Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

It will be a quiet Independence at our house. No big celebration as today is a day where my husband works so others can play golf on their day off. Nature of the job.

I love the country in which I live, but I am ever mindful we are just a piece of the world, where others also love their homeland.

I find this fitting today for Independence Day - it speaks greater of who we are as a people on this earth.


This Is My Song

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are ev'rywhere as blue as mine.
So hear my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

This is my prayer, O God of all earth's kingdoms,
your kingdom come; on earth your will be done.
O God, be lifted up till all shall serve you,
and hearts united learn to live as one.
So hear my prayer, O God of all the nations;
myself I give you; let your will be done.

Text: Lloyd Stone, 1912-1993, sts. 1-2; Georgia Harkness, 1891-1974, st. 3
Text sts. 1-2 © 1934, 1962 Lorenz Publishing Company. Text st. 3 © 1964 Lorenz Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

As I walk

Since school has been out, I have been focusing in on trying to walk daily. It's done at the YMCA on the treadmill where the gnats are not members, and the room is cool and comfortable. I have been listening to my playlists on my Ipod and find it an eclectic mix of music. It keeps me distracted and I love listening to the variety I have on there. So I post for you one of my pieces I listen to while I walk. It seems to work perfectly for me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

For some reason, I was unable to post this on Facebook's Note section, so I figured there was more than one way to skin a cat - so here it is!

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad
2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa or other small kernel grain (1 c. raw quinoa, 2 c. water, bring to boil with a little salt, cover and simmer 12 min.  Fluff grain with a fork, cover and let sit another 10-15 min.)
1 large or 2 med. (about 1 lb. sweet potatoes)
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
1/4 c. minced red onion or shallot
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. minced fresh chives or parsley (I used parsley)
If you haven't already, cook the quinoa.  Be sure to rinse grains well to clean off the bitter coating on it before cooking and drain thoroughly.  Peel sweet potato, dice it into 1/2" or smaller pieces.  Cook it in salted, boiling water to cover until tender.  Drain well. Toss together the potato, quinoa, bell pepper, parsley and onion.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Whisk the oil and vinegar together and toss the salad with about 1/2 of mixture.  Add all or some of the rest to taste.  Adjust seasoning.   Enjoy!
I had to add more dressing to the salad today.  At least half again as much. 
It is from Mark Bittman's, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, cookbook.

How I changed the recipe - I added a can of black beans, washed and drained the beans.  I also added diced yellow bell pepper.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Recap and looking towards summer

I just got to thinking about this past school year. Students' last day is tomorrow and we finish up on Monday. We started off with 6 furlough days. However, the school year was bumpy - not because of my class. My students this year were a great group. However, this year included:

  • a heart attack and a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes
  • my mother's continued decline in health, resulting in placement in a nursing facility
  • a broken tailbone
  • shingles
Enough already. On the flip side:
  • I am going to be a grandmother this fall.
So this summer, I am going to:
  • take it easy
  • read books
  • exercise
  • spend a week at the beach
  • knit
What are you doing this summer?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday

"To wash the feet of a brother or a sister in Christ, to allow someone to wash our feet, is a sign that together we want to follow Jesus, to take the downward path, to find Jesus' presence in the poor and the weak. Is it not a sign that we too want to live a heart-to-heart relationship with others, to meet them as a person and a friend, and to live in communion with them?"
- Jean Vanier

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday ... reminds us that at the moment of what seems to be the height of Jesus' public acceptance also begins the process of His public betrayal, His public failure, His public abandonment. Only in the mind of God is Jesus any longer a success, it seems ... Here in the Passion narrative we trace the struggle, one scene at a time, between the Word of God and the ways of the world.  

Joan Chittister, from her book The Liturgical Year

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It's the mood I'm in

In anticipation of Holy Week, I went to a web site which has hymns posted just prior to its season or observance. Ah, Holy Jesus was one of the hymns posted. It echoed my mood I was experiencing this evening.  The mood is what it is. The music, beautiful.

Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended,
that man to judge thee hath in hate pretended?
By foes derided, by thine own rejected,
O most afflicted.

Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee.
'Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee:
I crucified thee.

Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered;
the slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered;
for our atonement, while we nothing heedeth,
God intercedeth.

For me, kind Jesus, was thy incarnation,
thy mortal sorrow, and thy life's oblation;
thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion,
for my salvation.

Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee,
I do adore thee, and will ever pray thee,
think on thy pity and thy love unswerving,
not my deserving.

Text: Johann Heermann (1585-1647); trans. Robert Seymour Bridges (1844-1930)
Tune: HERZLIEBSTER JESU (later form of melody by Johann Crüger, 1598-1662, arranged by Johann Sebastian Bach, 1685-1750)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Reflections and Anticipation at the Beach

It's a photo I seem to take each time I am down at the little oyster bar and restaurant I frequent when I go to Apalachicola. Somehow the direction of the boat has shifted some, but the beauty of it as it near sunset remains the same to me. Amazing what a camera phone will take these days.

The days down at the coast have provided me with what I would call respite from the world of work and the obligations of each day - some of the angst I have felt over the past months have been because of life changes, some from grieving, some from the self imposed worry I allow to take over my brain at times. I can consider some justified as a part of "growing up" and dealing with adult worries, while other parts were useless worries.

But I believe that life threatening crises and placing a parent in a nursing facility will set most people on edge, but the intensity of the feelings in my heart were what they were, and are what they are. I am coming to peace with some of it, feeling growth in other parts where I can see the blessing of it, but other parts of the grieving will remain with me for some time.  The prayers of those of you who have had me in my prayers were and are being felt, and for that I am grateful. The fact that I have a faith which provides comfort to me in tough times were there even if I wasn't feeling it at the time, because there were those of you who carried me through the hardest of times.

This week,  I have had an opportunity to refresh parts of me as I have taken a break from the every day world. I consider it a luxury to be able to do this as I know there are many who need this sort of getaway to purge the stresses of life, whatever they may be.

The week has had variety as the ebb and flow of family and friends have joined us - from a dear husband and daughter who joined me at the beginning of the week (along with the canine family), where cooking, swimming, sunbathing (daughter!), and sitting by the gulf waves provided food for the heart, soul, and stomach.

The intense storm which came through the earlier part of the week provided beautiful days of sunshine with a chill in the air, wind to stir and keep us moving, and beautiful water - as beautiful as I have seen it here. Warm enough for swimming in a heated pool and cool enough to keep us in the water, avoiding the chill of getting out of the water. It's the price one pays during the springtime where it is warm enough to THINK we can get in the water and DO!

Uninterrupted reading and the completing of three books brought satisfaction in the fact that I have felt a void in reading and seemed to have a period of weeks where reading felt impossible to indulge in. Two books felt substantial, where the third I consider "fluffy" and just what the doctor ordered. A fourth book will be on the horizon, but no anticipation of finishing it before we leave, and that is just fine.

In the past 24 hours, the television has been turned off, with quiet in the house. It's provided me with the "sound of silence" - which allows my mind to quiet and feel some calm. We live in such a noisy world, one that being busy seems to be more important than being still and listening to the sounds we do not hear unless there is silence, such as one of a wild snail eating :).

More family arrives today to bring the weekend to life. My own flesh and blood, along with a third generation in the oven, will join me in to enjoy time by the sea. Memories will be created as our weekend together will be different than in times past. In some ways, a new beginning, but not forgetting what memories we have had in the past.

So our girl weekend begins with an anticipation of joy and fun and love.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Do you fast?

Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works.
If you see a poor man, take pity on him.
If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him.

Do not let only your mouth fast,
but also the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands and all the members of our bodies.
Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice.
Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin.
Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful.

Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and gossip.
Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism.

For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and devour our brothers?

May He who came to the world to save sinners, strengthen us to
complete the fast with humility! Have mercy on us and save us.

~John Chrysostom, (347-407 a.d.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

40 days

Lent enters into our lives today - it's a time of giving up for some and for others, taking on some discipline. I like the taking on of a discipline better than giving up - I have already given up lots this year, all for the better, so taking something on during Lent just makes sense to me.

Our diocese is doing a study on the book 40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer with daily meditations found here. A friend of mine and I are journeying together through this, and I am really looking forward to connecting with her in this way, deepening friendship as we journey through Lent.

On a different note, I fell on Monday on our brick foyer floor, landing right on my tail bone. Can I whine just a little bit and tell you how painful this is? Wahhhhhhh!!!!!  Missing the Ash Wednesday service as sitting for any length of time is tough.

Last, but not least, we have had big rain storm this afternoon - very cleansing as the pollen gets washed away, just before the dogwoods and azaleas get ready to bloom.

So how is your Ash Wednesday and Lent beginning?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A friend's passing

I didn't go see her today. I had dropped by her room daily this week to say hello and see if her husband needed a ride home. I had gone to see Mom, but instead of taking a right at the corner in the nursing home, I headed left. I was tired and just wanted to go home. The last thing I had done with her was to help solve the Jumble puzzle in the newspaper.

She had been in the nursing home less than a week after being transferred from rehabilitation an hour away. She had  many health issues and we were all concerned for her. Her husband also is battling an chronic illness. She was a member of our congregation and a member of Daughters of the King.

I just learned of her passing of this world to enter into God's Kingdom. She is in a better place.

The Lord bless you and keep you, Mary Ellen McKay.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

If You Knew Susie

This afternoon, I went to see Mom in the nursing home. I heard piano music, music from the time the folks in the nursing home would remember when they were young. I walked into Mom's room and she was just relishing in beauty of the old songs. She was enjoying her "concert" and tapping her hand on her thigh.

Old songs, from the 20s and 30s. I knew all of the tunes - didn't know all of their titles, but knew the songs - the songs my parents loved, my aunt and uncle adore (and my Uncle Dave knows LOTS about - like a trivia buff!).

I went out to talk to the pianist, who, once I talked to her, we knew each other. She comes to play every Wednesday for those folks. They get their own special concert with music from their time.  Music that holds dear to their heart, that brings back memories of a time where they were young and vibrant. What a gift that piano player brings to those ladies and gentlemen.

The one that I remembered I share with you. I remember that my Uncle Dave had songs for each of his children. Susie is one of my cousins, and I think she might read this blog. The pianist played this today, so I share it with you. I remember hearing it as a child, thinking how special it was that my cousin Susie had her own song.

Do you have a favorite song from the days gone by? Many bring tears to my eyes because of memories of hearing them with my parents, my aunt and uncle, and grandmother. They don't have songs like this any more, and I hope we don't forget the golden songs of yesteryear.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday - this and that

The Body of Christ, the bread of heaven.

It's a beautiful day today. Church, lunch, and home. In came some pictures from my daughter, Laura, who was with Mom while the deacons were there to bring communion to those at the nursing home, unable to attend church. We are so blessed to have this offered to those wanting to receive communion. Even better was Laura and Rachael, who was able to be with her. Being outside with the beautiful weather enjoying God's creation made it even better.

Mimi and Laura

Mimi and Rachael

At the end of church we sang this hymn:


1 Go forth for God, go to the world in peace;
be of good courage, armed with heavenly grace,
in God's good Spirit daily to increase,
till in the kingdom we see face to face.
Go forth for God, go to the world in peace.

2 Go forth for God, go to the world in love;
strengthen the faint, give courage to the weak;
help the afflicted; richly from above
God's love supplies the grace and power we seek.
Go forth for God, go to the world in peace.

3 Go forth for God, go to the world in strength;
hold fast the good, be urgent for the right;
render to no one evil; Christ at length
shall overcome all darkness with his light.
Go forth for God, go to the world in peace.

4 Go forth for God, go to the world in joy,
to serve God's people every day and hour,
and serving Christ, our every gift employ,
rejoicing in the Holy Spirit's power.
Go forth for God, go to the world in peace.

J. R. Peacey, 1896-1971


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Real Life

In the past week, each day I have visited Mom at the nursing home. It's interesting seeing all of the different personalities of folks, and seeing those who I have known when their days were full and productive. Seeing my son's principal who now is in a nursing home, church members who were businessmen, office workers, teachers, and others who, on the outside of the nursing home, were productive citizens.

Some have visitors every day, some, I am sure, go days, weeks without seeing anyone from the outside world. Valentine's Day brought stuffed animals to all of the residents, some clinging to them in a child like way. Home made Valentine's cards made by children to be sent out to the residents graced the tables at meal time.

Mom seems content there and for that I am glad. I still grapple with the fact that there has come a time where her care has become bigger than I can handle. I haven't learned the ins and outs of how the nursing home works, how to make things happen, or who to ask. I'll learn the ropes soon. Right now it's more important that I focus on Mom and her needs when I walk in the door.

I have learned it's the simple joys of life that matter - in some ways these folks are wiser than we are as they appreciate the smile, the holding of a hand, the short visit, the birds at the feeder, the kind words, and the gentle spirit of those who care for them. We can learn a lot from them if we forget about the rest of the world and just live in the moment.

Words of wisdom from Rosa, a resident at the nursing home. We were at the table waiting for supper. She was remarking that at some tables no one talks,while others talk too much. I made the remark "Just like real life" - she looked at me and said "Honey, this here is real life" --- truer words could not have been spoken.
Sometimes we have to learn what real life is by going to the nursing home.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Visit with Mom

Here is a Saturday visit with Mom. It was early afternoon and she had not gotten up and dressed yet, but we finally got there. A very special friend, almost 5 years old came to visit with her Mimi, so it was a special afternoon. We strolled around the nursing home to just see what we could see and get out of the room, but before long, Mom was ready to get back.

Mom has about 5 or 6 questions she asks over and over and our conversation stays along those lines. A friend shared some wisdom with me this morning at church - -- remember you are entering her world, not yours. Better truth could not be spoken.

I know Mom will have some visitors, so I will leave a book there for them to sign so we know they were there. She remembers she has visitors, but can't remember who they are. I feel like that might help in some ways for me to know. I am so new to this, so am learning the ropes from those who are wiser than me and have been there.

Love overflowed at church today for those of you who read this blog and may have been there. You know who you are and thank you.  It's a new chapter in our book.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Today was the day

It's been a most difficult three weeks as Mom has been in the hospital. A host of ailments, therapies, and decisions. Mom went to the nursing home today as a rehab patient, hopefully to build up strength. Mentally she has been confused at times, and she has a set of questions that she repeats over and over.

Mom doesn't seem to have the fight in her to get better. She sleeps a good bit. She's not really eating much at all. She really didn't understand exactly where she was going and why and asked over and over where she was.

The nursing home is what it is  - full of older people, who can no longer care for themselves, nor can their families care for them in the way that is needed.I hoped to never have to reach that point with Mom, but we can't always have it the way we want it. Did I want to make this decision? No.But I knew I could no longer give her the care she needed at home.  But, like my Mom, they all had lives, many of them full and vibrant, perhaps doing similar work to what you or I do.

I am grieving....Mom and I have been close, always have gotten along. She cannot help the way she is now. Her zest for life is no longer there. A lady who loved people, loved going and seeing, loved to know what was going on, seems to have faded away.

This is a time of transition for us - I feel like I need to enter back into the world slowly and carefully as the same person experiencing life in a different way. Be patient and gentle with me. I feel fragile. I feel alone, though I have a wonderful network of support of people who love me.

Mom, I'll see her tomorrow.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.(from the order of Compline, Book of Common Prayer)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

And here we are today........

It's been a very long January and as we have started into February, it looks like it will continue. Mom is approahing 2 1/2 weeks in the hospital, now being in the "swing unit" meaning that the doctor doesn't go in daily and one is getting therapy to get their strength.

The thing is, Mom doesn't seem to want to regain her strength and she isn't eating well. She is sometimes pretty lucid, but other times she is confused. And she is sleeping a lot. They are supplementing her foods with products that add extra calories and protein, but she doesn't seem to really want to eat.

The days are long now, as I arise around 5:30, get ready for work, go to work, leave work, go to hospital and stay through supper. It makes for a long day, as I have been getting home around 7:30. 

Hello out there!!! I'm still me, I think. I still like thinking about going out to do things, even though that time is limited. I still like being asked if I would like to go someplace, even though I might not be able to.

How does one know how much time to spend with a parent in the hospital? Of course I cannot stay 24-7, but where is the balance? When does one claim some of their life as their own?  I know this is a privilege to be able to care for my mother, but why is it so damn hard?

Not looking for sympathy, just expressing thoughts. Sometimes it's a lonely path, even when you know that you have people who love and care for you.  What they can't do is take away the pain of seeing a parent who seems to be losing her zest for life.

Don't know what happens next with my Mom. I know if they discharged her today, I could no longer care for her. Her needs are greater than what I can handle. I don't know what tomorrow is going to bring. Perhaps those answers will be revealed soon.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Reading Challenge

On my sidebar, I have set my reading challenge for 2011 - from - again, I am shooting for 50 and one year, I am going to accomplish that challenge - go here to set your goal. It doesn't have to be 50, it can be any amount you choose. Will you join me?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

And it was a Winter Wonderland

We returned Friday from our stay in the mountains, and one of the fringe benefits we had is that we actually had snow and lots of it - for us that is. Approximately 8-10 inches where we were and it remained on the ground until the day we left.  When we arrived, it took some ingenuity getting up the steep hill with shoveling and providing some traction under the tires. We finally made it up the hill but had no idea where the drive way was and as we walked we knew not where there were any "mines" underneath the beautiful snow.

Getting Mom into place was a challenge. They did have a ramp for wheelchair/walker, but it was in the back of the house. So more shoveling had to occur. Thank goodness we brought the wheelchair or we would have never gotten her in there. Ice and snow covered the ramp and it was hit and miss and a lot of prayer to get her into the house.

Thankfully we had bought the groceries before going to the house as we were housebound pretty much the entire time. Once the snow started easing off, there was slush and ice. And we were on top of a mountain. And we were inexperienced. And we just stayed put.

With plenty of wood for the fireplace and plenty of food, it was an iconic stay in the mountains, save the fact that we were a little concerned about the toilet paper holding out, in which it did, thankfully.

Mom had a couple of difficult nights, with being disoriented, so there were a couple of nights where sleep was sketchy at best. Sparing details of "it was a dark and stormy night", we made it through and as the sun arose, things seemed to improve.

With that being said, recovery for me has been somewhat bumpy. Physically, I am doing well - blood sugar mostly in the normal range, blood pressure good, I feel good to go. There are other parts that challenge me -- the emotional part of having a heart attack has set in some as one who knows I will always be at risk for another one. And the exercise part is no longer a should, but a must, if I want to live up to my end of the bargain.

And taking care of me and taking care of Mom is a big job as her dependence on me increases. Emotionally and physically it can be tough to experience. And that responsibility continues......every day. There are days I feel as I never had a chance to fully heal without still having the responsibility of caring for another person on a daily basis.

I don't want to give the impression of this being a whine session - it is not. I feel it is an honor to care for my Mom - a privilege, and with it comes sacrifices.

This Tuesday begins the second semester of the school year. It is my prayer I can see clearly through each day knowing  that each day will present its own unique challenges, both at home and work.

I would be remiss in not mentioning the love and support I receive from my husband, who is my rock. In addition there are many friends who I can call, email, or chat my frustrations away or just to use as a sounding board. Some of you who read this are the very ones of whom I write.

I hope to post pictures of our trip of some of the highlights of a true winter wonderland for these southern folks. I can no longer say I have never experienced snow. Rats, I forgot to make a snow angel. Will someone remember and do that for me sometime this winter just for me?