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Monday, December 27, 2010

Ruby and Aunt Dorothy

Last week I stopped by to see Aunt Dorothy. I knew that Delana was going to stop by the same day but I thought I would miss her by quite some time. When I got to Aunt Dorothy’s room I was greeted by Delana, Caelum, Ruby and Olivia. They seemed to be having a good time visiting. I got my hugs and kisses and settled down for a visit. I sat in Aunt Dorothy’s wheelchair. It wasn’t long before Ruby snuggled up in my lap and Olivia was close by.

Olivia is learning to read, so tries to sound out every word she sees. There was a sign on Aunt Dorothy’s wall that read “Family will do laundry”. Olivia worked and worked at it and finally read it. I praised her for her great reading skills. A few seconds later I looked at Ruby who had a thoughtful look on her face. She said ”Grandma, we are her family. Are we supposed to do her laundry?” That led to a discussion of what that did mean. Aunt Dorothy said she didn’t want to have the facility do her laundry because they put it all in a big pile with everyone else’s and that is nasty. She said she had no one to do her laundry and didn’t know what she was going to do. Ruby made us think. She was thoughtful enough to want to know what was happening and how we should help.  (I voluntered to take her laundry home, then pawned it off on Delana since she was coming back the next day)

When Aunt Dorothy began to cry, Ruby went around to the other side of the bed and grabbed a tissue to give to her. This is not to say Caelum and Olivia were not thoughtful, or concerned about Aunt Dorothy. On this particular day Ruby was on high alert and quite concerned and thoughtful about everything for her beloved great great aunt.

I need to try harder to be like Ruby and stay concerned about our loved ones feelings and needs.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Eve, Eve

Today is the day before Christmas Eve. As old as I am I still get excited to see Christmas come. Today is an especially exciting day because this evening I am going to tag along while Santa makes a very special visit to some young children. We are first going to visit the grandchildren of a very good friend of mine who I have known all of my life. Next, we will visit the son of one of my co-workers. I am excited to see the wonder and excitement in their eyes. How wonderful to be a small innocent child who believes in the magic and excitement of this season. I am sad that as grownups we loose that magic. We don’t believe in miracles like Christmas anymore.

Snow falls regularly in the Midwest during the winter months. As adults we groan because we have to scoop, dig, and move that snow. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could, at least for a few minutes look at that snow and see how beautiful it is? We are so blessed to see 4 seasons in this area.

Spring is exciting as our earth wakes up and plants begin to come back to life. Trees are dressed in their bright green garb and start to work on bringing fruits of one kind or another to us. My garden is cleaned up from the winter mulch and the soil is prepared to accept seeds and plants. This coming spring will also see baby chicks at Pooh Acres. I am hoping to also bring a baby pig into the equation this year.

Summer will bring lots of growth in the garden as well as the baby animals. We will nurture the gardens and the animals. In late summer or early fall we will begin the process of storing, or laying by food for the winter months. The gardens will produce many bushels of fruits and vegetables. These will be canned, frozen or dried. The chickens and the pig will be slaughtered for the freezer. Some of the chickens will of course be saved for eggs.

Fall brings the closing of the seasons, and putting everything to bed. After the gardens are harvested thick mulch will be laid over the soil to be used as a warm blanket to protect it from the harsh snow and ice. The leaves will turn brilliant colors then fall and turn brown. We use the leaves to cover the soil and let it rot into the fertile nutrients for use the following year.

As winter begins, everything is cold, bland, and dreary. It is time for everything and everyone to rest. After a time of no color and cold we will see the first snow of the season. Our pasture will be covered with a blanket of pure white. If you take the time to stand outside while it is snowing you can catch a snowflake on your glove. If you take the time to actually look at it, you will see something more beautiful than any piece of art created by mankind. No two are alike. You will only be able to see that beauty briefly because it will melt on your hand, or if it falls into the mass of other flakes it will loose its identity. If you catch a snowflake on your tongue you will taste something slightly sweet and very cold. It will last only a split second then melt.

It is a pain to scoop snow and keep the roads open. It is a pain to tromp through the snow and ice to bring water and food to the animals. But, how can you look at an egg, knowing it came out of one of the chickens, and not be filled with wonder and awe? How can you hear the chickens cooing softly when they are happy and not smile? How can you see the love and excitement of an adolescent (and an elderly) dog when you come home and not feel totally loved? We live in a world filled with miracles, and tend to look over them because we are so used to seeing them. Step back. Pretend you have never seen a snow flake. Pretend you have never felt the kiss of a dog who loves you with all of his or her heart. Pretend you have never tasted a tomato still warm from the summer sun. How boring our lives would be without these small miracles.

Today as we head into the Christmas weekend, I am thankful for the fun side of Christmas as well as the real reason we celebrate. December 25 is not Jesus birthday, but it is the day we should celebrate the sacrifice he made for us all. I hope as we celebrate we have fun, but also give thanks for all we have been blessed with.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Aunt Dorothy

Aunt Dorothy had another heart attack. She has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, just like dad. She was put into a rehab center for a few weeks. Delana and I went to visit her yesterday. I took ½ day off work and drove over to pick Delana up. When we walked into the building we were both amazed. It is beautiful. There is a grand piano in the lobby area. The dining area had small tables as if a nice restaurant set with pretty dishes, crystal drinking glasses and linen napkins. (I wanna live here) When we finally got to her room there were 2 names on the door. The roommates were separated by a wall and door. It was almost like private rooms.

Aunt Dorothy was in a better mood than I have seen her in such a long time. She was bright and chipper. If I hadn’t known she was very ill, I would never have known there was a problem.

After our visit (she was taken away for lunch) Delana and I went shopping. I have never been a shopper …… I just don’t like stores. We had a wonderful afternoon. The time flew by and we had to get her home before the kids got home. We even went to the Goodwill by her house to look for a salt shaker I have been trying to find! I could not have asked for a better afternoon.

I have another day off tomorrow. I have been talking about going to a couple of museums to see the Christmas displays. I think (hope) we will be able to go to at least one of them this weekend to check out their Christmas displays. We need to finish our Christmas shopping for the kids …. But we are almost finished.

I love and hate this time of year. I love it because it is fun and amazing. I hate it because we are encouraged to go crazy and spend too much money. I wish it would be fun and amazing as it was in the past. I wish all kids would believe in Santa and the magic of the season. I am 54 years old and I still believe in the magic of Santa. I still sit on Santa’s lap and ask him for the magic of the season.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Lazy Saturday

When I was single I used to have “veg out” days. Today was cold and icky outside so Phil and I decided to have a veg out day. We didn’t get out of our jammies all day. I went outside this morning to feed and water the chickens and let them out. This evening we both went out to put them to bed. For the rest of the day we played on the computer and did what we wanted. I did manage to clean my office, something I had put off far to long!

Now that winter is here (burrrr, I hate to even say that word) our lives have slowed way down. My garden has long ago been put to bed. There is not much I can do outside. I have started watching TV in the evenings. I need to STOP that. It is much to easy to come home and plop myself in a chair. I need to get into the habit of going downstairs and work out or just work down there. When I cleaned the office today I found the tools I purchased to “fold” fabric to make braided rugs. I have a tote full of fabric I got several years ago to make the rugs, now I just need to do it. I also have several totes full of denim for quilts or rugs. I am excited to get started on these projects …. I’ve wanted to for such a long time!

I need to burn almost 40 hours of PTO before the end of the year or I lose it. It is difficult for a sales person to be away from work and still make any money. I have discovered taking ½ day off is great. I can still go to the gym before work. I get done what I need to get done at work and I still have ½ day at home. Yesterday I didn’t tell Phil I was taking off and just came home early. Poor guy was napping and didn’t even hear me drive up Ineither did the "guard" dogs)! Chuck (one of my co-workers) and I have decided that is a great way to do what we need, and still take advantage of the PTO. I will need to do the ½ day thing through March to burn off another 40 hours before the 80 hour max goes into full rule! I never thought I would have a problem using all my vacation time.

As a salesperson I am always trying to find ways of making my customers think of me as a friend, or at least someone they would want to refer others to. For the last 18 months or so I have been sending all of my new customers a jar of homemade jelly. Yesterday I needed to replenish my supply so made two batches of jelly. Last summer I was at Fairway and found this big bag of plums for 99 cents. I was able to eat all the plums I wanted (my favorite fruit) for several days, share some with my boss and still had enough left over to make several quarts of juice to use for jelly this winter. The plum jelly was the best jelly I have ever made. Phil and I have been tasting it all day!

Our chickens have gone on strike since the cold hit. I knew they would slow down, but I never thought it would get this bad. We have 36 laying hens. One day we got only one egg. Several days it was 3 or 2. It seems they are getting a bit better. The last few days we have gotten 5 or 6 each day. I have enough customers wanting eggs I could sell everything they could lay. It’s great when people at work stop me as ask if they can get some eggs. I am so excited to do the meat chickens this spring. (Can you tell I really love living out here?)