With a bad back from a big bed

January 12, 2019 | My Jottings

I don’t like being in bed. I mean, I like being in bed when it’s time to be in bed, around 9:00 at night until around 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning. But being in bed when you have injured your back is not a very good situation. I forget that I am in my sixties and can’t or shouldn’t do foolish things anymore, like lift my king-size bed so some risers can be placed underneath the posts. I felt the twangy pull across the sacro-iliac area when I lifted, and a groan of “ooohhh noooo” went through my brain, and then I lowered the bed. I was okay for a couple of days, just a little sore but functioning. Today I am not as okay, and I am a large amount of sore and pretty much lacking in the functioning department.

So on this gray Saturday, I am trying to get comfortable and hoping that my back will heal and that nothing catastrophic has occurred. I still have my nightgown on, some soft music is playing on the David Nevue Pandora channel, my little electric fireplace is “blazing” cheerily, and I have a good book at hand.

Today is my middle daughter Carolyn’s birthday, and we celebrated last night with her family, my oldest daughter Sharon’s family, Jeremy’s parents and his grandmother. I decided last week to have the meal catered, and how fortuitous that was, with my back and all. It was the first time I’ve ever hired a caterer and it was such a treat to watch the Duluth Grill van arrive, uniformed people hop out and carry hot and delicious food into the house, set it up with little fires underneath, and have everything be ready to serve. We had lasagna, chicken marsala, wild rice pilaf, smashed potatoes with parmesan, fresh marinated green beans, spring greens salad with homemade dressings, focaccia bread, and roasted Brussels sprouts. Sharon made a deep, dark chocolate cake and I don’t think a person here went home hungry. In fact, there was enough left over that three families will be having yummy leftovers tonight.

I was supposed to attend a snowmobile club banquet with Lloyd today, but I had to bow out since attending the event would require me to get dressed and be upright for a couple of hours.

I checked today and it has been 1,433 days since Michael moved to heaven. How can over a thousand days pass without my seeing him? How do we survive without the ones we love? I couldn’t tell you a fancy answer to that, except that the Lord gets us through, an hour at a time, then a day, a week, a month at a time.

I remember in the late 1980s when carpentry work in our area was scarce and Michael got a good paying temporary job in West Virginia. He and a friend drove to Marlington, lived in a tiny trailer and worked 18 hour shifts for 49 days, and I couldn’t believe we’d been apart for so long.

After Michael died I used to visit his grave quite a lot. It was a lot more often than I had ever pictured myself doing. I found great comfort reading the words on his grave stone, watching the ducks and geese in the ponds, praying and thanking God for all He had done for us. Now I might visit two or three times a month. I was there a couple of days ago and the snow was deep and the sun was setting. The wreath my youngest daughter Sara made stands there, telling whoever sees it what a loved, missed man Michael is.

As I recline awkwardly in my bed today, I see a basket of unfolded, clean white laundry on the ottoman of my plaid bedroom chair. Mildred the aging Schnauzer is laying at my feet on her side, looking so scruffy and unkempt and breathing deeply. She wants to be fed and I’ll do that as soon as I publish this post. Strewn across my bed are pieces of today’s mail with piles of catalogs I never peruse, two devotional books, my purse, some foster care paperwork, a wrist brace, and some prayer beads. It’s almost dusk, but I can still see the snow-covered Wisconsin shoreline as I look way across this southern tip of Lake Superior. I can see that there’s no wind today, and that the chickadees are enjoying my feeder on the front deck.

I was asked to speak at a women’s retreat this April, and I hope to spend a lot of time working on that tomorrow, even if I’m still hobbled. I was surprised to be asked since I am not familiar with the church, which is three hours south of me. I will speak four times in one weekend, all on the theme of Psalm 112:7: They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. I prayed about it when I was asked, and only agreed after much trepidation and what I felt was a clear confirmation from God. I’ve done this a couple of times, but have never been comfortable doing it, and always have second thoughts after saying yes. My friend Lorna told me, “Julie, you’ll do what you can and show up, and God will do the rest.” I keep hanging on to that.

Well, I see that it’s time to feed the little gray beast, and then I’ll warm up our catered leftovers for my two foster women. I’m so glad they don’t mind a cook in a red plaid nightgown.

Do any of you watch Netflix? I would love a good recommendation of your two or three favorite shows or series. I just finished watching “Loch Ness,” and it was gripping. A little too raw for me, but I watched it anyway. Have any of you watched the documentary “Minimalism?” I would recommend it. And of course I’ve seen the first episode of Marie Kondo’s new tidying up show and loved it.

May you have a gripping, tidy, not-too-raw weekend.


A Prayer for 2019 and Other Things

January 2, 2019 | My Jottings

Happy New Year, friends. Do you remember when 1999 turned to 2000 and we thought we’d never get used to no longer saying “19–” and how strange it felt to say the year as a “2000-something?” Now we’re knocking on 2020’s door and we’re so used to space age numbers.

My resident florist (youngest daughter Sara) filled our front three flower boxes again this Christmas season, with piles of fresh greens, pine cones and huge red bows. Now that we’ve had two significant storms, they’re mounded with snow and look even prettier.

These good-sized boxes are on our front deck.

It was below zero yesterday and today, and whenever that happens Lake Superior steams. Here’s a picture of an ore-boat coming into the Port of Duluth in the frigid air.

And this is what massive Lake Superior looks like from space when it’s steaming. You can click to enlarge if you like. I live right down there by the tip of the wolf’s nose.

A couple of weeks ago I spent the day with Lloyd at his home in the woods. We walked his property at sunset and looked at all the animal footprints in the snow. I can easily recognize deer and rabbit tracks, but he showed me how to tell the tracks of voles, turkeys, mice, squirrels and coyotes. I love the silence of the woods in winter, disturbed only by the occasional flutter and call of the chickadees.

I like to make frittatas for breakfast once in a while — they’re so easy and it’s a good way to start the day with protein and vegetables. I don’t usually add the cheese that I did to this one below. I sauteed fresh mushrooms and asparagus, threw in some chicken and sage sausage and chopped tomatoes, poured over a few beaten eggs, and cooked it covered on super-low heat until the eggs had set. What is something you make for breakfast that might be a little different than the usual?

My granddaughter Louisa’s school recently asked family members (mostly grandparents) to help them put together a museum of sorts, bringing old things from their lives to be displayed. On Grandparents Day after visiting Louisa’s classroom and meeting her teacher, she took me to the gym to see the many tables set up with photos and vintage items of yesteryear. Louisa is six years old and in the first grade, and she’s standing in front of one of the tables from her class’s grandparents — that is my six year old, first grade picture right there by her.

About once a month Lloyd and I like to take a drive up the north shore of Lake Superior, and we often stop in Knife River at Great Lakes Candy Kitchen. We buy four pieces of candy — two homemade salted caramels dipped in chocolate, and two of what they call peanut butter buckeyes. We drive to Stoney Point a couple miles away and watch the waves while eating our candy. He likes dark chocolate, I prefer milk. It’s a fun place to visit because it feels like you’ve stepped back in time, and the quality of the candy rivals my childhood favorite, See’s.

My beautiful new grandson Levi is doing well at almost five months old now. He has such a sweet disposition, is a voracious nurser (and consequently has wonderful chunkiness everywhere), and is so beloved by everyone in our family. I think this picture below is one of my all-time favorites. My oldest daughter Sharon took it seconds after Levi Samuel’s birth in August, and the joy on Jeremy and Carolyn’s faces needs no explanation.

I hope you had a peaceful Christmas. We had seventeen people here, and my living room isn’t that big so we were pretty cozy. But there were no arguments, no harsh words, no testiness, no undercurrents of strife… and there have been times in my life when that wasn’t the case. I felt so grateful. After everyone went home and Sara and I began to slowly pick up and restore things to order, I kept telling the Lord thank you. Thank you, thank you, Jesus.

I follow Pastor Tim Keller on Instagram, and this is his prayer for 2019. I make it my own prayer for the coming year, and thought I would share with you.

I worry because I forget your wisdom.
I resent because I forget your mercy.
I covet because I forget your beauty.
I sin because I forget your holiness.
I fear because I forget your sovereignty.
You always remember me.
Help me to remember you.

Thank you for stopping in today. May God give you a year that brings you closer to Him. That is what I’m asking for.