06, 2008

They're Here!

My companions for the next three months arrived this morning, straight from the Lower School Science Department. This isn't a photo of my precise Fire-Bellied Toads but a remarkable likeness downloaded from the internet. I had anticipated three of them, but there are four. So much for my plans of naming them Manny, Moe and Jack; Tom, Dick, and Harry; or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

In considering famous foursomes, my feeling is that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have been done well already and that Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter just don't cut it. Paul, Ringo, John and George come to mind but I have trouble remembering George.

Any thoughts out there, blogfriends?

Toadal love,

Thursday, June 05, 2008

All Manner of Thing Shall Be Well

During my first semester at seminary, a required course had to do with the writings of the early church. As best I can remember, we had to choose several readings from an extensive list, write reflection papers on them, and select one for an oral presentation. The workload that semester was heavier than I'd anticipated, and as I looked among the selections for early church history, I was drawn to the shorter offerings. One of these was Showings, by Julian of Norwich.

Being much more practical than mystical, religious than spiritual, I was surprised that I liked Julian so much. I had to read her piece twice because throughout the first reading, I was convinced that she was mentally ill. The cloisters can do that to one, I suppose. But I had a paper to write, and so I reread, looking for the heart of what she had to offer.

She writes,

"All shall be well,
and all shall be well, and
all manner of thing shall be well."

Mentally ill -- perhaps. Faith-filled -- certainly.

Nearly two weeks ago, I sat in a cardiac emergency room watching a team of professionals minister to my husband, whose heart was broken and needed to be fixed. I sat quietly, oddly worry-free, as they each performed their respective parts of the assessment and the preparation for the procedure to come.

Later, I looked back on that scene and wondered if there was something wrong with me that I had been so calm, so confident.

"I must have been in shock," I told myself. But that wasn't the case. I was very aware of the seriousness of our situation, and I was just as certain that the outcome was going to be good.

During my years as a hospital chaplain, I was part of that scene on many, many occasions. At those times, I developed a kind of sixth sense that enabled me to somehow discern from the body language, the demeanor of the team, whether the outcome was likely to be worrisome or satisfactory. I hadn't thought about that in some time. But now I believe that as I sat in that ER with Joe, the cues that my subconscious picked up on were what kept me stable, calm, and trusting. God's gift of healing was coming to Joe through the many capable hands God had provided to care for him, to minister to him.

Joe's painful rash of the past weekend responded fairly quickly to the steroids. We'd been told there was no appointment available for the cardiologist until June 20, but on Monday the 2nd, were informed of an opening the very next morning. The medicines have been adjusted. Dr. Cohen smiled his warm, reassuring smile, and said to schedule another appointment for five to six weeks. Joe has been cleared to resume driving, and yesterday he went to New Jersey and back for business. He's pronounced safe to go to Virginia as scheduled in the middle of this month. We're eating differently and making an adventure of it. He tires more easily and has the good sense to take a nap in the afternoon or before dinner. He's set up for an assessment at the exercise center. I had the audacity to contact the B&B to ask for Eggbeaters and turkey bacon.

The new normal has begun. We're adjusting well. And I'm not worrying. I feel the kind of optimism and faith that Julian expressed:

All shall be well,
and all shall be well, and
all manner of thing shall be well.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Troubling Juxtaposition

In my strong support of Barack Obama, I've made a real effort not to speak unkindly about Hillary Clinton. And I'm not going to start now.

Instead, I'll let her and her handlers speak to what's on my mind:

First, from Ms. Clinton herself:

May 23, 2008 --

Hillary Clinton today brought up the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy while defending her decision to stay in the race against Barack Obama.

"My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don't understand it," she said, dismissing calls to drop out.

Next, from "sources":

June 3, 2008 --

Rangel -- who was the first to suggest that Clinton run for the Senate in 2000 -- confirmed to NBC News that Clinton did tell the participants on the conference call that she would be interested in running for vice president.

On the subject of Clinton and the vice presidency, Rangel told NBC that "certainly to the extent that she will do anything to win ... she'll be available"

"She'll do whatever is needed -- if people think it would help she'd do it," he added.

And, again, from Ms. Clinton:

June 3, 2008 --

(CNN) – Hillary Clinton herself directly raised the issue of serving as Barack Obama's running mate in a conference call with New York lawmakers earlier Tuesday, a source who was on the call tells CNN's Candy Crowley.

According to the source, Clinton told those on the call that if asked by Obama, she would be interested in serving as his running mate. That comment was not in response to a particular question.

These comments came a little too close together for my comfort level.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Looks Like We Made It!

Hey, Honna, we need Barry Manilow to sing it! Looks Like We Made It!

After a week and a half of tears of fear, tears of apprehension, tears of sadness, tears of uncertainty, how lovely to feel these tears of joy!

Monday, June 02, 2008

A Wrinkle

The rash persisted through yesterday, taking a long time to respond to the steroids. Vestiges of it remained this morning, though the terrible stinging had abated. He slept much better last night.

Better medicine than the pills and the creams came in the form of Sam, accompanied by his sister and parents. Joe and Sam had a good long walk together in the garden, investigating chipmunk holes and identifying flowers. I had the opportunity to speak of my worries, my fears, with Chris and with Sherry. They had brought a delicious heart-healthy chicken and vegetable shish kabob with minty yogurt sauce dinner and we all ate out on the deck.

We had a trip to western Virginia scheduled for June 14 and neither of us felt comfortable going unless he'd been to the doctor's office prior. As of Friday, the best they could do with an appointment was June 20, but somehow this afternoon a spot has opened up for tomorrow morning at eight o'clock. We'll get clarification on the medications and hopefully a blessing on the Virginia trip.

Someone at school reminded me that these things are seldom smooth, and that I might look at the medication issue as a wrinkle only, and not a set back. I thought that was good advice. Wrinkles I can work with; heck, I spent nearly an hour ironing them out of fabric just this weekend!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Watchful Waiting

The stopping of the two medications did not help. The rash has spread and spread and is much more intense. Sleep for him last night was scarce. Phoned the on-call doc this morning, who said that the timing was right for a reaction -- if there was to be one -- to the Plavix to show up, and he believes this is what we're dealing with. Stopped the Plavix and prescribed a replacement for it. Also prescribed steroids to deal with the rash. Got me to wondering why yesterday's on-call doc didn't do that -- he has been so miserable.

The visit last night with Bob and Sherry was therapeutic. They came bearing gifts of wine, angel cake, and fabric (is this woman a friend, or what?) and laughed and told stories and dined until nearly ten o'clock. A big night for us! Took Joe's mind off the rash. I made a Heart Association entree of pork and it was delicious.

He's sleeping now.

I'm more anxious than I want him to know. I believe it is time to go downstairs and sew for a spell.

This picture is Himself in Samos, Greece, last July. Another happy day.