Saturday, December 28, 2019

Christmas Week

It has been another busy week, but mostly lovely.  My trees are still up and I am still enjoying them.  One little tree in the guest room, one in the entry way, the larger one in the living room, and a small ceramic tree by the downstairs fireplace.  But the presents have been distributed and company is tapering off.

On Thursday, my son's family came over for a Christmas brunch.  We had a variety of meats and cheeses and pastries, both cold and warm, and enjoyed each other's company.  I am always sorry to see them go, it is never enough time for me.  My grandson interviewed all of us for his upcoming science fair project, and he and his sister played around with their new ukuleles.  I do hope they have some fun with those!  

While we were visiting, a couple who have been Jack's friends for more than 30 years (and mine for about 7) stopped by with an unexpected housewarming gift -- this metal "H" is quite large, 28" square,"  and we are still trying to decide exactly where it should be displayed.   It is not our usual style -- a bit showy for us -- but we will find a place for it.  And for the lovely Belleek blessing wreath that Jack's sister and brother in law brought back from Ireland, also something we would not have bought for ourselves.  It is fun to see our house shaping up, with bits of each of us and the people we love.

Yesterday was the gathering of my Michigan family; my sister and brother, my son's and nephew's families.   Although we were in daily contact when our kids were small, now we get together as a group pretty rarely, only a few times a year, so this annual gathering is always a treat.  My brother spent the night last night and I was grateful for that.  He lives about an hour and a half north of us, and yesterday's family gathering was a little more than two hours south, so he drove to our house and he and Jack and I drove to my nephew's house together.  I drove our new Tesla, a trip that included a stop at a Supercharger, and managed to get us there and back with all of us, including the car, intact.   It was late when we returned home and we were all tired, so my usually stubborn brother gave in and agreed to sleep over. He is not well, otherwise I am certain he would have pushed himself on.   Now it is 6:30 a.m. and both he and my husband are still soundly sleeping, giving me a few minutes to myself, sitting under a quilt, blogging by the light of the tree and the fire.

Now that our schedule should be slowing down a bit, maybe I will find time to sew the gifts I had intended to make this year, and put them aside for next.  More likely, if I get them sewn at all, I will give them away instead of waiting.  

I love the holidays, but I admit I am ready to have a less cluttered house and a lot less cooking for a little while!   Just a short breather, before our annual New Year's Even chocolate fondue!   I hope your holidays were peaceful and bright.  :)

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Crazy, Continued

It's been another crazy week.   My husband's birthday was last Sunday, and since I knew I would be busy that day, I carefully (or semi carefully) scheduled all the necessary tasks and chores around his little celebration.  The morning before his birthday, however, he got a text -- which he eventually shared with me -- saying that his daughter had decided to drive to Michigan to visit and the share his birthday and that, hurray, she would arrive at 1:30 am!  My husband was delighted and so was I, truth be told, but I had to work a little to push the long list of to-dos out of my head!    We had a lovely day.  I made puff pastries in the morning, we had Facetime with his family and his twin sister, went see Star Wars together at his request, and then we finished off the day with dinner with all his kids and a couple that he has know for probably 30 years.   A good day for all of us.  But for sure we had stayed up too late the night before, and my semi-careful task list was already beginning to erode.

My husband had ordered a new car several weeks ago and he got 3 texts that afternoon, one announcing the the car would be delivered on December 28th, one announcing that it arrive a little later, and one announcing that additional information would be forthcoming.  A fun text to get on his birthday, even if a little confusing!

The next day was the day we had chosen to celebrate Christmas with his kids.  His daughter's gifts, of course, had already been mailed to her in Washington D.C, so we were empty-handed for her.   Some of the gifts for the others had arrived and some had not, but no problem, we are not gift-focused people.  My husband, his daughter and I were just getting started cooking and getting ready for the other siblings when my husband got a text that his new car was being delivered . . . now, in just a few minutes.    His daughter and I went outside with him and sure enough, we could see the car carrier just down the street.  Quite a bit down the street, in fact -- the driver later told me that he could not park by our house before the trees were too low.

What excitement!   We spent a few minutes checking off the checklist and figuring our how to work this new contraption, and then we drove around the block, waving while my step-daughter filmed us and apparently posted it on Instagram!

Amid all the excitement, my husband's other kids and daughter in law arrived, and we enjoyed the first minutes together admiring the car and beginning to assemble the meal.   At some point, out of my presence, one member of the family took offense at something that had been said.   He stormed out of the house and did not return.   The remaining members tried to figure out what had gone wrong, with each of them saying to me at some point in the day, "Maybe it was my fault . . ."   Eventually, though, since he did not answer our calls or texts, and since there was no consensus on what had been so offensive, we carried on with a lovely dinner, fun gifts, and hours of board games and laughter before we called it a night.

Today is Christmas Eve.   The new car is not insured until the 26th since the earliest it should have arrived was the 28th.  The offended family member is still offended.   But I made banana bread, and although I did it all wrong, it tastes pretty darn good.   I didn't realize until house later when I opened the microwave that I forgot to add the melted butter to the batter!  

I also got a few errands finally done and got my monthly - rarely monthly any more - pedicure.   It feels so good.  At the moment, my husband's daughter is visiting with friends, my husband is asleep in the chair beside me in front of the fire, and I have had the space of time needed to finish a gift for him to open tomorrow -- a lovely pen wrap for his endless collection of fountain pens, and maybe something to prevent ink stains in his shirt pockets going forward.

Not a creature is stirring, and I couldn't be happier.   I hope it is peaceful and pleasant in your life, whatever you are celebrating and wherever you are doing it.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Lucky Me

Yesterday was my birthday.    It was a really lovely day, even though the end result is that I am not Older Than Dirt.   The night before I received my last November bouquet of flowers, lovely white roses.

On my Birthday morning we woke up and sat by the fire in our mish-mashed pajamas -- both of us pull together whatever collection of fleece is clean and available to sit around on chilly mornings -- and Jack made coffee since I had forgotten to set it up the night before.   I sat and sat and sat until I could sit no more, and then we went out to breakfast at the local fancy hotel, a pretty typical breakfast but a lovely setting.  From there we went to Starbucks for my free birthday hot cocoa (made with almond milk so I don't have to regret it later!) and picked up a couple other birthday freebies before returning to my chair by the fire.  While I sat, checked my Facebook greetings, and worked on our Christmas cards, Jack put up the Christmas tree (which I will think about decorating today . . . although I love it with just the lights).

We went to dinner with friends -- all of them are on some special diet or other so we waited until we got home to have a glass of wine . . . by the fire.   Just a lovely day.

But back now to the Real World.  We were awakened some time around 4 am by a falling branch as a result of last night's ice storm.  We have about 3/10 of an inch of ice and now there is snow accumulating on top of it.  Our upstairs bedroom is a little like sleeping in a tent.   We hear every turn of weather.   We love that about it . . . most of the time . . . but by the time Jack was done this morning investigating the property for damage, we were both up and any dreams of sleeping in were done.   Or at least mine are done -- I see that he is about to doze off on the couch.  Branches are still falling.  We are warm and cozy here but the power is out at his "old" house so we will need to check it a few times -- power at the other house is not expected back on until tomorrow sometime, and that is only if conditions city-wide don't get worse.   I'm hoping it's a good reminder to him that two houses are too many!

Here, I have a pot of soup simmering on the stove and my feet propped up by the fire, finally drinking that Starbucks cocoa.  Mmmmm.   Even when it isn't my birthday, I am living the good life!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Birthday Month

November is my Birthday Month and I have been plenty spoiled.   My husband has sent me fresh flowers every Friday.  The florist who delivers them laughs when she calls to ask whether I am home, and suggests we really should start meeting for coffee since we are getting to know each other so well.   Jack can't drive as a result of his stroke, and so it takes some effort for him to come up with ideas for me, especially since I want for nothing, so this has been an especially sweet gesture.  All of the flowers were beautiful, but the lilies lasted the longest and had a wonderful scent.

We are back from the family wedding at Walt Disney World, and what a wedding it was!  The young families loved it and visited all the parks.   Jack and I spent time with family, his siblings and nieces and grand nieces.  The weather was unseasonably cold, not much warmer than here in Michigan, although it returned to the 80's right after we flew home.

I saw my surgeon when we gt back.   He was duly impressed with my increased range of motion, but I still don't have much strength in my injured arm and he doesn't expect that I will unless we fix the torn muscle.  He recommended that I proceed with the surgery.   Oddly, I felt so good the day I saw him, that the news took me by surprise, although obviously it shouldn't have.  I told him I needed to think about it.    By the time I got home, I was in pain again and realized that I had been foolish, so I called his office.   I was told then that he won't be back in the office for a week and they will have to ask him then about scheduling it.  So the news is that it looks like I will have surgery -- he can't tell how much until he inserts a scope -- but the no-news is that I still don't know when.  I expect a call today or tomorrow to set that up.   My arm doesn't work like it should and my activity is definitely limited, but I don't feel bad enough to want the pain and 6 month recovery that the surgery will entail.   So this is not the result I hoped for, and I'll need to work on keeping my positive attitude, always a struggle since I am such a baby.

The papers for the sale of my Saginaw house will be signed tomorrow, the day before Thanksgiving, which is surely something to be thankful for.   I did a final walk though today, really a sweet little house.   I hope the new owners will be as happy there as I was.

Our five inches of snow have finally melted and we are back to the more normal temperatures in the 30's.  There are still a few frozen lumps in the yard of our new  house where the plows pushed the snow.  The leaves are still falling, and I haven't been able to hire anyone to do our yard clean up -- everyone is fully booked -- so Jack is working on it a little at a time.   I am not able to be much help with my shoulder injury, although it would be a huge job even for the two of us.   More snow and cold is predicted, of course, and if we aren't able to get the thick carpet of leaves up,  our spring clean-up might be a huge chore.  We knew when we bought it that this is a crazy house for us at our ages, too big and too much yard maintenance, but so far we love it.  I just need to schedule outside help earlier next year!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Busy Busy Busy

So much has gone on in the last couple of weeks -- at least it's been a lot for these two old fogies!  I have physical therapy twice a week and then do exercises at home several times a day, so that alone eats up a lot of time during the day.  Jack is still working on his 'old' house and I need to transport him back and forth, and I pick up my grandkids, 25 miles there and back, a couple times a week.  All good stuff, but time consuming.

I cannot say that I am seeing improvement with the physical therapy, but I am hoping that I am doing better than it seems.   The main aggravation is that it is still painful, and no one can tell me whether that will ever go away without surgery.   The pain is not severe, but it is constant and can be disheartening after all these months.   I have a lot of questions for the surgeon when I see him in a couple of weeks.

We have been busy, both with our constant 'moving  matters,' and with a few unexpected fun events.   It is rare for us to be out socializing, so this past weekend was a nice change of pace.   First, we attended a Halloween party -- the first I've been to . . . ever?   Jack dressed up as Jack Frost (which is to say, I painted snowflakes on his face), but carried a concealed (plastic) knife because he was a 'killing frost.'    I wore a t-shirt with the word "LIFE" on it and handed out lemons from a basket, and painted a sun and grass and a rainbow on my face.  These were my first efforts at face painting and not spectacular.   No one (except me) found my costume amusing, but Jack was mistaken for Jack the Ripper and given the award for Scariest Costume, a little 3-D skeleton printed by the host.  The other guests were more of a drinking crowd than we are, and kind of loud; we enjoy having a drink but our goal is not to forget how we got there.   Still, everyone was very nice and we had a good time.

The next night, kind of on a whim because we saw a poster, we went to a Diwali celebration.   We didn't know anyone, and people did not seem eager to mingle, so we didn't learn much about the symbolism of the dances and prayer service aside from what I found on wikipedia about this festival of light.   But the people were dressed in beautiful traditional clothing, and we enjoyed the food very much.  We hope to try again next year with a friend of Jack's who normally attends but could not be there this year.

And today we attended a Youth Orchestra concert to listen to, among others, my granddaughter (first chair in the Violin II section, 2nd girl in photo) and my grandson (3rd chair cello, smiling at me).   I loved every minute.  Besides my Grands, I have been watching several other kids in the orchestra develop since they were in first grade, so it is a delight to see them now.

It is unseasonably cold here lately, and I have only seen deer three times, which is not surprising since our usually-jumpable creek is high and not fully frozen yet.   We are getting snow even though the leaves haven't fully fallen yet.   I'm hoping for another warm snap, otherwise it's going to be a mess in the Spring!

This is my birthday month and Jack has been spoiling me with roses and sweets and fruit deliveries from Harry and David.   Being spoiled is not to be under rated.

My Saginaw house was listed and I had a full price offer on it before it was even open for public viewing.   The house passed inspection and now we are waiting for word of the bank appraisal.    If it goes through, we should close on November 29.   If not, we will start the process all over again.  I am ready to be done with it, so fingers crossed.  Besides, there is a LOT of work here on the home front.

The only other news is that I preformed a wedding this weekend, a very nice couple who have been together for 18 years.   The long-time couples, who have already weathered some storms,  are always surprised by how meaningful their ceremony becomes, so they are generally a delight to work with.  This wedding was no exception.  I must say, though, it is the only wedding I've done where I got a standing ovation for my dinner blessing.   What a fun crowd.  :)

Monday, October 14, 2019

Good News (or at least a reprieve!)

First, an update on my shoulder -- I saw the orthopedic surgeon this week and he offered me a choice: either go straight to surgery, which he said would be brutal and have a long recovery, or first try 6 weeks of physical therapy, which he said would be brutal.   The fully torn rotator cuff cannot be repaired without surgery, but the idea is that, at my age, I might be able to coax the other muscles and ligaments into compensating for the tear.   I have things to do in the next 6 weeks, so of course I opted for the physical therapy.   If it works, it will be a Very Good Thing indeed.

Meanwhile, in other fun news, I saw my first deer at the new house!    I swept up some acorns and tossed them over the fence onto the slope down to the creek instead of putting them into the yard trash bin.  A couple of hours later, I saw a doe enjoying my offering, and three of her friends soon joined her.   You can see her little face in between the two bottom rungs of our back fence.  Our yard is littered with acorns, all over every walk and path and in the plantings and on the lawn.  My husband predicts that we will be a popular spot for deer once snow and cold set in and they lose some of their fear of coming closer to the house.  We have no dogs to warm them away.  Jack's relatives are telling me I will regret inviting them in, but since we have no garden, it is hard to see what harm.   My relatives are telling me to open the fence!

My Saginaw house is ready to list, more or less.  I will be meeting with my realtor this week and she will make the final decision, but the house is mostly empty (except for "staging" furniture) and it won't be long now.  I plan to do a bit more surface cleaning, which is going as slowly as the rest of the process because of my injury, but I really and truly think I am on the home stretch now!

My husband still has weeks of work ahead of him on his house, but he is staying overnight with me more often at the new house (like married people!) and he hung our first 'art work' yesterday.    He wasn't feeling well last night but he insisted on getting it done -- not as quick and easy a task for him as it would have been before the stroke -- but he is really happy to have this job done because from the beginning he envisioned my very simple quilts on our walls.   It's funny, because I didn't think any of these were good enough to gift, and yet here they are, making a cozy space for us.  

The first one is hanging in our living room, on the opposite wall from the fireplace.   It will eventually have furniture underneath it, but for now we've moved the chairs up closer to the fire!

 And this one, pictured below, made with scraps and backed with minky is the only quilt I have ever quilted myself.   I didn't think it was well done enough to give away, and so now I am enjoying it almost every evening.

We are a work in progress and will decide little by little whether we need to replace things like rugs (I love my rug!) or add furniture to create the cozy home we are hoping for.   Jack has pointed out that I need to make some larger quilts for the walls -- the larger ones I've made in the past were all given away as gifts!

This is the quilt you see as you enter the front door  (with a photo taken as I entered the front door last evening) -- it is intended to hang over the hallway bench that we haven't chosen yet.

Standing there, as you turn left in the entry, toward the kitchen, you would see this lovely little quilt, beautifully hand embroidered by my sweet friend Barb at Three Cats Ranch.

I love this little quilt, and I love the sentiment for Jack's and my first sweet home together.  In case you can't read it, here it is a little bigger.  You simply can't imagine what pretty little stitches she makes.  Even when I was young and embroidered a lot (before my wrists got so wobbley), I was never as fine a needle-ist as she is.

Today should be my last big work day at the Saginaw house.   The city trash pick up is early tomorrow morning and one of Jack's sons helped me drag bags of trash to the garage in preparation.  He and my husband planned to put it on the curb for me today, but since Jack is not feeling well, I expect I'll be on my own   After that, the garage will need to be swept clean.  Sweeping is difficult for me, but I'll do what I can.   I loved that house and still enjoy sitting there when my work is done, but I am more than ready to focus on the new house instead!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

HappyFirst Fall

We are enjoying the first signs of Michigan Autumn.   Typically this spell won't last too long and we will have more warm weather before Autumn comes in earnest with its first frosts.  But right now it is chilly, in the 40s and 50s, and the leaves are turning.  Acorns and nuts are falling like crazy . . . yup, it's nuts.

And the chipmunks are very bold, scolding me loudly when I come near them, but not giving ground.   It is clear to them that this is THEIR property and they seem confident that they can hold every inch.   Perhaps because there are so many of them . . . my husband is threatening to change that balance.   I am conflicted about it because they ARE so cute.

It is the beginning of one of our most beautiful seasons, and we are enjoying the fireplace in our new house.

My surgeon's appointment is a month away; apparently that is what they call 'expedited.'   I do not know the man or anything about him and my family is challenging me to find someone who can take me sooner.   I am working on a note to my doctor to ask why he chose this surgeon and whether he has a good reason why I should not look elsewhere.   Meanwhile, I am getting closer and closer to getting my Saginaw house done, which is still my main focus and will be a great relief to have finished.  My son, beloved DIL and grandson moved a whole load to the new house for me yesterday, and the progress is more and more evident.    Doing a happy dance!  :)

Friday, September 27, 2019

Ups and Downs

I have been busy cleaning, packing, sorting and stacking at my Saginaw house.  I have done several things to get the house ready to sell -- I painted the interior, as well as the shed door.   I reglazed the tub, put in a new kitchen sink and the new basement floor goes in today.   I had a new porch put on and caught up on the maintenance that had slipped -- I had the windows washed, the carpets cleaned, and the furnace inspected.    I have moved countless loads of belongings in my little Suburu Impreza, and I have dozens of bags lined up to be moved.   

I am SO CLOSE to being done; a couple of strong people and a small truck could finish the job in half a day.  But the people-for-hire are backed up almost a month, and my hurting right shoulder has turned me into a pretty pathetic worker, with a limited load limit and forcing me to work mostly with my non-dominant left arm.    That darn right arm is so much better than it was, but it is still hurting.  

As I think I mentioned in my last post, my doctor ordered an MRI of my shoulder last week and and the results arrived yesterday evening.  They were not what I hoped for.  The report says:

“8 millimeter full-thickness tear in the anterior half of the supraspinatus tendon. Recommend immediate referral to Orthopedic surgery to be evaluated for surgical repair as the ruptured stump is already retracting and there is mild atrophy of the supraspinatus muscle.

Additionally, there is a partial thickness tear of the biceps tendon, moderate acromioclavicular joint arthritis and mild subacromial bursitis.”

My doctor will be referring me to a surgeon near my new house who works at our local hospital.  Since I am the only driver, I don't have the luxury of hospital-shopping to choose the one that is best for this particular surgery.  According to Doctor Internet, I will not be able to drive for 6 to 12 weeks if they do, in fact, decide to do the surgery.  This is bad new all around - for my husband and his son, for my kids and grandkids, and for my ill brother.  And for me, sine there will be physical therapy and follow up appointments.   Choosing a hospital that is only a couple of miles away is a practical decision.   

On the plus side, at least I wasn't complaining about nothing!  On the Big Baby side, now that I know it is really injured, it seems to hurt more.   Which is just too bad so I'll need to shake it off.   My kids are tied up with work and school activities every day; in fact, they rely on me to help get it all done.   My husband thinks I should stop driving and working on my house now that I have the diagnosis, but in my view nothing has changed until I meet with the surgeon.  After all, s/he might decide that surgery isn't an option and I might just need to adjust.    And no one (except my husband) has told me to stop what I'm doing.   So right now it's business as usual and I have work to do.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Our Escape, Continued

We are enjoying indulgence after indulgence on our little getaway.   I am trying hard to put out of my mind all the work that is waiting for me back at home!

Ludington is small, a lakeside city, and easily walkable.    It was a logging town back in 'the day.'   Originally named Pere Marquette, after the Jesuit explorer who died there in 1675.  In 1871 it was renamed after James Ludington, who owned the lumber operation, and incorporated as a city in 1873.

There are a variety of Bed and Breakfasts.   They all look pretty gaudy and over decorated on line, but I check them for reservations every time we come here.   This is pretty much always a last minute, unplanned trip for us, so they are always full, as they were this time.    Last year we discovered the very low key Stearns Hotel.    It opened in 1903, and must have been elegant in its time.   

It is still clean and quirky, with a 24-hour reception desk, ridiculously low prices, and hand lettered numbers on the room doors.  It is my husband's favorite hotel, so he was happy when the B and B's fell through again.  From here, we are less than 2 miles from the lake and within walking distance from all the shops and restaurants.

We wandered around yesterday, window shopping.   On our way, we found a small farmers' market, not very crowded, with tomatoes and sunflowers.

We met a lady who was there for her last day, selling lavender cookies that she made herself.    And oh yes we did.  The cookies were an almond shortbread with lavender buds added.   I really liked them; my husband avoids sugar and he was less impressed.

We sat on a bench by the lake.

We window shopped, except when I accidentally bought things, like this sweatshirt that was on 50% clearance since it is the end of the season.

We stumbled onto a wine and cheese tasting where we were offered glasses of 7 different wines from different areas and countries.   And then we really stumbled back to the hotel, after buying two bottles of our favorite.

Today, while it was still mild, in  the mid-70's, it was windy and quite cool.    Lake Michigan took on a different mood and we enjoyed watching the waves, the one brave wind-sailor, and the pretty Brides who were having photos taken.

Since it wasn't as pleasant outdoors, we took the 14 mile drive the the Pig Patch Farm Quilt Shop in nearby Custer.  It's the only quilt shop in the area and as cute as can be.

I had a mental list of things I actually wanted to buy -- those mental lists are always a mistake for me -- so I came away without my intended purchases.   Instead, I picked up a yard of each of these -- the music fabric because it included a bass clef, which is rare, and the other fabric for no reason that has yet been revealed to me.

Tomorrow we head home so we're on our way back out to make the most of what's left of the day.  From the looks of the sky, we are likely to have rain on our way back, which won't be much fun for driving, but will suit our moods as we return to the chores we left behind, lol.