Thursday, December 31, 2009

For Auld Lang Syne 12-31-2009

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

In the above photo taken last May, Cliff is presenting scholarships to students at a local high school.  My thoughts tonight center around memories of our twenty-two years together:

I remember you, you're the one who made my dreams come true, a few kisses ago.
I remember you, you're the one who said I love you too, I do, didn't you know?
I remember too a distant bell, and stars that fell like rain out of the blue.
When my life is through and the angels ask me to recall the thrill of them all,
Then I shall tell them, I remember you.

(Lyrics by: johnny mercer; Music by: victor schertzinger)

To my family and friends, thank you for your support during these past difficult weeks.  I love you all and wish you the best in 2010.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Yesterday I was talking with my sister and she said she was going to take photos of her decorations this year so that next year she could remember how she had decorated.  That was such a good idea that I decided to do the same.  The photo above is of my front hall.  The mirrored trees I purchased this year at Target.

The next photo (below) is an arrangement I made for the dining room buffet.  I received the container as a gift several years ago; it contained miniature rose plants.

The next photo shows an arrangement I made for the dining room table.  The hobnail milk glass bowl was my mother's.  I can't remember where I got the tablecloth, in fact I didn't even remember that I had it.  Cliff and I had celebrated Christmas in Florida for the last six years so I hadn't looked through my things here in a while.  My son bought me the candlesticks several years ago at a yard sale.

Above is a little tree I put up in the music room.  Most of the decorations are musical in nature.  Many of them were purchased at an antique mall in Mt. Dora, Florida.  (The portrait in the background is of me and was painted by a friend many years ago.) Below is a closeup of some of the ornaments.

Also in the front hall I put up a little tree, above, decorated primarily with vintage costume jewelry. I bought this tree several years at an annual Christmas tree show held in Mt Dora, Florida. The cat knocked the tree over and a few of the pieces of jewelry fell off, but I was able to reattach most of them.  Next year I may go to Florida again for Christmas, the this year I didn't want to go.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday wishes

For those who have an empty chair at the Christmas dinner table due to the loss of a loved one, you may find comfort (as I did) in this post by Caroline@ FOREVER VINTAGE:

Thanks, Caroline.

To my family and friends:  warmest wishes for a Merry Christmas.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Hanging in there, part ii

A song that has comforted me for many years is "Turning Toward the Morning" by Gordon Bok.  Now the words of the song seem more appropriate than ever before.

Turning Toward the Morning

(Gordon Bok)

When the deer has bedded down
And the bear has gone to ground,
And the northern goose has wandered off
To warmer bay and sound,
It's so easy in the cold to feel
The darkness of the year
And the heart is growing lonely
For the morning

Oh, my Joanie, don't you know
That the stars are swinging slow,
And the seas are rolling easy
As they did so long ago?
If I had a thing to give you,
I would tell you one more time
That the world is always turning
Toward the morning.

Now October's growing thin
And November's coming home;
You'll be thinking of the season
And the sad things that you've seen,
And you hear that old wind walking,
Hear him singing high and thin,
You could swear he's out there singing
Of your sorrow.

When the darkness falls around you
And the Northwind come to blow,
And you hear him call you name out
As he walks the brittle snow:
That old wind don't mean you trouble,
He don't care or even know,
He's just walking down the darkness
Toward the morning.

It's a pity we don't know
What the little flowers know.
They can't face the cold November
They can't take the wind and snow:
They put their glories all behind them,
Bow their heads and let it go,
But you know they'll be there shining
In the morning.

Now, my Joanie, don't you know
That the days are rolling slow,
And the winter's walking easy,
As he did so long ago?
And, if that wind would come and ask you,
"Why's my Joanie weeping so?"
Won't you tell him that you're weeping
For the morning?

Oh, my Joanie, don't you know
That the stars are swinging slow,
And the seas are rolling easy
As they did so long ago?
If I had a thing to give you,
I would tell you one more time
That the world is always turning
Toward the morning.

Recorded by Bok, Trickett and Muir on "Turning Toward the
Morning", FSI-56, copyright 1975.

"One of the things that provoked this song was a letter last
November from a friend who had had a very difficult year and was
looking for the courage to keep on plowing into it. Those times,
you lift your eyes unto the hills, as they say, but the hills of
Northern New England in November can be about as much comfort as
a cold crowbar. You have to look ahead a bit, then, and realize
that all the hills and trees and flowers will still be there come
Spring, usually more permanent than your troubles. And if your
courage occasionally fails, that's okay, too: nobody expects you
to be as strong (or as old) as the land." - Gordon Bok

I am waiting for the morning.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hanging in there

If Cliff had lived, he would be 76 years old today.  Today grandson Brandon (right above) emailed pictures from Cliff's birthday last year.

I started a new scrapbook yesterday with mementos of our life together. 

We had so much fun together.  Except for his last several months when he was so ill, I think he was happy.  I want to remember him as he was before he became so ill, and in his five wishes document that is how he said he wanted to be remembered.

Do you have an advance medical directive?  If not, I encourage you to execute one.  The five wishes document is inexpensive.  You can find it at


Sunday, November 15, 2009

In Loving Memory

My beloved, my best friend with whom I spent the last twenty-two years, departed this life on Thursday, Nov 12, 2009, ten days short of his 76th birthday.  He had been so ill.  I was with him, along with one of his daughters and one of his grandsons, when he took his final breath.

At this moment I cannot begin to imagine what life will be like without him.  His health concerns occupied a lot of our time for several years and became intense in the current year.  As hard as it was at times, I do not regret one single moment of caring for him. 

The funeral will be Tuesday, and interment on Wednesday. Then I will begin the next stage of my life.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans' Day 2009

What a difference a year makes.  Last year I posted about the Veterans Day celebration in our Town.  Last year C. was one of the speakers at the event.  This year he is gravely ill and in the hospital.

I could not let the day pass without honoring his military service and that of all of our veterans:

A Veteran’s Day Prayer

Dear Lord,

Today we honor our veterans,

worthy men and women

who gave their best

when they were called upon

to serve and protect their country.

We pray that you will bless them, Lord,

for their unselfish service

in the continual struggle

to preserve our freedoms, our safety,

and our country’s heritage, for all of us.

Bless them abundantly

for the hardships they faced,

for the sacrifices they made

for their many different contributions

to America’s victories

over tyranny and oppression.

We respect them, we thank them,

we honor them, we are proud of them,

and we pray that you will watch over

these special people

and bless them with peace and happiness.

In Jesus’ name we pray; Amen.

If you value your freedom, thank a veteran.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Ghost of Halloweens Past

This year, for the first time ever, we did not turn on the porch lights to welcome the trick-or-treaters.  When C. was still in good health, he enjoyed decorating for every occasion and we both loved seeing the little ones in their costumes and giving them their Halloween treats.  Down in the storage area we have lots of Halloween decorations.  But this year C. is in ill health, and all I had time to do was put a fall wreath on the front door and three fake pumpkins (from Target) on the front porch. 
One of my stepdaughters brought me two beautiful chrysanthemum plants that I also put on the front porch; the the next morning deer had eaten them down to stubs.
I know that there are plenty of other houses that will turn on their porch lights to welcome the costumed children.  Hope next year ours will be one of them.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Caregivers' survival, part II

A few days ago I wrote about things to do to take care of the caregiver.  I realized later there are other things to add to the list:

HIRE SOME HELP (IF YOU CAN).   I have someone who comes every two weeks to help me catch up on cleaning and laundry.  This lets me have at least a little time to do things for myself.  As women, we have always taken care of so many things ourselves, but especially as we age it becomes difficult to accomplish as much as we once did.  And when we have to care for a loved one, our discretionary time becomes scarce.  So if you can afford it, hire someone to help you.
ACCEPT OFFERS OF HELP FROM FAMILY AND FRIENDS.  It's easy to feel like we'd be imposing on someone who offers to help, or we're concerned that the person doesn't really mean it, and so we say no.  Learn to say yes, at least some of the time.  Have you ever helped someone?  Didn't it make you feel better?  Give others the same chance.

Give yourself a chance to relax a little.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Caregiver's survival guide

It's doubtful that any of us think we'll grow up to be a caregiver (caretaker?) but in our elder years many of us find ourselves with this responsibility.  Here are some of the things I think can help us withstand the stresses of caregiving:

1.  GET ENOUGH REST.  This is a tough one.  Our loved one often needs attention when we would rather sleep in.  So grab a nap when you can.  Today I napped while my guy was at therapy.  It was only for a few minutes, but it helped.

2.   EAT RIGHT.  When your loved one is being tube (bolus) fed, there's not much incentive to cook meals for yourself.  But falling back on junk food and ready-to-eat stuff can take a toll on your own health.  Let's face it, it's a lot easier to eat some cheese and crackers than to go to the store and get salad fixings, expecially when you're already tired.  But it is important to make an effort.  Even so-called "fast food" joints now have healthier selections.  Do your research, and choose wisely.

3.  MAKE TIME FOR YOUR PASSIONS.  You don't have a lot of time, that's for sure, but if you love to knit, or quilt, or paint, play music, read, do crosswords, or weed your garden -- whatever gives you pleasure, do it when you can.  If you love it, it will relax you and give you satisfaction.  Do it when your loved one is sleeping, or at dialysis, or at therapy, or whenever you have a little time to do something you love.  Even if it's only for a few minutes, it will be beneficial to you.

4.  KEEP IN TOUCH WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY.  My sister and I email almost every night and we talk every weekend.  My brother and I have lunch most Fridays.  My friends and I keep in touch by phone and email.  This keeps me from feeling isolated from the outside worl when circumstances keep me here at home.

5.  LAUGH!!!  This is so important.  There is always something in this life that we can find amusing, and laughing is one of the best ways to relieve tension and give one a feeling of well-being.  Make contacts with friends and family members who make you laugh.

6.  GET SOME FRESH AIR.  We caretakers must often spend a lot of time indoors.  But if we make an effort, we can find a minute here and there to step outside and take a deep breath and re-establish our connection with the natural world.  Even if it's raining, standing on a porch and taking a deep breath can be invigorating.

7.  ENJOY YOUR DOG/CAT/HAMSTER/FERRET.  Pets bring joy and comfort, especially to we "elders."  If you share your home with a critter, enjoy the love and affection you will give and receive.

for the caregivers


Friday, September 25, 2009

My New Toy

My sweetie has been ill and I did not expect a birthday gift from him, as he has been unable to get out of the house, except for medical appointments, for a couple of months.  But today a box arrived, and it turned out that it was a birthday gift for me.  It seems he had given money to my son and one of his daughters to get together and come up with a gift for me, and they came up with a doozie:

If you don't recognize it, don't feel bad -- it's not something you see very often today.  It is a "lap steel guitar" made by Fender probably in the 1950s.  I have never played one before, but thanks to the internet there is lots of information available.  I tuned it based on instructions I found online and experimented with it, strumming some chords and singing along, but plan to purchase an instruction book.  At my "advanced" age, I don't want to waste time trying to learn it on my own, as I did with other instruments I learned to play at an earlier age (much earlier, actually).

Wasn't this a wonderful surprise?


Monday, September 21, 2009

A Birthday Diary

Here's how a "senior" lady spent her birthday:

7:30 am -- got up.  Made coffee.  Fed the cat.
8:00 am -- checked email and read newspaper on line.  Printed crossword to do later (from Wash Post).
9:00 am -- checked C's blood sugar and blood pressure.
9:05 am -- fed C. through stomach tube.  Also gave morning meds, crushed and dissolved in water.
9:55 am -- took C. to dialysis
10:15 am -- dropped mail off at the post office
10:20 am --took king-sized bed quilt to local laundry (too big for my washing machine)
10:30 am - grocery shopped
11:30 am -  home, unpacked groceries.  Ate bowl of cereal and fruit.
12:45 pm - drove back to dialysis center.
12:55 pm - checked C's blood sugar at dialysis and gave him an insulin shot
1:00 pm - fed C. at dialysis via stomach tube.
1:30 pm - visited friend CAG who is on crutches due to knee injury.
2:30 pm - picked C. up from dialysis
2:45 pm - ate peanut butter sandwich
3:00 pm - got cash from ATM and picked up quilt from laundry.
3:15 pm - back to groc store for birthday cake for me (small cheesecake)
5:00 pm - checked C's blood sugar, gave him an insulin shot, and checked his blood pressures.
5:05 pm - fed C. via stomach tube.
5:15 pm - fed the cat
5:30 pm - started making dinner for my son and me
6:45 pm - ate dinner (chicken, potatoes, asparagus)
7:15 pm - cleaned kitchen; empied and reloaded dishwasher
7:30 pm - watched Jeopardy
8:00 pm -- started watching House premier; worked crossword printed off earlier in the day
8:50 pm -- prepared C's meds for feeding
9:02 pm -- fed C. through stomach tube
9:30 pm -- answered emails
10:00 pm -- started writing this blog
10:14 pm -- and here's how the cat celebrated my birthday:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

When Bloggers Stop Blogging

When I first started blogging, one of my greatest pleasures then (and now) was visiting wonderful blogs I'd discovered along the way. One of those I enjoyed was The Shabby Romantic, where I found the picture above of the white piano.  But it has been a long time since she's posted anything to her blog.   In fact, her last post was Friday, January 18, 2008.  Have you ever followed a blogger who stopped blogging?  Do you wonder what might have happpened in her life to cause her to abandon blogging?   Maybe she started a new blog--but didn't let her followers know about it?  Or did her life change in a way to make blogging no longer relevant to her life?  'Tis a puzzlement.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Have you been to Houzz?

I learn a lot from visiting my favorite blogs.  I'm sure that it was from one of them that I found out about Houzz, but I can't remember which one (darn these senior moments).  I've found a lot of inspiring photos there of beautifully decorated rooms that appeal to me.  Here are a couple of the rooms that I found on Houzz:
The bedroom above appeals to me because of the soft blue color on the walls, the white trim and ceiling, and the warm tones of the wood floor.   
More blues (the good kind) -- in the room shown above. I especially like the white bookcases with the blue background, the upholstered blue and white chairs and pillows, the white kitchen, and the wood floor.  These two pics are just two of the many rooms you can see on houzz.  Enjoy.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A wonderful surprise

I arrived home a couple of days ago and there was a package on my porch addressed to me. I hadn't ordered anything recently and could not imagine who might have sent it. The return address said "Jackson and Perkins." I sometimes order plants from them -- could I have ordered and forgotten? It's true my memory isn't as great as that of a younger person. But I was certain that I had not placed any recent orders.

I brought the package into the house and opened it, and it contained a beautiful basket of yellow and coral miniature roses. Inside there was a tag that said "just because you're you" but there was NO NAME!!! The following photo is from the Jackson and Person website, but I assure you the actual roses are even more lovely than this photo. After a couple of days, one of my stepdaughters "fessed up" to sending it. Wasn't that a sweet thing to do? Life has given us some challenges recently but this unexpected gift lifted my spirits, and continues to do so each time I look at it. When the blooms fade, I plan to plant it outdoors in hopes to perpetuate the joy of the beautiful roses and the memory of an unexpected gift.


Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11th

Where were you on Sept 11, 2001? I was here in my home. It was a sunny, cool, beautiful September morning. I had a train ticket from Fredericksburg, VA to Williamsburg, VA, where I was to meet my sister for a couple days shopping at the Pottery Factory. Williamsburg was "our place" -- where we traditionally got together as sisters, away from family demands, to spend a few days together and indulge in our love of shopping for bargains.

When it became clear that the U.S. was under attack, I left here and drove to Williamsburg to meet my sister, who was driving up from Florida. I could not bear the thought of my baby sister alone during this frightening time. Fearing to travel down the East Coast, I drove the back roads through the Shenandoah Valley. The whole memory of that time my sister and I spent together is surreal. I honestly don't remember much else about our time together -- where we shopped, where we ate, etc. I just remember being glued to the tv, radio, or newspaper, and being fearful.

I spent 31 years of my life working in the Pentagon, but had retired before 9-11-2001. In the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks, I often dreamed about being in the Pentagon in the weeks (and years) to follow. My most recent dream was last night.

After the 9-11 attacks on America, I bought the above license plate for my car. It is a reminder of the horror that was inflicted on our country on 9-11-2001. I will have had my car 13 years this coming December, and I have only 45,000 miles on it so far. I expect to drive it for at least another 55,000 miles. Will I live that long?

I still have my train ticket from Fredericksburg to Williamsburg on 9-11-2001.

Where were you on 9-11-2001?

Friday, September 4, 2009

What Happened to Summer?

The last time I posted was the 4th of July. Today is the 4th of September. What happened to the two intervening months?

Our lives were touched by surgeries, illness, and medical emergencies (byproducts of growing older), and I have learned that I can do a lot more than I ever thought possible. But I don't want to go into details here. Before all of this happened, I planted some flowers and they pretty much had to fend for themselves, but we had adequate rain until recently. Most of the flowers are annuals and when frost comes they'll be history. Here are a few shots taken today, to record what worked in the summer of 2009:

Hope your summer was lovely with beautiful flowers.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday America

The Jewel Box Home posted the above photo (and others) this morning. What a beautiful house -- and wonderfully adorned for America's birthday.

I hope you all have a great day with family and friends, food and fireworks. And if you have access to PBS, be sure and watch "A Capitol Fourth" this evening.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Porch of My Dreams

When I have a few minutes to spare, I like to visit blogs, and one I go back to often is Between Naps on the Porch. The blogger, Susan, has the most beautiful porch I've ever seen. One photo is shown above; click here for many other views of this incredible space.

But that's only one treat waiting at this site. Susan is a wonderful decorator. Below is a view of her guest room; click here for more views of this lovely room. And you can see so many other great rooms by visiting her site. Being "decor-challenged" myself, I find much inspiration in looking at beautifully decorated homes such as this one.

Susan also hosts two weekly blog events. The first is Metamorphosis Monday where readers post their own makeovers of rooms, furniture, etc.
The second weekly event is Tablescape Thursday. Here talented bloggers share their own creative table decorations.

If you haven't yet visited Between Naps on the Porch, you're in for a treat! Be prepared to spent some time looking at the many beautiful pictures. And -- drooling is permitted!!!!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Blue Ribbon Flower Arrangements

Today was another garden club meeting. Although we are a relatively small group, I am always amazed to see the arrangements our talented members create. Today's theme was "Bombs Bursting in Air" and the design form was to be "Abstract creative." Members may enter in the theme category or may enter a "general" arrangement -- which means the arrangement is up to the person who creates it. We had so many attractive entries. Here are a sampling: The following arrangement won first prize ("blue"), and deservedly so:
Here's a gorgeous "general" arrangement:

And believe it or not, the following "general" arrangement got a blue ribbon. It is mine and I threw it together from plant materials in my garden this morning. It seems that when I carefully plan and design an arrangement, I don't get a first place, but when I assemble something on short notice it often wins a "blue." Of course I'm happy to receive the rating, but honestly don't see what the judges found so "original" and "terrific."
Here's another view of the arrangement. Go figure.
I admit that the colors of the arrangement were more vivid than these pictures show. The blue flowers (Eryngium) were an intense, steely blue, and the heuchera floral spires were a burgundy that matched the stamens in the upper lily. Still, I think the lessons to be learned from this are (1) beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, and (2) be happy for life's unexpected gifts!


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Favorite Blogs--House of Turquoise

Although I don't post too frequently, I do like to visit other blogs, especially those that feature gardening and decorating. One of those I visit most frequently is House of Turquoise. When I first read about this blog in The Washington Post's Home and Garden Section, I was skeptical--wouldn't it be boring to look at a single color over and over? I could not have been more wrong. Erin finds the most amazing variety of beautiful rooms with some amount of a shade or hue of this color. Who could have imagined how versatile it could be? Thanks, Erin.

Wouldn't you be happy in any one of these rooms? I would.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Day in the Life -- of a Cat

Here's how our cat spends his days (in addition to eating): Looking out the window at the birds and squirrels,

playing on his "condo,"

greeting visitors.,



and sleeping.