Friday, February 28, 2014

February 27, 2014

Long Days and Short Nights
February 27, 2014 

This blog is important to me and I try to keep up with almost daily postings, but this week has been filled to the brim and overflowing with great activities, wonderful visits and good times,  and I have just not been able to squeeze in blogging time.  I will try to start catching up! 

Ron and I have been able to spend time with our youngest son this week.  I think my last posting was about delivering a quilt.  God’s timing is amazing.  Before we left home my plan had been to deliver the quilt to Tate about Wednesday, when we would be staying a little closer to where the quilt was going.  Then it seemed that some things were changing, so we decided we would deliver the quilt after we got out of the early church service Sunday morning.  We did that and only a few hours later we received word that Tate, the young man the quilt was for, was being taken to MD Anderson in Houston ahead of schedule due to additional problems from the aggressive, malignant brain tumor he is fighting.  In the overall scheme of things, the quilt was not the most important thing in the lives of that young family, but they took it with them to the hospital and it has been on his bed there, as someone said “covering him with God’s promises” that had been written on the quilt by some of the people who are praying for him.  His eyesight has been affected by the tumor, but hopefully the bright colors in the quilt come through as reminders of those who love him and are praying for him.

On Monday our son had the day off, so he and I ran a variety of errands.  I have had cell phone problems so we made a trip to check on that.  We dropped Ron off at a Half Price Bookstore that also had a coffee shop, so he was happy.  Since Stephen is assistant manager at Logos Christian Bookstore where he works, he does some of their buying and was able to take me as a guest to the World Trade Center – Dallas on a shopping trip.  Oh, my!  We only did about ½ of one of the nine floors!  I could have spent the week there!  We picked Ron up from the bookstore where he had found books for his mother to read and a couple for himself.  We got lunch at an In And Out Burger place and their burgers are pretty good!  We got a new battery for my phone and did a few more errands. 
We were headed back to our son’s apartment when I mentioned to him that I had not taken any photos that day from which to select my daily entry to a group called Project 365.  We each commit to take and post a photo a day for a year.  We went to the apartment complex where his girlfriend lives and walked the trails around the water features and I photographed ducks and squirrels.  Before long his girlfriend got home from work and joined us, so I took photos of them.  We had a good time, but it was getting cold.  That evening we all went to supper at Olive Garden and had a relaxing visit.  We managed to stay up late – again.

Tuesday morning as our son left for work, we left to do some shopping on our way to my sister’s home near Ft. Worth.  I found a wonderful little quilt shop in Carrolton; I think it is called The Quilt Stash.  Quilters call their fabric collection, their Stash.  The only thing I didn’t like is that they don’t carry “fat quarters” which I love to buy.  A fat quarter is a quarter yard of fabric, but it is cut, not across the yardage (which would give you a piece 9 inches by 42 inches wide – not great for cutting into assorted pieces.)  Instead, a fat quarter is cut by cutting a half yard of fabric and then cutting that in half down the middle, leaving you with a piece about 18 inches by 21 inches – almost a square, a much more “user friendly” size to work with.  I did find a couple of things, but didn’t buy much.  The thing I was really shopping for was silk flowers to decorate for the upcoming Winter Texan Banquet at our church.  After stops at many Hobby Lobby and Michael’s stores along the way, I finally found the flowers at Garden Ridge near Ft. Worth.  Of course I didn’t leave the other places empty handed in most instances.  They had all their Valentine things 80 % and 90% off!  New thick coloring books for the grandchildren at 40 cents each is a bargain these days.  We just had a nice day of shopping with no pressures of time.  Ron often sat in the car and read, which was fine except it was getting cold.  By that night it was 32 degrees.

My sister’s place is out in the country and she and her husband have done a lot to attract birds to their yard.  When I got up Wednesday morning, I had to scrape the ice out of the birdbath for the poor little birds.  My sister and her husband were lounging on a warm beach in southern Mexico, while we enjoyed their lovely home and birds.  Their youngest son was there, but he works nights and sleeps days, so we saw little of him.  Even though it was 32 degrees I sat on the patio and took photos of the blue jays, woodpeckers, cardinals, doves, and juncos, as well as the squirrels.  What a nice treat.  We went into town for lunch and a little more 90% off shopping, before returning to the private birding spot.  

On this trip, the elbow has given me no problems with the minor exception of slight pain when carrying baggage with the arm in a rotated position.  I see the orthopedic surgeon next week and I think he will be pleased.  The rotation is not perfect, but I can live with it.  As for the hearing – it is better in some settings than in others.  At the noisy, crowded restaurant last Saturday night I just couldn’t hear.  But in most places I have done fairly well.  There is a lot of “stuff” to take to properly care for the Cochlear sound processor, etc.  I would need to be a lot more organized and selective if we were flying!  Driving a Suburban, we can take anything we want to with us.

Monday, February 24, 2014

February 23, 2014

Delivering a Quilt
Sunday, February 23, 2014
 This morning we attended church at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas with our son, Stephen and his girlfriend, Kristina.  We enjoy visiting this huge church.  There are so many wonderful activities and great people.  God just seems to pave our way when  we get to visit there.  The last time we attended, we ran into a friend of Stephen’s from college who “just happened” to be leading the music that day in the service we attended.  This church has many services and many ministers.  That previous visit we visited the “Blended” service and the pastor preaching was an amazingly gifted young man who challenged us in the sermon he preached.  Today we attended the “Contemporary" service and the same gifted young man preached.  It was a terrific service with such power in his preaching.  He brought a message on boldness in witnessing to a packed auditorium at the early service.  We were able to talk to him before the service and he knew Stephen and said he was enjoying getting to know him in a small group they attend.
The meeting room for the worship service is huge and basically box shaped.  The acoustics were excellent.  I heard almost all of the sermon and much of when others spoke.  The lead singer enunciated very clearly and I could understand his words well, but still couldn't get the melody of the songs.
As soon as the service was over Ron and I left  to drive to Granbury to deliver a quilt for a young man who is fighting an aggressive brain tumor.  We were to meet he and his family as they got out of their church service.  The young man had needed to go home after Sunday School, but his wife and little girl were there waiting for us.  I had met her a couple of times but never met their little girl.  I gave the quilt to his wife.
Their little girl made friends quickly with a dog being walked in the church parking lot.  She enjoyed getting to know the dog.  She is so sweet.
We only visited a few minutes and then left so they could go home and we could return to Dallas.  It was a beautiful day for the drive.
 When we got back, Stephen and Kristina were finishing the lunch they had picked up after their class.  Kristina stayed and visited for a while and then went home to rest, returning in the evening when we got pizza for supper.  After we all watched a movie, Kristina headed home to her apartment and we all slept well after a long day.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

February 22, 2014

Wonderful Wedding
February 22. 2014

Some people say June is the month for brides.  This was our second wedding to attend in February this year.  This one was many miles from home.  It was a joy to be there for both events. 

We arrived in the morning and went to our son's apartment.  After visiting for a while we dressed for the wedding and then went to lunch.  We had a relaxed Chick-fil-A lunch and set out for the church.  Our son was ushering for the 2:00 wedding so he had to be there at 1:00.  We went with him and enjoyed watching the preparations. 

There were 80-100 guests in a lovely parlor at the church, but that many people in the room caused me hearing problems.  There was a pianist almost beside me, that everyone seemed to enjoy, but I could not identify any of the pieces he played.  I heard the ceremony pretty well.  I heard the promises they made to each other.  It was a very nice wedding.  We are delighted for both the bride and groom.

There was a reception after the service and as so often happens, God had someone for me to talk to.  During the reception I introduced myself to a lovely lady whose grandmother had been a neighbor of the bride's for many years.  She mentioned that she worked in the Dallas Baptist Association office and before that had worked in the state Baptist Convention office.  "In what department?" I asked.  "The office for the deaf." she  said.  We had a great discussion.  Then while we waited for the bride and groom to come to their car after the reception, I introduced myself to the matron of honor who happened to be deaf in one ear and hard of hearing in the other.  Another good visit. 

Following the wedding we ran a couple of errands and came home to change clothes to go to dinner in the evening with the bride, groom, and the bride's family.  We ate at a very busy, elegant steak restaurant, as guests of the bride and groom.  Hearing in the VERY crowded, VERY loud restaurant was totally impossible.  I just smiled a lot with a blank stare I am sure.  By the time we got home all of us were exhausted, which is why this posting is late.

Friday, February 21, 2014

February 20, 2014

Lessons Learned at the Water's Edge
February 20, 2014

Recently when we had an ice storm, the most damage we had was to a huge eucalyptus tree in our backyard by the edge of the resaca.  This tree is at least 40 feet high and many limbs broken under the weight of the ice.  Some of those limbs fell to the ground or in the case of one I watched fall, into the water.  It is a large limb and not very close to the retaining wall.  It is in a spot that will be hard to get to. 

In the past when limbs have fallen into the water, I have encouraged (*read "nagged") my husband to remove them.  This one is going to be a chore and he hasn't felt good.  I went out by the water yesterday and looked at where the limb was.  It had been brown and dead looking. 

So, Lesson 1:  Don't bug Ron to remove the limb when he feels bad.  (I truly have not asked him about this limb.)  Somethings are not as important as health.

Lesson 2:  Things are not always as they appear.
The limb that was totally severed from the tree, now has shoots and ROOTS!  I know some plants will grow from a cutting, but a eucalyptus tree?? 

Lesson 3:  Some problems that are put off grow into bigger problems if you ignore them.

Well I could go on and on, but I must say I was surprised to see the new growth on the limb I thought was dead.

I stayed home Thursday and sewed in the morning and spent the afternoon at the office doing bookkeeping.  I had to make a trip to the post office and one to the bank.  I worked on bulletin inserts for the church bulletins for the next two Sundays with reservation forms for the Adult Banquet Honoring the Winter Texans.  It will be a Southern Gospel Music Concert with a singer from Dallas, Brian Arnold, bringing the concert.  I printed, cut, and delivered the inserts to the church office.  So I got a lot done in my afternoon at the office.  Of course I waited on customers also.  It is always nice when one comes in who knew about my hearing loss and wants an update.  Many of them really care.

During the morning while I was home I went in the yard to take care of the pools, ponds, and bird feeders.  That was when I discovered the branch growing in the resaca.  As I walked through the backyard, I could not believe all the bird chatter that was going on and I didn't see any birds.  before my Cochlear Implant, I would not have heard all that chatter.  In the afternoon when I got home I again went into the yard and the bird noise was louder.  I went out to see who was so noisy and it was a female Anhinga.

She was loud!  It wasn't long before a male showed up, and started swimming her way.
It was an interesting day down by the water.

I am running a day behind and may have trouble catching up the next few days, so please just keep watching for notices on the Facebook page.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February 19, 2014

Tacking a Quilt
February 19, 2014

Traditionally quilts are made of a top, which is usually the pieced, attractive part of the quilt; the backing which can be pieced, but is usually a solid piece of fabric; and the batting which goes between the front and the back to add warmth and puffiness.  Then the three layers are held in place by running stitches which can be in any design or pattern.  They serve to keep the quilt together, but also as a decorative addition to the quilt top.  Over the 30 years that I have been quilting, I have made several quilts in that manner, sometimes creating my own designs for the quilt stitches to enhance the particular square.  It is slow, tedious work.  I no longer have the hand strength or the time and patience to do my quilts that way.

Sometimes I hire a lady in our quilt group who loves to do that hand quilting, to finish the tops that I make by adding her beautiful, creative stitching.  Sometimes if it is a small quilt like a baby quilt, I will do that quilting on my sewing machine.  I am not very good at that yet.  So my alternative is what is called tacking.  On my sewing machine I have a stitch for that purpose; it secures the quilt with a back and forth stitch - not a normal ziz-zag, but this takes 3 very tiny stitches as it goes across and 3 as it comes back, all in a very tiny spot.  More commonly, the end result might be called a comforter, instead of a quilt.  When I was growing up I had a purple satin comforter on my bed, but it was one piece of fabric on the front and one on the back.  So I call what I make and tack, a quilt.  If you want to call it a comforter, I won't be offended.
In this quilt I tacked each square in the corners, in the middle, and 1/2 way between each corner, along the sides.  So this morning I stayed home and tacked the quilt that I am currently working on.  When a quilt is tacked in this manner, there are threads running between each tack that later must be trimmed.  Tonight I watched some Olympic skiing, and ice skating while I trimmed all those threads on the front and on the back.

Now I have cut the binding.  I still need to piece it and sew it onto the edges of the quilt.  That is tomorrow morning's task.

I went to the office around lunch time and Ron went out on a couple of jobs.  He had to make a couple of trips, so it took a while.  I spent the afternoon going through mail and paying bills and filing things.  I did a little bookkeeping and waited on customers. 

A couple of days ago I realized that most of the time I leave my remote for the Cochlear Implant set on the "noise" setting.  That setting takes down the background noise and can help a lot in noisy settings.  I am not sure if there is a problem leaving it always on that setting although there probably is.  Today I changed it to what they call "normal" setting.  It worked fine all day at the office, but when I walked in the back door at home this evening, it was so noisy in the house.  Later when Ron came in I asked if the A/C and the refrigerator were always that noisy.  He said yes they were.  I had been enjoying the "noise" setting that brought those "noises" way down.  I probably need to get used to those noises, but they sure are...noisy.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February 18, 2014

Sewing and So Much Else to Do
February 18, 2014

Yesterday was another "no blog" day for me.  Sorry.  My sinus problems, allergies, and probably the medications left me so very sleepy last night.  I was sleeping soundly by 9:00 p.m.  That means I did not get a blog done, nor did I get the sewing done I had intended to do.

Yesterday was not a very eventful day.  I spent the day at the office after stopping at Wal-mart on my way in to buy paper products for the office.  Once I was at the office, Ron took my car to the mechanic for a check-up and I needed a seat belt worked on.  It would not retract correctly.  They said they would have it by noon.  That was 2 days ago and they still have it.  That always makes me nervous about the final bill!!!  Actually they had to order a part Ron had asked them to replace a couple of years ago.  We did get 2 more years out of it, but sometimes I think they try too hard to save me money.

Ron spent yesterday afternoon at the doctor's office getting prescriptions for his sore throat.  He said tonight he was already feeling better.  That is very good!  I got a lot of my bookkeeping chores done and found my desk top again.  It keeps disappearing under stacks of papers.  I left the office a little early and came home to get some soup out of the freezer I had made a while back and warmed it for supper.  While it was heating, I stepped into the sewing room and looking out the window, spotted a hawk in the tree about 10 feet out.  I could not get a good enough photo to identify him.  After supper and just a little reading, I was ready for bed.

I had made plans to meet a friend for breakfast today to go over plans for the Winter Texan Banquet.  After Ron had returned from the doctor yesterday, he told me I would have to open the office today because he had an appointment, so I let my friend know and she came to the office today instead.  I had to be up early to get to the shop to open up.  The drivers who are running late for work are insane!  I am thankful most days I don't have to be there too early.

It was pretty quiet this morning until my friend and I started working on our plans.  It seems to work that way so often!  When Ron arrived, she and I headed to the church and went through some closets to see what floral decorations were available.  I don't want to buy things that are already there.  Once we finished, I returned to the office and talked to Ron.

There had been a change in my plans about the quilt I had been working on so he suggested I go home and work on it since he didn't feel like going out on jobs today anyway.  It was another windy day where the air was filled with dust and neither of us needed that.

First I stopped at the Charro Days office for a couple of posters.  Then I went to a store downtown, Craftland, to look for table coverings and artificial flowers.  I bought a couple of sprays of flowers for experimenting.  Funny thing happened when I went to pay for the flowers.  The Oriental lady  who was waiting on me, told me the total amount due, but I didn't hear her.  I asked what she said and she was so embarrassed because she had answered me in Spanish and was apologizing for not using English.  I laughed and told her I couldn't hear in either language, but I would prefer English.  I had brought home two boxes of centerpieces I had made a couple of years ago for the banquet and wanted to add some flowers to them for this year.  My choices didn't work out well, so back to the drawing board as they say.
Look who is back!  I am so glad he survived the rough winter we have had. 

At home, after filling the bird feeders, I ate my lunch and then worked on the quilt.  By 3:30 or 4:00 I had the quilt top all together and started searching for batting and backing.  I found just what I needed for both, so I washed the backing and cut it to size and cut the batting to size.  I enjoyed watching the birds all afternoon.  This pair of doves spent about an hour just sitting side by side in the tree where the hawk had been yesterday.

When Ron got home I fixed supper for us and then cleaned the table real well and started spreading out my backing and batting before laying the top over them.  Next I got them pinned in place and am now ready to "tack" it on the sewing machine.  The tacking usually takes me a couple of hours and I think I am too tired to start that tonight.

I will wait to show photos of the current quilt project until after I deliver it.  I hope to do that before too long.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

February 16, 2014

Stopped Up Head and Evening Sewing
February 16, 2014

Sunday morning was fairly typical with Ron and me getting ready for Sunday School and church.  What wasn't typical is that he feels bad with a sore throat and I continue to suffer with the sinus stuffiness.  It is not too often that we both feel bad at the same time.  We took separate cars to church so he could come home after he taught our Sunday School class. 

We had a good group in class including a couple visiting just for today.  They were from St. Louis and seemed very nice.  Maybe they were just checking out a spot for next year for the winter.  I had a lot of things to take care of for the Adult Banquet honoring the Winter Texans.  The banquet is March 9, but I am going to be out for about 10 days and needed to start tying up a lot of loose ends!  So many things to get done this week!!!

After church I stopped by the drug store to pick up a prescription I had dropped off yesterday.  Once I got home, I didn't even eat lunch.  I read for a while and then slept for 2-3 hours.  Once I woke up I started working again on the new quilt project.  I now have a little over 1/2 of it put together.  I like it and think it is coming along well.  I need it all put together by Tuesday night so a friend can take it home and take care of the next step.  Ron helped me with some lettering that I needed done, but other than that, he has slept and read all afternoon. 

A couple of our boys called.  Bob and Vickey are traveling for a weekend trip to Colorado.  He has tomorrow off so they decided to get away and see some snow in the mountains of Colorado.  They are having a good time.  Stephen called and just wanted to chat, but I couldn't hear him so he talked to his dad.

One of my friends asked yesterday after I talked about the yard work, if my elbow is now doing well.  It is doing much better.  I don't think about it all the time like I did for several months.  There are times that since I do forget about it, I will do something that causes pain.  Mostly the pain is in very unexpected times and it has to do with rotation and lifting something with the arm rotated.  I will "yelp" in pain when that happens, as it is normally totally unexpected.  It continues to get stronger, but is still a lot weaker than the other arm.

Working in the yard yesterday caused no elbow problems at all.  What it did cause was the relapse on the sinus condition.  I had been getting better but really went downhill yesterday afternoon.  Last night when we went to our son's house, he mentioned he had the same problem after being outside yesterday.  I was better after my nap this afternoon but then realized the air conditioner was not working.  Ron checked it and said, "It isn't working."  Well not exactly, but he said it is broken.  So he called the man who had just put in a bunch of new parts a couple of months ago and he will come tomorrow afternoon.  I opened a couple of windows because it was getting too hot in the house and now Ron and I are both coughing so the windows will have to closed and we will just suffer with the heat.  It isn't horrible, but it is over 80 in the house here at midnight and that is too warm for me to be comfortable.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

February 15, 2014

Awesome Day From Start to Finish
February 15, 2014

It is Saturday so that means the housekeeper came and I had to be up early for her.  I showered and washed my hair before she arrived.  It was a very foggy morning and I wanted to go outside to see if I could find some spider webs with the heavy condensation on them.  I worked in the front yard while I waited for my helper.  I found a few, but nothing spectacular.
After my helper came and I got her started I went to the back yard and found a good web up high in a tree, but my zoom lens worked well on it. 
Even after the ice and all the cold weather we have had the last three weeks, there is new growth everywhere.  The mimosa trees are covered in new leaves.
It was so lovely outside, that after taking photos, filling the ponds, moving plants back outdoors, and taking care of the bird feeders, I stayed outside and worked for a couple of hours, cutting back about 8 hibiscus bushes and hauling the clippings.  Some of the bushes were over 8 feet tall, so it took a little work.  There are still 4 in the backyard to do, but they look like they don't really have any damage, so I may leave them alone.  Yes, of course the ducks arrived.
After I came in for a drink, I went back out and washed the windows around the sewing room so I could get clear photos of the birds through them.  Then I was ready for breakfast!
Even the sparrows look good through the clean windows!  There were doves, woodpeckers and the sparrows, as well as the blue budgie.  

By the time I finished all that, I was ready for a break, but laundry called.  That got done and then I went back to work on the new quilt I have in progress.  I worked on that off and on the rest of the day.  I had promised to make cookies for a prayer meeting this evening, so I started them and saw my eggs were out of date, so I went to the drug store to leave a prescription order and pick up eggs.  They were out.  That meant a trip to the busy, big store on a Saturday afternoon!  It took an hour to get the three items I needed, and check out and get home.  Yikes!  The term "Express Lane" must mean something different than what I thought.  I got home and baked some delicious chocolate chip cookies, and returned to work on the quilt until time to go to the prayer meeting.  

We had a very good turn out (between 25 and 30) for the prayer meeting and spent a couple of hours praying for a young man with an aggressive brain tumor.  As I looked around the room at those who had gathered, some know the young man and some don't.  Some I know better than others.  Of those I know well, I think all had been through times in their lives where many of us and others had prayed for them.  What touching, heartfelt prayers were uttered tonight!  We are asking God for a miracle.  As I opened our time together, I reminded the group that just a year ago, many of them were praying for my hearing.  God answered that prayer - not in the way many had envisioned, but by paving the way for me to get a Cochlear Implant.  After I explained a couple of things and asked the young man's mother to give us an update, I turned the meeting over to our son so he could lead the actual prayer time.  Tonight as the people in the room took turns praying, I could hear much of what was prayed, but not all. 

Are you familiar with the term "over committed"?  It means we promised to do more than we can realistically do.  That is the way my weekend has been.  It has been hectic, but so far it has all gotten done and I have enjoyed it.

Friday, February 14, 2014

February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Surprise Wedding
February 14, 2014

This evening I was asked about yesterday's blog.  There wasn't one.  I had a relapse on the cold I have had and added an upset stomach to it, so I was not up to doing a posting last night.  Glad it was missed.

Yesterday at the office I worked on some filing and updated some files.  It was time to prepare Valentines for the grandchildren.  What a blessing they all are to us.  Then I spent some time on planning for a prayer meeting tomorrow night for a young man from our church who is battling a brain tumor.  There were several contacts with out of town friends and family.  I got a late Birthday cake.  It is delicious.  Ron went out on a couple of short jobs or errands and was in the rest of the day.  I left a little early.

Today, Ron didn't have any commitments out of the office so he said I could stay home and try to get over my cold.  I spent the morning cutting out a new quilt and the afternoon napping.  I did a little sewing and just relaxed and by the evening I was feeling much better.  That is good because we had plans for the evening.

A couple of weeks ago we received an invitation to a Black and White Celebration of Love and Friendship for Valentine's evening.  All adults were to wear black and white.  Children under 18 were to wear red.  We arrived at the home of our friend to find the living room and dining area set very formally in (of course) black and white.
Everyone mingled and chatted while we waited for the party to begin.  Soon a recently engaged man walked toward the center of the room and from down the hall came the lady he was engaged to - carrying a bouquet.  They met in the middle of the room and walked to the far end of the room from where we were seated, and there was a minister waiting for them.  They exchanged their wedding vows and rings to the delight of the crowd of friends and family. 
Following the wedding ceremony, a delicious dinner was served.  We had a good time, sharing good food with good friends and some new ones.  We are so happy for this couple.  We have known the bride for several years and the groom for a year or so, but have known his adult children for many years.  They are head over heels in love and bring laughter and joy to any group they are a part of.  Best wishes to them.
Our grand daughter and the very dramatic grand daughter of the groom.  The two girls are good friends and always have fun together.

It was an added treat to spend the evening with our son and his family.  The children all looked so good in their red outfits.  They are such a loving bunch - not just on Valentine's Day.

It was very difficult to hear in the setting.  There were probably about 75 people there, pretty close to one another.  There was a lot of talking and rattling of silverware, glasses, etc.  At the start of the wedding ceremony, I could hear pretty well, but by the time they were exchanging the vows it got harder to hear.  Probably the minister in the beginning was speaking to all of us, but as the ceremony progressed, most of his comments were directed to the couple. 

Even visiting with people at our table, it was hard to hear.  There was a couple next to me I had not met  before.  The man was fairly easy to hear, but I only heard a couple of words his wife said all evening.  One of the men at the event who wears hearing aids came to me toward the end of the evening and asked if I had trouble hearing.  The answer was, Yes!  He said he had a lot of trouble himself. 

One thing I think I have mentioned before is that with hearing aids or the sound processor for the Cochlear Implant, they need to be worn all the time when you are awake to be able to be used to them and to constantly adjust to them.  I understand how tempting it is not to wear them when you are home alone.  Many hearing aid wearers are older and maybe live alone and don't see a reason to wear them.  This morning while I was at home alone, I left mine off.  Hearing aids and sound processors and not comfortable.  But the more you wear them, they more they help. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February 12. 2014

Hearing the Birds
February 12, 2014

Those of you who are around my age and a little older will probably remember an old song that says:
 Let's all sing like the birdies sing,
Tweet, tweet tweet, tweet tweet.
Let's all sing like the birdies sing,
Sweet, sweet sweet, sweet sweet...
You may have encountered this song on a trip to The Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland.  In any case, not all birds have melodic voices.  Normally we think of the birds as singing or tweeting, but there are countless other unique bird songs and calls.
Unless you are a "birder", you have probably never heard of an Anhinga. They are large birds with a wingspan of nearly 4 feet.  They don't fall in the group of birds known for melodic sounds.  Actually most of my bird books say that they are fairly quiet.  The one in the above photo was not quiet!  Because of my hearing limitations I can't really describe the sound, but it was a call.  One of my books says while in flight they may make a whistling sound or something that comes across as "eek, eek, eek".  That would come close to what I heard, but I got the impression she (upper body brown - female) was calling the others to join her.  I don't do well with translations, she may have been telling them I was there and not to come for a while.

When I got home from work today, I decided to check for birds before unloading the car or coming into the house.  Often when I open the back door, one of the larger water birds will have been out back but will fly away as I step into the yard.  So I had the camera already turned on and the zoom already extended.  As I stepped into the yard one of my favorites, a Black-Crowned Night Heron flew up and landed on the bank straight ahead of me.  I quickly raised the camera, centered him and shot without having time to really focus well.  Here is the result.  Such a beautiful bird.
One photo is all I could get and he was gone.  I didn't see which way he had flown, so I was looking toward the end of the man-made lake we live beside.  The lake ends behind our house and we have a lot of bamboo and trees in that area where they can hide.  I kept hearing a bird but couldn't spot it.  I looked up in a tree where I have seen the night heron before and he wasn't there, but the Anhinga at the top of the page was. 
The Anhinga blends in well with the surroundings and is not easily spotted.  The first time I took my camera to a wildlife preserve to take bird photos, I was astounded when I saw the immature night herons (both yellow-crowned and black-crowned).  They blended in perfectly with the reeds at the water's edge.  God camouflaged the birds to allow them protection from predators, especially when they are young.  That is true of most of the adult birds, too, particularly the larger ones.  I can't explain the cardinal.  I often wonder why God made him bright red, other than to give us delight when we spot them on gray, dreary days.  Oops, sorry, I have gotten off track here.

The Anhinga allowed me to take several photos and then I went inside hoping that I had not scared her away.  Often Anhingas will roost in the tall eucalyptus trees out back.  No more came while I was out watching this one, but shortly after I came in, I saw several coming in for a landing in the trees.

All of that was the brightest spot in my day.  I am feeling much better and I got a lot of bookkeeping done while at the office today.  I had bills to pay, reports to send to the accountant, and a deposit to prepare.  I got it all done and really had a nice day, but I must say, the birds were a real bonus.

Voices don't sound like they used to, so I am sure what I hear from the birds may not sound like they really do.  But I can tell they are making noises.  Progress on my hearing continues.

Oh, a funny thing happened as I was looking up some information on the Anhinga.  I picked up a new book that a customer gave us for Christmas and I wondered if the Anhinga would be in it (this was just pictures not information).  I had to laugh when I looked down at the cover.
There right in front of me were the Anhingas.  I guess John J. Audubon also found them an interesting study.  Here they were on the cover.  How do you like those feet?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February 11, 2014

A Wonderful Birthday
February 11, 2014

Isn't it interesting how as we get older, our views of birthdays change?    As a child we often can't wait for our birthday to come.  We want presents, a party, cake, and friends.  We want to know everyone remembered.  As we get older, there often comes a point where the birthday person says, "No gifts, please.  I need to get rid of things, not add more."  We may not care about a party, but we want family and friends. 

During the day today (actually starting just after midnight last night), friends on Facebook began sending birthday greetings.  It is an easy thing to do, but it is also an easy thing to ignore.  So I appreciate all of the family and friends who took a few moments today to send me a Facebook birthday greeting.  Our daughter-in-law and son who live in town invited us over for supper this evening and it was so nice to relax and visit with them. 

Some children like to be the center of attention and others are just naturally the center of attention because they are so much fun to watch.  Our youngest granddaughter is currently at that stage.  She kept us laughing and tried to keep her grandpa in line. 
She had gathered the books that were on the coffee table and stacked them.  She was so proud of herself when they were all in a stack that didn't fall over.  It was fun to watch the kids and talk to them, but with the Cochlear Implant, I often just hear a rumble of noise when several people are talking at once and with seven children in the house, there are lots of times where more than two people are speaking at one time. 
Who needs sound?  I could just sit and watch this cutie all evening.  Well, I need sound or I would have missed her using a cardboard box as a bongo drum and singing away to a song of her own imagination.  I wish I could have heard the melody, but I loved her exuberant effort. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

February 10, 2014

Just Call Me "Sneezy"
February 10, 2014

My husband has always complained that my sneezes rattle the windows.  The windows in the surrounding houses must be rattling these days.  I have really had the sneezes!  I am ready for them to go away! 

Today I felt bad most of the day from sore throat and sinus stuff.  If you are wondering why I don't go to the doctor, it is because I have so many drug allergies that there is little they can give me and I usually end up feeling worse from the reactions to the medications than I with the original illness.  So I try to wait them out.

My husband's mom was having cataract surgery today so he went to the hospital to be with her.  Ron's sister is in town and was with her also.  They were to be there at 8:30 this morning so I had to open the office.  They told them to expect to be there 2 hours.  My husband got back to the office at 4:00.  It turned out that my mother-in-law's blood pressure was a little high so they were waiting to bring it down before they did the surgery, but they didn't bother to tell them that, which only added to the blood pressure problems when they just kept delaying it with no explanation. 

At the office I was feeling lousy but actually had a very good day business wise.  That was very nice.  I did well hearing most of the customers except two very soft spoken men.  I find it amazing that I can stand across the counter from a customer and ask how I can help them.  I get what they need and then when I turn my back to them and turn on the machines, they start talking.  I think even for a person with normal hearing, that would make it hard to carry on a conversation.  I only had to text Ron once to ask him something and that was to place a rush order for a customer.  He sent me a few texts during the day to let me know what was going on, when he knew anything.

After Ron got to the office, I showed him all the work I had taken in for him to do and then came home.  I got here, sat down in the recliner and woke up at 9:00 this evening feeling a little better.  I had a scare.  I try to be very methodical about always putting my sound processor in the drying unit when I take it off.  Even it I am only taking it off for a few minutes, I put it in there so I will know where it is.  When I woke up, I didn't have the sound processor for the Cochlear Implant on.  I had felt so bad when I got home that I obviously didn't put it where it belonged.  I had no recollection of taking it off.  I started searching.  I found it on the floor beside the recliner, so I think I didn't take it off and that it fell off as I tossed and turned in my sleep.  This is the drying unit where it belongs!
I did a little work on the scrap quilt that is in progress.  I really have enjoyed working on it and would like to get it finished this week, but the week is filling up. 
Last year at this time, so many people were praying for me.  They were praying that God would restore my hearing.  God answered it by allowing me to get the Cochlear Implant which is providing me with better hearing that I had prior to the Sudden Hearing Loss.  I had struggled for many years to hear.  Now, this year, many of those same friends are praying for two other special needs in our church family.  One is a tiny preemie baby born to a couple in our church.  She is making progress each day, but we are all eager for her to be home and healthy.  Right now she is in a hospital about 160 miles away.  The second need is for a child of another couple in our church.  This is an adult child - a young man about 24 years old with a very serious brain tumor.  He served on the other side of the world in our military for a year and came home last summer with some headaches and assorted problems.  It took a while for the doctors to come up with a definite answer, but it isn't a good answer.  Many of us are now rallying to pray for him and his sweet wife and young child. 

It often seems that when we go through a rough time, we become more sensitive to the rough times others are going through.  Today I had a message from the mother of the preemie, suggesting that we should set a prayer meeting to pray, not for her child, but for the young man.  We have now set that up for this weekend.  Faith and trust in God is not just about ourselves.  We don't just go to God with our needs and wants, but we go to Him in prayer, thanking Him for all He does for us and asking not just for ourselves but for those around us who are hurting.  I know the young man has been sharing with so many around him about God's love and provision.  He is trusting God to be with him each step of the way as he travels this rough road. 

We are surrounded by people who are carrying some heavy loads.  We each need to reach out to help those around us.  The Bible tells us to bear one another's burdens.  That may be in a prayer meeting, in the providing of a meal, or in sending a card.  I hope you are finding a way this week to show God's love to someone you know with a burden.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

February 9, 2014

OK, It is a Cold, Not Allergies!
February 9, 2014

For several days I have thought I was battling allergies, and maybe it started that way, but now I think it is a plain old ordinary common cold.  Yuck!  I have sneezed and sneezed, coughed, sniffled, and my head is aching.  I think it has been two or three years since I have had a cold.  Last winter since I had gone deaf in mid-January, I was heavily medicated through most of the winter with antibiotics, steroids, and all kinds of allergy medications.  I don't think a cold had a chance.  But this year is different.  I hope this is short lived.

I never feel that I have time to be sick, but this coming week is booked solid and is going to be busy.  My husband has early commitments Monday and Tuesday so I will need to open the office.  Usually I don't go in until 9:00 or 10:00.  Maybe I will be able to come home early.

Today we had a good Sunday school class and Ron brought a good lesson.  I had trouble hearing today.  Someone asked if my ears were stopped up due to my cold.  Maybe, but I think that since the Cochlear Implant bypasses the ear drum, that should not be a factor.  I think maybe it was just because my head was hurting so much I couldn't focus on conversations.  My daughter-in-law was out of town and so three of the grandchildren sat with me.  One was very quiet and I finally moved to sit beside her and asked if she was OK.  She kind of shrugged and I asked if she was ready for her mom to come home and she quickly said, "Yes."  Kids do love things to be the same.  If mom or dad is out of place, it bothers them. 

After church there was a luncheon for the women.  They have this particular event once a year and it is called Bundles of Joy.  For a few weeks they have been collecting items for babies and today those were made into bundles to give to new mothers in need.  First we had a light lunch and then we prepared the bundles.
Items were lined up on tables and we first would select a receiving blanket that would wrap the bundle.  Next was a stack of diapers, an outfit or two, and a bottle.  There were other items to select from to complete the bundle as well as a small book from the church for the mother.  I think we prepared a little over 40 bundles.  What a fun group from the newest church member, a little girl, to some of the older ladies in the church.

One of the ladies makes beautiful cards and she was preparing the tags for the bundles.  Everyone shares their talents and abilities.  A group of ladies who meet on Fridays to work on quilts for various needs, took time out to prepare about 40 receiving blankets and they were all so cute and colorful. Again, the hearing was a problem in a small, noisy room, but I did fairly well. 

Once I got home, a hot bath was in order and then a brief nap.  The rest of the day I have "goofed off" and relaxed as much as I could.  I talked to our son and daughter-in-law in New Mexico.  I had not talked to them in several days.  The television is on the the channel covering the Olympics, but I have watched very little.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

February 8, 2014

A Bright Start to My Day
February 8, 2014

What a treat to have this Green Jay come to the bird feeder early this morning.  He is so pretty!  The only place Green Jays are found in the United States is extreme South Texas - our area.  I have seen them about 80 miles north of here, but I think that is about as far north as they go.  They are such fun to spot in the yard.  The sparrows swarmed the feeders after the last few days of cold, wind and rain.  They were hungry!

This was another day when I was thankful that I could hear.  It is such a joy to just be able to carry on a two-way conversation (or 3 or 4 way).  I find it interesting when people I know, forget about the Cochlear Implant.  Maybe they don't know me real well and they heard about me going deaf but haven't thought any more about it.  Sometimes in the middle of a lengthy conversation, they will stop and say, "Oh, you can hear me!"  Yes!!  Most of the time.

As usual, I had to be up early for the house keeper.  I am so thankful for her that I would get up at any hour to let her in, but there are times I would like to sleep a little later.  I am dealing with a bad allergy spell and sneezing a lot and coughing.  The cough has been better this afternoon, but my head hurts and I sometimes imagine what it might be like to not have allergies.  Perfumes can really set me off just about any day, but when the allergies are already bad it just multiplies my reaction to different scents.  My house keeper helps take care of the dust in my house.  That is a blessing.

This morning while she cleaned, I worked again in the sewing room.  I sorted some of my fabric and got out two boxes of scraps that I had prepared for use a couple of years ago.  They are trimmed to usable sizes and ironed and neatly stacked.  That makes projects go much more quickly.  I made another block or two for one of the projects and now have enough to make a baby quilt.  Maybe I will start assembling it tomorrow - depending on how I feel.

I worked in the yard for a while while as my sewing room got a good cleaning.  I put away all the serving dishes from the Sunday school party.  I did a couple of loads of laundry and several other chores this morning.  After I fixed and ate lunch, I went to the funeral for Judge Billy Faulk.  It was a very nice service and it was well attended.  Most of the service was done by members of his family.  What a legacy he has left in his family with some outstanding children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  One of his nephews, Pat Faulk, brought the message at the service and led in some of the music.  Two grandsons sang a duet, other family members shared their feelings about him.  It was a nice service. 

One of the really nice things was the acoustics in the auditorium.  I could hear!  I missed some things, but I probably heard over 95 percent of the main message.  The speaker, Pat Faulk, speaks slowly and distinctly.  What a blessing to be able to hear the words that he brought.  Of the others that spoke, I probably got an average of 75% of what they said.  I was glad I had gone. 

Many of the Faulk family members live away from here and it was good to see them.  Some of the local friends and family attend other churches and I don't see them often, so it is always good to see old friends.  Several of us visited after the service and we all shared our concern about our friend Tate, who had just gotten the news yesterday on his malignant brain tumor.  We love this young man and his parents and siblings who are a very important part of our church.  Our prayers are asking God for healing for Tate, and for strength for him and all of the family as they start down a road they never expected to travel.

From there I went to the grocery store to get some things to make sandwiches for a luncheon at the church tomorrow.  This is for the ladies and it is called Bundles of Joy.  We gather items to make gift baskets for young unwed mothers who choose to keep their babies and not abort them.  These are young women who don't have a lot of financial resources.  After the luncheon, the baskets will be assembled for distribution.

Back home, I spent time on the computer before fixing supper and then watched a little of the Olympic Women's Figure Skating.  I must say it loses something when the music is just a noisy rumble.  I really miss being able to enjoy music. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

February 7, 2014

A Day of Mixed Emotions
February 7, 2014

There probably isn't a day that goes by that I am not thankful for my Cochlear Implant.  There are always things I want to hear, conversations I want to be a part of, and things I need to hear. 

I slept just a little late this morning.  Ron went to meet Jeff for breakfast and didn't wake me before he left.  When I arrived at the shop, our oldest grandson was there.  He and I had a good time chatting.  He had a news story published in a scouting newsletter for this area.  It was well done and he was proud of his first published work.  He was there until about 2:30. 

The weather in South Texas this winter has been strange to say the least!  It was 37 degrees all day here today.  We were not to be that cold.  Late this afternoon, I checked the weather on my cell phone.  I have it set up where I can scroll through the current weather where each of our children live.  The ones in northern New Mexico were 10 degrees warmer.  The ones in central Texas were just slightly warmer.  Only the one in north Texas was colder.  Not only was it cold today, it was wet and windy as well.

Most of my afternoon was spent on bookkeeping.  The bank statement had arrived so I needed to balance it.  I got one of the parts of the report for the accountant done, and paid some bills.  It was a very slow day at the office as the temperature hovered at 37 degrees all day.  Ron was out for a while on one job, but spent much of his day working on the computer in his office.  It is old and overloaded.  He has been transferring a lot of things to an external hard drive.  I left a few minutes early to pick up a couple of prescriptions and to go drop some mail at the post office. 

We met our friends the Lawlers for supper and had a nice visit.  The food was extra good tonight and I really enjoyed my supper.   

Then all four of us went to a local funeral home for a visitation to see the family of a friend who passed away this week, Billy Faulk.  Mr. Faulk was 89 years old, still working until 2 weeks ago as a lawyer.  He had served in both WWII and the Korean War.  I have a special place in my heart for this family.  Their daughter Linda was named after me and she was flower girl at our wedding.  Mrs. Faulk (Bobbie Anne) taught me to quilt.  Bobbie Anne's mom was also a special friend.  I am so glad we went to the visitation.  Several times I thought about how good it was to be able to hear Bobbie Anne.  Of course, she is saddened by the loss of her husband, but her joyful spirit could not be hidden.  She loves God and knows that her husband is in Heaven with his Lord and Savior.

Billy Faulk's brother Harry was such a strong member of our church (as was Billy for many years), but Harry had moved away several years ago.  He had not yet arrived for tomorrow's service.  The weather had his flight delayed in Oklahoma.  Harry's oldest son Pat was at the funeral home this evening, having flown in earlier in the day.  Harry's youngest son, Thomas, will be coming in with Harry, hopefully late tonight.  Visiting with these friends tonight I was so glad I could hear them.  I don't think I asked for anything to be repeated and there was a lot of talking going on around us.

When we got home.  Ron had some dessert and then headed to bed and quickly went to sleep.  I sat down at the computer to check on several things.  We have a friend who is a young man who grew up in our church.  He moved away to go to college and then married and settled in the northern part of our state.  He spent a year serving in Afghanistan and returned home this past summer.  He has had several medical problems since before he got home this summer.  Today, he was told that the biopsy on a brain tumor came back to show cancer.  He is trusting God and knows that God will be with him whatever is ahead.  It saddens me to know of anyone suffering like he is, but such a young man with a lovely wife and toddler daughter - well, I just hurt for them and for his family.  We are asking God to give the doctors wisdom and to bring healing to our friend.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

February 6, 2014

An Evening With Friends - 
Old Ones and Newer Ones
February 6, 2014

My boss (also known as my husband) offered me the day off today to get ready for the Sunday School party at our house tonight.  If the truth is known, he was kind to allow me to stay home, but I think he didn't want to go out in the cold today and if I wasn't at the office, he couldn't go out. 

Late in the morning I did go to the grocery store.  I had forgotten a couple of items for tonight, so I got those and of course found a few more things to buy.  I baked the cookies I mixed up last night and made a Coca-Cola Cake.  I have enjoyed eating them but it took me a long time to figure out who was bringing them to church socials and then to find out the recipe.  It turns out I had the recipe all along, I just didn't know what it was.

I should do a "What is this?"  But doubt you will get it.  I was making the frosting for the Coca-Cola cake.  You put coke, butter, and powdered cocoa in a pan and heat it to boiling.  This is the bubbles in the coke trying to get through the powdered chocolate floating on top of the coke.  That is the stick of butter in the foreground.  Delicious cake!!
This is how the cake looks coming out of the oven.  Interesting recipe.  Yummy results. 

The rest of the day was spent cleaning, sorting, and getting out serving dishes.  We had such a nice bunch at the party.  As I suspected, several of our locals didn't get out in the cold, but the Winter Texans were here along with some of the locals.  We had a great time laughing, sharing, talking about the Winter Texan Banquet, and getting to know each other better. 
 Most of the Winter Texans who come to Brownsville come almost straight south to spend the winter.    There are a few exceptions, but most are from almost due north.  Most are retired, but some are farmers who can't work the land in the winter. 
We had way too much food, but it was a wonderful variety.  We all enjoyed it. 
Two of the couples stayed later than the others and we had a good time getting to know them better.  Both couples are Winter Texans.
There was a lot of food left, but one of the Winter Texans was able to take it and will give it to someone who works with the poor and it will be put to good use.  I am so glad when we can do things like that and the food doesn't go to waste.

It was so nice to visit with the two couples who stayed a while.  I could hear better in the small setting.  When it got noisy, I was at a loss.  One of the couples headed back north last year before knowing I was getting the Cochlear Implant and they didn't realize I had it.  They thought I had gotten my hearing back.  They also didn't know about the broken elbow, so there was a lot of updating to do.  We found out a little about their children and grand children.  Really nice people.  We would be happy to have them here all year - not just the winter.