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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

I have spent a lot of time on Facebook.  I would say it even became an addiction.  One of the things that enabled my addiction was my iPad.  Not only did I spend an inordinate amount of time scrolling through crap on that social media platform, I also discovered  that it was possible to spend  literally hours playing inane games.  In the process I also managed to gain 20 pounds, probably because I became so sedentary in the pursuit of these activities.

I have been flamed far too many times, and been sucked into being not very nice myself. I am tired of that game.  I have enough to deal with without people telling me how awful I am, especially when I am NOT.  I don’t have to participate, although it seems like Facebook has become ubiquitous and it is almost impossible to communicate and connect without it.   It is so damned EASY.  But I deactivated that account, and hopefully some of my friends will find me here.  If not, I suppose they weren’t really friends at all.  It isn’t like I didn’t tell them I was moving to my blog.

I am still working on the game addiction.  It helps that I have removed them all from my iPad, but of course it is quite easy to reload the ones I am most addicted to.   Or just play them on Jim’s iPad.  However, slowly but surely the need for that dopamine fix is getting dealt with.  And right now I have no games loaded, and don’t feel a real need to put them back on.  So.

So, now I will give a short update on the major events of my/our lives.

For me, the most salient one was the loss of all the cartilage in my right hip.  The resulting pain was crippling, to the point I could not even maintain my garden and could barely manage to do massage.   I had a total hip replacement on June 8 this year, and the result is miraculous.  I have scar tissue, of course, but it doesn’t bother me particularly.  The change in state was amazing.  I can garden, walk, do massage again.  Hallelujah.  It occupied my life totally for about two months, though.  The loss of massage income during that time was sobering.  We made it through, though.

Another very important event which I talked about on Facebook but not here was the discovery that Jim had a very active and invasive prostate cancer.  A complete removal of the prostate was indicated and performed in July of 2016.   Several lymph nodes were taken as well, and were found to have cancerous cells.   Following recovery from the surgery, the indicators showed that not all the cancer had been removed.  So he underwent 5 weeks of radiation this last March.   The indicators went to zero for a few months, but have now started to rise again.  We are waiting for them to be high enough that it might be possible to image the tumors and find where they are.  Until then, we just wait for the cancer to grow.

The surgery for Jim had pretty horrific side effects.   The removal of the prostate was done carelessly enough to destroy nerve function in the area.   The surgeon pointed out that he was more interested in getting all the cancer than preserving nerves, but the resulting complete lack of sexual function has changed our lives forever.   He is also incontinent while his pelvic floor becomes strong.  The radiation really set that healing back, plus he got radiation colitis for a while and had really bad diarrhea.  Fortunately that has abated, and the incontinence is slowly getting better.

Let’s pass over the treatment with Lupron, which shut down all his testosterone for about a year.   I’ll just say he discovered just exactly why I was such a bitch while I was going through menopause and having all those hot flashes.   Fortunately, both of us seem to have finished up with that activity, thank God.

No wonder I was depressed and needed dopamine from an external source.

Meanwhile, our son developed severe pain in his back, injured by wearing body armor while he was stationed in Iraq for two tours and Afghanistan for one.   He came home with PTSD too, which has improved significantly.  He did get a medical discharge from the Army because of his back.  And his feet.  I guess carrying 80 to 100 pounds of gear constantly is bad for them.

He and his wife are presently working on their educations.   She is one semester away from a masters in Library Science, and he is pursuing a Business Administration degree.  We bought a house in 2016 that is on the next street over.   They moved there and rent it from us while their town house in Georgia is being rented out.  It is very convenient to have that beautiful little family so close by.   Not only do we get to see our grandchildren on a regular basis, we exchange care with them.  For example, when we travel they look after our house and pets.  And when they want to go to a convention or have a date, we look after their house and our grandkids.

Life is pretty good despite the travails.   We have been traveling.   We went to Europe again, spent a week in Lisbon and made an Atlantic crossing to come home.  We also did a couple of short Caribbean cruises, one took us partway through the Panama Canal.  In September of 2016 we took a two week raft trip from one end of the Grand Canyon to the other.   Later on I will do a post that includes some photos from that.  It was AMAZING.

So that is it in a nutshell.   We are looking forward to the next year, hoping that all will be well.  I am thinking of retiring from massage in the next few years, much to the dismay of my clients.   We’ll see.

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It is hard to believe that the last time I posted here was before Thanksgiving.  I have been on line, too.  But somehow I have been sucked into Facebook and have found myself putting up little blips here and there rather than making a blog post.   I wonder how many other bloggers have been seduced by social media?

Since I posted, it has snowed and thawed several times.   I did get some pretty nifty snow shots during all those events.

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We had a real cold snap before Thanksgiving, and the little pond froze with beautiful hoarfrost crystals.

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We also had a small ice storm, no big damage although we did have a couple of elm trees that dropped a lot of branches.   The day after the ice covered stuff it was a lovely day and things were already starting to melt.   I took Ruby for a walk and the ice was positively magical.   Everywhere I looked the woods sparkled in rainbow colors.   This phenomenon proved to be shockingly difficult to photograph, but I did get one image that almost conveys how amazing it was out there.

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During all this harsh weather, my neighborhood has been living up to its name.   All kinds of little birds, and big birds too, have been enjoying the shelter, food and water The Havens provides.  Actually, there are plenty of mammals also enjoying The Havens along with the avian population.

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We had a sumptuous Thanksgiving repast.

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At Christmas, Jesse and Lynette were able to get away from their Army duties and bring James to visit us.   They were here for far too short a time, and we loved every minute of it.

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I saved The Quilt for a Christmas presentation, even though the kids knew I had made it and had enjoyed hots of it during all stages of creation.   They did not know about the pillow cases or the matching throw pillow, though.   Honestly, I think it makes a pretty impressive bed.

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James approved, I believe.

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One of my dear friends gave me an amaryllis bulb as a Christmas gift.   This week it started to open.

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Today it looks like this:

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So now you are somewhat up to date.

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A little while ago Jim and I made the trek out to the East Coast for two purposes.  One was to return a large cast iron cauldron that we had ordered which arrived cracked.   We took it back to the foundry to have it replaced with one that was not cracked.  The guy who packed it at the foundry just couldn’t imagine how it could have been cracked…   Personally, I suspect that it left the foundry that way and they were hoping that we wouldn’t notice until it was too late for us to make them do anything about it.   But UPS could have dropped it during shipping, which would not be surprising since it was in a box that was labelled “HEAVY” but even a person who was expecting “heavy” might have been surprised by the 87 lbs…

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It isn’t the largest cauldron ever, either.   It is only a 12 gallon sized, and they come all the way up to 60 gallons and more, some large enough to scald a whole pig.   I don’t know how you carry around a 60 gallon cast iron cauldron, actually.

The other reason for the trip was to visit the grandchild, who really represents a huge fork in our road.  He is developing in a most satisfactory way, thanks to the excellent parenting he is receiving.   I surely do wish we lived closer to that beautiful little family, but Skype helps.  One of the things that made the odyssey totally worth it?  Getting to see this:

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Another vision that really “made” the trip was this sign:

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This road has a serious identity crisis.  Not only does it not know what it’s number is, it doesn’t really know what direction it is going either.   Or possibly, it is all things to all people and going every direction at once.

Sometimes, I feel like that road sign could be the icon for my life.   Like most people, I struggle with the questions “Who am I?” and “Where am I going?”   “What is my purpose?”  “What is really important in my life?”   “Where is my place in the world?”

I do know my purpose, what I was put here on Earth to do, and that is to touch people and help them find the path to healing.   My work as a massage therapist has been doing that for well over 20 years now, and it has brought me peace and prosperity.   It has led me to connections with people that are deep and meaningful.  Recently I attended a class in California featuring Neuro-Muscular Reprogramming.   That re-connected me to Jocelyn Olivier and the Alive and Well School of Massage, the place where my training began.  Watch this space, you will hear more about NMR, which is a profound healing technique that I am anxious to master.  I see clearly that it is a fork in my massage road I am going to walk down, far down, and ultimately it will add longevity and depth to my massage career.

So that is one thing I am.   I am also a gardener…

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I like to create things, notably I am working on a quilt right now.  It is a bargello design called “Supernova.”   (This is a pattern I found in a book by Eileen Wright, which I have been thoroughly enjoying.)  I’m 75% done with the piecing.

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I am also a labyrinth tender:

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That “identity” has led me to connections as well.   My labyrinth is listed on the World Wide Labyrinth Locator, which brings strangers into my life from far away and turns them into friends.  Just a couple of days ago I was visited and interviewed by a woman who is visiting and writing about labyrinths in all 50 states.   I may or may not show up in her book.   After all, she may meet a better candidate than I am for her writing about this state.   Anyway, she had lived in Alaska for ten years and brought me a beautiful rock from the Mendenhall Glacier area of Juneau.   We had a thoroughly enjoyable visit.

There are no forks in a labyrinth, there is simply one path.   You begin at the beginning, follow the path through its twists and turns, and eventually you reach the center.

Sort of like life, actually.

 

 

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Georgia…. Georgia on my mind…  It is beautiful there.

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Continuing the peripatetic way that was outlined for me at the beginning of the summer, I made a solo trip to Georgia to visit my son, his wife and the new grandbaby, James.  You will pardon me if I do the typical Grandma thing and immediately post a picture of the paragon.

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I have a feeling that he is going to grow from being extremely cute to being Way Handsome.

It was a lot of fun, really.    The town home community they live in hosts Mississippi kites, kingfishers, numerous other birds and at least one alligator.  There were tree frogs and geckos hunting on their porch.

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There was an egret rookery on Ft. Stewart to admire.

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I visited the Atlantic coast at  Jekyll Island, a barrier island that shows exactly how the river of sand flows in slow motion.

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On Ft. Stewart, near the rookery, is a very beautiful pond that is a recreation area for the soldiers there.

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The “kids” took me to nearby Savannah, and we enjoyed eating at Five Guys Burgers and Fries.   Wonderful hamburgers.   We walked along the river in the old part of a very lovely city.

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I got to bond with James.

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Gratifying is the word that comes to mind.   What was so extremely gratifying was not just the wonderful child that the two of them created, although that was pretty gratifying.   The really great thing was seeing how our son has grown into a tender father and supportive husband.   I got to see first hand the wisdom of his choice of wife; for not only is she very pretty, she is also extremely intelligent, focused on her desire to be a good mother, wise beyond her years, and a fiercely loyal mate.

I also witnessed this very manly man completely involved in the nitty gritty details of housekeeping, sharing the chores of housekeeping.   Even more, he agreed wholeheartedly that since his wife was the main food source for the baby, his main part of the job was going to be the clean-up brigade.   He did that chore with no sign of disgust; but rather with relish, delighted to help make his baby clean and comfortable.   He cooked us dinners, too, following the example his father set.

Who says that only women can be nurturing?

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Oh, it was wonderful in the extreme to witness the only major disagreement they had while I was here.   Someone  (I’m not sure whether it was me or Jesse) congratulated her on the excellent job she did of producing this baby.   She objected.   Her position was that Jesse had a lot to do with creating the baby, too.   He disagreed.   I loved the way he put it:  “Babe, all I did was contribute the leavening agent.   You did all the rest.”   Truly, that was the closest I saw them getting into an argument in the almost two weeks I was there.

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They are not only parents, they are soldiers.   Both of them.   I found the uniforms and boots by the door to be touching and sweet.    His and hers, together.

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I am so proud.  And so blessed.

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We are proud to announce the birth of our grandson today.   He was born at 1:40 p.m.   At birth, he weighed 7 lb. 13.2 oz. and was 20.5 inches long.  I don’t know when I have seen a newborn with such large hands.

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This is the beautiful mother, Lynette, with her son.

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Aside from the fact that she looks totally love with her son, she appears to be quite pleased with herself.   Jim says she looks very smug indeed, and pointed out that this is the totally natural look a woman has for all men:  Look what I can do.

Ah, the magic of being able to reproduce the species.   No wonder the patriarchy is so strident.   They are still trying to overcome this mystery and power.   Good luck with that, boys.

And here is the proud father, the son that Jim and I are so very very proud of.

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Okay.   I have to post one more.

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Jim and I have shared a bottle of champagne, the cork is in my collection with the date inscribed on it.   Also we shared an excellent cigar.

Now I have to finish packing.  Tomorrow I leave for my drive to Georgia, where I will get to hold this precious human being in person rather than vicariously.

It just doesn’t get any better than this.

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FINITO!!!

The baby quilt is no longer in progress.   It is done.

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I actually had a dream about this quilt right when I was almost completely done quilting the white border.   This is a sample of the beginning of the white border:

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This particular quilting pattern was suggested by the pillow conversation Jim and I had about the letter Y.  As it turns out, I actually did put the entire list of Atomic symbols into that border.   I am wondering how long it will be before the child asks the parents about that border, if it ever does.   Anyway, it pleases me no end that I did this and it worked out so well.

So, I was working Praseodymium, which I had to look up to find out what it was good for, when it was time to stop for the night.  As I slept, the quilt blocks were spinning in my head, especially since the idea has been planted in my fertile mind that the blocks of the alphabet represent the story of my life.  Eventually, the Man in the Maze came to me to speak, and made the point that the labyrinth which is such a large presence in our lives must be represented somehow on the quilt.

I am ever obedient to the Muse…

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The labyrinth block is the one I reserved for the baby’s name and birthdate.  If you look closely, you can see that there is room left at the top of the maze pattern for those things to be added once they are known.

The block just to the left represents the parents.  Those ribbons were part of the decor for their wedding.

So, now I am without an active project just now.   There is a stack of fabric accumulating on my desk for the next quilt, which is going to be another bargello called Supernova and will feature a transition of color from deep purple through paler shades to silver.   I have about 2/3 of the fabric, but there is still a ways to go.   I am going to visit my older sister in San Antonio in a couple of weeks and there are wonderful fabric stores there which I intend to avail myself of.

And the baby quilt is going too, in order to be admired during show and tell at my older sister’s quilt guild meeting.   I guess I’d better think of a title for it.

Meanwhile, I believe I shall brave the slushy three inches of snow out there and go do my water aerobics.

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While we were in Redding, we visited the Coleman National Fish Hatchery, which was built during the same time period as Shasta Dam in order to alleviate the problem that the salmon were scheduled to have with their run after the dam was completed.   It was interesting, and quite exciting because the salmon were actually running at the time.   This is a shot of a group of them that have managed to ascend the fish ladder and are on their way to the holding pools where there were over 100,000 salmon waiting to spawn.

We also visited beautiful Burney Falls.   There was plenty to see, and a very nice 1.2 mile walk to stretch our legs.

We hit the road after that stop and headed back to Shasta Dam for the dam tour depicted in the first post about our vacation.   Along the way our driver was actually induced to stop for a photo op.   We got a very nice view of Shasta.

There was a professional ground squirrel at the photo stop, who obligingly posed for me.

Now, there was one thing I forgot to mention at Shasta Dam.   There is a huge pile of riprap along side the dam, and many of these rocks are loose.   It is a dangerous place to play, and yet it is most enticing.   Rather than try to fence people out, the authorities put up a few signs along the top edge of the pile.   Most effective, and quite a bit less than the ugly cyclone fence that the signs replace.

So, after suitably disporting ourselves at Redding, we traveled back to the Bay Area, where we ate wonderful food and got taken sailing on the San Francisco Bay.

Our skipper:

Our other skipper:

Jim got to steer too:

Notice that both bridges are in the background of this shot:  The Bay Bridge on the left, the Golden Gate on the right.   We went under the Bay Bridge on our way around Treasure Island.

It was a truly gorgeous day on the Bay.   It was the first day of the World Series, and there were two blimps trundling about upstairs getting file footage for the TV show later in the day.   We got to watch the Blue Angels form up and do preparatory loops for their flyover after the national anthem.   There were several small airplanes towing banners around, making slow headway against the winds aloft.  A couple of porpoises swam by, checking us out.

On a bell buoy there was a harbor seal napping.   He woke up and scratched his chin.   Unfortunately, the pictures I took of him are all horribly out of focus.   You may not believe this, but I think my camera gets sea sick.

We got to see the winner of the 1976 America’s cup fly by us on the water.

Just a lovely day all around.

The following day we went out to Point Reyes National Seashore, and visited McClure’s Beach.  That was a spectacular day too.

Now, I know I have mentioned this previously, but I’ll say again.  This guy died this spring, May 6:

My father never went anywhere without a camera in his hand, until the digital age stymied him.   He never could get used to the simplicity of digital, probably because the computer skills needed to bring those shots to fruition eluded him.    Anyway, there is a collection of slides and prints that is beyond belief.  I could show you a picture, but it doesn’t translate, because all it is is dusty boxes full of boxes.   My best guestimate is that  there are something over 13,000 slides occupying my dining room floor right now, and so far I have managed to look at about 150 of them.

It’s a real trip down memory lane.   In the following shots, I am the little blonde that is the middle sized one.

In the camper Daddy built for the trip from California to Maine and back.   Took most of the summer of 1959:

At Death Valley in 1960:

In camp on the Gorge Lakes (Rocky Mountain National Park) expedition.  We hiked and backpacked and camped for five days, ascending Chief’s Head, Mt. Ida and several other peaks in the neighborhood.   This was 1962, after we moved to Colorado.

So, now you will understand if my posts come infrequently for a while.   I really have a heck of a lot of viewing and scanning to do.

 

 

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