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Showing posts with label home. Show all posts
Showing posts with label home. Show all posts

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Visitor

We had an uninvited guest this week. I found this turtle in our garage!  Everyone came out to see, and Nora was the most interested since this was her first turtle encounter.  By this time Joe had helped the turtle along to the grass.

Since the turtle was not interested in playing peek a boo, Nora decided to go inside.  This is a large Red-eared Slider, named for the red stripe behind the eyes and its habit of sliding off logs and rocks when startled.  They are the most common turtle around here, so can often be seen sunning themselves when we drive along Texas roadways. I am not sure, but I think this is a female turtle because they have more pronounced coloration than males, and because it is the season when they begin to go on land  and dig nests in which to lay their eggs. Then the mother leaves. It takes 2 months or more for them to hatch, but young turtles are born having to take care of themselves.  This means we may see more unusual visitors since predators like raccoons, herons, and snakes try to find them.

When I was a little girl, it was possible to buy tiny baby turtles as pets.  We had one that we kept in a bowl.  Fortunately, it was discovered that these babies carry salmonella, so it became illegal to sell them.

Red-eared sliders can live 30 years or longer, so maybe this one will come back to see us!


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Love's Lookout

Love's Lookout, Jacksonville, TexasJoe and I grew up in the same small East Texas town.  Jacksonville is located in Cherokee County surrounded by rolling hills and pine trees. The scenic overlook in the photograph (not mine, one I found online) is called Love's Lookout. The scenic bluff was used for the location of a large ampitheatre formed from  red rock, a WPA project. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Depression-era Works Progress Administration came to the hill in the 1930s and, using red rock mined from Cherokee County, built a park, picnic grounds and an amphitheater.

The ampitheatre was named to honor Wesley Love who in 1904 bought much of the surrounding area and planted a 600-acre peach farm. After Love's death in 1925, his wife donated 22 acres to the state for a state park. The state, however, failed to create the park and in 1934 the City of Jacksonville purchased an additional 20 acres and developed the two tracts as a city park. That's when the Works Progress Administration began its project.

In the Spring, dogwoods and other spring flowers are in bloom, making the setting even more beautiful. When I was a child, we often drove on the highway between Jacksonville and Tyler because both sets of my grandparents lived in Bullard, about halfway between those towns. Typically, scenes that are so familiar and frequently seen tend to be taken for granted.  Not until you are far away do you remember those sights and realize just how lovely they were.

There is yet another fond connection for our family with this place and its name. In 1982, we bought the home built by John Wesley Love and lived there long enough to research and write its history, receiving a designation for the significance of the home with a State Historical marker. By that time all acreage but the 3 acres where the house was located had been sold (or donated, as the land for Love's lookout is located), but the oaks and magnolias and pines that were there were  lovely reminders. When I did the research for the historical commission I learned that there were earlier connections between our family and the Loves.  My father and uncle once worked in John Wesley Love's peach orchards picking peaches.  Joe's father had done work inside the home as a painter.

When we do go back to Jacksonville, our itinerary usually includes a trip to the Bullard cemetery where so many of my ancestors were laid to rest. The highway is bigger and better, but the sides of the road are still lined with red dirt and pine trees.  There are still remnants of the watermelon colored crepe myrtles which were always full of summertime blooms.  And Love's Lookout still beckons us to stop and look across  a green valley.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Home. Again.

In over 52 years of marriage, we have moved many times - almost 2 dozen in fact. We have lived in apartments, duplexes, rent houses, hotels, and have owned 10 homes. 2 weeks ago we moved again. This time we are sharing ownership with our youngest son and his wife and daughter. Their baby son will join us by December. We are all excited about these changes and working to bring the best of both our families and homes to make this blended home a blessing for all of us who live here and all of those we will greet in hospitality. Our extended family and friends will help us celebrate.

Our new place has a porch where I have been going out each morning with my coffee to watch the sunrise. That has quickly become a habit, and my favorite place to spend my morning quiet time. As I think of homes in our past, there has always been a place like that for me. I am blessed to begin my days now in this place, in this way. I am grateful for home. Again.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Packing, Letting Go, and What I Take With Me

This week and next are the final days of packing and leaving this house. But what lies ahead are even 
better than what lies behind, and I take with me a heart full of love for home wherever we make it. There are also little tangible reminders we take with us that will find their spot in a new place. Writing and computer time limits almost convinced me to take a break from my blogs for a couple of weeks at least.  But the quiet breaks taken to collect thoughts and images are restorative for me, so I am posting a collage of pictures to take you with me on this journey of change.                                    












Friday, April 22, 2016

Changes!


It is no secret that our garden has been a delight for us here in the place we have lived for 11 years. The sign in our front yard announces we are choosing to pass on the care and enjoyment of this back yard to the family that will live here very soon. There is an important word in that last sentence:  "choosing."  We have made this decision after prayerful deliberation and feel that it is the right thing for us to do.  Of course, we will miss many things about this home and garden, but we are excited about our move, knowing that it will be a new place and a different landscape.
 Yes, it is very different!  That is exciting, too, knowing we can choose the fruit trees and roses and garden spot and once again make it "ours."  The most exciting part of these choices is that our youngest son Ben and his wife and 2-year-old daughter share them with us. To see Nora running in the grass with the wind blowing wisps of hair across her happy face has already made this place feel like home!  The work of moving and putting two households into place is not over, but we are thankful for helping hands and plenty of hugs.  The joy of journey as a family!  The satisfaction of homework, in the deepest sense!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Home: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

These blossoms perch all over a bush given to me by my friend Debbie Andrews.  The occasion was the timing of our move into the home we have loved since 2005 and Debbie's move away from this area to Louisiana. The plant is called Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow because the petals open colored in a pale shade of lavender, changing daily to darker shades of purple. It is blooming right now, reminding me of friendships that last through changing time, and also of the way the place of our home can change.  Two days ago a for sale sign went up in our front yard. We have planned this change and prepared for it for months, but somehow the sign says "this is real, this is happening now."

I think of all our jobs and moves and the places we have made our home in the 52 plus years of our marriage.  We have lived in Oklahoma, East Texas, Oregon, Indonesia, Thousand Oaks, near Los Angeles, California,  all 3 major cities in Texas (Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston) and smaller towns surrounding those metropolitan areas (Missouri City, Kirby, Sugar Land, Plano).  We have had small houses and larger ones, small gardens and larger ones.  Although some places may have been
more familiar to us than others, in every place we made a home.  The presence of our family and the ways we lived and loved each other there made each place a home no matter what the neighborhood looked like.  We found friends and neighbors, churches where we could worship and serve, grew gardens and and gathered around kitchen tables as our family grew and changed.

After many years of moving frequently, we came to Sugar Land and although we have moved once during the time, we have rooted here.  For 24 years we have loved being part of this community.  Now we move again, not too far away (still in Fort Bend County) and because we have been in this area for so long, we already have a number of friends in our new area. We are still near our church. We will miss this home and our garden, but we look forward to planting a garden as we make our home in a very different place. We are excited to share our new place with our youngest son, his wife, and our 2-year-old granddaughter.  I am thankful for all the homes of yesterday, for this time in this home today, and for all our tomorrows in our new home.

I include a link to a post in one of my other blogs: Transplanting




Saturday, April 9, 2016

Things Remembered

We have, with a good deal of help from others, cleared out, cleaned out, and spit-shined our home so that it is ready to be listed for sale next week.  There are a few things we need to finish cleaning - the garage shelves, refrigerator, the brick on the front porch.  We still need to clear some of the plants in back that are in pots which we will take with us to help start a new garden. But the walls are bare of our many family pictures, drawers have been emptied and cleaned, counters polished - all to make our house welcoming and at the same time, a clean slate for others to envision ways in which they can make it their home. My 2 oldest granddaughters came today to help for awhile and were taken aback at the change.

When I was sorting out saved stuff in my closet, I came across several items loosely wrapped in a piece of tissue paper, itself saved from a long ago gift. I held the bits and pieces in my hand and realized they made a collage, a portrayal of my emotions and mixed feelings about leaving this home and this part of my life. There were pieces of a lovely painted glass globe a friend gave us many years ago that was a tiny painting of the lovely old East Texas Victorian house we bought and moved to for a far too short time. During the months we were there, I researched and wrote the history of the place, submitted it to the historical society, and received a State historical marker - not for me, for the house. In a later time, the pretty piece was knocked from its stand, leaving only shattered pieces which I kept.

There were some pieces of filigree silver jewelry from our time in Indonesia, all tarnished and worn. There was a tiny safety pin with beads strung on it, one of the many "friendship pins" that our youngest son and his friend exchanged in first grade, when we lived in yet another place.  And there was a piece of foil where that same son had written "To Mom, Love Ben."   I do not remember what it was attached to, but I kept the crumpled paper with his writing during his college days.  All these were folded in the wrinkled tissue printed with the name of shop where it was used to wrap a purchase:  Things Remembered.  I decided I would keep my little packet but I really do not need these reminders.  They are indeed, "Things Remembered."

Friday, January 8, 2016

Builders

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Autumn

"The heart of Autumn must have broken here, and poured its treasure out upon the leaves."=
Charlotte Fiske Bates


Books are everywhere in our home. Even though both Joe and I read many books on his Kindle and my iPad and listen to audio books as well, we have stacks and shelves of printed books. Bible study books, theology books, gardening resources, mysteries, memoir, poetry, and fiction. In the kitchen, 50 plus years of our cookbook collection keeps growing, mostly due to gifts from those who know my love of cooking. In the spirit of cleaning, clearing clutter, and paring down, I have filled boxes to donate to the library, and have passed down a number of cookbooks to family members.  Honestly, I don't know anyone else who has both their mother's and their grandmother's cookbooks!  Treasures, these.  I have written about them before and will again, but soon it is time for them to go to one of my own granddaughters.

There are a number of favorite books of different genre that I keep and go back to regularly.  The little book in the above photo is one of those.  Autumn. by Susan Branch, "From the Heart of the Home." This wonderful collection of whimsical drawings, quotations, celebrations, and recipes was given to me.  It is autographed by the author: "To Mary Ann - Happy Fall! Susan Branch 2004."  But I value more the note written under that - "Thanks for all the nice things you do for others. With love, Jen."

As the title announces, the book is an invitation to celebrate this time of year in magical ways.  I love to settle down with a cup of tea or hot cider and turn the pages one more time.  And yes, we do follow up with "doing" and enjoy some of the recipes. I particularly enjoy the seasonal quotations sprinkled throughout.

Hang bunches of fresh herbs, pepperberries, yarrow, and hyrangea.
Candles, candles, candles! Lots of votives in green or gold glass. Pop a votive in a citrus shell.

"If you were to ask what is most important in a home, I would say memories."  Lillian Gish

"In the village store someone says 'I heard the geese go over,' and there is a moment of silence.  Why this is so moving I do not know.  But all of us feel it."  Gladys Taber

Recipes for Spiced Pecans, Garlic Shrimp, Red Chili Onion Rings, Corn Pudding, Indian Shuck Bread, and Maple Butter!

Bring leaves and pinecones in for a Thanksgiving table.

Fun gifts to assemble in baskets and old bowls for Christmas.

"Display old books!  Heidi, Pollyanna, Wuthering Heights, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  And all your favorites!"

"Autumn is the best season  in which to sniff, and to sniff for pleasure, for this is the season of universal pungency."  Bertha Damon




Tuesday, September 29, 2015

200 Things to Throw Away


My kids don't believe me, but I really am working on this.  When I was growing up, I would hear the mantra "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."   I come from a long line of savers.  Not hoarders, not junkies, not even collectors, but just good hard working folks who saved bits of string in a ball, scraps of fabric for quilts, and always leftovers from supper!  Mind you, this same mindset is now sometimes called repurposing, because many times, these saved things do get used.  But it also leads to too many kept things that take up too much room and are not useful again. Ever.  I am determined to simplify our home and what is in it.  One small box or drawer at a time. What of these things is hardest for you to donate or throw away? Comments? Anyone want to join me in this effort?


My next post will offer some of the ways I have shared or donated.  I truly do not like throwing away!

The following list comes from the blog linked here.  Many thanks!

http://tinyurl.com/200Things

1.  Old product boxes (Apple products, TV, etc.)
2.  Hangers from the dry cleaners
3.  Plastic hangers from the store
4.  Expired make up
5.  Half-finished projects…you know the one!
6.  Magazines
7.  Old emery boards (buy a nice glass one and be done with those scratchy things!)
8.  Old paint (Visit Earth911.com to find a place to dispose of it safely)
9.  Ugly undergarments you hate to wear (You have those “just in case” pairs too, right?)
10.  Bills, taxes, paperwork over 7 years old
11.  Socks with holes or without mates…also those lonely socks that have holes too. :)
12.  Extra cups and mugs – How many does your family use in a regular dishwasher load?  Add a few more for company and be done with the rest.
13.  Books you’ve never read or will never read again
14.  Old technology (8 tracks, floppy discs, VHS tapes w/o a player, etc.)
15.  Unloved toys
16.Cleaning rags – You only need a few before you’ll wash them again, right?
17.  Tea light candles – Use them or lose them.
18.  Take out menus you never look at
19.  Old greeting cards (Save the super sentimental ones and recycle the rest)
20.  Outdated over the counter drugs and vitamins
21.  Old sneakers (Recycle through Nike)
22.  Plastic cutlery
23.  Old spices – Spices don’t actually spoil but they lose their potency.  A good rule of thumb is 1-2 years for seasoning; 1-3 for herbs and ground spices; and up to 4 years for whole spices.
24.  Duplicate power cords (USB, etc.  We have 3 vTech ones for the kiddos’ toys but only need one)
25.  Bobby pins
26.  Games with missing pieces
27.  Dried up nail polish bottles
28. Video games you’ll never play again
29.  Recalled baby items (carseats, cribs, etc.)
30.  Jewelry you don’t wear
31.  Expired food in your freezer/pantry
32.  Rugs or home decor you haven’t used since you redecorated
33.  Unused perfumes and cologne
34.  Old towels that make you cringe when you look at them
35.  Extension cords (Am I the only one who has a bazillion of these?)
36.  Extra sets of bed linens – two per bed tops
37.  Unused plastic containers – especially those without a lid and those old plastic containers. Avoid containers with recycle codes 3 or 7 as they may contain BPA.
38.  Old bills (Switch to online banking and stop the clutter before it comes in your home)
39.  Paychecks older than 2 years
40.  Stretched out hair ties
41.  Matches you never use (Maybe save a few in case of a power outage)
42.  Old newspapers
43.  Expired Rx meds (Visit fda.gov for proper ways to dispose of them)
44.  Extra pillows
45.  Ticket stubs (Sentimental like myself?  Store in a scrapbook or fill a mug with old stubs)
46.  Make up you’ll try “one day”  If you’ve owned if for more than 2 weeks without trying it, toss it.
47.  Clothes that are more than 2 sizes too small.  Don’t give up on your weight loss dream but WHEN you do lose that weight go and buy new clothes to reward yourself.
48.  Things you’ve bought have haven’t returned yet (Return them, sell, or donate them)
49.  White-out bottles – You know you don’t need it!
50.  Unneeded notebooks
51.  Pens and pencils – Keep your favorites and let go of the rest
52.  Little shampoo bottles from a hotel you went to 5 years ago
53.  Knick knacks that don’t make you smile every time you see them
54.  Cords that don’t belong to anything you currently own
55.  Lose screws, nuts, bolts, etc. unless you happen to be a handy man who would actually reuse them one day
56.  Kid’s old art projects (I have an upcoming post with loads of ideas on this so for now just set them aside)
57.  Old party supplies
58.  Old wedding favors (Keep a few, toss the rest)
59.  Old Christmas cards of your family (Save a few, recycle the rest)
60.  Holiday decor you never remember to set out (Thanksgiving turkey Aunt Sue gave you)
61.  Holiday decor that you use once a year (ex. Easter deviled egg tray that collects dust 364 days of the year!  Buy a lovely one that you can use for other holidays too.)
62.  Cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, shampoo that you used once and didn’t like.  Donate to a local shelter.
63.  Flower pots.  Plant a flower or toss the pot.
64.  Watering cans if you don’t have flowers.
65.  Too small kid’s clothing.  Only save favorites if you’re saving for another child.  Sell the rest while they’re still in style.
66.  Extra buttons (If you don’t sew, toss them all.  Reduce your supply if you will use a button in the next few months)
67.  Old calendars
68.  Unidentified frozen objects (Label ya’ll!  Keep a Sharpie by the freezer for quick labeling)
69.  Movies you’ll probably never watch again
70.  Bags from the mall you might use one day (Keep only 1 if you must)
71.  Multiple pair of scissors (One or two tops, right?)
72.  More ear buds than you’ve got family members
73.  Curling irons, crimpers (ha! flash back), or straighteners you don’t use
74.  Highlighters unless you’ve used one in the past month, then save only that one
75.  Travel mugs that leak, or are ugly, or that you don’t use because you have to hand wash it
76.  Boxes – shoe boxes, diaper boxes, cereal boxes.  Recycle and be free.
77.  Samples of any kind – Use, donate, or trash.
78.  Games you haven’t played in the last year
79.  Tape measures – You know the rule, keep one and toss the rest.
80.  Old phone covers, styluses, screen protectors, etc.
81.  Misc. ribbons or string
82.  Expired coupons
83.  Organizers you bought to get organized that didn’t work
84.  Belts that no longer fit, are worn, or are out of style
85.  Duplicate kitchen utensils – Have you ever used three wisks at the same time before?  Me neither.
86. Cookie cutters unless you’ve used them in the past year and foresee using them again
87.  Rarely used cake pans – Our bakery supply store rents them for $2 a day.  I no longer need to keep any on hand for those rare occasions I bake.
88.  Old teeth whitening trays or strips.  Use ’em up or toss ’em out.
89.  Hard candy that you’re not sure where it came from or how long it’s been there
90.  Unloved stuffed animals
91.  Half used chap stick containers – Buy a new one! I LOVE my new EOS one with coconut milk.
92.  Duplicate measuring cups and spoons
93.  Old day planners (and current ones if you don’t use them!)
94.  Candles – If it’s not lovely to look at and you’ll never burn it, let it go.
95.  Mason jars (or baby food jars, spaghetti sauce jars, etc.) that you won’t use
96.  Expired sunscreen
97.  Staple remover – unless you can make a very compelling argument to keep yours.
98.  Travel alarm clock – We have phones now.
99.  Stress balls
100.  Plug in air fresheners without a refill
101.  Unloved dog toys
102.  Extra USB flash drives – How many does one family need?
103.  Promotional swag
104.  Key chains you don’t use
105.  Recipe books you don’t ever use
106.  Push pins in the junk drawer just waiting for unsuspecting fingers
107.  Keys that you don’t know what they go to
108.  Lanyards, name tags, bags, etc. from previous conferences
109.  Carabiners – Unless you rock climb, trust me, you won’t use them.
110.  Lotions, face washes, serums that you don’t use
111.  Random batteries you’re not sure where they came from
112.  Multiple book marks – Unless you’re a book worm…you know what to do, toss them.
113.  Combination locks – Chances are slim you’ll use one again but if you do, they’re cheap to replace.
114.  Paper weights
115.  Near empty bottles of bubbles or little numbs of side-walk chalk
116.  Completed coloring books
117.  Markers without lids and lids without markers
118.  Goodie bag toys from previous birthday party celebrations
119.  Empty bottles of anything
120.  Puzzles
121.  Old invitations
122.  Travel brochures
123.  Tissue paper/gift bags
124.  Unused sticky notes
125.  Extra shoe laces
126.  Sticker’s from a precious yard sale
127.  Hair products you don’t use
128.  Take out chopsticks – Buy a reusable pair if you use them a lot
129.  Old prescription glasses – Great donation for the Lions Club.
130.  Old sunglasses – The cat eye is coming back but definitely toss those purple hued ones.
131.  Worn out flip flops.
132.  Magnets – Unless they are lovely or useful, discard.
133.  Posters you’ll never display again
134.  Excess decks of cards
135.  Phone books
136.  Broken Christmas lights
137.  Notes/gifts from old romances
138.  Hats you don’t wear or that look like you shouldn’t
139.  Extra bubble wrap (or am I the only one who has a supply?)
140.  Twisty ties (another one that hits close to home!)
141.  Chip clips
142.  Craft supplies for a project that has already been completed
143.  Paper plates – Use them up!
144.  Loyalty cards – use the key ring version or enter your number for even less clutter
145.  Gift cards – go and enjoy them!
146.  Touristy knick knacks
147.  Business cards – Keep an electronic record
148.  Puzzle books you don’t use
149.  Old textbooks
150.  Unused vases
151.  Stockings with runs in them
152.  Fancy serving bowls you haven’t used in the last year – Use them or sell them.
153.  CDs unless you use them regularly
154.  Old boombox
155.  Piles of “scrap paper”
156.  Purses/dufflebags/old luggage you don’t use
157.  Catalogs
158.  Christmas ornaments that aren’t lovely or sentimental
159.  Instruments you’ve given up on mastering years ago
160.  Clothes that make you feel ugly
161.  Instruction manuals – Most are online now.
162.  Calculators – Phones have replaced these for most people.
163.  Remotes that have no purpose
164.  Emergency sewing kits – I own many and have never used one even once.
165.  Dry erase markers without a board and a board without markers (or both if you don’t use it!)
166.  Extra pencil sharpeners – Only one is needed
167.  Rusty tools you’ll never use again
168.  Lawn and garden pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers you won’t use
169.  Fireworks that are unused (Am I the only one?) – They can be soaked in water overnight then disposed of in a plastic bag.
170.  Dried up super glue
171.  Old and ugly t-shirts
172.  Hair accessories you don’t use
173.  One orphan earring
174.  Dried flowers
175.  Extra photo prints
176.  Gifts you don’t love
177.  Scarves you never wear
178.  Damaged/stained clothing
179.  Plastic children’s plates/cups that they’ve outgrown
180.  Junk mail
181.  Address labels – Do you ever really use them?
182.  Extra folders, binders, labels, etc.
183.  Old cell phones – Recycle!
184.  Old fortune cookie fortunes (Someone else keeps the good ones too, don’t they?)
185.  Used ink cartridges – Recycle them for a little money back
186.  Use Unroll.me to rid yourself from pesky email subscriptions (It’s free but I would pay for this fabulous service!!)
187.  Outdated computer software
188.  Old wallets
189.  Dull or duplicate pocket knives
190.  Spare change lying around – Take it to the bank!
191.  Unused picture frames
192.  Old baby gear that you no longer need – Great donation item if you don’t want to sell it!
193.  Kitchen knives no one uses
194.  Old sports equipment from days gone by
195.  Broken clocks
196.  Coasters that go unused
197.  Plants – Yes, plants that don’t brighten your spirits.  Buy ones that do!
198.  Hole punch you never use
199.  Place mats, napkins, table cloths that never get displayed
200.  Ruled notebook paper – I hate to throw it away but I never use it.  Donate it!

Friday, September 18, 2015

11827 South Little John Circle


1966


2015

Last week Joe and I drove by the first house we bought after we were married.  We would have had a hard time recognizing it if we had not known for certain its location and street number. But nearly 50 years later, It appears that another family lives there now who also loves plants!  I smile as I think of the difference in the big truck parked there and our little green VW in the driveway!

In 1966 we bought our first house in a suburb of Houston. The address was 11827 South Little John Circle, in a neighborhood named Fondren Park.  We had the house built for around $14,000, and not only picked the elevation style, the carpet (in the living room only - forest green) and tile (vinyl mosaic) and colors in the kitchen (yellow counters and appliances!)but we drove by to visit the progress almost everyday during the time it was under construction. Our combined salary was barely $700 with Joe working at a company called Independent Exploration and my working at the Hillcroft Medical clinic. We shared rides to work in our Volkswagen.


We moved in, started gardening, mowing, and meeting neighbors like Joan and Edgar Rust (Rusty) and Amon and Lucille White. We  had an inexpensive bed, chest of drawers, and dresser purchased when we moved into our apartment in Houston the year before, gladly accepted the hand me downs of a wicker love seat and rocker from Mother and Daddy, and bought an unfinished round table we lovingly sanded and stained. Chairs from Mexico completed our dining area. We reupholstered a couch and chair that had been my grandmother Terrell's.  We found red fabric at a discount store and painted the wood parts black. I made a wall hanging from burlap and a square of  printed linen.

Soon we felt our nest was feathered as we received the good news that we were expecting our first baby!  We decided to wait to "tell" so that we could do that as a Christmas gift for our parents when we traveled home on Christmas eve. However on Christmas Eve, I had to have emergency surgery for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and spent Christmas week in the hospital.

Our friend, Pat Tarver came to stay with us for a few months while her husband was in basic training. Pat was our church secretary, in the choir with me, and my close friend.  When her husband was stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, we hugged her goodbye without realizing we would soon follow her. After only 10 months in our beautiful little house, Joe accepted a job in San Antonio so we quickly sold our first house, finding another home where we welcomed our beautiful baby son in 1968.  There have been many homes and many good neighbors since but I still use Lucille's recipe for ginger cookies and Rusty's recipe for homemade vanilla ice cream.


When we drove into the much changed neighborhood last Friday, memories began to swirl and surface. Neighborhood potlucks, gathering friends and family around our little table. The time when I proudly put a sprig of my own garden mint in my brother in law's tea glass and he found a worm on it!  Coming home without our much wanted first baby to finally open our Christmas gifts. Loving and supporting each other and learning how nice neighbors can be and how hard it is to say goodbye.

And today, looking at pictures of the house, thinking how very young we were and of all the years in between of faith and family, and our own action adventure!  A few tears and plenty of laughter later, we feel so blessed.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Texas!


This is a well done slide show set to well done choral music spotlighting our state!  We have lived in Oklahoma, California, Oregon, and Indonesia, but our roots were always in Texas and all our sons and grandchildren were born here.  Texans, and proud of it!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hospital Hospitality and Home Again


Green space in courtyard, Methodist Hospital, Sugar Land


I am a retired registered nurse. I do not say an inactive nurse and although I may occasionally say "I have not worked in years," that is not really true.  I always thought my nursing education and experience provided great preparation for taking care of 3 boys, These served me well in caring for others, including my mother who died in 2006. I have had a great deal of opportunity to call on basic patient care skills in the past few years during many surgeries for my husband.  But in all 51 years of marriage, the many hospitalizations for Joe and all the years of emergency room visits for stitches and casts with little boys, I had never called 911 for a medical emergency and we never had as many as 9 days of hospitalization for any one incident. On June 3, an insect (mosquito or spider, we are unsure which) changed that record. 

While working for a few minutes in the garden that morning, Joe got a bite on his right elbow. We thought it was a mosquito because they have been numerous and hungry since all the rains and flooding Memorial Day week. After sleeping a long time, he began having  chills and rising fever.  Within a couple of hours I had gone from considering going to choir practice to calling 911 and riding in the ambulance with him to the E.R., followed by a hospital admission. His white blood cell count was high, his temperature was high. Cultures were started. He was treated with IV antibiotics and supporting therapy for what turned out to be septic bursitis.  The villain was beta hemolytic strep. He did not respond as quickly as expected to the antibiotic therapy or needle aspiration of the offending fluid in the bursa. But after a number of different antibiotics, he began to improve and finally was discharged a few days ago. 

His IV medication continues at home, we are working out new pain management schedules, chipping away at followup appointments, and loving being back at home. The fact that our first tropical storm of the season, Bill, decided to try to come this way also is another story. I am thankful for Joe's recovery, thankful for our sweet family's caring response, our dear church's concern and prayers, and for a staff of excellent physicians and nurses as well as other employees at Methodist Hospital Sugar Land. 

 I commend this hospital's administration and staff for their smiles and professional care, including everyone from housekeeping to each specialist. I did not encounter anyone who did not seem genuinely interested and supportive. They are a caring community who come alongside when some of us have a health burden. Even though I have been in their shoes I sadly do not always remember names, but this time a long list of names comes to mind as I include them in my gratitude list. I am also grateful for the planning of the facility, the architecture, the provisions not only for patient safety and comfort but also for those who are visitors.

During my days of staying with Joe, I took some long walks in the halls.  I didn't have time to take as many pictures as I had moments of appreciation, but here are a few.

I had an aerial view standing in front of the bank of windows on the North side of our 6th floor of the main hospital.

Viewing 69/59 Northbound and Southbound, Sugar Land stretching beyond. The chairs placed by the windows were usually occupied by visiting family members and those waiting for good news or bad. As I looked out across the busy freeway, I thought how many times I pass by this spot.

At the end of our hall, a window wall looked toward First Colony Mall, the clock tower in Sugar Land Town Center, and beyond to the cityscape of Houston. 

Most of my walks were indoor walks but once I visited the small courtyard near the hospital's front entrance where there were lush green plants like the one pictured at the top of the page, inviting benches, and water flowing in a fountain.

Sean, Teion, Lauren, and Skye drove behind us in the ambulance. When they all left, Lauren made a special trip back to the hospital to bring me sandwiches, yogurt, and water bottles since I was there for the night with no dinner. 

Skye visited her Papa on her way to dress dance recital rehearsal.  Lauren added her name to his care giving bulletin board..."I love you, Papa, Lauren"  Appropriate, since the love of his family boosted his recovery just as his caregivers did.

IV in one arm and the other swollen and painful, he still enjoyed hanging on to the phone for calls from our friends, sons, daughters in law, and grandchildren.

Maddie saved her PF Chang fortune cookie to switch out with a fortune message just for Papa.  "You will feel better."

Jordann cut out a peace symbol for him.

Jeremy drove from Fort Worth with the girls for a get well visit.

And finally, home again!  Nora waves get well fairy dust over Papa Joe.  Ben and Kristen brought him Chik Fil A breakfast!

Sean worked on the Koi pond twice so far which is such a tremendous help. Teion ran errands, helped talk to medical staff, and checked on him every day. I always feel the love and support of our family, but they all deserve a blue ribbon for taking care of the parental unit, as we are fondly referred to! 

So, home to hospital to home again, we have had an adventure I hope is not repeated, but I once again realize we have blessings that are priceless!  I am grateful.