Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Let's See, Where Was I?

Oh, yeah, Logan's birthday . . .
 . . . breakfast (Monkey Bread)

Noontime meal and horsing around with Grandpa Maples
Annual photo with great-grandma, Bernice

Julia put on a family gathering and great celebration for Logan and Bernice's birthday and Bernice and Arlan's 65th (!) wedding anniversary with yummy lasagna, a giant birthday cookie for Logan and a gorgeous cake for Bernice. 

For the past couple of weeks, health issues have kept me preoccupied and sleep deprived. My blood pressure has been soaring and I've had irregular heart beats. So, I'm seeing a cardiologist and enduring fancy diagnostic procedures. Tomorrow is an echo-cardiogram. I've learned I'm probably not going to die any time soon, and that my thyroid is fine. The blood pressure is responding to new medication and it's wait and see time on the irregular heart beats. More later.

Meanwhile the beat goes on (at an irregular rate). Logan had a speech tournament this past weekend, and Ben is off to compete in math next Saturday. The days are pock-marked by early morning weight training, afternoon off-season football practice and math club, and evening drum line rehearsals. When I'm not driving, I'm sitting in a parked car waiting to pick some one up and catching up on my reading.  I've spent six months working my way through everything written by David McCullough. I love his view of historical figures: Teddy Roosevelt, John Adams, Harry Truman, the Roebling father and son (engineers of the Brooklyn Bridge) and all the folks associated with the planning and building and re-planning and more building of the Panama Canal. Now I'm ready to read some trash!

Work to fix up the house for sale is under way and I think it will be listed the first of May. I have lots of stuff to get rid of before that time and it is really hard to decide what to do with it all. I have so many pictures from trips that would mean nothing to anyone else, yet I have a hard time pitching them. So many books. Too much furniture. Too many "artifacts." Somehow, this will all be brought under control by the first of May and I'll be ready to shoe horn our family into a three-bedroom, 1200-1500 square foot house. My Rainbow Drive house in San Jose would be perfect!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Logan at 15

Today is Logan's 15th birthday. Here's a hasty random list of who he is:
  • Tall (6' 1").
  • Buff (180 lbs).
  • Furry (he wears shorts all winter because he claims his hairy legs keep him warm).
  • Blue-eyed (near-sighted, wears contacts, wants lasik surgery).
  • Blond (born blond, blond for life -- even his beard and furry legs are white).
  • Straight of tooth ($5600 and three years later, now wearing a retainer).
  • Resistant to having his picture posted on this blog.
  •  A real foodie -- Having monkey bread for breakfast -- it's become a birthday tradition in our house. His first words when he gets home from school are : "What's for dinner?" Tonight it will be mac and cheese with ham and peas -- his all time favorite.
  • Sequestered downstairs for unlimited time with his new RPG, although he'll surface for dinner at noon today with the Maples clan to celebrate Bernice's birthday, Bernice and Arlan's 65th anniversary, and his birthday
  • A wonderful high-achieving, ambitious kid who loves football, speech and debate, and wants to go to Harvard and become a lawyer. 
  • Funny, with a great sense of humor, and a wonderful innocent belly laugh that is still child-like
  • Kind and considerate of me -- makes coffee, brings me the paper, instructs me to sleep in, and does whatever I ask.
  • No longer taking naps in my lap. For the first two years years he lived with me, we would nap together in my recliner while he clutched his tattered blanket and sucked his thumb
  • Gregarious -- no longer the timid child who cowered in a corner or under the table when strangers came into the house. I often hear comments about his great social skills. 
  • Apparently asthma-free. He had his first episode at around three years old and had several serious attacks during the first couple of years he lived with me. He hasn't had any episodes in the past six years. 
  • No longer screaming hysterically when we pull into parking garages.
  • Nearly ready to get his driver's permit. I think he'll be a good driver and it will be easy to teach him because he has taken in second-hand training as Ben learned. 
  • Wonderful!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Blah, blah, blah

I need something new and different in my life. I have no idea what it is, but I can feel it bubbling in my veins. It's the kind of stirring I get just before I make a major decision, such as deciding to change jobs, move across the country, go back to school, buy a new car, etc. I feel the rumblings, but I don't know what they are telling me.Maybe it is just selling my house and moving this spring/summer. I really want to live someplace where I can walk out of my kitchen into the back yard without dealing with stairs.

Ben is now driving himself to and from evening rehearsals at school, making my life a bit simpler, and causing me to feel a bit less necessary in his life -- a feeling that contributes to my general antsyness (there's no right way to spell that word!). In other news, Ben was admitted to the National Honor Society this week, adding something else to include on his college aps.

The quilt in the picture (with Logan's hands and feet) was delivered to the newborn daughter of our friend Holly who cuts our hair and performs in Branson. The boys and I have been following her as a hair stylist and performer for several years and have become friends.

Logan turns 15 on Sunday and will be old enough to get his driver's permit. He hasn't studied for it yet, so it will probably be a couple more weeks at least, before he gets it. And now, I get to teach one more kid to drive. We'll celebrate his birthday on Sunday at a gathering Julia is hosting to also celebrate Bernice and Arlan's 65th wedding anniversary as well as Bernice's birthday -- pictures to follow. 

Knee surgery is postponed again -- I have a couple of other health issues to deal with before I proceed. So, it may not happen until late in the year if I can remain mobile that long. I'm determined it won't interfere with my plans for the Golden Girls reunion in September.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ramble and Rant

A tiny dusting of snow fell last night, not even enough for pictures. Fearlessly, I drove Logan to school this morning for his 6 A.M. weight training class. Normally I freak out if there is even a hint of the possibility of slick, icy roads, but this morning I packed the car with blankets, a two week supply of food and water, a change of clothes, several flashlights, a fully-charged cell phone, a full tank of gas, two teen-aged boys, and outfitted in arctic gear, I bravely traveled three miles round trip to school. And survived! And the Martin Luther King holiday seems secure. The holiday is rarely observed here because it is typically our first snow makeup day. But, so far, we really haven't had any snow. I'm hoping for a mild winter with no snow days so school will be out for the summer early enough for us to get to Massachusetts for Nichole's graduation, if she's able to pull it off. She's had trouble scheduling her last two required classes. I'm hoping she's able to work it out somehow!

Logan takes a weight training class three days a week and attends  brutal off-season football training two afternoons a week -- he is so buff. He also is becoming even more interested in debate. They've had one tournament already this year and there's a lot more on the calendar. On his own initiative, he watched the Republican candidates debate and was keenly observant. I love watching the boys develop their own interests and forge their unique paths.

Ben has been spending extra time practicing music -- he stays after school most afternoons to put in time on the marimba and is getting quite good. He also loves choral singing, but is very shy about solo work. He is looking forward to participating in Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 3.0. I have instructions to be out of the house with Logan while he is recording his contribution. He also spends time at math club and with the National Honor Society. You know these interests are their own and not pushed by me -- math and debate are about as far as you can get from any of my strengths or interests. Once again, I'm truly grateful for teachers who encourage and give hours of their time, clearly out of love and dedication, because there's not much money in it!

I continue to spend my time reading and quilting, and lately, attending to health maintenance issues. I'm finding that as I age it takes more and more "routine" screenings just to know that I'm OK. Bone density, mammo, EKG, carotid artery ultrasound, etc., etc., ad nauseum. And of course, it's all different doctors, different days, and different sets of the same form to fill out. Right now I'm wearing a halter monitor to validate that my benign palpitations are indeed benign. I'm hoping it picked up a blip when I was on the phone explaining to the insurance company that their system was screwed up, that in fact, my statin drug is covered under the plan. It took 37 minutes, 36 of them on hold or negotiating a phone tree, to get them to see things my way. The user end -- the social cost -- of these aggravations is never factored in when they set them up.

I like phones less and less every day. I no longer use or answer my house phone. The batteries are all dead on the hand sets and I have to access it from the console. I have no interest in replacing it. Before long, I will have it disconnected. I am finally coming to love my mobile phone(s). It allows me to be in touch with the kids wherever they are -- texting is terrific for that. I'm not crazy about talking on the phone. With my hearing loss, I struggle to hear, so  I much prefer face-to-face, email, facebook messages, or texting. All of these occur at the convenience of both parties, not dictated by the one who does the dialing. There are a couple of exceptions -- I do like appointment reminders and I love getting calls from my far-away friends and relatives. I love caller ID and never answer calls I suspect are from telemarketers. This communication evolution is fascinating to me -- newspapers and mail are nearly obsolete, even regular e-mail is showing signs of waning, while "social media" and texting surge. I suppose we will have implanted communication devices before long.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Pieces of a Life

Joan Miller, the grandmother of my daughter-in-law Rachel, finished her work on earth on New Year's Eve, December 31, 2011. However, she didn't finish all the quilts she had started. So, her daughter, Sharon, (Rachel's mother) gave me a shoe box and a large plastic bag filled with work in progress.I hope to return these pieces to the Miller family after sewing them into something that can serve as a tribute and memento of Joan's life.
I didn't know Joan very well, but I really enjoyed the time we spent together. We intersected at a few family gatherings and as the older women of the group, we gravitated toward each other and generally spent our time visiting over a meal. Joan was a good story teller and loved to talk about her life with the love of her life, Rod. They had been married 55 years and raised six children who all grew to be very good-looking and interesting people.  Joan was a deeply devout Catholic and her faith was always in evidence. I will miss her.
 Joan had cut a stack of 3-1/2 inch squares out of baby flannel. I put them together randomly in this small quilt (28" x 36"). At the Rosary for Joan, her youngest granddaughter, Macy (around 2 years old), wandered around the room carrying a small "blankie" about 18" square and bound in satin. I don't know the story of that blanket, but what a practical thing it was. It was small, portable, and comforting. Taking a note from it, I put a satin binding on this blanket. The purple satin was given to me by my friend Sharon (not Rachel's mother), some fabric she had left over after using the rest of it around a Creche she displays at Christmas time. At Joan's funeral, her casket was placed in front of the Creche at the church which was still celebrating the Nativity.
The back and the batting are some left over from a baby quilt I made a couple of years ago. I don't know who will get this little quilt or how it will be used -- it could be a doll quilt, or a blanket for a cradle -- I hope somehow someone feels Joan's love in it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Night Work

I literally did not sleep a wink last night. After watching the ball drop in Times Square, I headed for bed. The boys had turned in earlier -- no wild and crazy celebration this year.

At midnight our time, I heard a few fireworks and wished myself a Happy New Year. Then I started to plan the year. Many of you know I am a planning freak -- I love to think I have some control. So, I lay in bed with a virtual clean slate in front of my wide-open eyes. And here's what I came up with:

January: Because my sleeplessness was largely pain-driven, I vowed to have my second knee replacement surgery in January. I will opt for skilled nursing instead of coming right home after discharge from the hospital. Valery has volunteered to come stay with me when I have the surgery, but I'd like to save her visit for later in the spring (see April, below). Ben now has his driver's license and that will make logistics simpler than they were the last time around.

February and March: Dedicated to recovery from the surgery.

April: Will have various relatives come to visit and to claim household goods I'm ready to part with and won't have room for when I sell the house and we move to someplace nearby and smaller. List the house for sale.

May: If there are no snow days this year and school gets out early enough, I'd like to drive to Massachusetts with the boys to be there for Nichole's graduation (if she figures out a way to get in the two classes she still needs to take). Both boys will be driving by then as Logan will get his permit in February. We should be able to get there with just a one-night stop each way.

June - August: The boys will be in summer school. We will spend the summer getting ready to move and with good luck will sell the house and actually move. Probably no trips to California for the boys this year, Ben should get a job and learn to earn.

September: I'll go to California for my "Golden Girls" reunion. Five of us, friends from high school, plan to meet at Little River Inn in Mendocino, California and spend four days recalling or trying to forget our high school days.

And that's as far as I got. Maybe I'll go to sleep now (5:35 A.M.)