Saturday, May 26, 2007

An Idyllic Spot

As a response to a request from Sue, here are a few pictures of our pond. You may have to look close to see the water, but it's there. Alissa probably has some much better pictures of it than I do, as she is the much better photographer. However, it's not about the pictures, but about the pond...

The pond is on the right rear quadrant of our 10-acre hobby "farm." Actually, it used to be a working hobby farm, but now it is mostly just a pretty pastoral setting. Our house is located at the left front quadrant of the property, so the pond is about as far from the house as you can be and still be on our property. It is far removed in time, too, I guess. Back at the pond, there are no sounds of television or even much of cars or machinery, despite the fact that it is not far from a small road that runs behind it. It is very quiet and peaceful, and the only sounds you usually hear are birds or frogs. It sits in a wooded copse, and there is a large hill that blocks the view of the house.

Once upon a time, in our first years at the farm, the pond was used by cows and horses for watering. It was a vital source for livestock water, especially in winter when the kids and I would bundle up and drag back there to break the ice with a sledgehammer so the animals could drink. However, the pond, which was never very deep to begin with, dried up in the summer of 1984, when we had a drought around here. The bottom cracked open, and for several years, water would seep out the bottom, and since it is not spring-fed, the pond almost became extinct. That's about the time the pine tree died and fell across and above the surface. We left it there for frogs and turtles to use. Around about 1990, the floor had resealed itself, and now the pond survives as a small reflecting surface and home to frogs, turtles, bugs, and an occasional snake.

It's also a retreat of sorts for me, as it used to be for Alissa and her friend Jennifer when they were kids. Now I like to take my book, my lawn chair, and a Diet Dr. Pepper back there on pleasant afternoons and escape from the noise of life. I take the walkie-talkie with me in case Terry needs to get in touch with me, but mainly I just either read, doze, or just listen to the sounds of nature. It's idyllic, indeed.

When we finally pack up our stuff and leave this house to Doug and Kellie, I will miss having the pond to escape to. But I know that Kellie will enjoy it just like I do, and future grandchildren will explore back there just like our kids did. Meanwhile, life is good...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Beautiful Spring Day

Today was just about a perfect day. It was warm, but not hot. It was sunny and absolutely clear--no haze in the air, no clouds in the sky--with a gentle breeze. This is the kind of day that is ideal for a Sunday drive in the country. As I fed and watered my flowers and did some weeding, honorable tasks for sure, I found myself daydreaming about being somewhere else besides home. Of course, last week at this time, I was very glad to be home. It beat the hospital! Now I was dreaming about being somewhere else. Things can sure change in a week.

Generally, things have gone well the past week, and life is slowly returning to normal around here. However, due to the constraints of home health care, Terry is homebound for the time being. I know I could have taken a drive without him, but I didn't want to leave him here all by himself. Besides, I like to ride on our Sunday drives and absorb all the sights. When I'm driving, I have to concentrate on the road. Terry has always been the driver and wouldn't have it any other way. Recently that's changed, however. It seems that since November I have been the driver in the family. He has just not felt like getting behind the wheel. He won't even attempt to get into his beloved truck, which he bought new last May and hasn't been in since November 1, when he drove to the hospital to have his hip replaced. I don't mind being the driver and the errand runner for the most part, but Sunday drives and vacations are the exception.

I miss the short vacation trips we like to take. I really miss the leisurely trips to see Alissa and Andy and the boys. I even miss just rides into Louisville and around town. I know that they will be back eventually, and I count on that. It's just that days like this make me long for them sooner rather than later. I guess I could wish for rain and nasty weather, but I don't want to do that. Right now I will content myself with taking walks and going back to the pond or sitting on the porch with a good book. I'll take advantage of this lull in the activity of our life. It will be busy again soon enough. And I'll remember that life is good....

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day.. the young mothers and those who want to be this day. I know that I am a mother and that once a mother, always a mother. However, I really don't think of Mother's Day for mothers like me. I have done the majority of my job as a mom and have passed the more active torch to the younger generation. I can now sleep in on most mornings and can eat on a schedule that suits me. I read lots of books and pursue hobbies at my leisure. My house, although it gets dusty, doesn't really get messy most of the time (except maybe the kitchen and my desk!). I am not constantly running errands and ferrying kids around. I no longer have to dread report card day during the school year. I don't even have to keep track of the school year. There ARE benefits to being old and retired..

However, I remember the days when it seemed I would never get enough sleep, and I would just keep repeating, "Calgon, take me away!" The exploits of the grandchildren which so amuse me nowadays used to be frustrating and infuriating when the young kids were my own. I remember going into stores and having the kids hide in the clothing racks, and then when I would find them, they would flinch away from me as if I were going to beat them silly, which was not something I did. I remember trying to get them to take a nap or go to bed and have them pop out continually for one or another reason. I remember wet beds and sleepwalking and sick children whom I couldn't make comfortable. And much of this was during the time I was a stay-at-home mom. I don't know how well I would have been able to handle a job, too!

To be fair, I also remember bouquets of flowers picked from the fields, homemade cards, lots of fun swimming in the pool, and seeing school programs. I remember impish grins and silly jokes. I remember family vacations, birthdays, and holidays that were joyful. I remember many instances where the kids made me proud and happy.

Life as a mother is a mixed bag, but it's always a blessing. I am glad that our children have grown and have taken their places as responsible members of society. I am proud of all three of them and the life mates they have chosen. I am thrilled to be a grandma, a little more indulgent than I was as a mother.

Today's young mothers have more challenges than I had to face when my kids were small. We didn't worry so much about poison in Halloween candy or internet predators or stranger dangers. Our children didn't seem to be tempted by drugs, which were around, but not so prevalent as today. The most offensive music then couldn't hold a candle to what is being played today. Television shows for families abounded, and children were able to remain children longer than they are today. It's so hard to keep kids innocent today, and I think that's important when raising them. They have to have time to develop naturally on their own and not be forced into maturity before they are ready. It's a tough job being a mother and nurturer today, and my hat's off to all of the young mothers I know for taking on the job and doing it so well. Happy Mother's Day to Alissa, Shira, and Kellie (aunt extraordinaire, to this point...)!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Random Reflections on the Hospital

We have returned home tonight from 25 days in the hospital. During that time, Terry was in 5 different rooms on 3 different floors and had a ton of tests and x-rays, and he had one surgery. He was visited daily by no less than 5 doctors and as many as 8. Since most of the doctors were from practices with multiple members, he didn't see the same specialist each day. Actually he saw over 20 doctors and added at least 5 new medications to his daily allotment. We have returned home exhausted from the experience. We think Terry is healthier, but he still has issues that aren't resolved and may never be. Seems the origin of his problems is still vague, and he isn't willing to do everything the doctors suggest might help. The big sticking point is the BiPap machine. He is claustrophobic and insists he couldn't get used to it. I tend to agree, and I don't see forcing it. He has managed this long, and he may not live as long as he would if he used the machine, but who's to say? Being fat is also a danger to your health, I'm told, and I'm not dieting! Anyway, I doubt the BiPap machine is going to solve the fluid in the lungs problem or the colitis.

The hospital where we were is a very nice one and well-kept. All the personnel were friendly and eager to make sure we were satisfied. They provided me a bed so I could stay when Terry was in a private room. It was a very uncomfortable roll-away bed, but it was better than sleeping in a chair. The dietary staff bent over backward to try to find something my unhungry and newly picky husband would eat. Since he was sick from the staph infection last winter, food doesn't taste like it used to, and he doesn't like much anymore. They brought him soup, oatmeal, and bananas every day so that he would at least eat something.

The nurses were all very efficient, and most were very friendly. Some were more solicitous than others, but they were all spread pretty thin, as were the aides. Some of them were great, others not so much. However, because they were so busy, sometimes Terry had to wait way too long when he needed help. That's one reason that I stayed when I could.

They do things at weird hours in hospitals. Blood is drawn between 3 and 4 in the morning. Blood pressure and blood sugar are checked at 5 A.M. for the first time of the day. A CT scan was done at 8 in the evening.

Cafeteria food is pretty good, but it is expensive when you must eat it 2-3 meals a day. After the first week, you've seen their whole rotation, and it gets pretty old. It's hard to force yourself to eat healthy meals at all times, especially when they have these neat pudding parfaits on display every day. The hospital where we were didn't have a lot of places nearby to eat that you could walk to easily, so unless I took the kids out somewhere, I usually ate there. I was able to take the food upstairs, though, and eat with Terry, which was nice. I could even do this when he was in the Open Heart Unit. (No, there wasn't a problem with his heart, but his surgeon is a heart, thoracic, and vascular surgeon, and he likes his patients to recover in the OHU.)

I was very appreciative of the fact that I was welcomed and catered to and that nobody seemed to think that I was in the way. It was okay if I helped out, but it wasn't expected of me. All of our questions were patiently answered by anyone.

Doctors don't have answers for everything, but they try. In the past, we have had some problems with the attitudes of some doctors, but this time they tried their best to explain when they could and admitted it when they couldn't. I think they did prescribe more medications than Terry needs, but we can work that out later. They all seem to want us to make a follow-up visit, but we'll probably only see a few of them.

Things seem to accumulate when you spend a lot of time at the hospital. We went in with just a little bit, and when we got home tonight, it took me three trips to haul in all the stuff! The nurse told us to take all the medical supplies that were left in the room, even the scissors and tweezers. She even gave me two rolls of tape that were in her uniform pocket!

The hospital setting is very confining, and I was itching to get outside and experience the lovely spring air, but there was no place to sit outside that was easily accessible, except for the smoking hut. That will be discontinued next month, but you'd be surprised how many sick patients make their way out to that smoking hut to get their many fixes each day.

I guess that's enough's all in the past, at least for now. And life is good....