Thursday, December 31, 2009

Back to Blogging

Well, if anyone is still out there, reading my blog, I'm here to say I'm back to writing. I'm sorry it's been so long. There has been a lot going on, and as I mentioned in my last post, I have had a lot of Dr visits and other things taking up my time. Yes, I've done lots and lots of knitting, too! I managed to make a hat for each of my employees at the branch, and I made some socks for my FIL, a cool little knitted ornament for each of Si's teachers and I've started a lovely sweater vest for my mom. Oh, and I've also done several more decorative scarves. I'll share pictures soon.

Things that have kept me from posting on the blog:
  • feeling like my life isn't interesting enough (my bro very kindly said, at Thanksgiving "Yea, but it's YOUR boring crap, so we want to read it.")
  • not having my pictures uploaded from my camera yet
  • having forgotten to take pictures to begin with
  • feeling like everything I had to say was just depressing and whiney
Stuff I was doing instead:
  • working
  • knitting
  • sleeping
  • Dr visits
  • Physical therapy for my leg
  • zoning out in front of Facebook/TV
Why I'm back:
  • my brother and SIL and Mom all convinced me that they really are interested in reading it, even if it's boring
  • It's New Year's Eve and I feel like I should mark the day
  • lots of changes have happened this year that I want to commemorate
  • there's nothing else to do at the moment and keeping my hands busy typing helps me not eat more Christmas Cookies
Bad things that happened this year:
  • slipped on the ice, tore up my knee/ligaments and badly broke my leg
  • had a bit of an emotional breakdown because of the leg thing (or maybe that was just the pain meds playing with my brain)
  • had a spontaneous CSF leak and had to go through horrible procedures to get it fixed
  • had both cars broken into while they were in our driveway at home, resulting in the loss of the car radio from the Neon
  • Spent medium bucks to put new tires and other repairs into the Cruiser, only to realize later that it needs to just be given away now
Good things that happened this year:
  • My brother and Suzie got married!
  • Si got as tall as Mike
  • Si hiked the Appalachian Trail for over 50 miles
  • Si took off all those blasted wrist bands!!!!!!!!!!
  • Si got his braces off!
  • We bought a new (to us) van (just yesterday - yikes!)
  • I learned to walk again
  • I knit a gazillion things
  • I took a great class with my dear sister in Christ, Val
  • I read books
  • I transferred to a new branch
  • I've been reminded, over and over again, how much God loves me, usually through the kind servanthood of my church-mates' blessings, and the sweetness of several of my knitting pals
So here's the thing . . . there have been more good things than bad. It's true, and I need to remember that. Life is hard, right? That isn't going to change. But I can choose to deal with things differently, and I'm working on that. I've always been an optimist, but once in a while things just overwhelm me and I forget how to optimize . . . you know what I mean? I think I'm back, and I'm going to work on writing again. Promise! We're at my parents' house right now, but when we get home tomorrow I'll work on loading up some pics and making the blog more interesting to behold.

In the meantime, thanks for reading . .. and I'll see you next year!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

An Unplanned Day

Now that I'm back at work, I work a lot. My typical daily schedule:
~5:30-6 am: Wake up
6-6:40: cajole son into eating and dressing and getting to the bus on time (6:40)
6:35- 1/2 hour before work (either 8:30 or 10:30 or somewhere in between): personal email, Facebook, knitting, breakfast, banking, odd but quick errands
9-6 or 11-8 or some variation (yesterday was 9-8): work
6:30 or 8:30 til around 10: dinner w/DH and DS, watch TV together, more computer playing

It seems so simple, distilled like this, but as you all know, life is never that simple. One thing you can see, though, is that if you're still recovering from, say, a brain leak, and you need a lot of sleep, there isn't much time to just hang out and do nothing. This week, because of all the great things my staff want to do in our community, I am working both Friday and Saturday (rarely happens) and am taking today (Wednesday) off to compensate myself.

So, what shall I do on my day off? I've already gotten my Obligatory Important Task to Better the Family done today (took both cats to the Vet for their annual check up, hissing and shots). Frankly, I think I scheduled the Vet visit just because it would be completely unheard of to have a day off w/o a doctor visit somewhere in it.

I will probably take a bit of a nap at some point today, just because I can . . . but this unexpected, unplanned day off is such a treat! I sit here in my kitchen wondering how I should spend the time so that I feel good at the end of the day, good and accomplished.

Suggestions? What do you do on unexpected free days?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

They Have to be Carefully Taught

I think perhaps the only time we actually talked about race relations at my house (although I am rather flighty sometimes and might have missed deeper discussions) was one night when my dad started singing a lyric from South Pacific:
You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

His point, and the point of the song, is that parents will pass along their own prejudices to their children, whether they do it consciously or not.

I remember feeling confused at first, because in nearly all ways, my parents were teaching me to make friends with everyone, regardless of the color of their skin or other differences. The thing is, I grew up in a nearly-all-white neighborhood/school/church. I didn't come into contact with much diversity until I was in late middle school and started going to Conference-wide Youth Group meetings and events for my church. That is where my mind started to open and I started to learn more about people who were different from me, and it was delightful (usually) and challenging (once in a while) and surprising (sometimes).

For the last 8 years or so, I've been managing library branches in neighborhoods where I am the minority. I've been in meetings where I've been the only white face in the room, and when I go out to lunch near my branch, I'm often the only melanin-challenged person in the place. If I go to certain places near my last branch, I can go into restaurants where I am probably the only native English-speaker. I have no problem with any of this, of course, and I love my job (and the neighborhoods in which I've worked).

Why do I bring this up? My friend, Erin, sent me a link to this article from Newsweek about recent research to see if multicultural TV shows and videos are helping our kids be more open-minded, and also what kinds of parent-child interactions would help. Although I have a few issues with the study (they used only Caucasian families, for instance) it is still interesting. The study says that many families just don't talk about racial differences, hoping that raising their children in a diverse world and not pointing out differences will allow their children to be "colorblind" . . . but this appears to be a false hope.

The results of the study? If you want to help your child to view everyone as valuable, you should talk about differences in appearances, but then affirm that we're all valuable. You might actually have to struggle through feeling uncomfortable and TALK. From the Newsweek article:
What parents say depends heavily on their own race: a 2007 study in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that out of 17,000 families with kindergartners, nonwhite parents are about three times more likely to discuss race than white parents; 75 percent of the latter never, or almost never, talk about race.
Aha- so some groups are having the discussions at home, and others are not. Mine was a family that didn't talk about it much, and here I am, a very open-minded, loving person who embraces equality and diversity. I've met some people recently who, judging from some of the comments their teenage boys have made (openly racist), discuss race-relations at home in a way that I would find abhorrent.

The article goes on to describe a study where kids in a preschool were given different shirt colors, red and blue, and for a while weren't treated any differently. They played and interacted as one large group all day, but after a few weeks, when questioned, the kids felt strongly that their own color of shirt was better than the other, and that kids in the other color were "less" in various ways.

This goes right along with other things kids are learning at a young age. Our brains are programed to file information away according to "same" and "different". That is why young babies have to test things out with all their senses (putting everything in their mouth?), sorting through the world by subconsciously saying "same", "different". We are hard-wired to notice differences, then . . . and it's up to us to figure out how to react to the differences. Will we celebrate them or will we mistrust and fear them?

The conclusions that are drawn through this research seem to be that we need to talk specifically to our kids about racial attitudes, especially if we want to help them develop positive thoughts and feelings.

In many (most?) middle-class white families, this topic is probably still taboo. Do you talk to the children in your life about racial attitudes? Do you talk about which behaviors/thoughts are appropriate and which are ugly? And what about beyond race . . . do you talk about being accepting of people of different religions? People who have graduated from a rival school (even that state up North?) People who vote differently from you? Do you talk openly, do you mention the elephant in the room?

Let me know what you're thinking!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Best Bad Example

I've had this topic rattling around in my head for a long time. It all came to me when my sister and I went to lunch at a great (usually) place near her office. This is an amazing story:

When we walked in, the host didn't even say hello, just held up 2 fingers, and started walking with some menus in his hand. He put the menus down on a booth table and then kept walking, and L and I weren't certain if we were supposed to follow him or sit at the booth! When I saw that he stopped to talk to someone at a far table, I figured this booth was for us. After all our menus were there, right?

This guy turned out to be our waiter. He took our drink order by saying "drinks?" He came, brought the salsa and some water, but no chips. Then he came with his order pad in hand and stood there, waiting to write. Still no words, he just looked at us, one at a time. We gave our order and he walked away. L wondered - are we going to get any tortilla chips? I flagged down a waiter (not ours, I don't think) and said "can we please have some chips?", and after a little confusion, he went and got some chips. By this time, L and I were laughing at the bad service. When the waiter brought out our food and set it down w/o a word, I said to L, maybe we should tip one quarter per word. So far that would be, what, 50 cents? I am not exaggerating - throughout our entire time at lunch, that waiter said 3 words to us! Only 3! He barely made eye contact, and was not at all attentive. If the food wasn't so spectacular, we'd never go back.

This got me to thinking about customer service at the Library. I mean, we're in the business, right? How much do we actually say to people who come in our doors? Are we enthusiastic about helping people? When we announce programs, do they sound enticing? Do we assume that everyone has been there before, or do we assume there is someone in the building who really has no idea how things work? Are we patient, treating each customer like they're the first and most important person of our day? I have thought about going back to that restaurant and taking a pic of that horrible waiter, just to keep in my mind how important it is to connect with our customers.

We don't sell great food, we don't even offer snacks or drinks. Sometimes, the building is full enough that there aren't even any available chairs! Our product is more ethereal - it is connection. We give our customers connection to the internet, for sure, but also a connection to another human being. We are sometimes the first person they've asked for help in using the computer or finding that information they need. Sometimes, we're their last resort, sometimes we are their third place and sometimes we're part of the vast array of middle ground.

Regardless of where we fit into the pecking order of their lives, we are there, at the Library, to provide great service. If we can't do that, we are failing.

That's my 2 cents on the topic today.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Oh, and Stephanie totally got the feelings right about parenting in her latest post about her daughter. Hope over and read it, if you are interested.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Crisp Air, Delicious Flavors

Fresh raspberries and peaches were on sale at the grocery (sorry, didn't make it to the farmer's market this week). Don't they look delicious? Let me tell you - they are! I topped these babies with some shortcake batter and baked it all for about 50 minutes. Cobblery goodness, I tell ya!

Now, I know I was out of commission for a while with the brain leak, but how did it get to be Fall already? I don't just mean school starting, I mean the weather! We had our windows and doors open yesterday (and honestly, didn't everyone?) and I actually got COLD! It's still August! I'm having a hard time believing in Global Warming this Summer - anyone else?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Another New Year

Time can be measured in so many ways. As Jonathan Larson said in his lyrics for Rent,
525,600 minutes
how do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In 525,600 minutes -
how do you measure a year in the life?
For many of us, especially those who work with children and students, we measure the passing of time according to the school year. When Fall is nearing and the first day of a new school year arrives, we once again go on pilgrimage to our office supply stores for unsharpened pencils, undefiled spirals, fresh erasers we futilely hope we'll never need. (Yea, that picture is me in my Freshman year in HS - it was 1978. Note the bolo tie, the corduroy vest, and the curling iron skill.)

When I was young, I remember being anxious about what to wear the first day and what kinds of folders and notebooks I had. I remember those folders that were like intricate coloring pages, and using study halls (and probably actual class time, truth be told) to color them in). Fall is when the marching band would take over our lives, filling our house with practicing, keeping track of uniform pieces and memorizing music. Fall was cold nights on rickety-feeling bleachers watching football games with my best friends, laughing at the trombone and tuba players and their antics, and wondering who was going to ask whom out.

I'm not sure what Si uses to measure time. Would it be Boy Scout trips? Badges earned? Birthdays? School years? Boxes of Cheezits? I know he's not really anxious about clothing, but he does like to look "geeky cool".

He has started High School this week. I seem to be incapable of taking a decent picture in the morning, but here he is, on his second day of HS. The molecular thingy on his Tshirt is caffeine - fitting, somehow, for my coffee-drinking teen.

He's maturing so quickly now. He cooks, he actually spent time cleaning his room yesterday (after I threatened to ground him from all activities, though), and he's been so helpful all year while I've been recovering. I feel so blessed to have him.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Great Woman

I had many great professors at GCC throughout my years there, but Barb Akin held a special place in my heart. She was my adviser, and I admired and respected her greatly. I went to her ordination (instead of the Homecoming parade), I learned many great lessons from her (not the least of which was the art of skimming a book for salient points w/o reading every word), and I enjoyed her lectures immensely. Even her tests, when given, were admirable - always really and truly testing to see what you learned, not to try to trip you up on something you might have missed.

Just the other day I was talking about Barb, and telling someone, I forget who, how she'd kept me from taking certain "easy A" classes because she had higher expectations for me. She was brassy, strong, brilliantly smart and fun to hang out with. I remember her smoking in class, cussing sometimes, too (which at GCC was shocking!), and basically being her amazing self. She was like a cross between Prof. McGonagall and Mae West, and, although we didn't keep in touch, I did love her.

I look forward to learning from you again someday, Barb, on the other side.

in my email today:
Retired Faculty Member Dr. M. Barbara Akin Passes Away August 14, 2009


Dear Catherine,

We are sorry to report that retired faculty member Dr. M. Barbara Akin passed away on Friday, August 14, 2009 at her home.

Dr. Akin taught at Grove City College from 1970 to 1999 and chaired the history department during that time. She had also served as vicar of the Church of the Epiphany Episcopal in Grove City from 1985 through her retirement in 2008.

The funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Wednesday, August 19, at the Church of the Epiphany Episcopal, 870 Liberty Street Extension, with Bishop Sean Rowe ’97 officiating.

The College offers sincere condolences to Dr. Akin's family, friends and her former students.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Drip Is Gone!

Ahhhh - sweet relief! My nose no longer drips! I had most of the packing removed yesterday morning, and I feel GREAT! My energy is still very low, and I am getting tired very easily, and I"m still not supposed to do much . . . but boy, do I feel loads better! That packing up my nose sucked!

I am going back to work - again! I'll be starting back to work part time next Wednesday, Aug 19, and I'll be on "light duty" until Sept 1. I'm going to get the rest of the nose packing (nasal bolstering? snotton cotton?) taken out Tuesday morning, and Tuesday night I'm having a sleep test, so that we can figure out what the heck is going on. But I'm going back to work, dammit! I am going CRAZY being home! OK, truth be told, I'm sleeping most of the time, but still . . . it's the idea of the thing.

So - just to amuse myself, I want to post a few pics of Si (my 14, nearly 15 yo son) on the Appalachian Trail. He was there with his Boy Scout Troop - 3 leaders and a passel of boys. They hiked over 50 miles, 5 days. These are my favorite shots. He didn't take a camera, but others had them, obviously. I love this pic of him looking out from Black Rock. So bold and strong!

This is the whole group the first morning of hiking. See how chipper they look? Si is in the middle of the front row looking strangely demonic - no idea why he has that look on his face! LOL

But this one captures the spirit of the boys best of all. They're at the Civil War Correspondents Memorial near Harper's Ferry.

Go Bucks!

SHAMELESS PLUG: If you live in the Central Ohio area, you'll want to check out the HUGE Boy Scout Garage Sale this Saturday, Aug 15 at Overbrook Presby Church, 4131 N High St, just north of Whetstone Park, 9 am - 3 pm. They've been collecting donations all summer long, and it's going to be HUGE! This is a great place to find cheap housewares, school clothes, toys, collectibles, books, yard stuff, and there is even a boat! All money collected goes directly to support the boys and their camping (like going on the AT). Our troop does this one fundraiser each year, and does not sell popcorn or anything else, so this is it! Thanks for supporting the Boy Scouts, troop 474!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Seriously? Another one?

Yea, well, I'm on medical leave again. I know, I know - when will it end? I have no idea, and frankly, I'd love it if I were doing anything but this - trust me!

I've been complaining of this drippy nose - these sinus issues - for months. Months and months and months. Well, turns out, it wasn't mucus of any kind, it was actually spinal fluid. Leaking out my nose. Yea, you read it right. It is a spontaneous CSF leak. How weird is that? Pretty darn weird, let me tell you! And scary, too, because if stuff can leak out, other stuff can get in, which put me at great risk for . . . oh . . . menenghitis, etc. Sounds lovely, eh? How does this happen, you ask? Is it my wild lifestyle, the fall I took in January? what? Well, we're still trying to figure that out (me and my new Doctor pals), but it is most likely from long-undiagnosed sleep apnea. No kidding! Again - how freaky is that!?!?!!?

Ok - so one day I'm working and dripping and getting a few minor headaches, and the next day I'm fearing for my life and wondering what will happen and knowing that I might need to have brain surgery. Then they got it all figured out and realized that they could do the surgery through the nose, which means no cool scars (not even black eyes - sorry - nothing cool to photograph at all, really, except the bags under my eyes, but honestly, they're usually there anyway).

Basically, the Dr had told me Thursday, July 23, to await his call Monday morning to get another CT scan and an endoscopy (up my nose with a rubber hose, or summat). They were going to get me in Friday the 24th, but the Dr was busy, as was I (heading North for my brother's wedding)

So Monday found me calling off and waiting a bit, and then getting scoped and scanned, and then Tuesday found me in the hospital, and there you have it. That Thursday - hmm - July 30, they did the surgery (had to do more tests first, of course, including lumbar puncture, and then they put in a lumbar drain, an experience I would only wish on people who are cruel to small children). The surgeon took some bone tissue from my left sinus area and used it to patch the holes he found. Instead of small holes, actually, he found a thinned area - like a very worn cover of a book - or a sieve (my sister always said I have a memory like a steel sieve), and he patched it, then stuffed that side of my facial parts with . . . well . . . I have no idea what is in there, but I can tell you I'm sick of it! It's helping to hold the patch in place when I cough, though, or when I sneeze, which I do occassionally. Blah. I'm not allowed to blow my nose, or bend over forward, or pick up anything heavy (pity - no laundry for me, still!)

I have no idea when I'll be able to go back to work. I keep thinking it'll just be a bit more, but I am getting the feeling this week that this is all a much bigger deal than I was letting myself believe.

Signs that this is harder on my body than I'd like to admit:
  • I don't feel like being social at all - have even asked for fewer phone calls
  • I'm tired all the time, and have headaches a lot
  • Sleeping often makes my headaches worse - figure THAT out!
  • I don't feel much like knitting (don't be scared - yesterday I knit about 3 rounds on a hat I'm making)
  • I was light-sensitive for about 4 days after surgery, and couldn't really focus my eyes for at least that long - longer, actually, I think
  • My memory is fuzzy
  • I have odd tingling sometimes - like the palms of my hands, my baby toes, or my left buttock - go figure
  • I don't feel like eating, and when I do, nothing seems to taste good (ok - that sweet corn from the farm market yesterday was awesome - and at lunch I could still barely finish one ear)
So - I'm trying to find ways to cheer myself up. Will you help? There are a lot of idioms that we use in our language that would be very funny if used by me in this situation . I've got a few here, but please share any you think of, and give me an example of how I can use it in conversation! I'm looking for humor here - tasteless is definitely in bounds!
  • I needed this like I needed a hole in my head.
  • This has given me a whole new meaning for "brain drain" and I'm not sure I like it!
  • Look, it's not exactly brain surgery, right? Just do it!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Harry Potter

We got to see the movie today! Yay us! My list (trying not to share any spoilers):
  • Tom Felton, a.k.a. Draco Malfoy did a very good job displaying complex emotions, foreshadowing the final movies.
  • Even more kudos for Alan Rickman - absolute genius as Snape!
  • Loved the special effects, particularly how the Death Eaters are shown flying about - very cool.
  • Would have liked to seen more from the end of the book, particularly the big fight scene, but I understand the time restraints.
  • Also would have liked to see the bits between the Prime Minister and the Minister of Magic. Those were such good bits in the book!
  • Helena Bonham Carter is brilliant.
  • Mike loves Evanna Lynch and her portrayal of Luna Lovegood, and I think she's adequate, but I still think she plays it a little too "solid" for me. Love the glasses, though!
  • Dublin Village theater is nowhere near as nice as other theaters in town, and the seats were VERY uncomfortable.
  • I know it's horribly expensive and frivolous, but I want to see this movie again in IMAX.
  • I always find it interesting to see how they smoosh the book into a movie. Bits missing, some bits put in to explain otherwise gaping holes in the plot . . . I think this one is cohesive, but I'd love to hear from someone who hasn't read the book several times.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I've been thinking about philosophizing about friendships and stuff, but frankly, I'm pooped out. Working full time again, going to PT a few times a week, and still dealing with sinus issues (could I be allergic to my new branch?) has taken its toll. So, instead of some deep treatise, you get a few pics and captions.
I was able to take some pics of my staff at Linden before leaving there.
(Here's Jon)
They were . . . tolerant. LOL

William making his "sweet" face.

DJ and Keith - DJ doesn't actually work there, but she might as well!






Carmen, one of my best buddies from the Linden Community. She gave me so much good advice over the years I was there!

These next pics are from the wedding shower my mom, sister and I had for our new sister, Suzie. Don't we all look like we're having fun?
That's because we were! Suzie is a wonderful woman, and I'm very happy for both her and my brother. The wedding is coming up on July 25, so check back for more pics next week!

Lovely flowers in an old hand-painted china watering can. Is my mother amazing, or what?

Also last weekend, I got to see some old friends! I met Josie and Mackenzie about . . . hmm . . . 25 years ago? Kenz was about 5, and Josie and Kenz's dad were 2 of the youth counselors at the church where I was working. We hit it off instantly, and , although we've gone quite a while without really keeping in touch, I feel that she is still a dear friend. An added treat - Mackenzie has turned into a fabulous woman, and I honestly feel like we are instant friends again, just like I was with her mom at that age! Weird fact - she is now older than I was when I met her. LOL

I just want to say that I feel wonderfully blessed to have so many friends. Thank you all for the birthday wishes, and thanks for hanging in there with me through all the recovery crap!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Patriotic Poetry Friday

I won't comment on my health other than to say I feel crummy. Dratted sinuses.

In honor of Independence Day, I offer up a link to the poem "The Battle of Lexington" by Sidney Lanier. I like that it doesn't sugar-coat the bloodiness too much . . . but it is still romantic in an historical way.

Here's my favorite stanza:
Good men in fustian, stand ye still;
The men in red come o'er the hill.
Lay down your arms, damned Rebels! cry
The men in red full haughtily.
But never a grounding gun is heard;
The men in fustian stand unstirred;
Dead calm, save maybe a wise bluebird
Puts in his little heavenly word.

I can just imagine, men poised for battle and that calm before the chaos where you can hear a bird chirp.

Happy Fourth of July!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Back to Life

Well, I totally missed Poetry Friday again, but I just came across this great site, and I figure I need to share it. My friend, Megan sent the link to me for The Favorite Poem Project, and I finally took time this morning to look. It's really cool! Little embedded vids allow regular folks to talk about their favorite poems, how they've influenced their lives, and then the poem is there, in text and read by the person.

I found the vid about this poem to be particularly touching, and quite apropos for where I am right now in my physical recovery.

A Psalm of Life
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real—life is earnest—
And the grave is not its goal:
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destin'd end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!


Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act—act in the glorious Present!
Heart within, and God o'er head!


Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.


Footprints, that, perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwreck'd brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.


Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

I feel like I've been slumbering a bit (although obviously not long enough this morning, because I was up at 4:30!), but, you know, in my life, because things have to be put on hold while one recovers from injury or illness. But I am glad to be back in the active world again, working and living and making my own footprints in the sand.

My sinuses are still dripping (more like the fateful call of The Raven by Poe, actually - drip, drip, drip, drip), but I'm back at work and doing well. The surgeon said Friday that he's thinking I might never need to have the knee replaced - isn't that cool? It's all healing so well! What a lovely bit of news, eh? Each time it seems more real! I have one more week of part-time work, and physical therapy is scheduled . . . and then he said to continue physical therapy as long as worker's comp will let me. I'm going to need to call my case worker Monday and see what the deal is on that!

Simon leaves for Scout Camp today (Mike will drive him out there), and we'll go retrieve him Saturday. He only has a few badges he's working on this time (in the past he's worked on 6 in a week), but one of them is Lifeguarding, which could eventually yield him some income - gasp!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Well, it's Father's Day, and I want to pay tribute to some fabulous men I know.

My husband is a wonderful father. He has spent a lot of time and effort building a strong relationship with our son, and I think it has paid off in a great, self-secure young man. I love how they talk with one another (even when it's about stuff that is so boring to me that my eyes roll back into my head), and I really love how they can both tease each other, and take the teasing.

I have to admit that there have been times when I've been a little jealous about their "boy club" (I will probably never think fart jokes are funny), but I've always known that the friendship they have would be important in helping Simon become a strong man. I am very thankful for my husband's fathering gifts. I love you, Mike.

My grandfather, whom I called Pop-pop, was a light in my life. He's been gone for many years now (20?), but I still think of him all the time. I remember singing with him, listening to him play the organ, and knowing that he loved to hear us sing for him. I remember his courage in facing the pain he had every day. He and Grandma gave us all a great model for how to love your family. I will always love you, Pop-pop, and I look forward to being with you in Heaven someday.

Now, for my dear dad. I made a list for my mom, and I'm going to make a list for Dad, too. Here are some of the many things I have learned from my dad:
  • always welcome new people with a smile, a handshake, and if they're entering your house, ask them what they'd like to drink
  • it is good to be able to laugh at yourself, and also to be able to make others laugh
  • telling jokes is an art, learn it and use it
  • the joy of playing games is in the play, not the outcome
  • sing out, Louise!
  • early mornings and sunrises are worth it
  • take time to watch sunsets, too
  • if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all . . . except for those few times when you're "simply acknowledging someone's differences" LOL
  • if you look like Santa, milk it (he carries candy canes in his pockets all season, I think)
  • family time is really important
  • never miss the opportunity to tell people you love that you love them
  • hugs rock
  • it's ok to cry, even when you're happy (maybe I learned this from Pop-pop?)
  • a good back scratch is always appreciated
  • cold hands on a warm back can be really nice . . . I actually used to love it when I was a kid and Dad's car heater wasn't working, and he'd come home from work and put his FREEZING cold hands on my warm back
I love you, Dad.

I want to say a few words of appreciation in honor of my father-in-law, too. Jim has always made me feel welcome, a part of the family since the first time I visited. He's like a second father to me, and I love him dearly. I love his sense of humor, and I love the way he gets us all sharing around the kitchen table (tell us about the very best breakfast you've ever had . . .).
I love you, Jim.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Gov Strickland proposes 50% cut to Public Library funding

I don't post many things out of a political nature, but this one could not be missed. Gov. Strickland is proposing a huge cut to Ohio's public library funding.

I am not simply asking because this is my own field, but because I see, everyday, the growing importance of public libraries in our communities. As funding is cut for parks, Rec. Centers, public pools and after school programs, those children come to the library for recreation and homework help. As people lose their jobs they come to the library for help searching for jobs, creating resumes and "free" entertainment from our books and DVDs. Public libraries across the country are being called to do more with less money, but this kind of a cut would cause many of Ohio's libraries (long known for being the best in the nation) to lay off staff, cut hours or perhaps even close their doors.

If this is an issue that concerns you, please write to your state representatives and to the Governor's office. If you need the addresses, you can ask your local Librarian for them, or click here.

Thank you for your consideration of this issue.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fit as a Fiddle and Ready for . . . Work?

Well, it's been a long recovery, but it's time to get back to work and see how I do! I go back to work tomorrow, part time, and I'm thinking I can do it! I'll be working 4 hours a day, 5 days this week. The twist to this? I'm going to a new location! Yup - I'm starting back at a new (to me) branch! I'll write more on all of that another time . . . tonight I'm feeling like I need to do more of an update on my recovery.

Recovery Update:
  • I can walk with nearly no limp - when I am using my cane and have my knee brace on.
  • I can walk without either the brace or the cane . . . or without both . . . but I tend to limp more, and it tends to make my right ankle hurt.
  • I'm still going to physical therapy 3x/week. It's great, it helps tremendously, and I have about 3 more weeks left.
  • I can go up and down stairs. I do much better with a railing or two, but can manage going up just fine with just a cane, and do fine with a cane and a friend's shoulder going down. I do sometimes go down one curb step w/just my cane, but it really feels like a free-fall, still.
  • I will see my surgeon again in 2 weeks.
  • At this point we're still all thinking that it's going to be a long time before I need to get my knee replaced - YAY!
Stuff I've Learned:
  • How to use a wheelchair, a walker, and a cane. Ironically, I've used crutches before, but for some reason I was unsucessful with them this time.
  • Putting a knee brace on over clothing is a pain in the patootie, but it's better than having all that hardware under your pant leg.
  • Always carry your cell phone. This is how I called for help when I fell, and how I've been able to stay in touch with everyone during my confinement in the recliner.
  • My 2 cats CAN both fit in my lap.
  • It is not a bad thing to have a small, galley kitchen. Sure makes cooking easier when you can hardly walk!
  • I am greatly blessed to have an abundance of friends! People have brought food, come for visits, built things for us, loaned me DVDs, played online games with me, called me, taxied me around in their cars, sent cards and done countless other kindnesses. I could never thank all of you (all of them) sufficiently. I am so blessed.
  • I have a marvelous husband. Mike continues to work hard around the house to keep things running. (for instance, today I think he did a mountain and a half of laundry)
So, I come to the end of this medical leave feeling full. I'm full up with the love of my friends and family, and I am, frankly, tired of sitting around and finding things to fill my time. I am ready in my mind to go back to work, to take on new challenges of a new location, and I am ready to push my creaky body into service once again.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A favorite Poem

It's poetry Friday again, and even though I don't always participate, it occured to me to today to share one of my favorite poems with you:

There Once Was a Puffin

Oh, there once was a Puffin
Just the shape of a muffin,
And he lived on an island
In the bright blue sea!

He ate little fishes,
That were most delicious,
And he had them for supper
And he had them for tea.

But this poor little Puffin,
He couldn't play nothin',
For he hadn't anybody
To play with at all.

So he sat on his island,
And he cried for awhile, and
He felt very lonely,
And he felt very small.

Then along came the fishes,
And they said, "If you wishes,
You can have us for playmates,
Instead of for tea!"

So they now play together,
In all sorts of weather,
And the Puffin eats pancakes,
Like you and like me.

by Florence Page Jaques

This has been published with delightful illustrations by Shari Halpern

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Bragging on my kid!

I feel like I brag about my kid a lot, but this week brought several more opportunities for proud tears to come to my eyes. (Yea, I'm a cryer) 8th grade is over for him now, and they had an award ceremony Thursday morning. Si received 2 awards, one for Outstanding Artist, and one for Most Original Topic of the Science Expo. He's pictured here with two of his close friends, Storm and Mark. The pic is a little dark, but if you click on it to expand it, you'll see it better.

This weekend is the Columbus Arts Festival, and our young artist is quite involved! As a Young Docent for the James Thurber House, he is performing a Reader's Theater version of "The Night the Ghost Got In" in two performances at the Poetry Stage.

He did a fine job this morning, and I look forward to seeing him read different parts tomorrow! Here he is, listening to the other young docents tell versions of explanations and other stories of mysterious happenings at the Thurber House.

Thanks to a great Art Teacher at AIMS (Arts IMPACT Middle School), Si has 2 pieces on display in the Student Exhibits. One is a print he made using linoleum blocks that he carved. As you can see, it's a lovely, detailed print of a leopard. Luckily he made 4 more prints, because his teacher wants to keep this one at the school forever.

The other is his self-portrait, and, as our friend Bu-ying said, I bet he'll have people stopping him on the street saying "Hey, you're that kid in the picture!" Larger than life!

Remembering Mandy:

I again find myself needing to write a few words in memoriam. A dear lady, Amanda Maxwell, passed away last week. Her memorial service was this Thursday night. She was a strong woman of God, a woman who lived her life seeking God's will and purpose, and raising a large family of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren who follow God as well. She has left a powerful, far-reaching legacy in her offspring, many of whom are great servants, loving people with great talents generously shared.

When I first met Mandy it was in the Sunday School rooms at our church. She and I taught together for a while, and I remember her nurturing, her compassion, and her love for both the children and me. I learned a lot about love from watching her. I've also have the honor of being friends with several of her children and some of her grandchildren. Again, her love shines through them, and her strong drive to "do what is right" is evident in all of them. I've always loved being around Mandy and her family. My heart and prayers are with them in this time of mourning, but I also celebrate with them, knowing that Mandy is now at home in the presence of our Lord. Her memorial service on Thursday was one of the most glorious, celebratory services I've ever been to. It was an honor to sing along with the old hymns, knowing that Mandy is singing with a glorious new voice beside her Savior.

Rest well, Mandy, enjoying your painlessness. Someday we'll meet again and have lots of time to share more stories and songs.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I Like to Move it Move it

Well, my friends, I guess you can tell by my blog that I've been getting out more! I am driving, and in preparation for going back to work in a few weeks, I've been trying to get out of the house every day.

I've been going to Physical Therapy (pool 2 times a week, land once a week), doing some shopping (did you know that not every store has a wheelchair available?) and going to The Merc (you knew I'd get to that, right?).

I've also started going to all my yearly Dr. appointments (gyno, cardio, optomo) so that I do them before going back to work. Blah to my Tuesday Dr. who has me coming back in 9 weeks! No fair!

So, let's see, what can I tell you about my progress? I'm walking with a cane now (Go Canes! As my friend Maria would say) I am going w/o my knee brace in the house, and sometimes at the pool. I can do steps with railings really well, and I can go up steps w/just the cane, but going down is still a little scary, given my history with my left knee sometimes going out. (Do I sound like an old lady to anyone else?)

I'm also trying to cut back a little on my computer time, knit more, and do more reading. Today, though, I am also going to investigate the LibraryThing widget, as it seems to be putting someone else's books on my blog. Grrrr. (update: can't figure out what is wrong with LT - anyone else having trouble?)

Oh yea, and the rose picture is one I took yesterday with my cell phone. These heirloom roses bloom so beautifully, but only for about 2 days. They deteriorate quickly!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Springy, Med Update, goodbye to a friend

I have a medical update, but figure it'll look much nicer with these pretty flowers from our gardens. :-)

I went to the surgeon this morning. He is VERY pleased with my progress. Miraculously, the soft tissues in my knee are healing way beyond what he expected.

He has said before that I'd have to have a knee replacement soon, but now, with the healing of the exterior ligaments going so well, and the way things have tightened up (in a good way), he's thinking that it will probably be years before I'll need to deal with the lack of interior ligaments. Yay!

I'm going to go back to him the last week of June for another check-up. I do, however, already have a time-line for returning to work!

I'll be going back to work part time on June 15. I'll work part-time for 3 weeks or so, and if things go well I'll be able to be full-time.

Upon leaving the Dr. office, I called and reported to Mom, MIL, and my boss. Now we can make plans for my return to work, and putting everything at the L back to rights again. Yay again!

Physical Therapy is, obviously, going very well. I've started Aqua Therapy and I LOVE it! I go to the pool 2x/week, and to the land gym 1x/wk now. I'm able to walk really well with the walker, and yesterday I started working with a cane! I'm going to pick up a cane from the pharmacy this weekend - maybe even tonight. It'll be so nice to have a hand free while walking! Imagine, being able to carry a cup of coffee into the family room!

This great success at therapy is why things are healing so well, I'm certain. It's also why I'm glad I don't have to hurry back to work too quickly. I have enough sessions approved to last me through June, and I am glad I will be able to really work hard at therapy and increase my healing without the distraction and stress of working full-time. As the Dr. was saying "whatever you're doing, keep it up."

I must send props out to all my friends who've been giving me rides to PT. It has been so nice to have that companionship, as well as knowing that I can really tire myself out with PT and not worry about getting home safely. I started driving for some other things this week, and Monday is going to be last taxied trip to PT. Next Wed. I'll be driving myself! Go me!

If I find that it is too hard, I'll send another plea for help . . . but I am feeling confident that I'll be able to handle driving, walking in and out of the center, AND doing PT in the middle. We'll find out!

Goodbye to Jerry Thomas:
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the passing of a dear online friend, Jerry, who lived in Hawaii. I know him from our activity on the Wordcraft discussion board. I've been active on the board for about 5 years or so, and he was a member when I found the board. He helped make me feel very welcome when I arrived, and we've had many great conversations over the years about words, language, jokes, his life, my life, etc. He was funny, witty, well-educated (especially in foreign languages and ESL), and very enjoyable to know. He loved poetry and quoted it often, he started a college scholarship program in his old hometown in Iowa(?) and he was a strong advocate for legalizing marijuana. He was a real "piece of work" in all the best senses of the phrase. We will miss him on the board, but I feel that the world is a more joyous place because he was in it for a while. Aloha, Jerry.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pimp my walker!

Yea, I'm that bored. I pimped my walker a little - with hand-knitted doodads, of course!

First I used some extra yarn to put a little color on one of the front bars.

Then I used some other extra yarn to make hand grip covers. I think it's felting as I use it. I do have some good callouses on my palms, now, but it still helps pad things.

Then I decided I needed a pocket for my phone. I made this with leftover fingering yarn. I should also be able to keep using this after I'm done with the walker, which is nice. I think 2 small buttons on the front part will allow me to close the flap, then I can use the cord to hang it around my neck of attach it to a belt or something.

Then I crocheted a holder for my water bottle. I'm going to make more of these in cotton. This one was just from the closest yarn at hand.

I can tie this to my walker, but it is actually easier to just grab the little ring and carry it separately.

A friend of mine thinks I can make bucks by making these things and selling them to Retirement Home gift shops. I doubt I'll have time for such things once I'm back to work, but it's something to keep in mind for the future. Also, if you are ever laid up and have to use a walker, let me know and I'll help you pimp it out!

This last pic is just to show you Rosie, playing with her plastic fork. It's one of her favorite toys. She tosses it around, plays, jumps after it, etc. A few weeks ago, she set it down at my feet. I tossed it a few feet away, and she went and fetched it! She deposited it at my feet again 3 more times! What a good little kitty!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Things my mother has taught me

After reading this blog, I decided that trying to list stuff Mom has taught me is a pretty good idea for Mother's Day. Happy Mom's Day, MOM!!!!

  • Always be friendly and kind to people (even the icky boys at school).
  • Always wear clean underwear.
  • Don't chew with your mouth open. (some of these are, of course, from Mom and Dad)
  • It is possible to go to school, work full time and have 3 kids (but who the heck would want to do that?)
  • Volunteer when you can (but hide sometimes so you don't have to risk not saying "no" when you're asked)
  • Don't be afraid to say what you think.
  • Send thank-you notes (I didn't learn this one so well, sorry)
  • Sometimes staying up late to talk around the kitchen table really will solve all your problems.
  • Appreciate nature all around you, and take pictures!
  • It's always a good time to try a new craft!
  • If you wrap your own presents early enough in December, you'll be surprised on Christmas morning, even if you bought them for yourself. :)
  • Maintain a good sense of humor - you'll stay married longer. (Love you, Dad!)
  • Be generous with your stuff (including money).
  • Never stop playing, even if you lose all the time.
  • Dinner doesn't have to be fancy food to serve it on the fancy china.
  • Use the good silver/china/tablecloths - it's worth it now.
  • Being smart is cool, and sexy.
So much of who I am is because of my parents. I love them both dearly, and I'm very blessed to have them both around. I wish we weren't 3 hours away from one another! I'll have to start a list to have ready for Father's Day now, huh?

I'm also very blessed to have 2 great in-laws! Again, sorry that they're 3 hours away (in the opposite direction from my parents), but it's still great to have them around.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom and Jennie!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Walk Walk

Don't have much to say, but a friend sent this link to me via twitter, and I have to admit it makes me smile - I think it's my new theme song. Some of the lyrics are hard to hear, so I also listened to the Destiny's Child version, which is very clear, but not quite as snappy, IMHO. And besides, I think pigs are getting a bad rap at the moment - this is great positive publicity for the little darlings.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Many beautiful things

I've not posted in a while, and I figure I have a lot of good things for which I can be thankful, so I'll share some with you.

  1. My fancy new knee brace makes a good support for my laptop.
  2. I'm walking more each day, including going w/o the wheelchair in my house.
  3. Getting behind the wheel of my car (did I mention it matches the color of my new knee brace?) and driving for the first time tonight.
  4. Although the weatherman predicted a rainy weekend, it's been sunny and thoroughly beautiful both days.
  5. My son, of whom I"m so very proud, mowed the lawn today.
  6. The smell of garlic wafting in the windows as Si mowed the garlic that has sprouted in the yard (overflow from the garden).
  7. Lilies of the valley are blooming! They, also, are taking over the lawn in teh back. I'd be happy to have an entire yard of flowers, to be honest.
  8. Sitting in the park this morning with a couple of good friends (and Mike and Si) and playing a few songs (me on mando, Bu-ying on her Chinese flutes)
  9. The sound of Bu-ying's gourd flute wafting "Amazing Grace" through the woods.
  10. So many kind friends willing to take me to PT.
  11. My brother is engaged to a really nice woman! Yay love!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Brace Yourself!

DH took me to the ortho yesterday to pick up my new knee brace. It's metalic purple, and boy, it is a chunk of hardware, or what? It is heavier than i thought it would be, and it sticks out a bit more than I'd prefer, but it has a lot of supporting to do, so I can't judge it too harshly.

Two big black pads go on either side of my knee, and the brace is strapped to my thigh and my calf. The brace will support my knee and keep me from hyperextending or going side-to-side, but it also bends like a normal knee. Isn't it a nice purple color? It's slightly lighter in shade than my car, and darker than my glasses, but I like it. I wouldn't want it to be too "out there" since I have to wear it all the time for . . .well. . . until further notice.

I can change the pads at the knee, and it is fully washable! Wild, huh? Rosie was suspicious of it, no doubt because it smells like medicine . . . or sumpin. LOL

Physical Therapy is going well, but it feels like it's slow progress to me. I have started trying to go as long as possible each day w/o resorting to the wheelchair. Today is day 3 trying! I'll get there, eventually. Tomorrow I get to start my water therapy! yay!

Up Next: decorating the walker!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Baby Heffalump!

I finally have some pics of the baby elephant at the Columbus Zoo that we saw a week ago! Mom and Dad were with us, but then they went South to visit the Smokey Mountains for a week, and weren't able to send me the pics before today.

He doesn't have a name yet. They've run a contest, and over 9000 entries were submitted! One fact I remember is that he is gaining around 4 pounds a day, and when we saw him he weight 360+ pounds. Amazing!

These lovely pics were taken by my mom, of course. (Happy now, Suzie? I imagine you already saw the pictures at Mom's house, though)

Here is his official video, from the first time he was brought into public view. Isn't he adorable?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Oops - poetry Friday a day late

And I'm only giving you a link, can you believe it?

No Strings Attached by Julie Lario

Gregory has been doing a new, fantastic poet each day of National Poetry Month, and I've enjoyed the whole series, but this one just made me happy to read. Hope you find some lovely happy verse this weekend!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Busy Weekend!

After my Dr. appointment Friday, we went to the zoo with my parents, as I mentioned before. Here are a few of my favorite shots from what DH (the professional) took. I'm glad he got the Markhor because I couldn't see him well from my chair, even when I tried standing a bit.

I didn't bother to go up the boardwalk to the Lion enclosure, either. Boy, is my hubby good, or what?!?!?

These next shots are from yesterday. DH, Si and I went to Highbanks Metropark for a short visit to the nature center there. It is always fun to sit at the window and watch to see who shows up at the feeders. I loved the pics DH got of them all, but these are my 2 faves. There were about 4 little Red-bellied woodpeckers going back and forth between the feeders and the trees.

This Blue Jay had a nice little snack, too!

After a little while, I went out to the deck for some nature time with knitting. :-)