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,