Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Breakfast on a bench

In the few months after we had moved into our new downsized home, I had already found one of my favorite spots--the window seat in a bump-out at the north side of our house. 
A favorite perch
Hubby sneaked around and captured me enjoying a casual breakfast of a toasted bagel and hot tea one November morning. 

I had already surrounded myself with my toys: laptop computer, binoculars for watching birds at the feeders, my birding field guide and a plush cartoon-character throw one of our grandsons had outgrown.

That was in 2016. I haven’t outgrown the throw, my toys or the hot tea. With a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, though, I no longer have that casual bagel breakfast. 
Cool November morn; hot, hot tea

And both Hubby and I are still enjoying those window seats, now my principal blogging location. 

The allure is good back support, room to elevate my legs comfortably, that handy window sill on which to park my mug of hot tea, and the restful view of the natural world when I give my eyes a break from the computer screen.  


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Input Requested

Since my Type 2 diabetes diagnosis a couple of years ago, I have attempted to control blood sugar levels with diet, exercise and no medication. 

If you are doing the same, I would appreciate any word on how you are doing and strategies you have developed.  

Here's the background:

For me, walking two miles or more daily usually translates to lower blood sugar readings the next day, but not always. 

With the help of Hubby, my cooperative chef and chief cheerleader, we are both mostly strict with diet. I count carbs. He counts calories. 

Consistent exercise and counting is not enough, however, to get a handle more specifically on what contributes to those less than stellar readings that occur too often. 

My former primary care physician kept a schedule of every six months doing that A1C test. She was okay with my diet and exercise regimen. Then she relocated. 

The new doc is emphatic that even with diet and exercise, I will have to go on medication eventually, anyway. I understand that. 

But she doesn’t want me to take my blood sugar daily because she doesn’t want me to “freak out.” Well that definitely freaked me out. 

I guess I do sound obsessive about the subject. No, make that I AM obsessive.

The routine of Hubby poking my finger and doing that simple blood sugar check every day and at different times of day has been revealing and helpful.

I see nothing wrong with trying to determine what more specifically I can tweak in exercise, eating and timing. Hopefully what I learn will help me pamper the remaining insulin-producing beta cells in my pancreas and keep them functioning a little longer. 

One of my challenges is finding an easy method for keeping a daily record of what specific foods and liquids I consume and when. We are out and about a lot.

I have tried carrying a small notepad; but whether at home or not, recording specifically when and what I eat seems to be an insurmountable task for me. 

I already carry my iPhone everywhere, and I have seen counting-carbs apps for iPhone advertised. It all looks intimidating, though, for this non-techie procrastinator. 

I am still exploring options. Experiences that have helped others, and word of any apps or strategies that worked or didn’t work will be appreciated.

Ideas anyone?


Monday, September 9, 2019

Caution: Grandkid Post Ahead

Hubby and I are making plans for travel when the weather gets a bit cooler. 

Ironing out the specifics of our travel plans lately seems to revolve around the schedules of doctors, kids and grandkids.

Medical procedures and doctors’ appointments are a necessary fact of physical health at this stage of life. But the kid and grandkid element is a delightful addiction that boosts our mental and emotional health.

That said, cooler weather travel must include our annual trek to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for Grandparents Day at our Louisiana grands’ school.

Last year the visit to Walker’s classroom was typical. We met his teacher and classroom aide. We joined him in the word puzzles and other activities the teacher had planned for each student to complete with grandparents. 

Walker did a great job of involving both sets of grandparents in his activities. 
Nana, Baboo and Walker
We caught up with Granddaughter Molly Kate in the chapel where performances were planned featuring each of the upper grades plus the school band and choir. Among the fourth-grade numbers were Molly Kate and four other students in a Vegas-styled rendition of the Beatles’ “Love.” 

Our granddaughter on far right
The girls were “backup” singers and dancers to a male classmate’s solo. He nailed what I imagined a Vegas crooner would look like, prancing down the aisle to the stage in a flashy sport coat with the “backup babes” dancing in his wake.

MK doing what she loves
Their singing and dancing plus the performances of other student groups didn’t disappoint.

We definitely weren’t the only happy grandparents that day. It was an enthusiastic, standing-room-only crowd. 

We closed that celebration with another tradition, the grands' choice for lunch at Chick-fil-A.


Thursday, September 5, 2019

Washer Woes and Toddler Adventures

Our washing machine has been comatose for more than a week. After a couple days of tinkering, Hubby was not sure whether resuscitation was possible or even desirable. 

The repairman wasn't available until after the weekend. So off Hubby went with about a week’s worth of laundry to the local washateria (“laundromat” for those who are under 70 and didn’t grow up in Mississippi).   

The current washer woes reminded me of another washing machine malfunction that had me scurrying to that same washateria almost 40 years ago with a load of cloth diapers.

Accompanying me was our youngest son, not yet a year old. He required a near constant parental eye on him as he was an avid and determined explorer of the look, touch, taste variety.

I walked in with son on one hip and the piled high laundry basket on the other.

In that long ago era, the establishment offered no air conditioning, just an exhaust fan in the ceiling. I could see through the vent to the sky above, and the sun on the slowly rotating fan blades made shadows on the floor. 

That exhaust fan didn’t help the heat and humidity much with nearly every washer and dryer in operation. I snared the only available washer left, stood my toddler by me and started loading the washer with an eye on my son.

But when I started putting quarters in the slidey thing, it wouldn’t slide in. My mom radar failed for the few moments I jiggled and pushed until it slid in and the washing machine started.

I turned to check on my little one. He was stretched out on the floor, the dirty floor, on his stomach, licking the shadows the exhaust fan made on the floor—on that extremely dirty, dirty floor. Did I mention it was filthy?

I cannot remember what I did next. I know I avoided my initial reaction, which was to throw up. And our son is still around with full use of his arms, legs and mental faculties, so there was no destructive mom meltdown. 

Knowing his character, I suspect that in our little experimenter’s mind it would have been impolite NOT to sample this new potential and fascinating treat. Yuck!

Update: Hubby made one more trip to that establishment before the repairman came out to give us an estimate. Price was good; part had to be ordered; it arrived in a few days.

We were shortly back in business. Hooray!


Monday, September 2, 2019

Good Words

Sorrow looks back.
Worry looks around.
Faith looks up.

The words above are so true. I spent much of my younger years doing more of the first two lines. The third line is a succinct recipe for embracing the peace that passes all understanding. 

I borrowed the lines from Ginny Hartzler’s excellent August 6, 2019, post about service dogs in training. 

 Click here to see her post. Her blog is "Let Your Light Shine."


Thursday, August 29, 2019

Blast from the Past

Bridge over Biloxi Bay
My sporadic attempts to relearn how to edit photos paid off recently in an unexpected way. I found a bunch of shots in my iPhoto program that Hubby had taken with his Nikon . . . in 2016!

A mild evening on a local fishing pier was perfect for me to get some walking in and for him to capture the night time view of the bridge over the bay.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

My kind of soccer

That is Grandson Walker in black. (Photos by Son Jeremy) 
I don’t know much about soccer, but with a grandson and granddaughter involved, I am trying to learn.

Most previous experiences watching their games occurred in broiling weather conditions. On a June visit with our Baton Rouge family, Hubby and I encountered what is my new favorite way to enjoy the sport—indoor soccer.

The most important aspect was AIR CONDITIONING! 

But there’s more. Walls five or six feet high instead of lines on an outdoor field delineated the playing area. That kept the ball in play except when it went so high it exceeded the height of a net stretched behind and above the goal. 

Only a couple of times did I hear that whistle that is so prevalent in the outdoor games, once for the ball going over the net behind the goal and another for some kind of foul. 

As a result the total duration, including playing time plus stops in action for out-of-bounds balls or infractions, was shorter and flew by mostly uninterrupted. That was the second difference I appreciated.

Grandson Walker on defense
Number Three was the seating that was provided behind those walls around the field. From there we could easily see all the action (Translation: Even soccer-illiterate Nana could see that Grandson W on defense had newly honed skills and was making a difference for his team). 

Summer fun

Alas, the indoor version was a short, for-fun, season. Our next soccer experience, whether watching a Louisiana or a Mississippi grand, will once again involve excessive heat and humidity, transporting our lawn chairs across vast expanses to the appropriate field, and chugging water to stay hydrated. 

Regardless of the varying levels of comfort, the opportunity to attend our grandchildren's soccer games is a pleasure.


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Stroll with me

My previous post featured images from a batch of Hubby’s photos circa 2016 that I recently discovered on my computer. 

His photos stirred up memories, and your visits and comments strengthened my urge to continue the stroll down memory lane.

I picture strolling as a pleasant walk, a carefree saunter. My walking experiences these days usually give me pleasure, but they are not totally carefree. 

Instead, keeping my stroke affected leg and foot lifting and landing when and where needed is not automatic. It requires concentration but is well worth the effort. 

A mental stroll is not without challenges either. But my memory bank is filled to the brim with precious memories of the help of God and the kindnesses of wonderful relatives, friends and strangers. And that includes those individuals I enjoy digital strolling with down their own memory lanes via their blogs. 

Here's to future strolls, both yours and mine. And may blessings surround you in bright times and not so bright times. 


Monday, August 19, 2019

Giving Memories Away

(Photos by Hubby)
Life changes.
Pre-stroke, I had enjoyed plunking away on my old upright piano, a long-ago gift from my parents. I was never proficient, but playing my favorite hymns was a pleasure. 

I also enjoyed when our sons and one of our daughters-in-law would entertain us with classic favorites. Our grandkids in their earliest years followed their parents’ example. 

They loved to bang away, “performing” their made-up music for parents and grandparents. And when our gifted nephew visited, he would make that piano sing.
The new owner and his friends stabilize
the piano for a safe move.

When we built our new drastically downsized home, we knew my old upright piano had to go.

But where? There is not a great demand for upright pianos, even as a give-away, and even if, like ours, it is in excellent condition. Plus it is an exceedingly heavy instrument requiring lots of muscle and special handling to transport without the piano or a person getting injured. 

I wanted it to go to a good home. It had been a fixture in our home for almost 50 years.

We were pondering that one day at our favorite local coffee shop when a conversation at the next table alerted me that one of the ladies was a piano teacher. 

Who better to steer us to someone who wanted a piano? She visited our home to check it out with one of her students. She and the student gave it a thumbs up. With her help that piano was eventually on its way to a new home with one of her adult students.

I can't deny that my heart ached at seeing it go.  But I was happy in the hope that it is bringing joy in its new home.

Ready to go. Goodby old friend!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Strokes for Strokes

 A postcard came in the mail inviting me and a guest or guests to a “Strokes for Strokes” paint party for stroke survivors.

I have little artistic talent. When the paint party craze overtook our town about a decade ago, I successfully avoided them for several years. Then our granddaughter’s birthday paint party introduced me to the process.

We joined the other adults and our granddaughter and her friends at a charming backyard cottage repurposed as “Mud Pies and Masterpieces.”

A dozen little girls enthusiastically—and noisily, followed the stroke by stroke instructions and example of the adult who was leading them in creation of Hello Kitty on their canvases.

Although they replicated the Hello Kitty character with varying degrees of precision, all were recognizable.

Once they all completed their final stroke and signed their masterpieces, they moved to the veranda for birthday fare while their paintings dried. 

That birthday party experience dispelled my automatic avoidance of paint parties. Hubby agreed to go with me to the party sponsored by the American Heart Association.

On the designated Saturday we made our way to a spacious lobby in the newly constructed building of a local orthopaedic clinic. Tables filled the space with easels holding 11x14 canvases ready for guests. 

Brinn, paint party entrepreneur
As soon as we were ushered to a table, Brinn, owner of the paint party business booked for the event, asked if we wanted a blank canvas or one of the ones with half a valentine heart that had “petals” around its outer edge. 

Hubby chose blank, I chose heart. 

Brinn was well prepared for individuals with mobility issues like mine. 

“What colors would you like,” she queried. 

“Bold, really bold,” I responded. 

She came back with a Styrofoam plate that had bright blobs of red, turquoise, orange and yellow on it. In no time I was engrossed. I loved coloring books as a child. This was like coloring but more fun. 

Once started, I realized I also wanted pink. When Brinn checked on us, I asked for two additional paints--white and a little black.

Hubby whipped his creation out in a flurry of lines then moved on to what was enticing him more than painting--the refreshment tables loaded with an abundant array of goodies.
Hubby’s masterpiece

Once I finished, I walked around with my rollator, admiring the paintings of other stroke survivors and their guests. It was clear there were experienced, well-trained artists as well as creative, if untrained, folks in the crowd. 

As I returned and was initialing my masterpiece, two of the volunteers were making the rounds with encouraging words. The older one, a retired psychiatrist, gave me a quick analysis of what my color choices said about me—which I can’t remember now. 

Hubby was still sampling the goodies, and I will never know what the psychiatrist would have said about his painting. But I found his painting intriguing. The more I looked at the details I saw that every stroke was purposeful. But if it was a self-portrait, it was definitely a bit creepy.

My fun with paint

The younger volunteer said she really liked the feathers on the bird in my painting. I gave her a polite “Thank you.” 

I refrained from telling her how disappointed I was. I thought I had successfully captured the character of a flashy, deceptive serpent, maybe even the infamous one from the Garden of Eden.

And just that quickly my career as an artist was over! But it was fun for the hour it lasted.


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Local Library Blues

Libraries offer just about something for everyone, and our public library is no exception.

Mississippi bluesman Bill Abel

One of my favorite events was bluesman Bill Abel’s evening program about Mississippi Delta blues music, instruments and history. 

The large meeting room was not a typical venue for blues, but Abel owned it. The soft-spoken, life-long Delta resident is passionate about music, especially the blues. He spiced his study of the work of music historians with his personal experiences with famous Delta bluesmen. 

Abel brought with him an assortment of guitars from his collection, including homemade cigar box guitars typical of those that black sharecroppers of the Mississippi Delta created from materials on hand or available at little or no cost.
Abel on cigar-box guitar
He demonstrated—and entertained—on both. Turns out he is also an excellent teller of tales as well as an accomplished musician. 

His musical tour of the development, rhythms and nuances of Delta blues was a welcomed excursion into new territory for me.

Looking Back: I took the photos in this post a year ago. I was no where near adapting to my iPhone camera. Fuzzy photos and frustration ruled. Frustration still accompanies my one-handed efforts but not as much. Now I'm having fun. Progress!


Friday, August 9, 2019

View from Front Beach

An exercise in joy

August 8 last year a contingent of my coastal Virginia relatives accompanied me on a beach walk during their visit with Hubby and me.

All eight of us savored the view of the sunset as we hiked the paved beach path. 

But the greatest pleasure was being with my brother, my sister-in-law, their two daughters and their spouses, plus my brother’s first grandbaby. 

They stayed with us several days that were filled with catching up, sightseeing, enjoying good food and playing with the little one. 

We only see them about once or twice a year, and my tear ducts definitely worked overtime when we waved goodbye. 

Now I am looking forward to a trip to Virginia that Hubby and I are planning to visit them, but we are waiting until the weather is cooler. 


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Not a Fashion Statement

Earring mishap
Earrings are usually the only jewelry I wear these days. 

I enjoy earrings, and Hubby is an expert at keeping me supplied with pairs we both like.

But I freaked when I glanced at the mismatched pair above. Somehow I had slipped those on and never checked a mirror—for a whole day!

Blunders with accessories seemed to be a pattern even before my hemorrhagic stroke in 2011. I never felt comfortable wearing bracelets, although I am not sure why. 

I did like wearing necklaces, though. But I was a danger to myself, others and especially the necklaces. If there was a way to snag a necklace on some inanimate object, I did it. Or on an animate object. Or on another person, moving or not. But I persisted.

I never dreamed a benefit of a stroke would be losing my desire to wear necklaces. 

The only jewelry items I miss wearing since then are my wedding and engagement rings. I rarely took them off. But my affected left hand started swelling a month after the stroke. 

I had to have the rings cut off. Our local jeweler did the honors. In spite of my fears it was a simple and painless process. Now the rings are safely tucked away. 

I have toyed with the idea of having that jeweler create earrings out of them, but even though I cannot wear the rings, they still give me a happy feeling just as they are.

I’ll just continue to stick with earrings, hoping that I do a better job checking to be sure they match! 


Friday, August 2, 2019

Lessons for a lifetime

My father cited the verses below as he introduced a much younger me to financial common sense. “Don’t sign a note with ANYBODY, whether best friend or a family member.” 

Proverbs 6:1-2KJV My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.

Daddy's lessons were never long, just a conversation, usually with a snippet of family history about the unwise actions of some adult I was acquainted with. Sometimes it was about missteps he or my mother had made. Sometimes it was about other respected adults that populated my list of people I loved. 

Those in this particular object lesson had not followed Proverbs 6:1-2 at some point earlier in life. The fact that they had learned from their unfortunate, expensive and painful choices was evident and made the lesson more powerful to me. 

Throughout those growing up years, he often interspersed our daily interactions with Proverbs 6:1-2 reminders and other practical Bible verses that helped shape who I am today.

Even though I ignored some of his precepts and had to learn their truth through my own foolish and uncomfortable experiences, I am so thankful for those lessons.
In 1978 Biblica, formerly the New York Bible Society, published the full New International Version Bible and made the Bible available in more modern English. Here are those Proverbs verses from the NIV:

Proverbs 6:1-2NIV My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth.


Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Life with Hubby

Earlier today Hubby, AKA Treasured Resident Cook, had folded himself in half, rummaging through the freezer drawer of our refrigerator, looking for the hamburger patties he planned to fix for lunch.

“Hey! I found a pair of my glasses,” he chortled. He pulled a pair of readers from the frozen food stash. 
Truly the coolest eyewear ever!

He was a good sport about posing with his defrosted glasses!


Thursday, July 25, 2019

End of an Era

Our camping boxes for more than five decades

Before the advent of plastic two-liter containers for soft drinks, boxes’ like the ones above were designed to transport quart-sized, glass bottles of Coca-Cola. 

When we were planning our first long camping trip in the 1970s we found that the heavy duty, reinforced Coke boxes were perfect for our extended camping adventure. At 50 cents per box they also fit our tight budget. 

A trip to our local Coca-Cola bottling plant and we came home with five or six, maybe more, with the classic Coke colors and logo. 

We finally found a vehicle, a cargo van, that Hubby could repurpose for camping and that we could afford. He used those boxes to determine the height our bed would be when he retrofitted the van to be our new home away from home.

We used those boxes to corral nonperishable food, cooking  gear, utensils, and other necessities of life on the road. They proved handy to slide in and out from under the bed as needed. They were with us on that first trip and every camping trip since, whether weekend excursions or trips of  several weeks, a month or more. 

As the years passed the classic Coke colors of the boxes faded and frequent use added stains. Gradually they also began to disintegrate until there were only two. 

After our most recent 9-day trip to the mountains earlier in July, those last two Coke boxes are being retired. I can’t even fuss that Hubby has the raggedy things sitting on a  sofa in our house. I know he will eventually decide what he will do with them.

And every time I pass by they tug at my heart, provoking memories of countless adventures in every season of our family life. They also give rise to the reality that those particular seasons of life are closed. 

Now is the season to savor life with our grown offspring, grown nieces and nephews and our growing grandchildren and great nieces and nephews. 

 Life is good!