Friday, August 31, 2007

The princess turned one. The royal family celebrated!

Last Friday began a wonderful weekend. On Friday evening, we drove to Corbin to see David's family, "The Music People". They were having one of their pickins. The house was stuffed with folks--so many that it was difficult to get into the room where the music was happening. Instead, I chose to stay in the room with the food, and David took RuRu's place on the couch with the little girls. It was Scooby Doo and hopefully a nap for him, but the nap didn't happen--too many littles. Ruth and I had a pretty quick, good conversation, I chatted with Big John for a while, I touched bases with Angie, howdied Chuck and others...we got out of there pretty quickly, actually, maybe only a couple of hours. That sure beats the nights we've been down there and stayed until what David considers "2:00AM" (midnight, when we actually left, but 2 when we got home).

Saturday, we journeyed on to Chattanooga to help Miss Fia celebrate her first birthday. That was a grand, grand time, let me tell you! David and I got to play with her quite a while before other folks started arriving She is changing so much! I think she remembers us, though, which I treasure, since we don't get to see her that often. The queen says that Princess Fia will think of us as the grandparents who play with her on the floor, and that we do, for sure. We watched her eat birthday cake and a scoop of chocolate ice cream, all without utensils, of course--and did she ever make a mess! The only time she fussed was when her hand got cold from the ice cream she was holding. I found the pair of sunglasses that had traveled home with us after vacation and put them on her to avoid food in the eyes. She ended up taking a bath in the church sink before present-opening took place. We got her dressed again in her leotard and tutu, too cute for words (tutus have a way of sliding down below the belly but hanging up on the biscuits in the back). Oh, I could keep boring you with what transpired that day, but without pictures, you won't get the whole effect, so enough of that.

The princess conked out before we finished cleaning up after the party and stayed asleep for a while after she got home. Then it was off to a sub shop for supper, where she entertained us with her impression of a walrus with dill pickle tusks. Once again, you would have had to see it--and we couldn't get the cameras out before the pickle hit the floor. That child went through four pickles. The royal food of choice this season appears to be anything sour!

The next morning, I fed her royal majesty and kept most of the food going into her rather than on her (an accomplishment of which I am proud). Then she was dressed in her lovely new black, red, and white birthday dress with its jeweled red slippers, and she and the king and queen left for Sunday School. She and her friend Matthew entertained us after church with a duet on the piano--that delighted David, as he had been wanting to see his grand baby at the baby grand. This child not only plays the piano, she also sings! (Plus she is working on dancing, both hula and ballet, which are developing rather slowly since she isn't walking yet.) As soon as she realized she was being recorded, she scooted down off the bench and crawled under the piano.

Tomorrow and Sunday, her Auntie, Uncle Bubba, and Uncle RuRu will be in Chattanooga to continue the celebration. We wish we could be there, too, but too many chefs spoil a pot, as we all know, and for a fact, too many relatives spoil a grandchild! Happy birthday, Princess Fia. We all love you very much!

Good night to all, and God bless.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another Kettle of Fish to Fry

Actually, it isn't fish but rather cakes, and no, I'm not frying them.

Tonight to answer a plea for help, I went out to the Center for Lifelong Learning here in our county to help a friend with her ESL classes. According to said friend, she had 22 students on Monday night, at many different levels of English proficiency. She wanted me to work with one particular student, a young man who was attempting some college classes through our local car manufacturer. He could understand all his classes, was able to do the coursework, but was unable to write. He has an amazing English vocabulary, but a great deal of difficulty in constructing even the simplest of sentences. My job, if I chose to accept it (shades of Mission Impossible!), would be to help him master at least simple sentence structure.

It turned out that this young gentleman was occupied all evening tonight with testing. That left me at loose ends, until my friend invited me to observe in her classroom. She had five students who were working on writing compositions in English. One of the women, a native of Mexico City, was writing some relatively elaborate sentences, albeit with some awkward wording, about her job as a fry-cook at McDonald's. I asked her what she had done for her "work" in Mexico City--turned out she was an accountant! Can you imagine a CPA in this country being content doing minimum-wage work in another country? Granted, her English is limited, and her accounting skills would probably not transfer well, due to difference in laws, but the brain that mastered accounting is surely capable of doing something more than flipping burgers!

I wonder how many of our burger-flippers are accountants. I'm sure it would surprise us to find out what these workers have done in the past. Folks from other countries doing minimum-wage work here are not respected--Americans don't take the time to get to know them as anything other than the man who buses the tables, or the woman who shows them to their seat. One of our foreign wait-staff friends has a post-graduate degree in computer programming and is completing a fast-track course to become an RN. Another one has worked as a teacher of English in her native country and is also in an RN program, while working as a temp at the local car factory! A third is a research chemist at the local university! When I tell my friends at church and other places about people like this, they are always amazed. It's as if they don't expect these people to be able to do anything more than clear off a table or take an order.

One of the women I met tonight was from the Congo, by way of Gabon. Currently she is working as a housekeeper at the local college. I asked her to write a sentence or two telling me what she would be doing at home in Gabon. She told me that she loved to cook, and that she would probably be making cakes to sell in front of her house the next morning. She told me that it was difficult to make cakes in Gabon, since she didn't have an oven. I asked her how in the world could she make a cake without an oven! She told me she cooked them in a bowl, on a barbecue. Then it dawned on me that we had differing images of "cake". I quickly sketched something that looked like a layer cake and told her that was what I was thinking of. She then drew a barbecue grill, coals inside, with a bowl on top, and a layer of oil in the bowl, so that she could cook the beignets. (And yes, blogger, I know that's spelled wrong--) Aha, French woman! Those fine, donut-type pastries that are so popular in the French quarter of New Orleans! At last we were communicating! And she did manage to get a pretty good sentence or two out of that!

What I want you to learn from my evening is this: Take the time to meet a foreigner in this country. Don't be concerned with their immigration status. Try to find out what they did when they were in their home land. Think of them as more than a servant--think of them as another human being who is definitely worth your time to know! Love to all, good night, and God bless!

PS Anyone who is looking for an update on Co--she is doing very well, thank you. Her mom had a delightful story for me yesterday about Co trying to help in the kitchen, but I'm going to save that for her to share.

PPS My friend did sucker me into coming back next week. I don't know how long I'll be able to help, but I guess I can give her a couple or three hours!

Monday, August 20, 2007


Hi, folks--as far as I know, Cora is continuing to improve. I went down on Thursday and stayed until Saturday. As I told L on Saturday morning, I LOVE to keep that baby, and I'll keep her at the drop of a hat, but I'm also glad to go home, because that means Co is better and doesn't need Granny's attention any longer! Thanks for all your prayers. We love each and every one of you--God bless!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Another Scare from Cora

This grandparenting business can be downright scary sometimes! L had emailed me a couple of times this week that Cora was under the weather, cross, and not sleeping well. Since she was cutting another tooth, we weren't too worried--seems like teething and crankiness seem to go together. Today she took her to the doctor, and a chest x-ray showed the little thing had pneumonia! No wonder she was feeling bad! L brought her home and started her on antibiotics, waiting for her to start feeling better. While Cora was napping, she called me and chatted for a while. I even talked to Cora a little after she woke up. L said she was smiling and trying to get the telephone from her mommy. I told L good bye, and called the church to leave a message to add Cora to the prayer list.

Apparently that was a good move, because in the next hour, all heck broke loose! Cora started burning up with fever, shaking all over, and even turning blue. L called her doctor's office and left a message, then had the presence of mind to realize this was more than just a "message"--this demanded immediate medical attention! She called 9-1-1, and a firetruck, two police cars, and an ambulance were at the house in less than three minutes. They started her on oxygen right away, and then took her to the children's hospital in Chattanooga by ambulance. G got there just slightly before the paramedics, and he was truly alarmed by the sight of his blue baby.

Doctors and nurses at the ER got her temperature down to 102 pretty quickly. They did another chest x-ray, which did NOT show pneumonia. They also did blood work, a urinalysis, and a spinal tap to try to find out what was going on. Thank God for answered prayers--the spinal tap didn't show any signs of meningitis or encephalitis. What DID show up was a UTI, which can cause fevers to spike like hers did.

At first the doctors said they wanted to keep her overnight, but as her temperature continued to drop and she turned back into her normal playful self, they decided to send her home with a doctor's appointment scheduled for tomorrow for a follow-up. L and G called from the house about 8:30 to say they were home, and that Cora was asleep. I tried to get L to go to sleep, too, but she said she was too worried.

I'm going down tomorrow to take care of Cora for a day or so. That's a job I don't mind a bit! I hope she'll be all better by Saturday. One thing about babies, they can get sick very, very quickly, but they can also get better just about as fast. I guess that's because there just isn't enough of them to hold very many germs for very long! How's that for a stupid theory?

Prayers for the family would be appreciated, folks. I imagine we'll have more of these scares to go through before Co grows up. Love to all, and God bless.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Field Trip

I love to go on field trips, school, church, whatever. Today we had a doozy. We went all the way to Warford (at least that's what I think the town was), which is on the Licking River on the West Virginia border! We were gone from 8 this morning until 6 this evening, much of which was spent riding on our small church bus.

There was a great group of eight ladies who went, plus two nice-enough men. The women were members of our church's Baptist Women organization, and we went to Martin County to visit the Haven of Rest. Our youth pastor was our driver. I believe Quint (the other man) was there to give him moral support, and to give us someone to pick on!

Haven of Rest is a ministry founded by Eileen M several years back to minister to families of prisoners at the maximum-security federal prison near Inez. Eileen has a building there where the families can stay on weekends while they visit their family member. They are in the process of building an additional building on their property, which will give them, I believe, a total of 24 rooms for the families. As it stands, they have five rooms. Considering what we saw in the immediate area, that increases the number of overnight lodging rooms to...FIVE. Not very many rooms, when you consider the prison houses over 1400 inmates! Do I need to tell you this is a hugely needed ministry? Since this is a federal facility, some of the families have come from as far away as Puerto Rico and Jamaica, let alone the East Coast, California, and Spokane, Washington!

Eileen says she is already booked for Labor Day weekend, for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. She anticipates that there will once again be folks sleeping in their cars in the parking lots. In addition to a place to sleep, there also is a nice lodge-type living room, dining room, and kitchen area where families can prepare food for their meals. There is a small chapel, which looked very familiar to folks from our church--it is furnished with some of the pews that were removed when our sanctuary was remodeled several years ago.

After a quick tour of the facility, we enjoyed a really good meal at a local restaurant, Cloud Nine, which is located directly across the road from the airport. Yes, despite the fact that there are very few touristy places around the area, there is an airport! However, I don't believe they have very many jets landing there--most the air traffic we saw was helicopters. The highlight of the meal for me was a dessert called Clouds and Sunrise, an orange butter cake topped with orange sherbet, vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream. I shared with Eileen--and Geneva, Emma, Kate--and seems like somebody else! Large serving!

After lunch we visited the thrift shop which helps to fund the ministry. We had donations that we had brought from home. Some of us cannot go through a thrift shop without making a purchase or five or six! I bought two brand-new silicon baking pans, a loaf pan and a 10" square pan, The Sneetches and other stories, and a talking calculator. I guess you'll just have to wait to see who ends up with my goodies.

One of the humor highlights of the trip: Imogene had made apple-nut bread for us to eat on the trip, but didn't remember to bring a knife to cut the stuff. Gloria improvised with dental floss, which worked pretty well until she hit a really big nut. She ended up with a lap full of crumbs, but all who wanted some got to eat it and said it was good.

That was a good bunch to travel with. I'd do it again, but maybe not tomorrow, since my stomach is just now starting to settle down! (Mountain roads are not a lot of fun, if you're riding on the back of the bus.)

Love to all, and God bless.

Friday, August 10, 2007

How hot was it?

I had a nice chat with F today. She said it's really been hot in Louisville, over 100 the last couple of days. She and her girls fried an egg on the driveway! I've heard people say it was hot enough to do that, but F actually was able to get the yolk to set up and to turn the thing over! I asked her if they ate it after they fried it. She said no--I guess they aren't up to Feasting on Asphalt, like Alton Brown. Just thought you all would like to know it can be done. Good night, and God bless.

Friday, August 10

The weekend! I love it, and I'm not even working anymore!

Summer has come with a vengeance around here--heat index up to nearly 100, even after the "cold front" came through yesterday. Cold fronts have changed since I was a little girl, and yes, Al Gore, the globe is warming. What do I do to help prevent global warming? Well, every morning I go to my "click to donate" sites and save bits and pieces of the rain forest, as well as the occasional carbon offshoot. (I have no clue what carbon offshoots are, but I'm all for patching the leak in the ozone layer!) And ever once in a while, I reuse a paper towel. Maybe that's worth something.

It's been too hot to cook this entire week, but I finally broke down and cooked something today. Yesterday before my stint at the volunteer desk at the hospital, I ran by Kroger's and bought up some very-low-intensity-cooking-required main dishes, as in already prepared Tyson's General Tso's chicken (and no, Yen, it wasn't as good as yours, but it was okay), Nathan's hot dogs, and deli roast beef. Last night we ate chicken with a side salad. Tonight, we had roast beef, swiss cheese, and cooked onion sandwiches. I microwaved a couple of baked potatoes for a side with the sandwiches, but I was too stuffed after one sandwich to want a potato. Usually, when I do those sandwiches in the winter, I cook the onions in the skillet, add the meat, pile the mixture on a hoagie bun, lay some Swiss cheese on top, and run the whole thing under the broiler. Tonight in lieu of heating up the kitchen with the broiler, I microwaved the onions for 2 minutes and then assembled the sandwiches and cooked them in the indoor grill. It worked great, folks. Tomorrow, we'll have the leftover potatoes sliced up and "fried" in the skillet with onions. (David dearly loves cooked onions, and I've gotten used to them myself.) We may have that for breakfast, lunch, or even supper--no telling right now.

Unless David surprises me with something, we have no plans for tomorrow. That's fine by me. When it's this hot, it's just a strain to be outside, even to get to the car and to stay in it until it cools down, so I imagine I'll just sit around the living room and watch "my shows". Anybody care what my shows are? They are (in this order) CBS Saturday Morning starting at 9, America's Test Kitchen at 10:30, Sewing with Nancy at 11, Shay Pendray's needlework studio at 11:30, and Martha Pullen's heirloom needlework show at 12:30. There is some sort of show on at 12 about quilting, but I usually don't watch that one--that's when I may do my token laundry load or fix our peanut butter sandwiches.

We'll be at church from 8:45 until 12 something Sunday (or at least I will--I imagine David will go home and come back after me). Choir is singing at the "traditional" service, a really nice little song about a rock--kind of with a two-stepping rhythm (Jean M will probably start dancing). I work my first stint as a Children's Church worker this Sunday for the 11 AM service, with kindergarten and first grade. Beth H will be my partner, and that's fine by me. I have no idea what goes on in Children's Church, but I'm sure Beth knows, and she will be prepared. I look for that to be a good experience.

With the exception of my Friday night shows, Monk and Psych, and my Saturday night shows, The Last of the Summer Wine and Keeping Up Appearances, that's my weekend plans in a nutshell. I hope yours is just as satisfying for you as mine will be for me! (And I'm open for change, if anyone wants to drop in.) Love to all, good night, and God bless!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Time for another post, right?

I, for one, was getting tired of looking at that messy old meme down there. I spend a lot of time reading other folks' blogs, and none of them look like that--Shame on me!

Something I have gleaned from reading other blogs is that blog entries don't have to be lengthy to be worthwhile. Also, since I decide what goes in this one, they don't have to be earthshaking news events, either! It's kind of nice to know that a person has a right to lead a boring life and report on the bits of it they choose to share with others!

I am starting to find ways to fill my time. This week, which has been hotter than heck, by the way (temperature almost up to 100 today!), has been a quiet one down here at Lake Woebegone. My usual fitness activities have been curtailed due to the Pavilion being closed for the annual draining of the pool and scrubbing of the walls. I really miss my water aerobics class. That has been great fun, and a big thank-you to Emma for getting me to come! I even miss the Silver Sneakers' class and its chair routine which most of us have memorized by now. Hey, I'm not complaining, it keeps me active, and I do believe it has improved my balance. I can now put my underwear on without having to sit down!

So what have I been doing to keep busy? Hmmm--I brought some stuff up from the basement, weeded through it, finished up a book of Sudoku puzzles (easy ones, folks), got a haircut, picked up a prescription at the pharmacy, did something on Monday--what was it? Oh yes, I went to Irishtown and helped "feed the hungry" (prepare sack lunches for about 100 folks). That's always a good experience for me. I really like interacting with the folks over there. There's one great little lady, Evalina, who has all the sacks set up for us to fill when we get there. She's just a little bit of a thing, maybe 70 or older, but really spry. She keeps the rest of us hopping. Monday there was a little girl there about 12 or so, ready to start middle school. I don't know her name, but she has stuck in my mind (or as my little Jenny said years ago, I got him/her stuck in my heart). I so badly want to go back over there, find that little girl, and take her shopping for back-to-school clothes. Next year, I'll be more prepared for that sort of thing.

Monday afternoon I attended the funeral of a sweet woman and soul mate of a great fellow in our church. They were sweethearts for 64 years and managed to spend her last days together. He is going to miss her so much--he has very little zip left now. Fortunately, he has the knowledge that she has gone to a better place, so at least he can be happy for her.

That expression, "gone to a better place": You know, a lot of folks of my generation and younger think that's just a line of hooey. A lot of folks think when you stop breathing, that's it. It's all over. That's all she wrote, folks. I don't think that, though, and I'll tell you why. All my life I have been led to believe that there is a Heaven, and it's real, and that folks who have come to a saving knowledge of and trust in Jesus Christ will be going there when they die. I have that saving knowledge and faith, so I know that is what will happen to me. I have seen actual proof of the existence of Heaven.

I saw my proof the night my mom died. Mom had a stroke the morning after Thanksgiving, back in 2003. It was a massive stroke, causing pretty much total paralysis and the loss of the ability to talk. There was nothing medical science could do for her, other than keep her comfortable. As her family, we chose not to have heroic measures taken, and we settled down by her side to be with her until she died. Hospice was a godsend, as they often are in these cases. The Hospice personnel were able to tell us so many things and help us and Mom be at peace. We pretty much knew when death was imminent, and my brother, husband and I were all with her at the time she died.

Mom's breathing became slower and slower, much like she was climbing up a mountain. Her eyes were open and appeared to be alert, although she wasn't looking at us. We just sat and watched as she "climbed" up the hill. All at once, she took a breath, looking up, and smiled--a huge smile that stretched all the way across her paralyzed face. Then she closed her eyes tightly, still smiling, and never breathed again. I'm pretty sure I know what she saw. She had fought the fight, finished the course, and kept the faith. I know I'm going to see the same thing she did, one of these days, and what I see will be even better than what she saw, because she'll be there in that host of witnesses, waiting for me.

Enough of that. Love to all, good night, and God bless.