Friday, March 9, 2018

Downs and Ups

The Lord is in control of our life journey including all the ups and downs. -Crystal McDowell

The Queen Mother was making her bed as she does daily, because—of course—the people who make them at the nursing home do not make her bed the right way. She got dizzy and fell down hitting her face on the bed and her bad knee on the floor. This we did not find out for nearly two days. We were told only that she had fallen and she was being taken to the emergency room of the hospital when we were called late on Monday night.

When we called the hospital on Tuesday morning, we could not find out if she had been admitted or even if she was still in the ER because their computers were down. However, I called again later in the morning and even though the computers were still down, I was told she had been admitted and I was bring transferred to the nurses' station. A woman answered, saying her name followed by "ICU." Then I was rather even more concerned!

She offered to have the attending nurse talk to me and that is when we found out that how and why the Queen Mother fell...and that she was going to have raccoon eyes, because of the nose bridge piece of her glasses being pushed into her nose when her face fell onto the bed. However, what landed her in ICU was her atrial fibrillation, fever, edema, and the possibility of pneumonia. The lab work had not been completed to determine the pneumonia, but she did test positive for Type A influenza.

My husband tried to call to talk to her, but she did not want to talk to him. The nurse said it was because she was coughing so much. However, we found out that she was going to be in ICU for some time as she did test positive for pneumonia and they were having difficulty with her heart rate when they placed her on a diuretic to reduce the edema.

So, she again either was unaware or ignoring signs that she had a fever and should have stayed in bed. But, it also confirms to us that she needs to have a full time staff to check in on her as she does not use good judgement in regards to her health and her condition and what she should and should not be doing. In addition, anything that upsets her health-wise tends to slide quickly down to becoming a life-threatening battle between excessive water retention and her heart.

This picture was from Christmas 2005 in a very rare moment when the Queen Mother was being lighthearted in showing off the scarf that we had gotten her. It is my favorite picture of her and the only time I have actually seen her like that.

We have not gone to visit her because there really is nothing we can do and this week my husband was in negotiations that had to be settled before today's mandatory meeting in Chicago. He was offered a promotion, but the pay offer...well, it was rather more like an insult than a raise. Since the company has not given pay raises for the last two to three years, it was more like one would expect as a cost of living raise, hence the reason he was in negotiations.

An agreement was made, but they have not yet really defined the job. However, all three of the men that were given this opportunity laughed at the absurdity that they could what they have been doing 80 percent of the time and the new responsibilities would only take up 20 percent of their time in their regions. My husband has done this before and, to get the company to have a better reputation with American customers, it is going to take far more than 20 percent of his working hours.

However, the really cool thing is that in December, we had made a commitment to fund a missionary's feeding program in Guatemala and this raise will cover that. Now that is the God I know!

My Lord, so much has been on my mind and heart of late. I ask that You stay close to me and draw me close to you. I thank You for my husband's promotion and I ask You to bring peace to my mother-in-law, who worries so much and often makes life more difficult on herself because she has such high expectations on the people who care for her.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

When Things Must Change

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. ~Anatole France

Did you think I had forgotten my sanctuary? I have not. I just have been learning more about rabbits (and other animals) and I have come to realize that I tend to learn by complete immersion. I actually am reading message boards again, which I dropped many years ago because most people gave them up or the boards changed and then there was the drama...which happens just because people are people. However, when it comes to raising livestock of any kind, people still like to connect with people, pick brains, talk about their experiences, ask questions, etc. 

My online journey has been interesting. I went from a local message board that chatted on things happening in our area, including all the politics, to just homeschooling boards and then I began blogging. There met a few friends that are still friends today, but the lives of many of my homeschool friends have changed. Some are not homeschooling because their children grew up. Some are not homeschooling the same because they have their children in schools, some are private homeschool hybrids and others placed their children in public high schools to get the necessary credits for college. Most of these friends now have jobs outside of the home, businesses they run from their home, or a combination of both. In other words, most have moved on with their lives and I felt a little left behind...and a little lost.

The last few years I could not just call a friend as I use to during the day when I needed to feel in touch with adults or just get a reality check after dealing with a moody and reluctant student most of the day. I came here and wrote about things, but these days I only have one reader, who is a very busy person as she has moved on to a ministry and has home businesses. I do not stay in touch with anyone as much as I used to do.

My daughter has another year in homeschooling then that season of my life ends also. After devoting so much of myself to educating the child, I wonder what she and I will be doing after it ends? I know what I would like to do...well, I have had this desire to homestead all my life, but I wonder if I am holding on to that just because I have always thought about doing it or if it is something I really do still want to do.

I feel as uncertain about what I want to do after homeschooling as my daughter does, but we are looking for land. Actually, I stopped looking because I felt my Lord tell me to not to look as the land would come to my husband, so I am to focus on my house which is a mess, stuffed with stuff from homeschooling, my mother-in-law's stuff, and just stuff that accumulated over the 20 years we have lived here. I will take it one drawer, one shelf, one corner, at a time. Monday, I tackled my sock drawer. Yesterday, the refrigerator. Today...hmm, not sure yet.

So, my sanctuary may be changing, along with me (and my house).

My Lord, guide us through these transitions. Make the path we are to take well lit and welcoming.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

One Weird Tuesday in January

Don't learn safety by accident. ~Saying, circa 1949

We have a very nasty flu going around that has caused the deaths of children and elderly. It also mutates faster than most viruses do so no vaccine is really helping and there have been school closures in many parts of the country. My family have been fortunate to not get it..yet, but I was not too surprised that the Princess' piano teacher texted me Monday night to say she had the flu and would not be teaching for most of the week. I did not see it because I was already in bed—not sick, just very tired.

The next day, Tuesday, my husband decided to drive to the account where he was to work, but not with our vehicles, so I had to drop him off to get his rental car. I was just about three miles down the road on my way to the Post Office when he called me to say that he left his computer bag in the van.

I finally made it to the Post Office and to send out payments of my bills. The gas bill was particularly high, but it had been particularly cold. Still, I had called them to be sure that I was not being charged for the gas leak we had at the beginning of the month (after the fireworks fire). I let my Mishka out and smelled gas on the south side of the house, the side with the meter, and realized it was coming from it. The temperatures were in the 20's but within 30 minutes a man from the gas company was replacing my meter, but the next day...there was that smell again. A bad regulator. Now it is fixed, but about two weeks later I smelled gas again on the north side...the firestarter neighbors also had a leak and he smokes outside on that side of the house. Anyway, my leaked gas was before it is metered so I had to pay the entire thing and that was fine because we actually used it.

I also went to the health food stores because we did not go out last week. I had not been feeling so great for quite awhile, but this extra tiredness and weakness—seemingly for no reason, but I think I was fighting off something I did not really get—started that week and I felt a little too weak to try it.

The health food stores are no longer across the street from each other, so after we had finished shopping in the one, we were on our way to the other. The Princess and I had our braces adjusted the day before so we decided what to eat and where. We were sitting at a red traffic light with about eight to ten cars stopped in front of us when we got rear-ended. It was not bad, a bump really, but having worked for a chiropractor, I know that what seems like nothing much right then can feel a whole lot different the next few days.

I called my insurance agent first to ask if we really needed a police report as there did not appear to be any damage to either vehicle, but I was rather shaken up, mostly because I have a sensitive nervous system that gets triggered when things like this happen. They advised to get the report, so the officer arrived and talked to the other driver first and then explained that he would write the report but he was not going to cite the man, who was highly cooperative and admitted what happened. I probably would not have wrote the ticket either. He had a brain-damaged girl in the car with him who suddenly was getting sick and that distracted him. Then I felt so sorry for the man, who was rather nice about everything. The officer could not see any damage to either vehicle, but I knew that bumpers do not always show the internal damage so we shall take it to a shop to have it checked out just to be sure that it will do what it should if it is hit again. I was feeling my upper back on the left tighten up at the scene, but that could have been just me being up-tight about the whole thing. As I write this, it is the next day and I am just a bit sore, like I would be if I had done some gardening, so I am good.

We decided to eat lunch and relax. Then we went on to the other health food store, got the items we needed and some home early to put all our groceries away. The Princess is pet sitting a neighbor's cat and hamster, so she went there to spend about 30 minutes feeding, cleaning, and playing. While I fed our rabbits, the cats, and the dog.

Then I was ready to go to bed early again, but my husband called to say goodnight and mentioned the State of the Union address. I was not going to watch it live and see it in the morning, but...well, I really get sucked into politics and my daughter would have also if she had known, but her mind was on the Super Blue Moon Eclipse that happened this morning...that she slept through. And, yes, I liked Trump's address very much. He is abrasive but he is saying what most the people I know in my part of the country have been saying.

Thank you, my Lord, for protecting us.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

First Minutes into 2018 - Fighting a Wildfire

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. ~Bill Vaughan (1915–1977), in The Kansas City Star

In the first minutes of 2018, my husband and I were out fighting a wildfire...

On New Year's Eve, many people shoot off fireworks, but if there ever was a night that was a bad night to shoot fireworks it was this night. Or perhaps I should say if ever there was a good night to start a wildfire, it was this night. For one, we have been having unusually low temperatures for a few weeks with no precipitation, making everything particularly dry. The wind was gusting from the northwest. The temperature was in the 20's that night so all the water hoses were frozen. In other words, it was foolish to do any fireworks at all, but people did and some of those people lived next door to us. (Ironically, our other next door neighbor is a fireman, who was not home at the time.)

It was just after midnight and I had just put on my pajamas. The next thing I see is my husband with his jacket on grabbing one of our fire extinguishers. Then I looked outside to see the yard on the corner across the street with streaks of fire like in the movie "Back to the Future" and a few people, the people who accidentally caused it, running around seemingly not knowing what to do. So, I ran to change back into clothes, put on my heavy hunter's rubber boots, and my warm camo jacket. By the time I got outside, the streaks of fire had disappeared and it was just a total burn with embers even going over the road into our yard. I ran to get the hose from our backyard as I knew it would reach all our front yard and even the other side of the street, but there was water frozen in the hose so it would not work.

At that point, the only method was trying to stomp it out. The homeowner had gotten some shovels in hopes to save his home. I know how fire can move, but I personally had never seen a fire on a mowed lawn have flames shoot up four feet and advance fifteen feet with one gust of wind! And the same  people who caused it were trying to get in front of it too, but I warned them not to do it that way. Crazy just runs rabid with these people!

The only thing that saved the house was that there was a huge island that the homeowner had filled with rock in the front. It caused the fire to split into two sections. I was on the road side and my husband was on the driveway side. I could not even see him at times because of the flames. We all worked at keeping the fire from catching the bushes near the house, but it had advanced to the backyard on my side. Just ten more feet, just one more gust of wind, and the flames would be into leaves, brush, and then up trees. Should a fire get up in height like that, the whole neighborhood to the south and west would have been in jeopardy.

I was praying under my breath and that one more gust of wind did not happen, the fire just began to fizzle out on my side. On the other side the flames were nearing cars in the driveway, but that is when the fire department came and it took them all of 30 seconds to douse it all.

My husband and I did not wait around, but started home to shower and wash our smoky clothes as we coughed out what had gotten into our lungs. The next door neighbor man, who never talks to us, made a point to thank us with the kind of scary sincerity that comes from knowing what could have happened if we had not been there to help. His wife said over and over that there was a newborn baby in that house and I assured her that we would have had enough time to get the baby out safely.

After our showers, we were up for several hours. Adrenalin! Our stories were different because we were in different areas with different people. Our dog saw the first streak and my husband watched as two more shot toward the house across the street. He realized that it probably was a Roman candle that had fallen over, more likely had been blown over. He thought they could get it, but realized before he had a chance to finish that thought that the wind was a big factor. When he arrived with the fire extinguishers, they all thought it would put the fire out, but my husband knew and told them it would only slow it down as they were halogen extinguishers that are for inside fires because they remove oxygen in the air. They really would not do much outside, but when you are desperate it is worth trying.

One of the neighbors with the best yard now has a completely black front yard. It is eerily striking.

We had not seen our next door neighbors for over a week since it happened. I feel for them, I really do. One stupid mistake can cause property and people to be in danger. I am sure they wish they could hide forever right now. I am hoping that none of them became ill because of it.

Our daughter missed it all as she was staying overnight at a friend's house and I was thankful for that because I did not have to worry about her jumping in to help and possibly getting hurt. No one was hurt, thankfully.

My Lord, just thank you that no one was hurt and the damage was minimal.

Friday, January 26, 2018

A New Year, a New Direction, and a New Meow!

The same Jesus Who turned water into wine can transform your home, your life, your family, and your future. He is still in the miracle-working business, and His business is the business of transformation. -Adrian Rogers

I cannot believe how long it has been since I have posted here, but there are several reasons I have not. As I mentioned before, I started another blog about our rabbitry and I began to keep detailed records of breedings, births, weights, genetics, and so forth. I spent hours making charts, reading, and learning. I had to urge my husband to build at least two more cages, but I really want about four more...or more.

I had bought quite a few rabbits because most of what we had left are old, but I was pleased to see that my old does are still healthy and fertile. Still, we are phasing out one breed and will be focusing on another.

We have not even culled one rabbit since the beginning of this breeding season as we were trying to sell off as many as we could to compensate for the cost of buying young purebreds for breeders and waiting for them to develop. I also am spending more time with my rabbits, handling them, feeding them by hand and, of course, cleaning. (These days, I so much enjoy being outside whether with my buns or plants.) I wish to develop a reputation for not only our purebred rabbits being healthy and good quality, but also for their docile temperaments. My husband is very pleased that I finally am involved with them as much as he wanted me to be from the start—not like I was not busy enough with the Princess and homeschooling.

However, we cannot expand or advertise much because we do not the acreage to comply with our county's requirements, so we are doing things low-key for now as we are also actively looking for land outside of our present county, which is on a mission to drive farmers out by rezoning their properties when placed on the market to be sold. We are looking in neighboring counties to the west or ones farther north that are farmer-friendly.

On Sunday, we walked a lovely 64 acres with a stream that has a low price per acre, but would be too costly for us to buy it and then build what we want. We walked to see how we might sell off up to half in two 10 to 15 acre lots because it has two road fronts on the front and back of the property. The side I like, the higher part of the property, is on the busier front road, but my husband was hoping for the quieter back side that slopes down closer to the road than the other side. The stream is also closer to the back side. The other disadvantage is that it does not have many hardwoods, as the owner is a forester that harvests the pines, some of which could also be sold and provide us with some extra funds, I suppose.

We are looking at land because we are probably going to have to build. There are just very few houses that have old fashion large farm kitchens with space for a full size freezer and a full size refrigerator and space for a grand piano somewhere with nice acoustics that are not like mini mansions, which would be just too much house for us. We just need a customized plan that will fit our lifestyle and plans.

My husband was also thinking of going into business for himself, but I felt the Lord was telling us that we would have another choice that we could make, but no direction of which we should take yet. Just this week, my husband applied for a newly created position within the company he works...the job he was originally hired to do that they never created seven years ago.

I just keep hearing God tell me that He is going to bless me and He has been. 

In the meantime, I need to focus on my daughter and finishing up some of the redecorating I had started in my house. I feel this strong compulsion to not just declutter but to minimize the amount of things we have, as in if we have not used it or do not use it, it needs to go. I am going to be posting lots of homeschool materials, but I plan to keep some things...there may be grandchildren some day that will use it, even though the Princess sounds like me at her age and has no desire for children, she says.

Yet, my husband and I were picking up a doe at a farm and I looked over to see this kitten:

Now, this is EXACTLY the cat I have always wanted for myself and the farmer did not want it, so offered him to us for free. I had promised myself that I would not have another indoor cat, but my husband said that he would not be mine. That was two days before Christmas so my husband and I made him a surprise last minute Christmas gift to the Princess. When we returned home, my husband got the rabbit settled into her quarantine cage while I combed out the cat, and then we were off to the pet store because we no longer had anything for an indoor cat.

I wanted to name him Lynx from the moment I saw him, but the Princess was between Trevor and Link for a couple of days, finally deciding on Link. My husband calls him the Linkster and I keep tripping over not calling him Lynx (or spelling his name Lync at the very least).

Come to find out, after an hour of searching on the Internet, he actually is a Seal Lynx Point Balinese. Not kidding. How is that for being blessed?

The Princess calls him her child, but that is my lap in the picture. He is an equal opportunity kind of cat and will even snuggle with my husband. When you pick him up, he goes completely limp. I have had a lot of cats in my life, but none that did that. So, the rule is the Princess is not allowed to leave home with him....not really, but he is super adorable. I guess these are the kind of sacrifices a mother makes for her cat-loving child.

Thank you, my Lord, for your blessings that have been falling freely upon my family as well as me. Your promises are promises kept.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Wildly Unpredictable Winter Weather

Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.
-Bill Morgan, Jr.

Having lived in Georgia for the last twenty years, I have learned to accept that there is only one predictable truth about winters in Georgia:
Winters in Georgia are entirely and quite wildly unpredictable!

Having said that over and over again, even people who have lived here all their lives still do not seem to understand and accept the simplicity of this inerrant truth. This is why I always expect any winter front to be far worse than any of the predictions.

We were told up to three days ago that it might snow and that we might see accumulation of up to an inch on our decks and in the grass, a dusting perhaps. (We were also told that about a week ago and all we got was some rain.)

Two days ago that changed to possibly four inches of snow. The state had all bridges and overpasses prepared ahead of time. Georgia officials stepped up our winter weather preparedness ever since the terrible fiasco in January 2014: When it Snows in Georgia.

In the dark before the dawning day, it started with a winter mix of sleet and rain. I know because my Mishka woke me far too early for his morning outing and we were out in it. There already was some slippery slush on the steps but nothing that was not easily displaced by my low tread garden boots. (Do not let that sweet innocent look fool you. He is a just wanted to jump back into the snow after we just got him out of it.)

A friend in Arizona, who originally lived in Pennsylvania and may be missing those snowy winters, texted me to ask if we were snowed in yet. I texted back that here it is more about being "iced" in, because just few inches of accumulated snow ends up causing serious icy conditions, but I forgot that one should never say never in Georgia about winter storms.

The wintry mix changed to huge fluffy clumps of snow and by the end of the morning we had that four inches, but it was still snowing. The schools decided to end the day before noon.

The temperature was above freezing but the large fluffy flakes outpaced the melting of the fallen come-befores and my little world was blanketed in a wondrous white. We had a power outage for about two hours and then flickering in the power for about another 24 hours. Trees bowed under the unfamiliar weight and many lost branches, split, and fell over exposing the roots even though there was no wind.

The picture above is pointed in the same direction as the one below. You can see that our neighbor's tree split off a large branch. Those types of trees are notorious for splitting even with just heavy rains or a little wind when they are 20 years old. We just cut ours down a few weeks ago. (Yeah, I really have been doing other things when I have not been blogging.)

Since it was just snow and not ice, it probably would have been better if we had some wind that would have blown the snow off of the trees. So if you can imagine seeing six inches height of wet snow catching more flakes on the thinnest of branches, you can understand how amazingly different everything appeared to us. Well, not entirely did not stop snowing at six inches. I measured it at about nine inches at dinner time and it apparently has continued to snow all night.

Although my favored husband did make it home the night before, having to make a couple of detours around jack-knifed semi-trucks and accidents and working around vehicles parked on the side or the road or half in the ditch, Mishka decided to let him sleep and put his sweet wet nose in my face to say that I was the lucky pick again for his early morning outing. Mishka has discovered that he loves, loves, loves snow!


I measured and the snow was at twelve inches! TWELVE! (That's 30 centimeters for my metric friends.)

The temperature was just at freezing and it was predicted to dip down a bit and then will be rising enough for a slow melt. The sun was supposed to be hidden behind clouds today, but prediction has changed so today the roads will clear mostly and tonight everything will freeze again and that makes for patches of black ice, but for the most part all main roads will be mobile again—getting to them from the side roads is the problem.

This is the most snow we have ever seen here at one time, although I read that in 1993, before we moved here, a blizzard dumped 30 inches.

Why do I expect the unpredictability? If we had a strong relentless northwestern storm come blustering through like that 1993 blizzard, that would be more predictable, but when we have a weakening or stalling northwestern cold front that is just strong enough to slipstream the warm moist air up from the Gulf of Mexico in front of it making the northwest front turn into a southwest draw...well, it is not easy to predict if the moist warmer air will produce rain or the cold will prevail making snow or sleet. Amounts of any one of these depend on how slowly the storm moves east with one part trying to go southeast and the other pulling up toward the northeast making our area a point of turmoil.

Sunday Morning
As expected, after teetering around the magical temperature that turns water into ice, the weather decided to take a plunge into temperatures in the 20s at night. Then allowed some of the snow to melt in with temperatures in the 40s on Saturday to plunge again into the low 20's, so now what areas of the roads that did not dry out during the melting of the day are least until around noontime. We might not make it to church services, because our street and the roads to the main ones are icy but we will be able to go shopping and pick up my new bunnies around 3:00 since the sun will be out and temperatures are to be in the 40s again.

Typically, such crazy weather conditions are more likely to happen in January, but...Georgia!

I love its wild unpredictable winters.

My Lord, may we always be in surprised by Your creative ways that we cannot predict, even though we keep attempting to do so.