A Wintry Morning’s Musings
November 19, 2022 | My Jottings
Oh, how I love a day at home, with no packages to mail, groceries to lug, meetings to attend. It’s also a luxury to let myself wake up when my body wants to wake up, slowly, in the dark and with no hurried thoughts set toward organizing a to-do list. When I have such a day, I usually do wake before 5:00 a.m., but after going potty and clicking the heat up a bit, I come back to bed, tug the heavy covers up over my neck and ears, and listen to something to help me calibrate my day. Often it’s Father Mike Schmitz reading The Bible in a Year to me on the Hallow app. Or today’s scripture reading from my beloved Pray As You Go app.
When I’m ready to get out of bed 20 minutes later, it’s still pitch black outside. I turn on a beautiful little stained glass lamp Lloyd gave me for our third anniversary in October. It puts out just enough light, not so much to illuminate the whole bedroom. I often light a beeswax candle on top of my tall mahogany dresser, and I turn on my little electric fireplace by the bedside. I pull the curtains open and look out on the neighborhood. The wind blew the snow off the roof last night while I slept, and deposited it on my newly shoveled driveway. I head to the kitchen to get some water and to microwave my Medibeads eye compress (44 seconds will do it), then I return to my room and put the compress on my eyes until it cools. I’ve had Meibomian Gland Dysfunction for years and oh, this compress is so wonderful for those with dry eyes. It really works.
I reach for the remote and the head of the bed slowly raises, and if Lloyd hasn’t been in town from his cabin in the woods south of me, all my Treasured Things are waiting for me on his side of the king bed. My Bible. My CBS lesson (currently on the book of Joshua), two devotionals I love equally, my gratitude journal and a regular journal I often write prayers and thoughts and heart cries in. I look out the window from bed and see swirling light snow in the street light across and down one house. I look at the triad of soft lights in my room, almost equidistant from each other, and I ask the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to please come and help me this day. My prayers are so simple, really. But almost every morning without fail I end up with several wadded up tissues on the bed, because the tears fall as soon as I read His Word, or write the names of my loved ones in my journal. Everything seems to condense as one ages. The same prayers and struggles and joys, but more intense, more urgent.
Several days ago my dear friend Denel flew from San Diego to Duluth to spend a long weekend with me. We hadn’t seen each other since March of 2020. She and I sat and reminisced of course, because when a friendship is 58 years old, how could we not? We drove down to see Lloyd’s place and the three of us had the legendary burgers at The Bear’s Den. She came with me to see my granddaughter Margaret perform as Ariel in her high school’s production of The Little Mermaid. Denel and I drove out to Chris and Sharon’s to visit a while, and we solved all the political problems of this divided country, just the three of us. We also took a drive up the north shore and stopped at Great Lakes Candy Kitchen in Knife River, where we browsed and picked out delectable goodies before going to sit close to Lake Superior and watch the waves break on the rocks. One night Denel and I shared a meal at Taste of Saigon, our local Vietnamese restaurant, and talked about our childhoods and families as we always do. When I shared a memory of her dad, my eyes filled and I felt so grateful to have known him.
Denel has reminded me that even though we’ve been through so much in our lives (both lost husbands, both had difficult brothers, both experienced heartache in other ways) and have gone on to happy times and being grandmothers and delighting in other friends, we are each others’ last link to our childhoods. We knew each others’ families, triumphs and tragedies so well. I went on vacation with the Lupianis, Denel went with the Sooters. To say we have thousands of memories would not be overstating it, but to say we can access them all, well that is another story. Denel and I sat in my living room one night and quietly acknowledged to each other that at our ages, this could be the last time we’ll see each other on this earth. Probably not, but it’s possible. And I wanted to distill everything we did and said, and hang on to it so tightly.
Soon I will pack a small bag and drive to one of my favorite places, Pacem in Terris, in St. Francis, MN. It’s about a two hour drive from my home, and there are 19 hermitages placed in the woods of this retreat center. I’ll be staying in one of the three newly built hermitages, all named for saints. Mine will be St. Maximilian Kolbe, and I had to look him up because I wasn’t familiar with him. Here’s a photo, and the path that leads to it:
I never quite know what a few days in a one-room cabin in the woods will be like. The first time I went was restful and much needed, as Michael was becoming more ill with Parkinson’s. The second time I went was all about my pride, and what the humility of Christ looked like. One time I went to Pacem and the word “offering” kept coming to my mind and was in all the scriptures I turned to. Sometimes I go very heavily burdened and just want the Lord to tell me what to do next.
The first time I went to Pacem the woman who met with me before I walked back to my hermitage said, “Even though you made the plans to come here yourself, please remember it is Jesus Himself who has invited you, and He is waiting for you in your hermitage.” I’ve been pondering that these past few days. I believe with all my heart that He will be waiting for me when I open the door, and I pray I will receive His words, correction, cleansing and hope. I know that He lives within all believers and is always with us, but there is something quite set apart about going to a hermitage in the woods to be solely and wholly with Him. He knows how deaf I can be, I ask Him now to open my ears. He has experience with healing the deaf and the blind and the lame. And the dead. So no matter what hinders me, He is able.
Can you imagine opening your mailbox and seeing an inviation from Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, sitting there with your name glowing on the envelope? I wonder what He would invite us to? I know He invites me to prayer all the time, and too often I don’t show up. He invites me to deep trust, but I’m more familiar with fretting. He invites me to keep company with Him, and I turn to lesser things. What would I do without His patience and mercy? I would have died decades ago, but that is another story for another time.
I was going through old pictures two weeks ago and found a blurry one of my sixteen-year old self. This was taken in Squaw Valley, California, at Girl’s State. It was a program for high school juniors from all over the state to spend a week learning about government by participating in actual campaigns and elections. We never got snow where I grew up in Covina, CA, so I guess I wanted to stand in a leftover patch at the ski resort that hosted us.
That girl in the picture was in pain. Her parents had split up two years before after 31 years of marriage, her brothers hated each other, she had a boyfriend who was not a standup guy, and her priorities were all wrong, and she knew it.
I feel love and kindness for that tall, uncertain girl. I’m so thankful the Lord did too, and kept her alive and kept pouring out His mercy and faithfulness on her life. He brought her out into a more spacious place and saw her through dry deserts and mucky swamps of sin of her own making. I’m so grateful He saw fit to give her three daughters who her heart beats for today. His goodness was so deep and wide He let her hold and kiss eleven grandbabies, with one still yet being formed in her mama. The ocean of His mercy in which He bathed her has now allowed her to receive invitations to come and spend time alone with Him, because He’s not finished with her yet.
Have you ever received an invitation from God? What did He invite you to?
Thank you for stopping by, friends. May you have peace and hope this Thanksgiving.
This, that and the other…
October 22, 2022 | My Jottings
It has been many weeks since I’ve walked in the woods, or at the cemetery or on the lakewalk. Walking from my bedroom to the kitchen during the summer was an accomplishment. Now that my fractured tibia has mostly healed, I’ve been thinking about walking in the woods near Lester Park, on the eastern boundary of our city.
When Michael and I were raising our family we lived a couple of blocks from the Lester River, which empties into Lake Superior. We used to walk over to the woods that surround the river and hike the loop and return home, which was about a two mile easy walk. Some of the pines are considered old-growth, and it’s calming and awe-inspiring to walk the needle-cushioned paths under their canopy many feet above.
Lloyd came and picked me up and we set off on one of the trails around 8:30 a.m. I took my trekking poles and they ended up helping so much, especially when the path went downhill. My bone might have healed, but the soft tissue injuries from my fall in July are still apparent, and are said to take a year to heal. The muscles and ligaments all around the knees are still sore.
We had thought we would walk twenty minutes into the woods, then turn around and walk back to the car. We ended up walking for about an hour and ten minutes. I had to go slower than normal, but oh, how lovely it felt to be out in the dry, brisk fall morning air, surrounded by falling leaves and the smell of pine.
Here’s the Lester River as soon as we got onto the trail:
The white pines grow so straight and true, and their trunks are as wide as a large refrigerator:
Here’s Lloyd standing next to a majestic white pine:
I love this poem by Joyce Kilmer:
But only God can make a tree.
I always hope to see lots of wildlife when I’m in or near the woods, but yesterday all we saw were chickadees fluttering around and calling right above our heads. The sound of the river swirling in its various pools and rapids as we walked further away from the Lake made me breathe deeply and question why I don’t get outside more often. That is the quandary of a nature-loving homebody. I love to be at home, I love to be outside. Too often the former wins out.
Today I drove down to Lloyd’s cabin and will spend one night. He is taking a nap in the loft as I type this, and I’ve got my feet up in our loveseat/recliner, a Yeti full of cold water near me on the side table, and a wonderful window view of the forest that surrounds his home. Most of the leaves have fallen but the few that remain are rustling in the breeze in a way that makes me think they’re giving one last applause before they lose their grip and become part of the earth. Will I be able to do that? When my life is almost bare and the last of me is getting ready to let go, will I give my applause and praise to my Creator up until the very end? I pray He gives me the grace to do so.
My long-time friend Linda and I had lunch together recently and it’s a blessing to be with her. We have watched each other’s children grow up and now we are older women coping with the challenges that aging brings. She’s one of those brilliant creatives who can do almost anything artistic, but she has quilted more than anything, I believe. Linda gave me two quilts at the end of our lunch, a completely unexpected and humbling gift. One of them (which I will show someday soon) is full of orange little foxes and vibrant colors I would never have thought to put together, and it’s so stunning I keep examining it every day. The other quilt had plaid fabric and a cabin-y motif I thought would be perfect for Lloyd’s house in the woods. I have loaned the quilt to his place for a while, and here it is today, on the back of where I’m presently sitting:
So much goes into a quilt, to receive one (or two) as a gift feels lopsided or heavy, like you’ve received so much more than lovely pieces of fabric put together. I cherish them.
Are any of you Doc Martin fans? I am, because my dear friend Su introduced Michael and I to the series years ago. Of course I then had to initiate Lloyd, and he is a devoted fan. Su let me know recently that there are two episodes from the final season out, and last night Lloyd and I watched them. We laughed out loud several times, and he said, “You know how good these are when the whole episode goes by in just a few minutes.” I’ve also been enjoying the week-by-week releases of the newest season of The Great British Baking Show. What have you been watching lately? Shetland is on my list too.
My middle daughter Carolyn was in a delightful community play recently called Nunsense!. She played Sister Robert Anne in the musical, and was one of five singing and tap-dancing nuns who had the audience laughing and clapping along with them. Here’s a photo of my girl (she’s the nun on the right):
I’ll share some other things when I post again, but it’s getting close to dinner time and Lloyd and I are going to make a salad and split a sirloin steak to thinly slice and put on top of the greens. We also bought a loaf of French country bread at Costco and that sounds like something that would make the parotid glands awaken.
What do you always buy at Costco? Our store is fairly new so I’m still getting accustomed to it, but here are some things I’ve loved from Costco: their organic chicken breasts, frozen blueberries, cauliflower crust pizza, and bed sheets. Lloyd is partial to their extra-large pumpkin pies.
Have a peaceful weekend, friends.
Woods, Water and Waiting
October 8, 2022 | My Jottings
Hello friends. Lloyd and I just returned from a four-day trip up the north shore of Lake Superior to celebrate our third wedding anniversary. How three years has whooshed by I don’t know, but that is the thought every aging person I talk to is marveling about. The passage of this next year will really feel like three months. And soon, if I live longer than I have long had a premonition for, I will be 85 years old and more than ready for my time on this earth to end.
I know someone who dearly wants to keep living and living and living, and he doesn’t feel quite comfortable talking about death or making plans for his death, but I’m the opposite. If I even have a chance of making it to Heaven, I’d like to go before I reach 70, and that’s not martyrish or fatalistic, it’s just me. I have my health care directive done and filed with my doctor and hospital and family. My will is completed, with a friend as the executor. My finances are in order, and I give thanks to God for that, because He has kept His grace and lavishness ever before my eyes, and I will always thank Him for caring for me in that way.
A couple of weeks ago the four SAGs were at Pat’s house and we touched on the subject of funerals. They didn’t know that you can purchase a casket online and save thousands of dollars, but I know that from personal experience when Michael died. Even in the midst of the sorrow and relief during the week of his death, I knew he would not want me to spend triple for a wooden box that would be seen once and then lowered into the ground. Most states have laws so that a grieving family can purchase a lovely casket online and it will be delivered the next day to the funeral home, and the funeral home is required to use it. The SAGs wanted the link to the casket site and I texted it to them right then… such are the evening conversations of older women when they gather for soup and bread, music and laughter.
Lloyd and I stayed in a lovely condo that was so close to the Lake we could have almost jumped into the frigid water from the deck. This was our third time there, and as wonderful as it was, we decided that next October we will stay someplace in the woods. We both agree that woods or water are needed for our restful place, but it was the drive deep into the Superior National Forest on Tuesday that helped us decide we needed a change. We drove through one almost empty campground set in an old-growth forest and the feeling of wonder and quiet overcame us. You need to spend time here, my brain nudged insistently. Or was it my soul?
So yesterday I spent some time perusing the websites of every single resort on Minnesota’s Gunflint Trail, one of my favorite places on earth. Michael and I have stayed with friends at Golden Eagle Lodge on the Trail, Lloyd and I have stayed twice at Bearskin Lodge, and we’ve driven the trail numerous times. I am past the time in my life where I could stay in a super rustic cabin. I don’t mind old, but I want clean, I want a toilet that can’t earn the nickname Hobbit Hole, I don’t want spider webs, and it should have a comfy bed. And of course it has to be close to one of the zillions of lakes surrounding the Gunflint, and should be so deep in the woods only the moose and wolves come close.
I narrowed the resorts down to two, and then chatted with Lloyd and shared photos last night. We have settled on a resort far up the Trail and are still deciding on which cabin. Here are a couple of pictures of what we’re considering for next fall:
Now for an exciting segue. Here’s a wonderful little boy who knows nothing about buying caskets online and health care directives. He’s my grandson Levi with some big news:
Yes, Levi and his family are expecting a beautiful little girl to brighten up their lives in early April. This will be my daughter Carolyn and her husband Jeremy’s eighth child, with Hannah already gone ahead to Heaven in 2017. We are all so thrilled and can’t wait to meet her.
I have finally put away my cane and am now walking normally after my tibial fracture. I see the orthopedic doctor next week for a final X-ray to make sure new bone growth is still occurring. I’m walking slower than usual because that knee will still occasionally feel unstable, but I guess that’s normal.
You know I like to talk about books here, and I just read a phenomenal one. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles was beautifully written and so unique. I’ve now picked up the same author’s The Lincoln Highway because two friends have said it’s the best book they’ve read all year. What are you reading?
I’ve been thinking about prayer in light of all the images that are coming back from the James Webb telescope. If you haven’t seen any of the photos, you might be astounded if you look them up. Galaxies and star nurseries so many light years away the human mind can’t grasp it. I so want God to answer my prayers regarding my grandchildren and children. I’ve experienced His grace and miraculous intervention in my life, but I mostly experience what it’s like to wait on Him and trust. It’s heart-wrenching to pray for someone fervently for years and not see the relief you beg Him for. But then I’m reminded that He is outside of time and space, and to describe His doings as “glacial” doesn’t even come close to being accurate. He is not in a hurry, and I am. I am in a desperate hurry to see the people I love whole and free and suffused with the peace and joy of Jesus. I want that for myself as well.
I know the Lord has things well in hand, but I would sort of like Him to come and personally assure me He has things well in hand, and that He will answer and all will be well. Julian of Norwich promised, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” I wish I could ask her, did Jesus talk to you about my grandchild? Did he mention my daughter’s name? Are you certain about this? Did He really say all?
I think I might be able to lay hold of this more firmly if I were more often in the deep woods or very near the water.
Well I think that’s enough rambling for today. Sometimes I consider letting this little spot on the internet go silent. Who cares what my thoughts are when myriad others out there share and even shout theirs? My quiet life isn’t notable enough to put words to anymore, as if it ever was. But then I remember that everyone has a story. And how much I love to read other peoples’ stories.
So here I am. My story in a nutshell is that when I was three years old, Jesus helped me believe in Him and want Him. And He has helped me continue to believe Him and want Him until this, my 65th year.
Wednesday’s Word — Edition 154
September 28, 2022 | My Jottings
“The most important discovery of my whole life is that one can take a little rough cabin and transform it into a palace just by flooding it with God.”
Healing and Dreaming
August 31, 2022 | My Jottings
I visited the orthopedic surgeon recently after being moderately laid up from a fractured tibia. He showed me on my x-rays how some new bone growth was happening, and was not overly concerned about the weirdness I feel inside the knee cavity, which is probably a ligament injury he thinks is slowly healing. He said they don’t often operate on the medial collateral ligament (MCL) anymore, and that it would heal on its own.
I am now taking slow steps without a walker (cue the Hallelujah Chorus) and ordered a cane online. I took a long time picking it out and settled on an offset green cane with pretty dark red paisley. I’m to use the cane for a few weeks and then can return to regular walking. I feel pain in the area of the fracture sometimes, especially at the end of the day, but I’m trusting the doctor and believing it’s pain that shouldn’t alarm me.
I listened to a wonderful book called Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson on my Libby app, read two Louise Penny books I borrowed from my friend Pat, and have now started a book I can tell I’m going to love — A Gentleman in Moscow. Things really slowed down as I waited to heal. Lloyd drove up several times and did a lot of things around the house for me, and we started a series I never thought I’d like. In fact I was sure I’d hate it, but I didn’t. Have any of you watched Alone? We jumped in on Season 7 on Netflix, and could not stop watching. The human ingenuity, the mastery over thought and attitude in truly horrible circumstances, the resourcefulness shown, was amazing.
And speaking of mastery over thought and attitude, these little cardinal salt and pepper shakers on my table help me do that. And this lovely quilted runner from a gifted friend named Sue, how can such presents not give me a lift?
And the hydrangea bush in my front yard has gone crazy. It was a small bush a decade ago, and now has decupled in size, at the very least. It dominates the yard, and when I look out my kitchen window or pull into the driveway after having driven to Target for a lavender oil and Systane eyedrops pickup, it makes me marvel anew at this beauty.
These bloom balls are the size of cantaloupes, and soon each one will be the prettiest, dustiest pink.
Lloyd and I have been talking about visiting the Grand Canyon. Neither of us has ever been, and many people have told us that pictures don’t do it justice. For those of you who’ve seen it, would you agree? Was it more breathtaking than you expected?
What we aren’t sure of is when we’ll go. We have a desire to get away in the winter time, since January and February in Northeastern Minnesota can be brutal. But we’ve heard that you don’t really want to visit the Grand Canyon in the winter, since blizzards can happen there and travel on the roads could be truly hazardous. We don’t want to visit in the summer when it’s hotter than we could stand and crowds are at their densest. We wondered if March or April might work.
We saw that the Grand Canyon Railroad might be a good bet for us too. You park and stay in Williams, Arizona, take the train right to the canyon, stay if you want, avoid lines of cars waiting to get in. But we would miss the other part of the canyon that way. This is the very thing I get excited about, take pleasure in planning, then abandon after lots of advice and warning, leaving us to wonder how to proceed.
Other places we hope to see are the Smoky Mountains, Glacier National Park, and New York City. And Oregon, and Wyoming, and New Mexico and the Emerald Coast, and Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland again, and the Swiss Alps, and Israel. And Maui. And then I stay home, all because I can’t decide on a few things. For example, if I take a solo trip to Ireland, which I’ve always wanted to do, should I go with a small tour group that specializes in older travelers? It would mean everything was taken care of and nice hotels would be secured. No tickets to stand in line for, parking or navigating to worry about. Those are pluses. It would also mean I couldn’t stay in a little Irish cottage overlooking glorious countryside, couldn’t rent my own little car and drive wherever I wanted and when, walk alone down deserted paths, stay home and build a fire and read and nap. Not being able to do that would be a negative in my mind. So I just don’t make a plan at all. I’d love to know any opinions about this!
I’m looking forward to seeing my dear friend Denel in October. She’s flying in from SoCal to NoMin and will spend a long weekend with me. We haven’t seen each other since March of 2020, when Lloyd and I flew to California right before the pandemic took hold. Oh, we have such a history. Fifty-eight years of friendship as of this writing. When we were little girls we talked about school, music (together we saw the Beatles, the Eagles, Elton John, Humble Pie, Boz Skaggs, and others in concert), boys, shopping and books. Now that we’re old women we talk about our children, grandchildren, books, blessings, hardships, thinning skin, prayer, creaking joints and the faithfulness of Jesus.
Here are a few questions for you, dear reader. Who have you seen in concert? What is your favorite country to visit? If you’ve seen the Grand Canyon, what tips do you have? And if you were going to travel solo, would you take a small, specialized tour coach, or strike out on your own so you could do exactly what you wanted?
Help me I think I’m falling…
July 31, 2022 | My Jottings
A while back I went down to the basement to empty the water from the dehumidifier. For those of you without basements, it’s something we do in the Midwest in the summertime. If we don’t use dehumidifiers, our cool basements become dank and eventually moldy, and no one wants that. I slid the basin out from the front of the unit and carried it by its handle to the half of our basement that isn’t finished. It’s the side where the furnace is, where we have shelving for storage, and a room Sara uses for a workshop to do her floristry. In that room is a work sink, and I tilted the basin and poured the day’s worth of moisture down the drain. It really makes a difference we can feel. If we go a day without running the dehumidifier, the basement feels like a cave; if we turn it on and set it to 50%, it’s comfortable like the rest of the house.
As I turned to go back to the finished part of the basement, I stepped on a padded floor mat Sara uses when she’s standing long hours arranging flowers for weddings and events. The floor in the workshop is painted cement. We learned later that the floor had a tiny bit of moisture between it and the mat, which caused the mat to shoot out perpendicularly from my body as I stepped on it, as if it had been violently yanked. I crashed to the cement floor on my knees, not being able to break my fall since I was carrying the empty dehumidifier basin. My forehead hit the floor too.
I labored and gave birth to three children as a young woman, never taking so much as an aspirin for pain relief, as those were the days of unmedicated Lamaze labors and deliveries. I consequently had this idea that I had a fairly high pain tolerance (with the weird exception of my fingers and toes, which are total babies when hurt even the tiniest bit), especially since I kept fairly quiet during the births of my children. Well. That notion has been proven a big lie, because when I hit the basement floor I screamed. And screamed. And cried and sobbed for fifteen minutes at least. It felt like a sword had been thrust through my knees, especially the left one. My good one.
I had a knee replacement surgery years ago on my right knee, which took away the arthritic pain as it’s supposed to, but I was left with quadriceps weakness that makes going up and down stairs an ordeal. I’ve always been grateful for my left good knee. Now my left good knee was growing in size and I literally couldn’t move it one inch without yelling.
Lloyd was here that day and he came running when he heard me screaming. He took one look at my twisted leg and said, “Ohhh, this doesn’t look good, I’m going to call an ambulance.” I could not get up. I wanted to settle down before the last resort ambulance was summoned, though. I thought if I waited long enough until I could bear the pain, I could scoot on my side to the part of the basement where the stairs go up to the main floor, and perhaps sit up. I scooted inch by inch, wailing, for fifteen minutes, and I made it near the stairs, but by that time my knee was grotesque, and I couldn’t have done it if my life depended on it. Lloyd called my daughter Carolyn and her husband Jeremy (who is an ER nurse) and they rushed over. Jeremy looked at my leg and said this was certainly going to require an x-ray, and transport needed to be called. Carolyn called Sharon and she rushed over; I asked them to delay calling Sara because she was at work and I knew there was nothing she could do except worry.
Finally 911 was called and while I laid on my back trying not to move my leg one centimeter, I requested they not use sirens. I could just picture the neighborhood being on alert and wondering what was happening and who was dying. In a couple of minutes the sirens came screaming anyway, ambulance and fire engine, and soon I was surrounded by nice uniformed people who saw they couldn’t move me without starting an IV for pain medication.
First I was given a tube of something sprayed up my nose to ease the pain. I couldn’t feel any relief. Then the woman EMT tried to start an IV in my arm, to no avail. I usually have such good fire hose veins, but maybe adrenaline clamped them off or something. She could not get a needle in. Then she tried on the back of my hand, and I have never seen anyone sweep back and forth under the skin so widely as she did, hoping for that pop of success with the searching needle. I was grinding my teeth and squeezing my eyes shut so tightly as she tried and tried again. Finally after trying in my wrist, the needle went in, and two strong meds with it. In a couple of minutes I felt enough relief for them to move me (without the crane I kept saying they’d need) on to the body sling, to the stretcher, to the back of the ambulance. I was transported to St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth and soon my leg was x-rayed. It was a portable machine and the technicians had to gennnnttttly lift my knee in the bed while trying to slide the x-ray tray under me, while I tried not to arch my back and make a spectacle of myself. I’d already done that in the basement, and I thought once a day was a good quota to not exceed.
The x-rays showed considerable arthritis, and nothing much more conclusive, so the ER doc ordered a CT scan. This was what finally revealed the fracture. It’s official name is Fracture of the Tibial Plateau. My break was lateral (on the outside) and deep into the back of the knee, and an orthopedic surgeon was consulted by phone. He said he didn’t think I’d need surgery (thank you Lord) but I would have to be super careful going home (with a walker like a proper old lady) and see a specialist as soon as possible. How grateful I was to have my three daughters and Lloyd with me during the hours in the ER.
We made it home, and getting up the basement stairs to the main floor was a feat. During the days of waiting for my next appointment I stayed mostly in bed, iced and elevated a lot, and depended on so many kind people to help me. Meals were delivered, my daughters helped, Lloyd stayed for over a week and waited on me hand and foot. (You might remember that even though we are fairly newly married, he and I have separate homes in different areas, and we aren’t usually together for that long. His neighbor took care of his cat for him and checked on his cabin in the woods and brought in his mail.)
After a week I finally saw the surgeon, who said my case is a “gray case” and if I were younger they would do surgery. But since I’m 64 and probably have a knee replacement on that knee coming in a few years, he didn’t think it was the thing to do for me. His instructions were strict — non weight bearing for six weeks. I asked him how I could be 100% non weight bearing even when just using the walker to get to the bathroom and he conceded it would be nearly impossible because of my other knee (which is also hurt but not as badly), so he said, “Five percent weight bearing.” So I am doing the best I can.
I am in bed most of the time, with brief little forays down the hall to the living room and kitchen, using my walker and putting as little weight on my left leg as possible. Lloyd had to go home eventually and my children do have their own children and lives, so I get my own water, make simple meals for our foster gal, order meals to be delivered. I decided this would be a season of finding treasures in the dark, and of reading. It seemed appropriate to reread a Christian classic that has been newly updated: Joni: An Unforgettable Story. I finished it late last night and can hardly even convey how it spoke to my heart again after all these years. Joni Eareckson Tada is a modern-day saint, and if I could face my life with one iota of the courage and cheer she does, I would consider it real growth.
So as you can imagine, I’ve been reading. Thinking. Writing in my journal. Praying. Doing our annual summer Bible study that is thankfully by Zoom and therefore doable for me. We are studying Kelly Minter’s Encountering God and it has been so rich, and such a blessing. I highly recommend it.
Here’s a little bit of my view:
I have two baskets of clean laundry that need folding, and I’ll get to it when I can. I have things I’d like to return at the post office, but they might stay in the back of my car for a long time. There are vegetables to be washed and cut up, paperwork calling my name, cleaning, organizing and who knows what else… but they will all have to wait.
I go back to the surgeon in three weeks to have an x-ray to determine if my fracture is healing. Oh, how I pray it is. If I think about not being able to take a good, strong, stable step anymore, my frame of mind suffers.
These are the thoughts that don’t help: what if I can’t take walks in the cemetery with Lloyd anymore? What if I need a cane for the rest of my life? What would happen if I fell again, this time in public? How small is my life going to become? Will I ever see Ireland?
These are the thoughts that do help: You saw this happen before the foundations of the world, Lord. You are here with me, Jesus, help me hear your voice. What beautiful family and friends you’ve blessed me with, God! What a miracle pain meds are. Nothing can separate me from the love of God. My future is in His hands. I can trust Him.
And I have all this extra time, completely uninterrupted, to pray. I pray for my daughters, their husbands, my grandchildren, their friends, my friends and their families, my Bible study ladies, people I don’t know across the globe who need wheelchairs, my pastor and his family, Joni Eareckson Tada and her husband Ken, my neighbors, and whoever comes to mind. I will pray for you.
I guess that is enough about my fall for one blog post. Thank you for stopping in, and if I can pray specifically for you, let me know in the comments. I’ll keep it confidential if you ask.
God bless each one of you…
Wednesday’s Word — Edition 153
June 29, 2022 | My Jottings
“The flower that follows the sun does so even in cloudy days.” ~~ Robert Leighton
Our peonies are blooming — singing lalalala it seems to me. I would put my camp chair right down there by them and sit gazing for a couple of hours, if my neighbors weren’t so close. 🙂
Are your flowers singing? If so, what do they say?
Books, my loyal friends…
May 31, 2022 | My Jottings
I don’t think I’ve ever had so many books going at once. And for whatever reason, this doesn’t bother me at all, doesn’t make me feel scattered or behind or pulled in too many directions. Instead it feels like I have multiple treasures or fascinating friends waiting for me every which way. Here are the books I’ve either read very recently, or am in the middle of reading.
This is a series of essays and I love his writing and perspective. I had to look up how to pronounce anthropocene, however. 🙂
I would highly recommend this book, especially to those who are setting out in life. I’m not setting out, I’m setting sail for the horizon in a way, but it still motivated me to really make some changes. Give this book to a graduating young adult for a wonderful gift.
I love Jackie Hill Perry. This book was needed for this time in my life, and I think I would read anything she wrote.
I had no idea that Buzz Aldrin took communion when he stepped onto the surface of the moon, and that NASA kept it quiet. I love anything about space, and the way Levi Lusko ties the two together is very unique.
I read this book in a day and it has me thinking, thinking, thinking. I’ll keep you posted. 🙂
I love Candice Millard, and one of the best books I’ve ever read was her Destiny of the Republic. Get that book for any history buff you know. This one is part of my daughter Sharon’s online book club, and I’m about half way through. Millard takes subjects you think you wouldn’t care a whit about, and makes you marvel and care very much about them when you’re done.
My friend Pat has so highly recommended Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series, I had to check it out. This is the second one, and I like them so far.
I read The Hobbit in junior high school, but decided to read it again recently, in preparation for My Summer Read, which will be The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I read it 20 years ago and was stunned at its beauty. It’s time to be overcome by beauty again, I think.
Just started this one again — I purchased the whole illustrated set.
What are you reading? Or what is a good book you’ve read recently you could highly recommend?
Someone old, something new, something blue, something adorable.
April 30, 2022 | My Jottings
It’s a gray and rainy afternoon, and all the snow in our yard has finally melted after having piled up storm after storm all winter long. My grass isn’t green yet, but it will be soon. The deer have been in the yard eating my plants down to the nub, so I cut up some Irish Spring soap and sprinkled it around the ones they seem to like best. A friend from our senior citizens grief group told me about this deterrent, and it really works. The deer don’t like the strong smell.
Our beloved miniature German Schnauzer Mildred is gone now. She was just under sixteen years old, so was quite the old lady in dog years. Millie began having issues in early March that made us watch for suffering. On the 13th and 14th we could clearly see it was time to help her, and Sara and I took her to our vet’s office. We were with Millie to the end, petting her and kissing her and reassuring her, crying softly and deeply. It’s surprising how a scruffy and quirky little dog can leave such a void. We miss the click-click-click of her nails trotting around on our hardwood and travertine floors. We miss seeing the enthusiastic wag of her stubby little tail every time she saw us through her cloudy eyes. We miss her Schnauzery eyebrows and mustache.
We have Millie’s ashes in a little wooden box now, along with a paw print the vet made for us. We plan on doing what we did with Edith’s ashes when she died a few years ago — we’ll spread them over Michael’s grave when summer is here and the grass is thick and green. Both dogs adored him so much, but Millie did especially.
We gave our doggie steps (Millie used them to get into Sara’s bed) to Carolyn’s family dog, Walter the pug. We donated Millie’s dog food and other doggie accoutrements, and now we are a dogless home. People have asked if I’ll be getting another dog, and I tell them no. I’ve been a dog-lover and owner my whole life, but I’ve reached an age where I would like to have the freedom to travel more when I can. I’m dreaming about and semi-planning a solo trip to Ireland in 2023, if things in the world allow it. And Scotland and England and Switzerland and Israel, while I’m dreaming.
When Michael and I moved into this house by Lake Superior in 2012, our living room paint was what I would call a robin’s egg blue. It wasn’t something I would have chosen, but we liked it and it worked fine with the art and furniture we had, and it really grew on me. It’s been ten years now, and the walls need paint. I have been looking online at the color Oval Room Blue for months, and finally decided to use it in the living room. Here is the old color with a patch of Oval Room Blue. I got a large swatch from Farrow and Ball, who makes the color, and had it matched at Sherwin-Williams. It was perfect.
I think the color looks colonial, is soothing, unique. It’s dark enough for my ever-present desire for jewel-toned and moody walls, but not too dark. If you google Oval Room Blue paint you’ll see lots of examples of how it looks in different rooms and lights.
I’ll show you the finished look later in this post.
Not long ago I asked my grandson Elijah if he owned a suit. When I found out he didn’t, I asked him if he would like to go suit shopping and I was so glad he said yes. He’s going to be nineteen in a couple of months and I’m always looking for ways to invest in my grandchildren, financially and spiritually and in any way the Lord leads me.
Elijah and I drove downtown and the men’s shop had a buy-one-suit-get-a-second-suit-for-a-dollar sale. How could we not take advantage of that? Here is handsome Elijah in one of the suits he chose, being fitted for the tailoring it needed. He is a very tall and slim young man, and I think he is a wonderful blend of his parents, Jeremy and Carolyn.
Elijah picked out two shirts, two ties, and the look was completed with a new pair of Italian leather shoes. Even if his current work doesn’t call for this kind of attire, I told him every young man needs a suit — for weddings, funerals, interviews, etc.
Elijah is interested in math and science and all things space. I had him over for lunch not long ago and he told me all about the newly launched James Webb telescope which will send back pictures that reveal more than Hubble has. I learned the new word Beryllium after being with my brilliant grandson.
Back to my living room. I’m really minimizing things in my life these days, and the minimal look in decorating suits me as well. The room isn’t huge, so having less things on the wall and on surfaces is visually calming.
I also plan to steam clean my carpets soon. It has been years since it was done and needs it badly.
The dark red leather chair is new — I was visiting my dear friend Diane and she and her husband had two of these chairs. I loved them so much I ordered one of my own, and it took a year to arrive, due to the whole supply chain phenomenon going on in the world. I’m so happy with it, and decided to bring my little toile footstool from my bedroom to the living room for a little whimsy and support.
I will probably never part with the three bird prints on the other wall. If you are new here, here is the unbelievable story of how that trio of paintings almost never came to be.
And on the back of the couch is a cherished gift from my English friend Helen who lives in Switzerland. We “met” each other online years ago, and she is so dear. She’s a brilliant creative — she quilts and knits and sews and writes.
After Michael died in February of 2015 a box arrived at my door, and this quilt on the couch was in it. I was overcome by Helen’s generous gift and treasure it each day. You can click here to see details of her beautiful work.
We still have one little pet in our home, our beloved parakeet Phoebe. She is seven years old. Phoebe brings such cheer into our kitchen and dining room areas, alway alert to the people who enter. She breeps and chirps more when we’re nearby, and sidles over on her perch to get close to us if we walk by.
Phoebe does something that always makes us smile, and I say it’s her way of coping with the world. She puts her soft little head underneath a bell in her cage, and holds very still. Sometimes she goes to sleep with this bell on her head.
We all have our ways of coping, especially during these last two years. Some of us sleep more, retreat, watch TV, eat, read. I do all of the above, except perhaps the sleeping more part. I’m definitely not sleeping more. That’s another story for another time.
How have you coped these past two years? Have you thrived? Have you flagged a bit? What are some of the coping strategies you’ve employed, if any?
When I see Phoebe calm herself and even doze with this tiny bell on her head, I wonder if she’s on to something. 🙂
Have a lovely spring everyone,
March 11, 2022 | My Jottings
Hello friends, how are things for you these days? Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say when conditions in the world are as they are. While people are being bombed and are dying, evacuating to who-knows-where, while the world is still wondering if the corona virus really is waning a bit, do we talk about our dogs? I don’t know.
But because I can’t serve the people in my life very well if I’m under the covers 24 hours a day, I guess I’m still trying to live my simple and dwindling life, give my thanks to God, pray every day, buy books for my grandchildren, and sit down at the computer and say hello.
Back in January our little Schnauzer Mildred began having neurological issues and some very bad days. We even got to the point where we made an appointment to take her to the vet to say our goodbyes. But Millie rallied a bit. Her bouts of trembling and tremoring and falling over (possibly vestibular syndrome, but also certainly because she is 96 in dog years) eased a bit, and we cancelled the appointment. She is still so frail, but her appetite is good and she obviously still has a few joyful days yet to live. Sara is Millie’s person. Her allegiance was transferred from Michael to his youngest daughter the day he died in 2015. Millie lives for Sara to come home from work or nursing school, follows her around like a puppy dog. Probably because she is a puppy dog.
Sara coddles Millie like you can’t believe. And I think it’s pretty cute. Here’s a picture from this morning. Millie sleeps in Sara’s bed and when it’s cool in the house she prefers to be covered by an Asian-inspired duvet cover. And her little scruffy head is resting on a pillow. I think she looks like a baby wolf in this photo.
I watched a PBS show recently on our Milky Way, and had no words. How can we wrap our minds around the size of just our one galaxy, not to mention trying to fathom the other possibly trillions of galaxies we now know are out there? What kind of power does God have to create such vast beauty and sustain it all in perfection? What kind of God is this who is so huge, yet He still focuses His loving eyes in on us, His tiny people on the particle in space that is Earth? The challenge for us is learning to accept His timing, remembering that He often works in the dark without telling us what He’s up to. It helps me to remember His trustworthy character, and how faithful He has been to me in the past, so I can rest while seeing such unrest everywhere.
I woke the other morning at 4:00 and didn’t want to get up that early, so I laid there and thought about this as much as I could. It brought tears to my eyes, Someone so holy and powerful and sovereign and enormous, bending down to listen as I cried and lifted my concerns to Him.
I came across a familiar verse not long ago and it shimmered a bit as I read. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18.
I’m sure there are more theologically precise interpretations, but what I saw in that verse was this: if I keep beholding the glory of the Lord, which I find in His creation, the night sky, His Word, in my grandchildren’s beauties and uniquenesses, in trees and birds and language, in mercy and patience and kindness and truth, over and over again with great intention and worshipful focus, I can be changed into someone more like Him. It’s going to take longer than a lifetime, because I am more resistant to transformation than I even comprehend, but He is able.
I saw in that verse that it’s actually profitable to gaze at, to behold His glory again and again. I have recorded every Nova and Nature program from PBS for years. I knew they all made me cry and want to put my head down on the ground in awe and gratitude, but now I see that the apostle Paul was inspired to tell us that kind of beholding can actually change us.
I’m also still watching three eagles’ nests every day when I’m in my office doing foster care paperwork, paying bills, answering emails. Jackie and Shadow in Big Bear, California have an eaglet who is thriving. He/she is being fed by both parents 8-12 times a day, and the camera is so close and of such good quality, it feels like I’m perched on that tall tree myself, watching God’s handiwork.
I have watched for weeks now as both bald eagles have patiently and calmly incubated the eggs, sitting quietly, watching the world around them. They are unhurried, unworried, serene and beautiful as they do what they were created to do. When Jackie changes positions, she tenderly turns the eggs with her beak, then straddles the eggs, carefully folding her talons in so she doesn’t puncture anything. Then as she settles over the eggs she rocks from side to side to get all those downy feathers spread over her treasures to warm and protect them. There is only a sense of peace and quiet purpose, and waiting. I would even say waiting on God. Because the eagles don’t form the chicks inside. God does. The eagles just do their part and He takes care of the rest. Oh, surely there’s a lesson there.
So I then turned to Psalm 91 and read this:
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘You are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ He will cover you with His feathers; under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and rampart.”
That little bobble-headed eaglet abides under the shadow of his parents’ feathers and wings. They keep him safe from the ravens who circle, looking for an opportunity to snatch him. They give him refuge with their wings. They have been taught by the God who spins the Milky Way and every other galaxy how to faithfully care for their young.
Should I be as calm and secure in this groaning world as that fuzzy little eaglet is in his nest so high above Big Bear Lake? I can only pray, “Oh Lord, help me to rest in you. To trust in you so completely that I live in the peace Jesus died to give me.”
I’ve been listening to my daughter Sharon’s podcast. My guess is that if your child had a podcast you would listen to it too. Sharon is my oldest daughter, and she had my middle daughter Carolyn on recently, as they discussed some “brain tingle moments” about the state of Washington. I had to laugh when they reminisced about their childhood, and I learned a few things I never knew.
Then I listened to the episode where two members of Congress were on the podcast (called Sharon Says So), and felt like cheering. Dean Phillips is a Democrat and Brian Fitzpatrick is a Republican, and they became friends in spite of their disagreements, reaching across the aisle in a spirit of kindness and collaboration, and challenging others to do the same. These men have actually quietly spoken to members of Congress who are acting poorly, saying things like, “If your behavior here would make Putin happy, maybe rethink what you’re doing.” I felt hopeful after listening to these two men share about the respect they try to offer as they serve in their elected capacities.
The sun is coming up over Lake Superior now, so I had better get ready for the day. I have a kitchen to clean, laundry to fold, my CBS lesson to do, foster care paperwork to catch up on, books to read, prayers to pray.
I hope today you can behold some of God’s glory and feel His love and mercy at work in you.
May God bless and keep you,