Thursday, November 21, 2013

Autumn 2013

Here it is Autumn of 2013.  I just turned 66 a few days ago.  As I look back on my geocaching logs and this blog I'm struck by the changes in my writing ability.  I know I use simpler words now, and less complex sentences.  I see in emails to my friends that I tend to use the same words in birthday greetings, and when replying to their posts.

  One thing I know it that my brain IS functioning better than it had been on some levels a few years ago. I attribute that to the changed I made after working with a functional medicine doctor on my gut health and inflammation.   One of the issues I'd brought up with my nurse practitioner when asked about my memory was that when my dh, who has been refusing to write on the wall calendar when he leaves for workshops and meetings, when he asked me, "You remember I'm leaving for a weekend - somewhere" I said, "No, I don't."  So he proceeded to try to prod my memory, yet I had no recollection of his ever mentioning it. That happened twice that year. Is has not happened recently and that sort of recall is working fine.  Yet, I just got turned down for long term care insurance since I'd reported memory issues to my Nurse Practitioner on my past two yearly check ups.  That was the sole reason given for being turned down. Funny that I'd done fine on the tests given to me at home by an examiner they sent. She also exclaimed that I had the lowest blood pressure she'd seen of all the folks she'd had to test. That's probably what scared the insurers.  She's too darn healthy.  She'd be in care for years!

Also, just two months ago I made a "new driver" mistake with a BAD result.  The day before dh and I were to leave for a former neighbor's wedding in Minnesota I decided that among other things, and since the dog had ripped the lining out of one pair, I needed a new pair of shoes that would stay snugly on my feet. (A long time ago our family was flying and had to run to the gate for our connecting flight. They were all athletic, playing a lot of soccer. I had become overweight. Fortunately, they arrived in time and then I did, and we were able to board. I resolved that day that I needed to get fit enough to run through airports. Really. That was my goal. And I needed good footwear to do so.)

 So as I was waiting to exit the parking area of the shoe store I'd decided I'd wait to see if the road would clear on both South and Northbound lanes to cross and go north, or I'd turn right and turn around in the the KMart plaza sign the traffic light to exit. But no, a woman saved me in in front of her.  I could see no traffic approaching in the lane next to her, so I did proceed forward in front of her car,, waited, and still saw no cars approaching - but my vision was limited by traffic in the lanes.  I decided to start to creep into the next lane turning slightly north, when BOOOOOM!!!! I hit a car.  The car I hit had enough forward momentum to continue for several feet before stopping.  I looked around, and decided to back my car out of the driving lanes back into the parking lot. I saw that the other car had crumpled panels both in front of the right front wheel and the right front door.  I was still too stunned to react quickly other than getting my car out of the way (which the police officer later confirmed was a good decision.) Meanwhile someone with a car full of folks pulled into the parking lot and the driver ran out to the car to check on them. She is a nurse. They were shook up, but fine. As was I. I'm sure all of us were going to end up with some aches and pains for a few days,  I needed up with left hip pain, and a bit of neck stiffness all mostly resolved.

I've hit two dogs, and killed one. Both over 40 years ago when I was in my 20s. It was a St. Bernard who was crossing a busy road right after we'd gone back on Standard Time and at the end of the work day it was now dusk and headlights were on. The dog stopped right in front of me in the lane, and turned his head caught in the headlights. I tried to veer right to miss him, but didn't have enough room.  It was horrible.  He died instantly. The other ran out in front of me on the back road I had to use to get anywhere from my street, at night, in the rain, with a street full of wet leaves.  My car slid on the leaves and I couldn't stop in time. The people in the house whose driveway ended right where the dog had been had no idea who he belonged to.  The dog ran off and we couldn't find him. I'd just finished fixing my car from the other dog accident.

I'd never hit a car before.  Two have hit me: fender bender rear-enders. So I finally got out of my car, shouted over to the other folks that they could come wait for the police in mine. A got a dirty look from the passengers, and the other driver took me up on the offer,  turns out she had her husband and just moved to W River Jct. VT, 5 weeks before after selling their two-story house in Jaffrey, NH.  They'd had to move because, sigh, GUILT GUILT GUILT GUILT her dh has a dementia (not Alzheimer's) and could no longer negotiate stairs, AND on top of that had to have dialysis three times a week. And I'd just wrecked their only car.

Not only that, the passengers were married, new neighbors the driver had never met who had just finished helping her get her husband up on his feet after he'd fallen outside their new condo.  She was returning the favor by driving them over to a 99 Restaurant to pick up the guy's paycheck.  She told me that she and her dh had moved to be closer to a granddaughter (who must have been at work?) and she fretted that she'd not locked the door since she thought she'd only be gone for less than a half hour, not away for two hours!! She was worried that he'd go out on his own and wander off. MORE GUILT. She had my name and phone number on the Police report and I told her to call me and I'd drive them to the dialysis appointments.  But never hearing from her, I assume they got a rental like I did.

As I thought over the circumstances I had no doubt I was to blame, but at the same time I realized by where her car ended up that she was new to the area, not familiar with the street markings, and most likely was being talked to and guided to be looking ahead to start to aim toward the left turn lane into the shopping area. Distracted and focusing. I think that if it weren't for that she would have seen my car starting to stick out and been able to stop.  She was also driving fairly fast someone that should be slowing down for a turn. I hope that her car, which was only a few years old, only needed that front panel and door replaced.  And the axle ? whatever was needed since the wheel was askew.  And hoped it wasn't totaled.

On the one hand I know that I've declined mentally. I took the opportunity to sell my 10 year old Toyta Camry after it was fixed and all detailed and looking pretty. I find myself constantly reminding myself while driving my new red Nissan Altima not to go too fast, to be constantly checking mirrors,  to stay aware and not distracted while behind the wheel.

On the other, life is good. My dh and I have renewed a closer relationship and are doing well together.  One of the best things in my life is our dog, Gemma. I picked her out of a litter when she was only a few weeks old.  She crawled up onto my lap and fell asleep on our first or second visit.  She is very attached to my friend Karen, and her daughter Sylvia both of whom were with me on that First Visit, and see her often. She went nuts, crying and barking, two weeks ago when I pulled into their driveway and went into their house without her. ;-) I take her some place on a good long walk almost everyday. I'm so glad there are so many trails in our area.  Joy is to have her bounding around me, loving being out in nature as much as I do. And being so smart that she learns things without my teaching her. If I'm lucky she'll still be with us for 14 more years.

My kids are thriving, and yes, no grandkids, but I can still wish.  I was "retired" late January of 2012 when they eliminated my position at the small community hospital where I'd worked for 16 years. I quickly found out that although it was a vocation, one that I go quite a lot of pleasure from, I didn't miss it.  That surprised me.  I have some close friends, and La Leche League still remains a part of my life. I've still got 4 years left of my IBLCE certification.  I've even started cleaning out some closets, painting some walls.  If I run out of things to do, I can do some volunteering.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Click to view my Personality Profile page

It was wonderful to get back to my close ties with nature when I was introduced to geocaching.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010" title="Wordle: mother love">
Wordle: mother love

Friday, September 4, 2009

As the rugosa roses slowed in producing blooms I found others have appeared to attract the bees. Usually it was bumblebees, and rarely, to my joy, a honey bee. It's August and since THIS summer really only started the first of the month I was taken by surprise to see the buds on the asters growing fatter and soon they were blooming. And although there are plenty of bumblebees and few honey bees the plants are covered with motion. Small flashing darting everywhere surrounding the flowers. Tiny bees -- I don't know what they really are, might even be flies -- love these asters.There are none of them on the sedum.

But there were a few fliers I'm not sure of.

This 4th of July was different. The tents were up. Rain was forecast. prepartations happened as usual. People drifted in with smiles and greetings. And the rain came. With a bluster. And heavy downpour. The tent tops sagged as water caught in the downpocketings. Observers poked at the laden spots causing heads to turn as water splashed heavily toward the earth. Again and again. Stilll the strawberries cut trimmed, the peas shucked.
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But after all that, it cleared and the day went well! My daughter and I had made Mini Stromboli Bites from a Rachel Ray recipe to share. Pizza crust with homemade spinach basil walnut pesto brushed onto the dough and laden with Fontina cheese. My cousin's wife told me she might want the recipes because her 4 y o son loved them ( and do did a lot of folks - and it was a good way to get him to eat vegetables.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chit chit chit chit

We've had a groundhog/woodchuck in our yard and area for several years. I think it took a few of those for the scent or presence of our dog to wear off after he died.

Two years ago a big ol' one --looked like lighter greyish fur mixed in on the back -- started munching in our yard. We don't put chemicals on it so good stuff grows which the deer like as well. Trouble is they found my grape tomato plants and the only ones I had left were closer to the house and under the bottom-most leaves. And the top of the tiny blueberry bush was also trimmed of new shoots. And the tops of the onions. And this year the Shasta daisies and echinacea vanished.

This year s/he found a mate. There are a least three offspring. I know because the folks we buy eggs from lent us a humane trap. Caught one in late spring, one some weeks after that, and not one since. Both of these were younger ones with good coats and distinctive markings.
From may 23 09

Meanwhile they keep making big holes in my neighbor's yard - to hide out in if something bothers them while foraging. She's filled it in at least three times and even dumped a big rock on top. They keep digging it out again. In our yard there is a shed on pallets which affords access underneath for nice stopover. I've loaded the trap a few times recently since I borrowed it once again: fresh spring greens, spinach, snow pea pods and green beans. No apple this time. Unh, uh. Nothing doing.

So a few days ago I put out a cooked ear of corn. Snapped it in two and put one a third of the way in, and the other past the level that shuts the door. Wish I'd had the camera ready.

On Saturday I noticed that the trapped had been moved off at an angle. Hmmm. A doe and her twin fawns had been grazing. Would she have nudged the trap? Then later both my dh and I saw a groundhog near the trap, but not at the same time. So I started speculating. Maybe one made it in and dragged the nearest piece of corn on the cob out. Made sense.

Sunday I heard some really loud 'chit chit chit' chitting. Brain goes, "Those are really loud squirrels. Wait. Too loud." "Oh, woodchucks and tree squirrels are marmots as are ground squirrels. Maybe it's a groundhog."

Sure enough. It's right out by the trap. That corn is quite a lure. But the chitting is coming from further away. Could the mother be sending a warning?

So I'll get more apples and try them again, I think the smell will be enticing.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Okay, a dear friend, NannyOgg, passed this challenge on to me. I was just really glad that it wasn't some kind of chain letter!
Here it is.

Ummm, why is one of the photos missing? It used to be here , and I didn't remove it.


Anyone want to vote for the haircut they like better? The two above photos were taken only a few days apart.

Ten years ago I was happily working on my second year employed as a lactation consultant in a small community hospital with a lot more confidence than the first year. I'd been using e-mail for about three years, signing up to join Lactnet, a list for professionals involved with lactation. My mother with Alzheimer's Disease had been tricked into coming to live with us (good friends stopped plowing her driveway in Southern Va, where they had more snow that year than here up North) and having her live here was an adventure in and of itself. Don't ever try to use logic to convince someone of anything if they have dementia. Join their logic instead. To illustrate; One day I was in her room and saw that she'd propped up a postcard of two American Indian boys. It showed them from head down to just above the knees. In front of the postcard there was an open snack-sized applesauce with a spoon in it. I remarked ,"Oh, Mom, were you going to have a snack?" "Oh, it's not for me. I put it there for those poor boys. They don't have any legs and they can't leave." See? Logical, right?!

I found it healing as I could actually hug her and tell her I loved her, something that had rarely happened before in my lifetime. I'd suspended the LLL meetings as my mom didn't do well with the moms and babes in the house.

My older son was a sophomore in college and
had made the NCAA Div I soccer team. He's #21.
I drove to all the home games held, luckily, on my days off. At home I was still driving to girls' high school and boys' elementary school soccer matches as well. My daughter was about to be graduated from high school with honors and a scholarship - which dh MISSED as he'd taken off for France and the 1998 FIFA World CUP with son #1. Fortunately for her team that previous Fall, my daughter was often the only one who scored a goal for while playing midfield. And my youngest was finishing sixth grade with Ms. Schmitt! A much better year for him after a nightmare of a 5th grade teacher. My husband was still dividing work between clinical neurology at a small downstate hospital and teaching anatomy and neurology the other days at an Ivy League Medical School. Our marriage was much less strained after the stress of Residency. Phew! Life was busy and fine.

Twenty years ago we were in flux. We were still living in Illinois far far away from our families back East. We'd moved off-campus to an apartment complex with a swimming pool, and I'd become depressed. You'd think that being only a mile away wouldn't matter, but I sorely missed the on-campus community of folks there. We'd gotten permission to kept the two older kids in their same elementary school, so I drove them the four minutes between home and school twice a day. Gee, if this were 1989 I could tell the tale about how the car was stolen and used as the getaway car in a jewelry store robbery!

Dh was in medical school, but still teaching at the chiropractic college (we needed $$ for food & rent. ;-). I was home with three kids ranging in age from 11 to two. One day the two year old watched GhostBusters when he happened to be very ill with a fever, and as I learned years later, was then convinced from then on that ghosts were real. He eventually accumulated and used his GB Protonpack and Containment trap, and PKE meter all while dressed in his Ghostbuster suit. This was also the kid who when done drinking from his glass of water thought the glass should be empty, and consistently poured the rest of the water out onto the floor.^^

Older son was taking piano lessons, playing soccer spring and fall -- and summer - and tried out scouting. It was too hectic for him to have all three of these going on. He quit the piano sessions and the scouts as well. Coming home from school and playing with Lego was much preferred as he needed that down time after a full day. Our daughter was thriving in school doing just fine with life in general with friends, fall and spring soccer, and Brownies. Very opposite from Bro # 1 she thrived on keeping busy. She was still wanting to be right by my side at home watching whatever it is that mothers do. Life was hectic.

Thirty years ago I was full into being a SAHM. I'd been graduated from college quite a few years back, then from chiropractic college and been awarded my Doctor of Chiropractic degree. We had one car we shared, first an ancient Ford donated by my brother (unwanted by his neighbor when her husband died), then an old VW bug that became decommissioned when sugar was poured in the gas tank, then a Chevy Citation for all of 3 days - we returned it. (They'd obliterated the glove box, an dthe added A?C had no vent settings.) Followed immediately by the tiny Mazda station wagon.

We lived on campus at a chiropractic college for low cost housing even though dh was a professor at the school. He'd embarked on a PhD program in Anatomy (Neurology) since _just_ teaching neuro would "be too boring." I lived in jeans, overalls and t-shirts most of the time, adding layers in winter. Offspring No. 1 turned one year old and we shared the birthday celebration in a local town park with the son (whose birthday was two days later) of friends. My dh taught me how to x-country ski that winter and I managed to go out three times a week (the first days out each week were with dear departed Helen Chamberlin Heyden) and get into the best shape of my life! It didn't hurt that it snowed before New Year's and kept snowing and stayed on the ground til mid-March. I baked bread, made our own yogurt and sprouts, was mostly a vegetarian, and spent my spare time reading any and all journal articles on breastfeeding and human milk that I could find - about 1-4 a month at most. I still read these articles, but now by searching and reading on-line. Then you had to take a volume of Index Medicus and actually turn the pages ^^. Life was good.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Mall: Korean War Veterans Memorial

I was very young in 1953, but old enough to hear about the Korean War. Murmurs, phrases. There were no sons on our street old enough to go fight there. And the Dads were too old. We had a black and white TV and I'd hear voices booming out about it when the news was on. But that all faded from my mind, and I don't even remember ever studying this war in school. It was a thing of the past.

All that changed when I flew to South Korea in 2002 with my husband to attend the FIFA Men's World Cup Championship tournament. I hadn't really wanted to go to Korea. With no sense of the language we were relying on the good graces of the citizens, our guide book with phrases we'd studied, and the tour buses and trains to get to the various venues. During one break between matches we heard about a tour to the DMZ. Just thinking of it made me nervous. I didn't want to go. But I did. Something told me I should be there. We rode the bus through long miles of rice paddies and hilly country with tea bushes and grapes sculpturing the steeps.

The demilitarized zone was full of soldiers, barracks, thoughts of war, & precise changing of possession of the building that housed a table which was divided in half lengthwise by an imaginary line so that one half was in the South and the other in the North. I didn't know all of that before we visited. When we arrived we were ushered into a theatre room and then saw a movie. It educated us about the history of the Zone. How a soldier was killed because he was hacking off a branch of a tree that blocked the South's view of the North. Killed with the ax. Of North Koreans being shot & killed when they tried to run to the South across the bridge. How the North Koreans had created an entire ghost city that looked industrious and beautiful across the river where workers were bussed in each day to work the fields before returning home once again. It was to entice folks to cross into a prosperous looking North.

We were warned and tutored in how to behave before venturing outside close to the demarcation line. Number one, we weren't to raise our hands above our heads, nor shout, nor make large gestures with our hands and arms. And two, we were to follow without fail those precise instructions, entering the Observation Tower when told to, and then the shared building where when inside we could step into North Korea. Some fellow standing next to me in the Observation Tower evidently didn't think much of these commands and absentmindedly raised his arm above his head. I didn't appreciate this as I was standing right next to him. I told him to lower it, nervously admonishing him because he was putting us all in jeopardy -- even though it made me feel like an old school marm. We had to wait longer than usual because there was an unusually large group touring from North Korea and they got first dibs on the building.

I asked one US soldier accompanying us what it was like there. he said, "Lonely. I've only been here a week. I get hazardous duty pay here. There's not much to do. There is a golf course. The North Koreans play really loud music late at night to disrupt our sleep."

This trip had a huge impact on me. Life changing. It led us to the Korean War Museum in Seoul a few days later. Life-sized panoramas of war and village scenes brought the devastation home. And they had a copy of the music that blared from the loud speakers recreating that harrowing sound of horses hooves galloping right at you at the So. Korean side. We spent most of the afternoon there taking everything in. Educating ourselves on what it was like to have lived and still live in this divided country.

Upon approaching this memorial in DC so far away from the Pacific Ocean, I was struck immediately by the realism here and the representation of Americans intermingled with Korean countrymen fighting side by side in miserable circumstances. Life size figures staking out territory with war worn gaunt faces looking hard for any movement that might be the enemy.

So many Americans wonder why the US was there. Now I know. And I found this dedication at the Memorial:

1950 KOREA 1953

The Mall: WWII

We wanted to see two newer Memorials that weren't there the last time we'd gone to the Mall in 1996. An uncle I'd never met, husband of my mom's second oldest sister, Emily, had died with his plane when it was shot down during WW II. Ejner Lovig (of Danish descent) had been my Aunt's boyfriend in high school, and they'd been married ten years when he died. They'd never had children. She never remarried. [To be honest part of that was due to the widow's pension she received that augmented her income as a secretary. She did find love again.]

We found Ejner's name listed both from the National Archives and the ABMC Cemeteries - US Army Air Forces -- entries, and surprisingly one from my mother. I know she'd sent at least one donaton for this memorial and mentioned Ejner when she did. His name is listed as Ejnerogrein Lovig by her and I can only conjecture that -ogrein might have been a middle name?? A figment of her imagination??? I'll never know since my mother had Alzheimer's Disease when she sent the donation(s). I believe he'd been the bombardier since the pilot and another crew member were able to bail out and survived, and also from what fuzzy memories I have from family stories.

I just got the shivers. I looked him up right now via the memorial site and found that his name was a hyperlink to more information. As I read it I'm reacting with emotion and tearing up. He was a Staff Sargeant in the 707 Bomber Squadron, 447th Bomber Group, Heavy. Air medal with Three Oak Leaf Clusters. He's buried in Neupre, Belgium, in the Ardennes American Cemetery. Dead a little less than three months before my brother's birth.

I like this Memorial. It's classic so not as evocative as the Vietnam Wall. Yet it seems cohesive, the way they worked in a wall of Gold Stars with its own reflecting pool within the confines of the arc of State wreathed pillars, the Atlantic and Pacific entry towers with fabulous bronzed birds hovering above as you go through, and the central pool with spraying water.

The Mall past and present: The Wall

I do remember feeling quite moved by the Vietnam Memorial the first time I encountered it. I don't exactly remember when that was! But neither does my husband so I don't feel quite so bad.

It couldn't have been in our family trip from Illinois to the East Coast in 1981 because it wasn't finished then. What I don't recall is if I went there when in DC for a LLL International Conference back in 1995. For sure we were stopped there in late July of 1996 when we stopped in DC on the way to Atlanta, GA, to watch our first US Men's Olympic Soccer match (against Argentina) in the electric atmosphere of a roaring color-ladened crowd packed into RFK Stadium.

I remember being drawn in to the Wall as I descended into the earth. Well, it felt that way. Walking down the crease in the ground along the expanding Wall elicited feelings of not quite doom or dread, but of solemnity, accompanied by memories of the turmoil the war caused when I was in college of protests, overturned campus police cars and the Kent State shootings and my own strong reaaction against war in general. But more importantly it helped me reflect on the newer perspective I'd gained with time as I realized that those who died while serving weren't war mongers but young men who'd been drafted or those who wanted to server our country or enlisted looking for a way to a better life. And the injuries and loss of all those who died and the impact on their family, friends and communities.

So this time it was a lighter day. Still we witnessed a poignant scene. Brought to the Wall to gather some info to show I'd really been there, right at the very panel the GPSr had guided us to were three adults, a man and two women. At first I'd barely noticed them. Too busy counting. Then I heard a question, Are you serving?" asked a woman who looked close to my age with an official-looking yellow cap of a volunteer on her head. "Yes, Ma'am," came the very respectful answer from the fellow with that telltale haircut. "Which branch?" "Marines, Ma'am." The two women had something to say. "Just commissioned yesterday! As a Captain." "Is that right?" came the volunteer's reply as she turned toward the man again. She then approached him, reached up and planted ever so gently a kiss on his cheek. "Thank you." It was so much more than words can describe. The joy she exuded, the pride, the full knowledge of what he'd committed to with all the sacrifice and life-changing events ahead of him. And might even had already with being commissioned at that rank.

Even though I'd seen it before the Wall still carried quite an impact with the leavings of loved ones at the foot of the panels, the searching, the rubbings being taken of the names in the careful interactions with the inscribed black granite.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


We saw a beautiful window with tea sets and items in it on the way from the subway to the first geocache location. My daughter and I lingered at the window relishing the colors. Much later we all made our way back to it. The perfect stop for a quiet rest before heading off to Zeds, the Ethiopian restaurant.