Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2011!

Despite Michael's deteriorating health, I'm doing my best to ring in the new year with a positive attitude and an eye toward my future. Whatever God has planned for me will enrich my life here in earth. The pain Michael and I are experiencing now will make all the future happier times so much more enjoyable - his in heaven. That fact alone makes me smile: an enormous change just in the last few months.

So, with that in mind, here are my hopes and goals for 2011:

-to make Michael's last days on earth as comfortable as possible
-once he enters our Father's loving arms, to remember the good times and celebrate the life he had
-appreciate and love my family more through actions and words
-pray more
-study God's word more
-participate in more activities at church
-cherish existing friendships and cultivate new ones
-stick to the budget (toughie)
-exercise more (yuch)
-plan healthier meals
-keep sewing room tidier
-quilt at least one flimsy every month

I think that's enough to keep me occupied. LOL!

Seriously, I wish you the happiest, healthiest and best of New Years. Let's make 2011 one of our best!

I love you all,

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Better Days

I found this photo amongst the stored pictures in our computer. This was probably taken at the Pops on the Lawn concert several years ago. No oxygen tubes, no wheelchair - just funny faces and Michael's goofy summer hat.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wrapping It Up

I sincerely hope and pray that you all had a very blessed Christmas. Mine was unusual compared to those of the past, but nonetheless it was probably one of the best I've had. My children were home with me most of the time. We shared our holiday with my brother and his lovely family. AND I kept my concentration on the reason for the season. For those reasons, I greatly enjoyed Christmas.

Michael managed to sit through dinner with my brother's family on Christmas Eve. He also made it through opening presents on Christmas morning before returning to bed. He slept all day, only getting up in time for dinner. Even then, he ate very little. But, since the kids were at their grandparents' home, it afforded us an opportunity to talk about some things which required a bit of privacy. One that was foremost in my mind was to let him know that it was OK to let go. He doesn't need to "hang on" just for me or anybody else. We're all going to be OK and he understood/agreed. The hospice nurse wanted me to make sure he knew that since his will can be rather strong. Michael also told me that if euthanasia were legal he would have opted for it months ago. The poor man is suffering, perhaps not a physical pain most minutes, and he wants to leave this world.

Several nights before Christmas, I had to phone Hospice late at night because he was experiencing severe pain in his hands and arms. The nurse was at the house 15 minutes after the phone call. (I'm continually amazed by the care we receive from that organization.) Michael's experiencing all the signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure.

My prayer for Michael is that he can leave this world by simply going to sleep - it's what he wants - painless.

Martin was not able to visit on Boxing Day as the poor man is experiencing health issues of his own.

The children seemed to really liked the gifts they received this year. Andrea was overcome with emotion when I gave her my engagement diamond reset in a necklace. And, the best part for me is that only one gift has to be returned! My aunt and uncle in Memphis were thrilled by their gift - the Steelers quilt I made for them. Mom and Ken liked their new tabletopper. All in all a good gifting year. I get a lot of joy from giving people things they like.

It should be a hectic work week being the year-end cut off for our producers. Hoping to get out of the office at a reasonable hour on Friday since Andrea and Danny will be joining me for a dinner out at BD's Mongolian grill. Our annual New Year's Eve tradition of Chinese buffet is being altered since our favorite place closed and we love the new grill. Depending on how Michael is doing, we'll bring him a plate of his favorite sweet and sour chicken and then greet the new year at home. Boring yes, but enjoyable for me. Danny will probably leave our party for one more of his speed and Andrea wants her best friend to stay overnight.

I'll try to post later this week on my goals and hopes for 2011. It holds me accountable. For 2010, I wanted to become more active in the church and I'm happy to report that resolution stuck more than any other I've ever made. It's "paid back" immeasurably.

Love ya,

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


First off, I apologize for not posting very frequently. The last few weeks have been hectic to say the least.

Last night I was rushing around, trying to get dinner clean up completed so I could start sewing or wrapping gifts when my brother phoned. He asked if I was going to be home; he wanted to come over for a few minutes to drop something off. I figured it was a tray of cookies or some other treat my sister-in-love baked. When Jimmy and Willie (my nephew) arrived at the house, Jimmy asked me and Andrea to come to the garage that he needed help.

Waiting right outside the garage was a brand new shiny Toro snowblower!!!! They filled it with fuel, started it and said, "Here, Cathy - try it out, it's yours!" Once again, the tears began to flow. I simply cannot believe the kindness a lot of people have extended to me over the last month. These "bright rays of kindness" have warmed my days immeasurably. It's not something I even thought about asking for - folks simply did things which they knew would bring a bit of comfort to me and my kids.

I truly believe God is showing me these days don't need to be gloomy. His people are all around me and are shining examples of His love. I once was fearful of being alone and now I know I won't be. Perhaps that's what God wants me to learn from all of this.

Michael's condition is no better. Simply taking a shower yesterday wore him out despite the best efforts of his home health care aide. (That woman is a saint!) He had another spell where his throat closed up and he felt like he was drowning. Mercifully, he sleeps a lot most of the days. One of my co-workers bought him a bottle of English beer to enjoy over the holidays - a real treat for Michael usually. I don't think beer and morphine mix well. I may have to enjoy it myself. - real hardship there! LOL........
We have a busy few days ahead of us - Danny's coming home with my grand-dog (Luka). My kids and I are going to Jimmy's house on Thursday night for my sister-in-love's family gathering. The Gumberts have taken us into their family lately, so we're honorary Gumberts! Friday night, Jimmy and family will be at our house for our annual Christmas Eve gathering. I'm making two different kinds of chili, Karen's bringing sub sandwiches. Simple, warm food on what's sure to be a chilly evening. The kids will probably leave for their grandparents' house in Columbus after opening their gifts and having breakfast on Christmas morning, leaving Michael and I to ourselves for a few hours. We've also asked some of Michael's friends to come over for the 26th (Boxing Day).
Looking forward to it all.
Have a very wonderful, happy Christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Gift

The other day Andrea and I went shopping and chatted about Christmas gifts. She, like me, gets more of a "kick" giving presents to people than receiving a gift for ourselves. But, let me tell you, the parcel I got yesterday put that philosophy to test.

Thursday was typical of what I'm calling my "new normal". It included a frustrating lunch hour walking the aisles at Home Depot looking for materials for the new floor going into the bathroom. (Who knew a person would need so much C-R-A-P just to have somebody lay a vinyl floor?) I had also spent much of the morning in an anxious mood since I couldn't reach Michael on the phone until 11:45. His new health care aide was supposed to start visiting him yesterday and of course he gave me a lot of grief about it. (Pray he doesn't fire this one!) After work: a quick stop to see my sister-in-love to pick up a ticket for the church's Christmas pageant, grocery shopping and then home to fix dinner. Dinner in the oven, I noticed two boxes stacked by the front door. One, I knew was some things I ordered for Andrea. The other?

It was a lovely quilt with matching pillowcase my on-line quilting buddies created for me. I stood in the kitchen with the quilt draped over my arms and sobbed. This quilt has to be the most unexpected, loving thing anybody has ever done for me. The card with the gift said they can't be here in person to provide comfort, a quilt made with love is the next best thing. And the back of the quilt is signed with all their names - ten gals from across the US and Canada.

It was a while before I could compose myself and show the quilt to Michael. He agreed it was a truly beautiful gift and my friends were indeed special.

I knew that already.


Michael didn't fire the home health aide (a miracle!) He wasn't feeling up to a full shower, but the aide washed his hair. He sleeps most of the time these days, and is beginning to experience things which indicate a he's ready to leave this world. When he is awake, he struggles for breath despite the oxygen machine at its maximum setting. I spend a lot of my evenings and weekends fetching pills, making proper British tea, adjusting oxygen settings and serving his meals in bed.

Very little sewing, although I have a quilt on the frame right now that has to be finished by next Saturday. AND, there's another small quilt that needs to be quilted in time for a Christmas gift. I should be able to finish both with time to spare whilst Michael sleeps this weekend. Andrea's going to Columbus with her dad.

Before last night, it was tough for me to get into the Christmas frame of mind. I think I'll drag all the decorations out tonight and get started.

Love ya,

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Different Direction

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. We had a quiet one with just me, Michael, Andrea, Danny and Danny's girlfriend. The turkey's still not gone, which Sophie thinks is wonderful. (Never seen a kitten eat like her!)

The biggest news concerns Michael. He accepted Jesus on Saturday! Words cannot express how much of a burden has been lifted with that faith statement. His eldest daughter, Leah, wrote him a heartfelt letter in which she told him to read specific sections of the Bible. I read them out loud to him and then asked the question, "Do you believe?" after reading. After all these years, I expected to hear the same old stock answer from him. But prayers have worked, my friends. Don't ever doubt that!!!!

In the health area: worse. He felt so poorly by Saturday night he wanted me to admit him to the in-patient unit at Hospice. I told him, let's wait until tomorrow to see how you feel. Fortunately, he did feel better. Unfortunately, I told Leah about it via an e-mail. She phoned after church and couldn't stop crying the entire time we talked. The last few days have been OK for Michael: sleeping a lot, very little physical activity. It's tough for him to even talk on the phone. His hospice nurse explained that he's maxed out on the oxygen - any more would be useless since his lungs aren't capable of processing the exchange. I asked the nurse last Wednesday if she thought his lungs were worse and she said decidedly so. I was quiet for a few seconds and she continued, "I don't know how much longer he has."

I know many of you believe in and pray to our God consistently. Pray for a quick and painless change for Michael from this life into God's loving arms. Both he and I pray for that. I know it's a different direction, but it's what we think is best for Michael.

There are times I want to go into my sewing room, shut the door and not leave. Sewing is my daily therapy, time permitting. The kittens have discovered how much they can get into in that room, so many times I have to "enforce" the rules mid-seam. Believe it or not, work has been good therapy for me as well. It's a different type of lunacy and my girlfriends at the office are extremely supportive.

It's difficult to even think about Christmas shopping (Usually have most of it done by now.) Andrea and I are going to decorate the house after the cleaning lady does her work on Friday. It'll give Milly and Sophie something else to destroy other than my batting pile!

Love ya,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Update and Explanation

First of all, no, I have not morphed into a cat. I started a blog written as if I were my kitten Milly. Check it out if you need a bit of silliness.

Sewing? Yes, I've gotten some done, but very little. After I completed the wedding quilt, my sewing room looked like a fabric bomb exploded in it. First order of business was to get the area looking respectable and workable. Accomplished! By then, it was time to pack and leave for our Memphis adventure.

First - watched "Little Shop of Horrors" at the high school. My nephew, Wesley, played the shop owner and did a fantastic job singing and dancing whilst being "eaten" by the infamous Audrey II.

Andrea and I flew to Memphis early last Friday morning. Exciting stuff for us gals who rarely leave Ohio. My cousin, PJ, married the girl of his dreams on Saturday. In between all the wedding festivities, we toured Beale Street, visited with family we haven't seen in years and ate too much (of course!) It felt WONDERFUL getting away from the home front pressures for three days. I was happy and at ease.

Michael wasn't far from my thoughts, however. I arranged for people to be with him and stocked the house with all his favorite foods. At first, he was cranky and took it out on Andrea before we left. (She's barely speaking to him still and I can't blame her for that.) He soaked in all the attention from his visitors and was as sweet at he could be be with them. Thus far this week, he's not been good. His oxygen needs have increased dramatically (up to nine liters on the ten liter machine that we obtained just a month or so ago). He stayed in bed for most of Tuesday - I served him dinner in bed. He fired his home health care aide last week, which irritated both me and his nurse. It was obvious by Sunday night that he hadn't showered for days - he smelled bad! So, I stripped his bed Monday morning, washed everything and told him there was no way he was getting into that ultra-clean bed stinking like a pole cat. It took him 90 minutes, but he did get showered. I'm not helping. If he refuses the help I hired for him, then he can do it on his own and struggle.

During the wedding reception, I talked with a cousin who was diagnosed with the same disease Michael has. He's taking the same medications Michael was five years ago. What anguish I felt for him since I KNOW what lies ahead. He knows now that he can phone or e-mail if there is anything I can do to help.

So, try as I might, the "glow" from the trip is wearing off. The counselor I've been seeing recommended I take time off every now and then, just a day or even a few hours at a time, to do something for myself. It's tough when my husband doesn't recognize its importance and accuses me of abandoning him. She also suggested I hire a cleaning lady, which I've done beginning next week!

Got to sew for 30 minutes last night and how fantastic did that feel! Working on a Bento Box quilt for the quilt contest at Joann's. Andrea chose the fabrics and once the blocks are together, she will help with placement. She claims if I win a prize, she gets to keep it. We'll see.....

Love to you all,

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kindness And Rays of Sunshine

In my last post, I mentioned contacting Mason Cares for a bit of help with the yard work - a few big logs to be moved and weeds in the flower bed. At 9 am Saturday, 20 + people arrived at my house armed with leaf blowers, rakes, and just about every garden tool imaginable. Several women brought ready to heat meals for us. For three hours, these "angels" worked on the yard, weeding, mowing, cutting, installing a window well cover, re-stacking firewood, you name it - they did it. When the mulch I purchased the previous night proved to not be enough, the team leader picked up a truck full of the stuff and told me I owed him nothing. The little children in the group sat on my porch and made cards for us. Both Michael and I were in tears by the loving kindness shown to us by these volunteers. Our yard is now ready for winter and looks fantastic. I am so very, very grateful and in awe that so many people helped us. I'm still smiling four days later.

With a lot of anxiety, Andrea and I met with the team at school on Monday morning to get her transitioned back into high school. As the meeting progressed, Andrea's voice became more sure, the hand wringing lessened and I may have even spotted a smile or two. It's evident they're supporting her and doing whatever is possible to help my daughter - not just performing their jobs...they came across truly caring. The past few days have been uneventful and even happy ones for her and I. Let's pray it continues.

Unfortunately, the warm glow created by the volunteers didn't last long for Michael. He was back to being a cranky, fussy git by Monday. As one friend mentioned to me this morning - that's nothing new. LOL. The home health care aide came to the house on Monday and was told he didn't need no stinkin' shower. So, she folded laundry. Today? I'm not sure, but when I return home, I'm sure to hear about it. The nurse came today as well, so add that to the list of issues - no more than one visitor a day - otherwise, it's too much, according to Michael. He slept most of yesterday - not even bothering to dress - wore his bathrobe all day. That's a biggie folks. Dressing is too much of a strain. So is showering, but his pride won't stand aside. Somehow he forgets about the choking and gasping with every shower/shave.

Toward the middle of last week, Michael heard a bird splat against our picture window in the breakfast nook. It happens all the time, but he still looked out the window - no bird, but he heard a soft "Meow" coming from the covered gas grill. The "noise" walked around the patio and he caught it on film - a tiny black and white kitten. By the time I came home from work, no sign of the kitten on the patio, so Andrea and I walked around. The poor thing fell into the window well and couldn't get out. Andrea scooped it up, I phoned the vet and somewhere between all that, we adopted a second kitten. Her name is Sophie. Sophie's still getting used to us and meows a lot. She's about six weeks old now and finds it hard to fend off Milly's play. I hear as Sophie gets older, the constant meowing will lessen and she will play with Milly without seeming to get her head bitten off. (Milly's too used to rough play with Daisy.) There is definitely something to be said for loving pets though -takes your mind off your own troubles. Andrea's responsible for Sophie and truly, truly loves that little kitten.

Well, that's it in a nutshell. Things brightened up around us. I'm feeling a bit less stressed and more rested. Let's hope that's a continuing trend.

Love ya,

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Time

Spent between caring for a dying husband and a daughter recovering from an eating disorder, my time is very precious.

My weekend was partially consumed with shopping with Andrea, which at first I felt guilty about. But, when you think about it, it is something she greatly enjoys and gives her happiness. In a way, it is helping her to return to being healthy and feeling "normal". She's turning into quite the clothes/shoes consumer, let me tell you. AND, she knows how to spot a bargain. We each bought at least two new outfits for my cousin's wedding and rehearsal dinner the first weekend in November. (Our plane tickets are also purchased for that event, really looking forward to it!)

Michael had a melt-down on Saturday night. He insisted on cutting his own hair and trimming his beard, which he has done for decades. Something which once came so easily is now a life-threatening effort. He cried for an hour about losing life bit by bit. He wants to die and who can blame him? When I phoned the house this morning, he was of the same mind-set and begged me to phone his hospice volunteer and cancel for this afternoon. I refused to do it, stating it may make him feel better. He tends to perk up when there are other folks around, as if to impress them and be a bit of a performer. And you know what, I was right! He sounded a lot better this afternoon. I phoned his hospice nurse who is going to have the respiratory therapist stop at the house. We're also going to set up visits from home health care aides from now on. It's time.

I read an ad in the weekly paper about an organization called Mason Serves which helps with work around the house. I phoned them this morning and we may ask them to do some of the chores in the yard which Danny unfortunately didn't have the time to get to this summer. I've never had to ask for help with my home, so making that phone call this morning made me swallow my pride a bit. But there are things I cannot do - such as the big logs in the middle of the yard, the well cover on the foundation window, etc. Things which Michael could have done three years ago.....

Me? I did a bit of quilting on the frame. My goal is to get the current project on the frame quilted by this time next week, so that will give me plenty of time for the hand sewing on the binding. There's a quilters' meeting at church tonight I've love to attend, but things being what they are with Michael, I may skip it. Depends on how he and Andrea are doing.

Andrea is supposed to transition back to school this week. Please keep her in your prayers. She's quite anxious about returning.

And while you're at it, remember me in your prayers. At times I feel like my foundation is cracking, but then I remember how many of you, my co-workers, Sunday School classmates, family are praying for me. Just that thought envelopes me in a warm feeling, like God is wrapping a very soft quilt across my shoulders. It's then that I don't feel so alone.

Love ya,

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Answer To Prayer

Michael's turning to God.

He told me last night he is praying. Didn't say what he was praying for, but the communication lines are open! When I talked with Martin on the phone, he confided to me that Michael discussed his blossoming belief in God with him. He's reaching out, Martin said, before he meets his maker!

How wonderful is that! He's yet to discuss it in depth with me. Perhaps a bit embarrassed by doing such an about-face (so to speak). But, I'm so happy to hear about it!

Michael and I did talk about hope and faith in God briefly after he told me about the praying. If it gives him hope - that is fantastic. Things will get better, I said, perhaps not in this lifetime for him, but they will get better.

I slept well last night.

We went out for dinner last night at the local Chinese buffet. It may have been Michael's last trip to that favorite restaurant since he greatly struggled getting his dinner (he didn't want anybody to fetch his meal!) and getting into the car for the trip home. He even declined a trip into Big Lots - his favorite store - even in a wheelchair. After dinner, we watched "Shutter Island" - horrible film. I think we need more comedies on our Netflix list!

Andrea seemed in better spirits when I left her this morning. At least she was talking with me! I removed the scales from her room - found them hidden in her closet - and the therapist said to get them out. Her doctor increased the dosage on one of her meds and she slept well last night as well. Milly slept in her bed - those two are getting quite attached to each other.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus
Phillipians 4:6-7

Love ya,

Monday, October 11, 2010

October Up-Date

Dear Folks,
It's almost gotten to the point where I don't want to post any longer because the news gets progressively worse with both Michael and Andrea.

Andrea experienced a set-back in her dealings with purging and cutting. I took her back to the Lindner Center of Hope on Thursday night and they kept her overnight. She's now in the out-patient program there - who knows for how long. I suppose that depends on my insurance and what they're willing to pay for. She's adamant that she's fat at 119 pounds (5'4") and NOBODY is going to convince her otherwise. She's hiding her food on the tray at the center and I will have to point that out to the nutritionist. The cutting? I think she does it to handle stress. But I cannot for the life of me understand why she has such a low opinion of herself. I wept a lot the last few days.

Meanwhile, Michael's downhill slide continues. Two more prescriptions to pick up at the pharmacy tonight. At the moment, he's sleeping on a chair on the front porch (it's 5 pm). We were almost to the point where I couldn't handle his crap any longer and told him I wanted him to return to England. Not his choice. After discussing the situation with his friend Martin (a fellow Brit) I came to the conclusion that he probably wouldn't handle the travel well and wouldn't last long in the crappy English weather. So, he's going to stay here. I told him that if he took his anger and frustrations out on me and Andrea again, we're leaving for a hotel or my brother's house until he cools off. Neither one of us deserves being poorly treated. But it's until death do us part.......And what kind of example would I be setting for Andrea if I booted him back across the pond? Also, his eldest daughter is backtracking on her offer to take him in. According to her, once she thought about it, his quality of life would be poor - no central heat, confined to one or two rooms (small ones at that), no way to go anywhere, etc.......Frankly, I'm upset by her backtracking, but what can I do?

The saving grace this week is the presence of Michael's youngest daughter and her boyfriend. It's too bad they're leaving on Friday. I dread how he's going to be when they leave.

I returned to work after a week off and found it helped me. For a few hours I can try to forget about the stress from home. At least until the cell phone rings.....

I finished two quilts last week. Seems my company liked to sleep in until 11. I got up with Andrea, saw her off to school and sewed until the visitors got out of bed. A third quilt is on the frame now, but it likely won't be finished until next week. My bed's in the sewing room at the moment.

Sleep is definitely something I need right now. I tried sleeping with Michael - he's noisier than ever. Even with the ear plugs it was impossible to sleep with the man. Then I slept with Andrea a few nights after she returned from Lindner. I kept her awake, it seemed. I was on the sofa this morning at 3 am - wrapped up in a quilt and trying to sleep when Milly pounced on me. Eventually she settled into a spot on the quilt, but I got very little rest last night. I put one of the extra twin bed mattresses we have on the floor of the sewing room when I got home from work tonight. It's just for four more nights. I slept ok like that when Margaret was here last summer.

It's so hard to stay positive with all that's going on. I try. Skipped church on Sunday since I was so tired and sleep deprived - curled up on the sofa and didn't wake until 11! That is REALLY odd for me. Usually 9 am is late. So, I didn't get my usual dose of optimism through Christ Jesus on Sunday. I'll get it through self-study this week.

Please keep us all in your prayers. I do believe things will get better, hopefully soon!
Love ya,

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tidings On Thursday

The kindness of people around us continues to amaze me. Especially in the high school counseling department. After a lot of planning and discussion, Andrea's guidance counselor and social worker arrived at a plan which will enable her to drop the classes which are creating intolerable stress, pick up a couple of classes on the computer, change one class to a different period and finish school by the end of November. I think the weight of the world was lifted off that girl's shoulders! Andrea seemed so much better last night, I cried. This morning was a bit different - she didn't sleep well - anxious about facing the changes today. But, once she gets into the new routine, I believe she'll be fine.

Michael seems better too. The hospice nurse increased his anxiety meds and he has a new oxygen machine with more power - the levels on the old machine were lower. I am concerned the changes being made are heralding a decline in his health. We all knew that was coming though. It's one think to talk/think about it; another to go through it.

Thank God for bringing Milly into our family. That little kitten has done more to lift our spirits than any medication ever could. She's an absolute bundle of energy - so fun to watch her scamper throughout the house. Daisy's become quite attached to her - the two of them play together now. Last week when we had to take Milly to the vet twice, Daisy became so agitated. Poor kitty had an adverse reaction to the booster shot. She's fine- a steroid shot did the trick.

So, I'm slowly becoming more hopeful about everything. My stomach's only tied in two knots today. LOL. No sewing last night - we didn't get home until close to 8 because of eye doctor appointments for me, Andrea and Tattoo Boy. New factoid: Did you know it was possible to have freckles on your eye? Well, I do! Bad news: I have a tiny cataract forming on my left eye - the doc wasn't concerned and said we'll just monitor it for now. Not affecting my vision.

The song running through my head this morning: "Great is Thy Faithfulness"

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy Faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided -
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Love ya,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Halloween's A-Coming

I unpacked all my Halloween quilts and put them on the dining room table before I decided where to put them around the house.

Guess who found them?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Finding Daily Strength

Although I was off work all last week, it wasn't the easiest of times for me. It was sheer heaven getting up early, seeing Andrea off to school and then sewing until Michael decided to get out of bed. I managed to put together a good amount of items to sell at the craft fair. The unfortunate bit was poor attendance at the event. Still, it was a good time and Andrea enjoyed it too. We'll try to do another fair soon.

I'm struggling with how to word what lays so heavily on my heart at the moment. Michael's anger has affected us all. He has said some extremely hateful things to me and Andrea. One problem with that is how it affects Andrea whose self-esteem is so low. She cut herself the Sunday before last in an effort to handle all her stressors. At least she found the strength to come get me before it got out of hand. Her counselor thinks she needs out-patient care so I've contacted Lindner Center again. A break from the daily grind may help her.

Meanwhile, Andrea and Michael are not talking with each other at all. Michael feels he has done nothing wrong - he is no worse than any other dying man. (I beg to differ with him on this subject!) I am on edge constantly when I am around him - knowing what I say or do will set him off without warning. I talked with my brother and he's agreed to let Andrea and I stay at their house if things get too much for us. The hospice social worker told him he needs to find another way to handle his anger, but that went in one ear and out the other.

So, my pals, it's not too easy at the moment. If it wasn't for my faith, family, and sewing (of course!) I would be g-o-n-e.

I finished a quilt to donate for a raffle to raise money for a co-worker's medical costs. Sure hope it makes a difference. Next on tap - two quilts for buddies at work - for hire. They're all pieced. Then I have to quilt my cousin's wedding quilt - it's all pieced as well. So, loads of time on the frame for me in the immediate future. That's when and if I can grab the time.

I think I've used this quote before on my blog, but it bears repeating:

Our broken lives are not lost or useless. God's love is still working. He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously, working out his wonderful plan of love.
-Eric Liddell

Keeping my eye on that victory and love!

Love ya,

Friday, September 17, 2010

Keeping At It

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus
Philippians 4:6-7

How empowering is that? I have read and re-read that verse every day this week. It's powerful stuff and the joy it brings me is immeasurable.

It hasn't been an easy week. Andrea's stressed out by the demands of AP Art and being a senior. She signed up for the ACT exam and had a melt-down when she learned the test would take up half of a precious Saturday. I cannot shield the girl from the demands of college planning and preparation. She needs to grow up in her understanding that if you want something out of this life, there are things which need to be done or paid for up front.

Michael has calmed down a bit, although he refused to accept the help anxiety medication provides. The hospice nurse offered it; he declined. I'm grateful that I will have the opportunity to meet with the nurse in person next week. Together, we may be able to convince Michael to accept the help that is available. He is concerned that his oxygen generator is not providing enough for his lungs and it's max'ed out. We may have to obtain another or a second machine. This may require another trip for pulmonary function testing - something Michael has also refused in the past. He has written "letters" to both my children and my mother - content unknown. But, I get the feeling that these "letters" posted via Facebook are to say good-bye. I don't think the kids or Mom have read them yet - nobody's mentioned them to me.

I have a pretty upbeat mood at the moment. I'm off work all next week to get some sewing done for the craft fair next Saturday and to get the house ready for fall (cleaning, organizing, etc.) The thing that helps me the most these days is prayer. I talk with God every morning on the way to work - just a conversation - trust me, I don't close my eyes during the drive! LOL. Some people are prayer walkers, I'm a prayer driver!

Milly has taken to a spot on the dining room table, so we will need to start "telling" her that's not appropriate spot for a proper kitty. Meaning: I have to find a cheap-o water pistol. Another one of her favorite things to do is climb up the legs of our jeans. The debate to de-claw or not rages on at Chez Howe. Milly also got bold enough to pounce on old Daisy. I don't think she'll be doing that again for a while!

One of the projects I'll be working on next week is a quilt for a raffle at the office. One of my co-workers was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year. Our horrible health insurance is not covering all her expenses, so we're doing a variety of things to raise some funds to help her out. The quilt raffle was my idea. I have the top all pieced - will order the backing and thread today so I should be able to get it loaded on the frame by Tuesday. I know one week is not going to take care of all the projects I have!

Last night, Andrea, me and Andrea's best friend re-organized the family room, put on a yoga DVD and for 45 minutes the three of us exercised together. I'm extremely proud that I made it through the routine for one thing. Additionally, it was nice to do something with both of the girls. I really hope we can keep it up. AND - Michael was a gentleman (for once) and didn't make rude comments or make fun of us.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Love ya,

Monday, September 13, 2010

Looking Back At The Weekend That Was

Here were the bright spots for my weekend:

-Attended the quilt show at the Sharonville Convention Center on Saturday. Bought some fat quarters and a new stencil
-Spent some time at Sew Ezy - they have a list of fantastic classes for this fall and I'd love to take one or two of them. Also found the variegated thread that I need for a quilt.
-Worshipped and prayed for two hours at church yesterday. My pals in Sunday School are becoming so important to me. What did I do before I started attending class?
-Shopped at Wal Mart with Andrea and her friend Jordan.
-Sewed in between all the events and Michael's "spats".

I had a conversation this morning with Michael's social worker from Hospice about Michael's hateful attitude and verbal abuse toward me and Andrea. I also wanted them to be aware of an event that happened yesterday. He took it upon himself to move an air compressor from one side of the garage to the other in the hopes of pumping up a tire on his truck. The physical work taxed his lungs to the point where he didn't think he was getting any oxygen. Then, he began to have a panic attack - worst one I've seen him have. He "rushed" into the house and screamed that he wasn't getting any air and grabbed his portable oxygen unit. I ran to get the morphine and "panic" pills. Between all that, he wet himself and it took 15 minutes to get his breathing under control. Then, he wept uncontrollably for a while. I don't know whether he cried from fear or his inability to do anything around the house. I believe the former, but he won't admit it. It's so difficult to see him like that. Also, difficult was the verbal abuse he spat at me and Andrea when we drove to dinner on Saturday night. I won't repeat what was said, but rest assured it was not a happy meal. Andrea and I talked over dinner, but anytime we asked him a question or tried to engage him in conversation he ignored us.

The social worker noted all these events and promised to report them to his nurse who is scheduled to visit on Wednesday. We may have to change his medication or increase what he's currently taking. She also agreed to have a pulmonary therapist visit him at home to go over the workings of the oxygen concentrator and portable machine especially the portable one since he struggles so when using it. I felt genuinely better after speaking with Lynn. She was appreciative of the call too since she thought Michael was "pulling the wool" over her eyes during their in-person conversations. He's no exactly upfront with the Hospice workers which I can understand. To him, it's admitting weaknesses. To me, it's asking for much needed help and he can't see that.

Andrea and I are taking a yoga class at the Community Center tonight. I have the Advil ready for myself. (LOL) Wednesday night is college admissions strategy lecture at the high school. Saturday, my college roommate and her husband are supposed to drive here and go to the riverboat dinner/cruise downtown. I'm not committing one way or the other about Michael. It's a minute by minute thing with him and he's already made it clear he didn't want to eat dinner on the boat - takes precious time away from viewing the scenery. Plus, he's hyper-sensitive about being seen in public in a wheelchair with the portable oxygen. So, it's a full week. I've scheduled some PTO time next week and am hopeful of getting a lot of quilting done in time for the craft fair.

Not all rainbows and kittens in Chez Howe. Just one kitten and she's doing her darnedest to keep us smiling.

Love ya,

Friday, September 10, 2010

Serenity Now

Peace and tranquility rule today in Chez Howe. "Bad boy" Michael is very contrite. He knows how poorly he treated me and Andrea and is acting much better for the time being. I owe a lot of that to Michael's friend Martin.

You see, Martin and I "chat" on Facebook most nights. Martin truly loves Michael and wants an honest appraisal how his bestest buddy is doing. He also serves as a sounding board for my feelings and if Martin thinks Michael has been abusive, he lets Michael know in no uncertain terms. (Are all Englishmen brutally honest?) I believe that's happened. Like some men, Michael doesn't take what his wife says to heart. But if he hears the same thing from a guy - WHAMMO - it hits home.

Michael has never had and kept a lot of friends. Martin is probably the only friend Michael has so it's unfortunate that sometimes my spouse treats his buddy poorly. He moans about Martin's stupidity, lack of model train skills, poor money handling, etc., etc., etc. Michael's eldest daughter, Leah, told me that she doesn't remember her dad ever having buddies the whole time she was living at home. Sad. I don't know what I would do without my buddies - both via the internet and in person. Little wonder Michael feel so lost and alone - no faith in God and no buds.

Andrea stayed home from school today - she had a major art project due and was no where near completion because she kept changing her mind on the topic. I permitted her brother to "skip" school one time for the same reason, so she asked for the same treatment. It's 2:30 and the project is done! I'm anxious to see it - she did a pencil drawing of herself as an infant - and it was looking fantastic last night. She is so talented, but has little faith in her abilities. We're working on that.

Mark Lipinski was supposed to be at the quilt show in Sharonville this weekend, but as many of you know, Mark is battling polycystic kidney disease and is on the transplant list. He cannot be more than four hours away from home right now. Keep him in your prayers.

Well, I was resigned NOT to attend the show, but one of the quilts I'm working on would look fantastic with a variegated thread which I'd either have to order via internet or pick up at the show. Being that I'd prefer to SEE/TOUCH the thread first to make sure it suits the quilt, I may be headed to Sharonville.

Tattoo Boy had another one of his art pieces in a gallery show this weekend. His phone "blew up" again, so I have no way to get in touch with him other than Facebook and he doesn't log in there very often. So, I have no idea what gallery, times, etc. I'd love to see his work.

So, things are serene for now. I can certainly get used to them staying this way.

Love ya,

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Better Day Ahead

Nothing like a kitten to cuddle to take the rough edges off life!
Happy Two Week Anniversary with us, Milly Bean!

A Long Night

Michael can be extremely cruel to Andrea and I at times.

That was pretty evident last night.

She and I drove to the community center to get a calendar for fitness classes in the hopes of finding a beginning yoga class we could take together. By the time we returned (20 minutes later), Michael was seething and accused us of of purposely cooking up excuses for leaving the house. He's lonely, he bellowed. To which Andrea replied that she's lonely during the day at times despite being surrounded by people at school. Then he said something really cruel to Andrea which I hope she didn't hear because by that time she was halfway to her room. (It's a coping mechanism she's developed - find a safe spot away from it all.) I told him he was totally out of line.

Not willing to fight/argue, I told Michael in total sarcasm, "Yes, you're right we look for things to do outside home to get away from you."

His response, "Fix me a cup of tea." The rest of the night before bedtime was tense. I reminded him that my brother and his best friend want to spend time with him, but he's pushed them aside. (Don't like Martin - he's an idiot. I have nothing in common with your brother.) He's jealous of the time I spend with Andrea - his needs are more important than hers, he claimed So, I sat in the family room with him, listened to him and watched the inane television shows he likes (South Park and Tosh.0) and then excused myself to get ready for bed.

I had trouble getting to sleep so I read some more of Carol Kent's book that I mentioned yesterday. Was it ever meant for me! The chapter began with a quote from Eric Liddell: "Our broken lives are not lost or useless. God's love is still working. He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously working out his wonderful plan of love."

It's pretty apparent that Michael doesn't have a clue about redemption - to help in overcoming something detrimental. The anger in him oozes onto us and somehow we have to find a way to rise above the gooey bits. Even in this situation, as Ms. Kent, pointed out, we can experience a spiritual and emotional empowerment. I can certainly help Andrea toward this as well.

What about Michael though? Anger and stubbornness are two of his traits which never were endearing, but at the moment they seem to be possessing him more and more. As he pointed out again to me last night, he's dying. Wouldn't we want to say in the future that we helped him, he asked. My position is this, how does he want to be remembered?

Right now, the answer to that one is not nice.

I gotta get to work. Sorry for the tone of this post today. I had to get it off my back, so to speak.

Love ya,

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Crime and Discussion

I had to commit a crime to get to work today. No, not the typical speeding down I-75. I forgot my corporate ID. Another employee was kind of enough to let me into the building, but then insisted he "escort" me to the security desk. WHAT? I've worked here for nearly ten years and this is the first time I forgot my ID. Did that warrant being treated like a criminal? OK, got to the security desk and the guard asked me to sign in and show my driver's license. Whilst digging through my purse for my wallet to produce requested license, I found my corporate badge. Phew! I'd been paroled! It was so embarrassing and pretty stupid of me.

That's what I get for leaving the house in a hurry. I was so busy getting dinner in the crock pot, starting a load of laundry and trying to track down Milly; finding and putting on my badge kinda got forgotten.

Ever read a book and you can't get the story out of your head? I'm reading "When I Lay My Isaac Down" by Carol Kent. It's extremely powerful stuff and I'd recommend it. Carol's only son was found guilty of first degree murder. In this book, she outlines the emotions and difficulty in giving it all to God - her dreams for not only herself, but her much-loved son and family. While I could not imagine going through Carol's heartache, much of what she outlines is applicable when you're faced with a major life crisis/challenge. Inspirational stuff and it'll be made even better next month when Carol lectures at our church.

The importance of prayer: It's something I don't do enough. It gets lost in the shuffle of daily activities. One "Guideposts" reader suggested praying during red lights and traffic jams. Excellent not only for improving prayer life, but also reducing road rage. I tried it last night and found myself chatting with God long after the red light turned green. And it felt GREAT!

Unfortunately, the holiday weekend is now just a memory. A good one. Andrea and I got some additional bonding time in by shopping at the outlet mall, Joanns, Half-Price Books, Panera's for breakfast, etc. Michael didn't go with us very much - difficult for him to get in and out of the car. Saturday night we purchased "Stardust" at Walmart and had family movie night. It's an enjoyable film- one of the rare ones that all of us like. Only $7.50 - great buy!

Michael had another spell where he feels like he's drowning - he gasps for air, yet it doesn't hit his scarred lungs. I've become quite adept at dispensing morphine - that seems to be the only thing that jolts him out of these episodes. These events are happening more frequently.

I pieced two more quilt tops and some placemats. The Go Cutter is an absolute God-send! It took me less than 20 minutes to cut the fabric for those projects. I agonized over purchasing the thing since it was expensive. The more I use it, the happier I am that I spent the money for it.

Keep my nephew Wesley in your prayers today. He's trying out for the lead in the school musical. Wes has practiced all summer for this part and he's quite determined.

Love ya,

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Good Week

Thursday is usually my favorite day of the week. Odd, huh? I think of it this way: the entire weekend is in site and I've successfully navigated through three work days without creating too much chaos.

This week's been a bit different. Andrea and I attended a luau at church on Tuesday night. Great food, wonderful friends, loving family and a fantastic message to "lei" your burdens down. The program also showcased some upcoming events in our church's women's studies program for the fall.

I usually don't leave the office for lunch, but on Monday, I met Linda at IHOP. It's always good to reconnect with her. We e-mail and phone - honestly good stuff - I just prefer the face-to-face time with my loving friends. And Monday's lunch was no different. Linda's courage and strength are amazing. And her enabling skills are pretty fantastic, too! She told me about a going-out-of fabric sale in Hamilton which I HAD to check out before going home that night. Thank you, Linda! I added 33 yards of fabric to my stash for $80 - all wonderful, shop quality stuff.

Andrea, Michael and I had dinner out at Penn Station last night - something we're doing less frequently since it's difficult for Michael to get in and out of the car. After we took Michael home, Andrea and I searched the shelves at Half Price Books. Somehow, Andrea always manages to find something. Me? I have far too much sewing to get done to pick up new books. I haven't read the last two books I bought.

Milly decided to spend some time in the sewing room last night. Once she discovered how much fun it was to claw the flimsy draped on the frame, I had to "escort" her out of the room. What is it with cats and fabric anyways? Smudge always loved to lay on fabric and Milly's doing the same. I gave her a couple of scraps to play with-kept her entertained for two seconds. A long thread on the floor was vastly more fun. So was dodging between the boxes and storage containers underneath the frame and sewing table.

Not much planned for the weekend. Andrea and I want to hit the sale at Joann's to pick up Eeyore fabric for a lap quilt she wants and a few other odds and ends. Perhaps breakfast at Panera's for us girls on Saturday morning. A friend from Columbus may be visiting either Sunday or Monday (plans need to be finalized). One thing's for certain: sewing. The craft fair is only three weeks away and we need more merchandise.

I wish you all a fantastic, restful Labor Day weekend.

Love ya,

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sewing Is Good For the Soul

Things have settled down a bit at Chez Howe and I found a few hours over the weekend to actually get some sewing done. Finished the quilting on my friend's pink and green quilt and got the binding tacked down. Also, completed a small flannel quilt for Miss Milly to use. And it felt fantastic getting SOMETHING accomplished in the sewing room. I have big sewing plans for the upcoming holiday weekend - let's see if my family permits it! LOL

Church was wonderful yesterday. Pastor Tom's message from James 4:7 about patience in suffering was incredibly inspirational. Yes, we all go through tough times, but it's how we handle those adversities that defines us and allows us to grow. I'd like to think that I'm handling Michael's illness with patience and grace, but there are times when I'd just like to escape the situation. But, that is the easy way out and I'd learn nothing by doing that. Patience has rarely been my strongest asset, but I'm learning.

Milly continues to be an absolute joy for each of us. Andrea and her friends played with her so much yesterday afternoon, the kitten was exhausted. But, back to normal this morning and racing through the house. She discovered the sewing room yesterday, but I didn't let her stay too long - too much to get her into trouble.

Michael's breathing continues to worsen. He struggles even walking to the bathroom from the office. I took him clothes shopping on Saturday - nothing fits him any more. I had to help him in the changing room. Imagine the looks we got when we came out of the room together! LOL. No hanky panky, I can assure you!

Off to lunch with my gal pal, Linda.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Introducing Miss Milly Bean

After three nights of searching the local humane societies and cat shelters, we found the newest addition to our family.


Milly Bean

Former home: RedBank Veterinary Hospital

Color: Black and White

Born on the 4th of July

The truly amazing thing about having Miss Milly is the affect she's already had on Michael. He has really taken to our little ball of fluff even though she attacks his feet, oxygen tubes and plays with his shoes.

Andrea and I took her to PetSmart last night for her new pink collar with a sparkly bell and a pink fuzzy bed. She wasn't too keen on the collar, but will soon get used to it. Her food bowl was empty this morning - wow, a good eater, I thought. That is until I saw Daisy lick her teeth. I guess Kitten Chow tastes better than Kibbles and Bits. LOL

Gotta tell you that having this little kitten has lifted our spirits ten-fold. We're still mourning Smudge, but there is great restorative spirit in watching a little black and white "streak" spring from one room to the next.

Thank you, God for steering us toward Milly.

Love ya,

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Farewell Dear Smudge!

After discussion with our vet and watching for better signs that never came, we decided to enable Smudge's trip to the Rainbow Bridge yesterday. He was a wonderful companion for ten years. Survivor of an airplane flight from Baltimore to Cincinnati, he was the last of our pets we brought to Ohio from Maryland. He was a truly affectionate feline from the first time we laid eyes on him - a cage filled with tiny black kittens from the same litter. Smudge was the only one to nuzzle my hand - a sure sign he belonged with us.

Living most of his life in the house, Smudge occasionally found his way outside to eat grass and discover life in the wild isn't all that exciting. It's must easier to watch the birds and squirrels from the comfort of a window ledge. Once he disappeared for three days before we found him shivering and hungry underneath our car parked in the driveway. He used to escape more frequently at our first house in Ohio, dashing underneath the neighbor's deck until we enticed him out with a can of tuna.

In his last days, Smudge still managed to provide some comfort to Michael. Many times, we found the two of them sound asleep together in the La-Z-Boy chair.

So, we mourn for Smudge; Andrea in particular is taking it hard. The best thing we can do to honor his memory and the fun times we had is to share that love with a new member of our family. The search for a kitten starts today.

Life does go on.

Love ya,

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back To Normal (Whatever THAT Is!)

After a week away from the office, I had to return this morning. Amazingly, my desk was not piled as high with work as I expected. My co-workers did a fantastic job of keeping my assignments current. Sure makes returning all the easier!

Andrea hopped on the school bus this morning loaded with the various assignments she worked on throughout the summer for AP art class.

My time with Andrea this last week was filled with a lot of activities. Baseball game, pottery night, horseback riding, swimming (three times), shopping, eating out, etc. It was wonderful spending time with her.

Michael? I wish I could report that he was feeling chipper and wasn't complaining. His attitude and complaints nearly ruined our short vacation. In fact, he was so miserable during our time at Hueston Woods that I suggested we come home a night early - nobody complained about that at least! It's difficult to keep a positive attitude about life when all you hear from your spouse is negative. He hasn't learned to accept things as they are and continues to mourn for the things he can no longer do. He's angry, bitter and frightened. But, one night this week, he had a dream about heaven, at least that's how both of us interpretted the dream. I mentioned it to my brother during our lunch on Wednesday and he agreed with our evaluation. And the more I read "Glimpses of Heaven", I realized this was God telling Michael that it's time to get ready.

I need your prayers for patience and understanding for the days to come. We read a Bible verse in Sunday school which I need to remember:

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.
Phillipians 2:14-15

I want to do more than just survive Michael's passing. I want it to be a learning and growing experience for myself and to become a shining star.

Sewing? Yep, got some of that done. There's a quilt on the frame half-way done, made some items for the craft fair next month and finished the binding on a friend's quilt. One of our shopping trips included Joann's-where I was able to use the last of the $10 coupons and a 40 percent off voucher.

I received a friend request on Facebook on Saturday morning from my college room mate, Deb! I haven't talked with her in years! Immediately wrote back and chatted with her on-line before she phoned at 10 pm. We talked for 90 minutes on the phone. Cannot tell you how great that was......It's almost as if we picked up where we left off. Deb and her husband, Chris, may be visiting us sometime over Labor Day weekend.

Mentioned lunch with Jimmy previously. It was just the two of us and we're going to have to do that more often. We were able to chat without the "distractions" of kids, spouses, pets. Jimmy's faith is impressive and his kind spirit is so infectious.

I spoke with our vet last week about Smudge, who is not showing any signs of improvement. We're trying one last type of cat food - there are no other medications or treatments for him. If this latest diet change doesn't work, we will need to make the difficult decision. Andrea knows how much the cat is suffering and already told me she won't think badly of me if we escort Smudge to the Rainbow Bridge. We've done all that we can.

Tattoo Boy, Tori and their puppy (Siberian Husky named Luka) were at the house yesterday. TB is working off a debt by doing work around the house - almost finished remodeling my bedroom closet. Whilst he worked on the painting, we girls took Luka to the park where he discovered how fun it was to jump in the creek and roll in the mud. Translation: white dog turns brown! A bath was in order when we returned - outside with the garden hose. Talk about noise! I've never heard such wailing from a dog! Luka is a delightful dog - full of energy and smart. He'll be a lot of fun this winter in the snow.

So, that should pretty much catch you up at the events at Chez Howe.

Love ya,

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ending Summer With A Bang!

Summer's rapidly coming to an end - school starts in ten days. That's normally a cause for celebration, but this year's different. It's Andrea's senior year - her last year of public education. That alone will dictate a lot of changes and change is never easy. It holds tons of promise though.

But first, we have some activities planned. Andrea and I are attending midnight madness at the local pottery studio on Saturday. On Sunday, we'll pick up Tattoo Boy and attend a Reds game together. Michael will join us after his hospice appointment and we'll head to a state park for a couple of days. I'm off work all next week - a welcome break.

Hoping to get a lot of sewing accomplished during my week away from the office. I don't have a thing ready for the craft fair for next month. Andrea has loads of jewelry all ready.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't been a total slacker about our Florida trip fund - I sold two quilts yesterday at the office to co-workers. A third one is on the frame now and I should get the binding on it tonight. I've made four pillowcases and have a couple more I want to get done by the end of the week. Spent my lunch hours this week reading two new quilt magazines - got some excellent ideas brewing for strip sewing and stencil use.

Michael's lung disease appears to be progressing - he spends a lot of time sleeping - which the hospice nurse told us to expect. The hospice social worker is paying a visit to Michael today. Micheal was quite happy with his progress on the train project thanks to the volunteer who was at the house on Monday. It's the most I've seen him engaged in a project for a long time. There are many things he could be doing - but the "mood" just isn't present. He has several unfinished novels he's written, all that train stuff and many models, puzzles and books - all of which don't require physical exertion. The lastest? He and his best friend, Martin, are on the outs. Not sure how long that will last. You get two stubborn Englishmen together - BAM!

Stubborn? Hard-hearted - I still wonder how anybody is going to get through his thick skull before he passes into the next world. There are so many people praying for him. It is benefitting me however. If anything, this whole experience is drawing me nearer to God and He is drawing nearer to me. My example may be what eventually breaks down those barriers for Michael. So here's the verse I read this morning:

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others.
-Philippians 2:4

I'll keep at it.

Love ya,

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Come Saturday Morning

Lovely day! Got two more hours sleep than is normal, time to interact on the computer and then Andrea and I are off to an open house at a local art college. Once that's done, we'll have lunch at Chipotle's and shop at Joann's again for more jewelry making materials for Andrea's budding business. Perhaps a bit more fabric for me - one never knows!

Last night, Andrea went to the outlet mall with her friends so Michael and I took the opportunity and had a "date" - dinner at Bob Evans is about as "wild" as the two of us can get! It was good to reconnect with him. We talked about a lot of stuff- he is certainly opinionated. But that's OK - I've grown to expect nothing less from him. The conversation was good, topics not so good - final plans, lung transplants, Margaret's visit. He has plans for selling most of his model railroad items - a monumental task. I will do what I can to support that. A volunteer from Hospice is coming to the house on Monday to help begin the task of photographing and writing a description of each piece. I digress- the talk we had was just like our "old" times and slapped me back into the realization that I do love this man despite all his moanings. I need to start cherishing each hour with him because all too soon, it will be over.

Got some sewing done as well - working on a nickel quilt with Cincinnati Bengals material to ultimately sell at the craft fair or at the office. Bought some yardage of batting - half off at Joann's this weekend, folks. I always try to buy it when it's on sale or at least have a coupon.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Love ya,

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I turned on my sewing machine and finished a baby quilt last night.

Cannot begin to tell you how utterly fantastic it felt to be sewing again. A lot of the tension melted away with each stitch.

It's just been too darned long!

Andrea and I stopped at Joann's on the way home from the airport yesterday and loaded up with more goodies. She's really gotten into making bracelets for the craft fair next month. I'll do my part with some quilted items. I purchased some Cincinnati Bengals fabric to create some small handbags and lapquilts. They always sell and I sure don't feel one bit of remorse letting them go. Bengals - UGH!

Seriously, using the GO cutter is going to really help with the craft fair projects. I have a couple of nickel quilt patterns selected.

Margaret's probably back home by now - we haven't received a message to the contrary. She hugged me good-bye at the airport and told me to be brave. Have to admit, I cried. But, she'll probably be back for another visit before the end of the year and bring Michael's oldest daughter with her.

Michael had his weekly appointment with the hospice nurse today. They're going to arrange for a volunteer to help Michael photograph, catalog and price his entire model railroad collection. I also asked for a hospice social worker to phone me. I need to have a chat about some feelings I'm having lately and need some advice on how I should handle them.

Just stormed here - let's hope the humidity clears up a bit.

Love ya,

Monday, August 2, 2010


My brother and nephews did the most wonderful thing for me on Saturday - they came to my house and did yard work. Not an easy task since I had not been keeping up as well as I should with the weeds this spring and summer. They filled three big cans full of weeds and managed to dig out a dead bush and lamb's ears which Michael wanted gone. I'm absolutely over the moon with the work they did. And am even more touched emotionally that those three would take four hours on a Saturday to do it for me!

Margaret's here until tomorow afternoon. During her visit, she's taken over the task of doting on Michael and doing a few things around the house including scrubbing down the cabinet fronts in the kitchen. She asked me if I minded - goodness - of course not. I know people think it's strange that I have my husband's ex-wife visit us. However, to me, she's a dear friend now and I'll never forget the time she's shared with us. She does get on Michael's nerves from time to time, which makes me chuckle.

One evening, Margaret, Andrea and I went to dinner - Michael didnt' feel up to going out - and it gave me a chance to talk with Margaret about some things which are concerning him. One - he feels compelled to leave money to their children, which she felt (as I do) is utter nonsense. Their children don't care WHAT their father can leave them. Margaret also wanted to let me know that I'm always welcome to visit her and the kids after Michael's death. They're always welcome here as well.

Speaking of Michael, he was strong enough to attend the Cincinnati Pops concert on Friday night. It was a lovely evening - the weather was cool, we had Subway sandwiches and drinks and the music was fantastic. The only thing that spoilt it was Michael's severe asthma attack which required us to leave early.

If any of you are interested, Michael has produced a series of three videos on Utube on what's it's like to live with pulmonary fibrosis. Just look under the name Smudgeloco.

Totally unrelated to the topic: I finally received my GO! fabric cutting machine on Friday. It's absolutely incredible! Played with it on Sunday afternoon for about 30 minutes and voila - a stack of nickel squares which ordinarily would have taken me two hours to slice up. Now, if I could just find some time to sew. I haven't even touched the sewing machine since Linda was here three weeks ago. Found some very cute dachshund fabric at Joann's yesterday - Andrea "needs" a couple of pillowcases! So, I haven't forgotten about sewing - think about it a lot. Especially since I'm sleeping in the sewing room at the moment.

Andrea and I are renting space at a local church's craft fair toward the end of September. Andrea's making jewelry and I'll contribute quilty items. Proceeds to help pay for the much needed trip to Florida/Harry Potter World next year.

I hope you all have a fantastic week and I'll do my best to do the same.

Love ya,

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Recovery and Stubborn Men

Andrea seems to be improving on a daily basis. She was able to return home last Friday. A bit rocky at first - one spell on Saturday when life in general with its changes got to her. I'm extremely proud of her progress and stated dedication to getting better. She's a tough cookie. This week, she's in out patient care at the hospital, which she says is boring. Of course, she'd rather be home, but I'm stickin' to my "guns" on this one and not allowing her to stay home until the staff at the hospital tell me she can. Her attitude is apparently rubbing off on her best friend also - she has promised her mother to make a real effort in tackling her challenges. A promise that brought the mom to tears. (oh, how I can relate to that one!)

Andrea's dad is apparently taking my advice to heart - he spent time with her again on Sunday. I cornered him before he left and told him in no uncertain terms that if he wants back into her life he needs to be consistent - don't just pop up every five months. He agreed. Let's see how long it lasts. If need be, I'll badger the man. Andrea's worth it. And I'm extremely good at being a pest.

The main question of the day is this: Is there a more stubborn man on the face of this planet than my husband, Michael? (Hint: The answer is NO!) Hospice phoned him a few days ago and said they wanted to send a volunteer to our home to be with Michael. Michael dearly wants to catalogue, photograph and put a value on each item in his model railroad collection. It's a daunting task and one that Michael could not handle on his own. What a terrific project to ask the volunteer to help with, I thought. Michael, however, is far from agreeing to it. What if I don't like the volunteer, he whined. What if they don't like trains? I'm lonely, but I don't want to be with anybody other than you and Andrea, etc., etc., etc. Grrrrrrrrrrrr! He turned down the offer, but I'm not through with this yet.........

Sorry, no sewing. I did pick up some fabric at Hobby Lobby last night to add to my collection. Loads of fabric, no sewing. Now, that's odd!

Love ya,

Friday, July 23, 2010

Too Long Between Posts

July 8! Holy cow, have I ever been remiss about keeping up with the blogosphere! But, to be perfectly honest, there have been little to no activities in the sewing room. I figured y'all didn't particularly like to read every nitty, gritty detail about life in our household. Events, however, have kept me from blogging, phoning, quilting - just about everything.

My DD's anxiety issues appeared to be getting worse, so with her counselor's blessing, I readmitted her to a mental health facility near our house. She's already feeling better since Tuesday and should be able to return home either today or tomorrow morning. She will have to return for outpatient care, but at least she will be home.

I need to share that our decision to re-admit her was tough on both me and her. A lot of tears were shed. In many ways, she is my closest friend in addition to being my daughter. We share so many things and lean on each other a lot.

The issues with her biological father appear to be at the apex of her concerns. I tried numerous times to contact the man earlier this week without any success until last night. He phoned the house to ask if Andrea could accompany him to Columbus this weekend to visit his parents. I advised him what was going on. For a man for goes months with no contact, he was surprisingly shattered. Andrea's perception is her father doesn't love her and has rejected her on more than one occasion. The lack of love is not true, but her perception is her reality. Her father is just a lazy, lazy man. Andrea requested that she have no contact with him until she is home. Hopefully, her father will not forget.

Michael is not believing any of the issues with Andrea are real. He thinks she is doing all this for attention. And he actually had the nerve to tell me he's jealous of all the attention Andrea is receiving from me right now.

My trials are temporary - I know that. Honestly, I don't know what I'd do without my faith to keep me lifted up and positive. I phoned my mother to let her know about Andrea -a tough call to make. Mom said she'll pray for Andrea and you know, I feel those prayers. Andrea does too.

I will be glad to have her back home and plan on loving her. And maybe get a bit of quilting done this weekend.

Love ya,

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Good news!

My brother's nephew, Sam, is home from the hospital. Sam was in a horrific motorcycle accident in May. God's hands surely healed this young man since he had a liver laceration, intestinal tears, nine vertebrae fractured, a dislocated knee and a facial fracture. He still has a long way to go, but he's home with his parents and siblings.

AND he gets to enjoy his comfort quilt.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Post Holiday and A Give-A-Way

First, check out:

Jill has some fantastic give-a-way items to celebrate her 1,000th post

Cannot begin to tell you how much I needed a three-day weekend to re-charge my "batteries". Andrea and I did a lot of shopping, got our hair cut, (Her new "pixie" style is really, really cute!), watched fireworks in Mason and talked about our plans for next year's trip to Florida.

Andrea went with me to Joann's on Saturday - batting half off, folks! Best Friends Quilt Shop also had a sale this weekend - I got 13.5 yards of really nice fabric at an average of $4 a yard - not bad at all!

Finished Jessica's quilt just in the nick of time on Saturday night so I could give it to my delivery person at church on Sunday morning. Sure hope she likes it.

Andrea, Michael and I went to see "The Last Airbender" last night. Interesting film. Not sure if it's something I'd want to see again though. The 3-D did little to enhance it.

Michael had a really rough time leaving the theatre last night and refused our offer to fetch the wheelchair out of the car. Honestly, the man is so freaking stubborn at times, it's bound to do him in! We managed to get him out shopping on Friday night to the international market (Jungle Jim's in Fairfield) but he stayed parked in the wheelchair the entire time. That store is humongous. A trip outside the home is rare for Michael these days and I'm afraid he's developing some anxiety about leaving the house. His appetite is also being affected - not sure if it's the pulmonary fibrosis/lack of oxygen. I made BBQ ribs, corn on the cob and fried squash last night for dinner - a meal which would have required second and third helpings a year ago. He wouldn't eat the ribs or the squash last night. Nor would he try the strawberry smoothies for dessert. If he won't touch the meatloaf and twice-baked potatoes tonight, it's straight to the ER for him or the loony bin for me.

Lest I forget, I made another purchase this weekend. I bought a GO fabric cutter with assorted dies and cutting mats on line. I've researched and pondered this purchase for weeks. I'm all for saving time and I think this tool is going to help with that and improve my accuracy in piecing. Obviously, it's not going to totally replace my rotary cutter. The thought of being able to reduce my cutting time by 90 percent as they claim is fantastic. Most of my quilting is accomplished through 2 and 1/2 inch strips and five inch squares - both of which have dies. It was this or purchase a laptop. And those of you who know me can attest that outside the office I try to spend as little time as possible on-line. Michael puts up a mild protest each time I ask to read my e-mails. (He doesn't share well.) I will let you know how I end up liking the GO cutter - it's coming through UPS. Parcels, we love parcels at our house......

Less enamoured with the weekend activities: Smudge and Daisy. Smudge's arthritis is really giving him fits - enough that he has trouble finding his litter box. I may have a tough decision to make about him soon. Daisy's still shaking from all the firecrackers the neighbors set off each night. She's also dealing with a visit from the grand-dog Luka today. She doesn't share well either.

Love ya,

Monday, June 28, 2010

Jack, Jerry and Tattoo Boy

Baby Jack, who received my first quilt of 2010, is growing and loving his blankie. Grandma Mary sent me a photo this weekend. Isn't he a doll?

Jerry the Juki made his annual trip to Sew Easy for his lube job and tune-up. He was acting up on Thursday night, making a mess of the Jenna quilt. He's back and working wonderfully already. One thing about Sew Easy - their repair guy is prompt, good and quick. Jerry was away from home less than 24 hours. Real important for us quilt junkies!

Tattoo Boy came for a visit on Sunday. He and I reached an agreement about some tasks which need to be done around the house. He owes me money. I need yard stuff done. Voila! Debt wiped out and tasks to be completed this week. Plus, TB needs to raise some $ for a trip to visit his bestest buddy. Momma got to thinking about some indoor jobs he can do for pay. (I was gonna hire somebody any ways for this stuff!) Aren't I clever? Poor TB has to get instruction from Michael on how to lay ceramic tile. On second thought, there is no extra pay for cruel and unusual punishment!

Love ya,

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dreams and Reality

Two nights ago, I had a dream which featured a friend I had in high school. I woke up thinking I had to get in touch with this guy. Last I knew, he was in Columbus, but it's been a number of years since he and I talked - almost 20 years, in fact. (Tattoo Boy was just a baby!)

Facebook. Gotta love it! I found him on Facebook. Wrote a brief message and voila! Got a response this morning. Turns out he's been thinking about me as well. Now, how odd is that? He's had a major loss this year - lost his partner of 28 years several months ago. His daughter is now married and living elsewhere, so he's living in a house all by himself and is having a rough time with it all.

The reality - this is all too much of a coincidence for me NOT to think that God's hand is in it. Perhaps this is God's way of bringing me back into this man's life because he's hurting and I could help someway. And maybe, just maybe help myself in the process.

Just some thoughts I have today.

Love ya,

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


This has been a strange week filled with challenges and blessings. Last week at this time I was mopping up water in our utility room - leaky roof. The next day the roofing company began its magic and the house looks terrific and is dry. Blessing indeed since we seem to be getting a thunderstorm/heavy rain every other day. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the roofing rep who pushed and convinced us to file an insurance claim. Michael claims he was concerned about leaving me with a house that needed major repairs. Well, at least that one is taken care of now. A friend at church gave me the name and phone number of a reliable handyman, so I'll give him a ring sometime soon - couple of other projects need to be done to make Michael's life a bit easier. Hey, and the best part about the new roof? Michael didn't fire the contractor mid-way through the job!

My brother returned from his medical mission to Haiti late Sunday night, but promptly fell ill requiring a trip to the ER. Bad case of dehydration. I'm so very proud of my brother and sister in law for their efforts to help the people of that country.

Mailed the quilt to my ex's nephew and he should receive it today. I'm hoping it will be a pleasant surprise.

In other quilty news: Got the borders on Jessica's quilt. (Michael says it's so bright it hurts his eyes!) Finished piecing the kit I was given at the Lebanon quilt show. Both need to be quilted and given to their recipients. Jessica's in Florida at the moment with her youth group enjoying a few days of "freedom" before chemo begins again. I have until the end of the month for the other charity quilt and that needs to be dropped off at the quilt shop.

The Red, White and Blue Boxy stars pieced for months now is still hanging in the sewing room. I did not have a real good feel for what to use for borders, so Andrea pitched in and found some of my stash which will work.

Most of the time I spent in the sewing room on Friday night and Saturday afternoon was spent cleaning and organizing. I cut a bunch of scraps into 2 and 1/2 inch strips and carefully stored them in a new cart I picked up at Hobby Lobby on the sale rack. I can now walk around the sewing room without having to avoid piles of fabric and storage totes. Marvelous!

After reading Bonnie Hunter's post about her latest workshop featuring Scrappy Mountains, I really wanted to try that pattern. I managed to get one block done last night. We had company (one of Michael's model railroading friends) and Andrea and I went for a work out at the Community Center. It was nearly 9:30 before I even cut the first strip. Not bad for such a late start. Now, I'm really hooked and can't wait to do more!

Now on to more serious matters: Apparently the dorks (kind word here folks) in Social Security Administration didn't think Michael qualified for disability based on the records from his first pulmonologist. Michael hasn't seen this doctor in over two years and was still working at that time. His regular doctor's records arrived last Friday and those notes are being evaluated right now. Please keep this matter in your thoughts and prayers. We can use all the positive vibes! I don't want to hire an attorney - but that may be the next step.

Love ya,

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Demise of My Wits and Butter Jesus

About 11 last night, a horrendous thunderstorm swept through our area. Try sleeping through that! And to add to the fun, our roof was not even half done. I worried about the heavy rain and didn't get much sleep. No damage fortunately and the roofers were back at work at 6:30 this morning. (Our neighbors LOVE us!)

Then, I learned this morning that the six-story tall statue of Jesus near our home was struck by lightening and destroyed! The locals called that statue "Butter Jesus" or "Touchdown Jesus". Agreed, the statue was horrendous, gaudy, and not my concept of what Jesus represents, but its destruction should not invite the kind of anti-Christian sentiments I'm hearing around the office and on the radio. Until now, I didn't think people despised our faith. Perhaps this should be a wake-up call.

Sewing? Very little. For some reason, the overhead light in my sewing room isn't working and it was dark when I had a few minutes to spare last night. I may avoid quilting again tonight - straight to bed after dinner. Between Smudge's antics the night before and the storm last night, my "tail" is dragging today.

Love ya,

Monday, June 14, 2010

Things That Go Bump In The Night

Up until three nights ago, I was getting a good night's sleep in the guest bedroom each night. Ahhhhhhh - no oxygen tubes, no wheezing noises, no snoring, etc. (You get the picture!) But, alas, Smudge discovered where I was now sleeping. The door to that bedroom doesn't latch snugly either.

Smudge knows how to push on the door. Some times it opens, often it doesn't and then it makes a banging noise loud enough to frighten the dead. Friday night and Saturday night he pushed on the door with his paw and "BOOM BOOM BOOM!" at 2 or 3 AM. If that wasn't enough, he cried as if his life depended on getting into bed with me.

So, last night I decided to keep the door slightly open and invite him to bed. Like most cats, he is active at night, so he didn't stay asleep with me. He got up, used his litter box, came back, jumped on the bed, jumped onto the windowsills, groomed himself. And the little bell on his collar went, "jingle, jingle, jingle" with every step he took.

Smudge and I are going to have a talk tonight after work.


- The quilt show in Lebanon was fun. It would have been downright enjoyable had there been air conditioning in the buildings. And if you're familiar with southwestern Ohio weather in summer, it was hot and humid. I felt so badly for the poor vendors. The quilts on display were great and I found a few things to purchase.

-Andrea and her three friends spent almost the entire weekend at our house with mom (me) playing chauffeur. Let's see, we went to the pool, the park, Donatos for pizza, Half Priced Books, Pet Smart and the mall between Saturday and Sunday. Granted one pal is just visiting from South Carolina, but do we have to fit an entire summer's activities in days?

-I am now a proud graduate of Dave Ramsay's Financial Peace University! I completed the 13-week course on Friday night. I don't think I'll struggle in finding something else to do with my Friday nights from now on! That program inspired me to make some changes that have really paid off and I have only one card to pay off (Michael's) and I'll be debt free except for the mortgage and that sucker's gonna go down! The emergency fund is my next plan - build it up. If all goes according to plan, that should be funded adequately by the holidays. I'd highly recommend Financial Peace University to anybody.

-The heat and humidity aren't helping Michael any. He spends most of his time attached to the computer and yelling at me to do this or do that. I had to wake him up at 6:30 this morning just in case the roofers showed up early. You would have thought the world was coming to an end! Major crab attack! Well, it's nearly 11 and the roofers and the materials haven't shown up yet. I suppose I'll get blamed for that too! Michael's temper and teasing has gotten the best of me lately. Before I respond to him, I need to remind myself to stop and call on my inner strength before responding. That's so hard to do! The natural response to nastiness is to respond with nastiness, right?

-I started another comfort quilt. This one's for a young girl at our church who is facing radiation therapy for a spinal tumor. Hoping to get it done by Sunday so I can give it to the pastor's wife for delivery. Also, finished my ex's nephew's graduation quilt. Mail it sometime this week. One of the vendors at the quilt show was distributing kits to anybody who wanted to make a kids quilt. I picked one up and need to have it done within a month, deliver it to their shop. Which gives me an "excuse" to visit this shop - never been there. As if I NEEDED an

Love ya,

Thursday, June 3, 2010

One Year To Practice

And I will need every bit of that one year to learn how to keep from crying when Andrea graduates from high school! When Tattoo Boy graduated from high school, I wore my big sunglasses to hide the tears, but Michael found out and let everybody know (hahahah, look at Cathy, she's crying!) Tattoo Boy was another matter - we didn't know until two days before commencement that he was going to graduate. I ended up writing a lot of his senior English papers that week to get him over the hurdle - so to speak. Something I'm not proud of doing, but at least it enabled him to graduate and go on to other things which he's doing quite successfully now at the University of Cincinnati.

Junior awards ceremony was this morning and I had a rough time stopping big time tears. Andrea won two awards - outstanding art student and outstanding English student. This hasn't exactly been the easiest year for her with all that's gone on with her step-dad, birth father, and the usual trials of being a teenager. By achieving what she has, it just proves how strong and beautiful my young lady is and I am so proud of her!

Perhaps they're tears of pride and happiness! Yeah, that's right.....A bright shiny spot in an otherwise tough year.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What's Next On The "Hit" List?

Resolved to knock down at least one tiresome, monotonous, crappy paperwork cruddy job at a time. Today it was to deal with the ambulance bill people - appeal mailed. Pay bill for Lindner Center - done. I may have stretched it a bit by trying to figure out the last bill for Michael's oxygen supplier. Their toll free line referred me to the local office and the local office referred me to the toll free line . SIGH! I'm praying this will be a successful week with the roofing process. We're scheduled for the work on June 8. Just waiting on the mortgage company to forward the start money.

No word from the SSA or the congressman's aide. THAT one will take time, more time.

After three days off work, my battery's a bit more charged. My next-door neighbor brought me to tears one night. He's such a dear. During one of our conversations, he asked me if he could weed-whack a section of our yard since he knows Michael can't do it and it wasn't something that was easily done by me. I said it was OK and the next day - done! I've reconciled myself to the fact that there are some things I'm going to have to hire out to be done. Once the tough stuff around the yard is done, I should be able to maintain it. My brother seems keen on having his sons do it for me, but I'm going to insist on paying them. Michael, however, is not keen on having the two boys do work around the house. He asked me if there are organizations out there which will send a handyman to the house for no charge? I reminded him I am not destitute, but he replied that he is. Knowing how Michael is about contractors, he'll fire the free help if he gets it - LOL!

Michael's asthma attacks are getting worse. He can't stomach the humidity we've experienced lately and the air conditioning is tough on him as well. What to do? He didn't get out of bed until 1 this afternoon - more time in bed, less energy. Still complains about anything and everything, but at least he's not accusing me of abandoning him when I have to get groceries or run errands. I started sleeping in the spare bedroom - something I swore that I wouldn't do. By Michael's own admission, it's helped him sleep better as well as me. He can keep the television on all night if he needs or wants now - something he claims helps him sleep better?

And I got some chunks of sewing done in between the running around. I pieced Sam's comfort quilt and it's 3/4 of the way quilted. The ex's nephew's quilt is next on the frame - bought the backing and batting at Joann's Memorial Day sale along with a few other goodies. (Three trips to Joann's this week?!) Andrea picked out fabric for a sundress she wants. I think I'll work on it soon, but not without her "help". It would be nice for her to have a few basic sewing and garment construction skills.

I'd love to post some photos of my quilting progress, but you see, Tattoo Boy has my camera. He's tough to get in touch with these days - finals next week and wrapping up projects for the school year. I've yet to get a ransom note for my camera, but I'm hoping to see it again soon!

The baseball game was a lot of fun - like Andrea said - it's always better when the Reds win.