Saturday, November 30, 2013

November 30, 2013

Saturday in the Sewing Room
November 30, 2013

This has been a nice day.  I have not left the house except to walk out to the mailbox this afternoon.  I have spent most of the day in the sewing room.  This evening I helped a little as Ron set up the Christmas tree, I did a little cleaning this morning, and I have warmed a few left overs for lunch and supper, but that is about all that I have done.  Of course the Christmas movies were on all day while I worked.

The last few weeks I have done better understanding the dialog on the television.  I can follow a movie pretty well.  I do continue to depend on the closed captions and have considered turning them off, but as I said, I depend on them. 

Finally, the music in my head is beginning to include some Christmas carols.  Not all of the music is Christmas, but at least some of it is.  I do love Christmas music and will be curious to see if I can pick out the melody when we start singing them at church. 

An interesting thing happened on my blog last night - there were nearly 300 page views over night.  Usually over night there will be about 40 or 50.  The count of page views on the blog is now over 16,000.  Some new countries have been added in the last few days bringing the total to 63 countries with Jamaica, Sri Lanka, and Moldova being the most recent additions.  Sometimes there will only be one viewing from a country, or maybe 2 or 5, but recently there have been several hundred views from Malaysia.  I find that very interesting and it makes me curious.  I have always been fascinated by statistics - in case you can't tell.

Tonight, I am beginning to decorate the Christmas tree.  Normally I would put some Christmas carols on to listen to as I decorate, but this year, I think I will skip that.  My husband is watching the Texas A&M football game in by the tree.  Oops, he just said they lost.  This is just the beginning of the decorating.  I will keep you updated.
My arm has done well today.  I gave it a workout at the sewing machine this morning, working on a heavy piece.  But I got a lot accomplished and am feeling good. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

November 29, 2013

Battle With the Background Noise
November 29, 2013

Today has been a day when my head is filled with a lot of background noise.  I am starting at the end of the day, but the end was an example of the whole day.  When we got to the restaurant for supper this evening to meet our friends, we were the only customers in the place (I guess every one else was exhausted from shopping at Black Friday sales).  The owner and a waitress were there and I assume there was a cook in the kitchen.  Shortly after we got settled our friends arrived.  I had decided to try sitting across from my friend to see if using the "focus" setting would work better for us.  Almost immediately, the background noise began to really bug me.  It at times, drowned out the conversation.  I asked if there was background music and they said there was.  I could not distinguish any melody, all I heard was a low rumble of noise.  It is very irritating!

Our conversations at supper were good, and we had a fun time catching up on each other's week, but the noise really got to me a few times.  I can't figure out the solution.  I think a lot of the problem is the restaurant itself.  It is in an old house with low ceilings, tile floors, and wooden chairs that scrape across the floor.  In the dining area you can hear the icemaker, and things like that.  I will keep trying.

As for the rest of the day, I started by putting away things from yesterday's Thanksgiving celebration.  Ron did dishes for me yesterday but he doesn't put things away, or I would never find them again.  So I finished straightening the kitchen and the dining room.  The birds were glad to see me bring them their breakfast.  Ron had forgotten it was Friday and so I had to put the trash out.  Then I went to the office.

Much of my day at the office was spent on bookkeeping and straightening my desk.  I got a deposit prepared and closed out the end of the month partly.  I still need to send out statements Monday, but I got several things out of the way. 

Black Friday shopping does not appeal to me.  I have no desire to fight the crowds to save a few bucks on something I don't need.  I did place one order on line - well, actually three orders.  I prepared a couple of projects to have Shutterfly print for me and then I ordered a quilting tool that was on sale from a website.  I have to say, that website is very poorly designed.  I had so much trouble placing the order.  Maybe they were overloaded with shoppers, but I don't think that was the problem.

Ron was out on several jobs during the afternoon so I waited on the customers.  As often happens, one came in who knew about me losing my hearing and he wanted to know how I am adapting to the Cochlear Implant.  I told him that I am very happy with it in quiet settings, but in noisy ones it is a problem.  He said he is deaf in one ear and has the same trouble.

After we came home from supper, I started putting "Santa's Workshop" back in operation.  I worked on the two projects I have in progress and am trying to plan another quick one for a birthday gift before Christmas for our youngest grand daughter.  I made good progress on one of the projects tonight.

My arm that had the broken elbow has been aching today, and I am not sure why.  I see the doctor next week for my last follow up on the elbow surgery.  He had told me when I saw him a few weeks ago that I could cancel this appointment if I wanted to, but I told him I would wait until closer to time for the appointment to make that decision and I decided to keep the appointment. 

I am hoping Ron will get our Christmas tree up tomorrow.  He has the stand ready but the tree is stored at the office in the warehouse and he will have to go on a scavenger hunt tomorrow to locate it.  Maybe I will decorate a little around the house in the morning while my housekeeper is here.  There is so much to do.  I better get some sleep so I can get it all done tomorrow!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

November 28, 2013

November 28, 2013

There are so many things we take for granted every day of our lives.  We don't stop to think, "I can breathe."  "I can see."  I can hear."  We just do those things automatically.  We don't stop and thank God that we can do those things, until we or someone we love, can't do one or more of them.  In some ways we are thankful for the pretty things we see or the nice music or sounds we hear, but the actual ability to do those things is so often taken for granted.  Once I lost my hearing, I was more aware than ever what amazing things our senses are. 

Years ago my mom lost her sense of taste.  All food tasted like wet cardboard.  It was bland, the texture was off, and eating became a chore.  She would try spicy things thinking maybe if some taste was strong enough, it would get through.  In the same way, when I couldn't hear, often others would think if they yelled loud enough I would be able to hear.  Not true.  I am sometimes concerned that I could set off the bugler alarm at home and not know it and have the police show up to see what is wrong.  Of course then I would not hear the police at the door but they might hear or see me and think I was the "bad guy".  Each of our senses is important.

Today, I am thankful for technology that can help when our senses fail.  I am thankful that I was able to be helped with a Cochlear Implant.  I am thankful for the skill of the medical teams that have been helping me this past year.  I am thankful for the technology that made an artificial part for the bone in my elbow that wouldn't heal and for the doctor and team who replaced my damaged bone portion with the artificial one. 

There are so many things to be thankful for.  I am thankful that Christ died for my sins to pay the price for my sins.  I am thankful for an amazing family.  I am thankful for friends who are always there for me, but who especially have helped this past year.  The list could go on and on, but it is good for us to set aside time to think of the things we are thankful for.

I was up at 5:45 this morning and started working in the kitchen getting the turkey in the oven.  Then I went to feed the feathered friends in the back yard.  The Duck Wars continue.  There were 25 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks that showed up for breakfast.  I remembered why they are called "whistling" ducks.  They were noisy this morning.  Here are some of them lined up on the roof waiting for me to fill the feeders.
Here are others waiting out by the water for me to go back inside so they could come eat.

Ron's mother and my mother came between 12:00 and 1:00 and spent the rest of the afternoon here after eating lunch with us.  It was a good lunch and a good visit.
Ron's mother and I went through some old family quilts so that she could tell me what she remembered about them.  It was interesting to hear her vivid memories of many things from her childhood as she watched mothers, grandmothers, great grandmother, and aunts make quilts.
My mom who is not a quilter enjoyed going through some quilt magazines while quilts were discussed.  Ron and I are blessed to have our moms here in town and in good health.  Ron's mom has a few health problems but she was feeling very good today and had a good time at our home.

Oh, I did put the turkey in the oven alone.  At time to get it out, I had Ron get it out for me, so maybe I am 1/2 way to my goal.  It was a busy day in the kitchen and I am tired, but it was a very good day.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November 27, 2013

Thawing the Turkey
November 27, 2013

It seems to me that I am always trying to get the turkey thawed out at the last minute for holiday meals.  The directions will say how many days ahead you need to move it from the freezer to the refrigerator for it to be thawed in time.  They must not keep their refrigerator as cold as I keep mine.  For a while this evening I put it in cool water in a pan to thaw it and now it is back in the refrigerator and I hope by morning it will be thawed enough to put in the oven.

I spent the morning and early afternoon at the office mostly waiting on customers and starting some of the end of the month bookkeeping activities since we are almost at the end of the month!  I got a deposit prepared and around 2:30 Ron offered to let me go home to start cooking for tomorrow.  I went to the bank and then stopped at the drug store on my way home.  Don't tell Ron, but I stopped to take some bird photos on the way home.  There is a Resaca not too far from the office where I often find a nice variety of water birds.  We have had several cold, dreary days and today the birds were out sunning themselves and preening.  These White Ibises looked so lovely.
This immature White Ibis is surrounded by turtles that wanted to sun themselves on the branches in the water.  The immature White Ibises stay brown for about a year and a half.

I failed to mention how I started the day.  Normally I take a shower in the mornings so I can wash my hair.  Today I could have been a cartoon character.  I opened the shower curtain and saw a tiny spider so I squashed him, but in doing so, I knocked the bar of soap off the soap dish.  Since I was concentrating on the spider, I forgot about the bar of soap and as I stepped into the shower, my foot hit the bar of soap right in the center and just like in the cartoons, My feet went up and down I went.  Thankfully, it was like it was in slow motion and I didn't hit with a big bang or as it probably would have been in the cartoon a "Kaboom" or a "Splat".  I think a one inch bruise on my leg is the extent of the damage, but I must admit, it really woke me up and shook me up.  That is not how I want to start my days!

When I got home this afternoon, I made the cooked dressing for the apple salad that is a tradition in our family that came from my mom's mother.  We love her apple salad.  Then I started on pies.  Our dinner group tomorrow will be very small, but I baked four pies.  The reason for that is that we were planning to take all the food to Ron's mom's house and eat there, so I was going to take one each of two kinds of pies and leave two at home for us to start on tonight and have for the weekend.  Then about the time I put the last pie in the oven, Ron came home and said his mom had decided she felt well enough to come to our house for lunch tomorrow.  So we are well stocked on pies, but I must say the Lemon Meringue pie is the best I have done in a LONG time.  I had a piece tonight and was very pleased.

Our daughter-in-law Vickey called and we chatted for a while, but as usual, there were a few times I just could not understand what she was saying.  That is very frustrating.  We did have a nice visit.  They are having 15 at their house tomorrow for Thanksgiving.  She and Bob love to have people over for meals, especially on holidays when others like themselves may have no other family near enough to visit for the day.  Vickey had everything ready that could be done ahead, so she took a break and called just as I was ready for a break.  The pumpkin pies were in the oven and I was delighted for an excuse to sit and chat. 

Early tomorrow morning I think I will have to wake Ron up to have him put the turkey in the oven.  I managed with the lemon pies, partly because he wasn't home or I would have had him get them out of the oven.  I did have him get the pumpkin pies out.  I think the turkey is past my level of recovery from the broken elbow.  You may recall in the beginning my goal was to be able to take the turkey out of the oven by Thanksgiving.  If I had to do it, I probably could but I don't think it is worth the risk.  Even pouring the fillings into the pie shells this afternoon was too hard - I spooned it in.

There are so many things we have to be thankful for not only in our home, but in our country.  There are things going on in the country that disappoint us, but America is a wonderful country and there is no where else I would rather live.  I have visited a few other countries and although there are beautiful spots in them, I love the American way of life and the attitude most people in this country have.  May God continue to bless America in the years to come.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 26, 2013

A Day Filled With Friends and Errands
November 26, 2013

My day started with me not wanting to get out of my nice warm bed into a house that was a little chilly.  I hate to tell my husband that the house is cold, because I like the house cooler than he does, so I hate admitting that I am cold.  I did turn the thermostat up a little when I finally forced myself to get up and make Ron's coffee. 

When I went outside to take care of the birds, it was not uncomfortably cold out there.  The house blocks a north wind fairly well from the backyard, so I was able to fill the ponds and feeders in a short sleeved shirt and no jacket.  One of the blue budgies was back.  I am convinced this one is an escaped pet because he came to the feeders while I was still working in the yard.  A few sparrows joined him, but when I came near the feeder, all flew away except the budgie.  He flew to the nearest branch and just watched me from there.  I really think he wanted to come to me, but I guess it was the peer pressure.  Ha, ha. 

After breakfast I went to Wal-Mart for groceries for Thanksgiving lunch and for my contribution to a dinner at the church for international college students who will be at the university over the holiday.  I made a stop at the church to deliver the food and another item. 

Next stop on my list was the drug store to pick up a prescription that the dermatologist called in for me yesterday after my visit with him.  I remembered today that I didn't mention that appointment yesterday.  Ron and I use the same dermatologist and really like him.  He has a little bit of an unusual last name so Ron calls him Dr. Mike.  I didn't meet Dr. Mike until after I went deaf, so he has been fascinated by my Cochlear Implant and my progress.  Sad thing is, I don't get to show off with him how great I can do.  Dr. Mike talks extremely fast.  I mean, REALLY fast.  I think he must be practicing for the future of health care where you have to get the patients in and out in a hurry if you are going to make any money.  We feel he is the most thorough dermatologist we have gone to, but I sure have trouble understanding him.  I had one spot that concerned me, but he said it just needed this cream that I had to pick up today.  He found one tiny spot on my arm that he froze, but other than that, I got a good report and he said I didn't need to come back for six months.

From there I went to the office and worked.  I did some bookkeeping and waited on a variety of customers.  Then just after I ate my lunch, a high school friend stopped by to visit.  She stayed for about an hour and we had a very nice visit.  We were in band together and that made for strong bonds in friendship.  She sat in front of me in band a good bit of the time.  I played oboe and  she played flute.  She reads my blog and had kept up with things that were going on with me.  Part of our discussion started with a discussion of yesterday's blog and how things were different back when we were growing up, but we agreed that some things were just kept so private back then that times may have seemed better than they were.

I shared a story with her about when Ron and I first moved back to Brownsville in the mid 1970s.  I was working in the church office as the financial secretary.  Every summer the church would have 8-12 college students who would serve as summer missionaries through our church.  They would help with Vacation Bible Schools all over town during the summer and then work on projects in the afternoons.  One year when they first arrived, the pastor invited his secretary and me to join him at his home for an evening to get to know the new bunch of summer missionaries.  We went around the circle sharing some things about our lives.  Almost all of them had grown up in homes filled with problems.  Later the pastor, his secretary and I were in the kitchen.  His secretary made the comment that she hadn't known that she and I were the only ones with normal homes growing up.  We had both been blessed with wonderful parents who loved us and loved the Lord.  He said, "No, theirs are normal, yours are rare and unusual."  I will never forget that evening.  I usually thought that most kids had good homes with loving families.  Sadly, that was not true then and it is not true now.

While visiting with my friend, another friend came in and stepped over to chat for a few minutes.  She is the sister of a friend who has dealt with hearing loss this year, but from another cause.  This friend had a brain tumor that was damaging her hearing.  She knew that when her brain tumor was removed this past summer, she would lose all hearing in  that ear.  She is still waiting for the device that will help her - it is another type of device, not a Cochlear Implant.  She hopes to receive it over the Christmas holidays.  She teaches school and having only one ear that functions makes it hard to deal with the classroom filled with students.  It was good to get an update on her situation and to visit with her sister.  I could hear both of these friends.  We had good conversations.

Ron left to go do a couple of jobs and came back around 3:00.  He said I could leave if I wanted since I had the quilt group coming over this evening.  I took a deposit to the bank and then stopped to look for a Christmas gift and ended up with two!  I was very pleased with the items I found.  I am making a little progress!  While I was shopping, Ron texted to let me know the a/c repairman, Bob Middleton, was at the house working on the unit and would need in the house soon.  I told him I was ready to go home so when I got home I was able to let Bob in so he could finish the repairs.  Thankfully, the compressor and other parts that had to be replaced were still under warranty! 

Tonight's quilt group was going to be celebrating the birthday of one of the ladies so I made sandwiches, set the table, got out glasses and serving pieces, and straightened things in the sewing room.  Everyone in the group was able to be here except for one who has some health problems and didn't want to get out in the cold.  It is to be around 40 degrees tonight, so I understand her desire to stay home and safe. 

Those of us who did get together for quilting had a good time working on projects for the first hour and partying for the second hour.  We had good food and good fellowship.  All of the ladies have unique talents and are always willing to share new things they learn.  One lady did a "show and tell" demonstration of a new technique.  Looked like fun!  Tonight during the quilt group time, I had one of those times where I just get loud noises in my head that almost drown out the conversations.

Again this evening I am a little bit cold.  So I just got up and put a shawl over my lap that was a gift to me right after I lost my hearing.  Mom is a member of an on-line group that shares prayer requests and friendships.  One of the ladies in her group sent me this hand-made shawl when she heard I had gone deaf.  Ladies in her church make them and call them prayer shawls.  As they make them, they pray for the person who will receive the shawl, asking God to heal the person if it is His will and to meet the needs of the person.  This is the shawl I received and am using as I write this blog entry.  The ladies who sent it are strangers to me, but cared about my physical need and prayed for me.  The shawl is a constant reminder of the care and concern that those strangers had for me.  God has been with us every step of the way on this journey.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Novermber 25, 2013

Happy Memory Sounds
November 25, 2013

Today is my brother's birthday.  He is much older than I am.  Well, maybe not that much.  He is 15 months older.  He is an outstanding brother.  Of course I wanted to do all the things the boys were doing when I was growing up.  We have 2 younger sisters, but they really are much younger - one is 7 years younger than me and the other is 9 1/2 years younger.  So for many years it was just the two of us: Gordon and Linda.  In fact for years my mom would talk about her children as: Gordon and Linda and the little girls.  Most of that time, there were only boys in the neighborhood.  There were a couple of girls for a few years, but mostly just boys, and we played all those things that are now politically incorrect.  We played Cowboys and Indians, Cops and Robbers, and War.  We dug foxholes, rode bikes, ran through the yard chasing one another yelling, "Pow, Pow!  I got you!"  We meant no harm to anyone.  We had no fear of real cops and robbers or of drive-by shootings.  It was a different time.  Life was safe.  The biggest worry was to watch out for rabid dogs.  We were warned not to talk to strangers, but all in all, there were few fears and I wish my grandkids were growing up with similar memories. 

On second thought, my grandkids are building similar memories.  Their mom is good about letting them just be kids.  (Their dad is the worrier.)  They ride bikes, they skate, and they climb on top of the dog house (they no longer have a dog).  In fact last summer they all cleaned out the dog house (it is rather large and has a concrete floor) and moved in.  They would read books in there, play with cars and trucks, and just have fun.  There is a heavy rope hanging from the tree in the front yard that they swing on.  I love to watch the girls climb the tree and then swing out on the rope - for a few minutes, and then I start to worry - what if???  I climbed lots of trees.  I would sit up in the tree and read my book up in the tree - not in the dog house.  Excuse me, I got side-tracked.

When I went to shop for a birthday card for my brother, I thought it would take a long time.  He picks out the best ones for me - usually proclaiming how much better brothers are than sisters, but I always have trouble finding good ones for him.  The second card I picked up at the store was just right.  It had Wile E. Coyote on it from the Road Runner Cartoon of years ago.  One of my favorite childhood memories is hearing my brother laugh while watching that cartoon series.  He would laugh and laugh, so loud!  I love those memories with the sound of his laughter.
Wille.E. Coyote and The Road Runner

As I thought about those memories, I thought of other people who have unique laughs, or who really let themselves go in laughter and make the rest of us laugh with them, just because it is fun to hear them laugh.  I have a friend named Pam who is like that.  I love Pam's laugh.  It brings back memories of a group of us ladies who would go to Ladies' Bible Study on Tuesday mornings and then often come to my house for lunch and we would play Trivial Pursuit together.  We would laugh until we hurt.  We had so much fun. 

When I couldn't hear, laughter was one of the things I really missed.  I may have mentioned this in one of the earliest blogs, but when my hearing began to get bad many years ago, I told my husband that one of the first things to go is jokes.  Often when someone tells a joke, the punch line gets lost to those hard of hearing.  Everyone else has started laughing before the hearing impaired person figures out what was said.  Or if the joke teller is very dramatic in the story telling, they often whisper the punch line.  Private jokes between a husband and wife or two friends are often whispered.  The person who struggles to hear missed out on the thing they may need most - something to laugh about.

My Cochlear Implant restores most of the ability to hear laughter.  I can again hear my brother laugh and I am sure I could hear Pam laugh if we could spend a day together.  It helps on a lot of jokes, but it is still hard to catch those whispered private jokes.  If you observe a group of adults watching toddlers playing, you will see them laughing at things the tots say.  Those sweet high-pitched voices can be very hard for someone with partial hearing loss to hear. 

Many jokes are a play on words, or they are puns.  You need to clearly hear what was said to understand the joke.  I have told you how I play "fill in the blank" with a lot of my listening, so in those kinds of jokes I may miss the key word that made it a joke.  If there is a person in your life who struggles to hear, take time especially as families gather for the holidays, to see that they know what the jokes are.  It is easy when you are the only one not laughing to start thinking they are laughing at you or that they just don't care that you aren't having fun.  If Aunt Sue can't hear well, take time to sit by her and tell her the funny things going on or even something cute the little kids said a day or two ago.  Include that person in the happy times by giving them things to laugh about.  Laughter truly is the best medicine!  Laughter adds so much to the joy of living.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

November 24, 2013

Mission Emphasis Sunday
November 24, 2013

Today at church was not officially a mission emphasis day, but many activities were going on that were mission related.  At church many people were turning in gift-filled shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.  These boxes are filled with small gifts, school supplies, candy, stuffed toys, mittens and other items to go to children around the world who have very little every day of their lives.  People who fill these boxes are asked to pray for the child who will receive the box, not knowing who that child will be - but God knows.  It was nice to see a stack of them down at the front of the auditorium.  During the service there was a time when people were asked to come forward to pray over the boxes.  The boxes will head out this week to various spots around the globe.

During the song service this morning at church, there were pauses in the music a few times to allow people to share things they are thankful for.  Of course, I had to share that I am thankful for being able to HEAR!  I am very thankful for my Cochlear Implant that makes that possible.  I did fairly well hearing the pastor during the service.  He conducted the service a little differently than usual and came down on floor level with us asking for testimonies and prayer requests.  It was hard to hear some of the people.  A couple of them said they didn't need to use the microphone, that they would speak loudly.  That doesn't work well for those of us who are hard of hearing.  But it was a nice service.

After the worship service, our Adult 4 Sunday School class met to fill 250 bags with small toys, candy, snacks, apples, and love.  These will be delivered in Matamoros, Mexico, just across the river from our town.  The children who will receive the bags, also have very little.  We have been doing this ministry for years and love getting together to prepare the small gifts.
It took us only about an hour to prepare the bags, staple them shut, and pack them into boxes for transporting.  During that time, there were about 20 of us working, talking, filling bags, and I really had trouble hearing.  The room is not very large and the ceiling is low.  It was noisy.
We came home and it was a perfect day for chili for lunch since it was cold and windy.  While the chili warmed, I mixed up a batch of Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and baked them.  It was nice to have the kitchen warm from the baking and smelling terrific.
This evening, I met Mom, my brother and his wife for a birthday dinner for my brother at The Oyster Bar Restaurant.  My siblings love to go there anytime they are in town for the great fried shrimp.  The only problem for me, is that I am allergic to shrimp.  So I ate fish while the rest of them enjoyed their shrimp.  We had a nice visit and it was extra nice because the restaurant was not very busy so the noise level was low. 
Just a quick update on the blog site: there have been over 15,400 page views from 60 different countries around the world.  P.S. Make that 61 countries!  I just checked and we added Jamaica.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

November 23, 2013

Hearing Friends
November 23, 2013

Today was COLD!  Cold for South Texas, anyway.  It was in the mid-40s here today.  The rain stopped during the night and the winds weren't too bad today.  There were times the winds picked up, but mostly they weren't a problem.  Part of the reason they weren't really a problem is that I was not out in them much.  I started the day by sleeping late!  Yea!  That doesn't happen often, but I was up late last night sewing. 
These immature Black-bellied whistling ducks were here early looking for a handout, wandering through some downed tree branches from last night's storm.

The birds were glad I took care of the feeders and the fountains.  Since it was so cold I was surprised to see so many of them on the fountains and waterfalls.  There were huge bunches of sparrows that quickly descended on the feeders as soon as I had filled them. 

After doing that, I returned to sewing.  I am working on a new project.  That doesn't mean the others are complete, but I needed a break.   I am having fun with this project with 1930s reproduction fabrics.  I have been collecting them for a while, waiting for just the right pattern for them. This is just blocks on the design wall.  I will probably add something additional to them.

This afternoon I went to a graveside service for a lady who passed away recently.  She was one of my teachers at church growing up.  She taught the mission class for the girls, called Girls' Auxiliary - GAs for short.  She was so kind and encouraging.  Her three children were all here for the service from scattered locations.  Their father passed away over 50 years ago and was buried here, so they wanted the burial for the mom to be here, too.  (She had moved away many years ago.)

The children are all grown with children of their own, and some with grandchildren.  We had grown up together in church activities.  The son and one daughter are older than I am, and I grew up looking up to them in our youth group.  One daughter is younger and she and one of my sisters were best friends growing up.  It was SO GOOD to be able to HEAR them all.  Hearing voices I had not heard in many years can be stressful.  Funny thing happened, the son came up and called me by name and started talking to me.  At first I wasn't sure who he was, and it was his voice I recognized.  That was so amazing to me since I have trouble recognizing voices most of the time.  The oldest daughter now looks so much like her mom did in years past, but also with her, I quickly recognized the voice.  It is hard to explain what that meant to me.   The youngest daughter's voice also was familiar sounding.   Now, if I had heard them on the phone, with no hint of who was calling, I doubt I could have guessed, but it was still so special to be able to converse with them and to put the voices with the faces.  The brother-in-law of one of the daughters was also there.  He and I had been friends and again, to hear and recognize the voice was a treat.  Since it was very cold, we did not stay for long visits, but I am so glad I went. 

The missions minister from our church led in the service and I thought because of the love the lady had for missions, it was a good choice.  I was able to hear all he said.  I can't understand why some days and some situations I hear better than others.  This evening our youngest son called and I heard him well - it was a little struggle, but I rarely had to ask him to repeat.  Then our oldest son called and I struggled with hearing him.  Later his wife called and I couldn't understand her at all.  So we reverted to the computer typing.

This afternoon after the service, I started sewing again while watching the Aggie football game on TV.  There were parts of it I didn't want to hear - they lost badly.  Then I spent time sorting and preparing candy for a project our Sunday school class does each year.  We prepare gift bags of candy, apples, small toys, etc. to go to children in Matamoros, Mexico in poverty areas.  One lady in the class does mission work over there and she will deliver then all.
It has been a busy weekend already and more to do tomorrow, but the day will include time of worship with friends and family at church, as we begin to really focus on the upcoming Thanksgiving week.  I have much to be thankful for this year!

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22, 2013

I Hear the Rain and the Wind!
November 22, 2013

What a storm!  A strong cold front has blown its way through the state of Texas, from the panhandle to the southern border.  The winds picked up late this afternoon.  There had been showers during the day, but those were light and brief.  Then around dark the rain really increased, and the winds have continued.  The lightening and thunder add to the display.  This is a noisy rain!

Since the Cochlear Implant, I have been able to hear the rain, usually only when I open a door or a window, but this one I could hear where ever I was in the house.  I have opened the front door a couple of times to further enjoy the sounds of the storm.  I have always loved stormy weather and really missed not hearing it when I was deaf.

Speaking of "when I was deaf."  I need to ask someone who really knows - am I still deaf?  I consider myself still deaf since without the sound processor on, I am deaf.  But with the sound processor on, I hear a lot - not everything, but a lot.  I keep meaning to ask the audiologist that question. 

As I was about to leave the house this morning to go to the office I noticed that the house was warmer than I like it.  Checking the thermostat showed that the temperature was rising.  It was predicted to be about 87 today before the arrival of the front tonight.  I texted Ron and he called our friend,  Bob Middleton at Middleton Air and Bob said he could come this afternoon to see what the problem was.

I went on to the office and paid some bills and waited on customers while Ron went on a couple of jobs.  After lunch he texted that Bob was headed to the house to work on the air-conditioner and that he (Ron) was almost to the shop, so for me to head home to meet Bob.  Bob has been doing our A/C work for many years and he and Ron  have known each other for probably over 20 years.  Bob is a regular reader of my Facebook postings and my blog.  He laughed when he read my story about the magnet from my coil jumping off my head and getting stuck to assorted other metal objects.  He had questions about how I was doing and about the hearing.  We had a nice visit. 

Bob has a daughter who was born very prematurely, and is now 18 years old.  When she was in the hospital for such a long time at the beginning of her life, she needed some blood transfusions.  One day I donated blood for her and was later notified that she had received the transfusion of my blood.  I think for that reason, she has always had a special place in my heart, because some of my blood was flowing in her heart.  I have not seen this precious young lady often, but she is special to me.

Over the years God has blessed me by sometimes allowing me to know when someone has been given a blood donation that I have made specifically for that person.  I know of at least 4 people who received transfusions from me.  Other times I have donated but not known who got the blood.  It creates a special bond when you know that you have given of yourself - your very blood - that someone might have a chance to live.  It makes me think of the fact that Christ gave His blood to offer us each an opportunity to have the gift of Eternal Life, not just a few more years here on earth.  The bond He wants to have with us is a personal relationship with Him.  He shed His blood on the cross, to pay for my sins, that I might have Eternal Life.  Not all of those that have received my blood have been restored to health.  My blood did not guarantee them life, but the blood of Christ can give Eternal Life to any of us who accept His free gift.  We need only to acknowledge that we are sinners, and that Christ paid for those sins on the cross with His blood.  In doing that, we also need to turn over our life to Christ, letting Him live in us, as we glorify Him. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November 21, 2013

Is It Friday Yet?  No?
Thursday,  November 21, 2013

For some reason it seems like this should be Friday.  I am not sure why but I am ready for a weekend.  Our friends who usually go to supper with us on Friday, switched to Wednesday night this week because the wife had something else she needed to do Friday evening.  Maybe that is where I got off track.  Tonight we went to supper with my mom, so that should have gotten me back on track, but it didn't. 

Yesterday evening I did a little sewing and this morning was able to complete the front of the second quilt project for Christmas.  Both are now ready to be tacked or quilted.  I think it will be one tacked and one quilted.  So glad I am this far along.  I am eager to see what I can get done this weekend.

The other major thing I did yesterday was to go buy the candy to go in the 250 gift bags that our Sunday School class prepares for the children in several of the poverty areas across the river in Mexico.  One lady in our class does ministry with the families and delivers the bags to the children.  We put candy, toys, crayons, apples, etc. in each bag.  We will assemble them Sunday afternoon after church.  I did bag the things in small portions so I could carry them.  My living room smells wonderful!  The smell of candy canes and bubble gum, etc.  Yummmm...  I also bought a birthday gift for our youngest grand daughter while I was out shopping.  She will be 2 years old soon.

Last night when we went to supper, I again had a lot of trouble hearing.  The sound processor really picks up mechanical noises very well - air conditioners, refrigerators, ice makers, and on and on.  When there is piped in music or television sounds, those just seem to make a low rumble.  Tonight I had Mom sit across from me.  The audiologist had suggested that arrangement and to set the remote control on "focus".  Since the "focus" setting on the old sound processor didn't work right, when I had tried it before, I saw no advantage.  Tonight it worked fairly well, but Mom's voice has gotten so weak, I still had trouble, but less than last night.  Next week I will try to remember to have my friend sit across from me and see if that helps.

I did talk to our oldest son on the phone last night for the first time in a while, but had some trouble hearing him.  I don't understand why the hearing seems to fluctuate.  One factor is probably the music in my head that is louder some days than others.  Oh, the music finally switched - I had been having the same song for over a week and I was delighted yesterday to hear The King is Coming.  It is one of my favorites anyway.  The last week had been To God Be the Glory which is a wonderful song, but I was ready for a change.  I am ready for Christmas carols.

Today, I spent the morning at the office and left about noon to go to San Benito to have a sonogram of my thyroid.  Several years ago a small nodule was found on one side of the thyroid, a biopsy was done and all was well.  But I get it checked every year and it was time for that.  After doing that with the sweetest little technician, who had never heard of Sudden Hearing Loss, and like everyone else, her first question was, "Why?  What happened?"  Next I went to Harlingen to have blood work done.  These things are always done a week or so before I see the doctor.  The lab technician who did the blood work is so good.  I told him I had many medical procedures done since the last time I had seen him a year ago, and not one was as good as he is.  I bruise so easily and he doesn't bruise me.  He found the vein that not one technician could find this past year.  He is good! 

While in Harlingen I went to the quilt shop and bought a couple of things I needed (and a couple I didn't).  Then I picked up my lunch on the way back about 3:00.  So when we went to supper with Mom, I just had a piece of cherry pie while she and Ron ate supper. 

Mom had sent me an email earlier in the day about a graveside service that will be Saturday afternoon here in town for a lady who died in Georgia - Sue Jones.  Sue Jones was one of my teachers at church as I was growing up.  She was such a sweet, gentle lady.  She was widowed very young but went on to raise some wonderful children - one of them was a best friend to one of my sisters.  Sue instilled in me a love for missions. 

This will be a busy weekend.  The other of my sisters is coming for a funeral for the mother of one of her friends.  My brother and his wife will be here Sunday afternoon and part of Monday to celebrate his birthday. I hope to get sewing done.  Ron hopes to work on a Christmas project. 

Thankfully, my arm continues to improve.  I forget about the weakness sometimes and that is good and bad.  It is great that I am not worrying about it all the time, but sometimes I start to pick something up or open something and remember I need to watch out.  Progress continues!

Do you hear my heart singing?  My daughter-in-law Barbara just sent me a photo of a miniature quilt that our oldest grand daughter made by hand today!  She did a great job and I am so proud of her.  Isn't it wonderful when our children or grandchildren love the things we do?  I am so pleased!  The miniature quilt is about 4"x6".  She had helped me decorate the sewing room Christmas tree last week and I have a couple of miniature quilts on it.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 20, 2013

10 Months of Challenges and Adjustments Part 2
November 20, 2013

The challenges of adjusting to the Cochlear Implant have been a mixture of laughs, frustrations, and victories.  It is rare that when the Cochlear Implant is first activated, that the patient can understand speech.  I thought I was prepared for that likely outcome, but when I actually understood speech, I realized I was not truly prepared for the probability of not being able to understand speech instantly.  In truth, I really expected to hear, and I did.  The audiologist had warned us over and over not to expect instant results.  When I did have wonderful, instant results, I did not feel the full impact of that blessing for a while.  

Along with that amazing success, came the expectations of the audiologist.  After I initially did so well, I think she was not prepared for the areas where I did struggle.  She didn't understand until recently that I really couldn't manage phone conversations.  She also had told me when I complained about not being about to "pull out conversations" in noisy situations, that it was normal to have that problem.  Since she felt my adjustment problems were "normal", she didn't look for additional problems.  When we visited recently, she spent intense time testing me and the equipment and determined there were two problems with the sound processor that were causing me to not be successful in those areas.

This is a constant learning process.  I am now using the remote control to change programs on the sound processor much more often and experimenting in various situations to see what works best.  I am having more success in noisy situations and on the phone.  The main problem with the phone, involves a limitation. To hear on the phone, I need to use my cell phone with a special cable.  To set this up takes a couple of minutes and at this point, I do not carry the cable with me - it is at home by the computer.  So, I can't really answer a quick phone call.  I can hear a little bit on the cell phone (not at all on the house phone) without the cable, so if one of the kids calls me, I can answer and tell them I will call them back in a few minutes.  Then I get things set up and return the call.  This works pretty well.  There are times I just can't understand something someone said (on the phone or in person), but the audiologist suggested that I ask the person to reword the statement and maybe I can get it.  That is working well because before, they could say the same thing three or four times and I still wouldn't get it. 

I have gotten ahead of myself in the summary of these last months. Picking up where I left off yesterday, just a few days after the activation of the Cochlear Implant, we had a very special visitor: a former foreign exchange student who lived with us about 25 years ago came to visit with his wife and three children.  I had been very concerned that I would not be able to understand them, but our visit was fantastic!  What a joy to hear his voice again after so long.  He and his wife spoke clearly and their English was impressive.  Maybe they both know how to speak so that they are understood since he is a judge and she is an attorney.  The visit couldn't have been better unless it had been longer.  Here he is with his family in front of his old high school.
The next month brought another special visitor; our son Stephen brought his girlfriend Kristina for her first visit to our home.  This was my first visit with Kristina where I could hear really hear her. We had met her in May, two weeks before my implant, and she came when I had the implant, but I was using the hand-held amplifier at the time.  Again, the only way it could have been a better visit, is if we'd had a longer time together.  (But they are coming for Christmas, so we will have some more time.)

Through all this time, I continued to recover from the elbow surgery and went through 9 sessions of physical therapy to try to increase the extension and rotation of the arm.  It just wasn't working.  X-rays showed one bone had shifted and had broken some screws so it was decided that additional surgery was needed to replace a section of that bone with an artificial piece and to remove the hardware from the other bone that had held it in place to heal.  On September 9, I had the second elbow surgery.  Our oldest granddaughter took good care of me for a few days following the surgery.
A couple of weeks later, I started more physical therapy for another 9 sessions.
The arm is still not where I want it to be, but the improvement in the last two weeks has been rapid, so I have hope that in time it will be where I want it to be.  From the beginning I had told the doctor I wanted to be able to get the Thanksgiving turkey out of the oven.  I doubt it will happen by Thanksgiving, but maybe Christmas.  I was able to put an 11 pound ham in the oven and get it out without assistance this past weekend.

A week after my second elbow surgery, Ron had surgery to remove hardware from his leg that he broke almost 20 years ago. Our oldest grandson took care of him for a few days while I ran the office.  
The grandchildren have spent time with us, keeping my spirits up and keeping me focused on what is important - family and the Lord.  
Our son David and his wife Diana along with Diana's niece and nephew joined us to celebrate Ron's 70th birthday in October.  In the photo they are with two of Jeff's children. 
At the end of October through early November I was able to go to Houston to 6 days for the International Quilt Festival.  The orthopedic surgeon gave me a letter to get a pass for me to be able to take a rolling cart on the display floor to carry my purchases since my arm was still very weak.  Ron went with me to do the driving and to get a break away from the office for himself.  Does this look like I gave him a relaxing break?
What is ahead?  I predict continued improvement in my arm.  I plan to continue working with my listening practice exercises to get as much as possible from the Cochlear Implant.  I plan to continue to share that progress and my experiences with others, hoping to help someone along the way to encourage them get help if they need it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 19, 2013

10 Months of Challenges and Adjustments
November 19, 2013

It was actually 10 months yesterday since I suffered Sudden Hearing Loss and on what seemed like a fairly normal Friday afternoon, I went deaf.  Those first few weeks went by in a blur of shock and confusion.  At the time I felt like I was adjusting in the best way I could and my husband did all he could to make my life easier, but when I look back at photos taken 3 weeks later, I see a sadness and withdrawal.

But, life kept going on and I had to keep doing the things I normally would, like working at the office.  Ron tried not to leave me where I would be dealing with customers alone, but there were times it could not be helped. 
The grandchildren continued to visit and find ways to let Grandma know what they needed or wanted, and to make me smile.
They would visit and watch the birds with me and we found things we could enjoy together in my quiet world. 
Spring went by in a blur of visits to doctors and lots of testing.  Before I knew it, we had a surgery date.  And then...I broke my elbow.
The surgery date for June 10 was kept for the Cochlear Implant and I went to Houston for that surgery following the surgery for the broken elbow on June 3. 
These three came to Houston to help pass the time for Ron while he waited for me to have the surgery.  You can see the dry marker board was still in use since I would not be hearing until July.
Two wonderful daughters-in-law, visited and helped as I recovered from the surgeries.  I am so blessed!
My husband's joy when he knew I could HEAR with the Cochlear Implant.  It worked!  I could understand speech!  What a gift!
My grandson realizing I could hear him and carry on a conversation with him.  As they say...Priceless!
Back to the office to start to catch up on a lot of things that weren't done or weren't done well in previous months.

This summary will continue tomorrow.  It has been a good day, but rather quiet.  There was time to think back on all that has happened.  It has been such a blessing to have good medical care.

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18, 2013

Foggy Start to the Day
November 18, 2013

There was a beautiful, light fog this morning.  If a fog is too thick, it becomes worrisome for those who must be driving, but today's fog was just lovely, not hazardous.  For some reason my husband was up and ready for work earlier than usual.  That usually means he misread the clock.  After he left for work, I took care of things in the yard, cleaned out four kitchen drawers and put new liners in them, and then had breakfast.  I was on track to also get to the office earlier than usual when I had another of those nose bleeds.  So I texted Ron that I was going to wait a while before coming in.  I did some checking on line and it seems if you have nose bleeds, that means you will continue to have them.  I do have an appointment for blood work Thursday (been scheduled for months) so I will be sure all is well.
Can you tell that I love these beautiful orange hibiscus plants I got in Houston a few months ago?  I have two and they are not exactly the same.  They are very small, but blooming up a storm!

After I got to the office, I accomplished very little.  Well, I did make a good sale and was starting on another when Ron returned from a job, so I gave it to him to finish.  We had more customers today wanting to buy more than one or two duplicate keys, so that was nice.  I did a little bookkeeping and then wrote a long letter to a friend.  I had promised it to her weeks ago and just got around to it.

My arm continues to get better although the wrist is sore today - probably just from using it more.  I am able to do so much more than I had been.  Typing is not as difficult as it was!

I did try a few of the Cochlear Implant listening exercises on my computer at work today.  It was not long before I gave up.  I was trying to do some with tones and was getting frustrated.  Tomorrow I will try to do some with the vowel and consonant sounds.  I have not spent much time on them lately.  I did fine hearing customers today, but mostly they were asking me if I spoke Spanish.

A cold front was arriving as I left the office.  Well, cool, not cold.  The wind shifted to coming from the north.  The clouds were so beautiful, I stopped right after pulling out from my parking spot and took a few photos.
God is interested in all aspects of our lives and of the world around us.  I look at the beauty of the ever-changing sky, or the flowers, and the birds, and wonder how anyone can be unaware that it has all been created by our awesome God.  I have always known that God was amazing, but it was when I started taking flower photos, that I really began to appreciate the detail in God's designs.  I sometimes say that God could have said, "I think I will make a flower."  And He could have made it like I draw them - a red blob on the top of a green stem.  But the detail is amazing.  Look at the detail in this hibiscus photo.  The intensity of the color maybe too much to allow the detail to come through in the size files the blog allows, but it is amazing.

After work I picked up some milk and came home and fixed supper.  I had hoped to sew, but I think I am too tired for that today. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

November 17, 2013

Sunny Sunday
November 17, 2013

It was another beautiful day in South Texas.  The sun was in and out of the clouds during the day.  I think today's high was about 86 degrees.  Wonderful, slightly windy weather.

At church, several of our Winter Texan friends had returned.  One of the men talked to me this morning and he has been keeping up with my progress by reading the blog.  It was nice to "hear" him.  When he left last Spring, I couldn't hear him.  He is one of the many people who have prayed for me this year.  Welcome back, Bert!

With the new sound processor, I tried the "focus" setting (if you recall, that setting didn't work on the previous unit).  I was able to hear the pastor better in the service.  On the noise setting I had been using I may have gotten 25% of what he said.  With the focus setting, I probably got closer to 70%.  It took total concentration to do that, but it beats 25%.  The music today included several I knew, but it was hard to be sure of the melody.

After church, we visited a while with family and friends and then brought our 3 middle grandchildren home with us: the two oldest girls and the third boy.  They were a joyful bunch.  As soon as we got to the house, they headed to the room where we keep the LEGOs.  They were content to keep playing and I had to call them away for lunch. 
It was good to be able to ask them questions about things that matter to them and to be able to hear their answers.  Even their soft, high pitched voices.  There were times I had to ask them to repeat, but they are used to that.  Most of the time, I understood them the first try.
I had Ron get out the Christmas tree that I use in my sewing room and our oldest granddaughter helped me set it up.  Then the three kids decorated it for me.  They did a wonderful job and had a lot of fun helping me out. 
What fun we had!  We watched birds, (the girls spotted a pair of Green Jays on the feeder), we went out in the yard and filled the ponds and enjoyed the flowers.  We looked at ideas for Christmas and Thanksgiving goodies.  The kids sang Christmas songs that I could hear.  The girls and I looked at fabric and talked about quilts.  It was a sunny day!  Their smiles were shining brightly!
It is great to be able to hear.  I love hearing my husband, our kids and their spouses, our grand children, all of the family, the sermons, the music, the birds, our friends, our customers.  But I can also hear things that I hate to hear, like the news about the terrible storms across the middle of the country this afternoon and evening and the recent news of the terrible storm that hit the Philippines.  Every day we hear a mixture of good things and bad things.  God helps us make sense of it all and comforts us when the news is bad.  He also speaks to us in a still small voice telling us when we need to help others through their difficult times.  I am thankful for those who listened to God when He told them to help me during my difficult times.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

November 16, 2013

An Early Start to Saturday
November 16, 2013

When I go to bed early (9:30 last night) then  I wake up early (5:30 this morning).  Not good.  I don't mind getting up early, but 5:30 on a Saturday morning is too much of a good thing.  At 5:30 it is not daylight.  The birds aren't out and even if they were, I wouldn't be able to see and photograph them.  So that leaves me with the problem of what to do at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday.  A lot of people like to do their Bible study early in the mornings, but my eyes don't focus well for a while after I get up, so that doesn't work.  That leaves cooking, cleaning, and sewing.  I did two of the three.  I did not cook.

The birds did show up once it was daylight.  Much to my surprise there were warblers on the waterfalls.  I had not seen any in several weeks!  And look who else showed up!

Next I did grocery shopping and came home and put it all away.  I spent some time in the kitchen working on getting lunch in the oven and cleaning up the kitchen.

I have two Christmas gifts in progress that are sewing projects so I worked on one of them off and on all day today.  I made good progress and am so pleased!  I am notorious for last minute completions.  Maybe this year will be different. 
Ron spent much of the day taking out that tree that was leaning over the Resaca.  It was a chore, but he got it done.  I watched off and on, but it was too hard on my nerves. 
He brought it down exactly where he had planned.  He is amazing!
The ducks came to watch Ron work on the tree. 

 Then it was time to cut it up and haul it to the brush pile.
I didn't hear it fall. 

Today I heard from two of our kids, well, one son and one daughter-in-law.  It sounds like they are going to be able to have some nice visits here at Christmas.  One pair will be here for more than a week and the other that I heard from will probably be here about 3 days.  It is going to be fun!

While sewing today, I have had the television on to the Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel.  I have seen some Facebook postings where friends say they won't watch Christmas movies this early, but I would enjoy them every day.  I am trying to see how much of the dialog I can understand.  It is enough to follow the story (of course some of these I have seen several times), but I don't get all of it.  I do find I get more if I am actually watching instead of just listening while I am sewing.  I don't know if it is that I am doing some lip-reading, or if it is because I am turning my head so that the sound processor microphones are aimed in the right direction.  It may be a combination of both. 

The Cochlear Implant and the sound processor are strange in that sometimes the sounds are so natural that I forget I am wearing it.  Other times I seem to just hear a rumble.  When there is a lot of noise, I really have trouble picking out what I want to hear from the jumble of noises.  Another interesting thing that happens is with the music.  I told you I was going to try some Christmas music.  I still hear music in my head all the time and sometimes a song will start and say, for example, I know the song is Silent Night.  Unless I really concentrate on listening to it, my mind will put the proper words to Silent Night (or whatever song I am hearing) to the melody that I am currently hearing "in my head".  If I really focus on a familiar song, I can follow the melody, but it takes a lot of concentration.  When I try to sing along, I can't tell if I am anywhere near on key and that makes me sad.  I love to sing.  I will continue singing - alone but maybe not around others - at least for now.