Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Danny















Danny's personality shines through every picture of him -- I don't think I've ever seen a bad photo of him. What a kid! I have so many wonderful memories of him, starting with his birth. He was born the year I turned 50. Colleen and Robin had planned a surprise birthday party for me that year, but because Colleen was pregnant and due in the middle of April (my birthday is the 18th, but don't get me an expensive gift, or a kitten), they decided to have the party on April 2. Danny never has wanted to miss a party and that one was no exception. He arrived the 31st and stopped by the party on his way home from the hospital. Actually it was just a brief recess from the hospital -- because he was "premature" his liver hadn't kicked in to full functioning and he was jaundiced. So, he had to return to the hospital and bask under the billirubin lights in an isolette designed for preemies, not 9-1/2 pound linebackers. I'm sure he was the largest preemie on the ward!
He has remained an individual with unbridled enthusiasm for life. When around three years old, he assumed a half dozen different alter egos. No one could be sure who they would be dealing with, "Grandpa," "James Bond, Junior" or one of his other original characters. They all had distinctive mannerisms, voices, gestures, etc. Also when three, he learned to ride a two-wheel bike without training wheels. He simply didn't realize he was too young and off he went. He skiied the same way, flying down double black diamond slopes when he was eight years old. Now, I'm not privvy to how he spends his time these days, but I have a hunch that his early years were a good predictor of his current life style. But, whatever you're doing Danny, I hope you are enjoying it (and be careful!). Happy 20th birthday!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Way Out West

I was nervous. I was afraid Ben and Logan would be bored on their trip to Oregon -- a long way to travel to visit people they didn't know. Would Kevin and Rachel be up to the task of keeping them entertained? Or least keep them from annoying others in their boredom? Boy, was I wrong! They had a fabulous time. They loved meeting all their "new" cousins. They (especially Logan) loved getting to see Robby and spending the night with him, Grandpa Roger, and Colleen. Ben loved Jeff's sarcastic sense of humor, said Lisa was really nice, and that the Teel's were a great family. They hit it off with Brandon and Lauren and can't stop talking about them. Rachel and Kevin were lots of fun and quite indulgent. B and L both were blown away by Powell's book store in Portland.

Snow storms swirled around them -- Denver on the way out and Kansas City just before they got home, but they managed to dodge them and had uneventful, on-time flights.

I got them cameras just before they left so they could take lots of pictures of everyone. Logan took several photos of us in the car and several of blurry Oregon scenery through a car window. Ben left his camera in his backpack. They have a bit to learn about being tourists.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ta-ta Ti-ti

Logan chose to leave Ti-ti home when he went to Oregon for great-grandma Case's 90th birthday. Yes, Ti-ti has seen better days. Great grandmother, Mary Case, crocheted this baby afghan for Logan when he was born and it has been in his bed every night since, until March 25, 2009. He's (Ti-ti is male, according to Logan) traveled in suitcases and backpacks to Hawaii, Alaska, and 30 or so other states. Ti-ti visited Logan's fourth grade class when he was in a condition somewhere in between what you see in the photos. I thought Logan might be embarrassed or the other kids would poke fun at him, but no, all the other kids wanted to talk about their favorite blankets. Ti-ti has been a constant in Logan's life through some very tough times. I truly believe this relationship is a big part of the reason Logan is such a normal, well-adjusted kid today. Even if Logan is through with Ti-ti for the present, I will keep him forever to give to his wife on their wedding day!

Friday, March 27, 2009

More Virtual Musing

I've had four Skype webcam conversations. Cousin Chris in Florence and I spoke for about an hour one morning (for her it was mid-afternoon). It seems easier to visit with someone when you can see them. Hearing is easier for me over Skype compared to either the cell phone or my land line. I get to use both ears at the same time instead of trading off and I don't get sweaty ear when the call is long. Some of the virtual connectivity issues still exist -- I tend to shut out those in my presence to participate in the virtual connection, but with a webcam, I can also draw them into the conversation.

It's wonderful that I was able to spend that time with Chris, see Eleonora walk and hear her babble, see parts of her home and all for free! The webcam is built into my laptop, a feature I neither sought nor avoided, Skype software downloads for free and there is no cost for the call. Amazing! I find fewer reasons each day to maintain a land line.

I spoke with friend Irene in California for over an hour one day and again found that it was much easier to talk and to hear. I feared I would feel self-conscious about my appearance when using the webcam -- was my hair fixed? what was I wearing? was the house tidy? But found that I didn't worry about those things. Felt more like getting together for coffee. I was able to include the boys in the conversation and to show off my new quilt. I like it. I would like to figure out how to make conference calls -- it would be so handy for planning events that call for coordination.

Downsides included some connectivity hassles at first with both Irene and Chris -- we had to try a few times before we actually got the full webcam thing going, but it was worth it in the long run. Calls do get dropped occassionally. Also calls must be prearranged -- Skype doesn't ring like a telephone, I have to be at my computer to hear the incoming call and to see the message that someone is trying to reach me. But, all in all, WOW!

If you want to call, send me an email and let's get together!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Up, up, and away/Snow on the Dogwood.


Can you tell that we had to get up at 4:30 A.M. to make it to the security gate by 7:00? They are now safe on the ground in Portland after changing planes in snowy Denver.


We have stormy weather forecast for the weekend, with snow on Saturday. You've heard the saying ,"Winter isn't over till it snows on the dogwoods." The dogwood is holding its own, still not in bloom, but making moves in that direction. I will cover it when freezing temperatures are forecast and wait for spring. The local redbuds are just coming into bloom. All should be very beautiful when my family comes to visit.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Finished!

I love finishing a quilt. It means I can start on a new one! I like to photograph them outside because the colors show up better, but the ground is still wet from yesterday's rain.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Virtual Connection

When I saw this image on my video cam, I thought it was Logan, but no, it's Robby in California holding his new chicken -- it will lay colored eggs (if it really is a hen!)



The video cam works on calls to Massachusetts, too!

Farewell, Minnie

Minnie died this morning. We are all very sad, but it was horrible to see her suffering. Thanks to all of you for your kind thoughts.

And PLEASE DON'T GET ME A NEW KITTEN!!! As sad as I am to lose Minnie, I am relieved to be liberated from litter box duty and do not wish to do it ever again. We still have two dogs and I spend way too much energy on the care and maintenance of them. I'm just too old to put up with any more pets. Thanks for understanding.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Forward

We took a technological leap forward today (the first day of Spring) when we successfully completed our first video cam call. I installed the necessary stuff earlier this week so that we could talk with Colleen and Robby and see their new baby chicks, but we haven't connected yet. I'm sure we'll get a chance this weekend. So, we tried it out with Tom, Nichole, and Mallaika. It was lots of fun. I tried capturing a still image to include in the blog, but somehow, I missed a beat, and the picture I thought I had disappeared. I'll try again when we get to see the baby chicks.

Much excitement is brewing around my birthday and I'm beside myself with anticipation. Valery was hoping to spring some surprise visitors on me, but I made it awkward for her. I asked her if she would mind playing nursemaid while I recovered from carpal tunnel surgery. She knew I wouldn't want to be recuperating instead of enjoying surprise guests, so she had to let the cat out of the bag. So, for my birthday, nearly all my nearest and dearest will be here. I can't wait! At Christmas time I mentioned one of the things I most wanted was to see Colleen and Mallaika together. Looks like it's going to happen!

Today I finally finished quilting the big quilt I've been working on obsessively for 17 days. Now I can do laundry, housework, cook meals again, etc. It was very challenging and I'm pleased with it. I'll post a picture of the finished product as soon as I finish sewing on the binding (about 20 hours worth of work at my pace).

On a more somber note, Minnie Mimi is failing. I don't expect her to make it past tomorrow. The vet presumes she has Feline Infectious Peritonitis, a virus that is affecting her kidneys and is fatal.

D-Day

Ben and I decided to call today D Day -- he has a Dance and a Dentist appointment. Seals will be placed on all of his unsealed teeth this afternoon. What a wonderful thing they are! I had such terrible and neglected teeth as a child that it just seems miraculous to me that these kids grow up cavity-free -- thanks to fluoride and seals. The dance is during the last two class periods and is a party to celebrate kids with high MAP (State standardized tests) scores.

Last night we went to the Stained Glass Theatre to see a play one of Ben's classmates played a lead role in. What a great job she did! She had to sing a cappella several times and speak a lot of Spanish. At the end of the show Ben went to speak with her and she greeted him with a big hug! He took it in stride.

Minnie is hanging in there. She seems to be responding to the IV fluids and has sniffed at, but not eaten food. We should know more by the end of the day.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Minnie Update

The news is not good. Minnie continues to deteriorate. All the blood tests indicate a dire condition and there is slim hope for her. She will stay on IV fluids at the vet for another 24 hours to see if she responds.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Minnie Mimi

Minnie Mimi is very sick with kidney failure. She is at the vet's being transfused, monitored, and analyzed. I am racked with guilt, I'm such a terrible cat mom. She has lost five pounds -- from 13 down to eight. How could I let that slip by? I just don't pick her up very often; she sits beside me while I sew and I reach out and touch her (and vice-versa), but I don't hold her -- truth to tell, she drools and makes bread so fiercely it's painful. She is so furry, the weight loss isn't visible. I clean her litter box daily and the past two days I noticed a reduction in output. Yesterday and again today, she fell trying to jump up onto the dining room table because she is so weak. When I picked her up to help her, I noticed how amazingly light she is and called the vet. Valery pointed out that any grief triggers all of our past grief: grief is cumulative. I had no idea I would feel this way about a cat. In fact, I have been guilty of harboring deep down secret wishes that I would become pet-free. They are so much work! And now I would do anything for her to be well. Logan wants to know why they can't do a kidney transplant on her -- I'd give her one of mine!

Speaking of grief, this photo was taken by Peter, Nancy's late husband. So, worrying about Minnie Mimi is also tied into that loss for me, as well as all the other losses which those of you close to me are so keenly aware of (and share).

Say a prayer for Minnie Mimi (sounds like a John Irving title: A Prayer for Owen Meaney).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What I Want For My Birthday Is . . .

. . . the dogwood tree to bloom. It has 11 buds; a couple of them look as though they may be blighted. I don't know when dogwoods are supposed to bloom in these parts, but I'm hoping it is the middle of April. Lots of things are sprouting, tulips, daffodils, trees, and new lawn. (Ben and Logan also continue to sprout.)

I'll be 70 April 18. I kind of like that number. It is definitely old -- no longer can I fool myself that I am on the downward slope of middle age. And I'm doing OK. Slower, maybe, but everything is still working and those parts that are not working so well I will have repaired this year. I've decided that's how I will celebrate this milestone year -- tuning up my tunable parts. I'll start with my wrists and see if I like the results, I may proceed to repairing other joints. I hate the thought of down time while healing occurs, but I guess it's an investment I just have to make. See, that proves I'm old, I'm talking about medical stuff.

This is my 100th blog post. I was hoping to have something really interesting to say about it, but my creative juices aren't flowing. I'm still quilting on the quilt I pictured March 3 -- it has been a very challenging project, but I'm almost done, a couple more days, I think. So, I'm obsessing about it, and can think of little else.

Ben and I visited the high school last evening for an orientation. He seems to be a bit overwhelmed by the size of it -- there will be over 400 kids in his freshman class -- the same size my high school class was more than 50 years ago. The high school was built in 2004 and now the town is planning for a second high school. This is the fastest growing county (percentage-wise) in the U.S.

Back to the quilt.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Virtual Musing

Twitter, Imessaging. texting, sexting, cell phones, email, all devices that allow us to virtually connect, instead of connecting face to face. People in groups disconnect from those in their physical presence, to pursue an electronic embrace. Do you ever notice people in restaurants talking on their cell phones while their meal mates sit in silence? In cars, conversation with the adjacent passenger is put on hold, while a wireless connection takes precedence. The more we are apart, the more we seem to need to be together (hence, this blog). The sales clerk asks the customer in front of him to wait while he tends to one who telephoned from home.
Twitter allows you to exchange blow by blow accounts of your day with unseen multitudes.
Imessaging interrupts your reading of world news.
Texting allows you to speak when silence is golden-- like in darkened theaters where the glow is every bit as annoying as talking.
Sexting substitutes for making out --I find this really bizarre -- it's very explicit, yet, no physical contact occurs.
I'm not really as curmudgeonly as I sound. I realize this is evolution, but I'm just not sure where it's going. I find that we struggle for attachment while at the same time detaching -- puzzling!

Monday, March 9, 2009

All Aboard --moooooove 'em out

This is why I don't like organized tours -- you feel like you are just one of the herd.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Managing Abundance

Friday evening is "clean out the refrigerator night." Usually this means figuring out how to consume the balance of the vegetables on hand. I've discovered a pretty good way to do that. I make a chicken-based pasta extravaganza.
- Dust cubed chicken with flour, brown in olive oil and several halved garlic cloves -- I like lots of garlic.
- Add all the leftover uncooked root veggies cut into chunks. This week it was turnips and Jerusalem Artichokes. Add chicken broth, wine, lemon juice, and herb(s) du jour (today it was thyme; I have also used dill, rosemary, tarragon, or basil).
- Reduce the liquid in the pan to make a sauce, scrape in all the stuff on the bottom of the pan, add a dab of sour cream or half and half if it isn't rich enough already, and any leftover cooked veggies.
- At the same time, boil any kind of pasta, just before draining throw in any remaining uncooked greens (chopped): they barely wilt.
- Pour the chicken mixture over the pasta and enjoy a meal in a bowl!

Tonight's version also included sauteed portabellas and green onions. Lots of garlic seems to improve the flavor of greens. The pasta concoction gets topped with freshly grated parmesan, or pine nuts, or bacon bits. Yum.

Ben went to the dance tonight -- his first as far as I can recall. He is a very good dancer -- his drumming experience gives him a great sense of rhythm and his Tae Kwan Do talent informs his dance moves.

Logan stayed home this evening and is psyching himself up for the 5k run tomorrow. He has become quite the jock -- wants to go out for football and basketball. I'm not too keen on football -- pre-season practice clobbers up the summer and takes place when it is just too hot to be running around in all that gear. He has signed up to take French next year -- his first year in Junior High -- he will likely have honors classes for English, Science, Math, and Social Studies, so it will be a heavy load. He pretends to be anti-intellectual, but loves science, math and language. He has decided he wants to be a writer (instead of a chef) when he grows up and he's good at it. He carries a notebook so that he is prepared to scribble when the muse strikes.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Work in Process

This is the quilt I'm currently working on. It has been pieced and the back, batting, and top have been pinned together with nearly 1,000 safety pins. You can't see any pins in the the center part, because I've already quilted that part and removed the pins. Right now I'm working on the tan colored strip that surrounds the blue. The four flowers are the center of the quilt and all the rest of it is distributed on the table, the floor, and squished through the opening in the sewing machine. Handling all that fabric is quite a challenge; it's big, 96" x 116", and heavy. I frequently have to stand up to move it around. The dark blob in the upper left hand corner of the quilt is Minnie Mimi. She is sure that I make them for her pleasure. I like to work on it in the evening because then I can have a glass of wine and it seems to make the work go more smoothly.

Monday, March 2, 2009

You Need This

A few Pampered Chef items:

1. A spikey holder that looks like a pick for big hairdos:

2. A chopper blade that cuts scalloped scalloped potatoes:
(Hold the potato still with the pick thing while you slice)

3. Excellent spatulas -- one for really big things like mixing bowls and one is tiny for getting the last out of mustard jars (why is the bottle of Dijon always empty?)
A couple of things from my quilting doo-dads:

4. Desk top needle threader - I don't know why it works, it's just freakin' magic

5. Blue tape - holds your stuff together - the tape isn't sticky, you just wrap it around whatever you want to hold and it clings to itself.

From the medicine cabinet:

6. Vitamin B-12 -- way better than Prozac. Maybe placebo effect, but what the hey, I like the results: clarity of mind, enhanced feeling of well-being, and you know, just feeling good.

7. Bag balm -- great for winter skin
Favorite websites:

8. Woot.com -- I've never actually bought anything here, but I love to think I might. (thanks, Amanda)

9. Amazon.com -- nothing original about this choice, it's the online Wal-Mart.

10. Allrecipes.com -- whatever I'm trying to use up, they have a recipe for it -- comments are helpful, too.

What are some of your favorites?