Sunday, August 31, 2014

2014 Week 35: Pain, Pets, Problems, and Precious Ones

Monday Mike tried another therapy session in Indy. He continues to have recurring episodes of excruciating hip pain which limits or interrupts exercise or physical activity.

I loved this scene at Stephan's that evening, everyone enjoying one another's company while waiting for dinner, and Nova the cat surrounded by light, laughter and love. Ah, the life of a pet!

I have wished that for Brutus, but haven't known how to make that happen. The decision to find him a new home, and the way it came about, was quite traumatic. But in the end turned out well and the actual move Tuesday morning went more smoothly than we could have anticipated.
We placed his breakfast in the cage and Mike stayed nearby talking soothingly after closing the door. In the car I sat next to him and kept him calm as he anxiously observed his changing surroundings.
His new home is with our former consuegra (co-inlaw), widowed and living alone. Already that first day he proved to be good company for her.

My first class was that evening and, among other activities, we had fun with some skits that help to associate the Spanish vowel sounds with a situation or scenario they will remember.

There were problems, however, that we are still working through. Tuesday I found out that I had been given a different edition of the textbook than the students. By Thursday although I had access to the internet, I could not figure out how to get the audio to work. Technology has transformed the class room.

A package came from my cousin this week. She found a very old Bible that my grandfather must have given to my mother. There is a sample of her handwriting as a child. I wonder how old she was?

Michael spent two and half days helping Stephan with their well problems. The water had ecoli, and needed to be chlorinated. In order to do that, Stephan had to locate the well, dig it out, disassemble, change some things, put it back together. They ran into beaucoup problems. Hmmm. . . it may have been a good deal to pay to have it done.

Friday afternoon Sam's three younger boys spent the night.

There they go, and here they come. . . over and over. . . back and forth. . . up and down.

"It's too early to let go of blankie. . . or maybe not"
This is the big weekend in Upland--yard sales everywhere. So we went down town, and stopped at a few. The boys picked up a few toys or treasures.  We stopped at Leah's to see how theirs was going.
The best part was to see little precious and her lovely mother and radiant grandmother!

I suspect that from now on my weekly blog will NOT be complete unless it has a picture of baby Rebecca.

Zion remembered the playground at the church so we ended our adventure with a play time there.

After they left, Mike and I had fun running around town on the ATV!

Come back for more about the town festivities next week.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

2014 Week 34: The Week's Miscellany

Health issues, decisions, disasters and more. The good and the bad always hand in hand.

Monday was Mike's follow-up appointment with Dr. Sundaram at IU Health in Indianapolis.
The good news: no traces of cancer! The potentially bad, more sarcoidosis nodules detected on thyroid.
We visited our friend Sara (fellow Circle Tour rider) over lunch and she shared her venison stew with us.

I was asked to teach a Level 1 Spanish course at Ivy Tech, and have been asking God and others for direction and advice. I promised to give an answer by Monday night. I said yes.

Tuesday, our friend Jenni gave us both massages to relieve our hip and back issues. She is very skilled

That evening I went to an orientation for adjunct professors and received the texts I will be using.

Wednesday I received the Master Syllabus and the next day met with the Department Chair and Assistant Coordinator to fill out a hire packet. So, here we go, plenty of work (and fun?) ahead. I will be teaching Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 - 9 PM.

Mike got on his bike again and rode 12 miles! He's gone out two more times this week, and feels better, although the hip pain comes back and slows him down.

Thursday evening our young friend from Little Rock, Arkansas, arrived to spend the night before moving into the dorm at Anderson. He was rather worn out from driving all that way but stood around long enough that we persuaded him to play a game of Hand and Foot before retiring for the night. What were we thinking? He beat us soundly.

Calculating the final scores                                                      Gloating
That night severe storms and heavy rains hit our area. A neighboring town got over 9" resulting in serious flooding. We had a little over 5" and no real damage.

The weather was very timely for the new parents. Matt was sent home from work and could go with Kayla to second doctor appointment for baby Rebecca. She had lost a bit too much weight by Tuesday, but is gaining now.

Schools were closed for 'rain day'! Skye took this picture of their flooded back yard.

More babies! Leah was up all night acting as midwife for her beagle Cleo's first delivery. A rough time--two live births but the last two puppies were stillborn.

Saturday we both left the house shortly after 8 a.m. Michael had an event where the robotics team showed off their robots at a family fest. And I went to grandson Malachi's cross country meet. As a sophomore he is now on the varsity team. It was not the best day for a race--soggy ground and hot and humid weather. Uncle Stephan was there to offer encouragement.

Then I headed to the Broadway house to help paint, or at least touch up some spots.

Bye, bye, Broadway house after 13 years of good memories!
On the way home I just had to stop at Kayla's and hold Rebecca again. Still so tiny and such a doll!

All week, at various intervals, Michael has been working on his latest piece of art, preparing it step by step for an eventual bronze casting. Over the months he has spent hours and hours painstakingly perfecting even the smallest aspect. Finally all the parts were assembled onto a 'tree' for the series of coats before the wax melting stage. Alas, this morning disaster struck (most likely Brutus the cat) and the shattered pieces are irrecoverable. This is the only memory we will have of a long anticipated beautiful work of art.

Mike is still recovering. The cat may have a different home soon!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

2014 Week 33: A great grandbaby!

You will forgive me if this week is predominantly about  this new stage of our lives. We are now great grandparents!
But, lets go back to the beginning of the week.
On the way to Monday night dinner, we stopped to pick up Kayla and see all the baby things. We 'oohed' and 'aahed' over everything, but I only got two photos. The decorated R is waiting to go up on the wall.

R is for Rebecca Rose
At Stephan and Karen's I admired the outdoor progress: the rearranged porch furniture; the new roof on the pole barn (future Indiana Ice Studio); the hosta blossoms.

Indoors, the Monday night crowd was blessed with two special visitors: Kayla, (oh, so ready to give birth!); and Hannah, visiting from New York.
I also enjoyed checking out all the settling-in progress: the curtains Dolores and Red (my consuegros) helped with over the weekend; the art on the walls; and more.

 (Don't worry about David, he just doesn't like to have his picture taken.)

And the food was wonderful: Karen's spaghetti and meatballs; Pattie's salad; and lemon meringue pie, Hannah's contribution.

Stephan was away all week carving ice (in summer?!) at the New York State Fair.

Theme: Little Mermaid 

Wednesday, was Diane's long-awaited annual trip to the Indiana State Fair. We brought Trisha along. They got along well together. Before we parted, I attempted a few selfies and had to put two together to include us all.

First news Thursday morning was that Kayla was preparing to deliver the baby. Leah left immediately. I made my way to the hospital after lunch.  Matt's family members were already there waiting in eager anticipation. Jimmy and Skye came later, then Mike. We took turns visiting with Kayla. We sat. We walked. We waited and waited.

 Whenever I was in there with Kayla she looked calm and in control.

The last three or four hours only Matt and Leah were allowed in and things got very intense. Kayla thought it would never end! Sometimes text messages came through to one of us with instructions to share with the waiting room.
At 10:50 PM the news was, "We have a baby!"

Mom meets Rebecca Rose

Dad holds Rebecca for the first time.
He was tired and fighting a serious headache. Leah came out exhilarated, emotional, and exhausted!

Friday the new grandparents and uncle came back to actually hold and spend time with the new little one.

Rebecca meets Uncle Skye, G'ma and G'pa

Rebecca Rose Kern--6 lbs. 15 oz., 20" long                                                  "Dat you, G'pa?"     "G'ma?"

Saturday, Mike and I went back to introduce ourselves to our first great granddaughter.  

On the way out of the hospital we spotted this bronze sculpture, of course of great interest to Mike.

"Hold on" 

Appropriate message, I thought, as we face many new adventures ahead!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

2014 Week 32: Empathy

A lovely lily sprung up at Dove's Crossing. . .

. . . even as the boxes and last items from the Broadway house kept piling up.

No matter the state of things, Monday Night Meal must go on.

Nova eyes the rabbit stew longingly

Tuesday was a big writing day. I had two goals in mind. One was a blog post--the story of what happened to our friend in the Basque Country--a life lesson in empathy.

Wednesday my ladies group had another fellowship lunch outing. The funniest moment was when Liz's order arrived--a GIGANTIC tenderloin sandwich!

Where's the bun?
Michael had planned a mini vacation for us in lieu of our annual tandem tour. We left that afternoon for Nashville, Indiana. Interestingly, just before we left I threw my back out and was forced to slow way down, and take Ibuprofen--an opportunity to better empathize with Michael as he continues to recover from surgery.

Little Nashville is a small town big on art--"the Art Colony of the Midwest" for over a century.
This stunning piece of public art had just been installed in the last month.

We thoroughly enjoyed wandering in an out of galleries and shops, easy conversation with artists and vendors, amazing unending creativity everywhere.

Artist at work--Spanish surname and ancestors from Cataluña 

I took very few photos. These reminded me of someone. A couple wood sculptures for you, Stephan.

And decorated gourds for you, Leah.

Good meals at unique eateries like: Muddy Boots CafeHobnob Corner Restaurant; The Sandwich Place, likely the largest Bobby Knight collection anywhere; and Miller's Ice Cream House which offers a Teeny Weeny ice cream sundae for 99 cents.

Friday mid morning we left Hotel Nashville and toured one more art gallery before heading home.

Breakfast view
I had planned to run a 5k this morning but the nagging back ache wouldn't let me. I was disappointed.
Is that how Mike feels as he waits to get back on his bike?

So, here we are, still taking it easy, catching up on laundry and putting away the abundance of produce we gathered today at Victory Acres.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


This has to be one of my favorite selfies of all time because of the friendship it represents and because it reminds me of the last hours we spent together the day before we left the Basque Country.

In honor of our Basque friend Edurne's birthday today, I am going to retell an experience they shared that day which impacted me greatly.

In 2000 Alberto and Edurne vacationed in Costa Rica with their friends. Shortly before their departure for home Edurne began to feel sick. By the time they arrived back in Hondarribia she was seriously ill. She could not move. It was total-body paralysis. Even swallowing or speaking were almost impossible.

Keep in mind they are both doctors--Edurne a family doctor and Alberto a neurologist. For days he and his colleagues researched her condition while family members took turns caring for her round the clock.

Meanwhile, one evening Alberto's network of friends from his hometown (kuadrilla) were having dinner and talking about this situation. One of them, a scuba diver, knew immediately that they were dealing with Ciguatera, a neurotoxin from eating fish or seafood contaminated with poisons obtained through the food chain. But, why did the others who enjoyed the same food not experience any of the symptoms? Perhaps because she is so tiny, like extra small. Certainly not because she ate more than them.

The diagnosis made all the difference. They knew this would pass in time and that there was nothing they could do to accelerate the healing process. "Once I knew," she said, "I could just lay there content and wait."

I tried to put myself in their place and imagine what it must have been like for this very active, athletic, involved mother, wife and physician. I pondered the added dimension of empathy that must have come from being totally dependent on others for three to four weeks. Then I said, "¡Qué interesante!" They laughed. Probably not the best descriptor for such a traumatically debilitating condition. I was thinking of Jesus and the absolute empathy He gained from becoming fully human and dwelling among us. Several Bible passages talk about how we can come to Him confidently because He understands completely.

This conversation came about because I asked if her necklace, which I remembered seeing four years ago, had a special meaning. Alberto had it designed and made especially to commemorate that his beautiful wife was restored to them and to full life again.

Can you read the word CIGUATERA, and see the culprit prawn? 

I had a vague memory of Amaia trying to tell me about her mother's serious illness, but I never understood fully at that time. She was very young, only six or seven. This was extremely traumatic for the girls. The day Edurne felt able to go meet them after school was one of those to be remembered a lifetime.

Edurne recalls that when she was able to go back to work she felt overwhelmed with gratefulness to be alive.

Four years ago we visited her doctor's office in a temporary building. This time we got to see the new clinic.

The lower two photos were taken in 2010 and I wrote about it here. One thing for sure, Edurne has not aged at all!

Interestingly, as we walked around San Sebastian on that last day (June 22), we met up with the nurse that still works with Edurne. 

2010                                                                                                    2014

Again I say, "Zorionak, Edurne! We love you and are so very glad you are alive and well."

Monday, August 4, 2014

2014 Week 31: Storms, Birthdays, Moves, Visitors and More

After one of the storms we found this tree snapped in two and glad that it did not fall across our driveway. Apparently it had been damaged. (Perhaps the huge water tankers when we had the house fire?)

Monday evening we took our young friend Trisha to Stephan's meal for a last time. 
She moved to another town this week. 

Enjoying Nova the kitten

Birthdays are great opportunities for family get-togethers, in fact three different ones this week!

July 29th we have two family birthdays--my mother's and grandson Skye's.

Mike and I joined brother Alan and niece Tina and their families for Sunday dinner at Grace Village to celebrate Mother's 93rd birthday! 
I stuck a candle in her Boston cream pie and we sang to her. 
Mike got this shot of her reaction. It has gotten over 50 Likes and numerous Comments on Facebook.

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday, dear Mother. . .

Then on the very day, Tuesday, we were invited to Leah's for Skye's 17th.

Wednesday, before taking a truck load to Trisha's new place, we stopped for lunch at the Lions' Club where they have a weekly meal and a program for seniors. We were glad we did. Our doctors' children provided the delightful musical entertainment.

Thursday, another truck load to Trisha's and then an outing with this handsome man!

Friday, I finished one big cleaning project.

 Dear friends from our years overseas stopped by in the afternoon. Fred was the best man at our wedding.

Technology rules our lives now and selfies are fun!

Saturday I helped Karen finish cleaning another level of the old house. I almost took another selfie while halfway inside her fridge. Instead I said goodbye to the Broadway house by taking a picture of a couple of the pretty flowers that abound in the front yard.


The last birthday celebration was here Sunday for Karen's 39th coming up Tuesday, August 5th--
family and friends, tacos, ice cream cake, a piñata out by the picnic area, and loads of fun!

The next BIRTH day coming up soon!

Stay tuned!