An Ordinary Day Up North

Is there such a thing as an ordinary day? I would call September 6, 2018 a fairly normal day as it had its share of minor crises and busyness, but nothing earthshaking. It was a good day, and I will lay it out before you for the sake of meeting my writing challenge (something every day in the month of September).

 

6 am, rise and get coffee, morning talk with Mom as we watch the sun come up. World problems get discussed, and solved.

7:30 am, I’m worried about some papers I can’t find for the husband’s medical file and spend time looking through boxes in the 6 x 12 trailer where our extra things are stored. It seems I am always looking for something, but this time, no find… I walk the short distance to my brother’s business, Apple Awards, and find him in his office. He is busy but is glad to talk for a few minutes.  It is so good to be close to this part of my family!

8 am, Back at our condo, the husband is up earlier than usual. I tell him he must get his own breakfast because I’m going to help Mom do her shopping in town. We might be back before he gets it done, but it is good for him to fend for himself when he can.

We buy bread at the European bakery in town. They do not use yeast and the fresh loaves are beautiful to look at. It’s early and we find parking right in front of the store – wonderful.

Off to Walmart for some groceries. Mom has a recipe for soup that needs some vegetables. I am proud of myself for remembering a return that I have. I trade in the wrong connector that I bought for the husband’s TV earphones and buy the right one. We finish grocery shopping. This is definitely the time of day to come to Walmart. No crowds to fight.

10 am, Mom is chopping vegetables for her soup. I hook up the husband’s earphones with the new connector. He now can watch and listen, leaving us in blessed silence.

10:30 am, I am compiling a double stack of the husband’s medical records to take with us to doctor’s appointments. Tomorrow he meets a new primary care provider and coming up on Monday, he will be at Mayo Clinic. I am thankful the copier works.

11:30 am, My phone did some updates last night. I’ve tried several times to make calls this morning and my cell phone refuses to hold the call. I’ve forgotten about it until now when a call comes in and I realize I can’t received calls either. I jump in the car and visit my good friends at Verizon. I’ve been in so many times lately that I’m recognized immediately. The rep smiles, reboots the thing, and it works. I knew that. I go home feeling stupid but, hey, I spent no money there, so no complaints.

12:30 pm, We eat Mom’s soup, which is quite good. The husband and I spend some time talking about our house that hasn’t sold, our daughters, our upcoming trip to Mayo. We talk to God about all this and more.

2:30 pm, I have an appointment with Pastor Chad at the church we’ve been attending. I like to feel known and since we are new in town, an introduction is in order. We talk for an hour. I get permission to come in and play the piano when it’s not in use. I miss my music outlets and enjoy the sound of the piano in the large, empty sanctuary.

4:00 pm, On a whim, I stop in to check on an old friend. She hasn’t felt well so I haven’t seen her since coming to Hayward. She’s out weed whacking in her yard so I know she’s better. We hug and stand outside talking. It’s a beautiful day and we both love being outside.

5:00 pm, More prep for our trip to Mayo. I fill out online forms for the husband and make a list of his medications. I sort through all the vitamin bottles and parse out his pills for the next three days doses.

The husband, Mom and I eat our supper and I clean up the kitchen.

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6:00 pm, Mom and I take the nature walk around the pond. Mom’s been doing this for about a week now, trying to regain some strength in her legs. We see a white tail deer ahead of us in the meadow and I am able to get its picture before it runs off. It is a little cooler every evening now and we wear jackets. Definitely getting to be fall.

7:00 pm, Coming back to the house, we meet my brother in his truck and talk for a minute. I decide to go around the nature trail a second time with my sister in-law Mary Pat and nephew Evan and Scruffy the dog. It’s nearly dark but we see something strange in the pond. It looks like a snapping turtle may have killed a duck and is slowly trying to submerge it. Life and death in the wetlands leaves us feeling a little sobered.

7:30 pm, Sunset as we walk back to our houses. Days are noticeably shorter. As usual, I stop multiple times to take pictures. Can’t get enough of the gorgeous views.

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8 – 10:00 pm, I wander around the house, putting things away, knitting a few rounds on my project, answering texts and emails and watching some TV with the husband. Thinking and planning for tomorrow. Realizing I haven’t written anything today – oops. It’s a challenge for sure.

10:30 pm, Realizing this is not the most inspiring post but I hold to the theory that in order to ever write something good, a writer has to write a lot of bad things too. Time to sleep.

 

Have you ever gone through the exercise of remembering and writing down your day’s activities? How did that go for you?

Journal: June 27, 2018

My mind is overwhelmed. It is the night before the husband’s retirement celebration and I am nervously trying to think through all his medical concerns. I know I will be asked tomorrow about how he is faring and what news we have. It is complicated.

The doctor we talked to today spoke so fast and jumped from one topic to another without explaining the relationship. I had to go home and google the condition to understand much of what he was saying. It was like he was on speed or something. The short of it is that the husband does have a type of heart failure, but not the kind that’s caused by a weak heart muscle. It is the kind where the muscle can’t relax. It is stiffened, and that can be causally related to hypertension (which he has) or sleep apnea (which I think he has) or a few other things like A fib (which he doesn’t have). It can be managed by treating the symptoms. He is already doing that as well as he can.

That is not to say that he doesn’t have the other condition (NPH), but the consensus is that he should be seen for that diagnosis at Mayo Clinic when we go up north. If he has NPH, he will need the specialists they have there. My head is swimming from being on the internet all evening looking at sleep apnea home tests and CPAP machines and applications for an appointment at the Clinic. I don’t even want to figure out how these things are going to fit in the schedule of the next two weeks before I’d like us to be heading out. It’s too much.

Both daughters have their tickets for the family reunion. People are posting their plans to attend. I am just hoping to be there and not in a hospital somewhere with the husband. We talk daily with my mom and I can tell she is a bit skeptical and wonders if we can pull this off. I’m trusting my master planner has it all figured out, and I’m going to be okay with the circumstances, as he arranges them. I think I appear calm, generally, but the fact that I keep going to the refrigerator, or the cookie can is evidence of what is under the surface. Food doesn’t exactly help how I feel but I crave it anyway.

There doesn’t seem to be much time between trips these days. Trips taking the husband to work, trips to the doctor’s office, trips to Good Will, trips to the store. The good thing about having only one vehicle is that the husband and I are together a lot, coming and going places. We are talking in a different way, or rather about different things than usual. Instead of him talking about fans and ventilation (thumbs down in my book) we talk about how he feels about retirement, and the preparations for moving and other stuff I find interesting and necessary. This is a good thing.

 

 

#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things Y

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This pelican has nothing to do with the post subject but posts are better with pictures and I’ve always wanted to use this one.

Yes.

I have spent many years being very fond of the word “yes”, except for a brief period around two years old when I was probably practicing “no” more than “yes”. It has been not only a joy to have said yes to many things but it has been the source of adventure that has made life rich. It is hard to go through life without any regrets, but I can’t think of a single “yes” that I would take back if I could. (Perhaps that’s just the blessing of selective memory? Perhaps. ) You know the results of the things you say yes to. The times you answer “no”, you always wonder… what if I had said “yes”.

When I was very young, I said “yes” to God, which was about the only thing I had a choice in. Kids aren’t aware of all the choices they have because they don’t really seem like choices. Should I obey? Should I lie? Should I hide? But the chosen answers do start the formation of character.

As a young adult, I’m glad I said “yes” to the hard work of schooling, to marriage, to employment opportunities, to children.

I’m glad I said “yes” to travel experiences in a faraway part of the world. I’m glad I spent time camping on the Appalachian Trail. I’m glad I said “yes” to riding a horse across Florida.

I’m glad I said “yes” to all the beginning conversations that ended in long time friendships. I could really have missed out there. I’m glad I stretched myself to come alongside some who were in need. I’ve been repaid for those “yeses” as they have given me a sense of purpose and a chance to share burdens with others without going through the hardship myself – vicarious learning.

I’m glad I said “yes” to writing – years of corresponding with friends and family, years of journaling, and years now of this blog. It is my record of life.

To be fair, the word “no” is not bad just because “yes” has been good. “No” finds its rightful place more often now and it feels more like wisdom to say it. I am only content in saying it because of all the times I’ve said “yes”. (No, I don’t want to go waterskiing. I’ve done that and I have no desire to have my arms pulled out of their sockets today. Thanks.)

There is a whole world of “yes” out there, still to be explored, no matter who you are or what your circumstances.  Think about it.

 

What unregretted “yes” pops into your mind as you read this?

#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things E

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North Carolina, here comes the sun…

Early Morning

Early morning is really a collection of my favorite things.

As night wears on I begin to ache physically from inactivity and wake frequently. I am always relieved and eager to get out of bed when I smell the aroma of coffee at 6:30. I program the coffee maker the night before because it makes me feel like someone has anticipated my need and has been in the kitchen before me. I am easily fooled.

Although I hear traffic in the distance, I know no one is coming to the door, or calling at this hour. I used to have to prepare for the day and travel to work. But I don’t do that now and the change is refreshing. On the average day, I have at least two hours before there is anyone in my world that I must deal with. There is a lot of peace in this.

I read things carefully chosen to remain in my thinking during the day. Sometimes I have the luxury of thinking about a passage long enough to memorize. I have rediscovered memorization and it is a joy, a challenging joy.

I write. I give it all up, in my journal. Once it is out, I know myself better.

I sometimes make a list. I love lists and they actually help me get things done.

I watch light appear magically, making the night go away. And then I see it is the sun. On days like today it stays oddly dark and there is thunder, but I know the sun is out there because it always has been.

It’s early morning and I am alive for one more day. There is purpose in that and I am eager to find out what it will be (almost all the time…).

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sunrise over inter-coastal waterway.
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Wisconsin sunrise
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Florida sunrise and clouds Inter-coastal waterway
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Florida double sunrise, pond reflections

*All photos private property, contact me for permission.

Times and Travels: Revisiting the AT

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Countless stunning views on the trail

Last night when I should have been sleeping I was instead thinking about how I would get back to my car after hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail. This is a step beyond getting time to do it, or finding a suitable section to hike. I am in the commitment stage.

It has been a long time since my first hike in 2002, with four high school girls. We were all newbies.

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Seriously, we were blessed to have made it out alive.

And thirteen years since my last hike in2004 (when we could have died in freezing rain).

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The lady with the crutches backed out (for obvious reasons). 39 degrees, brrrr. Seriously, we were blessed to have made it out alive.

It takes longer than that for a dream to die however, and countless times I have gotten the maps out, looked at the pictures and considered possible hiking companions. I finally have hopes of getting back on the trail, possibly for this year’s birthday treat in April. The excitement is building.

Hiking the AT is kind of like birthing a baby. It’s an arduous process, but if you wait long enough you forget the horrible parts and remember the joy. I want to re-visit those times, all of them, and make sure I remember the ones that are crucial to health and safety.

One of my reasons for wanting to hike now is to see what damage the last thirteen years have done to my body. Another dream of mine, hiking down into the Grand Canyon, is scheduled for this fall and I need to know if I can do it. Since I have reasons for being in North Carolina these days (daughter Julie’s new home), some trips on the AT will be good conditioning and a test of my stamina. A friend has offered a place to stay in Franklin, NC and there are several sections near there that I’ve not done. It feels good to have a fun challenge and a goal on my list.

I didn’t have a blog back then and I’ve never published a good account of all we saw and did on those hikes. I’m going to do it now as a way of remembering. The 2017 A to Z Challenge is coming up in April too so I have a lot of writing to do in the days ahead.  Hiking and writing, two of my favorite things, should make this a fun spring. Just sayin’…

My Favorites

Through the  years I have jotted down my favorite things to remember in journals and scraps of paper here and there (because I didn’t have a blog yet).  I found this one recently and marveled at how much I still like it. Even as hopeful people we have times that seem so bleak that we are overwhelmed by them. It helps me to realize the natural pessimism that lurks in all of us, acknowledge it and laugh it out of the room.

Kudos to Chuck Samuels who developed this series and made himself famous with it. Sorry I don’t have stunning photos to illustrate these truths.

The Demotivational Series – for when you don’t care anymore…

Futility – You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take and, statistically speaking, 99% of the shots  you do.

Losing – If at first  you don’t succeed, failure may be your style.

Ineptitude – If you can’t learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

Mediocrity – It takes a lot less time and most people won’t notice the difference until it’s too late.

Pessimism – Every dark cloud has a silver lining. But lightning kills hundreds of people  each year who are trying to find it.

Procrastination – Hard work often pays off after time but laziness always pays off now.

Agony – Not all pain is gain.

Failure – When your best just isn’t good enough.

Stupidity – Quitters never win. Winners never quit. But those who never win and never quit are idiots.

 

New Year’s Rituals

I don’t have many plans for midnight tonight.  In fact, I will probably be sleeping at work if my client has no inclination to stay up and watch TV.  Even looking at pictures of Times Square in NYC on TV gives me a severe case of claustrophobia – no way would I want to be there on New Year’s Eve.

But I do have one ritual for the New Year to which I have been pretty faithful.  Every year I get a new calendar book and during the first week of January I like to go through it and transfer all my important dates and addresses.  I like to page through the old one and notice what I wrote, what I did or didn’t do.  Even the weeks when I wrote nothing have significance  because I was probably too busy to write. If I can remember why I was so busy, all the better, and I put that in.  I try to find three of four really important happenings that I can transfer to my family timeline notebook.  I count it as a good investment to spend one day a year remembering what life has been like.  I often end up thinking “oh yeah, that was such a fun time and I had completely forgotten about it!” Looking back helps me get more mileage out of those precious moments of the past.

Someday, all these date books full of the appointments and thoughts of my life are going to be fertile ground for a book to spring out.  It might be a memoir, or something completely fictional – I haven’t figured that out yet.

my trusty companion in 2014
my trusty companion in 2014

This is my old datebook.  It’s one of the best priced ones I have found so I ordered a new one just like it for 2015.  It has a lot of useful information about the area where I live and enough room on each day to serve like a mini-diary or journal. It was sturdy enough not to get bent up or lose pages and it features a tear off corner that makes it easy to find the current page.  I ordered it from www.datebook.com. They have one for most metropolitan areas.

I’ll probably be working on my datebook tonight for a while, but the bigger project will be getting ready for Jack’s football party tomorrow.  That will definitely be the first priority.  Happy New Year everyone!

A to Z Challenge: L, Letters

 

Dear _____,

Please write me a letter. I know email is faster and easier and cheaper but sometimes I like the way “snail mail” slows things down.  I like seeing that fat envelope in the mailbox, taking it out and reading it while I walk back to the house.  Then I read it again with a cup of tea and think about what it said.  And I can wait for a day or two before I answer because there is no pressure or expectation – we know mail takes days.  I can take my time thinking and writing back.

I love to see your handwriting and don’t want to forget what it looks like, and if you draw a funny picture I like that too.  Sometimes you spill something on your paper or maybe it smells like your hand lotion and it makes me feel more like I’m right there with you.  And I know how much time you invested in the writing and that speaks of love and care.

I know when I sit to write a handwritten note these days it almost feels like I’m rebelling against technology – makes me feel retro on purpose.  And seeing the rounded letters flowing from my pen is artistically pleasing to me.  As I think and write the long way, my thoughts come a little clearer and suddenly I am more sure of what I’m thinking.  It is a special joy to me when you save my letters and return them to me, giving me a record of my times as good as any journal.  I know I’ve forgotten details of events that come right back to me when I pick up an old letter and re-read it.  That old box I keep letters in doesn’t really take up that much room and it’s kind of nice not to have to hunt in cyberspace for hours on end.  You have a box like that too, don’t you? No? How sad.  You should start one.

Someday I want to read to you the letters my great-great-grandmother wrote.  Wow, what a window on her world!  Things were so different and yet so the same.  It does me good to see that thread of sameness in our lives and I think you would like seeing it too.  How much I would have missed if I had not been able to know her through her letters.  Want to know where I got my stubborn streak or quirky sense of humor? I think I know…

Well, all for now.  I know you’re busy but don’t be afraid to sit a spell and write me a page or two.  The world won’t come to an end (probably not) if you do.  I’ll be watching for the mail.

Yours truly,

A Lover of Letters

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Related People

My Grandfather (well, one of them)
My Grandfather (well, one of them)

I’ve spent quite a bit of time today with my mom looking at family letters, journals, pictures and memorabilia. I am very confused and totally impressed with anyone who spends more than half an hour studying genealogy. Think of it this way – most of us know who our parents are. That’s two people. A lot of us know or have known one or both of our sets of grandparents. It’s not too hard yet – that’s just six people all together. A few of us knew great-grandparents, or heard about them from people who knew them. We’ve just added eight more people to the mix, fourteen to keep track of. Still with me? Now maybe you get married and have children. Those poor kids have double that number to figure out because you’ve just joined them to another line of your spouse’s ancestry. And that number doubles every time you go back another generation. We haven’t said anything about aunts, uncles or cousins yet either.

And ancestors can really confuse you if they happened to have more than one marriage. Also in the past, people didn’t have a lot of imagination in naming their kids, or they were too busy, or something. They just kept picking the same names that their father or uncle or sister or brother had. So every generation had repeats with a number behind the name. (If you care about genealogy, pick a unique name for your child, please.)

I’ve about decided that I’m not going to get it all straight. I’m just going to remember some of the neat stories. For instance, one of my ancestors (George Boone III, poor guy) came over from England and enjoyed dabbling in real estate. He was the original owner of the tract of land in Maryland that became Washington, D.C. and in fact, Georgetown is named after him. There is even a plaque in the city that says so. Pretty cool, huh? Yes, there was also a George IV,

Another of my ancestors named Squire Boone (and I have to hand it to his parents for thinking of a name I certainly wouldn’t have thought of) had two sons, Edward and Daniel. He lived in Kentucky and yes they did have coonskin caps. Edward was my ancestor, but he was killed by Indians and his brother Daniel helped raise his children. I haven’t figured out how many “greats” I have to attach to it, but Daniel Boone was some kind of an uncle of mine.

There’s lots more and the really great thing is that so many of my ancestors were the bloggers of their day. They wrote journals, they were newspaper reporters and writers of one sort or another. Many were school teachers or ministers which gave them a familiarity with writing and an appreciation of family histories. One of “my people” sat in a tent one night during the Civil War and put down his thoughts in a poem and we have it today.

My great aunt Esther was one of the historians for our family on my mother’s side. In spite of the fact that she wrote a lot of her notes on napkins, and lost pages of letters all the time, she did have a large collection of family history that she passed on to my mom. That’s the material we are sorting through. My mom has compiled a two volume history from most of the writings but what do we do with those precious originals? I want to thank my ancestors for writing about their ordinary lives, which, turns out for some of them, were pretty extraordinary. If this makes you want to start a journal, I’m sayin’ just do it!

Do you have an interesting story in your family history? Tell it to me, please.