Ahoy, Mateys!

Well, the kids finally made it to the theatre to see the Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Yesterday, I spent the better part of the day sewing two pirate shirts. Although I love to sew, I must say, I was getting so very tired of gathering what seemed like yards and yards of fabric! As it worked out, I was not able to finish the hem on the bottom of the shirts, nor the cuffs. As I was vexed by what to do, Michelle merely improvised, just like she always does!
Michelle said no worry about the unfinished bottom hems, as the shirts were going to be tucked inside pants. OK, so one hurdle down, one to go! Michelle sat down at the sewing machine, hemmed the bottom of the sleeves, then grabbed pieces of leftover fabric, and tied them around where the cuffs would go. How clever my girl is!!!

And here is a photo of the pirate contingency….

The kids told us after the movie that the theatre was built in 1920, and seated maybe around 50 people. We are talking small! But, the $5 tickets were a great deal, and the kids had a ball! The two tall guy pirates are actually twin brothers. While waiting for the movie to begin, the two of them sang a little pirate song, after which they drew cheers and clapping from the audience.

Although I didn’t manage to get any really good pictures of the kids, it was pretty obvious they had a good time. The parents of the other pirates actually went and saw the movie, too! After it was over, we lingered in front of the theater, chatting. The manager came out a while later….he told the kids if they came back in their pirates’ attire again, he would let them in for free!!! Rrr,rr,rrrrrr….now that is something to get excited about, matey!

Happy Memorial Day

Memorial Day is not one of my favorite holidays. Oh, I know, we must honor the memory of those who fought and served our country. For that, I am extremely grateful and I do want to remember.

But, eight years ago, on the day before Memorial Day, Mark came into the living room, collapsed on the floor, and instructed me to call 911. I will never forget that day. I ended up calling neighbors, and their daughter, who was pregnant, offered to stay with the kids. As Mark left in the ambulance, my neighbor told me that he sometimes suffered back pain that could be relieved with a muscle relaxer. I remember teasing and joking, never dreaming of the nightmare that lie ahead…..nor, the life-changing events.

All of Sunday night, Mark was on a gurney in the hospital, writhing in agony and pain. He was given shots of pain relievers, even morphine, but received no relief. I stood beside him, or sat on a chair as they wheeled him off for x-rays, a CT Scan, and then a milogram. I don’t know when I felt so helpless, or so alone.

Finally, in the breaking hours of Memorial Day, another doctor was dispatched to have a look. He read through the results of the tests, then took Mark in for surgery. In his mind, he was semi-sure that when he saw Mark the next day, he would get up from the bed and be OK. But, such was not the case. Instead, Mark was sent to the spinal cord injury unit of another large teaching hospital to learn how to live as a paraplegic. Mark was 38 years old at the time.

When I think about this and this strange odessy we have been on in the past eight years, I cannot help but feel a sadness….sad, because I see a certain look in Mark’s eyes as he watches the kids and I know that he is aching inside to be able to do more with and for them. He had built this house we live in from the ground up, with some help from my father and brother. To think of this rugged sturdy man living his days in a wheelchair seemed so foreign.

This morning, we decided that we would visit my father-in-law’s grave. We put flowers on the grave for the summer on Memorial Day and we needed to get this done. There is another sadness because no one else sees fit to do this. My father-in-law was always a giving, caring person who loved his family so deeply; the fact that no one puts flowers on his grave just breaks my heart. But, on the other hand, I am happy to do this, as I know it would please him.

We stopped at Michael’s to pick up the flowers, as they have good quality flowers that last well.
My father-in-law’s grave is located in the Korean War Vets section, so we put a red/white/blue theme on the grave.

After buying the flowers, we drove right to the cemetary. I had bought several sprays of various flowers, and I dumped the contents of the bag on the ground and began to arrange them. As I worked, Mark noticed a couple with an older man…..the older man was walking funny, with his belly thrust forward. Suddenly, he fell onto a bench. As Mark commented on this, I saw the man’s head moving strangely, indicating that he was breathing erratically.

At this point, the man that was with him hollered to lower him to the ground. I got up, wondering if the couple needed help, and yet, not wanting to get in the way. Within seconds, the man yelled, asking if anyone had a cell phone! Mark immediately gave me his and I ran to the couple.

The older man was lying on the ground, his face quite red. The younger man had called 911 and was talking to the dispatcher as his wife went off to get blankets. Another woman appeared with a pillow for his head.

The older man seemed very coherant when I arrived; apparently, he had lost consciousness for only a short time. I stayed with the couple, learning that they did not know this man…they met him over at a monument. The wife saw him walking strangely, and told her husband she was afrraid he was going to fall down. He had told them that several of the names etched on the memorial were friends he had gone to school with as a youngster. Although it was sunny out, it was not swelteringly hot, so it hardly seemed like the heat caused the man to pass out.

As we awaited the arrival of the EMTs, the elderly man told us about himself. We learned his name, he asked that we call his sister and tell her, and he felt so funny lying on the ground in the cemetary. The last time he had been lying on the ground like this was in Korea in 1952! He was a total delight. He said he had no medical problems, and then giggled as he said that the EMTs will be surprised to see a LIVE man lying in the cemetary!

As I became a little tired, I looked at the little bench where he had been sitting. There was an inscription on it….it was dedicated in the memory of Dr. J Bruce Iuppa. Dr. Iuppa was the name of the Dr that delivered Michelle. I felt the tears burning in my eyes, but was able to fight them off. What an emotional moment that was.

When the medical team arrived, I went back over to my family and finished arranging the flowers. My father-in-law had picked the most wonderful area for his grave…..under a pretty tree with a bench nearby. He had told us how wonderful this place was, but we never really appreciated it until his death. He certainly picked his final resting “place” very well!

Here is a picture of the grave with the arrangement.

And, the back side of the arrangement.

After checking out the elderly man, the EMTs filled out what seemed like mountains and mountains of paperwork. Since the man had driven by himself to the cemetary, his sister had told the EMTs on the phone that she would drive him back to her home. The man had declined a trip to the hospital, as this is the first time that anything like this had happened to him.

When the man’s sister arrived at the cemetary, the man arose from the bench, walking towards her. They embraced, sharing a kiss on the cheek, then walked over together to speak to the medical people.

Although this started out as a rather unusual adventure, I somehow felt as though my life had been made just a little better, meeting this warm and wonderful Korean veteran at the cemetary!

Happy Memorial Day!

Meet the Appliances!

So, how can one be so excited about new appliances? Well, considering the fact that neither the old refrigerator, nor stove worked properly, you cannot imagine the ease of my new appliances! One can indeed get excited about opening the freezer door and finding a bin filled with ice cubes!

Before I get ahead of myself, here is the new range.

This is a Bosch gas-powered convection stove. We originally looked at the Duel-Fuel models, but the difference between this one and that just didn’t seem worth the extra money. So we settled for this model, which is just wonderful! The previous stove had an oven door that would not close and a broken clock/timer.

The new stove has a computer in it which makes cooking and baking a real joy! The stove not only bakes in conventional mode, as well as convection, but it also proofs bread, has a Sabbath mode, and self-cleans! This morning, I baked two loaves of plain white bread (unhealthy, I know) with the convection oven and it was so cool! The oven baked at 325 degrees instead of 350, and it took 25 minutes instead of the 35 minutes it normally takes.

We are so happy with the stove, except for one minor problem. Mark has always been one with a “pioneer spirit”. As in, he built our house from “scratch” with help from my dad and brother. So, when it came time to hook up the stove, Mark said we could do it!

Well, now I am a bonafide plumber…can you believe it? Actually, we needed new connections for this stove, so I reconstructed the hookup under Mark’s watchful eye. The good news is that all of my connections passed the leak test, and we were off and running.

The next step in the process was changing the new range from natural gas connections to LP. This proved to be a little more challenging. Mark switched out the new LP jets for the cooktop. Then, it was my turn to adjust the oven and broiler jets. The oven one went off without a hitch. For the broiler, I needed to remove 7 screws, then allow the tube where the flames disperse to lean against the back of the stove….oh boy… I could barely get the thing to move forward! Mark told me to pull…and **snap**! A wire broke from the ceramic ignitor. Argh!!!

Long story short, Sears is getting us a new stove. Hurrah! This, they were told by the Bosch rep, was the third defective stove in our area. Phew….I felt so bad, as I was sure I had broken it, but no, the stove had a problem!

So, I am able to use the cooktop and the oven, I just cannot use the broiler. However, a new stove shall soon be here and they (Bosch) will do the LP conversion and hookup. I am so glad I won’t need to do this again.

Oops, before I move on to the new refrigerator, here is a picture of the inside of the oven, where you can see the convection fan in the back…..

Fortunately, the refrigerator was a much simpler installation. In fact, it was merely delivered, ice maker line hooked up, pushed into place, and then set to chill. My kitchen is so small (I prefer to think of it as “cozy”) that I am unable to stand back far enough to get a picture of the entire unit sitting in its niche.

So, here is the top, which is the refrigerator part!

I love the interior of this fridge! At the top are the controls for adjusting the temperature in the fridge as well as the freezer. Below are two full shelves, (one is non-adjusting, as it is on top of the veggie and fruit drawers) and two half-shelves. Under one half shelf, there is a small deli drawer.

Do you know how much more inclined one is to make a salad when the veggies are sitting almost at waist level instead of doing deep knee bends to retrieve veggies that are nearly sitting on the floor? Oh this is soooo good!
AND, a door with little shelves for ALL of the condiments! Does everyone have a zillion different condiments?

And, the bottom of the fridge is the freezer compartment. This is where the new ice maker resides, completely functional! The ice maker not only is capable of making small, medium, or large cubes, but also features an on/off switch! When we leave for a time, we can turn the ice maker off so no new cubes are made until we turn it on when we arrive home!

We liked the bottom drawer fridges, but they cost quite a bit more. So, we opted for this LG model which ranked high in the Consumer Reports. The freezer door swings just like the refrigerator door, and there is a slide out wire drawer. We find this no problem as we keep the bulk of frozen goods in a large freezer in the basement.

Hmm…Murphy discovered some ice cubes someone dropped on the floor! Silly pup.

So, there are the two units which are making life better and simpler here in the Bristolwood. We have been using the refrigerator for a few weeks thus far, and are tickled pink with its service. The oven has been used twice now….once for the bread this morning, and just now for the pizza I just baked!

Off to enjoy a slice……..

Pretty Columbines!

I took a couple of pictures of Columbines the other day. I love the purple color…they remind me a great deal of the vibrant purple Irises I remember from my childhood. The other plants are ones that I planted many years ago, when we first built the house….

I do have one or two other varieties of Columbine that have not flowered yet. Not sure of their colors, but I also have a variety in the front of the house that I had never seen before. They look like pink with white snowballs! They are quite unique. When I bought them, I thought because they were so cool, they would never make it. What a surprise to find that they are taking over the plantings in their beds!

As I was walking along the stream bed, I noticed a bumble bee on the ground. I couldn’t understand what this bee was doing….it moved sporadically, landing on rocks and burying itself in the ground under piles of leaves, then reemerging again!

May you enjoy this weekend! If you travel, please do so with great care….not everyone on the road is considerate! May you enjoy good company, good food, and good conversation. In the midst of the fun, please take a moment to remember those who have served this country and those who gave their lives that we might enjoy life as we know it!

Good Morning! (and I do mean *good*!)

Oh, it is so wonderful to feel all better this morning! No more parainfluenza. No more drugs running through my veins, causing me to be a bit “off”. I slept in until nearly 8 this morning, which is totally unheard of for me! All of my life, I have been a (very) early riser!

Last night, I felt better, so I did such a funny thing. I sat in a chair on the front porch, waiting for a hummingbird to appear. I only wish I could afford a telephoto lens with a smaller f-stop, because unless the area is flooded with light, it is tricky to get more than a silhouette of a hummingbird. Still, last night, I sat. The camera body was pressed firmly against my head, in lieu of using a tripod. I sat there as a rather large bee buzzed all along the railing, then right past my head. I did not flinch, however! I decided no matter what, I was going to get a good picture of a hummer! So, here is what I finally ended up with….

Yes, too dark, and as soon as she heard the snap of the shutter, she left. I still thought it was cool you could see her little eye shining!

Murphy awakened me this morning at about 5:15. I told him to “just go back to sleep”. He was such a good dog, that is *exactly* what he did! When I awakened at 7:45, I told him it was time to get up, and he wagged his tail and followed me to the door! As I was outside walking the boys, Michelle came and talked to me. I told her since the boys have been so “sedate” lately with me feeling sick, perhaps she could run with them a bit?

Michelle always wakes up feeling peppy, so she took the boys and off they ran. They ran up and down the yard, Murphy yapping, and Angus just enjoying a good run. They really enjoy it when Michelle takes off with them like that. When they were done, Michelle brought them up onto the front porch…..oh MY! What a MESS the boys were……

Look at all of the tree “litter” in Murphy’s kilt!!!

Angus could care less about all of that “stuff”. After all, he is always *on the lookout*! For what, we oftimes wonder! As you can see, Angus has this junk not only on his undercarriage, but it is also hanging off his beard! Ah well, a brisk brushing and the boys were back to their fluffy selves!

Before I close, I must tell this. As I was writing, I looked up when something caught my peripheral vision…a wasp had made its way into the house. When I couldn’t find the fly swatter in the linen closet, I grabbed the next best thing. (actually, the *only* thing that had a handle on it!) I firmly gripped feather duster in hand and viciously attacked said wasp as it hovered near the french doors. Murphy took this as a playtime, gleefully bouncing about, yapping, and wanting me to run with him!

Angus, on the other hand, being the senior, and (sometimes) wiser, decided that his Mum had “lost it” and took refuge……….

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!

I cannot believe that I feel *so* much better! Hurrah!

Although I will continue to take it easy today, I already refilled the hot tub and took some pictures! And speaking of pictures, the night before last, a big pileated woodpecker was “attacking” a stump about 50 feet from my window. I felt so terrible…the thought of even getting up to get my camera was more than I could bear. There was no way I could have lifted the camera to take a picture!

I was going to post a couple of pictures here, but Blogger has other plans and keeps giving me an error message so….

In a couple of hours, I will probably be grumbling and complaining about the heat, as we are expected to have a high near 90. I don’t do heat well.

I HATE Being Sick!

Yesterday, I wasn’t feeling quite “right”…as the day progressed, I became downright miserable! By the evening, I was lying in bed with major chills. I was supposed to go to the doctor this morning, but it seemed like an improbability!

This morning, I woke up feeling like someone had run me over! YUCK! I decided I would try to go to my appointment this morning, so I got ready. I was going mainly because last visit, my blood pressure was a ridiculous 180/100. After having an echo cardiogram, I was given a prescription for Lisinopril. I took it for a couple of weeks, then discontinued it when I was acting totally “loopy”. Both Carly and Mark said the medication was making me *weird*.

At the doctor appointment today, my blood pressure was down to a good number. The doctor was a bit surprised, as she noticed that the heart murmur she had detected last visit sounded a lot less pronounced. She explained that high blood pressure more or less amplifies murmurs. So, it was a good visit until she told me there are two strains of viruses making their rounds currently. The first is the flu, and the other, parainfluenza. Guess what my diagnosis was? Yes, I should count my blessings because I am not confined to the bathroom being sick! But why am I sick? I hate being sick!!!

Yesterday, I had intended to post some pictures, but they were preempted by illness! Anyway, I woke up yesterday morning with this cool idea to photograph “white” flowers. So, a day late, here are some of my pics!

My first pic is a white azalea flower. This is from a bush planted on the side of our house. The wonder of it all is that I bought this little “Charlie Brown” type bush at WalMart for some really low price. It was the end of the season, and I think I might have paid $2.00 for it. After bringing it home, I noticed the tag on it saying that it was rated for the zone where Oklahoma is located. Living in the northeast, it seemed that the bush was never going to make it here. But, it has been on the side of my house now for three years!

Oh, I so love the Lily of the Valley. I love their gentle fragrance, and the little white “bells”….they have always been a favorite of mine. I planted some of these next to the stream in the front of the house and they are now growing there and in another spot where I did not plant them!

As I was photographing flowers, I wondered if the May Apples had bloomed yet! I looked all around, and was able to finally find a blossom on one of the plants. Not quite open yet!

And lastly, not a white Trillium, but one that was “blushing” a very pretty lavender color! This isn’t a great picture, but the flower was a little beaten up, too!