How Could It Be 32 Years?

June 28, 2013 | My Jottings

Today Michael and I celebrate thirty-two years of marriage. With his Parkinson’s and my new knee taking its time to settle in to my leg, I don’t know how much partying we’ll do, but that’s okay.

This morning when we woke up I looked over at him and he was looking at me. “I like your hair,” he said. He makes me laugh. He likes my hair, sticking straight up in the air after a night of tossing and turning.

I wish I could have scanned the whole page from an old scrapbook, but my printer/scanner will only do 9 1/2 x 11 inch scans. So the images below are from half of a scrapbook page from our wedding day, June 28, 1981.

Michael was 32 and I was 23.

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We got married in a women’s club building in Los Osos, CA, before driving the fully-packed rental truck east and then north toward MN the next day.

Above, you can see from left, my brother Steve holding my daughter Carolyn’s hands (she was 2 1/2), my mom Virginia, Michael, moi, my dad Doc, with Sharon standing in front of him (she was 4), and my oldest brother Larry.

Michael and I both agreed this morning that we couldn’t possibly have imagined that in 32 years we’d be where we are now. Had you interviewed us back then we’d have probably spouted off words like “travel” and “fun” and “church”….things we just knew would be in our future.

Well, we’ve done some traveling, and loved it. We’ve had some fun. And we still chuckle about some of those fun times. And Jesus is the reason Michael and I met in the first place — He is the one who has kept us together. Oh, so faithful He has been! And we’ve also been blessed with some pretty wonderful friends we met in church. Michael and I just didn’t know that sickness and disappointment and trials would weigh so heavily (and early) in our times together. Although why we didn’t expect that, I don’t know. I would tell people today, enjoy every single day — have fun, love each other, worship God, travel, lay down your pride, outdo each other doing good to one another, forgive, encourage, but by all means expect hardship. Prepare for trials and sickness and troubles, because they will almost certainly come. So don’t be shocked by them, and be sure you reach for your Savior’s hand every day.

As we mark 32 years together, I’m not sure how much travel and fun and church are in our future. The Lord knows, and He can make impossible things happen — He’s very good at that. (Michael actually believes we’ll take a long trip in the next year or two!)

I’m grateful for my dear husband today…he may not be able to do all the things he used to so thoroughly enjoy, but he’s got the loving/being patient/gentleness/kindness/faithful thing going on like no one else I’ve ever known.

Knee Replacement Journal – Part Two

June 27, 2013 | My Jottings

Evening, Friday, June 14, 2013 – I don’t know why it is that when someone brings us a meal, I cry. I feel all weepy and grateful and lavished upon in ways I can’t explain. Maybe because as I’ve gotten older, I’ve felt less creative and inspired in the kitchen, and feeding the multitudes has come to feel like a duty rather than a privilege. It’s my housekeeping/wifely mountain, that’s for sure. Tonight we sat down to the table and ate mouthwatering walleye fillets, breaded and baked to perfection. If you’re a Minnesotan you know that walleye is a prized fish for eating. We also had a bean casserole with every color and size bean imaginable, which frankly makes it sound ho-hummish (to me at least), but when I put a forkful in my mouth I looked at Michael and said, “Oh. My. Gosh. These. Beans.” Absolutely the best tasting beans I’ve ever eaten. And there was a giant bowl of fresh fruit with pineapple and blueberries and raspberries, enough to last for days and for many smoothies, and some rolls made out of pretzel dough, and a diminutive, rich dark chocolate cake for dessert. Feeling weak and tired and sore, I wipe tears as I eat my beans and fish, and I silently ask God to bless Kay J. and Julie G. for generously and lovingly bringing tonight’s meal. I could get emotional right now as I type this. I think when I look back on my knee replacement and recovery, I’ll remember the meals almost as much as anything else, because the relief they gave felt like such a salve on my soul.

Saturday, June 15, 2013 – My knee is swollen and sore, and I’m taking the icing and elevating instructions very seriously. Today I get up and move around, have a smoothie and a piece of toast with peanut butter for breakfast and feel so full I could burst, brush my teeth, grab some more ice packs from the freezer, and go back to bed for more icing and elevating. The first few days we’re supposed to ice 20 minutes out of every hour, so this means hours and hours a day. This is okay with me, since I don’t feel like being up for long anyway. We have enough leftovers from Kay and Julie’s meal last night to have a wonderful meal tonight. My sweet granddaughter Mrs. Nisky is here helping and what a godsend she is. She fetches things for me, keeps me company, and learned how to play Gin Rummy quickly so we play that. And I’ve read to her while I ice and elevate.  Thank you Lord.

Sunday, June 16, 2013 – Mrs. Nisky goes home today and I will miss her so much. One week ago today I was on my way to Stillwater, getting ready for my surgery. I feel so much stiffness, and the exercises are very difficult for me. I’m supposed to be doing several sets of exercises twice a day, and I feel like I’ve climbed Mount Everest if I’ve done them once. Help me Lord! To bend my knee at a 90 degree angle, as most of us do when we sit at a table, is almost impossible. Yet in Physical Therapy over the next weeks, 125 degrees will be the goal. The thought makes my skin crawl. And my leg no longer straightens out like the other one, which also is normal apparently. So in this new world I live in, in order to move my knee, I have to get rid of my knee, get a new knee, not be able to move that knee at all, then slowly be able to move that knee over the course of several weeks, and hopefully move it lots and lots someday. I read an article online on my iPhone while icing and elevating that tells the reader that with knee replacement surgery, the three P’s to remember are, Pain, Physical Therapy and Patience. I so get that.Food Blog 126 Tonight we are again blessed, this time with a meal from Laurel. The care and generosity with which we’re being provided for almost does me in. Laurel brings her smile and hugs, which are always heartening and strengthening to me, and boxes filled with food for dinner. A beautiful, herbed pork loin roast, so lean and tender. Baked potatoes, still hot from the oven and wrapped in foil. A spinach salad with thinly sliced yellow bell peppers and fresh sugar snap pea pods and slivered almonds, oh my. And the most fragrant rosemary rolls, warm and soft and ready for a slather of butter. And for dessert – homemade strawberry short cake, with lovely juicy fruit and homemade whipped cream. Michael is in heaven over that one. Again, sitting down at our table with this bounty provided through love and hard work, while wearing my plaid nightgown and doing so little during each day, I am overwhelmed. I pray that the Lord will return this blessing to my friend Laurel, times a hundred. I am beginning to understand the third P – patience. I’m not recovering as fast as I had thought. This may be a slooooow process.

Monday, June 17, 2013 – One week post op. I feel like a vice has been wrapped around the whole knee area. It’s not painful per se, but it is certainly not comfortable. I want someone to take off the vice. My swelling is going down a tiny bit. Today is my first day at Physical Therapy and my therapist is a great young woman named Suzanne. I drive myself there. She has her master’s in PT and I am happy to find within minutes that she is so knowledgeable and compassionate. Range of Motion will be the buzz phrase over the next weeks. She measures how far my knee will straighten when I’m lying flat on my back, and how far it will bend, doing these demonic exercises called Heel Slides. They should be called Hell Sleds. Sleds from Hell, that’s what they feel like. Suzanne is gentle and thorough, and massages all the very tight and traumatized muscles in and around my knee. It feels wonderful. The only thing that doesn’t feel wonderful is when she starts in on my knee cap, and I almost go through the roof. She makes a notation. After an hour of working, massaging, assessing, my Range of Motion measurements went from 13 and 90 degrees to 4 and 104. Quite the improvement, I guess. I walk out to the car and strap myself in, sighing deeply as I realize I’ll have at least 20 of these PT appointments, and I ask for God’s help. How thankful I am that Su and I are going on this journey together, and we compare notes every day. What she is experiencing isn’t exactly what I am, but together we are seeing how much we need to readjust our expectations of recovery. She is an encouragement to me. Tonight we enjoy leftovers from Laurel’s delicious meal, and I sit up in the recliner, ice packs under and over my knee, to watch “The Bachelorette” with Michael. Believe me, this is not his favorite show, but I’ve taken an interest since the current Bachelorette (Desiree Hartsock) is a Christian and has brought a little class to a show that I would previously have used my ten-foot pole around. When it’s time for bed I’m sore and a bit discouraged at how stiff I feel, how vice-like the sensation is around my knee. I haven’t been taking pain meds during the day, but I gladly take them at night and do so now. I haven’t written in my gratitude journal in a long time, and I realize before I fall off to sleep that it’s time. My normal, complaining, impatient nature is stirring, and I don’t need to wrestle with that too.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 – Each day is very similar. I wake up in stiffness and a little pain, gimp around for a while as I’m getting lunches and breakfasts ready for our Fosters (who have been loving and helpful and such dears it makes me get teary to think of it), feed Edith and Mildred and let them out with their horrible anti-bark collars, let them back in, boil water for the day’s pot of tea, make coffee for Michael, and then I grab my ice packs and head back to bed. I realize that I’m letting paperwork and housework and most things go, but I must. And I keep telling myself this is okay. I get dressed if I have to go somewhere, otherwise I stay in one of my three plaid flannel nightgowns. Today Michael has a foot doctor appointment, so I will get dressed and drive him downtown. I’ll stay in the car and play Words With Friends, and when he returns we’ll drive home. Woo hoo, we’ve had our day out! We Are Old Now. I miss being able to soak in our deep tub, but baths are not allowed until the incision has completely closed, so I take a shower every other day. I ice and elevate with two thick pillows on our bed, read a chapter or two from All Creatures Great and Small and occasionally nap. I’ve never been much of a napper, but these days it feels good. Michael naps a lot, so each afternoon there are four of us (two human, two canine) on the big king-sized bed, resting away for an hour or two. Tonight we sit down to a feast brought by my friend Carol, who comes in cheerfully toting box after box of hot food ready for our meal. Tender chicken in a yummy white sauce served over angel hair pasta. Fresh steamed broccoli, somehow still hot in the serving dish. A salad I literally moan over, with fresh greens, bits of crisp apples, cashews, craisins, and a homemade citrusy vinaigrette. And homemade butterhorn rolls, which Michael moaned over, and still-warm rhubarb bars with homemade whipped cream. Just one of these creations would have been too much for me to accomplish in a day, yet Carol went all out and gave us a meal full of delicious homemade things that made me cry with thankfulness. And there was enough for the next day. Days of meals, my friends….can you believe it? I feel humbled and grateful for the way these women poured His love out over us. What lavish provision. Thank you Lord.

Wednesday, June 19 – Sunday, June 23, 2013 – a blur of days. Icing and elevating. Showering. Watching a TV show or two with Michael. I don’t care for murder and violence, so why am I interested in “The Closer,” a TV series available on Netflix starring Kyra Sedgwick who’s a southern woman in charge of a mostly-male crew of cops for the LAPD, figuring out high-profile murder cases? We watch “The Closer” and I now imitate how Kyra’s character Brenda Leigh Johnson thanks people….“Thank you, thank you so much!” I get up for an hour at a time, do some paperwork, pay some bills, throw in a load of laundry. But I listen to my body and it usually says an hour is enough. Then I am down again, icing and elevating. It feels like limbo, but it’s actually life. I need to remember this. This is life right now. Whatever I need today, I have. I am realizing also that changes with knee replacement recovery come at glacial speed. I might feel a bit of improvement in a week or ten days, not in a day or two. I’m relieved to know this is common. I get out my gratitude journal and start writing.

My Knee Replacement Journal – Part One

June 21, 2013 | My Jottings

Afternoon/evening, Sunday, June 9, 2013 — I am so happy and a little nervous to be on my way to Stillwater, MN for this Minimally Invasive Total Knee Arthoplasty. And feeling so grateful that Michael and our gals are being well cared for at home, and being able to ride down with Danny and Su and Jessica (Danny’s daughter and Su’s stepdaughter) is pleasant and fun. I’m also thankful that Su and I are doing this whole adventure together, both of us having our right knees replaced by the same surgeon on the same day in the same hospital! And there’s a Chipotle in Stillwater! A wonderful last meal before the top of my tibia is sawed off and a bunch of space-age Smith and Nephew parts are drilled and screwed and glued in. I’ll have to get up at 5:30 a.m. to scrub my knee for three minutes with the special antibacterial soap they provided.

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Early morning, Monday, June 10, 2013 — I’m so thankful that Su is coming with me for my early morning admitting process, and that she’ll have her surgery at 10:00 a.m., right after my 8:30 time. I feel nervous but fairly settled that I will take the medical team’s advice and have a spinal anesthetic rather than the general anesthetic I’ve deeply enjoyed for other surgeries (wisdom teeth, knee arthroscopy, etc.) The thought of leaning forward while my bare backside is exposed so a stranger who says he knows my spine well enough to stick a long needle in between my vertebrae is very daunting, and I’m trusting God to get me through. I’m also not thrilled about the necessary bladder catheter, but oh well.

Early afternoon, Monday, June 10, 2013 — That spinal anesthesia was a snap! I felt nothing! The sedative they gave me during the one-hour operation kept me asleep the whole time too, so I can’t remember any part of it, thank the Lord. The nurses are friendly and efficient, kind and attentive. I am not in much pain as my anesthesia begins to wear off, and I feel my feet and legs begin to tingle. The surgery went fine I’m told, and after my dinner of beef broth, grape juice, sherbet and water, I call my family back home and tell them I miss them but am being well cared for. I also learned that Su was not able to have her surgery right after me. Boo! She needs to build up her potassium level first for absolute safety, and is scheduled for tomorrow. It must be so hard to psych yourself up for something huge and then not have it happen. She and I are in rooms right next door to each other, and the nurses’ station is right outside our rooms. The pain starts to kick in and I ask for something, which they keep telling us is important. They want to stay on top of the pain and they don’t want us to be heroes and wait until we’re 8s or 9s on the 0-10 scale. So when I hit 6-7 I ring the bell and they inject something magical into my IV. I watch The Bachelorette on my wall-mounted television, and when it’s over I’m ready for sleep.

Early, early, early morning, Tuesday, June 11, 2013 — The nurses work in pairs, and the late night/early morning gals assigned to me slip in quietly, apologetic about waking me up to take my temperature, blood pressure, oxygen level and respirations. They give me my pain pill (Percocet 5 mg.) and a Vistaril, which is an antihistamine to counteract the common side affect of Percocet: intense itching. I go back to sleep easily until the nurses come in again at 4:00 a.m. to repeat the same routine. Something new for me — they take my temperature by sliding a small thingamabob over my forehead.

Morning, Tuesday, June 11, 2013 — I’m still on a liquid diet so for breakfast I get cranberry juice, beef broth, coffee and sherbet again. The juice tastes wonderful, the broth okay, and I let the rest go since I’m not feeling very hungry. I pray for Su, who’ll be having her knee replacement surgery today provided her potassium levels are good.

Noonish, Tuesday, June 11, 2013 — the catheter is removed, I sing the Hallelujah Chorus, and the Physical Therapist comes in with a walker to get me up and around. The first time I ease myself out of bed and step down on the floor I’m ready to see if that torturous knee pain is gone, and it is. Wow. There’s plenty of surgical pain because of all the tissue trauma my knee went through, but no more arthritic joint pain. I can use the bathroom in my room now, and am encouraged to take a few walks around the nursing station each day. Limping is discouraged, since it uses the wrong muscles. We’re told to walk slowly without a limp to build up the correct muscles.

Late afternoon, Tuesday, June 11, 2013 — Su’s surgery went well and she’s back in her room with Danny and Jessica to rejoice with her. I’m rejoicing too and will see her later so we can both marvel at how easy having the spinal anesthetic was. Dinner can now have some solids in it, so I’m given orange juice, cream with my tea, and something so unremarkable I truly can’t remember what it was. I didn’t eat it. I’m supposed to go home tomorrow but am wondering how that will happen now, since Su had her surgery a day later and will stay an extra day. Danny and Su will give me a ride home. I think about checking into a hotel for one night until we can all head home on Thursday. Family members offer to drive down to Stillwater to pick me up the next day, and I’m pondering what would be least stressful for me. Yes, I’m thinking about how to make things easier on me for a bit of a change.

Late night, Tuesday, June 11, 2013 — I’m slowly walking to and from the bathroom, and around the nurses’ station, and my knee is quite swollen, which is why they keep those lovely white compression stockings on your legs after a surgery like this — to help keep swelling down and to prevent blood clots. It’s hard to bend my knee more than an inch or two. By the time the two nurses I’ve named The Angels of Mercy come on to the late night shift, I’m hurting and can’t get comfortable. In spite of being given two Percocets every four hours I’m beginning to writhe in bed. I’m not saying much, but I feel like moaning or crying, and my eyes fill with tears. I can feel just how much my knee has been through. When my Angels of Mercy (Denise and Angela) ask in their merciful voices how the pain is, I can’t answer and the tears fall. They are instantly at my side, one to give comfort and tell me not to worry, the other to deftly inject some Dilaudid into my IV, and in minutes there’s relief. But in my mind I’m saying, “Dilaudid? Isn’t that super super strong? Wow. I can’t believe I need Dilaudid.” The writhing stops for a while, but by 4:00 a.m. I need another injection and discouragement sets in. How will I go home in a few hours or to a hotel room so that I can stay one more day to get a ride with Danny and Su? (Most of you reading this know my husband Michael has Parkinson’s and can no longer drive. He stayed at home while I went to the hospital 3 hours’ south of us. And since I was with dear friends, I saw no need to ask any of my children to come down with me to sit by my bedside and fetch me water. They could be so much more helpful at home where Michael and our Fosters needed them.)

Early morning, Wednesday, June 12, 2013 — Dr. Palmer comes in to see how I’m doing and in typical understated surgeon fashion says, “I hear you had a little pain last night.” Oh yes, yes I did Dr. Palmer. He decides I should stay one more night and I’m grateful for that decision in many ways. I want the pain to be under control before I go home, I’d like to ride home with Danny and Su, and I think the extra day of physical therapy would do me well. I thank the Lord for the fact that I’m not going to a hotel or asking a family member to drive down to get me. I wonder if my body kicked in and arranged for the extra stay somehow by letting more pain break through. Breakfast is white Farina, which I don’t eat, a piece of white toast with margarine, which I reluctantly eat, orange juice, tea and a soft boiled egg. I pass on the egg. Today I have one more injection of the Dilaudid and then won’t need it anymore.

Afternoon, Wednesday, June 12, 2013 — The Percocet every four hours takes the edge off the pain, but I’m surprised that it doesn’t take it away completely. I guess that was an unreasonable expectation. Physical Therapy is torture but I work hard with grimaces and gasps. To tighten my quadriceps muscle as much as possible and do leg lifts at the same time makes it feel like the entire knee capsule has hot nails poking into it. Range of motion is a big deal to Physical Therapists helping knee surgery patients, and I learn today how impossible it is to bend my leg back toward my butt. It’s shocking how little it moves, and how much it hurts when it does move one inch. Su is doing fantastic, and comes to visit me in my room, using her walker like a pro. We marvel about how we’re actually doing this together. The meds make us drowsy enough so that scintillating conversation isn’t an option, and soon Su returns to her room so we can both rest some more. I’m mostly using a cane now. Su’s adult step-daughter Jessica buys some Reese’s Miniatures and puts them on my pillow while I’m at therapy. She knows they’re my favorite candy, but I wonder if I should leave them be for awhile since sugar doesn’t register in my mind as I’m trying to think of all the things that aid a body in healing. 🙂 (I did bring them home and think how generous and thoughtful Jessica was for this, each time I treated myself to one or two from my nightstand drawer. Ha.)

Evening, Wednesday, June 12, 2013 — Su and I know that we’re going home tomorrow and we both keep saying, “Can you believe we actually did this? Can you believe that horrible pain is gone?” We both have more physical therapy and I’m wondering if my leg will ever bend back normally again. From what I’ve read, there is a lot of hard work ahead. I talk to Michael on the phone and realize that he can’t make himself  understood on the phone anymore at all. I talk to my daughters and am grateful that things at home have gone well. I know I’m feeling better because I ask about Edith and Mildred the Schnauzers and look forward to seeing them soon.

Morning, Thursday, June 13, 2013 — Rice Krispies and milk for breakfast – I eat two spoonsful. Tea, a slice of orange, and whole wheat toast with butter, after I asked if they had the latter two. I have one more physical therapy appointment and should be released late morning. Every single nurse who cared for me was loving and tender and wonderful and knowledgeable. I wish I could remember all their names and feel sad that the drugs make things a bit fuzzy. But I haven’t forgotten Cheryl, a fantastic nurse who felt like a friend right away. She wheels me to the pharmacy to buy my prescriptions, she picks out my cane to take home, she helps me get settled in the car, which takes some time since my right leg won’t bend much, and she is the last one from Lakeview Hospital that pours out their mercy and love on me. I am overwhelmed by it. I think a patient expects good care, but I’m not sure that many patients expect love and gentleness and nurturing encouragement.

Afternoon, Thursday, June 13, 2013 — The drive home is pretty good, considering two out of the four of us are bandaged, post surgical and need to ice and elevate our legs. We stop at a rest stop on I-35 to use the bathroom and I chuckle to myself as I walk slowly with my cane, knowing that I must look truly old now. As we do all the gymnastics to get back in the car, I press the front seat bar and the seat slides back and bumps Su’s knee and she cries out in pain. I feel horrible. Please Lord, don’t let it cause her pain for long. We play a game on the way home, naming bands we can think of, old retro candy bars, and something else I can’t remember. Ha. When I arrive home I am thrilled that I can go up the stairs from the garage to the kitchen, and the dogs greet me with sweet little yips and whines. They smell my bandaged knee. Michael is relieved I’m home, and it’s wonderful to be here and think, “Lord, you got me through! You have provided for us in every way!” I spend most of the evening with my leg elevated on pillows and with ice packs applied. They drilled into our heads that we are to ice 20 minutes out of every hour. That’s a lot of lying down. But I want a good result so I do it, day after day.

Early morning, Friday, June 14, 2013 — Home. My soft flannel nightgown is so much better than a backless hospital gown. And even though it’s June, it’s chilly here and we have the furnace on. I am trying to walk the fine line between being up and active and doing my satan-inspired exercises twice a day, and resting and icing for hours on end. I have a black Velcro contraption that nicely holds two flattish ice packs, and is wound around my knee and fastened with Velcro strips. I am on my back a lot, my wrapped right leg on pillows.

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I’ve been craving Golden Delicious apples and a little peanut butter to dip them in — you can see the bowl at my foot. 🙂

If you have made it this far in my little journal, you should win a prize. I’ll have to think about what kind of prize to award for your perseverance.

I’ll add more soon — it gets a whole lot more exciting, I promise you.

And the people said Thank you Jesus!

I’m thanking Him too….

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 103

June 19, 2013 | My Jottings

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“The highest aim of simplicity isn’t frugality, it’s loving my God and my neighbor.”

–Shaun Groves

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Wow and Wow

June 16, 2013 | My Jottings

I’m so thankful my knee replacement surgery is behind me! And I thank all of you who prayed for me. There were times (especially on Wednesday) when I was quietly writhing in more pain than I’d anticipated, even though I’d had plenty of pain meds, when suddenly a wave of joy swept over me and I knew I was being lifted up to the Lord.

I hope to share more when I can, but I’ve been up a while now and must go back to bed. Ice is your friend, rest is your friend, pain meds to help you rest are your friend, are the wise words I keep hearing from those who’ve walked the New Knee Road before me, and I’m listening.

Here’s a photo I took with my iPhone a few hours after surgery:

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The nurse was checking my incision and making sure the hemovac drain inserted at the right side of my knee was indeed draining, and she was getting ready to put on the ultra-suprema-comfy compression tights they make you wear to prevent blood clots.

And a day later when the swelling was enough to make me ask myself, “Hey, what in the world is that enormous purple thing that seems to connect your thigh and your calf, girl?” the hemovac was still intact. (I actually didn’t take a picture when it was purple — I was probably too preoccupied with writhing at the time.)

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My sweet granddaughter Mrs. Nisky has spent two nights with us now that I’m home, getting me water, putting my warm ice packs back in the freezer and bringing me fresh cold ice packs, drawing pictures, playing gin rummy with me, cuddling close as I read this wonderful book out loud, setting and clearing the table, and spreading lots of cheer around.

Here’s what my nightstand looks like — the flowers Sara picked from our garden add a lovely soft touch to the cane/pain meds/bandage look I’ve got going these days. I’m more grateful than I can say that dentures, purple hair dye, and nose hair clippers are not part of this picture.

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I’m still pretty swollen and the deep and richly colored bruising is starting to spread to the hinterlands of hip and ankle. Apparently it will be months before the swelling is down. But that horrible grinding pain that sent me to the surgeon to begin with is completely gone. It’s a wow and wow situation. Wow, there’s a lot of swelling and pressure. And wow, that cruel bone-on-bone torture is gone. There’s probably some whoa and some woe and some whew and some wah in there too, but I don’t want to confuse anyone. If I titled this blog post Wow and Whoa and Whew and Woe and Wah and Wow, it might be just too much.

I will share more when I can. Thank you for caring and praying….

Druthers 7

June 12, 2013 | My Jottings

If I had my druthers, Michael and I might consider retiring away from this beautiful place we live, to another beautiful place with milder winters, like Asheville, North Carolina…

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…and we might end our days in the woods of the Smoky Mountains, in a simple place by a river, like this….

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….you know what those chairs mean, don’t you? They mean that we would be expecting you to come and visit us! And if I had my druthers, we might even buy our non-hybridized whole grain from this place just down river from us…

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…and I might just feel domestic enough to bake round loaves of fragrant bread, and simmer some hearty soup over our open hearth, like this…

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…but even with a brand new knee I’m not certain I would climb this nearby…

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…and on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings, we might tote our Bibles and our hungry souls and sit expectantly in old wooden pews here…

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…and then we’d come home and sit a spell on the porch while looking out over this beauty and numbering our blessings into the thousands…

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…and after many years of mountain living passed, we would patiently wait together for the call that would take us to the heavenly city we’ve dreamed about for years…

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…but that’s only if I had my druthers…

Glimpses

June 7, 2013 | My Jottings

I will be leaving in two days for southern Minnesota where I’ll be having my Minimally Invasive Total Knee Arthroplasty. The hospital called yesterday to inform me that my surgery will be at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, and I should arrive in Admitting at 6:45. I’ll be busy here today and tomorrow getting everything in place for all the people I’m leaving behind, doing laundry, watching little Louisa, and packing.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted some random house photos. I love it when other bloggers do that. Granted, those other bloggers have home decor blogs and that is definitely not my forte (what is my forte I wonder?), but I thought I’d give it a go anyway.

Some of the many pillows in our living room:

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The people who lived in this house before us chose a lot of unique lighting fixtures. This is in our living room:

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This is a dresser in our bedroom, and the picture was from a cruise Michael and I took to Canada and New England. Also on that cruise, and giving a small group of us a fantastic private concert each night were Barry McGuire, Dallas Holm, Nancy Honeytree, Paul Clark, Annie Herring, and Don and Wendy Francisco. Some of you may remember these folks from the early days of contemporary Christian music.

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An office with red and cream toile wallpaper with aqua velvet curtains? Yes please.

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One of three pendant light fixtures that hang over the counter in the kitchen. I think they look like ice cubes:

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Our main floor bathroom which is shared by our Fosters:

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Another unique ceiling light fixture:

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I love this tray in the living room — it looks German or Swiss to me. This is the diffuser, and the smell is my favorite:

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These are photographs of my mother when she was four years old, in 1926. You can click to enlarge any of these pictures if you like.

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Our master bathroom:

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Cherry kitchen cabinets:

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I love my jaunty little cardinal on the mantel.

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Living room console table:

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Our only piece of “art,” done by Cheng-Khee Chee, and I love it because it’s of St. Paul’s Cathedral in St. Paul, MN, which is one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve seen.

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Can you see the name in the letters below? Some people can see it right away, but others need a few minutes to study it first.

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We’ve had many purple finches visit our suction cup feeder lately:

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Eleven year old Edith, our loving and long-suffering Schnauzer.

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I will post unpleasant photos of my knee when I return from my surgery.

I would be most grateful for your prayers!

One Year In Gilead

June 3, 2013 | My Jottings

We have been in our new house near the lake now for one year. We moved in on May 31, 2012, slept on an inflatable mattress among the boxes and bags of clothes, and froze that first night. When we got up the morning of June 1st I realized that I could have turned the furnace on, but apparently in all the jumble of moving that simple act didn’t occur to me.

The move was hard in many ways. It represented the changes that have come to our lives these past few years. But I love it here. The only thing that would make it better would be to tear down all the houses across the street from us so we could have an unobstructed view of Lake Superior, but I don’t think I’ll pursue that option.

Our bedroom is a haven. Our bathtub is unbelievable. Our kitchen is efficient. Our living room is bright and welcoming. Our basement is not basementy. Our laundry room is one foot from our bedroom. Our office has the toile wallpaper I love. And our dining room has a bit of a view of the largest (by surface area) freshwater lake in the world:

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You can click to enlarge these if you like.

Over the weekend, Sara planted some full-sun-exposure flowers in the boxes on our front deck railing, and the bees have already found them. Yesterday I sat on the deck for a long while, knitting a winter scarf (ha!), watching the bees dance from bloom to bloom, and listening to the summer sound of lawn mowers in our neighborhood. If you look closely you might be able to see a little Schnauzer.

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If we lived in England, we would properly name our house like they name their houses there. I love that. In America we don’t christen our homes and land like they do in the UK, but if we did, I would put up a sign so people could see that we have lived for one year at Gilead. Do you know the old hymn? Click here if you’d like to hear.

There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul

Sometimes I feel discouraged
And think my work’s in vain
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my soul again

Don’t ever feel discouraged
For Jesus is your friend
And if you lack of knowledge
He’ll ne’er refuse to lend

If you cannot preach like Peter
If you cannot pray like Paul
You can tell the love of Jesus
And say, “He died for all.”

My English friend Ember helped me pick the name Gilead, and when I again ponder the lyrics of this hymn, I can’t think of a better choice. It’s appropriate for so many reasons. 🙂

How thankful I am that we have a home! I realize there are beloved servants of Christ all over the world who call shacks, prison cells, and sidewalks their home. I can’t even find words to speak about that. I don’t understand. But I can give thanks for what God has given me, and I do that this morning with all my heart.

And I thank you Lord, that you have given your Son for all of us who need a balm in Gilead….

Thank you so much for stopping by this little corner of the web, friends. I hope your week is blessed!

Mutual Admiration Society

June 1, 2013 | My Jottings

Becoming a grandmother is wonderful.
One moment you’re just a mother.
The next you are all-wise and prehistoric.

~Pam Brown

*          *          *          *          *          *

I’ve been watching my granddaughter Louisa a day or two a week lately, and yesterday we had so much fun together. She’s ten months old now and is the happiest baby I’ve ever known.

Sometimes I wonder why the Lord takes a good long time in answering my fervent prayers, but with Louiser I see an answer to prayer every day. Last summer a wonderful group of women joined me for Bible study again. We always pray for each other, and one of my prayer requests was that God would give Chris and Sharon (who was still pregnant then) a good natured baby. He not only answered that one, He did above and beyond what we could have imagined.

Every adjective you’d hope would apply to your child or grandchild, Louiser is. Sweet. Healthy. Content. Cuddly. Giggly. Tender. And while I didn’t pray for cuteness, she’s pretty cute if I do say so myself.

Recently I asked for a sling of some sort so I can carry Louisa with me as I’m doing things in the house, and these photos are of her in the sling, taken by Sharon in her studio. I think I look a little wild eyed. 🙂

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Now can I tell you a secret my friends? Shhhhhh, don’t tell Louiser’s mom, dad or siblings, okay?

(I’m her favorite person.)

Pleeease don’t let that get around because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. This little girl loves everyone she lays eyes on and has smiles and waves and hugs for all.

But look at this picture below and tell me you can’t see it.

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She loves her grandma. And her grandma loves her. Do you see the two-person Mutual Admiration Society that has begun? I’m the President and Louisa is the Vice-President.

I hope seeing that bundle of sweetness makes you smile as much as it does me.

Have a blessed weekend!

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