Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Gates of Heaven Opened...

Just about the time I finished posting my blog entitled, "Jim", the gates of Heaven opened and let him come in.

Well, done, good and faithful servant, you have led a good life, full of challenges and sorrows. You faced them all, plus your final nemesis, cancer, with grace and dignity, and a big dose of good humor. And you passed from this life to your eternal life in peace.

We will miss you, dear Jim. We know you are in heaven with your buddies Ed and Jim, and many other fine people who we've had to say good-bye to lately.

There's a fluffy white cloud outside over my house, could it be "Cloud 9", where our dear loved ones are now floating? I like to think so!


Jim could always put a smile on my face. He is the husband of one of my dearest friends . Jim always has been a smooth guy, he could make anyone feel at home when they visited him. I remember calling my friend M and Jim would answer. No matter what the day brought to Jim, he would say to me, "Hey you look great today!" I fell for it every time, even though he couldn't see me, he knew how to make my day! One time he said, "You look great in that red dress!" I was wearing a red dress--how did he know? Just the luck of a smooth guy!

Jim and M are hospitality king and queen. They love to entertain. They like it no better than to have a house full of guests. Often they provided bed and breakfast for many of their friends. I got to know them best when they had a small waterfront home at a lake development in Mid-Mo. This was the gathering place for lots of friends and relatives. We ate, we drank, we girls "cackled", the guys sat and chewed the fat, the kids fished, we swam, we rode the pontoon boat, we stayed up late, we drank coffee on the porch, we enjoyed the beautiful sunsets on the lake. Those memories will live on forever in our minds.

We were sad when they decided that Mid-Mo wasn't working for them. You see, Jim had contracted polio as a young boy, and although he was affected his whole life by it, as he aged, he was less able to get around. He used his "green machine" lawnmower as a conveyance for years at the lake, then that got harder and harder. Finally they made the decision to move to a different lake development, one closer to home and family, and all on one floor!

My Mr and I loved the lake so much that we bought a home there. Then we moved a little further away to a home on its own lake, and loved the country life. But as my Mr. got sick, country living and being far from doctors wasn't working for us either, so we moved back to the city.

Jim found out in January that he had cancer. It was an insidious, rare, fairly unheard of cancer, and to treat it would be an assault on his body that his doctors didn't think he could survive. So Jim, in his usual cheerful way, accepted his fate and went on with life. But life kept throwing him curves, taking away the remaining strength he had left, and laying him low with more and more physical challenges.

I got the call last night. Jim was in his last days. He became unresponsive and seemed to be in some sort of prolonged sleep, unable to be roused. Luckily, one of his sons from out of town was there, and his two daughters also. Many friends and relatives have come to visit. Another of M and Jim's friends, who used to be my next door neighbor went with me to be with the family on the watch by Jim's bedside.

We know not the hour or the day when death comes to our door. It seems like Jim will be meeting his God very soon. Again, how it makes us realize the importance of each day in our lives.

So, make a resolution, if you have a sick friend or relative, don't wait til tomorrow to call or visit...we are not promised tomorrow. Again I say, CARPE DIEM....pass the ice cream!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Get the Jewelry Tools Out Again!

While spending time with my friend B yesterday, we were invited by a good friend of hers to a jewelry showing. Her friend makes wonderfully creative jewelry, and had made much more than her own jewelry box could hold, so she decided to sell some of it and share the profits with a charitable organization.

I thought the whole idea was wonderful! Yes, I have a half of a closet full of beads and jewelry potential, but I was willing to look at someone else's creations and contribute to her cause.

I found two pieces of hers that I really liked (well, I really liked it all, but couldn't have it all!) I found two pieces that I purchased! One was a pretty pearl and amethyst creation, and the other was a very special piece that I chose to go with a new dress that I bought for an event tonight.

The new piece has a big crystal pendant with Swarovski crystals adorning it. It is so beautiful, and will go with the dress so well. But it is a copper color in findings, and these are really not easy to match. I needed earrings to go with it, and didn't have anything like it.

So I got my own jewelry tools out. Had a hard time finding some of them, since I haven't done jewelry making in quite some time. I had to take a trip to Michaels to get the right size and color of crystals to match the necklace. I dug deep into the stash of jewelry stuff and found the copper findings I knew I had somewhere. And I think I came up with something that goes well with the necklace.

What do you think?

A very special day

How often do we let a day go by and not think about it, maybe even wish it away? I know I do that all too often. But what if our days were numbered?

What if we were facing a terribly serious illness with very clouded positive outcomes? Would we value our days as more precious if that were the case?

I spent a good part of Saturday with my friend who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year, right about this time. She had those vague symptoms that they say indicate that ovarian cancer might be the cause. She had it all checked out over and over again, but no positive diagnosis, until the nasty tumor grew huge in the space of a few weeks. By that time, it was deemed to be in the later stages, the stages in which it is much more difficult to cure.

She had surgery, which was extensive. She endured a nasty infection. Then she started chemo. For months she endured the ravages of the chemo, and then the bad news came that it wasn't working. So, on to plan B, a different type of chemo was tried.

I saw her for the first time last summer after the surgery and the infection, there was my friend, but she had changed. The poor girl was so skinny! But her smile and determination still was there. Yesterday, we got together for a shopping trip and lunch, and she looked fabulous. She seemed to have her old energy back and we talked and talked. It was such a wonderful day!

On my way home, I felt like I had just spent time in a very holy place, because I felt so honored that, on one of her good days, she chose to spend it with me! That was a gift to me, because my friend is so important to me. We have been colleages at the college for 5 years, I have always loved working with her. I feel priviliged to be able to spend time with her, whether we were sharing time in the office, or having lunch somewhere off campus.

To my dear friend B, my prayers are with you as you continue your journey toward beating this insidious disease that you have been given to endure. We all ask why.... why does it strike the young, the good, the ones who have had other challenges in life? I guess we don't get that answer while we are on earth, it's on my list to ask God when and if I get to heaven!

And as for me, I won't take my days for granted. We are not promised tomorrow...something we all need to remember. So--CARPE DIEM! Pass me the ice cream!

Friday, May 21, 2010

A day of rest

It's 6:25 p.m. and I'm still sporting part of my night clothes from last night. This is the first day in a very long time that I haven't had one thing pressing to do. So, when one doesn't have pressing things to do, what do you do?



Play Bejeweled Blitz

Read email

Call friends

Sleep some more

Eat some more


Think about taking a shower

Take another nap

Sounds a lot like the cat's usual day, except for the computer and telephone part.

Any, I feel very rested. Wonder if I'll be able to sleep tonight?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

We get by with a little help from our friends!

My dear friend, Dr. J, has had her share of homeowner's blues. She bought her new house in 2007, and the house has not let her alone since then. When you buy a new house, there are things that need fixing, and Dr. J's house was no exception. She called and called and called the builder about things that needed fixing, and there were always promises, promises, promises that someone would come to fix it. Calls were ignored and ignored, and finally, the company got up enough courage to tell her, "we're out of business, good bye and good luck!"

Dr. J is a fine lady, with beautifully manicured fingernails, who is a patron, educator and lover of the arts, especially theatre. She taught theatre for many years, and was a distinguished professor at a midwest state university. She knows so much, and I've worked with her on several shows that she directed, I learn something new every time I am with her. She shocked the heck out of me when she told me that she was caulking, painting, spackling and doing homeowner stuff to try to fix the problems that she was experiencing with her house.

One issue was a leaky shower. She called a plumber--one could call him the dumber plumber, because in fixing her shower, he burned a hole in her bathroom floor with his work light! Then he some how twisted the story around to blame the burn on her! Then, when she invited some other worker to her house to try to fix the burn, she fell faint onto the floor, and had to be taken to the hospital. Her dear friend, N, who is an expert faux painter, painted the burn mark and made it almost as good as new. So that story is almost done, after Dr. J spent more time with spackle, paint and caulk.

Dr. J still had another big issue that needed dealing with, one that the bankrupt bulder never would address--there was a crack in her foundation wall. So, she started looking for someone to repair that. She got one guy to come out, he insisted on getting a down payment, then didn't show up to fix the crack when he said he was coming. Dr. J thought she was taken to the cleaners on that one, and stopped payment on his check. He called her later, mad as could be, and said he'd be out today to fix the crack!

Dr. J was panicked by the thought of a crazed crack man coming to her house, with her being home alone with him. So she called a cadre of her girl friends to join together to have a hen party while the crack man was working. He wouldn't dare go off on a whole bunch of ladies, we'd claw his eyes out!

We had a nice gathering, lots of good chatting, and the crack man said not a word, but went right to work. I had to leave before the work was inspected, I hope it was OK, and my friend survived yet another potential home improvement disaster.

Better luck in the future, Dr. J, but you can invite us over any time for some girl talk!

Car talk

For a little old lady, I have had a lot of cars in the past 10 years. I can count 7 that I've purchased in the last decade. That's a lot of cars. There's a story that goes with each one of them.

Like the trip I took to Yellowstone in 2003, and came home with the ultimate souviner, a brand new Ford Expedition. This was a purchase that was made necessary because we were stuck in Jackson Hole with a vehicle that needed a new transmission, which would have taken 3 weeks to send away, repair and replace. That would have been an expensive hotel bill for 3 weeks in Jackson Hole! Or we could have flown out for $3600. I figured that I'd rather spend my money on something besides hotels or airplane tickets, so I bought a car! What a memory!

Then there was the hybrid Prius that I bought by fax. Saw it in St. Louis, drove it and couldn't get a salesperson at that dealership to even try to sell it to me. So I found another dealership in another city who was all too willing to deal, I told him where to find the car I wanted and we closed the deal by fax machine. Never left my house to purchase it! So simple!

There were a bunch more Toyotas in my future. Lured by the wonderful gas mileage of the Prius, the spousal unit wanted something economical to drive instead of his monster truck. So we got another Toyota--by this time the hybrids were getting hard to get, so we bought a little cheap Corolla. Later that year, another family member was in need of transportation, so we bought another cheap Corolla. We were now a 5 car family. The insurance company loved us.

Tragedy befell the family in the summer of '04 when the hubs was diagnosed with brain cancer, thus ending his driving days. So the excess inventory of the driveway was ferried up to the Toyota dealer, who took three of them off our hands, and gave us one nice Highlander in return. We even got money back on that deal! The Highlander was comfortable and roomy, and in 6 months I put 20000 miles on it driving the Mr. to doctors for his treatments. I made a deal with the family member driving the one cheap Corolla, trade with me, you drive the Highlander 3 miles a day to work, I'll drive the Corolla (gas mileage over 36 MPG)200 miles per week to the doctors. It became the ambulance that took hubs to many a doctor and hospital visit.

When I lost my sweetie (4 years ago on June 2), I needed a change. Daughter #2 and I had long admired Solaras, and I envisioned myself in a beautiful red convertible, so I bought my beautiful red Solara convertible that summer. Fun car, and quite a head turner--that is until people see the old lady driving it! Still looks good today, and it is a great little car.

The year I got my Medicare card, the old monster truck ('97 Dodge Ram) of the hubs was still hogging up way too much space in the garage, and had cost me a pretty penny over the past year to fix little things. So, I figured it was time to say good bye to it. But I liked the fact that it hauled a lot of stuff, so I started to look for an updated vehicle to haul things. I had bought a bike that year for my 65th birthday, the vehicle needed to be able to haul that for sure. Again, made a trip to the Toyota dealer, they found me a cute little RAV4 to trade. I still remember the used car appraiser, looking over the truck, saying, "A little touch up paint, it'll look good as new!" They gave me a pittance on a trade, but I didn't care, they took it off my hands, and I was glad.

So that is the story of all 7 of the cars I've bought in the past decade.

One more car story. You know when you trade in vehicles, especially very old ones, they are usually carted off to some junkyard somewhere, never to be seen again. Well, several months after I traded the monster truck, I was driving down "used car row" near my house, and I saw a very familiar outline of a monster truck on the lot of a used car dealer. The hubs truck was unique because it had pin striping on it and a camper top on the back. I was sure that I saw "Grandpa's truck" on that used car lot. I threw on the brakes, circled around the block and there it was! That touch up paint had really made it look "good as new"! And the asking price was about $6000 more than I had gotten for it! I'm sure no one fell for that price, but it was gone in about a week, so somebody got a nice looking truck, and hopefully would take good care of it!

Now, I must say, I'm hankering to go to the car dealer again. This time I'm looking for a hybrid SUV. Still trying to decide what to get, but I'm seriously looking. The car bug is biting once again.

One more "car talk" story. I had one salesman who helped me with the purchase of many of my vehicles. He worked at two different dealerships, and now he sells VWs. Daughter #1 bought her new VW CC from him 2 months ago. I have loyalty, just treat me well, Mr. Car Salesman.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stike up the Hallelujah Chorus!

I've been singing it since noon today! That was when I officially put the finishing touches on Spring 2010 semester at my college! Last paper graded, last grade posted, put away the books and papers and it is finished!

It was a good semester in all. Nice students, highly motivated, lots of progress made, but a lot of work. This semester I went over my allotted 9 hours of teaching duties that adjunct faculty were supposed to teach and I taught 12 hours. Plus, throw in the responsibilities of a Program Coordinator, it was very busy! I don't remember any day when I was in the office or classroom when I was bored! Too much to do to be bored.

I started to figure out how many papers I actually graded this semester. It was way over 1000, that was just for one type of assignment for one class. Then there were the essays, from my class, from other teachers' classes, special projects that the students worked on, on and on and on!

When I took those two weeks off to travel to the Galapagos Islands, it was double work to get ready for others to take over the classes, then double duty to grade all the work they did while I was gone. Throw that in on top of the end of the semester tests and papers, and there were times when I felt like I'd never see the light of day.

During two nights last week, I woke up at about 1 a.m. from nightmares. In one nightmare, someone was hitting my face with a hammer. Another nightmare found me being strangled by some type of wires. I tried to analyze the dreams and figured it was the JOB that was the perpetrator of those assaults on my vital processes! Didn't take much to figure that out!

So, it is over for now. I am grateful that I am still alive and have survived the entire process. A couple of weeks ago, I wasn't so sure I was going to be a survivor.

The word "retirement" has flitted through my mind more than once during the past few weeks. I hope the career can last a little longer, because I really do enjoy my work! Just need a break, that's all!

On to "The Producers"! Sewing machines, here we go!