Caffeine Saves My Day

This morning it was a bigger struggle than usual to get up. I have begun having occasional nights when I don’t sleep well at all and this is very unusual for me. Normally I fall asleep almost instantly and stay that way till I have to get up.

I had promised to take Lucy out to get coffee, and I had to stop at the dollar store anyway, so off we went in the middle of the morning. Despite having had a tall mug of very strong tea, I was struggling to stay awake enough to drive.

Taking a nap when I got home was out of the question, so I had to resort to more caffeine. I did more school with Jasper and then did some autoharp stuff to cram for my lesson before leaving at lunchtime.

It was such a beautiful and pleasant drive up there–I savored every moment of it. I had promised my teacher I’d bring the used autoharp I recently bought to start teaching the kids with. She agreed with me that it has a lovely sound, and she volunteered to help me rearrange it so the chords are set up the same as mine (which makes everything so much easier). Once again I got to cut some new felts and we ended up with a second autoharp that is just like mine. The fun can commence!

The lesson itself was rather short. She helped me with a couple of hymns where I had a hard time finding the exact right chord in a couple of places. I proudly played my “C” scale for her. Now that I’ve got it just about memorized, I will tackle another scale for next time.

These lessons are such an encouragement to me. I know I mess up a lot, but it is so helpful to know that I am still making headway and improving bit by bit. The demands of having to learn new songs every single week are a great way to stretch myself and learn new things. If I fall victim to dementia (heaven forbid), it won’t be because I let my brain lie around on the sofa and watch TV!

This evening I supervised Jasper in making the first of the two cakes he’ll be entering in the harvest festival tomorrow. I’m so thankful we didn’t knock ourselves out to enter a ton of stuff like we did last year. Two cakes is plenty!

Now, all we’re waiting for is for the travelers to arrive. Flynn, Mercy and Spencer left Mary’s house at lunchtime and should be arriving very shortly. The eerie silence of the last few days will be over!

Monday, Monday

I’m really glad I did all that grading on Saturday, because I had more than enough to do this morning without it. I did some school with Jasper and prepared for my class and even picked a few new photos for story prompts and then drove to the drugstore to pick them up.

Writing from pictures is something that most of my students enjoy, so it is a fun thing for me to teach. I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

After my classes were over, it was time to work on stuff for my autoharp lesson tomorrow. One of my assignments was to come up with the melody chords for a hymn that I am fairly familiar with, but for some reason it was a huge challenge and took a lot longer than I expected. I’m still not sure I even did okay with it. I am also learning to play scales. Not as hard as I thought it would be, but I say that as someone who hasn’t actually memorized anything yet!

This house seems so quiet and empty with only four people in it. Spencer all by himself makes enough noise for any three other people. I will be glad when the travelers return home tomorrow.

This was only the first day of a very stressful week. I really hope I make it through to Sunday night!

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

Henry J. van Dyke

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus, which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us, brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward in the triumph song of life.

An Infraction, a Farewell, and an Excursion

So, as you can see, I’ve remodeled a bit here on the blog to celebrate hitting the 500 post mark. Sometimes I forget I can change things whenever I want!

Yesterday started with an announcement on Facebook by my son Flynn that I had committed a traffic violation and earned myself a hefty fine as a result. The reason he knew before me is that apparently the car is still listed as belonging to his address, so he got the notification.

Oops. I knew exactly what I did. There was that one day last month when I was turning right on red and I didn’t come to a complete stop because I was trying to beat traffic, and I saw the camera flash but I naively though it was getting the guy behind me. *sigh* The funny thing is that Walter got caught doing the exact same thing at that exact same intersection last year!

Yesterday afternoon Lucy and I went thrift shopping. She didn’t find what she was looking for, but I added to my punch cup stash and got a couple of other odds and ends. Then we went to the Army Navy store and she finally realized her dream of owning a pair of combat boots.

After supper Flynn arrived and that’s why there was no post last night. We were all hanging out with Flynn and waiting for Spencer to finish writing his paper so that they could leave. Spencer got his paper in before the deadline and then about half an hour after midnight Flynn, Mercy and Spencer were on their way to Nashville to visit Mary. The trip was originally intended to be a birthday gift to Spencer, but since it is Mercy’s fall break also, she is tagging along. They wanted to maximize their time in Nashville so they decided to drive all night.

They did arrive safely this morning, but I haven’t heard any details!

Meanwhile, after a very restless night, I went to Walmart and got the shopping done, before coming home to rest a little before plunging into my big task of the day, which was to grade all the papers that have been piling up for the last three weeks or so while I was busy with the faire and then being sick.

I plowed through the first big stack this morning before succumbing to my sinus issues for a while. Then this afternoon I had promised Lucy I’d take her to another Army Navy store in a town an hour’s drive away. We picked up her friend Martha and drove over there. I waited in the car while they shopped.

And lest you think that I am too easily persuaded, the truth is I was going to that town anyway to check out the brand new Jo-Ann’s, so Lucy just kind of added herself to my expedition. She got a pair of camo pants at the Army Navy store, and then we went in search of Jo-Ann’s. It is in a big new shopping center that is still under construction, and has very recently opened.

There were a few items I needed, and I found them all, plus quite a few other things. At least the yarn didn’t tempt me. Most of the yarn at Jo-Ann’s is not of interest to me. I didn’t even let myself look at the fabric. I’m pretty sure I’ll be making the trip again at least once between now and Christmas!

It was a beautiful drive back. Too bad I had a second huge stack of papers waiting to be graded when I got home! (I did get them done, thank goodness.)

Poor Walter came home exhausted as he had to do all his work today without Spencer’s help. And after he had a bite to eat, he still had to go back out and burnish floors. I hope he gets a good night’s sleep tonight!

I need sleep too–but not until I tune my autoharp and practice a little more. Both hymns I’m playing tomorrow are quite challenging.

A Qualified Success

Today is one of those days that leave me feeling like I’m not a total loser. Not because I did anything special, but because I did anything at all when I was still really struggling with sinus issues.

I got up earlier than I wanted to and after a rather intense 45 minutes in the kitchen I had chicken cacciatore in the slow cooker and rice in the rice cooker. Later in the morning I took a break from preparing for my high school English class to make a spiced chai flavored pound cake with spiced chai icing. Sadly, it was not gluten free. I did try the icing and it was pretty good. This is my own creation and I wanted to test it before deciding if Jasper should try making it for the harvest festival.

School and preparations for class were cut short when we had to take off for the homeschool lunch at the church where Lucy goes to youth group. We took the chicken cacciatore and the rice and the cake. The lunch was a little rushed, since we had to come back in time to set up for class, but at least I got to visit a little with my friend Kim. The food was a hit. Except for the cake. Apparently that group is not into chai.

There was a little glitch at the beginning of class when I couldn’t find our video, but eventually I located it exactly where it was supposed to be. How often does that happen? We had a vocabulary quiz and worked on summarizing a story. The cake was much more popular with my students, and also with my family. Jasper thought the icing was a little too strongly flavored so I will try again and tone it down a little.

After my students left, I practiced my autoharp for quite a while and played some songs from the past two months just for fun. Playing some of the first songs I learned made me realize that I really have improved in the ten weeks that I have been playing. That makes me even more determined to keep working on getting better.

I also finished knitting another muff. Not bad for someone whose head seemed likely to explode for much of the day.

Oh, and guess what? This is my 500th blog post since making the switch to WordPress nearly a year and a half ago. Yay me.

A Day of Good Things

Yes, I am still sick, though definitely on the mend. Despite my illness, however, I had a day of happy surprises.

A lady that I barely know messaged me on Facebook, having read about my sinus infection issues. She, like me, has suffered with sinus trouble for years but has recently found a treatment that really works for her. She went to a considerable amount of trouble to get me a mask and then bring a nebulizer to my house for me to try. It really did seem to help, so I have already ordered my own supply, along with a nebulizer. After more than 30 years of dealing with severe sinus issues, I can hardly imagine what it would be like to see them go away. And I appreciate Karen so much for making the effort to help me.

After Karen left, and right before leaving for piano lessons, I checked my “author” email and found an enthusiastic email from a Sakeji schoolmate who has just read my book. This is my favorite thing about having published my memoir. I LOVE to hear from people who have read it and who write to tell me how my book brought back so many happy childhood memories for them.

The third good thing was that when my husband called the mechanic, he found that our Suburban was once more roadworthy. Of course, this good thing cost us $320! But we ended up with a bigger and better battery and an oil change and I hope that means no more disconnecting the battery every night!

Spencer’s car is currently sidelined again, but he really wanted to go hang out with his friends at church, so he decided to walk. He left at about 6:30 and arrived at 9:00. Obviously he didn’t get there in time for a service, but he was able to hang out with his friends at the coffee shop afterwards and was hoping to get a ride home!
Now I have grading to do. And a cake to make. What am I doing on the blog?

Bowing to the Inevitable

Although the car has been starting quite reliably when left to its own devices for an hour or two, we have still been disconnecting the battery every night and frankly, it’s kind of a pain. Walter does not feel like he has the expertise to trace the problem, so today we took the car in to a mechanic. I’m really hoping that we don’t end up paying a huge sum of money to get it fixed.

We did get some schoolwork done today. I am still struggling with my cold and sinus issues, so I didn’t make the long drive up to my autoharp lesson today. I did start practicing two new hymns for Sunday, though, and picked out a tune by ear as well.

I am making headway in my sewing room and getting excited about doing some sewing for Christmas.

Rain, Jury Duty, 4-H, and Internet

So, here I am playing catch-up again. The good news is that I finally got my internet back yesterday afternoon, when Walter called the cable company and got talked through the process of resetting the router. Huzzah! But I had so much to do and it got too late to stay up and write a post last night.

Yesterday morning we woke up to a severe thunderstorm and both of us cringed. Walter had to take the van to work and I had to drive downtown for jury duty. This was my first time ever to actually have to report to jury duty. Jasper has now “aged out” of legal excuse territory, so there was no getting out of it.

I drove downtown in a downpour, parked the car where Walter told me to, and walked three blocks in the pouring rain with one of those little compact umbrellas that only keep about half your body dry. I had my Kindle with over 300 books on it and several hours’ worth of knitting with me just in case.

Before long I found myself sitting in a courtroom with almost 200 other unlucky souls. My favorite part of the day came then. An elderly gentleman walked in through the doors where the bailiff was welcoming people and telling them where to sit. The old man was wearing a baseball cap that said “Navy veteran” on it.

“Are you one of our honored veterans?” asked the bailiff.
“Yes sir.”
“Thank you so much for your service,” the bailiff said. “We appreciate it so much.”

I love the way veterans are honored here in Texas–and I hope in the rest of the country too.

After getting my $6, I was sent to a smaller courtroom with 27 others. It was for a civil case (lawsuit) and they only needed 6 jurors and one alternate. The selection process was lengthy, but eventually they made their decision and I was passed over. Whew! I did not want to be on that jury. I definitely have issues with the whole concept of awarding large sums of money for physical pain and mental anguish.

By now it was lunchtime, so I came home, doped myself up (I’m still fighting that sinus infection) and rested until time to take Jasper to 4-H. The special guest this month was a police officer who works with the canine department. She brought her very alert and hyper dog with her and the kids just loved it. The business meeting went late and by the end of it I really wasn’t feeling well and just wanted to come home and lie down.

First, though, I wanted to see if we could do anything about getting our wireless internet access restored. Walter called the cable company and they talked him through resetting the router. This is the second time this has been necessary in the last few months. I wonder why it goes wonky? For some reason, we are hard on routers in this house.

Technical Difficulties

Please forgive my silence here. Until my computer is friends with the internet again, I have to share a computer with three other people and that means I have very limited access! If I don’t end up spending all day at the courthouse (jury duty), maybe I can get some help today.

Goodbye, Dr. McLendon

I just learned today that our dentist, Dr. Bill McLendon, passed away last week of a heart attack. I know it might seem weird to some of you to be so sad about the death of a dentist, but this is a man who has been a part of my life for 35 years. I know a lot of people don’t like dentists, but I love my dentist.

Maybe it’s because of the way we met. When I came down to Texas from Indiana for college, I knew I had tooth issues because I could only chew on one side of my mouth. The other side hurt too much. It never occurred to me to see a dentist. I just lived with the pain.

Then I started having earaches. The pain became so severe that I went to the college nurse, and she sent me to a doctor. He couldn’t find anything wrong, and suggested I see a dentist in case I was having “referred” pain. The college-approved dentist was a very young Dr. McLendon. He and his assistant, Shirlene, squeezed me in and took a look at my mouth. I had a massive abscess and the infection had spread to my jaw. By this time I was in so much pain that I had to sleep sitting up—if I could sleep at all.

Dr. McLendon gave me an antibiotic and told me that if I didn’t have relief from the pain in 24 hours, to give him a call. He wanted to give the antibiotic time to work before he attempted the root canal. After a sleepless night in agony, I called and talked to the receptionist, Vickie. When she heard I was still in pain, she told me to come in right away.

My boyfriend (now my husband) borrowed a car and took me to Dr. McLendon’s office. They made everyone else wait so they could help me. The local anesthetic didn’t work because my gums were so swollen. He started drilling and I thought I was going to pass out from the pain. Then, he hit the abscess and the pain turned off as if by a switch. It was the first and only time that I ever wanted to kiss a dentist. When you’ve been in pain so long and it suddenly stops, the sensation is just unbelievably wonderful.

That was back in 1979. I’ve been going to Dr. McLendon ever since, as has Walter. Of course all seven children went there too. Back when we started, fillings were either $15 or $30. Now they cost a lot more! Dr. McLendon and Vickie and Shirlene were a part of my life. Most years, I saw them at least twice for cleaning and a checkup, then more often when we had kids. I greatly enjoyed our conversations, the excellent care we received, and the fact that they let us pay in installments for major expenses like a root canal or crown. Every time I came in, they asked about the kids and wanted to see pictures. I feel so bereft right now. I wanted that guy to keep taking care of our teeth forever. He was old school in the best possible way.

In other news, I am still struggling with my cold/sinus infection, but I believe I detected a slight improvement today. I also got a call saying my sewing machine was ready, and the shock almost killed me. I don’t think it has ever taken less than a week before. I haven’t tried it out yet, but considering what I paid it better run like a dream!

Lucy is spending the evening at a “lock-in” at the library. Should be interesting to hear about that tomorrow!

Oh, and I am writing this on the kids’ computer, because mine has no memory of ever having met the internet. *sigh*