Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Struggle

I wrote a nice, long blog post outlining my current woes and disasters... and then decided to scrap it because, really, it was just all about me, me, me.

And that's not where my focus should be.

Suffice it to say, then, that today I am struggling and that today I feel as though my prayers are bouncing off the ceiling... AND...that today I needed to read this particular post from Joyce's blog From This Side of the Pond. Thank you, Joyce, for finding my blog and leaving a comment so that I could find yours!

- Catherine

Randon Dozen #4 -- the Wednesday meme

Once again, questions courtesy of Lid over at 2nd Cup of Coffee If you want to play along, copy and paste the questions into your own blog (with your own answer, of course). Lid asks that we go to her blog and link ours to hers, using Mister Linky thing-y at the bottom of her own Randon Dozen post.

1. Tell me the absolute best way to watch a movie.
In a mostly deserted theater with a really huge screen. That way you get all the sensory delight of the big screen movie but no annoying talking or kicking or cell phones around you.

2. Do you ever think about your own funeral? If so, do you have specific ideas about how you would like it to be?
Funerals are for the living, and I’ll be past caring by then – so, no, I won’t be picking out clothing or hymns or anything like that. The only thing I want for sure is a headstone in a cemetery (with my full name and dates on it).

3. Are you more of a giver or a taker?
Sadly, I’m probably more of a taker. I wish it were otherwise and it’s something I struggle with regularly.

4. Vacations: planned activities and schedules, or play it by ear?
Play it by ear, baby. That’s why I like to go and stay in one place for a week while we’re on vacation – so there is enough time to see the local attractions without doing so on a schedule. Vacations are supposed to be relaxing, as far as I’m concerned – so the “if it’s Tuesday this must be Belgium” kind of vacation doesn’t much appeal to me.

5. What is one often overlooked item in your home that needs to be cleaned regularly?
We have two glider rocking chairs in the living room and I always forget to dust the underneath area where the gliding/rocking mechanism is. And I usually discover my oversight when a guest is quietly rocking away in the one of the chairs.

6. Name a cause that means a lot to you.
Compassion International. It's a Christian organization that works hard to make life on earth better for these kids and also strives to teach them about Jesus Christ (so that life after this earth is also better). You, the sponsor, get to correspond with your sponsored child, and most of the money you give goes directly to support the child.

7. Do you eat a regular old peanut butter jelly sandwich, or do you customize it? And by the way, jelly or no jelly?
I hardly ever eat pbj – it was never a favorite. When I do, it’s usually open faced on toast.

8. If we were having a conversation in person, how would I know if you were nervous?
I wouldn’t smile very much and I’d use REALLY long words.

9. Do you have an elaborate bedtime routine, or just the basics of toothbrushing and jammies?
Well, it’s more than the basics, I guess: Take herbal relaxer, brush teeth, remove makeup, smooth on moisturizer, climb into bed and read at least a page of an entertaining book, and then turn out the light.

10. Have you ever regretted something you wrote on your blog?
No, thankfully.

11. Has anyone ever told you that you look like a famous person or celebrity? Did you agree?
Fifteen (or so) years ago someone said I looked like Meryl Streep. That would be very nice because she is quite beautiful and has aged well -- but I really. don’t. think. so. Sigh.

12. If you were going to dedicate a song to a loved one or friend, what would the song be and to whom would it be dedicated?
To my husband, Tim: “Valentine” (written by Jim Brickman and sung by Martina McBride).

Friday, September 25, 2009

Don't Come

"Don't come," she says. Don't come??? You're taking pain meds and have been in pain for nearly 24 hours straight and you say, "Don't come??????"

"Are you crazy?" I wanted to say. Of course, I didn't.

She IS my mother, after all.

The Uber Planner isn't ready for me to come and stay yet. I reminded her that I wanted to get there before she's so out of it that she can't recognize me. She's pretty sure she'll be able to give me three days' notice before that point arrives (three days being the time it will take for me to drive there).

She said she's not ready for me to take her piano yet because she needs to practice Christmas music. I have no argument for that. Christmas music? I reassured her that I wasn't going to take her piano until it was all over anyway ("I'll be prying it out of your cold, dead fingers, Mom," I joked -- she laughed).

She sees her doctor on Monday and we will talk it over again after that.


Today is a good day for her -- she is pain-free and feels good. But yesterday was one of the worst days she's had yet. And the oral morphine made her sick on top of everything else, so they will have to find a different pain killer that she can take by mouth for now.

A few days ago she said (as I wrote in my blog entry), "With this disease, some days you die and some days you dance." She reiterated that today during our conversation.

It put me in mind of the old English carol, "Tomorrow shall be my dancing day" -- a piece we sang in our high school choir, and which is, arguably, the forerunner of the popular 1970s Jesus Movement song "Lord of the Dance."

Because after Mom dies, she WILL dance again.

As always, stay tuned.....

- Catherine

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Still wondering, but getting ready to go.

Mom's not feeling too well today -- in fact, she's been in constant pain since last night. She doesn't like the pain meds, because they make her so sleepy, but it seems as though she doesn't have much choice about it today. The pain has been with her since the middle of last night, and when I spoke to her this afternoon, she'd had a couple of doses of pain med and was thinking about the next one in an hour or so. That's a sharp change from yesterday, when she was pain-free.

Tim and I had planned to go camping one last time in early October, but I think we might change our plans and go this weekend instead.

Mom said today, "I think this thing will go quickly when it happens." In other words, she won't be lingering.

And I'd better think about packing.

- Catherine

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Random Dozen -- the Wednesday meme

Got this from a blog called 2nd Cup of Coffee. If you want to play along, copy and paste the questions into your own blog and then answer them for yourself!

1. Please share one middle school memory. It can be good, bad, ugly, funny. Pictures or words, I don't care, just share.

Our middle school campus had a major landscaping/design flaw in that the front lawn and main entry sidewalk would disappear under a veritable lake of water during a rainstorm. I’m talking inches deep, feet wide and yards long! I remember plenty of instances trying to get to or from the bus, walking on the heels of my shoes through the deep water that ran the entire width of the sidewalk for several feet (in the vain hope that I’d be able to keep my shoes at least somewhat dry. Ha!).

2. What's your favorite Beatles song?

If I Fell

3. If I asked you to describe your most comfortable outfit, what would it be?

Anything with a pair of jeans; I like dressing them up and dressing them down, and they’re my favorite article of clothing.

4. Would you rather host a party or be a guest?

Host. I don’t do small talk very well and usually end up feeling disoriented because I don’t have anything to do if I’m just the guest. And…. I really like to have people over for a party. I like planning it, organizing it, cooking for it, welcoming people into the house… the whole nine yards!

5. Do you think we will move completely from traditional books to digital ones, and if we do, are you OK with that?

No, I don’t think traditional books will ever go away, and I wouldn’t be okay with it if they did. I like to hold the book and have the freedom to use only my eyes (and not a scrolling bar) to move along the page. Plus there is something about having the spatial orientation of the book – you know how far you have to go, how far you’ve been, how much you would need to read to get to the end of the page, etc…. Reading electronically, to me, is a bit like proceeding blindly through something.

6. Do you learn best by reading, listening or experiencing?

Experiencing. Much to my chagrin. (I wish I could learn by listening.)

7. If you are (or when you were) single, what is the kiss of death for you concerning the opposite sex? (That is, what is one trait or behavior or habit or anything at all that immediately turns you off from considering that person a potential match for you?)

When I was single, the kiss of death was if the guy was more focused on my looks than on me as a person.

8. Snacks. Salty or sweet?

Sweet. Specifically: Chocolate. What else is there?

9. Look around you in a four foot radius. What object is around you that you didn't realize was there or forgot was there? How long has it been there?

There’s a phone book sitting on the shelf under my desk top. For months I’ve been hiking upstairs to get a phone book when I needed one, and I could have just reached under my desk and pulled it out!

10. What is your favorite Tom Cruise movie?

None. I’m not a fan of Tom Cruise’s acting.

11. You buy a bottle of shampoo and discover that you don't like what it does to your hair at all. What do you do with that full bottle?

Put it in the product graveyard underneath the bathroom sink – because MAYBE (just MAYBE) one day I will want it again…

12. Your favorite Fall comfort food?

Homemade Beef Stew.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I thought my mother was to have had a doctor's appointment today -- turns out it is next Monday.

She sounded great today on the phone -- well and strong. She IS going to get a 'cleaning lady' finally -- someone to come in every other week and run the vacuum, mop the floors, etc. Her strength just gives out too quickly these days. She daily runs the little 2-lb. cordless sweeper that I sent her so that the surface dirt is taken care of. But the 8-lb. Oreck is too much.

First time in her whole life that she's even considered having someone other than herself do the cleaning of her house.

So, even though she didn't see the doctor, she did have a visit from Hospice today; they are still coming only once a week, though. In answer to my question about frequency of visits, my mother hastened to assure me that the Hospice team is available ANYtime she needs them. But I don't need them right now, she added.

Go, Mom!

- Catherine

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Shape-up Update

It's been over a week since I purchased The Moonshoes (as I affectionately call my Skechers Shape-ups Sneakers).

I added one other thing to my at-home regimen - in addition to the daily walking with Skechers: I'm doing sit-ups on a balance ball (sometimes called a Therapy Ball -- it's one of those enormous balls that you can roll around on). Now, while I do those sit-ups, I also tighten my buttocks in order to get a bit more of a workout (and also to hold my balance). An added benefit is that, because my sit-ups start at a negative angle (beyond flat), my spine gets a nice little adjustment, too. Stomach is definitely getting flatter.

So, here is what I've noticed in the last 24 hours: 1) my butt muscles are definitely feeling the effects of the sit-up workout and 2) my legs are more flexible.

I attribute #2 to The Moonshoes. Today I sat down on the floor at church and crossed my legs -- with ease! I haven't felt that flexible in YEARS, folks! Usually I have to uncross my legs almost immediately, but today I simply sat there, quite comfortable, for quite a long time. Amazing.

That's the Shape-up Update. I have to say that it's a fairly easy regimen -- daily walking and daily sit-ups -- but it does seem to be paying some pretty good dividends.

- Catherine

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Days of the Journey

I call my mother every day now. I didn't used to do that -- she never encouraged it when she was younger, feeling that girls who called their mothers every day weren't independent enough. I never understood that, but I do now. It's twofold: 1) my mother was a somewhat distant woman for most of her adult life; and 2) she lost her own mother just as she (my mom) was entering adulthood, really -- in the days when phone calls were expensive and thus were utilized only infrequently and for important messages. So, she never knew how rich it could be to talk to your mother often.

Now that my mom is ill, I call every day just to say hello and gauge how she's doing (as determined by the tone of her voice -- I wonder if she knows that yet!). We exchange small talk about what's new (not much) and I try to find something funny to say.

Yesterday she had a very good day and had gone out to lunch with an old friend. They'd laughed together for a couple of hours, and I could tell that that had done my mother quite a lot of good.

Here's what she said to me when I remarked that she sounded great over the phone: "With this disease, some days you die and some days you dance."

Yesterday she danced.

She has a doctor's appointment on Monday. Stay tuned....

- Catherine

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Energizer Bunny

My mother's email note to me this morning is as follows:

The hospice nurse was here and I'm definitely jaundiced. The liver is starting to be compromised.

We're going out with friends for dinner.

That's my mom.

- Catherine

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Left Foot, Part 2

I've been wearing my Skecher Shape-ups pretty much full time for the last few days now -- I even did my last shift at the Fair Booth in them (8+ hours). I have to say that I really like these shoes! With each step, your foot is gently flexed through the entire range of motion, and the shock absorption can't be beat. The soles of both my feet feel better, and I haven't had an acute attack of the Plantar Faciitis for several days. I did have to ice my left foot after cleaning the booth on Sunday, but it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been in that I could still walk on it and wasn't limping around - it just ached and needed ice.

As for the shaping up side of things, I do get a better workout in my walking -- so long as I walk as instructed in the Shape-ups' booklet (which accompanies each pair). You can feel the leg muscles working harder while you walk, and that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

I took note of peoples' footwear one afternoon at the Fair and I actually saw a few people wearing these kinds of sneakers, so the trend must be gathering. I've always wanted to be fashion-forward, and now, because I have old and touchy feet, it looks like I will be.

- Catherine

Monday, September 14, 2009

End of Summer

The State Fair is over for another year and, finally, our lives are returning to normal after a summer packed full of activity. I’m almost glad to be back on a regular schedule.

The grand tally of condiments that I made for our “Fish and Chips” booth is as follows: fry sauce: 18 gallons; tartar sauce: 18 gallons; cocktail sauce: 10 tubs (7 lbs each); cream cheese spread: 30+ pounds. Today is the first morning that I didn’t wake up thinking “How much do I need to make this morning?” What a relief.

I didn't take one single picture during the Fair this year -- I was too darn busy to even think about it. Sorry 'bout that!

What I’ve learned (besides how to make gallons of fry sauce) is that running a family business is a veritable minefield at times. We survived… with some unpleasant bruising but no loss of life or limb. We can do better. Tim and I learned a lot about that aspect of things this year, in addition to what we learned about the nuts and bolts operation.

A family meeting will be scheduled for this Fall so that we can talk about what to do with this year’s Fair booth proceeds.

I really like the work in the booth – I like talking to the customers and filling orders. 99.8% of the people you encounter are genuinely nice, and there is a great feeling of “hometown” values during the week of the Fair. There are all kinds of competitions and contests – photography, cake decorating, baking, garden produce, livestock (small and large), Junior rodeo, etc., etc., etc. Lots of fun all week for everyone. Plus there are the rides, the concerts, the horse races, and all the various vendors (yes, I bought a crazy looking broom, but I think it will be just the thing to clean the apricot pits from our sidewalk).

Update on my mother: the number of bad days is increasing and I am watching closely to see when I should hit the road to be there with her. The plan is for me to drive this trip (instead of flying) since the length of time I'll be staying is uncertain and I’ll need a car while I’m there.

- Catherine

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Left Foot

Oh. My. Heck. (as they say out here). I just spent $100 on a pair of sneakers. Sneakers! $100!! Not a nice pair of high-fashion leather boots but a pair of ugly black sneakers with sky-high soles.

Why would I do such a thing?

I thought you'd never ask.

I have two reasons for purchasing the Skechers Shape-ups: 1) I am hoping they help my left foot's Plantar Faciitis situation, and 2) I really do want a better workout when I'm walking since that is my main form of exercise through the winter.

I saw these in a local shoe store and, on impulse, decided to try them on. I'm not a foot expert, but they do seem to have really good shock absorption and they do seem to give my foot the kind of flexing that it needs for the Plantar Faciitis condition. Of course, that's after only one day with them. For the long term benefits for my left foot, the jury is still out.

As for the company's claims of toning muscles, etc. -- we will see.

I intend to wear them every day for at least my walks with the dog. I'll keep you posted.

- Catherine

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Working at the State Fair

The Eastern Idaho State Fair has started, and the family's food concession booth is off to a good start. Tim's (extended) family has been doing this gig for more than a decade now, and it's become quite an operation. The booth started out all those years ago in a somewhat obscure corner of the fairgrounds, but it is now located on one of the main walkways very near the grandstand. Since that move (about 5 years ago), business has boomed -- helped by the fact that we offer some really good fish (fried salmon, fried cod, fried shrimp, and smoked salmon bagels).

I opened the booth yesterday for pre-fair business -- we had a surprising amount of traffic from the vendors who were setting up their own places and from the 4H families (one kid came twice during the course of the day, and each time he paid for his $8.00 meal with a $50 bill).

I got a really nice surprise today when a high school classmate showed up at our booth. Peter lives an hour away from us, and I "see" him on FB all the time, but I haven't actually seen him in person in about 10 years. So that was really fun to have a mini-reunion, talk for a few minutes and introduce him to my husband.

I'm tired as I write this and I'm afraid I'll have Restless Leg Syndrome tonight; I expect to be completely exhausted when the week is all over.

And... once it IS all over, I will start thinking about when I'm going to drive East to visit my Mom.

- Catherine