Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Checking In, Checking Out

Hello, my friends.
I guess I owe you all an explanation of my recent absence, especially since some of you have contacted me outside of the blog to ask how things were going.
Doug's brother continues to grow stronger following the amputation of his lower left leg. But life is going to change for him, and the process is keeping Doug and me very busy. So busy, in fact, that I've decided to suspend the blog indefinitely.
First, though, because you've all been so supportive, I want to bring you up to date.
Because Veterans Affairs is unable to make Dennis' old apartment wheelchair accessible, Dennis is going to have to find a new place to live. And, because he's in rehab, he's unable to look for a new apartment. So that search will fall to Doug and me.
We have a meeting today with the staff at the V. A. hospital, where Dennis had his surgery and is now undergoing physical and occupational therapy. After that meeting, we'll have a better idea of what we need to look for in an apartment for him. Then the search will begin in earnest.
Meanwhile, we've been taking care of life's little details for him and visiting and encouraging him as much as possible, as well as managing things here at home. That has left no time for keeping up my own blog or visiting yours.
So, my kind friends, after checking in with you via this post, I'll be checking out of blogging indefinitely. Maybe I'll pick it up again someday; but for all intents and purposes, I'll bid you farewell.
Thanks for being the great encouragers that you've been for me during my three and a half years in the blogosphere.
I've said it before, but it deserves're the best!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Green Side of the Grass

A friend shared this with me today, and I thought some of you might enjoy it, too. If you're over 50, or know someone who's over 50, you may see yourself...or a this song and video by Libby Allen:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

How Deep the Father's Love for Us

As we remember and celebrate the resurrection of our Savior on this Easter Sunday, I want to share an a video featuring a hymn sung by Phillips, Craig, and Dean. The song is "How Deep the Father's Love for Us," and it never fails to make my heart soar in thanksgiving for the price that was paid to redeem my soul. May it touch your heart as well.

Lyrics by Stuart Christopher Townend:

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Wishing you all a most blessed Easter.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Brother-in-law Update #5

I just wanted to let you all know that Dennis' surgery went well. He seems to be accepting the loss of his lower leg and is looking forward to learning to walk again with a prosthesis. So far, he's experienced minimal pain, for which we're very grateful.
He's going to be spending a couple of months in the hospital as he goes through rehabilitation. Hopefully, after that, he'll be able to manage the three or four steps leading up to his apartment and will be able to resume his independent living there.
Once Dennis is moved into the rehab section of the hospital, he'll be kept busy by the therapists; and we'll probably cut back on the number of days that we make the two-hour, one-way drive to the hospital to visit him.
I want to thank you again for all the kind and supportive comments over the last few weeks.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Brother-in-law Update #4

Just a very quick update on my brother-in-law, Dennis. Some new sores showed up on his foot last night, so the bypass of the diseased artery that the vascular surgeon had hoped to do would not have been enough to save the foot. They'll be amputating the foot above the ankle tomorrow morning.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Brother-in-law Update #3

When we visited Dennis yesterday, we had the opportunity to meet the lead surgeon on his vascular surgery team. It was really the first solid information we've received to date.

The surgeon would like to do a bypass surgery next week, probably Wednesday or Thursday, taking a vein from Dennis’ left leg and using it to bypass the diseased artery in the same leg. That artery is too damaged to allow proper blood flow to the lower leg and foot. The surgery will involve an incision from Dennis' groin to his ankle and a surgery of 4-5 hours in length.

The doctor believes the surgery can be done and that it's the best option for Dennis, but his whole team must agree to it before they proceed. If it can’t be done or if it doesn’t work, they will have to amputate the leg below the knee. If the bypass works, though, he believes amputating the toes will be all that’s necessary.

As I understand it, the lack of circulation in the foot is working for Dennis right now in that the blood is not feeding the infection. I gathered from what the doctor said that, as soon as that infection gets adequate blood supply, it will begin to spread rather quickly. So they will proceed to the amputation within two to four days after the bypass.

We plan to visit Dennis again on Monday. Hopefully, by then, the surgical team will have made their decision as to whether to go ahead with the bypass surgery and will be able to tell us when it will happen.
Today, Doug and I took a day off from all the running. We spent the morning getting some things done around the house. Then, this afternoon, we went to Ouabache State Park, about an hour from home, to enjoy a couple of hours in the sun, just relaxing and reading. It was quite windy there, but the temperature was in the mid-seventies, the warmest day thus far this year. The day out did us good. It's been a long winter and a busy couple of weeks with Dennis.
I took my camera with me to the park; but, to my disappointment, I found no birds to photograph. Oh well, I had a good book...and good company with my sweet husband.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Brother-in-law Update #2

The good news is that the hospital is being very thorough in their testing before taking Dennis to surgery. The bad news is that all the testing, and the resulting delays, are making Dennis a little testy.

They've done an ultrasound test to check the circulation in his feet and lower legs. They've done a CT scan. And they've done another ultrasound test to map the arteries in the left leg, which is the one that has the foot with the dead toes.

He was supposed to have had an angiogram today, inserting dye into the artery or arteries in that left leg, further checking the circulation. At the same time, they were going to check the veins in the right leg to see if any of those could be used to improve the circulation in the left leg. Unfortunately, those tests have been delayed until tomorrow.

So, at this point, it's looking like it might be next week before the actual surgery can happen.

Friday, April 04, 2014

An Update on My Brother-in-law

Good golly, Miss Molly! How can I thank you all for your supportive comments and offers of prayers for my brother-in-law, Dennis? You guys are the best!
Here's the latest:
While we expected to play the he's-going-home game again on Wednesday, it didn't happen. Instead, thankfully, they were able to get a room for him in a larger V. A. hospital which is better equipped for the surgery he'll be needing. He was transferred to the new hospital on Wednesday afternoon.
The new hospital is only a few miles further from our home than the first one was...still in the two-hour range. Doug and I went to see him yesterday and were able to also have a nice visit with Dennis' middle daughter and her daughter, who had driven down from northern Michigan to see him.
Nothing much was done with Dennis yesterday. The hospital is running tests that will determine just how extensive the surgery will need to be. One doctor told us that, most likely, they will continue to pump antibiotics into him through the weekend, with surgery probably not being scheduled before next week.
Thanks again for all the kind words and prayers. You can't imagine what a boost they've been to my spirit.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Sometimes Life Just Gets in the Way

Hello, my friends. Are you still there? I apologize for neglecting you, but things have been a little crazy around here recently.
Doug's brother has had some health issues. He has uncontrolled diabetes, which has resulted in some real problems, including gangrene in a couple of toes. We took him to the V. A. walk-in clinic, about two hours away from our home, on Monday. After lots of interviews, testing, insulin shots, and intravenous fluids and antibiotics, he was admitted to the V. A. hospital Monday night for observation.
Tuesday, they told us they were sending him home. What??? The guy has gangrene, for goodness sake!
Well, they insisted. We spent lots of time calling everyone we could think of who might intervene in this foolishness and agree that he needed to stay in the hospital until surgery could be arranged. Nothing helped.
So, off we went on the two-hour drive to the V. A. hospital to pick him up and take him back to his apartment.
We arrived at the hospital at 7 PM. His nurse was giving him last-minute instructions for monitoring his blood glucose levels and administering insulin shots at home. He got dressed in his street clothes and was preparing to leave with us when the nurse announced that the patient's temperature was 101, and the doctor on duty didn't want to send him home while it was that high. The decision had been made to keep him there for another night.
So back home we came.
The whole episode seemed reminiscent of the time we drove to Houghton Lake to see the northern lights.
I'm sorry about not getting around to your blogs. I hope to play catch-up soon, but no promises.
We fully expect to play this game again today.

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Scare

A week ago Wednesday, I went for a routine mammogram. The next day, I received a call that they had seen something on the mammogram, and they wanted me to come back for a "spot compression" that would give them a closer look. The appointment was made for yesterday, the 27th.
I won't keep you guessing...nothing at all was seen on the re-exam.
But I'd like to tell you about my emotional state during the week leading up to the re-exam.
Now, I'm a Christian. I know that my sins are covered by the blood of Christ and that, when my body dies, my spirit will be very much alive in His presence. I also know that, in the words of a popular Christian song of many years ago, nothing can happen to me today without passing through my Father's hands.
Nevertheless, I experienced some anxiety during that week. One obvious reason was that my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 53 and died eight years later of cancer that had spread from that original site. But maybe the biggest reason for my anxiety was knowing how hard it would be for my sweet hubby to watch me go through it if the test revealed cancer.
I don't know how to explain what I was feeling. In one sense, the spiritual sense, I guess, I was totally at peace with the possibility...even probability...that this could be it for me. But we are multi-faceted beings, and my mind was racing with things that I'd want to take care of before leaving this earth.
A big one is our financial records. I take care of all the finances for our household, and I do most of it electronically. Doug and I were both single until we were in our forties, and he's very capable of handling that job every bit as well as I. He just doesn't enjoy it as much, which is why I do it. But I would have to get all of the online stuff transferred back to manual and snail mail if I were to expect Doug to step in and take over. He just doesn't do computer, except for an occasional game of Solitaire.
I've got an unimaginable number of photos from our life and travels together, but most of them are on the computer. I would want to get those into scrapbooks so that Doug could have something tangible to look at and remember.
I was even thinking about what Hospice Home I would want to go to when that time came.
And there were thoughts about the details for a funeral service. We have the major parts of our funerals already planned and paid for, but there are things like music and photographs and messages that we want to convey that still need to be worked out.
I know that some reading this will think that my Christianity doesn't go very deep if all these thoughts were keeping me awake at night...and they were. Maybe there's some truth to that. But I honestly didn't feel anxiety about dying. It was more about leaving...leaving one sad puppy of a husband...leaving things undone that could make life easier for those left behind.
In the course of all that thinking, it occurred to me that I spend way too much time on the computer. Well, I confess that that wasn't a new thought, but it became clearer during my week of sleepless nights. Blogging does take a lot of time that I might better spend doing other things. I'm not sure yet where that train of thought will lead me.
Anyway, I just felt the need to share my heart about my experience. Maybe it will help someone else.
The day before my re-exam was scheduled, I received a letter from the diagnostic company that does the tests, saying that there was no need to be anxious, that approximately one out of 10 women get called back for a second exam, and that the majority of those show no problem. I thought to myself that it would have been nice if the person who called to set up the appointment for my re-exam had told me that six days earlier.

After the good results of yesterday's re-exam, I told Doug that I thought the scale would weigh a lot lighter the next time I weighed myself. He asked why, and I replied that a big burden had just been lifted. He heartily agreed.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


I've been busy the last few days, trying to get our tax returns done and filed. So I'm a bit late getting my Tuesday blog post up today. I went through some older photos and came up with this collection of sky images. I hope you enjoy them.

September, 2010

July, 2010

August, 2010

The next three were taken with my first digital point and shoot camera, a little sub-compact model made by Hewlett Packard:

September, 2006

September, 2006

October, 2006

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Fall Colors in New England, by Beckie

I was going through some old photos this week and came across this one that was taken by my niece, Beckie while on a New England vacation trip in October, 2007. I think it's so pretty that I decided to go ahead and post it here, even though I can't take any credit for it.

Wishing you all a blessed Lord's Day.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Clouds Over Gull Lake

Last September, Doug and I went with some friends to a Christian conference at Gull Lake Ministries in Michigan. Sitting on the dock one evening at sunset, I snapped these photos of the sky over the lake.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mingus Mill

Mingus Mill, in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is a historic grist mill which uses a water-powered turbine instead of a water wheel to power all of the machinery in the building.  Built in 1886, the mill is located at its original site, just north of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, near Cherokee, North Carolina.

From mid-March to mid-November, a miller is present to demonstrate the process of grinding corn into cornmeal. In addition, cornmeal and other mill-related items are available for purchase at the mill.

The previous three photos were taken in the early evening on November 7, 2013; and the lighting wasn't the best. So I decided to include the following image, also taken on November 7, but five years earlier, in 2008, and at mid-afternoon.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Elk Watching in the Smokies

I mentioned in my last post that one of the drawing points of the Cataloochee area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee was the opportunity to see some historic frame buildings that have been preserved in that valley. But another big draw is the presence of elk.

Elk were released in Cataloochee Valley in 2001, as part of an experimental program to reintroduce elk to the national park. The herd can be seen regularly in the fields of the valley, especially in the early morning and evening hours.
Our decision to go to Cataloochee on November 7, was based on a desire to escape the rain in another area of the park. It was afternoon when we reached our destination, and we didn't have very high expectations of seeing any elk. But we saw lots of them, including two bulls who were bugling challenges to each other across two different meadows, separated by a row of trees.

This female is wearing a radio collar.

Not everyone was viewing from the roadway.

I'm not sure how safe this method of viewing is, but it makes a pretty picture.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Palmer Chapel

The isolated Cataloochee Valley, once one of the largest and most prosperous settlements in what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is nestled among some of the most rugged mountains in the southeastern United States. Some 1,200 people once lived in this lovely mountain valley before it became a part of the national park.

Cataloochee is the best place in the park to see historic frame buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I'm sharing just one of them here. It's Palmer Chapel Methodist Church. The photos are from our trip to the Smokies during the first week of November, 2013.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

More from Our Fall Trip to the Smokies

All photographs in this post were shot during the first week of November, 2013, during our trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.

Our friend, Pat, on a trail at The Sinks

River along the Tremont road

Douglas Dam, where we spent a relaxing and scenic afternoon reading.

Douglas Dam, panorama shot

This colorful branch was on the Abrams Falls Trail.

Taken from an overlook in the Cataloochee area of the national park.

I'll have more from the Cataloochee area coming up.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

A Look Back at Fall

The first week of November, 2013, Doug and I and our friend, Pat, spent several days at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.
The fall color season draws huge numbers of visitors to the Smokies in October, making lodging rates in the area ridiculously expensive. Since those rates drop drastically the first week of November, that's when Doug and I usually make our fall visit to this national park. By that late in the season, the colors are usually completely gone in the higher elevations and past their peak in the lower elevations, but there's always enough color remaining to charm the senses.

Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse
According to Wikipedia, the Little Greenbrier School, built in 1882, functioned as the community school until 1936. During that time, it also served as the house of worship for a Primitive Baptist church. We've never seen the building this dark before. Apparently, the Park Service had recently given it a darker coat of stain.

Little Greenbrier Cemetery, near the schoolhouse

This old barn can be seen from the road leading into the national park from Wears Valley.

This is the house that goes with the barn.

These trees were in a rest area where we stopped on our way to Tennessee.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

How Do You Like Your Water?

I've been experimenting with waterfall photography. I always used to argue that natural was best. But I think that was mainly because I didn't know any other way to do it.
Here are two photos of Abrams Falls, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. The first was taken at a shutter speed of 1/100, which captured the waterfall as it looks naturally. The second was shot at a slower shutter speed so that the water has a softer, blurred look.

Following is a short video of Abrams Falls: do you like your water?

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

White Ibis

This is my final installment of my "Florida Birds" series, and it features the White Ibis.

That beak seems a little unwieldy, to say the least; but I guess it works for the ibis. I read that this bird is a non-visual forager, probing with its beak at the bottom of shallow water, and finding its prey by feel rather than by sight.
Don't we live in an interesting world? 

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Tricolored Heron

The Tricolored Heron was another bird that we saw in Florida in January. Today's post includes several photos of this medium-sized heron, with a short video at the end of the post.

The photo above was taken from the video that appears at the end of the post.

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