Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Home and Children’ Category

Review, an Injection, and First Communion

Last week was long and filled to the brim.

On Tuesday we drove through some really nasty weather–pouring rain so hard the semis were driving at 40 miles an hour, Tessie panicked screaming she couldn’t see to drive—neither could we.

But we made it to Glen’s appointment at the VA.

Valet parking is not something I’m accustomed to doing—but in this case, if we wanted to be at his appointment close to on time, it was our only option. The VA is very organized with people in yellow slickers directing traffic and efficiently dealing with anxious paitents and spouses.

The CAT scan showed the lesion to be larger than the original lesion, the radiologist did not seem concerend—but we must now wait three months for the next scan. Waiting is one of the most difficult parts of this.

We stayed overnight in a hotel as I had an injection scheduled for the next morning. We try to schedule back to back things–so as to avoid the multiple trips to Houston.

I was pleasantly surprised to have a good experience with the injection. The radiologist was skilled, cometent, quick, and talked to me during the procedure—a vast difference from the previous one by a ‘pain management specialist’. That experence was miserable. As an Emergency Room physician for so many years, I had ample exoeruebce in managing pain and anxiety in the patient, patient family, and nursing staff—not easy but doable expecially if the technically expert with the hands so as to concentrate on the psychological aspects.

On to more pleasant subjects.

Our oldest grandson was scheduled for his First Comminion.

There were 136 children in the group, the girls dressed in lovely white dresses and head gear rainging from a band of flowers to veils. The boys were all in suits with ties; interestingly, many both boys and girls wore sneakers—- James wore polished black shoes as did his little brother.

It was an impressive ceremony, the church is immense and quite lovely with stained glass windows, and a wonderful choir.

Afterwords we adjourned to Seasons 52 for a wonderful brunch/lunch prepared by Chef Eddie.

We drove home—tired, but so glad to be home after three long days in Houston.

Magnolias and the Scent of the South

A large magnolia tree is in our back yard. It was a favorite climbing tree for my three boys as the limbs seemed to be placed perfectly to fit the lenght of their arms and legs.

Across the street was an even larger magnolia tree. It was hit by lightening and then termites set in, It is gone now with not even an indentation in the lawn to mark its former location.

I think I was too busy in those early years here to notice the lovely scent of the mganolias.

Now that I am retired, I have time to sit and enjoy the faint breeze through the open windows—the few days in which we use no heating or air conditioning. The windows are screened; a few mosquitoes manage to make their way inside—riding along the coats of our two border collies who no longer run as fast they used to—-but then neither do I.

Sometimes the small things of life are the most lasting in impressions.

The Boat

We spent last weekend at a medical conference in Austin. I usually attend these alone but this time, my husband deicded he would like to go with tme and sit in on the lecutres.

The lectures were quite varied with some controversial content, some exciting new advances but also some not very well thought out protocols.

We did not stay at the conference hotel but chose instead to stay about half a mile away.

We were delighted to find a very nice restauratn ‘The Boat’ almost literally in the hotel’s backyard. Instead of eating at a chain restaruant we had evening meals here.

It has an old diner/hippie charm to it–the food was excellent—but not cheap.

We were pleasantly surprised to learn our oldest son—who got his PhD from UT ate att the very same restaurant during those yeara.

And Shiner was on draft—a plus in the eyes of my husband.

A Wedding Dress

: Learning to sew in 4-H meant practicing on simple gathered skirts and aprons. It didn’t take long for me to enjoy more complicated patterns the more pieces and complex the better.

I wondered what it would be like to sew a wonderful wedding dress. I was not into lace and fluff—but simple elegant lines.

My wedding dress was velvet with covered buttons. I so wanted to sew it myself but my dad said it waas extremely bad luck to sew your own wedding dress.

I am sure I hurt my mother’s feelings when I said I did not want her to sew it—instead my favorite aunt was volunteered.

They had me try on my cousin’s wedding dress along with my mother’s dress—both were satin and lacy.

I felt rather silly in all that lace and fluff.

My aunt—good sport that she was–sewed other wedding dresses and wedding attire–one of my brothers’, and his daughter.

To get back to my thoughts here—

Last week I had doctor apontmetns in Houston, We try to take the opporutnity to take in avisit to a museum–Houston has a wealth to choose from.

This was in the Museum of Natural Hisotry and Science.

This is a traditional wedding coat for an aboriginal tribe in Alaska. Look at all that gorgious beading. Did the bride make this herself? or did she have an Auntie Hazel who labored hours over this intracate patterned beading.

Pennies for Defense

My mother learned to embroider at an early age and taught me when I was about five.

My skills were not up to her level even though I practiced and worked hard.

Her backs were as nice as her fronts.

Because she was bnorn during the Depression and lived through World War II with rationing of food stufss amont other things, and being in what was a single parent home at a time when that was quite unusual. she spent a lot of time with needle and thread.

It was a cheap hobby, and all the girls lusted for the empty cigar box at the local grocery store to hold their threads, hoops, and needles.

Having inheirted some of her pieces I decided to use it in this piece.

Some of the fabrics I used in this peice were feed-sacks—I remembered my grandmother covering the ktichen table items with this one—the spoon jar, salt and pepper, butter dish, and bread plate with several slices of bread waiting for the next meal.

While this embroidery and fabric will not mean a lot to anyone else viewing this peice, it was immensely satisfying to handle these bits of cloth touched many times by my grandmother and mother.

Chewy Rice

Now that I live in Southeast Texas, rice is a common starch in a meal. People rave about rice and gravy—I thought gravy only went on potatoes, sometimes boiiled and mashed on your plate or if your mom was ambitious and it was a holiday of your borthers was in charge of mashing the potatoes. My moither-in-law added sour cream sometimes and butter

But rice in my in-law’s home was served as this awful rice pudding at Christmas time with an almond hidden somewhere–and the person who got tht almond opened the first gift on Christmas morning.

I thougth the custom was nice—but I soon subsituted a pecan hidden in a mound of rice intended for a large ladleful of gumbo.

Then there is fried rice. That was something I learned to make, frying the raw rice in a skillet until browned—my residency friend from India did hte same with her wonderful chicken curry dish, Our rendition of fried rice included adding onion, and bits of leftover vegetalbes and bites of meat–too large to toss but not enough for a full meal.

I still try to make rice as a starch.

I am not terribly successful.

Here is my last attempt.

As you can see the rice was not successful so i baked a biscuit instead.

That is okra and tomatoes–a very traditional southeast Texas dish—and I could eat a whole meal of it.It is from our garden last year—okra is not hard to grown, and when you have an abundance of a vegetable, it is fun to experiment. This method of cooking came from a cook in a local hospiatl who let me stand in the doorway of the kitchen while she prepared it—and talked me through it. One Thanksgiving, the grandmother of my youngest son’s wife haelped me prepare it for the meal.

the chicken is coated with a bit of mayonnaise and then rolled in stale crushed tortiall chips—and baked.

Preparing food together and trying new ways and new foods is a way we are all connected.

The rice by the way was quite tasty—cilanrto and lemon and sour cream mixed in. But it was definitely chewy.

Better luck next time.

Squares and Stripes

Yesterday I wrote about my grandmother and her favorite quilt pattern.

Somewhere in all my ‘treasures’ I have the well worn hexgon and butterfly template from HER mother. Those templates had been so well used, the heaagon no longer had equal sides but was elongated. As the pattern she used involved tiny diamons around the perimeter of each hesagon flower, I suspect she would re-draft the template. The butterfly was applique so its distorted shape was not a problem.

I think, however, my grandmother would re-cut her templates to be sure they were accurate.

And here is a box of scraps she left behind. Fifteen nine-patches were at the bottom of these carefully cut scraps. Those are sewn together and will be quilted with the end=product being another teddy bear.

But what to do with these?

I’m thinking I will put them back in the box they came from–there is another stack of rectangles to become another StarSteps to Heaven…I think they need to rest awhile before I figure out what comes next.

In the meantime I do have other projects.

Stairsteps to Heaven

My maternal grandmother was an extraordinary person and I adored being with her.

Her life was not easy living through the Dpression and World War II. She took on many jobs to keep her home, from running the town’s canningmachine during World War II, repairing sewing machines during the Depression, picking and sorting cucumbers, mowing two different cemeteries in Wisconsn summer months, rolling rags for rag rugs, and then there were her quilts.

Her favorite pattern was Stairsteps to Heaven.

She organized her scraps in a shoebox, counting the number she needed for each set of steps. Sometimes she didn’t have enough of one fabric and she would substitute a similar one—keeping in mind that nothing was wasted. Some of the rectangles are pieced to make them the proper size.

She used cardboard templates, cut from heavy boxes. When I measured those templates, they were square and precise.

I don’t know how she managed to sew it together as she certainly did not have such a thing as a design wall—perhaps she laid them out on a nearby bed as she worked.

Some of her edges are not accurate—but I think she made this one several years after a stroke limited her use of her left hand; her treadle sewing machine was converted to electric by someone—I’m not sure who—perhaps my dad did that–he was a great mechanic.

I recognize several fabrics–the white/red stripe was kitchen curtains on the fram, the blue next ot it, a dress I made for college, the maple leaf a dress of my mothers—but there are others I don’t recognize—and were no doubt scraps given to her by others.

I’m not sure I can replicate my grandmother’s sense of color and design but it is a fun quilt to study.

This quilt is now in the binding queue.

Still Walking

Working for ten years in the local refineries, I was required to wear safety glasses. When presbyopia set in, I had progressives, when I worked ER and neeeded to wear them sometimes 36 hours in a row, I invested in wire drill mounted lenses so light I frequently forgot they were on my face.

In my mid fifties, I had what opthalmoligists call posterior vitrious separation—supposedly painless and associated with age. It meant I saw doznes of gnats flying over everything I looked at—all tiny blood clots from the event. That cleared eventually but then I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

One of the medications I was on was Plaquenil–a medication sometimes used for malaria. It is associated with deposits around the macula creating a crazy kaleidoscope of colors and a fuzzy ring around visual field. It was hard to read—as part of the letters would disappear—was that a b or a h or an n? Was that an a or e or o? I had to guess by the other letters in the word and the context.

Then cataracts!

And for a few months I could see fairly well but needed ‘cheaters’ for reading.

And a light.

Next came the large print books and a book that would have taken me two or three nights now took three or four weeks to read.

White print on black was impossible to read. Restaurant menus, magazines, websites seem more interested in attention grabbing than in legibility. The world now seems to depend on ‘apps’ also frequenlty white print on black and on a tiny screen.

I scheduled an eye appointment; endured the dilation and glaucoma checks, and soon learned I was legally blind in my left eye. I was informed it was macular degeneartion and that within a year or so, my right eye would be similarly affected.

What a devastating blow!

As an artist!

As a writer!

As a voracious reader of technical books, history, novels, mysteries!

As someone who enjoys independence and travel!

As someone who pays their own bills!

Facing a world dependent upon others to pay my bills, take me shopping or visiting, no more books.

And what about all the fun things I wanted to do, places I wanted to go, new adventures?

Walk With Me

Life is full of twists and turns; some delightful, some bittersweet, and then there are those you wish you could just read about—for someone whose name might be familiar but not your friends or family and certainly not yourself. You could tsk tsk and shake your head in sympathy and then go about your own business of chores and work and fun.

but life isn’t always like that. And sometimes those unfortunate things happen to you or your family or your friends.

Last November, my husband was diagnosed with lung cancer. It took all of November and December before a plan could be made for his care—waiting is hard—what should we do? Should we visit with granchildren? They are more likely to have a respiratory illness and that would delay any sort of treatment. Church? Should we make plans for things we’ve always wanted to do–but then when could we do them?

After anxious days that turned into weeks, he finally had a definitive treatment in mid January. Now we must wait to see if that treatment was effective.

Waiting is not easy and neither of us really want to exercise our patience.

His next appointment is in early May.

We haven’t changed much about our daily routne; things just seem to take longer. His siblings call frequently to inquire as to his status and he is looking forward to his next family reunion in late September.

But there is more to the story.