A Lack of Appointment & A Dress Edit

The first thing I did this morning was to try once more to get a dentist appointment. I found a dentist that was open, but he couldn’t get me in. Every other dentist I checked is closed until Monday. So, I gave up. I have been lancing my abscess every night and I will keep doing so and taking antibiotics until Monday, when I will try again. I have enough antibiotics to last me till Tuesday, so hopefully I can get an appointment by then.

The lesson we can all learn from this is that if you’re going to get a massive infection in your mouth parts, and you don’t have insurance, and your dentist has recently died, you really shouldn’t do it during the holidays.

My parents woke up sick this morning, so since they were resting, Lina and I went out to run an errand. We bought a game to play tomorrow night and I needed a couple of sewing notions. A mango smoothie might have been involved also. I have developed painful sores in my mouth (on the same side as the abscess) and hot liquids are very hard to drink at the moment, so I had a good excuse for needing a cold drink.

One project I’ve been working on today is altering Mary’s wedding dress to fit her better since she has lost so much weight since the wedding. Since her wedding dress was designed after Galadriel’s dress in the first Hobbit movie, Mary can wear it to events where she wants to cosplay as Galadriel. It is a fiddly project and I’m not convinced the results will be attractive, but I’m giving it my best shot.

My parents did make it here for lunch and then my dad had to go out and buy medicine. My primary project of the afternoon was making a massive batch of chicken enchiladas for our supper. Yum! Everyone was actually here for supper (the kids had scattered for the afternoon).

After supper we watched a video with my dad and then I went back to work on the wedding dress while everyone else played a game. I’m pretty happy with how the dress is going at this point.

A Good Visit With Old Friends

Yesterday was a very full day. I was up early making a breakfast casserole and heating up the huge batch of rice cakes that Lucy and I had made on Saturday. I also had 8 pounds of ham to slice for the potluck later that day.

By the time Don & Gwen and their boys arrived, everything was in readiness. The rice cakes were a surprise for them and I was thrilled to see the smiles on their faces. Don, Gwen and I had rice cakes for breakfast every single morning when we were at Sakeji. You’d think that by the time a kid left Sakeji, he’d be sick to death of rice cakes, but the truth is that when you leave, you leave with a lifetime craving for the fried rice balls you ate so many of as a kid. I made about 80 rice cakes and there were very few left over!

We all went to church (except Mary, who woke up sick) and thanks to our augmented numbers, we had the best singing that we’ve had for many a month! Lina played the piano, giving me another week of respite from playing in church. Don was our speaker, talking about their work in Zambia. They also had a “name that tune” game with Gwen playing and singing hymns in Kikaonde and Bemba. She ended by teaching an African song to us all.

After the service we had a potluck dinner, giving everyone time to fellowship and visit. Because we had guests, I had taken even more food than usual, and it’s a good thing I did, because overall there was quite a bit less food than usual. Almost everything I took was eaten. One thing I took was a dessert that I made up all by myself. It was embarrassingly easy, but everyone really liked it. Want the recipe?

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pudding

2 packages plain cheesecake mix OR 2 packages of cheesecake pudding mix
3 cups of cold milk
1 can of puréed pumpkin
1 large tub of whipped topping

Mix the cheesecake filling or pudding according to the directions. Do NOT use almond milk instead of real milk or the pudding won’t set.
Fold the pumpkin and whipped topping into the pudding. Done! Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat it.
So, there you are. Assuming you check your pudding label to make sure, this is even gluten free.

A lot of napping went on in the afternoon. Everybody seems to be running short on sleep these days. We had a great time around the table at supper time, and afterwards we more or less banished the teenagers so that I could carry out my clever plan–to videotape Gwen playing and singing a few songs. She had already practiced some songs from the books I gave her–but she is so skilled she doesn’t really need to practice.

Mary helped with the actual recording, because she does it for a living and I’m pretty incompetent. It was such a treat to hear Gwen play and sing. My mind went back to my first term at boarding school in Kenya. Gwen and I were in eleventh grade. Her roommate did not like her to practice her guitar there, so Gwen would come down to my room. She’d sit on one end of my bed and I’d sit on the other, and she’d play and sing for an hour or more. Even by then, I’d been listening to her play (first ukulele, then guitar) for several years!
So, it’s hard for me to convey to you the delight that we both felt to share those tunes again. We also recorded her singing two of her own songs, and a Bemba song too. Eventually, they’ll be up on YouTube.

Today, I made an early run to the grocery store to get some fresh fruit and veggies so we could have a nice brunch with Don and Gwen before they left town. Alas, one of their sons woke up sick, but the rest of them came for one last meal at our house. I made a huge salad and we had plenty of sandwich fixings and fruit too. So nice after all the “heavy” holiday food!

It took them longer to get going than they had planned–but there’s nothing new about that! Walter and Don had a nice long conversation and Gwen and I got to visit a little more too. Oh, the delight of reconnecting with lifelong friends!

After they left early this afternoon, I could not wait to lie down and take a nap. I am still having major issues with my gums and mouth, and I feel pretty worn down. (Yes, I DID try to get an appointment today but it didn’t work out.) Sadly, my “rest” wasn’t very restful as one of my offspring played very loud music with a pounding beat the whole time I was lying down. This resulted in several hours of grumpiness!

The “big” kids all left to go to a coffee shop about an hour’s drive away, so Jasper and I were alone in the house for a while. We watched a couple of videos and had a nice little supper together.

Later this evening, my parents arrived after spending some time in Dallas and having supper with Flynn. We didn’t visit for long since they were ready to go to bed. That’s when we found out that Don and Gwen apparently forgot to give us the key to the apartment! Thank goodness Walter has a master key . . . .

Parting Shot:

12-29-14 Amborskis

Raymond, Don, Gwen, Jamey

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

Gwen sang this in church today–in Kikaonde. A great altar hymn.

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus–
No turning back–no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me,
The world behind me, the cross before me,
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back–no turning back.

Though none go with me, I still will follow,
Though none go with me, I still will follow,
Though none go with me, I still will follow,
No turning back–no turning back.

Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
No turning back–no turning back.

Our Guests Arrive!

Well, it turned out yesterday was a bit of a fluke, healthwise. Today contained a lot more pain, though admittedly not on the level of Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. It still made it hard to get stuff done and I had plenty of stuff to do, most of it involving sewing or cooking. Mercy and Lina were working with Walter. Flynn, Mary and Jordan were off visiting a friend.

The big event of the day was the arrival of our friends Don and Gwen and their two sons. We eagerly look forward to their visits each time they are in the country. Walter has known Don since college days, but I have known both Don and Gwen since grade school. They are currently working at a school in Zambia, but not the one where Lina works. It is always such a treat to have them visit.

This time I was especially eager to see Gwen because I had a gift I was dying to give her. I had located and procured three songbooks that were among the ones she played and sang from during our childhood and teenage years. I knew she no longer had her original copies, and I was so hoping that she’d be glad to have these new copies. She was delighted! She looked at them and said, “This is my childhood right here.” Yep. Those songs were the soundtrack of our lives back then.

We had borrowed a guitar for her to use, so I persuaded her to play at least one of the songs right away for old time’s sake. It was like a time machine!

We has 16 people in the house for supper. It was a very noisy meal and I was so glad I made such a very big pot of taco soup. Tomorrow, Don & Gwen will be speaking in church and I am looking forward to it.

Boxing Day

I woke this morning feeling almost pain-free. What a blessing! I have managed to get by on “normal” doses of ibuprofen, and my pain level has fallen from a “10” to a “4.” The swelling had also lessened and has continued to diminish throughout the day. Hallelujah! I guess the antibiotic is finally starting to work, so I will wait and make a regular dentist appointment next week so I can figure out how to keep this thing from coming back again. I still have an abscess, and can see and feel it, but at least it’s not as swollen and painful as it was. And I can get by on normal doses of ibuprofen now.

This morning, since I could actually function, I finished a sewing project–the new cloak I designed for Mary to wear with her Galadriel dress (her wedding dress). There will be photos!

I had an errand to run this afternoon, and sadly one of the things I counted on getting was not to be had because all three places that sell it here in town were closed. Grrr!

I also worked on another sewing project and made 81 rice cakes. They still have to be fried, but I promised Flynn we would have them while he is here.

We all watched a movie tonight and I got some knitting done. It felt so good to be able to do stuff today!

A Beautiful Day Despite the Pain

I’ve been looking forward to today for months–having the whole family under one roof and celebrating Christmas together. Somehow, though, I never pictured myself being too sick to enjoy it fully. Yesterday, my pain increased and my gums and cheek began to swell. By the afternoon, I realized that I really needed to get my final refill of the antibiotic my late dentist had prescribed.

By the time we went to church for our carol-singing and cookie-eating social, I was really in a bad way. I had been taking double the recommended dose of ibuprofen every four hours, only to get about an hour of partial relief. It seemed like I spent much of the day just watching the clock so I could take more meds at the earliest possible moment.

I made it through the first few carols, but then the pain increased to the point that I found myself just crying. Flynn, who had just arrived from Dallas, offered to take me home, and I was so grateful. I tried an ice pack, which only increased the pain, so I dug out a rice pack I’ve had for 20 years and microwaved it. The heat was the only thing that seemed to help at all.

All this pain and suffering meant that I didn’t finish either of the sewing projects that I could have easily finished if I had been feeling better. It was a long but surprisingly restful night. I got up every two hours to take a colloidal silver solution, took pain meds as needed, and reheated my rice bag when it got too cool to be helpful.

This morning I was the first one up, and I got started on getting the breakfast casserole ready before Lina took over. My cheek and gum had swelled even more during the night, and everything from talking to seeing over my huge cheek became more difficult. Mary joined us and we discussed whether or not I should go to the emergency room. I understood that it was probably a good idea. I just did not want to give up my Christmas.

So, my girls pitched in and took over. They made our Christmas brunch and started getting other food ready. I mostly lounged around with my rice pack and felt kind of lousy. Despite the agony, however, it was a good day, from the excellent brunch to the marathon gift-opening session, to the traditional midday snacks, to the excellent turkey dinner.

Kat came over a couple of times. I didn’t eat a lot or do a lot, but I was able to enjoy the day as an observer, and I did roast the turkey and make the green bean casserole and gluten-free stuffing. There was lots of laughter in the house today, rising from the current of love that flowed from one person to the next. It was so wonderful to have everyone on the same continent and in the same room.

We watched a Christmas movie and Mercy made pumpkin pie and Mary made a gingerbread trifle, which I hope to be able to taste tomorrow. Kat and Jordan made a little gingerbread house–something neither had done before. What a lovely day.

Tomorrow: Walter and some of the kids go back to work, and I try to find some help for my infection. I may also report on some notable gifts.

Pain & Laughter

Today was not the day I wanted to have. I wanted to have a fun day of baking and sewing and hanging out with my friend Robin. I did do all those things–but I did them while experiencing severe, continuous pain in my gums, which have apparently welcomed back the old infection for the fourth time.

I took pain meds every few hours, but they barely made a dent in my agony. Lina and I went out to lunch with Robin, and the pleasure of their company made it possible for me to ignore the pain for a little while. I’m kind of impressed that I actually ate a pretty good lunch, because I can only chew on one part of one side of my mouth. By the time Lina and I returned home, the thought of chewing anything at all made me sick to my stomach.

Thank goodness I had Lina and Lucy to help with the cooking and baking, because I was really struggling. I got some crafting done and made regular and gluten-free pizza dough, all while wanting to curl up in a ball and cry. Mary and Jordan arrived in time to join us for dinner–but while everyone else enjoyed pizza, I ate soup.

Mary and Jordan had planned to arrive a little earlier, but when Mary texted me this morning to tell me they were on their way, I asked if they had remembered to bring their stockings, and the answer was “no.” So they turned around, went back home and fetched them!

After supper the kids watched some videos and then decorated Christmas cookies while I made regular and gluten-free pumpkin mincemeat bread and got some sewing done. While I wasn’t able to be in the same room with them, I think listening to them laugh and tell stories did more to distract me from my pain than the meds did!

I did some research online and tried some of the remedies that were recommended. None of them tasted good, and any relief that might have resulted was extremely transient. So the question now is, am I truly tired enough (after only getting 3 hours of sleep last night) to sleep despite the pain? I don’t know, but I sure would like to get some rest.

Parting Shot:
12-23-14 Jordan shielding

Mary enlisted Jordan to block our view of the Christmas stockings while she put stuff into them. He did a very effective job.

Our Big Fat Greek Dinner

One of the things on Lina’s “list” for this visit was a Greek meal, and another thing was having my friend Robin and her husband Doug over for dinner, so we were able to do both on Sunday. The girls and I spent most of the afternoon cooking. I am sorry to say that I took no photos.

The first course was egg and lemon soup with spanakopita. The soup had rice in it and was very creamy and delicious. Lina and Lucy worked so hard to make the spanakopita and it was so good it was hard to stop eating!

The main course was Kalamata pork loin, with tabouli and a Greek salad. I had never made the pork recipe before, but it was very good. For dessert we had a (gluten free) honey-lemon-walnut cake that I had never tried before. Yum!

Of course the best thing was not the food but the company. It was so much fun to have Robin’s husband here, as we rarely see him. Lina was able to show them some of her videos and pictures from Zambia.

Today I had to go to the health food store to stock up on ingredients for making another big batch of gluten-free flour. We are so far behind on Christmas baking because I didn’t have enough gluten-free ingredients! I got the flour blended and the girls have already made one batch of cookies with it.

I also started a new knitting project, screwed up twice in the first five rows, and decided to alter the pattern to accommodate my mistakes!

Lina spent the day in a nearby town with her friend Rae, another thing on his list. Two more weeks! How are we going to squeeze everything in?

This evening I was preparing to start working on my final Christmas projects, when I remembered that I needed to replace my ironing board cover. Back at the time of Mary’s wedding, my mom had given me money to get a new pad for my ironing board, and I, uh, put if off until I ran into some trouble with my last project, and I thought that since I had to replace the cover, I could also replace the pad.

I had ordered and received my new cover and pad, so this evening I emptied off my ironing board and pulled off the old cover, only to discover why I may have been having some staining issues. My 20-year-old ironing board is enameled steel with lots of round holes in it to let the steam through. The enamel has come off in several places and many of the holes are quite rusty.

I was not prepared to have another project be ruined by a rusty ironing board, so I had no choice but to head out to Wal-Mart at 11:00 p.m. to buy a new ironing board. I’m not impressed with it. I don’t think it will last anywhere near 20 years–but it is not rusty! The cover that came with it was absolute rubbish, but that didn’t matter since I already had a much better cover and a nice thick pad at home.

I actually sewed the pad to the mesh ironing board top so that it wouldn’t shift, then got Lina to help me put the cover over the top. It looks so nice!

Of course by then it was very late to start cutting stuff out, but I am out of time so I just stayed up and did it. Now I need to get myself to settle down so I can sleep!

Fourth Sunday of Advent

This is the carol I taught to my autoharp teacher last week. It was my favorite Christmas carol during my growing up years. If you want to hear what it sounds like, you can watch a really old video of Lina playing and singing it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7AMdnYClGE

Thou Who Wast Rich Beyond All Splendour

Frank Houghton

Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour
All for love’s sake becamest poor.
Thrones for a manger didst surrender,
Sapphire-paved court for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour.
All for love’s sake becamest poor.

Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest man;
Stooping so low, but sinners raising
Heavenwards by thine eternal plan.
Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest man.

Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.
Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
Make us what thou wouldst have us be.
Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.

Girls’ Day Out

Before Lina came home this month, I asked her to make a list of things she wanted to do while she’s here, and we are trying to fit in as many things on the list as we can. Today, we checked two things off the list. In order to do that, I spent almost the entire day shopping.

First, Jasper and I went to Walmart and loaded up our two carts with Christmas food. Lots and lots of food. Soon after we got back home and unloaded everything, Lina and I took off for a nearby town on our errand. I thought when we left that we’d be on the road for two hours (one hour each way) and doing our shopping for another two hours. So we’d be home by mid-afternoon, right?

Our first stop was a yarn store that I only get over to about once a year. Their “normal” prices are rather eyebrow-raising, but they always have yarn on sale and the sale prices are good! We both walked out of the store with some gorgeous new yarn, and got that item checked off the list.

By then it was lunchtime, and the yarn store happened to be very close to a Cracker Barrel, which was also on Lina’s list, so we went there for lunch. Now I am not as obsessed with Cracker Barrel as some people are, so I was primarily looking forward to just spending time with Lina, but I have to say that on this occasion I had some of the best catfish I’ve ever eaten. It really was outstanding. Lina got chicken-fried steak and gravy–something she never gets in Zambia!

From there we drove to the complete opposite side of town to go to Jo-Ann’s. Lina was looking for a specific type of trim and had exhausted her possible sources here in town. Once again, she didn’t find exactly what she wanted, but Jo-Ann’s is right next to a pet store where Lina could buy mouse food for fat little Claudia.

Meanwhile I went on to the newly-opened World Market to check it out. I will go back some time when it is not wall-to-wall people. It was rather overwhelming, but I did manage to make it through the store and pick up a couple of items. By then it was late afternoon, and I nixed another stop I had planned because for some unknown reason my ankles were really hurting all day and by then I could hardly walk.

It was a beautiful drive home. I might have dozed off several times. This evening we ate leftovers and watched a movie together. I should have spent the time sewing, but at least I got some knitting done while we watched!