Thursday, July 12, 2018

Splendor in the grass

Even though it is a couple of months too early for fall colors, the big cottonwood in the front yard has started dropping its leaves because of the drought...

and the ground is covered with them.

Had I been walking in the front yard, I probably would not have noticed anything else golden or yellow in the grass besides the leaves.

The other morning though, I had just finished the straight mile portion of my morning walk (I leave the house at 5:45 a.m.) on the frontage road picking up trash and had started up the hill at the “church loop, ” the asphalt driveway that connects with the frontage road and circles around a large pond in front of the church. I happened to be looking down and noticed something yellow in the green grass.

As I said, it is a bit too early in the season for fall colors, and besides, the fence line (5 strands of barbed wire and two hot wires), which keeps the herd of goats next door off the church grounds, has been cleared of everything that could have turned yellow. So I had to stop and look.

I am glad I was paying attention.

Otherwise I would have walked right by.

I did not have my camera with me, so when I finished walking the loop, I drove home, thought about it a while, and then decided I had to try to get a picture of it. It was still there. I had to get down on my hands and knees to get level with it--and then get up again--which might have provided some amusement to anyone speeding by on the highway who might have seen me.

I had no clue what it was, and so I had to enlist the help of my friend Judy, who has several insect identification guides, and eureka, the mystery was solved: Eacles imperialis.

What a lovely, splendiferous thing to see.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018


There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage--Martin Luther

I meant to write about this last Tuesday (June 26) because that was our anniversary.

In years past I have had trouble remembering the date of our anniversary. My parents' anniversary was a week earlier than ours and I often got the dates mixed up. This year I remembered okay, but really fell down on the job in other ways.

We were married in 1971, so this makes 47 years.

Weddings—at least in our social circle—were rather simple back in 1971.

My dress cost $80 off the rack at JC Penney. The bridesmaid’s dresses were homemade from patterns and material we bought at the fabric store.

The reception was cake and punch and, of course, the ubiquitous mints and mixed nuts in the church fellowship hall. It did not break the bank.

We normally do not do anything very extravagant for our anniversary, mostly being content to have a good meal in a nice restaurant. This one happens to be a Mexican restaurant, and as usual, the meal was excellent. I am sure that practically all Mexican food in the United States is a fusion of American and Mexican tastes, but the woman who owns the restaurant is actually from Mexico, so I feel like the food is perhaps a bit more authentic. At any rate, I tend to order something that I don’t usually make at home; in this case, chili relleno. I have tried a couple of times to make chili relleno, but I don’t do well in trying to neatly stuff ingredients inside something else and then dipping it in a batter and frying it. So I am happy to order it at the restaurant.

But to backtrack just a little: The situation here over the weekend before our anniversary was rather hilarious (depending, of course, on your sense of humor). He is hard to buy presents for because if he wants something, he just orders it right then online or buys it when he is out and about. I always know what I am getting because I always ask for a book, which he buys me, so there is no surprise there.

He did give me a suggestion about what I could get him, which was great – and I should have thought of it myself because it is has always been the “go-to gift” when I need to get him something.

However, he had to go to town and said there was no point in me making an extra trip to town to buy the present, so he ended up buying his anniversary present and giving it to me so I could give it to him.

And then last Monday when I did go to town for the usual—aerobics class, post office—I forgot to buy him an anniversary card, so he found a really funny one on the Hallmark Cards program he has on his computer and printed it and gave it to me so I could give it to him.

So Tuesday afternoon when we got back from our lovely meal, I gave him his bottle of Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry

 and the silly card he gave me to give to him, and he gave me the book  I asked for..

and a lovely romantic card.

It was a really good day. But somehow, this was just sort of...wrong; funny, but wrong. I am definitely going to do better next year.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

A spoon full of sugar

Him: What is this? Room service?
Me: I want to get some pictures of her outside. I am going to do a blog post about the kitty.
Him: I didn’t know you could put swear words on a blog post.

She is old and the end of her days on earth is probably coming sooner than later. But who knows? She is going downhill, but her quality of life has not deteriorated so much that she needs to be euthanized.

She became our son's cat when he was living in a house in the Boot Heel, and he really loved her.

Then he moved to an apartment in St. Louis in 2001 or 2002, and because she was not suited to be an entirely indoor cat, he took a cat I had rescued from being put to sleep that had been de-clawed and who hated us (but she loved him) and we took Squeaker in trade. She was about 2 years old then.

We sort of have a love-hate relationship with her. Sometimes she is just adorable...
and sometimes she is incredibly irritating and we say mean things about her. But, we are committed to taking care of her as best we can.

So, she is at least 18 years old now. She has never been a robust cat, but her weight has dropped to barely 6 pounds. Her backbone is prominent through her fur.

She started coughing. I took her to the vet, but her lungs were clear. He gave us a liquid antibiotic just in case. What a struggle we had to get the medicine down her. Half of it would end up all over us. We had a few days left to give it to her before I figured out we could mix it in with her morning tablespoon of tuna and get it down her that way.

Then, a few weeks ago she started having seizures, and the frequency was increasing. The vet did a thyroid test to see if that was causing the weight loss. Her thyroid is fine.

He prescribed phenobarbital at 0.5 mL twice daily for the seizures. Apparently this formula is for pediatric patients, and the vet said it has sort of a cherry flavor.

After the struggle we had with the antibiotic, we knew we weren’t going to be trying to stick the syringe in her mouth and squirt it in.

Fortunately, she likes ice cream and especially strawberry cheesecake-flavored ice cream. 

The ice cream masks the taste of the phenobarbital, and she licks it up.
The medicine has worked well. She hasn’t had a seizure since we started giving it to her.

 So she gets a spoon full of ice cream twice daily to help the medicine go down.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Wait!! I am not done yet!!

I am not always comfortable talking on the telephone, so I have a tendency to wait for people to call me first. Last night, however, I did call my brother Daniel. I needed to know how he was.

Daniel was diagnosed in 2016 (?) with olfactory neuroblastoma, a very rare type of cancer that lives in the sinus cavity and likes to attach itself to nerves and bones.

After the third operation to remove “spots,” his physicians brought up the possibility of radiation therapy because the cancer kept coming back, but radiation therapy in that area of the skull is not without significant consequences. At the top of the list:  loss of an eye, loss of teeth, brain damage, including the brain stem, from radiation scatter… so Daniel decided he wouldn’t do it.

Then the cancer came back again, and he needed a fourth operation, and that time a nerve that provides feeling to his cheek had to be removed.

Daniel decided he better have the radiation therapy after all. He thought he could live without an eye if it came to that.

It was a grueling schedule -- I think he had to go 5 days a week for 6 weeks. He finished the final treatment last week.

And God was merciful.

Yes, one of his eyes got a little irritated and sore, but the hospital gave him some stuff to put in it and it is getting better every day.

Yes, sores developed in his mouth from the x-rays bouncing off the crowns on his teeth, but the hospital gave him solution to swish in his mouth and the sores healed. So far his teeth seem okay.

Yes, he did have some “fuzzy thinking” problems, but that seems to be clearing up.

They gave him pills for nausea that developed, and he actually gained a couple of pounds. He has not had any sinus infections.

We had a really nice visit.

I had sent him some pictures of “sights” around our place...

 gray tree frogs showing their ability to camouflage to the environment

a green snake I found in the honeysuckle by the garage....

 a large Promethea moth (about 5 inches across)...

a woodland fishing spider that was living in our basement (this is a very big spider --the board it is next to is 4 inches wide)

a toad and with an ant crawling on it...

 and he thanked me for the pictures and asked me to send some more.

I thought it was time to wind the conversation down, so I threw back at him the phrase he always uses when he is having a party at his place and wants to bring it to end “Well, it’s been real nice havin’ ya’,” (see previous below), only he immediately said

Wait!! I am not done yet!!!!

It was hilarious. I laughed and laughed. He actually did have some business to tell me about. He is the executor of the family trust our parents set up, so we wound up the conversation with that.

I am so blessed to have this delightful man as my brother.

Please God, let him live long and prosper.

He needs to see this little guy grow up.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

“Well, it’s been real nice havin’ ya”

When one of my brothers and his wife had family over for celebrations, and he needed to bring the party to an end, he’d say something like

“Well, it’s been real nice havin’ ya.”

This was the signal for everybody wind it up and go home.

Naturally, it became a funny thing that we say to each other on occasion in various situations.

We arrived here in May 37 years ago, and in that time we have seen Baltimore orioles a few times in the yard. I bought an oriole nectar feeder years ago, and I can remember putting out orange slices for them. The oriole feeder eventually deteriorated and broke, and we hadn’t seen an oriole for several years, and I never bothered to get another one.

So, I was over the moon about 3 weeks ago when one showed up at the suet feeder, and then there was another… and another…. and another. We were eventually able to count 7 males and 2 females, and there were probably more than that.

I had the base of the old oriole feeder, so I had my dearly beloved enlarge every other hole on two hummingbird feeders to match the size of the hole on the oriole feeder. My friend told me they liked grape jelly, so we bought 4 jars of grape jelly and I put that out on small saucers in two places in the yard.

It was a mob scene. And not just at our house. The four couples at church who feed birds and have hummingbird feeders also had an unusual number of them. I noticed a bunch of them on the hummingbird feeders at the house by the park where I walk. It was like this whole area was a truck stop for these beautiful travelers heading north.

I had already decided once they got through the 4 jars of jelly that was it, and I was not putting out any more suet either.

And then by midweek last week they all left. The man who lives by the park said they left on Tuesday (I guess he was counting the days too). It was real nice having them, but I was happy to see them go.

Except it would have been nice if one pair had stayed and raised a family.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

You're asking me?

My friend calls and wants some fashion advice.

Judy is going to a Big Band concert/dance at which family members will be playing, and she isn’t certain about what to wear. This would not be a problem if the event were held locally. People here generally do not dress up and basically wear what they want. I went to a wedding once where the bride’s grandfather arrived in a Dickey work shirt and pants. I have been to funerals where mourners came in bib overalls.

This is not local though, this is in St. Louis. St. Louis is the "big city." I have never been to an event like this in St. Louis to see what everyone else is wearing. I don't know if they have adopted the "California casual" attitude that is common back home, or if they are more upscale and elegant. But I imagine what might be okay in our little rural town might not blend in well with the crowd there.

I burst into laughter—not because she needs some help—but because I do not think I am the best person to be asking about this sort of thing. I clean up fairly well, but I don't have a very well-honed sense of fashion or style and have always “depended on the kindness of strang…” uhh, I mean my sister, to find appropriate clothes for me to wear to dress-up events. It is a shame Judy can’t call my sister and ask her.

But, she is my best friend. so I give it a shot. Judy describes a few things she is thinking about wearing, and they sound quite nice, and I agree that those will almost certainly be perfectly fine.

I laugh some more, and we hang up.

Just about then Richard comes in to tell me he is going to town, and I describe the conversation, and he laughs too.

Then says “You do realize that your shirt is inside out.”

Well no, I didn’t, unfortunately. I had gone to town that way earlier in the morning to run errands, and I was on display at the park, where I walked twice around the perimeter with another woman, at the bank, the grocery store, and the post office.

Did anybody notice? Probably not. But still…

Monday, March 05, 2018

Let the Adventure Begin...Again

“I found my missing compression stocking!”

I had an extensive blood clot in my leg several years ago that damaged the valves in some of the veins. I was strongly urged to keep my leg elevated, which I do by propping it on some storage containers under my work space, and to wear a compression stocking, which I also do. I have several types: some with open toes, some with open toes that I have sewed shut because they tend to creep up over the ball of the foot, and then there is my favorite, a skin-tone closed-toe model that feels silky like a nylon stocking.

I put the compression stocking on in the morning before I go off to exercise, and I usually peel it off in the evening when I am in the recliner reading. It frequently ends up in the crack between the cushion and the arm, which is where I expected to find it this particular morning. I didn’t.

Okay, sometimes I take it off when we are in bed watching TV after dinner. Perhaps it was under the covers. It wasn’t.

I had gone fuming around the house searching several other places where it might be, and had announced my frustration at not being able to find it.

I have a bad habit of picking something up and intending to put it away but then getting distracted before I get there and putting it down someplace not even close to where it should be and then forgetting where I set it down.

“Well,” he wants to know, “where was it?”

“Oh, I put it back in the drawer where it belongs.”

“WHAT?” Are you crazy? Putting it back where it belongs takes all of the adventure out of life.”

This from the person who has a sign by the bed: “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

In the meantime, he took the Easy-Off Oven Cleaner into his office. He says he has no clue why he did this. I mean, there isn't a grungy oven in there that needs to be cleaned, but there is one in the kitchen. He remembers seeing it in there near his work space, but, unfortunately, it isn't there now. He has no clue where it went.

I don't really want to clean the oven, but I do need to find the Easy-Off even if I decide not to tackle the oven. I guess another adventure is in the works.

P.S. The elderly woman I was visiting in the nursing home every Sunday died early yesterday morning. I am so thankful that I got to know her. She was a blessing and an inspiration. I thankful for God's mercy that she was being well cared for and didn't suffer.