How I hang my scarves
November 19, 2014 | My Jottings
I like to wear scarves now and then and have received many as beautiful gifts. I’ve tried several ways to store them over the years, from tying them on hangers like this, and folding them neatly in drawers. I knew I didn’t want something like this scarf hanger, because the scarves would lay on top of each other and wouldn’t be as easily accessible.
I searched around for a while online to find just what I wanted, and these little individual hangers are what I settled on:
They’re perfect. I like that they’re all separate and can be slid across a closet pole just like other garments. This was just a part of our closet where shirts would have been hung, and I decided it would be my scarf rack.
These aren’t the best photos — the light in the closet is high and rather dim for photography. There is absolutely no orange on any scarf, in spite of what you see. It’s really a delightful coral color. (You can click to enlarge them.)
When I glance at my scarves I see Diane, Kay, Sharon, Carolyn, Sara, and Scotland…
And here’s a really neat video about how to tie a scarf 25 ways in 4.5 minutes. It’s fun to watch. The two ties I do most often are called The European Loop and The Magic Trick.
Do you like to wear scarves? How do you store yours?
November 14, 2014 | My Jottings
I was driving recently and an old Amy Grant song came on. It was one I’ve always loved by her, and the melancholy of it swept over me and tears overflowed these dry eyes of mine and streamed down my face as I sang along. I thought of Michael as I sang and cried, and realized that lately I’ve been having difficulty remembering how he used to be, when he was vibrant and healthy.
I have flashes of memories but they seem more like snapshots in my mind, rather than moving memories. Michael climbing a ladder to install siding three stories up, whistling his joy and so surefooted. Michael coming in the back door after a long, dirty day at work, putting his woolen plaid shirt on the back of a kitchen chair and giving me a kiss while I stirred at the stove. Michael’s deep voice singing praises to the Lord next to me on Sunday mornings. His eyes, huge and kind, fixed on me when we sat across a table together at a restaurant. Walking through the woods with him and the way he knew the names of so many plants and trees. Hiking to Carlton Peak in the fall and how he bent down to pick up a globular pod of some sort at the side of the trail, cut it open effortlessly with his Swiss army knife, and showed me the labyrinth of chambers inside, each filled with a tiny worm. Michael raving about my cooking, no matter how rave-worthy it was. The way he loved all animals, especially birds and dogs. The way it felt when I’d come into the kitchen at night after all the girls had gone to bed and see him sitting at the table with his Bible open. Michael driving. Michael laughing. Michael reassuring me. Michael kissing my cheek while we waited in the checkout line at the grocery store. Michael reading the Bible out loud during our morning devotions. Michael being able to fix anything broken in the house. Michael and I having a conversation together, me understanding him and he understanding me. Michael, full of life and spirit.
I want to write about these things because I don’t want to forget. It’s alarming to me how foggy some of my memories have become. Maybe I will have memory issues someday, who knows? I want to take these memories I have and turn them over in my mind like a jeweler inspects a fine gem, to see the perfections and the flaws beneath the facets, and let the wonder and brilliance of them blind me for a little while.
So I will share this song with you all today, because in a way that’s what listening to it does for me. It stops me right where I am and helps me reflect on the thirty three years I’ve known and loved (and fought with and despaired with and prayed with and exulted with) this man. If you have the time, I found a video with the lyrics, so if you’re not familiar with the song you can see why it touches me so deeply.
I feel like Parkinson’s and Lewy Body Dementia open the door to a very long goodbye, but I don’t want to say goodbye. Michael is still very much alive because his heart and lungs and vital systems are in good shape. But we have said goodbye to so many things, and are saying farewell to things even now.
Michael and I have lived apart for 134 days now. I have a little peace when I spend my two days a week with him and see the care and love and food and activities he is experiencing. But when I come home and I get my work done here, and the house is quiet and I wander around missing him, peace is elusive. I wonder how one weighs and sorts out the benefits of outstanding physical care and safety against the aching loneliness and emotional yearnings both of us have from this whole journey. I still can’t figure it out.
Meibomian Glands and Other Matters
November 11, 2014 | My Jottings
Good Tuesday morning everyone…I hope you are safe and warm and snug wherever you are. Winter walloped us yesterday and the most slippery eight inches of snow I’ve ever driven in fell all the livelong day. Tiny flakes are falling as I sit in my toile wallpapered office and type this, and the temperature on our deck is twelve degrees.
Anyone who has been in our home knows that I love toile (pronounced TWALL) and plaid. I have both everywhere in my house. They don’t exactly make the best combination in the decorating world I guess, one being French and the other Scottish. But I don’t have any professional decorators scheduled to visit, so I just keep toile-ing and plaid-ing away to my heart’s content. Actually, my heart is struggling with that contentment issue, but I’ll get to that in another post.
Here is the latest addition of toile in our home:
It’s a delightful little footstool I decided to put in front of the Glen plaid chair in our bedroom. The larger plaid chair has its own ottoman so I thought a dainty little something to rest one’s feet while sitting in the smaller chair was the next logical choice. I always think toile (or plaid) is the next logical choice.
The wreath behind the chairs was a gift from my friend Su, and it’s made from the pages of a hymnal. I love it. It’s a little too high, because a tall dresser used to sit against that wall and the wreath was right above it. I changed things around without moving the wreath. I might just leave it where it is because as I said, no professional decorators will be visiting my house in the near future (at least none to my knowledge).
You can click these photos to enlarge them if you like.
This little spot in the corner of our bedroom is where I sit and write in my gratitude journal, where I often do my CBS Bible study, and it’s where I do a lot of praying and crying.
And speaking of crying, I just learned that I have some major issues going on with my eyes. If you’re the type who doesn’t like to read endless details about middle-aged women’s maladies, here’s your warning to click away now. I’ve shared in graphic detail before about my wart-ectomy, my knee replacement surgery (with x-rays!), and now I guess it’s time to share about these faulty eyes of mine.
For about five years I’ve had exceedingly dry eyes, and the condition has only gotten worse. I’m never one to try medicines very willingly, and I know about Restasis for dry eyes but haven’t tried it. Instead I use Systane, my favorite eyedrops (I’ve tried many), and I’m very adept at quickly leaning my head back and getting one drop expertly into each eye. Days are okay, but at night when I sleep my eyes are absolutely terrible. They wake me up they’re so dry. My upper lids feel plastered to my eyeballs and I can hardly open my eyes, so about four to five times a night I wake up from the discomfort, reach to my nightstand to grab my Systane, lubricate my eyes and then go back to sleep.
Well, it has been five years since I’ve gotten new glasses. Remember them? I decided recently to have my eyes checked and pick out some new, larger, clunkier, decidedly ugly frames. I’m not even kidding. After the exam, my eye doctor wrote out the new lens prescription and then pulled his little rolling stool up close to me to have a compassionate doctor-patient chat about his findings. His findings are that I have blepharitis, Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (known as MGD), collarettes, and the beginnings of cataracts. (Are you sure you don’t want to click away now while you have the chance? No?)
Okay, here’s a picture of the Meibomian Glands each of us have on our eyelids. You can just barely see them but the arrows help. They produce the oil and mucus that help make up healthy tears (I learned there is such a thing as unhealthy, damaging tears too). Some people’s Meibomian Glands get clogged, some just malfunction and don’t keep the eyes moist for other reasons. I have an appointment now with an ophthalmologist for further assessment and perhaps he’ll tell me what the deal is with my Meibomian Glands. I didn’t even know I had Meibomian Glands until a few days ago and now I’m all Meibomian Glands this, Meibomian Glands that…
Anyway, what can happen is that icky Meibomian matter can collect cylindrically around the base of the eyelashes, and I guess my eye doctor saw some of this, and these delightful blobs are called collarettes. Here’s a photo of some. Gah. There are worse pictures but I didn’t want to ruin your day, so I linked to a mild one. Now, I can’t see my collarettes at all no matter how hard I try, so maybe (please Lord) mine are tiny. My doctor noticed them when he was peering into my eyes with a blinding light one-half inch from my face.
Here’s what should be known about this condition:
And I have to apply hot compresses to my lashes twice a day and gently scrub my lash-line with baby shampoo on a sanitized washcloth with warm water once a day, every day for the rest of my life.
The hot compresses aren’t bad at all. It’s the gentle scrubbing with the supposedly non-toxic (ha) baby shampoo that isn’t working out well. I’m doing it, but it’s leaving my eyelids feeling like the Sahara desert. And I’m a little nervous that my eyelashes aren’t going to withstand even the gentlest treatments, day after day, year after year. I don’t feel like I’m particularly vain (being fifty-seven and hefty helps with this), but I have to be honest: the thought of losing some or a lot of my eyelashes makes me almost want to cry. I have never once aspired to the reptilian look.
And the reason all this is so important? It’s not just for Collarette Clearing. It’s because evidently collarettes can be tiny, wonderfully hospitable breeding grounds for staphylococcus, which likes to invade the closed eyes during sleep each night.
Many things can cause dry eyes. Menopause, immune system issues, certain eye surgeries. I hope to learn more at the upcoming appointment with the ophthalmologist. I’ve been reading online and decided I’d seen my quota there. Maybe I’ll end up trying Restasis after all, and all these conditions will go away. I can hope.
Back to the weather.
Here’s what happened yesterday as I was inching down a steep, snow-covered street not far from our house.
There were over 100 accidents in our city yesterday and I was in one of them. There was a pileup of crashed cars at the bottom of the street we were on, and I was going about three miles an hour, trying to ease down the incline as slowly as possible in order to get home. About half way down the street my car just took off and my brakes were useless. The folks standing around their already crashed cars at the bottom of the hill saw me sledding toward them and high-stepped and scampered out of the way, and BOOM, I hit the back of a Honda CR-V, which had plowed into a Toyota 4-Runner minutes before. Thank the Lord, no one was hurt! And no one was cranky, and the police were already there and saw it happen and cheerfully gave us all our accident reports to submit to our insurance companies. I was the only car that didn’t need to be towed.
I drove the half mile home going about one mile per hour and with the hood bent in half, and I didn’t care. There were still two steep streets to drive down before getting to our street, and I wanted to make it home without another collision. My grandson and one of our Fosters were in the car with me and when we finally parked the car in the garage and walked into the house we raised our hands and cheered and thanked God out loud over and over. Safe at home.
Then I turned on the soundtrack to Little Women, lit the fire in the dining room fireplace, hung up my coat and put my slippers on, poured a cup of tea, and gave thanks again.
I have more to share, but the tow truck will be here soon, and then the rental car company after that, to pick me up and take me to their office so I can rent a car while mine is being fixed.
I hope your week is blessed,
Dad and Daughter
November 6, 2014 | My Jottings
Sara took this picture when she visited Michael last Saturday, and I thought I would share. She told me that her visits with him now are much quieter, since Michael’s ability to make himself understood continues to fade. So she decided to hug him many times during the visit. Not just a hello hug and a goodbye hug, but lots of hugs all throughout the hours of her visit.
When I went up to spend the day with him on Sunday, Michael and I were sitting together in front of one of the aviaries where we love to watch the colorful birds. After a while I asked, “How was your visit with Sara yesterday?” And he nodded and smiled, indicating how much he enjoyed seeing her. Then Michael said, with great effort and the smallest amount of volume, and the sweetest look on his face, “She hugged me.”
October 30, 2014 | My Jottings
Since waking up to twenty-eight degrees this morning reminds me that winter is coming soon to northeastern Minnesota, we might as well dream for a while about spending winter in another beautiful place.
If I had my druthers, perhaps we would spend winter in a little
Norwegian village like this…..
…and when the hustle and bustle of this maddeningly busy place started feeling like an emotional drain, then we could go stay for a while in our little cabin up the fjord…
…and of course Michael would be well again and he and I would enjoy
the hearty Norwegian fare…
…he would eat this pickled herring…
…and I would politely decline the fish, concentrate on not rudely wrinkling my nose, and would happily dine on this…
…and then Michael and I would notice that it was getting dark at 3:00 p.m. because we were so far north, and we would yawn and stretch and go to bed early, in these….
…and then after settling down in Norway, Michael would do what he loves to do, and start putting out piles of corn for these…
…and I would be so well-rested and content I would knit all the time in our little fjord cabin, would become an expert knitter within a month, and then
I would make myself one of these and wear it every day…
…and when the days lengthened and the snow melted, Michael and I would hike down to the valley and do this….
…but no matter how much Michael tried to convince me, I would never, ever do this….
…and then we would want to share the beauty and tranquility with our family, so we would send them all plane tickets to come and stay for a month in breathtaking Norway, and our only demand would be that they would have to dress like this…
…and even though they might resist wearing these clothes at first, the pickled herring and steep valley fjords and the soft sounds of trolls’ footsteps in the night and the pure water and the sheer grandeur of such a beautiful place would help them adjust, and in no time at all they would be doing this….
…but that’s only if I had my druthers…
Wednesday’s Word-Edition 116
October 29, 2014 | My Jottings
Below is a photo taken by the Hubble Telescope, of approximately 10,000 galaxies. (Not planets, but entire, vast galaxies.) Scientists estimate that there are at least 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe. (Photo credit NASA.)
“All that I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator
for all I have not seen.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
* * * * * *
October 27, 2014 | My Jottings
I’ve been taking my gratitude journal very seriously these past months. I may not write in it every single day, but it’s always out, always at hand so I can sit down to record in black and white the gifts God bestows on me. I number the things I’m saying thank you to God for too. I’m in the four thousands now, and I know that this spiritual practice is something I will do until I die, or until for some reason, I’m no longer able.
A dear friend asked me recently if I ever gave thanks for something twice and I said yes! I’m sure there are duplicates in amongst the four thousand gifts, because a chickadee at my window feeder doesn’t thrill me once, it thrills me again and again. And if my husband has a calm day in September and I thank God for that, I’m certainly going to thank Him again in October for another good day.
Being thankful for one thing
can lead to gratitude about other things.
A simple example is the way color affects me. I might be sitting in my bedroom chair with my feet up on the ottoman, wrapped in the prayer shawl Sharon dyed and knitted for me, and I might have my gratitude journal open on my lap. I might be sitting there quietly, pondering the ways God has blessed me in that moment, and my eyes might fall on one of my favorite pillows, a decorative, deep cardinal red pillow I sometimes put on my bed when I actually make it. That deep red arrests my eyes and I stare, so happy to see such a color. I might write down in my journal, 3941) thank you for the deep, gorgeous red on that pillow.
And then another thank you comes from that: 3942) You have given me sight today, Lord. Thank you.
And then the very basic senses might come to mind and from the gift of sight I think of the gift of the sense of smell, which I lost years ago and was told by an ENT physician would most certainly never come back, and I might write 3943) thank you that I can smell Lord! Thank you for restoring that to me!
And then the next one comes easily and I might write 3944) the smell of Miriam’s head, Lord! Oh you’ve outdone yourself there! Thank you. Deep, tearful thank you.
And after I ponder the smell of Miriam’s head for a while and think about what a lavish gift she is, I might think about how much her siblings love her already, how she has smiled little smiles for her family, how God has a plan for her precious life already, and so on.
Can you see what I mean by thanks begetting thanks? I sit and I write them down, one after the other, and I believe that each one is from God’s hand, given to me that day, because He loves me and is watching over me. (see James 1:17).
These Chinese lanterns are part of a fall arrangement Sara did in a dark blue Le Creuset pitcher that sits on our dining room table. I look at them every day and give thanks for their bright, unique beauty, and that God lets me see them.
Now, I believe the opposite is true as well. Ingratitude breeds more ingratitude. I have lived this also. And it’s not like I’ve got this thanksgiving thing all nailed down. Life still stuns me with its one-after-the-other hardships and tragedies. There are many times when yet another truly desperate thing seems to be added to my plate and my first inward response is a doubting, cynical, “Really? Seriously? This too? A very ill and increasingly demented husband isn’t enough? X, Y and Z isn’t enough sorrow?” I am sorry to say I have such snarky attitudes but I do. Maybe it’s for that very thing that I am so committed to the spiritual discipline of recording things for which to be grateful. Because I’m often truly blind to God and His ways, and need new lenses put on the eyes of my heart every single day.
And here is a sobering truth and an effective motivation for directing your heart and mind to be grateful every day:
“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
The twenty-first verse in the first chapter of Romans tells me what can happen to a person who knows the Lord, but refuses to give Him thanks:
They would become futile in their thinking, and their foolish heart would be darkened.
Shall I add futile thinking and a darkened heart to my life right now? No. I will not do that.
More than the strong warning in Romans 1:21, though, is a desire I have to bring some happiness or joy to the Lord. I have certainly caused Him some disappointment with the way I’ve lived the life He’s given me. I want to bring a smile to His beautiful face. What in the world can we give the One who made and owns everything? We can’t give him a bouquet of flowers or a new puppy or a treasure of gold and jewels, because those are already His.
But we can give Him something that would bring Him pleasure that not many people are willing to do, and that is our hearts of gratitude, pouring out thanks to Him for all He does for us and gives to us each day.
Is it sometimes a difficult thing to record little blessings when huge catastrophes are all around us? Without a doubt. But we can still do it. And it makes a huge difference in our lives. And I believe it matters to God and blesses Him.
I’m also thankful for a little spot on the web to share my thoughts, struggles, dreams and joys, thankful that a few readers take time in their day to stop in and read, thankful for so many of you who have extended the beautiful hand of friendship to me and have prayed for my family.
May God bless your day with a hundred things to record in your gratitude journal,
More of Miriam
October 23, 2014 | My Jottings
My oldest daughter Sharon is a professional photographer and that can be quite handy when there’s a new baby in the family. She photographed Jeremy and Carolyn’s new little one yesterday and I had to share some of the pictures with you.
Little Miri is a whole eight days old now.
We are all pretty excited about Miriam Loretta!
In Everything Give Thanks
October 21, 2014 | My Jottings
It’s a grey fall morning, the trees have given up over half their leaves, and the blustery winds are trying to help the birches and maples in our neighborhood let go of the rest. It’s a yearning time of year for me, is it for you? I love the fall and it invigorates and thrills me, but it also does something deep inside me that I can’t explain. The best I can come up with is that it feels like a deep, profound, yearning, beautiful ache.
It’s also a Gabriel’s Oboe kind of morning. Are you familiar with that song? You must listen if you haven’t, and even if you do know it, just give a little click right here, and this deep, profound, yearning, beautiful, aching song will play in the background in a different window, while you read on.
I was up when it was still “peach black” outside, as Vivienne used to say, and preheated the oven so I could bake some cinnamon orange rolls for our in-group coffee in Community Bible Study today. When I open my bedroom door and head down the hall toward the kitchen, Edith and Millie literally tap-dance all over the hardwood floors while they wait for me to feed them each morning before they go out. I wish I had a video to show you. Then they each get their electric fence collars snapped on, so they don’t leave our small yard when they go out to sniff where the deer have been during the night. And they each have to have their anti-bark collars buckled on, so they don’t do any Schnauzer shrieking and bother the neighbors. And it bothers me too, so now the Collar Ritual is automatic each time they need to go out. Such high-maintenance pooches, they are.
After having a great discussion about 1 Corinthians 5 in our CBS core group, I headed home to many things on my plate today. First, a cup of tea and a quick blog post before I head to appointments and tend to tasks with deadlines. I can hear the washing machine tumbling its big load of whites I just threw in (and turned the dial to “sanitize”) and I’m so thankful for washers and dryers. If I had to kneel over a tub and scrub our dirty clothes on a washboard like the men and women of old? Oh my, what a filthy bunch we’d be around here.
Michael has been on his new medication (Exelon) for a few weeks now, and if you prayed that it would help him, I thank you. It has helped him. The nursing staff folks tell me it hasn’t erased his evening confusion, pacing and wandering completely, but that it seems to have helped lower the agitation he was experiencing (I call it torment because that’s really what it was) each night. I have been going up to spend Wednesdays and Sundays with him and I can’t get there fast enough in the mornings. I miss him so much. Our home feels empty without him. I can also tell that his cognition seems a little better during the day, but there are some visits and phone calls where he’s just in a different world. Last week he told me he had been framing in a deck at the veterans home, which of course wasn’t true. He also told me about a pleasant visit he had with some old friends who came to see him, except I learned that they really hadn’t been there.
The best part of these last few weeks of Exelon has been Michael’s smiles. He has a smile like no other person I’ve ever known. Just to see him grin makes me giggle and experience a little blast of joy. Here’s a picture I took of him last week in his Schnauzer “Fear the Beard” tee-shirt.
He’s looking forward to meeting the newest member of our family, little Miriam, who will be one week old tomorrow. Carolyn brought her over for a visit yesterday and everything about baby Miri delighted me. Her little, quick and shallow infant breaths were amazing! Her tiny grimace that turned into a half-smile while she dreamed? Stunning! The way she smelled and the softness of her skin? Mind-blowing! I think the older I get the more I’m undone by things like babies and trees and water and sleep and words on a page and the smile of my husband. Such riches I can hardly contain.
I’m reading a book right now that I want to savor slowly so it doesn’t end. I can already tell that when I turn the last page and close the back cover I’ll be bereft, and nothing in the pile on my nightstand will look even remotely interesting. I’ve shared before on this blog what my five favorite books or series are, and Jan Karon’s Mitford books are on that list. Well, she has finally released a new Mitford book called Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good and it’s making me laugh and sob over and over again. Jan Karon is a genius. She somehow tucks the most life-changing truths and mysteries into such simple-seeming words (some say fluff), and they almost knock me over with their grace and power. I’m about two thirds done with this long book and it’s such a consolation. Have you read the Mitford series? If you haven’t, go get them! Read them in order, and be patient. Keep going. They will take you by surprise and perhaps accomplish something unforgettable in your life. Not that you need unforgettable things to be accomplished in your life…but I know I do.
Well, I will have to share about how I’ve been spending some of my sleepless hours in another post. It’s actually kind of exciting to me. I don’t like waking up at 1:54 a.m. and not being able to get back to sleep until 4:00, but I’m trying to make the most of it and I’d like to share about that sometime.
We have had our share of difficult things these past couple of weeks, aside from the things I always seem to write about. There’s one thing that nevertheless keeps flowing through my mind, and it’s this:
“…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 — ESV
Today I’m giving thanks for my perfect new granddaughter, for my beloved daughters, for our quirky little dogs, for a treasure trove of a book to read and the sight that makes reading possible, for hot water and clean clothes, for the desire to praise Him in the dark of night, for music that goes to deep places nothing else can reach, for falling leaves that assure us there’s beauty in death, for friends who love and pray and love and pray, and for my husband’s smile.
Are you giving thanks today? It would be a blessing to know what things are on your gratitude list…
It’s a Beautiful Life
October 15, 2014 | My Jottings
Our family is so happy to announce
the safe and long-anticipated arrival of…
born October 15, 2014 at 4:59 a.m.
She weighed 7 pounds, 11 ounces and is 21.5 inches long.
Daddy Jeremy, Mama Carolyn, Clara, Elijah, Vivienne and Audrey love her so much already, and are all doing well.
I never get used to the wonder of a beautiful new life…I’m giving thanks to the Lord today!