Thursday, May 31, 2012

Time Flies

Today I went to a conference for pastors.  As I looked around the room, I realized that over half of us were women.  When I started in ministry 27 years ago, it was not unusual for me to be the only woman in the room in a situation like this one.  I like the fact that I'm no longer alone.  It's amazing how much change has taken place in the past 27 years.  At lunch I sat talking to a Franciscan Friar, and we talked about all the changes we have seen during our ministry.  I think we probably sounded old, but no one else was paying much attention to us, so it was okay. 

It's hard to believe that I've been at this for 27 years.  I've been doing this for half of my life.  I spoke to a woman who was semi-retired on a coffee break, she said her part time ministry had her wanting to get back in to it full time.  I wondered if ministers ever really retire.... 

Some of the people were spending the night at the conference center.  I live 20 minutes away from it, and consider myself very fortunate.  I was able to participate in the conference and get home in time to greet Daughter when she got off the bus. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Psychiatrist and House News

Daughter had an appointment with Psychiatrist this morning.  In the middle of her appointment, the fire alarm went off.  We all walked down the stairs and out and gathered on the sidewalk.  There were a lot of people at mental health today....  It made for an interesting appointment.

The substitute Program Manager from her day program headed to the appointment, but never showed up.  She wasn't answering her cell phone, so I don't know what happened.  I ended up taking her to meet up with her program at their first outing, which put me a little behind.

This time I explained that Daughter had felt overwhelmed last time and couldn't process everything that was being said.  Psychiatrist made a point of asking Daughter what had happened, so she would leave with a clear understanding.  I like Psychiatrist.

I found out Daughter's house is getting a new Medical Coordinator.  The current Med Coordinator is handling both the men's and women's houses, and spending 75% of her time on medical appointments, which doesn't allow enough time for follow-up and supervision back at the house.  I think this is a good thing, but selfishly, I hope she stays with the women's house.  I don't want Daughter to have to deal with a new Program Manager and a new Medical Coordinator at the same time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Daughter and I were working in the kitchen the other day, and she complained that she was hot.  It was getting warm, so I decided to turn on the ceiling fan that is part of the kitchen light fixture.  I asked Daughter to pull the chain.  The first time she pulled the wrong chain, turning off the light.  She turned it back on, and then pulled the other chain.  Nothing happened.  I noticed a switch up on the fan, so I got the step stool and flipped the switch.  I tried various combinations of flipping the switch and pulling the chain, but didn't have any luck.  Finally, I gave up. 

A little while later we left to go to the store.  I turned off the kitchen light at the wall switch.  When we came home, the fan was on.  I still haven't figured out the secret of controlling it, so I still can't predict when it's going to be on and when it will be off.  We haven't touched the chain since I gave up on it.  All I know is that it is very weird....

Monday, May 28, 2012

Drama Erupts

Daughter told me she was really struggling to meet my no drama requirement.  This afternoon, it finally got to be too much for her.  We were outside, and she had finished eating and was playing a game with Short Niece.  I didn't like her attitude, and called her on it (I honestly don't remember what she was saying or doing).  She stormed off, saying she needed to go home immediately.  We continued our conversation and ignored her.  As I told everyone, "It's her problem, not mine."

She'd reappear occasionally, so I'd know she was still around and mad.  At one point she stormed out to the garage.  Sister thought she was sitting in the car, and wondered if she'd have enough sense to come in when she got too hot.  I told her we'd check on her if she stayed too long.  She didn't.

Sister was getting ready to leave, so I asked her if she'd take Daughter home.  She agreed.  I told Daughter Sister would take her, and it was her choice as to whether she left then or waited until later.  She chose to leave with Sister.  She called as soon as she got home, and was happy.  Sister said as soon as she got in the car, she was fine. 

She had held it together as long as she was willing to, and needed to go home.  She really has made the transition.  Everyone commented on how much better she is doing.  It was a successful visit, and I didn't let her frustration impact me or my enjoyment of the day.  Progress all around. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Daughter has been super cooperative this weekend.  We've been working since we got home from church.  I've had an opportunity to teach her how to deal with frustration without quitting or exploding.  We've moved furniture in the family room to run the vacuum behind it.  Daughter decided to do some rearranging, which is fine. 

She picked the music for our working, and I have to say she does have eclectic tastes in music. She put in a CD of Johnny Cash singing old hymns, Celtic Woman worship music, Godspell, piano hymns (very mellow), and Cantus (a men's a cappella group).  We took a break to go get some things for tomorrow, and of course ran into a number of members who were also shopping.  I have chicken and flank steak marinating for fajitas.  I was just going to do chicken, but Daughter insisted of flank steak, too.  That's the way Dad used to do it.

Daughter surprised me by saying, "It must be hard on you to see all the Father's Day cards since Grandpa is dead."  I was surprised by the wave of grief that washed over me.  Fajitas was one of his specialties.  Daughter had insisted on several things that were his little touches to fajitas. 

We also had a conversation about goals again.  She wants to move to Chicago and study drama.  I told her she needed to be able to live independently first.  She gets frustrated and thinks I'm standing in her way.  I remind her that she had to walk before she could run, and she had to know the alphabet before she could learn to read.  She has a difficult time understanding that, and doesn't want to do the hard work necessary to work towards her goals.  Of course, her goals aren't realistic, yet I want her to understand I'm not standing in her way. 

I'm looking forward to hosting Sister and her daughter and Sister Best Friend and her husband tomorrow.  It should be a fun day. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Fresh Meat

I'm actually surprised it's taken this long-- Daughter has lived next door to a house of men for over 6 months.  When I picked her up today she wanted me to meet someone.  As of last night she has a boy friend.  I told staff they could start a pool.  I give it until Wednesday.  He wanted her to go with him to the upcoming dance, and to her credit, she told him she wasn't going, and couldn't change her mind again. 

She's singing as she cleans the bathroom.  I'm out to mow the yard.  It's a little damp, but given the radar map and the prediction of temperatures in the 90's tomorrow with a heat index of well over 100, the damp grass is not a problem.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Yard Time

I spent the day in the yard.  I finished mulching out in front.  I took some soil out of one garden bed and transferred it to one of the raised garden beds.  I planted corn, tomatoes and peppers in the raised garden beds.  I did some more weeding.  I edged the front yard and swept it all up.  Last night I talked to my next door neighbor for the first time this spring.  She wanted to know who built my garden beds.  I told her I did.  She said her brother was going to charge her hundred of dollars to build one for her.  I assured her it was very simple....

Daughter texted once, wanting out of her program.  I told her to turn it around like she did last night.  When she called me at supper time, she was in a very good mood.  She wants to spend the whole weekend with me.  I told her she'd have to week and there wasn't to be any drama.  She agreed, with the condition she wants to work inside, which is fine, because I prefer to work outside.  I'll pick her up tomorrow.  If she isn't cooperative, I'll take her back. I think (hope) she'll cooperate. 

It was a good day.  Tomorrow I'll mow the lawn, I considered doing it today, but decided to wait and give the grass a chance to recover from all the walking and working today. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

An Attempt and a Turn Around

Daughter was trying to reach me this afternoon about drama at her program.  I told her she could handle it.  When she got off the bus tonight, I was talking to Sister.  She was obviously mad, and came storming into the house.  I continued to talk to Sister, and Daughter began sobbing hysterically.  I got off the phone (Sister had to go) and asked what was wrong.  The bus driver told her not to be so loud when she screamed when the bus driver had to hit the brakes hard to avoid another vehicle.  I told her there was nothing wrong with that and she needed to lighten up.  She then said something about how I should just take her back to her house immediately, since it was obvious I didn't want her.  I told her I wanted to spend time with her, I didn't want the drama. 

She stopped the drama.  We went out to eat and then went to the home improvement store that had mulch on sale.  We loaded 20 bags into the back of my vehicle, and came home and started spreading it.  Now I did much more work than Daughter did, but she was cooperative, ran the errands I requested, and didn't complain.  I thanked her for her help.  I may pick her up Saturday and let her stay through Monday.  I told her it would depend on how she did this evening.  I got 10 bags of mulch spread and did some other small jobs outside.  Daughter spread part of one bag.  She probably loaded 7-8 of the bags of mulch into the car.  This mulch is going out front.  I think it will look nice when I'm done.  I'm going to get some more of the free mulch from the church for the back yard.

All in all, a good day....

Tests Done

A sweet young kid who started his internship as a cardiac tech this week assured me I was fine-- if there had been a problem they wouldn't have left me in the room with just an intern.  I'm glad the tests are over.  I'll hear results when I see the cardiologist on June 6. 

Daughter seems to have gotten through the rough patch she was in at the beginning of the week.  She's planning to help me around the house this evening, since choir is done for the summer. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The First Day of Tests

The woman behind the desk smiled as she checked me in for the first part of my stress test today.  She remembered me from yesterday-- when I showed up a day early for the test.  I guess maybe I am a little bit stressed by all of this.  Maybe.  When I found out I had the day wrong, I came back to the church, and almost gave the treasurer a heart attack.  He knew I was having tests and didn't expect to see my car in the parking lot.  He was afraid he was going to come in and find me dead. 

They gave me the contrast fluid and told me to go get something to eat and drink and come back in 45 minutes.  I got a rice krispie treat and a bottle of water. I returned as ordered.  They had me lay on a very narrow table and keep my arms over my head for 16 minutes while they scanned my heart. 

They checked the pictures and came back and told me there was a problem and they wanted me to drink a can of sprite and wait another 15-20 minutes.  They couldn't see the bottom of my heart, and the thought was that my GI system was interfering, and that by drinking the sprite it would stop interfering.  It didn't make much sense to me, but I drank the sprite, waited, and then got back on the table for another 16 minutes of scanning.  They said the second set of scans were better.  I hope that means my heart does have a bottom. 

Tomorrow I go back for an echo cardiogram and the treadmill portion of the test, followed by more scans, I suspect.  I will hear the results on when I see my cardiologist again on June 6.  Maybe I'd better double check that date....

My Yard

Yesterday evening I went home and mowed.  It had only been 5 days, but the grass was so long that the mower couldn't mulch it properly.  I ended up using a catcher for one area to prevent it from looking like a hay field.  It definitely is much healthier now than it was when I bought the house.  I'm thinking, though, that if I'm going to have to start mowing twice a week, it might be a little bit too healthy!   It was cooler, so I was able to mow the entire yard with out pausing to sit and drink water and rest as I've been doing. 

I took a break for supper, and then went out and did some weeding.  I pulled 2 buckets of week out of the front bed.  The weeding was much more work than the mowing.  Bending over to weed just wears me out.  I have a small hoe/weeder that I use to pull them, but I still have to bend over to pick up the weeds. 

With temperatures predicted to get up into the 90's this weekend, I set the sprinkler system to run a bit longer.  I'm still waiting for the vegetable seeds I planted to come up, but I have some strawberries growing and one of my blackberry bushes is blooming.  The clematis I planted late last summer is blooming and growing up my privacy fence.  The two I planted this spring are also growing well.  I've begun going out every morning before I come into the office.  I pull a few weeds and check the progress of my various plantings.  I'm really enjoying my yard. 

Since I'm entertaining on Monday, I'll have to set it aside long enough to do some cleaning inside.  Of course, with the heat that is predicted, cleaning in the air conditioned house may be a welcome break!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Needs and Limits

In response to a comment, I thought I'd reflect on how I seek to balance Daughter's needs while setting limits on her behavior.  The first things is recognizing her needs.  She needs to know that I am okay and love her.  A couple of weeks ago she was calling when I was in the bathroom, getting ready.  I didn't answer the phone, and she panicked.  She called my cell, the home phone, and the church.  She called Sister.  When I saw the missed calls and called her back, I could hear the relief in her voice.  She had been terrified, thinking something terrible had happened to me.  She confessed she'd been thinking about calling 911 to get someone to check on me.  She felt a little silly when I told her I'd been in the bathroom and hadn't heard the phone because the exhaust fan and radio were both on.  She knew that was my morning routine, but had never considered that would be the reason I hadn't answered the phone.  Some mornings I take my cell phone into the bathroom with me, that morning I didn't.  She needs the reassurance of a response when she calls.  Last night she called during a board meeting.  There was a discussion going on, so I answered and said, "I'm in a meeting.  Call me after 9:00.  Love you.  Bye."  She never got to say a word.  She called after 9:00, and she was fine.  Last week she called during a Bible study.  I silenced the phone, and then texted, "In Bible study.  Call after 8:00."  She was fine.  When I am thinking ahead, I'll warn her or text her before the event to tell her when I'll be available.  I have the first part of my stress test this afternoon, so this morning I told her I was busy all afternoon, and she could call this evening.

Some of her calls are attempts to hook me.  I generally refuse to listen to the details and express confidence in her ability to work it out with the appropriate individual-- whether it be the House Manager (as was the case yesterday when she told me a staff member had borrowed her pants) or the staff at her program (when she complained about her schedule).  After the call complaining about her program, I received a very demanding text from her.  I ignored it.  I'd told her what she needed to do, and I wasn't going to get into it with her. I did email her therapist, sharing the text message with her and sharing my concern that Daughter is having a difficult time dealing with all the staff changes going on at her house and her program right now.  Therapist will see her today.  Last night she reported the staff member had returned her pants.  I praised her for dealing with it on her own with House Manager.  I have often cut off her complaints and said, "I have confidence in your ability to work this out.  I love you and look forward to seeing you ____.  I will talk to you _____."  I then hang up on her.  When she called me last night after my meeting, she apologized for her attitude in the afternoon phone call and for the text.  Those apologies led to the conversation about prayer, which she initiated.  She was asking me where to look in the Bible for information about prayer, and said she needed to work on prayer. Was she trying to manipulate me? Possibly. I gave her some suggestions. It was a constructive conversation, though, not one in which she was trying to convince me to intervene or come rescue her.

On to her visits with me.  I will not deprive her of her church.  She lost the privilege of spending Saturday nights with me when she got into food on a visit, so I pick her up on Sunday mornings.  Usually I take her back right after lunch.  Sunday I let her stay for the nursing home service.  Next month she will not be allowed to stay.  July I won't be leading it, and we'll see about August.   I also will not take choir away from her.  Right now she is getting bussed to my home Thursday evening and picked up from my home on Friday morning.  I don't want to mess with that schedule, because it makes my life much easier. 

This Monday I've invited Sister Best Friend and her husband and Sister and Short Niece to come for a cookout.  I haven't decided if I'll let Daughter stay Sunday or arrange for her to come on Monday.  I will have to negotiate the terms of that with her.  If she comes and is not cooperative, I will take her back, or, if our guests have arrived, I'll simply send her to her room.  I've done it in the past, and will do it in the future. 

I will never be able to stop all manipulation, abuse, and acting out.   I have limited it.  Sunday was unusual, because I don't usually spend time with her when she is acting that way.  I should have taken her back right after the fellowship meal at the church.  I was tired, though, and just wanted to get home and relax before leading the nursing home service. 

She is getting better.  She is dealing with more issues on her own.  There have been more days when her calls are morning and evening, just to check in.  Last week her Program Manager left for a new program.  She was very attached to the Program Manager.  The new House Manager is making a lot of changes, and they are hiring and training a number of new staff members.  Those changes are very hard on her.  I told her that there will always be turn over in the house staff, and she needs to learn to deal with it and be patient with new staff members as they learn.  I'm not surprised that she's regressed as she adjusts to the change.  Last night and this morning I heard signs that she is recovering.  I'm impressed if she is actually recovering this quickly.  Maybe she has listened to me about prayer....

Monday, May 21, 2012

Out of Practice

Daughter was in an oppositional mood yesterday.   I had to lead nursing home worship at 3:00, and she kept changing her mind about whether she wanted to stay with me to go to it.  After changing her mind for the 4th or 5th time, I decided I was going to keep her with me until after the service.  As I turned toward home, she demanded I take her back to her house immediately.  I told her it was too late, she was going to have to stay for the  nursing home service.

When we got to the nursing home, she got mad because I told her she needed to move out of the doorway because she was blocking a resident with a walker.  She got mad at stormed out, pouting on a bench outside.  When the pianist arrived 10 minutes later, she was still out there pouting.  Pianist encouraged her to come in, and eventually she did.  I was relieved when Pianist arrived and reported seeing Daughter, because she'd been gone longer than I anticipated, and I was beginning to think I should go check on her. 

When we left the nursing home and I turned toward her house, she insisted I not take her back right then.  I said, "Look, I know you want to fight and argue today, but I'm not playing that game.  I am taking you back now."  Of course she then informed me I never listen to her and always cut her off.  I didn't respond-- reinforcing her feelings, but I knew it was a no win situation for me. 
was with me. 

These are just a few of a number of similar incidents. 

When I got home, I was tired.  I realized that I don't have to deal with her drama all the time now, and I'm out of practice.  It's not as easy to ignore it as it once was.  I also recognized that living with her had been a huge source of stress.  I'm very grateful I'm able to limit my time with her.  She will be with me for 2 weeks of vacation this summer, and if she gets too oppositional, I'll take her back to her house and continue my vacation alone.  I don't have to live with her drama any more. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Cure for Feeling Old

Yesterday morning I went for a 4 mile walk in a beautiful park.  I can walk-- it just takes a while-- like 2 hours yesterday. 

When I got home, I packed up to journey to Sister's home.  We watched Baby Nephew, and took him to see Short Niece's soccer game and her violin recital.  Baby Nephew is the easiest, happiest baby ever.  He didn't cry at all, even though he missed his nap.  He's 14 months old now, and so he's enjoying the freedom that comes with walking. 

I forgot all about feeling old yesterday.  Today's another story, so I'm going to focus on the memories of yesterday. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Feeling Old

Yesterday I had an appointment with a cardiologist regarding the irregularities that showed up on my EKG before I had a procedure done back in February.  I saw the anesthesiologist circling things on it, but he brushed off my questions.  My nurse practitioner didn't see it until she called the hospital asking for it last week after I asked about it at my appointment.  She wasn't very happy they hadn't sent it to her.

The EKG showed signs of a heart attack. He also heard signs of a leaky valve.  I'm going in for more tests next week, and feeling very old.  I'm not sharing this information with very many people.  My peer group knows, as I sent out an email requesting prayers.  Far Away Sister knows.  I've told Sister very little.  She gets very anxious, and I don't want her worrying (and driving me crazy).  I told her my hiatal hernia was causing my shortness of breath when I work in the garden.  (He did raise that as a possibility.)  I said I'm having additional tests just to be safe (also true). 

Yesterday I was pondering the toll of stress on my body over the years.  I didn't fully recognize how stressful it was raising Daughter until after she moved out.  I also know I have neglected my own health.  I fear my life just got more complicated. 

Friday, May 18, 2012


Daughter was home last night, and was a little volatile.  I dropped her insulin and it broke, so we had to make an unplanned trip to her house to get a new vial.  She was grumbling about nothing for most of the trip.  As we were coming back home, she said, "I know that we do better when we aren't in the same room or the same house all the time." It was the first time I've heard her acknowledge that.  She has often tried to guilt me into bringing her back home.  I always tell her she's happier away from me.  I'm pleased she finally seems to recognize that reality. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mom Knows

When I talked to Daughter yesterday evening, I asked her if she had worked things out with House Manager.  She said she had, and it was hard.  I acknowledged the difficulty of it and praised her for doing it.  She acknowledged that she is stubborn, and also that I had warned her she'd have to keep her room clean wherever she lived.  She told me she didn't like living on her own (though of course she's not really on her own).  She complained that I won't let her move back home.  I pointed out to her that she'd be bored, and would  miss the women in her house.  She started to argue, but then agreed with me.  She acknowledged that Mom does know a few things about life.  I call that progress. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I Remember...

Daughter called this morning while I was at breakfast with my peer group (we had our overnight retreat last night).  She was furious with House Manager and wanted to tell me why in great detail.  I assured her I had confidence in her ability to work things out, that I love her, and that I look forward to seeing her Thursday evening.  I suspect she was mad at me, too, after I hung up.

I received an email from House Manager. Staff had noticed that all of Daughter's clothes were on the floor of her closet.  She said they were all dirty.  House  Manager asked her to place them in her hamper.  She said she was sorting through them, and some of them were clean.  HM said staff would help her sort through them.  She said she'd do it on her own and how she'd have to skip program and basically went off on one of irrational rants.  She did go to program.  HM was explaining why Daughter's clothes can't be on the floor of the closet in her email.

In my response, I told her I had lived through the scene she described many times, and am grateful that they are the ones dealing with it now.  I don't miss those  battles at all.  I'm feeling very blessed today. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Administrative Assistant's Vacation

Administrative Assistant is on vacation for the next two weeks.  I told her she didn't need to leave to make me appreciate her.  She just laughed.  She's not in on Mondays, so yesterday was okay.  She is in on Tuesdays, and today has been challenging.  I've spent time searching her computer for 2 different documents.  I've struggled to figure out how to print a brochure, finally resorting to cutting and pasting to get the pages in the order I needed.  The treasurer and I spent some time looking for the card for an office supply store without success. 

I couldn't remember the leaders of the prayer chain, and had difficulties logging into the prayer list email account.  I was late for a meeting and then had a bit of a discussion with one member of the team who doesn't want the various doors in the church labeled.  He said that people who need to know where things are already know and he doesn't want anyone else to know.  Outsiders who come in to the church for a meeting should be personally escorted to their meeting.  Fortunately, the majority of the committee was a bit more reasonable. 

I slept for 9 hours last night, after sleeping in yesterday morning and going home for a nap in the afternoon.  I'm feeling better today, though still don't have much energy.  My peer group retreat is tonight.   I think I may reschedule the couple who wanted to meet with me this afternoon-- for some reason  haven't gotten the work I had planned for this morning done....  I miss Administrative Assistant. 

Monday, May 14, 2012


I think Daughter's Mother's Day gift to me was her cold.  I went to bed early last night, and went back to bed this morning. I went home this afternoon and took a nap.  I'm back at the church for this evening's meetings, but it has not been a very productive day.  

One of the men who was here today urged me to take care of myself because, "We need you healthy."  I'm still pondering the comment.  I don't think that's healthy.  We need God, but my function is to point to God, and I don't want them confusing God and me.  I pray regularly that I would be able to stay out of God's way, and that comment has me thinking I haven't been doing a good enough job.  I know he meant it as a compliment and a statement of concern.  I'm not sure the implications, though, are healthy.  Much to ponder. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

Daughter gave me a beautiful Mother's Day card when we celebrated adoption day a month ago.  It thanked me for teaching her about God.  I was touched, at least until she informed me that a staff member had made her get that one instead of the funny cat one she liked....

Mother's Day is hard for her, and I reminded myself of that this morning.  She spent the night here last night.  She didn't say anything about Mother's Day this morning.  She was pleasant and cooperative, but nothing special.  As the choir was gathering next door to my office, I heard her wish all the women a happy Mother's Day.  I stuck my head around the corner into the choir room, "You didn't wish me happy Mother's Day."  She was appropriately embarrassed, and came into my office to hug me. 

As we were driving to a restaurant, she told me that it was a hard day.  She was thinking about her birth mom, and trying to figure out what she owed her.  Should she write her or call her?  She thought about how hard it must be on her, to be alone.  She also knew that contact with her was not healthy for her.  I was impressed.  I suggested it was appropriate to say an extra prayer for her. 

She chose to go back to her house soon after lunch.  She didn't want to hang out with me this afternoon.  I didn't argue.  I thanked her for bringing a movie for us to watch together last night.  It's been a good day, and I'm also sad.  I'm sad for Daughter's birth mom, and I'm missing my own mom, too.  This is the third mother's day since her death.  It's probably been 5 or 6 years since I could carry on a conversation with her.  I miss her. 

I went to the home improvement store and bought a compost bin.  I put it together and found it a home in my backyard.  Yesterday it rained most of the day, but today is sunny and cool.  I'm going to keep busy outside today.  In fact, I'm sitting on my front porch as I write this post.  I'll be ready to start my next project soon....

Saturday, May 12, 2012


My sisters are so predictable....

The other day Sister called, and she was obsessed about Short Niece's recent test scores.  She had done exceedingly well, but Sister was frustrated because the data she'd been given didn't have the norms.  Far Away Sister and I are concerned because it seems that Sister is overly focused on Short Niece's achievements.  I fear she's giving her the message she has to be perfect, and if she isn't, she's not good enough.  I pointed out to Sister that the information she was seeking wouldn't make any difference in who Daughter was, and suggested she needed to stop obsessing.  She insisted she wasn't obsessing and continued to talk about why the information was so important.  Short Niece is 7 years old and intelligent and academic achievement score are off the top of the scale.  Does it really make a difference how far off they are? 

I finally told her I'd give her something else to obsess over, and told her I was going to be having some medical tests done.  Part of the reason I told her was to help her put things in perspective.  Predictably, she began asking lots of questions.  She was assuming the worst, and I think thought I was going to drop dead any moment.  I assured her I was a considerate sister, and would wait until school was out for the summer to make it easier for her as a teacher.  She wasn't amused.  I'm not concerned, which is very frustrating for her.  I knew she would call Far Away Sister as soon as she could, but she'd have to wait until after school because Far Away Sister is tow time zones west of us.  I predicted that Far Away Sister would call me that evening. 

Far Away Sister was 24 hours late.  When she called, I pointed that out.  She laughed, and explained she'd had a class the previous evening and it was too late to call me when she got done.  I shared the same information I had with Sister, and then we went on to talk about other, more important things.  She wasn't concerned.  My sisters are so predictable. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

My Piece of Heaven

My garden angel came today to work with me in my gardens.  She started working on them before I even moved in back in September 2010.  In fact, she and her husband convinced me to get permission to allow them to start trimming from the previous owner prior to my closing on the house.  At one time, this house had magnificent gardens, but then the elderly woman who had so lovingly tended them died.  Her husband didn't do as much, and after his death they received no attention for over a year while the heirs prepared the house for sale.  The summer of 2010 they mowed the lawn, and that was all.  No fertilizer, watering, or any other care.  Things were overgrown and full of weeds when I took possession.  Last year the work began.  I decided I wanted the area beside the patio to become a butterfly garden.  I wanted to plant clematis to grow on the privacy fence.  The lower half of the privacy fence was hidden behind overgrown bushes.  I took them out last summer and repainted the fence.  The rest of the area was full of ferns and hostas.   I transplanted the hostas, but didn't show any mercy to the ferns.  Gardeners passed on plants they were discarding.  Here is what that area looks like now: 



I'm eager to see the various flowers bloom this summer.  I planted one clematis at the end of last summer, and two more this spring.  You can see the one I planted last summer is beginning to climb.

Some of the hostas found a new home around this tree.  The neighbor's yard begins right beyond that tree. 

These are views of the garden under the family room window.  I'm scaling it back, since I can't see it.  A garden shed will eventually go to the left of the window.  You can see where the overgrown tree scraped the paint off the aluminum siding.  It will be repainted later this summer.  Some men from the church are going to do it for me.  They volunteered.

Last summer this garden in the back corner was overgrown with weeds.  You couldn't see the fences.  We cleared it out.  There are some peonies in there that didn't bloom last summer.  They have buds on them this year.   I wouldn't let my garden angel prune those lilac bushes yet because they are just getting ready to bloom.  They are in the shade, and are the last in the area to bloom. 

This is the side of the garage.  The iris are beautiful this year.  Last year they didn't bloom. 

 Here are my two raised garden beds.  I have planted seeds in the one at the left.  The one on the right has some strawberry plants and some herbs I planted in boxes I can move inside come winter.  I also have the tomatoes and peppers I started inside sitting in them today.  I'll wait a little longer to transplant them.  I spread mulch from yesterday's work day at the church between and behind them.  I planted berry bushes along the back fence last summer.  I am looking forward to enjoying blackberries and raspberries this summer.  The blueberries won't bear fruit this year.  I picked off the flowers so they would strengthen their root system this year. 

Daughter called, mad at staff and started swearing.  I told her I didn't need to listen to her swear and she could call back when she had calmed down.  She did, and apologized.  She continues to work hard to draw me into her drama, but it's not working. 

I mowed, edged, trimmed, weeded, hauled and spread mulch, and basically worked hard in the garden most of the day.  I'm sore and tired this evening, and very content.  I'm sitting on my patio listening to the wind blow in the trees, the birds sing, the neighbor kids play, and there is the sound of a lawn being mowed somewhere in the neighborhood.  My garden angel was down south for the winter, returning a couple of weeks ago.  She told me she can see a huge difference in me-- I'm much happier.  I agree. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Not My Problem

Daughter called this morning, upset with one of the staff members at her program.  I told her she was a big girl and could deal with it.  She wasn't very happy with me.  She will be with me tonight, and I suspect by the time she gets home she will have forgotten this morning's frustration.  I know part of the issue is that Program Manager is leaving for a new job, and I'm sure everyone at the program is on edge as a result.
This morning we have a large group of workers outside with a rented chipper chipping all the limb and brush we cleared on Saturday.  I saw several heading to the work site carrying chain saws.  I'm sure they will be comparing their toys and having lots of fun today.  They'll take a lunch break and go someplace where they can get milkshakes.  If I didn't have a meeting 60 miles away this afternoon, I'd be tempted to join them....

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Nurse sent out an email today about Daughter complaining about being sick.  Case Manager jumped all over it, demanding to know if a doctor's appointment had been scheduled for her.  They provided an opportunity for me to provide more education.  Bottom line:  if she doesn't have a fever or you haven't seen evidence that she's vomiting, don't believe that she is sick. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Looking for Sympathy

Daughter called this morning, complaining that she couldn't sing a note.  She has a talent show on Thursday, and is trying to create some drama around it.  I didn't bite.  I reminded her that when she complains to me about talent shows I tell her she can't participate.  Her voice sounded fine to me, which she didn't want to hear. She called again at lunch time.  I was at a clergy gathering, so it was a brief conversation.  She told me she was too sick to stay at her program and had called the house to come pick her up.

I got a text from Program Manager a little later, telling me Daughter had called for pick up, but didn't seem to be too sick to flirt with the new guy.  I should have texted her house and told them to send her straight to bed since she was so sick.  I was enjoying fellowship with my colleagues, though, so I decided to let them figure it out on their own.  I'm blessed to be able to share fellowship and discussion with a wonderful group of colleagues.  It's one of the blessings that grew out of my move here.

Daughter is not calling me nearly as often.  Usually she calls morning and evening to check in. It's nice not to have to deal with the drama.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunday and a Book

This morning I was listening to NPR's On Being on my way to pick up Daughter.  I was intrigued by the story of the man she was interviewing.  When I got to the church, I bought the Kindle edition and actually was able to start it before worship, since I had finished the sermon and such last night. 

It was a good Sunday.  I was missed last Sunday.  We had some visitors today.  A couple who visited on Easter were back.  I'm meeting with them tomorrow.  We met a couple from the church for lunch, and had a good visit. 

After I took Daughter home, I came back and did some work in the yard.  Then I sat outside and read my book.  I'm almost done with it, and and I'm enjoying it.  I made a grocery run and did some cleaning and laundry this evening.  I decided that winter is over.  I took the flannel sheets and heavy comforter off my bed.  I even managed to flip the mattress without help. 

Spring, being outdoors, not living with Daughter's drama, and serving a healthy, responsive church, and I am happy and have the energy to do all sorts of fun things.  I've convinced the property guys to give me some of the mulch they shred on Thursday.  They tried to convince me it would be poor quality and wouldn't last.  I told them if it lasted this year, that would be enough, and it was much cheaper than going out and buying it.  After they figured out they couldn't convince me I didn't want it, one of the men offered to deliver it in his truck.  "It's kind of on my way home."  I'm grateful. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spring Work Day

This morning we had a work day at the church.  We had a great turn out, and it was a very productive day.  I think I was the youngest one there, and I'm 54.  The oldest works was over 90.  The landscaping out front got cleaned up.  The sign was scrubbed. 
We also started clearing away brush and overgrowth near our pond.  It was very overgrown out there, and there were huge grape vines growing up into the trees.  It was hard work.  We were amazed by how much we got cleared. The men were having all sorts of fun with various tools, including chain saws.  There was one tree that had them bring trucks down with tow ropes to pull it out of the pond.   As we worked, all sorts of plans were being made for the area.  I don't think the beach or baptisms in the pond will become reality.  I doubt they'll build a Huckleberry Finn raft.  I hope they don't have me preach from a boat with a leak timed to make sure I don't go too long. 
There are some things that I know will happen.  We are renting a chipper on Thursday to deal with all the brush.  There is still a lot of work to do out there, but I think we will have a barbecue in June to show the congregation what's out there and what we've accomplished.  We are hosting a day camp at the end of July, so that has been a powerful motivation to get work done around the pond.  The drain was clogged earlier this year, and the men property guys are debating how best to rebuild the drain.  We're fortunate enough to have a couple of engineers in the congregation, which helps.  We also have a couple of people who work for the state and know the regulations are regarding wetlands.  That means we won't be getting a beach, which I think is a good thing.  Oh, and it is a smallish pond that isn't more than 3 feet deep at its deepest point, so the beach idea was never a good one. 
It was a fun morning, and I'm glad we had so many willing workers and accomplished so much....

Friday, May 4, 2012

Good-by! Go to Hell!

Daughter's parting words to me this morning weren't very nice.  It's been a while since I've been the target of one of her rants.  I'd forgotten how painful it is.  When I came into the kitchen this morning, I discovered that Daughter had eaten a banana during the night.  I asked, "When did you eat the banana?"  I wasn't angry, didn't yell, just curious. 
That set her off.  "Not too long ago."  I didn't respond.  I didn't respond as she ranted, raved, announced she wasn't taking her pills, wouldn't be needing a lunch, would never come to see me again, etc.... 
I'm glad I no longer have to deal with this on a daily basis.  She sent me a text from the bus apologizing and telling me it was better if she didn't see me anymore.  She stated she hated herself.  I responded, "I love you and will see you on Sunday."
I am so grateful she no longer lives here. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Four Days

Daughter called this evening and complained about staff at her house.  It was the first call of complaint I've gotten from her since Saturday morning.  I'm impressed.  She has settled in nicely.

I went to an excellent seminar yesterday about leading change in times of change and turmoil.  I spent a couple of hours transcribing the notes this morning.  I think I had 5 pages of notes before I was done, down from 7.  I'm out of practice on note taking-- so it was a challenge.  The speaker had lots of good information.  As a bonus, I ran into two colleagues and had the opportunity to eat lunch with them. 

Things are good here.  The sun finally came out this afternoon, and it is much warmer than it was last week.  This weekend I'm going to do some planting in my new garden beds.  I'm looking forward to it.