Sunday, May 5, 2013

Anna Jean

Mom holding me with sisters surrounding!
My mother Anna Jean passed quietly into eternity on January 31st of this year.  I cannot believe that it is already May. May.  It still seems so fresh...this new existence...this seeing life from a new angle.

Mothers are so much of who we we see we see our world.  We struggle to break free from this imprinting,  yet it is still so close to our heart.  I had a special mother-friendship  as an adult.  I began grieving the loss of this relationship in little spurts at the beginning...the first time I realized that I needed to be there more for her than she was for me.  The first time she could no longer care for my father by herself and finally broke her silence and cried out for help which we (my husband and I) were more than willing to give (and realized how much she had tried to do it all on her own). The first time she could no longer trust herself to drive and now needed me to take her places, to dr. appointments, to provide company and do errands, give showers and cleaning.  God gave me so much love to do the tasks that were needed.  He gave me endless patience and desire to do a good job at this new role.  Yet the grief process had begun.

Grief.  It continued for many years.  Not really showing itself, just sneaking around when I least expected.  When I was surprised that things were not quite like they had been between us.  That I could not react in "little girl" ways but that I would learn and do what she had always modeled for me.  And there were times when she was not happy with MY mothering, and making the decisions, and having to make hard choices.  Gratefully I had a good teacher.

I think that my grief is not yet fully realized.  I was intimately involved in all her care for so long  that each step, each period was a new challenge of letting go...allowing the change, the aging, the frailty and a new definition of the relationship to take place. 

Just before she went "home" she seemed scared as if to say with her eyes, "what is this it?  am I dying?"  All of us...her family...helped her to make that final transition, to let go without fear, to know that we would be okay, that we would miss her and that we were excited for her to see all those who would joyfully meet her. She let go peacefully and it was a gift to be with her in those final moments.  We tearfully sang "What a friend we have in Jesus" and "Amazing Grace" in those last breathing moments, we prayed and thanked her and as Pastor Greg said in her eulogy,  we had come full circle.  The mother who sang and prayed with us as children and invited us in to cuddle when we were scared and had gotten us off to church each week whether we liked it or not! now had her children singing and praying and helping her to not be afraid and trust the strong arms of God. 

How can I grieve when God has given me the best?  The chance to be reunited.  The love of a passionately loving mother who did all she could for her family.  Thanks mom!  You are missed.  It is a joy to remember all the years.  The early ones, the middle ones, the later ones.  Thank you.
November 2012

Sun City Dec. 25th, 2009

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

"These are a few of my favorite things...."

"Raindrops on roses and wiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens...."


These are a few of my favorite things....

Warm flannel sheets and fleece.  Warm sauna heat...purifying, cleansing.  Handmade soap from a kind friend. 

Morning sun on freshly fallen snow, or leaves, or grass or white caps...or still water...
the deep blue of the beautiful spacious skies.  The starry starry nights.  Light gives hope!

Knees that work.  Pain that was a great teacher and now a memory to inspire and not take for granted the simple functions of life.  Walking!!

Gardens that feed health.  Fresh air that makes each breath a pleasure.  Water cold from the faucet, clean and refreshing. 

Babies and Aged ones laughing.  My grown children laughing.  My husband laughing! 

Computers for communicating.  A good book with a cup of cocoa...or joe....or tea!  A quiet place to do it!

Clean house!  Clean sheets!  Clean anything!  So fresh and exciting! its so exciting to me....jajaja...

A husband who cooks, cleans, gardens, bakes bread and crackers and makes soup and chili and grows wonderful things in the garden to put in them.  Who cuts wood and keeps us warm and makes me laugh and challenges me and reminds me of "perspective" and loves me the way I am.

Two wonderful son who love me and tease me and try to change me! 

St. Vinnie's and wonderful treasures hidden that others no longer want...but are new to me!  and useful!  Motto that i am trying to internalize..." REUSE, RECYCLE, REPURPOSE!"

Sisters. ;-)
Nephews and Nieces who are awesome!

Mother who can barely speak but still wants to mother.  "Go home now! Be careful! "

I will come back and continue this discussion!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Baby it's cold outside.."

 Our hill in new clothes
Wood piles out back

What a difference a month makes!  It's been a mild fall for the most part.  The day of Thanksgiving it was still warm and then it happened!  Snow!  I am excited to be walking in the snow although warned not to take any chances I just took a lovely walk with my son and it was invigorating!  These snow pictures were from our very first snowfall that ended up being a fierce storm and promptly melted later that week!  However this time its sticking around because it is so cold! 

Friday, November 2, 2012


I haven't been blogging much but there are a few of you who look so this is for you!
                                                Mom's bedroom window in Aura.

UPDATE: re: knees

I love my new knees.  They make a little noise inside (just for me) but I am assured that this is temporary!  I have no pain walking or standing and it feels awesome!  I still have some pain with bending, getting up from a chair but it is so minor compared to what I was dealing with before that I am so pleased and also anticipate that this will go away with time.  I love tackling stairs, walking, and my exercise bike.  It is so cool.  Thanks to all of you who have supported me in thought and prayer!

UPDATE: re: mom

Mom has been stable.  She is not able to do anything for herself except to eat with her left hand and sometimes that looks shakey.  We try not to help her if possible so she can keep as much as possible something that she can do.  We have to help at times but we try to balance that.

Its been a year since her stroke.  She is moved totally by hoyer lift and that is difficult but she is a trooper.  She doesn't complain.  She often can speak quite clearly at times and other times it is impossible to get a clear thought out.  Rote things are best.  She sang a little old song the other day that was being played on the cd in the dining room.  That was precious.  A favorite of hers and dad's.  She will be voting but maybe not for proposals and minor players.  She definitely has her opinions and doesn't want to lose her "voice".  To be honest, caring for her is a grief process and also a gift.  I am so glad to have Chris and Bob to share the journey.

UPDATE: re: garden

We had quite a garden this year.  We ate lots of fresh veggies  and lettuce this summer.  Bob and Andrew did a great job.  Andrew researches alot and has many great ideas for the year to come.  His big project was an herb garden.  He also has made fresh salsa, habanero sauce, is currently curing Apple Cider Vinegar, he's dried all kinds of veggies and is also drying herbs in the entry room.  He is also into fermenting veggies.  He challenges us continually to try new things and get off dependence on store bought foods.  We are working at it.  They still have rutabagas, turnips, potatoes, carrots, and cabbage in the garden.  They keep well right now even in the cold.  Bob has onions drying in the lean-to. 

Our fall color change was so beautiful.  I really hated to see it go this year...but it is still"wildly" beautiful outdoors even when the woods expose their secrets and it can be so gray and cold.  How thankful I am that we are in this beautiful, natural place.
No more color left but interesting nature nonetheless.

                                                      Baby deer welcoming me home.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Left Right Left

" I left my wife and forty-nine kids and an old grey mare and a peanut stand when I joined the army did I do right?  Right to my country hay foot straw foot skip by jiminy left,  left!" 

Just remembering a little song my dad would sing to us!  It has nothing to do with the fact that I am going to have my LEFT knee replaced on Monday, August 13th.  My right knee was replaced on April 16th and I am so happy with its job!  I have some numbness still in some places and occasional pain but I am told that this is usual and I am not bothered by that at  all!  I know that all the advice about working hard at PT has paid off.  I have continued my exercises too and am ready to start again.  If you are reading this I ask for your prayers!  I believe in the power of prayer.  I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to do this and am looking forward to being able to walk like a "regular" person once again!  

It has been a beautiful summer here in the UP.  Bob and Andrew's gardens are wild with growth!  We are enjoying fresh cukes, great greens in our salads, some cherry tomatoes, and a few zucchini.  Andrew made me an awesome Basil Vinigrette with some of his fresh basil.  Wonderful.  There are so many things yet to come!  Oh and we had some marvelous sugar snap peas!  Looks like we will have corn this year too!  A treat!

Matt is here from California for a visit.  It is so great to have him here and we are enjoying laughing and catching up.  He has been fasting for spiritual purposes and Andrew has been fasting for physical purposes so we have not had to fuss about what to cook! ha.  Andrew has been juicing so they are both drinking veggies/fruit!  Stranger things have happened! 
Baby Deer Visitor
It's a lot bigger now but you get the idea!

Friday, April 13, 2012

A new right knee

I love my knees.  They have been good friends throughout my life.  Running, jumping, climbing, skating, skiing, lots and lots of cleaning, lots of walking, discovering new things.  I took them for granted.  They were always there.  Always supporting me and giving me the ability to do things.  But now they are tired, worn out, broken down, they have screamed with pain and with "enough already" so I am going to give them what they require.  I don't know what they do with the knees once they replace them but I wanted to give them a little ceremony.  First for the right one because "he/she" is going first.  Thank you knee for your kind service to me.  I appreciate and love you and am so grateful we have been together all these years.  No one can replace you in my life.  They will try....they will function somewhat the way you used to but never quite as perfectly as God intended-you had a unique purpose in my life- but nonetheless I am grateful that someone will take your place and allow me to function normally again and you to rest in peace.  Thank you Lord for the utter complexity of knees that are there for us and yet because they work so well we forget about them until its too late!  I trust you with my old knee and with my new!  May your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sipping coffee with a mouse (dead)

Saturday morning in the wee hours I opened my computer to get warmed up while the coffee was brewing and noticed a little black tell tale piece of "dirt" on the desktop that warned me of a fuzzy visitor. I had the instant 'eww' response, the kleenex, the "man, I don't like to think of winter visitors un-invited".  I just cleaned house Friday too...and I don't like to think of little fuzzy creatures using my desk as a facility!  I then forgot about it and began my little routine of sorting through e-mails.  Then I felt something run across my foot!  Instantly in a very womanish, over dramatic way, I would not put my feet back down on the carpet.  Instead of fleeing the room in terror I just pulled the other nearby chair up closer to me and put my feet on that so that I could continue my morning!  Visitor or not!  They don't totally creep me out but hey, I don't want them running on my feet or pooping anywhere!  This is one joy of living in the woods and we occasionally set out the non-poisonous traps to get them. 

I reminded my sister to tell Bob about it when he got up since I had to leave early.  When I came home last night I noticed the trap was set!  I also noticed a fuzzy blur went by under the desk. 

Well to finish this lengthy mouse tale.  I am now cozily sipping coffee doing my morning thing and I notice the little fuzz ball is silent in the trap.  It feels a bit weird just going about my business while he lies dead in the trap under the desk but you don't think I'm going to pick that thing up and try to figure out where to dispose of him, do you??  God made husbands just for that purpose and I know if I didn't have one I would get up the guts to do it later when dressed and ready to fling it outside....or perhaps I would call on someone else's husband!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

When Creation Calls

Psalm 19:1

19 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Living in black and white

Living in Black and White

These were taken recently after a snowstorm.  Of course it doesn't look like this now, in fact it is rather ugly outside at the moment.  Black and white doesn't quite look as good when the black takes over the white.  It has been an unusual winter I am told.  Snow, melt, snow, melt.  It has not impeded us much.  There have been a few howling wind nights and days and a couple of significant snowfalls but mostly its been a rather easy winter.  But...I must say...I love fresh fallen snow and sparkles, not dead grass showing, slush and ugly open closets of the woods.  Soon spring will show and this will be a distant memory.  I am pleased that I get to experience the seasons once again even if it is not typical this year.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

My husband Bob

I like this photo of Bob that I took at Thanksgiving this year at the Nursing Home.  I am so thankful for him.  I am thankful how he makes me laugh and never takes personally when I am in a "mood" but says, "poor baby" and keeps it where it belongs...on me.  He doesn't assume he caused the mood and even if he might have contributed it really is my responsibility.  He has always been great about things like that. 

He has stuck by my side through all this caregiving because he personally believes in what we are doing.  I couldn't do what I do without him.  He does enjoy the things he does at home, tinkering, cutting wood, keeping the fires going, cooking, creating, gardening in the summer, fixing things that are broke....but the extra chores he takes on when I am not here he does easily and consistently. 

I appreciate my yooper man and all the Sisu he has!

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

endurance...weeping may endure for a night but joy...comes in the morning.

Peli is pondering tonight.  Mom suffered a stroke to her left side of the brain on October 26th.  This affected her ability to speak and move her right side.  Her right arm is weak...not completely immobile but mostly so... She is aware of what is going on and will raise her left arm to confirm a question.  However I do sense a deep depression with her since sometimes she smiles and makes a huge effort to smile at those who come in to care for her.  She doesn't spend her energy trying to smile at Chris or I...although sometimes she get the feeling that there is only so much energy she can produce and she uses it sparingly.  I am so very sad tonight.  so depleted.  so forlorn.  I just want the very best for her.  I want her to pass feel that her time on earth is completed...but in God's timing...not my own.  I feel like she is overwhelmed by this new challenge.  Initially she seemed to bounce back.  Beginning to speak a bit and make the effort to move.  She is being transferred by Hoyer lift now.  She is eating pureed foods and drinking water that is thickened.  She chokes at times and is so frustrated.   Today she was calm and quiet and very very sleepy.  I did not get much reaction from her at all.  A few times I did see that she understood.  I prayed and talked with her.but she is so flat.  Not emotional.  No crying.  That almost seems unnatural.  At times I have projected that she is mad at I've made this happen.  I am her "mother" and I let this happen.  There was no warning.  She was talking and alert and then she wasn't.  She was already so her her body pains.  Now she can't express herself.  It must seem like the ultimate humiliation.  She was enjoyed by her caretakers especially because she could respond and converse and laugh.  Now that is even taken away from her.  They loved her smile and her sense of humor.  She tries still to engage them.  She engages them.  Not me.  I am not the one who needs the effort because I will always be there.  I can see some of them withdraw.   They have been there before.  They cared and their effort was culminated in death.  So they are matter of fact.  About their business.  Nothing unusual.  For me its so hard.  for them...its a job...its a daily occurance.  So much much loss.  Small towns are full of death and life. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Psalm 42

Psalm 42

As the hart panteth for the water brooks, so panteth my soul for Thee, O God. 2My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God? 3My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, "Where is thy God?" 4When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me, for I had gone with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.

5Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011


hmmmm...sounds like a title for a comedy? drama? not quite a horror flick but definitely disturbing and definitely comical at times.
There is a well known "time of the day" for dementia patients that is called "sundowners syndrome". Medically, it is a mystery still but it causes people to become more disoriented, agitated, the evenings. Imagine yourself having to care for and get dozens of people ready for bed (who may not stay in bed) who are angry, agitated, and scared? And in different states of disability?
I often get asked why my sister and I stay so long at the nursing home. Well, we both believe that the nursing home is helping us with our responsibility, not the other way around. We help and feel like our time is volunteering in this time of our life. We usually share the week. Chris is there with mom from lunch time to getting ready for bed time, 3 and a half days and I am there three and a half days. Since we live about 20 minutes from the nursing home instead of breaking up the day we just stay there. (gas costs and all.) We may leave for a bit and do errands in town while mom is napping etc...but we have learned how to just provide that company for her as well as supervise her care. It helps us because now at least we have a more predictable schedule and we can get away for a time if needed for our own appointments etc...And we have a regular sleep routine.
Last night was a typical scenario that is a case in point. Two newer younger gals were on our hall caring for residents. They were way behind in their tasks after the dinner hour. ( We really do like this nursing home. It has workers who really care and do a great job, however like everything else these days, cuts of staff and services are the norm! They do their best under adverse conditions. ) Usually the worst cases get put in bed first. If I am out and about with mom just walking her around we end up having to rescue patients about to get up with buzzers blazing or who are just generally agitated and looking for things to do. Its rather comical in a tragic way. Most are just getting over tired and need to be attended to but have to wait until their turn.
Well, this is getting overly long but I think you get the idea why being there at bedtime is most important and setting a tone for mom with prayer and memory verses. I came back to this post to delete it but it does give others an idea of just how challenging a nursing home can be and how it is important to us to make sure mom feels safe. She is lucid but not able to do anything with her feet or arms so it is doubly frustrating for her waiting for help. So we are there. Some of the dementia patients are quite adept at standing, rummaging through things and running around with their wheelchairs. Mom isn't. So thank God that we can be there for her and yet they are there for us as well. I have felt so frustrated with this choice that we have made and sometimes remember that God provided for us. It was out of our hands. I am trying to find a way to feel grateful for this time that we have, unique as it is, and not worry about the future.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A beautiful day

It was a gloriously beautiful fall day in the UP today. I spent it on the road with a friend travelling to Marquette for shopping, talking and stopping for lunch. This time of year never ceases to amaze me with its beauty. What a wonderful reminder of change and the necessity for all things to grow, then to age, then to die and to live once again. Its amazing how nature reflects the very character and wisdom of God. He told us that we cannot see the majesty of nature and deny HIM.
I feel a certain sadness too, knowing this beauty will end and the trees will be bare and the contents of the woods will expose their skeletons in the "closet" and the cold winds will replace the warm. But there are days of beauty yet...the awesome first snow, cleansing, purifying, and covering up the cold hard ground.
Yes life is to be appreciated in all its seasons, its comforts and discomforts, "to everything there is a time and a purpose under heaven....".


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Maki brothers

Bob's brothers were all together for a few days the third week of July. It was great to see them all! Its so interesting to listen to their conversations. Jacob, my nephew, came as well. So fun to see family together!
Jacob, Dave's son, and Mike, the uncle.


Saturday, July 23, 2011


Its been awhile since I have written. Time has marched on in the UP and summer is here complete with its warmth and some very hot days and respite cool like this morning. It is beautiful this morning.
I would like to think of this day as honoring a friend of mine Vivian who passed away this week and is now in the presence of Jesus. There are few times when I feel a peace about someone passing. Vivian is someone who showed Jesus in her life and her spirit and I can only be thankful that she is at peace today. I had Vivian on my mind this past week before her passing and did not act on that thought with a phone call. In fact I hate to admit to you or myself that I haven't talked to her since last October when we were in Phoenix and visited her and George three times and knew then that she had been diagnosed with Mesothelioma. She didn't like to think that we were leaving and not knowing when we would be back. I think that I didn't call thinking I could keep her alive by not worrying that she would be gone on our return. Life has a way of sucking you into all its immediate concerns and sometimes we let go of the very things we need to be attending to. So now she is gone and I am happy for her that she is ultimately healed and experiencing what we can only hope and imagine. The one thing that Vivian gave to me was her incredible, positive spirit of faith and hope. She went through more than most in her life but she always would bounce back. She has survived family crises, multiple illnesses, surgeries and yet her joy of life was infectious. She always beat the odds! She was fun to be around. I will miss her and it was my loss to not attend to her these last months of her life. I am glad that I will see her again and that smile. Thanks Vivian for your example.
I love you Vivian.
See you at the end of my journey. Congratulations on your graduation!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

75 pounds down and holding

It took me a year to lose 67 pounds. Its taken me another six months to lose five more. I have been stuck...learning what it would be like to maintain and that is good because it has been a large amount but I need to continue the journey and get the rest off of my knees for good. ;-p

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Winter into Spring

Its been a long time since we've been in a winter in the UP. Its March and the snow is partially melted one day and back the next. Then it continues to snow, then melt again. So one day you look out the window and it is beautiful, the next it is ugly. Its been fun to get some contrast pictures this year to compare with my summer and fall shots.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Day

Today is Valentines day. 2011.

Valentines Day has taken on a different sort of memory for us.

It was Valentines day of 2000 that found my father in the last full day of his life. He died on the 15th, 11 years ago tomorrow.

Valentines day 2006, Bob and I went to my mother's condo in Sun City to bring in and enjoy dinner with her. We lived just ten minutes down the road in Peoria. Mom had been getting weaker. She had been mostly housebound with trips out to the doctor on days I could get free and I brought in meals, groceries, and company every other evening during my workweek and on weekends when I wasn't working. It was a rather rigorous schedule caring for her needs, seeing her struggle to be independent inside her little home away from home basically holding on, lonely for dad, waiting for my visits and showers and an occasional visit from a neighbor. She was still trying but things were about to change dramatically.

That week of February 2006, we moved in with her when she became sick and after 5 days we called the paramedics because she was unable stand on her own two feet. Pushing her walker became too much and she was buckling. Not knowing what to do and sensing that she needed more help she went to the hospital. After five days in the hospital with her system out of whack, low potassium, uti (urinary tract infection) and marked weakness, she was transferred to a skilled nursing unit for rehab. The SNU was difficult. Burnt out nurses and aides. Often left for long periods without her calls being answered, Bob and I filled in the care by bringing in food and our company, caring for her alongside the nurses there. They left us to help them, grateful that they didn't have to be so attentive. There was so much discomfort for her there, emotionally and physically. She contracted a cold, then a cough, then oppresive pain in her chest and was rushed to the ICU at another hospital. There she was found to have pnuemonia, blood clots (pulmonary embolisms) and had a surgical procedure to insert a vena cava filter in her abdomen to prevent clots from ever entering her lungs again. After this hospital stay she was transferred to another rehab nursing unit, this time getting more aggressive practical help to get her strong and closer to coming home.

Meanwhile, I am still working, running to and from work to nursing care and trying to figure out how we can plan for her future. Providentially the condo next to her condo comes up for sale and we grab at the chance for her to buy it, planning to sell our home, buy her larger condo and have a smaller condo next door for her. Bob will build a doorway between the two and we will plan on caring for her there. I'll be able to care for her there, but we will also have our own space.

After the second skilled nursing rehab hospital we arrange for her to live in a Romanian group home of ten patients cared for by a Romanian couple. She has her own room and a walkway outdoors to be able to grow stronger by walking a bit each day. She gets stronger. She lives there 5 weeks till my last day in the library when we can bring her home to a freshly remodeled one bedroom condo with an adjoining door to her old condo. I move in some of my stuff, just what is needed to live. Bob continues to live at our home, working on getting it ready to sell. Mom is home by the middle of June. Bob doesn't move in permanently until November. We don't sell our home until the following June. We hadn't intended on paying double mortgages but we happened to hit the beginning of the extreme fall in housing. We still ended up making a good profit on our house in the nick of time (thanks be to God) and are able to buy mom's condo from her and she in turn is able to pay off the new mortgage on the small condo. (Of course I did all the paperwork etc...on her behalf).

So began our full time caregiving experience. When I spent two years previous to this caring for a semi independent mom I could feel the hand of God prompting me, sustaining me and giving me strength and patience to be this caregiver for her. Bob and I had always had mom and dad as one of our main priorities. Even when we lived in Arizona and they in Michigan, we returned every summer so that the boys would know their grandparents and the beautiful country that we loved so much. When we lived in Arizona we moved to be closer to their winter condo so that they would not have to drive so far as they were getting older and we would spend the winter holidays together. It was so important that we were there for mom when dad was ill and starting to fail. We were there for his radiation treatments and the vigil that became his last days.

I always felt close to mom and it was very natural for me to be her caregiver. When she would lament about this I would always tell her that we were in this together! God gave me the patience and the strength I needed.

We did not return for summer in Michigan that year of 2006. Chris came to Phoenix, recupping from a knee operation and able to help out a bit with mom. The next summer of 2007 we returned to the UP and spent five months then returning in the fall to AZ for the warmer winter. 2008, 2009, 2010 we did the same. Chris would spend the majority of the week with us at mom's house helping and allowing us to get out.(i.e. Bob and I).

I have been pondering this on this valentines day. I am overwhelmed by responsibility, by the loss of the friendship with a mom who is no longer quite herself. There is so much need and so much care and I am tired and feeling in a place where I cannot do what I want but what I have been destined to do. There is no other way for me than for this. I have made this choice. I have chosen this commitment and I am weary but hopeful for renewed vigor from the God that chose me for this very time and who can provide me with all the strength and patience I need but today it doesn't feel that way. Today, I need to remember.

Happy Valentines Day to those who enjoy this day to tell others that they love them. Here's to remembering to do that each day and to find the strength even on those days that are not holidays.

Love to you!

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Sunday, January 16, 2011


I love to read others blogs. I love the way they express themselves and reveal things about themselves that are quite human and mostly lovely. I love to hear the words behind the lines and their effort to unravel the tangles that weave through their lives just because they are human and living in an imperfect world.

But I find it hard to reveal myself. I find it difficult to open up about what is going on in my head yet I am a woman of many thoughts, opinions and don't find it hard to share otherwise. So why is it hard here? I too would love to inspire, to reveal and not to be afraid to lay bare the ponderings!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bob moving the snow!

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

This present age

Romans 8 :15-28 (from The Message)

That's why I don't think there is any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what is coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's in us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearing for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait the larger we become, and the more joyful our expenctancy.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

my husband the gardener

Mi esposo Senor Bob! The gardener extraordinaire. The one who makes me laugh. Who has a contagious smile and drives everyone crazy with his tales of the elite who rule the world and are speeding us closer to one world order. The one who can make turnips grow big and simmer them in a pot of awesome summer soup. The one who will fix or do anything you ask. Just ask. My love of 30 years. The man, the myth, the legend. Bob.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Joel, Monica, Simeon and Abram Visit!

Joel, Chris, Monica
Abram, Simeon, and Grandma Anna Jean.

Joel and Monica and their boys came to visit us on the 16th of July. We really enjoyed their visit as did mom at the nursing home. They are a very special family and we were so happy to be able to spend this gift of time with them.


Core work and gardens?

Mom has been a real trooper and has been making great strides in her physical therapy. Her core muscles have strengthened as well as her left leg. She is supposed to keep her right leg straight when she gets up and pivots for transfers from wheelchair to bed, or chair, or bathroom. She is very motivated to get home and it looks like she might achieve this in the next week or two. Matt is coming for a visit on the 11th for two weeks and we hope to see my sister Lynn around the 14th.

So meanwhile Bob and I are working around the house. Bob has planted and is cultivating a beautiful garden that is flourishing. We have eaten radishes, various kinds of lettuces and some green onions so far. The tomato plants will be ripe soon and we will need to be ready for massive canning operations!

Bob and I also have enjoyed a time of respite thanks to Chris who has been attending to mom at the nursing home. I have been there but Chris is doing the majority of the visiting right now. We will be getting the house in order in preparation for her return.

I love this small community of people who help each other out and are involved in each others lives.

Friday, July 23, 2010

In limbo

Mom is in a nursing home here in the UP. She fell on June 20th and is trying to rehab in the hopes of returning home. Our dilema is that she is weak and now cannot walk (as per instructions from her doctor.) We have found it increasingly difficult to manage her physically. We are looking into what kind of support we can get (or pay for) in order to continue to care for her at home. Right now we are on private pay due to her not qualifying for medicare help in the initial hospital visit and subsequent skilled nursing stay. So...I have been researching and trying to explore options. Meanwhile Bob and I have had a much needed rest/respite and Chris has had the major time commitment of visiting and supporting mom in her nursing home stay.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mom's little patio

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Beauty in the Desert Spring

Our view from across the street!


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mary came for a visit to help with mom and to give Bob and I a break.
It was wonderful to see her again!
Mom has had home healthcare through the month of February as well as this month hopefully. She seems stronger some days but then will have trouble walking. She is trying and we are doing what we can to make sure she has plenty of fresh fruits and veggies and is getting naps and lots of hydration. It can be frustrating. Her chronic UTI's are an issue. We went to her urologist this week and he didn't offer much. She has just been changed to a new antibiotic (AGAIN!).

We are enjoying our therapists and nurse visits and a wonderful "shower lady" that has come twice a week to give showers, especially when Mary was here but she has continued this week, giving me some respite.

One of our PT's (Physical therapist) is Deb Button. She started out with mom and then had to pass the baton to Teresa. Deb has volunteered to go to Haiti. She is on her second week there and has a blog that I want to share with you. I am impressed to learn about the organization that she is with called, "Healing hands for Haiti".
They are a team of docs, nurses, and therapists who volunteer their own time and talents for free. She told us that 100 percent of donations go to the actual cause. That is rare. She said they have been in Haiti for more than 10 years and have recently been more visible because of the earthquake and tremendous need. Please look at her blog. We have loved her working with us and so appreciate her love and compassion in voluntering her time to help. Please pray for her and her fellow workers.


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Friday, January 15, 2010

Bob and the "golf cart"

We are really Sun Citians now....

we can travel at least 35 miles per hour....but the gas lasts soooooooooo long. ;-)


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Matt and Grandma


Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas

Bob and I. Cooking together!
We are starting to look like each other. Those chins sure give away the age!

Christmas Day.
A trip outside the condo to sit and to see the beautiful blue skies.

Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you all! I have had a problem getting cards/letters out this year. I didn't have a computer for awhile (now I do! ;-). I also spent most of the last few weeks getting things done for mom(for Christmas) who is finding it so much more difficult to do anything. So my stuff got put on hold. Apologies.

Matt came from California. Andrew showed up after working. We were finally all together Christmas Evening. Mom and I went to her church service on Christmas Eve. It was beautiful. It took alot of effort and resolve on her part especially. She hasn't gotten out except to see the doctor when necessary and likes to be in her warm flannel gowns most of the time so it was good to get her dressed and out.

She is in pain most of the time. Little things you take for granted are so very difficult for her. We have found a special lady, Helen, who comes to help us and is reasonable. She dropped her rates for us because she likes mom so much. The boys, (okay MEN), Bob and I went bowling the day after Christmas...a hoot by the way...and Helen came and stayed with mom. While we were gone she washed both floors, folded clothes, vacumned and dusted! She's amazing...oh..and on both sides (of the condos).
We hope you all had a Merry Christmas!
Love to you all!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What's cool in the UP

Hi there!

Greetings from the Northwoods. I must tell you a secret. While all the "locals" are complaining about the cold summer this year up here, I am secretly saying "YES!" as I put on a sweater. Our sweaters and coats and blankets never wear out in Arizona. Our umbrellas stay put in closets or under car seats and get old without being used. But not here. I am enjoying this refreshing break even as my hands are cold as I type this. Once again I must redundantly say that it is so beautiful here. IT is such a joy to breathe this air and see all the animals, clouds, blue skies. I haven't been on the computer much and I also deactivated facebook as well as MySpace but I will be continuing the blog.

I hope you are all enjoying your summer. Mom is fine. Getting some therapy now. We have a home health care team giving us a few weeks of support. She continues the UTI battles but we are hoping for victory. Chris is with us most of the time . We are all on Weight Watchers. I am back on the plan officially (4th week-13 pounds gone) and Mom and Chris are tracking at home.

We are waiting for Bob to come up. He has been delayed because of a very sore back (not willing to drive for three-four days). He is feeling much better and should be heading here soon. We had a fun week with my niece and her cousin-in-law. We hope to see my cousin and family sometime in August. I am going to camp Gitchee Gumee this year again. It is a wonderful woman's bible camp weekend retreat in September.

Love to you all!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What's a weekend?

Its been awhile since I've posted. Its not that I have nothing to say I just seem to feel reserved about putting out what I am thinking on a web page. I really need to either get connected to others who are caregivers or start my own blog about caregiving. I have several nieces who are "stay at home working" moms who homeschool. Even though our situations are quite different there are some commonalities. I could use a place to be able to express feelings and difficulties that wouldn't be perceived as complaining or unhappiness. Caregiving has its challenges and rewards. Someone on facebook expressed their anxiousness for the weekend to come and I thought "what is a weekend?" Its been awhile since I had the luxury of the feel of a "weekend". I do look forward to it on one hand because my husband and I go to church together for a couple of hours on Sunday and on Monday try to leave the house for another couple of hours to have a "date". So in that sense I look forward to a break from my routine. I don't mind routines and see the benefit of them for those you care for. They thrive better with predictable eating/sleeping/caring routines but sometimes you want to break out of that too! I am doing better about catching an hour and a half before dinner to go swim. Its a necessity to care for myself. Most days I do this but sometimes it doesn't work. I am going to take mom to Michigan in early June and we'll return late October. This is a big undertaking but as long as she still desires it we will do it! Chris is there to help me and it helps the "routine" change needs! Bob will be retiring in July so he will be with us the whole time in the UP. Whether I get to see him all that much when he is there will remain to be seen. Ha. He is a busy woods guy when he is in the UP. I told him that when we return to Phoenix I will get him busy with stuff I would like to do!

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

If the girls don't find you handsome, they better find you handy!

My husband is so attentive to coming up with ideas at my whims. I need something organized and he says okay...and starts building. I told my sis Mary I would show her my desk organizer that Bob made for me. The desk is large and originally was traded for a crib. I gave the crib, I got the desk. We have stories for most of the pieces in our house. Its fun to us to beat the system. Looks like those will come in handy again in the present economic time! (this shelving cost 6$ to make!)

Friday, February 13, 2009

25 Random Things about Me (it is all about me)

1. I have a personal relationship with the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE.
2. I have a personal relationship with my husband and sons!
3. I rode a camel on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. (Spain)
4. I speak Spanish fluently.
5. I “fought” (he was a baby-I didn’t hurt him…really) a bull in a bullring in Mexico.
6. I ate monkey in Cancun.
7. I studied at the University of Madrid, El Instituto Cultural Mexicano Norteamericano in Guadalajara Mexico, and spent 6 weeks in Huehuetenango Guatemala studying Spanish one to one with a new teacher every two weeks.
8. I was Raggedy Ann for my father in his grocery stores (there was a store brand called Raggedy Ann canned fruits, vegetables, etc… )I would dress up and have professional photo shoots and spend the day at the store passing out candy to the children of customers. Kind of like Ronald McD.
9. My initials were RED and I am a redhead. Now they are about sleeping soundly! (REM)
10. I used to bite my nails.
11. I was an elementary school librarian for 12 years, a substitute teacher for 6 and LOVED my library and the children I was privileged to know and work with! It was a great job for a mom. I was home on weekends and holidays and didn’t have to take away from family life.
12. I have a passion for well written children’s books, that can appeal to adults as well as children, but I also love the books that mainly appeal to children and create desire to read more!
13. I cannot watch scary movies. (its true Deb) Haven’t watched a handful in my lifetime. The first I remember was “Premature Burial” when I was quite little but I had older sisters who dragged me along. I didn’t sleep for a week after that and the main character was a redhead and buried alive. Hmmm…wonder why.
14. I love photography. Always have. It’s the first place I wanted to go at the State Fair. I want to learn more and I have been having so much fun with my “new” digital camera. I would like to explore more!
15. I don’t like to cook. I don’t really admit that usually…but I am fortunate to have a husband, a son and a sister (in the summer) who do. I will cook, I have cooked, I can cook but I don’t like to! Weird. I have no trouble eating. Just make it for me please.
16. However I love organizing a party and setting it up, decorating etc. but please bring the food.
17. Ok…I love to organize.(embarrassed) I love sorting, and baskets, and no clutter and finding better ways to hide the stuff I can’t get rid of but wish it wasn’t all around. I moved from a three bedroom house with full garage and lots and lots of closets to a small two bedroom condo with not much storage space so I have been getting rid of stuff for three years. I am getting there…but Mary…I still have those Rubbermaid bins stacked to the ceiling in my bedroom behind the door. I’m working on it. I love the Clean Sweep show, where people get a couple of rooms redecorated but have to purge their life of too much stuff and clutter. It makes me happy. ;-)
18. I started a hugging epidemic on my floor of the dorm in college. Non huggers became huggers.
19. I recently discovered a love for 4 wheeling! At first the machine tried to keep knocking me off but I showed it who was boss. I love the wind and the thrill.
20. I like to visit cemeteries (not scary movies…but cemeteries…in the daylight please.) I love pondering the people who lived, what they thought, the marks they left, etc…it’s a place of thoughtful meditation to me. I love that so much of my husband’s genealogy is right there in the UP. I always go to visit the graves of his relatives.
21. Once I tried to look for my grandmother, grandfather’s and my grandmother’s parents grave in Illinois. They were buried in a very large cemetery with many sections etc…and I did not look at the directory but rather we just started driving down the roads randomly and I told Bob to pull over. He stopped, I got out and walked halfway down an aisle of markers and found the site we were looking for! Very weird. That was very amazing. (twilight zone music playing….)
22. I am wimpy when it comes to sharing political views. I want people to listen more and pontificate less, to work harder to understand each other rather than to stereotype and write off. Can’t we all just get along? If I feel safe with you I might tell you how I really feel.
23. I am drawn to people who are different? Or they are drawn to me? I don’t like that people with disabilities can be overlooked and ignored. I want to know what they are like, how they are feeling, what their dreams are. No different than anyone else, except their suffering for being different can make them amazing. Sometimes. One of my best friends was a quadriplegic. She died shortly before she was around 55. Something as simple as a flu turned to pneumonia and she couldn’t kick it. She had so many times before that I thought she would. I am so glad she is free but I miss her. She was the most inspiring person. A powerful Christian, Courageous, gutsy, independent, compassionate, opinionated, a real powerhouse. I learned so much from her. I loved serving her in any way I could.
24. A friend of mine says I give TMI*. You can see it happening. I start out small and random and start typing too much! Sorry. (too much information)
25. I loved singing in old folks homes (what we called them when I was a kid) with our junior choir from church. That started a love for older folks. Funny that now I am my mother’s caregiver. It was meant to be. The circle of life.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Be Blessed Be Encouraged

Photo @Eagle Harbor 2008 R. Maki
THINGS TO REMEMBER...good food for thought!!
1. Faith is the ability to not panic.

2. If you worry, you didn't pray. If you prayed, don't worry.

3. As a child of God, prayer is kinda like calling home every day
4. Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.

5. When we get tangled up in our problems, be still.
God wants us to be still so He can untangle the knot.

6. Do the math. Count your blessings.

7. God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts.

8. Dear God: I have a problem. It's me.

9. Silence is often misinterpreted, but never misquoted.

10. Laugh every day - it's like inner jogging.

11. The most important things in your home are the people.

12. Growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional. (Preach it!)
13. There is no key to happiness. The door is always open. Come on in.

14. A grudge is a heavy thing to carry.

15. He who dies with the most toys is still dead.

16. We do not remember days but moments. Life moves too fast so enjoy your precious moments. (sometimes, fasten your seatbelt..)
17. Nothing is real to you until you experience it; otherwise it's just hearsay.

18. It's all right to sit on your pity pot every now and again. Just be sure to flush when you are done.

19. Surviving and living your life successfully requires courage. The goals and dreams you're seeking require courage and risk-taking. Learn from the turtle, it only makes progress when it sticks out its neck.

20. Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Yourcharacter is what you really are, while your reputation is mere lywhat others think you are.
21. No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting.

22. Leave gentle fingerprints on the soul of another for the angels to read.

23. I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that Ilived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.

24. Be Blessed,

25. Be Encouraged

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Matt in a bag

Matt found an awesome sale at a REI store near him. He bought a great sleeping bag for a fraction of the price! Here he is fooling around and sent it to me from his phone.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Recent Aliyah and Ariel

I just love this picture. ;-) Its so nice to be able to "grab" photos from my nephew's/wife's blog. Aren't they adorable?


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Momma the Red nose Reindeer

This picture was taken for Lynn and Chris who have started a Seasonal Mom gallery collection...starting with "Mom the Easter Bunny". Mom the Reindeer is doing well. She is stronger since her stay in the hospital and went to church last week. We are breaking out of the "dr. only social visits" and trying a haircut and salad lunch outing tomorrow!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Have you read Monica and Joel's blogs?

Nieces and Nephews-

I have always wanted to comment on the fact that I think that I have some of the most amazing nieces and nephews around. What gifts they have. What insight. I would like to highlight one nephew who is a profoundly gifted artist. Have you ever checked out his paintings? Joel's paintings is a link on the side of my blog that will take you to his page. His wife Monica is the most gifted and wise writer. I love to read what she has to say. Don't forget to look at her blog as well. She has a long writing about greed and the Walmart employee death as well as a link to an article about Wendell Berry. You may just understand where Bob's head is these days when you read of this man.