Monday, March 9, 2009
So this is sort of my "jack rabbit" from the quilting retreat. It's small, but hey, it's done! And don't think it wasn't a challenge for my poor little left hand to manipulate those tiny pieces. They aren't perfect, but as my teacher said, "If a man on a fast horse wouldn't notice it, it's good enough."
Sunday, March 8, 2009
We had a lot of food left over, and I thought it would be a shame to have dinner alone today, but how do you call someone and invite them over for leftovers? Rulon and Barbara graciously accepted, fussed over the delicious food, and even took seconds. That's what I call real friends!
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Barbara led the discussion. She put together a little quilt. We all signed it and made it into a "Celebrity" quilt. We raffled it off and guess who got the quilt -- I DID.
It was during last month's book club that I had my stroke. This was certainly a better night for me! Love you, Pickles!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I joined my sister and her five daughters. We shared two adjoining rooms at Ruby's Inn (near the entrance to Bryce Canyon). Our little rooms were a bevy of activity, as you can see from the picture. We set up seven sewing machines, two ironing boards, and everywhere you looked there were cutting boards, rulers, beautiful fabrics, and fun projects. Sleep was almost impossible, as every bed was covered with quilt blocks being laid out into patterns. Here is one of the projects that I finished.
Monday, February 16, 2009
I’m a person who has always liked words. One of my favorite books is Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, by Anne Fadiman. Ex Libris literally means “from books.” I wish I were better at using words – then I would do a better job of communicating how much I appreciate all the kind things others have done for me over the past few weeks.
For example, just today three different friends have extended themselves to me. One dear friend came first thing this morning to help me mark my quilt fabric. Another friend took me to run errands this afternoon. A third friend invited us to have dinner with them this evening. I feel so spoiled. Isn’t there anyone out there who could peel me a grape?!
Last night when Randy and I arrived home late there was a gift bag by the back door. Inside was a book that I am so excited about – Language of the Mormon Pioneers, by George W. Givens. Did you know that a Furlong is equal to 40 poles (rods) or 660 feet. The term is still used in England, but is obsolete in ordinary language in the U.S. George Q. Cannon described the attack on the Prophet Joseph at the Johnson home in 1832: “Then they seized his throat and choked him until he ceased to breathe. When he recovered his senses from this inhuman attack he was nearly a furlong from the house.”
Another recent gift I am loving is the 1828 edition of Noah Webster’s Dictionary. I use it regularly while reading my scriptures and find it very helpful So if you happen to need to know the meaning of a mizzy, or plashing, or furbelows, just give me a call.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
The GoodAfter I got the cookie dough all made I remembered that our oven blew up three days after I came home from the hospital. This meant making arrangements to haul everything to the neighbors for baking. Bad! (Later, we went to look for a new oven).
No way to photograph this, but it was very ugly! Somehow, while I was in the hospital, somebody figured out a way to turn cookie-making into a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” process. I dropped a five pound bag of sugar on the basement steps, breaking it open and creating a huge mess. I tried to measure the shortening in water and ended up spilling the whole thing on the floor. In the process of measuring out half a cup of molasses I managed to drip, smear, pour, or drizzle molasses on everything on the entire countertop. After adding the flour I didn’t get the lid on properly and caused a flour volcano that left a coating of flour dust everywhere. The kitchen looked as if a ten-year-old had been at work unsupervised. It took three times as long as it should have, and by the time Randy came down the cook was in tears.
After cleaning up the kitchen, Randy and I went to physical therapy. My regular therapist was on vacation. I really liked the girl who worked with me and thought it was a very productive day. We worked on balance, walking, marching, side-stepping, catching balls, hopping. As I looked around the room at all those stroke patients trying so hard to move their leg, or hold a pencil, or step over a stick, or hold themselves up using the parallel bars, I was filled with a profound sense of gratitude. I can make cookies – all by myself!
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
Here's the latest update from the Peterson re-hab center.
I went to church yesterday! I was a little bit frightened and self-conscious about my first public appearance and about seeing all the people I love for the first time. I confess that my pride was raising a huge fuss about arriving with a cane--even if it was a "sassy" cane. I would have much preferred to be a fly on the wall rather than the center of attention. But what an outpouring of love! So many welcoming arms, hugs, smiles and expressions of love and concern. To me, I imagined it much like our heavenly return might be.
This is the first time (to my knowledge) that other people have fasted on my behalf. I do believe in faith and prayer and although this may sound childish and naive, I really believe I'm stronger today, happier, more at peace, more confident of the future. I'm walking better, I put the laundry in by myself, and I'm actually typing this blog (painstakingly, but nevertheless by myself). Kristin says I should tell you that I even threatened to throw the cane away today.
We are heading out to get a Portillo's hot dog, stopping at the grocery store and then cooking dinner for the missionaries. How normal is that?!
Last night I read Elder Holland's talk Remember Lot's Wife, which was a great reminder not to look back, but to the future. Elder Holland said, "I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from, but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences, but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn, and have brought back with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future."
Never mind what I could do two weeks ago, I'm grateful for what I can do today and look forward to the challenges of the future.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
I certainly would not use the word “fastidious” to describe myself, but I do like clean surfaces and my night stand would normally have a lamp, a clock radio, a phone and a reading book. We’ve rearranged a few things for convenience sake. And yes, we’re still noticing it!
Friday, January 30, 2009
This is Travis. I'm here in Chicago with Mom and Dad and wanted to give a quick update on Mom and the activities of the last couple days.
Mom continues to do great. She had her first therapy session yesterday. She met with an occupational therapist, a physical therapist and a case worker. The visit lasted about 2 hours. This first visit consisted of reviewing Mom's medical history and doing an evaluation. The occupational therapist had her do a few exercises to evaluate her baseline function. These were timed exercises comparing the dexterity of the right and left hand. One tested her ability to put small pegs into holes on a board and then remove them. The other had small circles with letters and numbers on a piece of paper similar to a dot-to-dot. She timed mom connecting the circles with a pencil. She finished by giving Mom a few exercises to work on at home to improve her coordination.
The physical therapist also did an evaluation focused on strength and coordination of the upper and lower extremities as well as assessing Mom's gait. We were impressed with her and think she will do a good job.
Overall there was not too much heavy duty therapy, but that will start at her next session on Tuesday. My take home message from therapy was that Mom is strong but needs to work to regain her coordination. Mom's take home message was summed up by "the 3 nos". 1) No visits to the gym...yet. 2) No driving...yet. 3) No walking without a cane...for now. Each of these were a bit of a bummer, but we hope that these will all be short lived annoyances.
Today we went to see Mom's internist. This visit was pretty uneventful, but allowed us to ask a few additional questions. After leaving the doctors office we went on the most important mission of the day to find Mom a cane. Not just any cane, but one suitable for Mom. This was not an easy task. What do you think of our choice?
FYI: We have decided to have a family fast for Mom this Sunday. We know there are many other people in need of health, spiritual strength and comfort; but would like to invite any of you to join us if you would like. Our hope is that Mom will have no permanent disability and no further stroke.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
First of all, I’m not going to die, but had I not had this event, I would never have experienced this amazing outpouring of love and concern. I have heard from so many people who I didn’t even know read my blog. I have received phone calls and emails, flowers and goodies. Your faith and prayers, your expressions of love and concern have been such a support and comfort to me. I wish there were better words than Thank You to express my feelings, but until the Adamic language is restored I guess they will have to do.
And speaking of support, could anyone be blessed with a more supportive family than I have? When they finally released me from the hospital Saturday evening, Quinn came up from Champaign to help get us through Sunday. After assessing the situation, the kids counseled together and, despite our protests, came up with a plan. Quinn stayed until today. He is replaced by Travis, who has tried to board a plane four different times today (Columbus has truly been slammed by a huge storm that has shut down everything). He will stay until Saturday. Kristin will arrive on Sunday. By the time she leaves I hope I will be able to take care of myself. But what an extraordinary experience to spend this one-on-one time with them. And I am so aware that they are not making the sacrifices alone. Spouses are staying at home with full responsibility for children and everything that goes with it, and some of their circumstances make this a significant challenge. I’m so grateful to them.
Quinn has served his little fingers to the bone, cleaning, cooking, laundry, blogging, errands, phone calls. Getting back to the lab will be a vacation for him. Travis will be here to take me to my first physical therapy appointment and to my follow-up appointment with the internist. It will be so good to have his medical expertise and perspective. I certainly have much to bless my life. I am grateful
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
I always assumed that when a stoke occurred the full impact of the consequences was delivered immediately. When I walked into Central DuPage Hospital on Thursday evening they immediately suggested the possibility of a stroke, but my symptoms were so minimal that I still was confident that I could be at the gym the next morning. Disappointingly, in my case each morning for the next three days I awoke to discover that my capacities were further diminished and although the doctors reassured me that I had every reason to be optimistic, it is hard to be confident of recovery when each day your condition seems worse.
In the wee hours of the morning on Saturday, I asked a nurse if she would help me go for a short walk to relieve some of the aches and pains of lying in bed. We made a quick circle around the nurses station and returned to the room. I sat in a chair in the darkness and contemplated for the first time the reality of my situation. My left hand didn’t work. When I tried to reach for something, I realized I couldn’t control the direction that my hand went, and when something was placed in my left hand I regularly realized that although I thought I was holding it, it had fallen. When I stood on my feet, my left knee sagged. I constantly had to straighten my left leg. I never realized how necessary two feet are in maintaining balance. When I would try to move my left foot it often wouldn’t move, but my body had already started forward motion. I was left to try to compensate by moving my right foot back and forth in ways I’d never tried before. This resulted in a lot of banging against walls and grabbing for furniture to steady myself.
Yesterday was a good day for me. The first time I stood on my feet, I felt somehow different—more stable, more confident, less tipsy. Was my foot dragging less? I wanted to think so, but wasn’t sure if I was making it up. Later in the day my son called to say that his doctor colleague told him that in cases where the clot occurs where mine had, a very few patients experience swelling that causes their symptoms to become increasingly worse. This should only last 72 hours and then things should begin to improve. Yesterday was 72 hours for me and I’m hopeful that I have bottomed out and that I am on the way up. Life is good.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Hello blogging friends:
I am grateful to Quinn for typing this blog for me. My world as I have known it was rocked dramatically on Thursday evening when I suffered a stroke. Fortunately, it was a small one and my doctors are optimistic that I will have a full recovery. But for today, I am seeing my world very differently. I am home from the hospital and grateful that my speech has not been affected, nor my mind (any problems I had with my mind were pre-existing); my biggest problems are motor skills. I am not able to walk without assistance and my left hand functions much like a fish tied to a stick. We are in the process of assessing what I can and can’t do for myself.
When the physical therapist came to see me at the hospital, she brought a shopping list of available equipment for handicapped—wonderful things like hand rails for the shower and toilet, shower chairs, and toilet lifts. I nearly laughed out loud at the thought that I would ever use something like that. However, when I carefully considered how I was going to take a shower this morning, guess who ended up putting on his boots, trudging through the snow to the shed and retrieving a plastic patio chair. Some of the information they brought me to read indicated that two of the symptoms of stroke patients are uncontrollable laughter and crying. I laughed a little bit, but I cried a lot as I flailed around trying to shampoo my hair.
I have given some thought as to whether or not I should try to continue blogging. I think it might be therapeutic and also be helpful in chronicling my progress. One of the things I can’t do is type, but I will post whenever I can enlist someone to help me.
In the meantime when you hop out of bed tomorrow, be grateful that no one has to be there to assist you, that you can hold your own hair blower, flush the toilet, and put on your own pants. I had never noticed how sweet it was to be able to do those things.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
When I was 11 or 12, my dad purchased some Army Surplus skis (which were wooden and about 20 feet long) and introduced me to skiing. We drove up Cedar Canyon on treacherous roads to the College Cabin near Woods Ranch. They had set up a short tow rope which hauled us up to the top of the hill. It was about a 60 second descent, snow-plowing all the way. That's about as proficient as I ever got. Some of my children enjoy skiing, as do some of my grandchildren. Adam especially loves it and actually attends a ski school twice a week. His grandma Judy can hardly breathe when she watches this eleven-year-old daredevil ski.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Today was a politically historic day for our country. My father was a Democrat, and in fact, ran for office several times on the Democratic ticket. Obviously, that shaped much of my early political thought. I have to remind myself that time has changed many things. I understand that at one time all Mormons were Republican until our church leaders said that it was essential for our country to have a two-party system. They then divided the room in half. One side was to be Democrat. The other side was to be Republican. I sometimes wonder how my father would feel about our country’s politics if he were still living.
I was a teenager when Kennedy was elected President. Much about Obama’s success has reminded me of the fascination and excitement I felt about the Kennedy’s political acclaim. In much the same way, I think our country is quite captivated by the Obamas. Through the years my political views have become conservative. I did not vote for Obama. But, I am trying to have an open mind and I truly hope that he will be able to accomplish some good things. Beginning tomorrow, I will be paying close attention to his actions and his decisions.
At the close of this day, and after all that I have seen and heard others say about the inauguration, there is one thing that stands out in my mind, and that is the grace and dignity with which the Bushes said goodbye. Whatever you may think of George W. Bush, and however you may feel about the decisions he has made, let me make it clear that I am happy he was our president. I am grateful for the good things he accomplished. I appreciate the “class” and good taste they exhibited in every instance. The Bush administration is behind us, but there are still a lot of mean-spirited people in our country. I’m interested to see who they will be complaining about tomorrow. To the democrats, it’s all yours. You will have no one to blame but yourselves.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Uncle Rob joined us in California. Naturally, he was everyone's "favorite." He always seemed to have the energy and time to play with the kids, help them with projects, solve their problems and salve their feelings.
Our Christmas Eve Shepherds dinner.
Duffy-boating at Newport Beach.
In case you're wondering what this cage is, it is a rabbit hutch. Our cousins live about an hour away from Heidi and Brent, and when we go to California we love to get together with them. They raise rabbits, and our grandkids don't want to do anything while we're there but play with the rabbits. Bruiser had just had a new bunny about two weeks before we went to see them. Unbeknownst to the kids, Heidi and Brent had agreed to take the bunny as a Christmas gift for their kids, but the bunny had to be a few weeks older before it could leave its mother. The kids thought the bunny was to die for and when they asked if they could have it, Debi explained that they already had a home for the bunny, but that they could help name it. After much discussion and voting they finally settled on "Snowy". You can't believe the delight when the kids discovered the rabbit hutch on Christmas morning and learned that Snowy would be theirs as soon as he was old enough to leave home. What do you think, will this bunny be loved?
Friday, January 16, 2009
Look at our little Clayton. He's only 10 weeks old and already he weighs 16 pounds. This picture was taken the day he was blessed. Since Travis and Britt were here too, Quinn and Tiffany kindly agreed to bless him here in our home ward. It was fun for Randy and me to babysit the kids last night. We don't have very many opportunities to have them all to ourselves. Come back soon!
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Speaking of sisters (yesterday’s post), I’ve been thinking about my own sisters. I was second youngest in a family with five girls. The summer that I turned eight years old we had a unique experience. My oldest brother, Charles, died when I was five years old. My parents had always wanted to take the family on an extended vacation, but Charles’ health was always a problem. After he passed away, they saved up to buy a new car and then took the remaining eight of us to Oregon for a summer adventure.
My uncle was part-owner in a fruit company. Our family joined the other migrant pickers who worked for Webster Orchards. We lived in this little two-bedroom “shack”, which we called “the cabin.” It was set on a hill that was surrounded by fruit orchards. All five girls shared the same bedroom. The two oldest girls shared one double bed. The three of us “little girls” shared the other double bed. We slept side-ways because it gave us a little more room. Mother spent the first three days scrubbing the cabin from top to bottom with Lysol disinfectant. She cooked on a wood-burning stove. There was a huge blackberry patch at the foot of the hill, and that doggone wood-burning stove (with a little help from mother) baked the most delicious blackberry pies you’ve ever tasted.
We “little girls” weren’t old enough to pick fruit. When we awakened in the morning the others were “long gone.” Looking back, I wonder if mother wasn’t a little worried about leaving an eleven-year-old, an eight-year-old, and a five-year-old alone all day long with no phone and no way to get in touch with our parents (who roamed from orchard to orchard depending on where the fruit was ready to pick). There was a family that lived in a house on the other side of the orchard. I suppose that is where we would have gone in case of an emergency, but pretty much it was the three of us on our own for the day. There was always a pot of cracked wheat cereal waiting for us on the stove. By the time we woke up it was a cold solid block of “mush.” Since that didn’t appeal to us, we usually ate a can of applesauce or some pineapple rings. The rest of the day we ran through the orchards, picked blackberries, swung on the huge tree swing daddy had hung, made plans for a new club, wrote notes to ourselves from imaginary playmates which we hid in tree trunks or under stones. When we “accidentally” stumbled onto one of these notes we read it over and over and diligently tried to persuade each other that there were truly secret playmates watching us from behind this or that cherry tree.
By today’s standards, DCFS would probably have taken us away and put us into protective custody. We never worried for a minute. We were the Three Musketeers. We were never afraid, never had an accident, never were bored, never made a mess, never lacked for ideas about how to use our time, and never complained about being left alone. I occasionally see a fruit box at a grocery store from Webster Orchards. It’s always a reminder of an idyllic summer for three little sisters.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
My daughter sent this picture to me yesterday. During our Christmas visit in California, Randy and I got to be Christmas Elves to assist with a number of home-made gifts. We cut, painted, glued and sanded these SISTERS boards. It was a fun project and since it didn't get hung until after we had returned home we were especially happy to see how it turned out. That's the room we always stay in when we visit so we'll get to enjoy it each time we go.
Monday, January 12, 2009
It’s Monday. I really love Mondays. For one thing, they come right after Sundays, which have the potential to be awesome days for me, depending on whether I get to teach my gospel doctrine lesson that day (a calling which I share with another teacher). When you only teach every other week it allows a lot of time to read and think about the topic, and you know the old saying that there is no greater burden than an undelivered sermon—it’s also true for Sunday School lessons. Yesterday I taught, and today I feel “unburdened!” But by tomorrow I will have read my next lesson and begun to think about it.
Here’s how preparing a lesson goes for me. Monday is my free day. Then I read the reading block and the lesson. Invariably I think, “How in the world am I going to turn that into a lesson that is interesting and engaging! Over the next few days I read the material again and again and begin considering the key concepts covered. I have a whole library full of commentaries, institute manuals, old lessons I’ve taught over the years, my personal filing system which houses things I’ve collected for forty years, and a few internet sources I look at. Over a period of days, thoughts come into my mind, or something in an article I read jumps out at me, or I happen to think of an experience I had years ago. The Lord is so good, and as I pray for direction and inspiration in my preparation I can always recognize his hand in the way things turn out. I love this calling!