Sunday, December 4, 2016

December musings

I had no intention of taking a big break from writing, but life got away from me.

All mostly in the best of ways.

We've settled into our little Idaho home. Replaced floors, stocked our kitchen to function better; reorganized some closets, drawers, and Cub Sweetheart redid our laundry room so I have cabinets to hide cleaning supplies, etc., a shelf for baskets, and a place for the ironing board and iron I never use.

The iron and ironing board retired in 2010, but I keep them around for nostalgia's sake. And sewing.

We ran down to Texas in October, had some fun times with our kids and their kids there. We checked out our little Texas house that's in the process of being built. Then headed back up to Idaho.

Back in Idaho, I agreed to be Landon's room (grand)mom for this school year, so CS and I helped throw a Halloween party for 29 kids. Very fun! Halloween was all around fun here actually. CS and I ended the evening sitting on our in-town daughter's porch, under a propane heater, handing out treats to cute little kids.

Thanksgiving (multi-holiday catch up here!) was great fun. We all gathered at our out-of-town daughter's house where we cooked a 20+ pound turkey, twenty pounds of potatoes, and for the first time ever in my life, had enough people gathered together that we had a 'kids' table'. Warmed my heart to pieces.

We've made some sweet friends since moving to Idaho for the interim. A couple from our church - they're in our same age bracket, same stage of life, same values, same hair color :-) The biggest difference between us is height. They're on the shorter side, we're on the taller side. They're from California, and we're having fun getting to know them better. Having moved from the lake over three years ago, and now moved again, and without a home in Texas, it's been awhile since we made any couple friends. Feels nice.

Like everyone else, we're in the middle of getting ready for Christmas. The weather here in northern Idaho makes it easy to feel festive. We've already had light snow showers several times, and coats, boots, gloves and caps are all gathered by the front door. No going out without them! Hear tell we're supposed to dip into the single digits and Miss Lily is ready with a cute-as-can-be red plaid coat. CS isn't real fond of dressing the dog, especially if he has to walk her, but who doesn't love seeing a little white dog in a red plaid coat? Especially in December? Exactly - that's what I told him.

My mom has now been in a memory-care facility for about 16 months, and she's slowly declining. Short term memory is non-existent, and slowly but surely I can see her long-term memory fading away too. The social worker where she lives has been beyond fabulous, working with me to set up Facetime with her every other week. After a try or two we realized my mom's hearing difficulties were causing additional problems, so they came up with a set of headphones. When we had difficulties with her grabbing at the headphones, we came up with a 'fidgit blanket'. Has anyone else ever heard of them? They had plenty on hand, donated by a group of women from some church, so we're going to see if keeping her hands busy will help. I also ordered 'conversation cards' to try to be better prepared to talk to her. It's a heartbreaking struggle to try to find something / anything we can talk about. I just finished reading The Long Hello by Cathie Borrie. 

For anyone out there with a parent / relative with memory decline, it was a gentle read. I read through it in two long soaks in the tub, and there was enough insight into what my mother is going through to warrant the read. I am also reading another book, Creating Moments of Joy, by Jolene Brackey (A Journal for Caregivers), and it's been really, really helpful. Such insight! I'm learning not to say, "Mom, do you remember.....?" because she doesn't. Rather, I say, 'Mom, I remember when you made chicken and dressing for our Thanksgiving dinner and it was the very best part of the day." When she smiles I know it doesn't matter if she remembers it or not. She knows I do, and she feels loved. And that's what it's all about.

I've been doing a lot of reading lately too. My recent recommends are: All three books by Fredrik Backman, but I especially loved A Man Called Ove. Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger was wonderful. Not cheery, but wonderful. I can't remember if I mentioned before (that's what happens when you take an unexpected/unplanned blogging break), that I read Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee. I really enjoyed it. Not as much as the original, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it was a good read. Very interesting and I'd recommend it.

I've also retaken up playing Chess, mostly with my oldest 'Little'. (Can you call them that when they're taller than you?!) He and I have both been reading 'The Idiot's Guide to Chess', and both of us are improving, although he still beats me every time. I learned the basics of the game when I was less than ten, but haven't played for years. I'm finding as grandkids start growing up it's vital to find something to stay connected with them. CP is my very first grandchild, absolutely treasured in my heart, and I don't ever want him to outgrow me. So I'll learn to play chess, and get good enough that I can beat him often enough that he doesn't feel bad when he beats his Grammy.

Well, this is long enough catch-up. We're in Idaho one more week, then we head back to Texas to love on our kids and their kids, and check out our in-the-process house. It'll be nice to have temperatures a bit higher, but I'll be okay with coming back to snow and pots of chili and knitting by a fire. I'll try to post some photos and news when we get back.


P.S. Let's all try to be nice to everyone in line, in front of and behind us. In the grocery, in traffic, everywhere. We're all stretched thin right now, and kindness is the best gift we can give. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Leg #3 Colorado, and into Utah - halfway there

I'm putting too many photos into this, and none of them is edited. Is what is. I hate, hate that word, 'busy', so overused these days and worse yet, as a badge of honor. So I won't use it.

Let's just say life is full in the nicest of ways.

We've been here in northern Idaho - I call it the smokestack, but I believe native Idahoans call it the panhandle - just over two weeks. We've unpacked, put away the suitcases, stocked the fridge, done a bit of shopping for things we needed to live here six to eight months; we've gone to several movies, (Light Between Oceans, To Joey with Love and Magnificent Seven), eaten lunch by the lake, had kids over, had grandkids over, gone to see them, watched the trees begin to turn, enjoyed the canadian geese that fly over our little place every single night honking their heads off; we've sipped wine at night and made plans. We've slept, and then slept some more.

So we ordered wood floors for our little place - just the dining room and living room, but the carpet is not people friendly, and in spite of multiple cleanings it's stained and bugs me to death. So we ordered floors to be installed sometime in October. Who knew wood floors were so complicated? Worse than the cereal aisle at Walmart. We settled on an engineered hardwood that is multi-colored, and we're thinking we'll like that much better under the dining room table, especially the next time we have anyone over for spaghetti.

Our Texas home isn't started yet, but we think it's close. That means we have at least six weeks til we have to be back there to check on construction, and sign off for them to start putting up sheetrock. So we decided to finally, finally, finally take our 35th wedding anniversary trip. It started with a trip to Italy, booked, then cancelled. Then buying a camper which we took out for one night and loved, but decided that wasn't going to be the trip. Then we decided to make a ten day drive through Washington and  Canada. That was before we drove 10 days from Texas to Idaho, at which point we decided neither of us could stand the thought of getting in a vehicle to go any further than the local grocery.

You know  you're worn thin when even a cruise sounds like too much trouble. Too many people. Too many announcements over the loud speakers. Too crowded elevators. Too much song and dance. Too much entertaining. So we are leaving this Sunday for an all-inclusive in Mexico, where we will sleep late, lie on a beach, sip pretty beverages, look for shells, read books, and change into clean clothes to eat supper before turning in for a good night's sleep. I will knit. Cub Sweetheart will not.

So the suitcases are back out on the bed, ready to be filled. So far I have 3 books, (Night Circus, Elizabeth is Missing and a Debbie MacComber) my straw hat and our passports. I have been known to delay packing, then throw everything in too fast, which results in not packing underwear, so I'll have to put some thought to it.

I'd hoped to post all the photos from our drive up here, but there are too many and not enough time, so I'll put leg #3 here, and catch up the rest after we get back home.

Leg #3 was from the Denver area, across western Colorado to visit my sister and her husband and daughter's family, then on into Utah. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

We saw antelope. That was it. 

Snow in August!

Our family calls these 'kissing tunnels' Must kiss someone!

He hides me in the cleft of the rock...

Kiss, kiss!

Bridge love

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In all the trip, seeing my 91 year old father, my mother who has dementia, and my sister and her husband who is very ill, we didn't take photos of people, except two of my Dad in his garden. Seeing people you don't know if you'll ever see again, or won't see again, is just too hard. So I hugged long, then went back for extra hugs and kisses, and tried to etch faces in my mind and heart, something I think we tend to neglect in this day of selfies and iphones full of photos that never get printed out.