Nichole’s Summer Journal, 6/19/2009

28 06 2009

It is the last day of Spring.  It is 8:19 p.m.–and is still light outdoors.  I hear a lawn mower going.

We took Tickie, ( our dog) to get groomed this morning.  When we got back from that errand, I sat down and filled out some paper work for my health insurance.

It was a cleaning day today.  Although I keep things pretty orderly –I’m not good at wet mopping my hard wood floors on a regular basis.  Vera used to sweep them for me but she is gone.  Two weeks ago, Jim and I swept and mopped for our “House Blessing” by our new priest.  I decided then that a two week schedule would be a  good goal to strive for.

So Jim swept the floors and I mopped again.  I dusted the furniture and took a small paint brush to dust pictures.  I polished my piano as the last chore.  This will probably help my allergies.  I suffered terribly last year but then I didn’t wet mop very often.  So this is my experiment. 

I was going to work on my music this afternoon but alas more paperwork awaited me.  Even though Jim is in the veteran’s health care program –his charges have been based on tax year 2008.  We had been getting some hefty bills so I called and asked if they had a “hardship” program.  They sent me some papers.  It took me two hours to fill them out plus I had to write an essay about our situation.

We took our papers to the post office and had a copy made before we mailed them.  We also picked up “Tickie” from the groomers.  We don’t have her groomed very often.  It had been 3 whole months.  But she is a long haired dog and all of our attempts to cut her hair at home have been disasters.  She looked so great.  I know she feels better.  I feel better just looking at how clean and neat she is.

Jim and I had a simple meal of lima beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes and cornchips.  We then watched an old Cary Grant, Rosalind Russel movie, His Girl Friday.  It was just too hyper for me.   All of the characters talked too fast and the scenes were just so jabbled ( a new word I invented). 

Well, I’m glad the cleaning is done for two more weeks.  It was nice to have a day off from taking care of our grandsons.


Nichole’s Summer Journal, 6/18/2009

28 06 2009

The grandsons brought their bikes with them today.  I got plenty of exercise race walking to keep up with them. ( I don’t allow them to venture out on their own)

We spent an hour visiting our elderly neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. C. The boys like to follow Mr. C around.  At age 86, he is still working on his truck and car.  His truck is 25 years old.  It was a gift to him –brand new–when he retired as a trucker.  It continually breaks down.  Mr. C has a huge water tank in the back of his truck.  He takes it down to the water treatment plant and fills it up  to water his 300 tomato plants. 

It drives Mrs. C crazy that Mr. C is still trying to manage so many tomato plants.  “Next summer, I won’t allow it.  This is the last summer for this foolishness.  I’m the one who has to worry when he the truck breaks now.” 

Mrs. C. broke a hip in spring of 2008.  She hasn’t gotten back to driving until….this summer. Mr. C.  has called her a couple of times needing to be rescued.  This couple does not have a cell phone.  Mr. C. has to walk to find a phone in order to contact Mrs. C.  This worries her to know end.  I told her that she should call me.  I’m home most of the time this summer.  I would be glad to rescue Mr. C. 

After we got home from the C’s. –Jim went to help serve lunch at The Salvation Army.  He enjoys doing this each week.  We haven’t had to buy or bake bread since he started volunteering.  The table is always full of donated bread.  It is good quality bread–most of it pound and a half loaves that are whole wheat and not made with fructose or bad cooking oils.  Jim usually gets enough to share with others.

Maria came to town for her weekly trip to the nursing home to visit her friend who had a serious accident when she was a young woman.  She is in her late 40’s and has been in the nursing home since she was 18 years old.  John likes to go with Maria to visit  Debbie.  When they got home, I noticed he had a orange soda and some chips.  The recreation leader gave them to him.  Naturally, little brother was a little jealous.

That afternoon we also took Mary, my friend, on an errand.  Then she treated us to an ice cream at McDonalds.  We went back to the home where she is staying and the boys played with water guns in her back yard while we sat on the patio and visited.

In the heat of the late afternoon, the boys wanted to ride their bikes again.  So I got another racewalk in.  At last, Sandy, their mother came.  I didn’t have to cook as Maria had brought me some of her leftovers to heat up.

After supper I went to water T’s flowers.  It is now 8:10 p.m. I’m very tired!

Nichole’s Summer Journal, 6/16/2009

28 06 2009

I had told grandsons, John and Alex that we would water T’s flowers. ( T is out of town for two weeks)  Suddenly, there was a large downpour of rain.  The same thing happened yesterday. 

Next, on the agenda was my getting ready to go to the dentist to have my teeth cleaned.  The boys wanted to go with me but I told them that would not work.  They then wanted to change things around upstairs in Vera’s room.  ( Vera is now living in Kansas City, Mo)  I told them that would have to wait until I got home from the dentist.  They had orders to obey their Grandpa while I was gone.

I had my usual six month cleaning.  My dentist always comes in afterwards and looks at my teeth.  He always tells me what a good girl I am for taking such good care of my teeth.  This time he told me that I was to have some xrays.  I thought.  ” Oh no–this is not going to be good news.  I didn’t get my usual compliment.”  I was right.  The news wasn’t good.  I had a cavity –my first one since 1993.  I know the culprit behind my cavity.  I ate too much hard candy while I was sub teaching.  It was a bad habit I developed.  I kept my pocket book full of candy.  Then when I went to pick up the boys at their school each afternoon after work–I would suck on 2 or 3 more pieces.  Even though I brush my teeth before bed—I know the candy was my enemy.

When I got home– I broke the bad news to Jim and the boys.  The boys just laughed at me.  We had plans to drive to Gracy , Ky to have a snack lunch with Maria.  Maria was working  as a postmaster relief person and asked us to visit her on her lunch break.  We then drove a little down the road to the Dairy Creme.  This is a ice cream shop that is managed by a retired couple.  The shop used to belong to the husband’s parents.  We enjoyed generous ice cream cones for .50 and no tax. 

After our lunch and ice cream–we drove the few miles to Cerulean, Ky where Maria lives.  We shopped at the Mennonite vegtable and fruit stand.  They also sell honey, jams, pickles etc.  I bought some tomatoes, cherry preserves and a jar of 4 bean salad. 

When we arrived home, the boys wanted to play upstairs in Vera’s room.  Alex let me read him some books.  We finished the day with their playing with their small toys on the kitchen table.  I was able to sit at the table with them and read a book.   Soon their mom, Sandy, arrived to take them home.

The ride in the country and the .50 ice cream cone was my favorite part of the day.

Nichole’s Summer Journal, 2009 Lake Malone

25 06 2009

We’ve been taking care of our grandsons three days a week.  The other days, Jim and I have been trying to find everything of interest in Christian, Todd and Trigg County in Kentucky.  Each night I write a short journal entry.  This is my entry of June 16, 2009 about our visit to Lake Malone.

We left our home about 8:45 p.m.  We ended up driving through Russelville.  We had stopped in Elkton and asked about getting to Lake Malone  on the two lane  highway 106.  We couldn’t get any real help.  It was a 57 mile ride one way .  The last 12 miles were two lane. 

We stopped at the camper site and asked directions to the lake.  What a beautiful lake it was.  We had to walk down an incline to get there.  We stopped and rested at a picnic table and were entertained by two young deer who were playing right in front of us.  Suddenly, they noticed us and fled. 

The  walking back uphill was very hard on Jim.  We ate our lunch at the picnic shed and then read our books.  It was so wonderful to be away from pets, phones and visitors.  I read my book , Simple Living by Frank Levering and Wanda Urbanska.  Jim looked through all the brochures he had collected on Kentucky. 

We left the park at 1:00 p.m.  As we headed out of Russelville, a terrible storm started.  I could hardly see the highway.  Thank goodness, it was not full of cars.  We had the highway mostly to ourselves. 

I turned off at Elkton and drove another 10 miles in the storm to visit The Country Pantry.  I was out of my dried pineapple and dried papaya and craved some.

We took another highway which led us through Trenton and Pembroke and arrived home at 3:00 p.m.  Jim was exhausted.  He learned from this outing that he can no longer climb hills.  He had to go to bed and rest before our Tuesday cancer meeting.

We were disappointed that the doctor who was supposed to speak to us didn’t show up.  We went home and ate beans and rice for supper.  What a nice full day.

Holy Chrismation Anniversary of Three Years!

25 06 2009

SYLVIA'A CHRISMATION 6-25-06art chrisnation 6-25-06

                a.S, F chrismation          

We had been searching for over 30 years for a more authentic New Testament church.  I can remember –starting as newlyweds coming home after church services and just crying.  Everything seemed so untouchable.  We hardly got to know anyone very well.  There just wasn’t enough time during occasional socials to form lasting bonds.  The few friends we had bonded with in college that went to that church were also newlyweds and no longer had the time to socialize as much. 

Jim and I always believed that the church should bring people together and not separate them.  The “aloneness” followed us through many church settings.  We even tried a “house church” for awhile.  Eventually, that too became a place for division and lack of real bonding.

We traveled to several different towns to be a part of what seemed like “on the edge” New Testament churchs.  Now to be honest , we did make friends in each of them.  We are still in contact with some people from most every church we were ever a part of.  However, we knew there was still a missing link.

Our youngest daughter who was going through a divorce had a very hungry heart, too.  She had been a missionary teacher in Ukraine for a year and remembered seeing the Orthodox churches.  In fact, she had been  given a list of Orthodox books to read to prepare herself to defend the Protestant faith!  She never really read  the books but remembers being in awe of the churches she saw as a tourist. 

Her grief was so bad that she cried out to God for some answers.  She believes that God reminded her of those books.  She ordered Becoming Orthodox,  A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith by Peter E. Gillquist.  This book deeply impacted her life.  Faith challenged us to read it, too.  We also had a time each week where we listened to a weekly podcast : Our Life in ChristOur hearts were so thirsty and we drank these podcasts in like we were travelers who hadn’t had water for days and at last found a creek or river of clear water.

The next step was finding an Orthodox church to visit.  Vera located several but we decided to visit St. Ignatius in Franklin, Tennessee.  We knew that Fr. Gordon Walker had started this church and we hoped to meet him.  So on Labor Day of 2005 –we ventured over to Franklin.  We were met by a dear lady, Myrna, who later became one of our sponsors.  She took us under her wing and explained all that was happening during the service.

During coffee hour, we actually got to meet Fr. Gordon. Jim cried on his shoulder because he knew that he had found what he had been looking for all of his life.

Faith moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee for a new job.  A mission church was just geting started there sponsored by St Ignatius.  Fr. Stephen Rogers from St. Ignatius was there off and on to help get the church going.  We decided to drive the 102 miles one way each Sunday to be a part of this parish.  They had a temporary priest.  We asked him about becoming catecumens–but we were all told to wait a bit. 

Finally, on Christmas Eve of 2005 –Jim ,Vera, and I were made catecumins.  Fr. Gordon Walker was also at that service.  It was so special to us. 

The culmination came for us on June 25, 2006.  Fr. Stephen Rogers finally decided that we could be chrismated.  We arrived very early that morning as we had to have our life time confessions.  What a special day that was.  Our grown children and our small grandsons drove the distance to share our joy. Myrna and her husband, Deacon Edward, from St. Ignatius became our sponsers. 

Three years have now passed.  We feel that the Orthodox faith has made our lives more accountable to the Lord.  Our faith has also had the depth to see us through some serious times.  I found out I had breast cancer in the fall of 2007.  As soon as I had time to recover and feel like a person again– Jim got very sick with his aortic condition again.  In October 2008 ,  Jim spent two weeks at Vanderbilt Medical center in Nashville.  After opening him up –it was determined that he was inoperable  They wrapped his aneurysms up in dacron and sewed him up.  After working all of his adult life–he was now disabled.  We would have never made it through such difficult times without the Orthodox faith.

Now we are blessed to be on the ground floor of a mission church in Clarksville, Tennessee just 30 miles from our home.  We also have a new priest after having guest priests for almost a year. 

Our hearts are full of joy and thanksgiving for all the Lord has done for us in these three years of being Orthdox christians. 

May God bless each of you!

Nichole’s Slices Of Life,16–Second Hand Road

14 06 2009

If someone had told me even three years ago that I would become familiar with downtown Nashville –I would have responded: “You’re crazy.”  I never liked to drive out of town.  It just wasn’t something I was interested in.  However, when Jim first became ill in 2005, I knew that I was going to have to learn how to take him to Nashville. 

The very first time we went for a followup checkup we got terribly lost downtown.  We had to stop and keep asking for directions back to Vanderbilt Medical Center.   I never did adjust to taking all of those interstates through Nashville and finding the right turn off.  Finally, my son told me a great way to get to the hospitals downtown.  I take I-24 to Briley Parkway West.  That leads all the way to Charlotte Avenue.  I count the streets down to 21st N. which becomes 21st S which leads right to Vanderbilt. 

I was so relieved to learn such a straightforward way to our medical appointments.  Then eventually I learned more about downtown–until now I’m able to rattle off street names and I know where most of the major hospitals are.  I’m learning about other adventures too.  We like to shop at secondhand stores.  Charlotte Ave. is full of interesting second hand shops.  We had never stopped at any of them until this week.  This past week we had two days that we had to be in Nashville.  Jim insisted that we visit all of the shops.  Actually, Jim knew something about a few of them because Vera and Jim did some shopping one day when she took Jim to Nashville.

On Tuesday of this past week we visited  The Goodwill Store on Charlotte Ave.  It was very clean and organized.  I found a 2 quart and a 1 quart stainless steel cookware that was actually made in the USA.   I haven’t had a good set of cookware in 30 years.  I was so delighted with my find.  Next we went to a place called THE GREAT ESCAPE.  It sells used cds, dvds, old lp albums, etc.  The lp’s interested me because I couldn’t imgaine why anyone would want them.  I was told they are the latest rage.  People can buy some kind of gadget to attach to the computer that will download the albums on to the computer.   They were having a sell in the back of the store where all kinds of cds just cost a buck.  We learned that they also  have a second store on Broadway.

After our shopping we went back downtown to visit our favorite eating place-The Alektor Cafe&Books. We sat for about an hour and a half just enjoying a leisurely lunch.  We ended up our day back on Charlotte visiting McKay’s used bookstore.  That place was huge and very organized.  They sold books, audio books, movies, old records, dvds, boxed television series etc.  Their turnover of merchandise is so fast that they have quite a stock of fairly new releases of all they carry.  We had such a wonderful time shopping there.

Friday found us back in Nashville for another brief appointment at the Veteren’s Hospital.  After we finished –we started our grand tour of used shops.  We started with THE GREAT ESCAPE on Broadway.  Then we visited the numerous shops on Charolotte Ave.  We visited the  Lion’s Club Thrift Store first.  Next we visited RHINO’S  used books.  It was very interesting and I liked how they had little reading corners with couches and tables.  However, I thought their books were too expensive.  I had found a book that I wanted that was $6.00.  I complained about the price –especially since it was a paperback.  The owner just snapped back at me about how he was trying to keep a good used bookstore open in his neighborhood.  I told him how I usually shop for used books on HALF.COM.  He told me that I could probably find my book for a few bucks but then I’d have postage.  So he finally took a dollar off my book.  He told me that if I bought three books –he would give me the 4th book for free.  I told him that I would take him up on his offer my next trip to Nashville. 

Our next visit was to the  SOUTHERN THRIFT STORE.  Jim found two never used cartridges for our printer for a dollar a piece.  I found a grab back of little toys for our grandsons for a couple of dollars.  Then we visited a store that specializes in global crafts.  It was interesting to look through all the crafts from around the world but it was too expensive for us.  Next we visited a vintage antique shop but again the prices were too high.  We ended up our day back at McKays.  We both took our time scouting out the entire store –just so we could gain a thorough knowledge of what they carry.  I only bought one book and Jim bought some very discounted cd’s. 

The two days that we had brief doctor’s appointments gave us the extra time that we don’t usually have to shop.  We had such a great time.  I told Jim: “I’m sorry that you are sick but at least we are having some good quality time together enjoying our shopping.”  We would never just drive to Nashville to shop.  Since we are in Nashville a great deal these days–it is fun to enjoy second hand road. 

I’m glad that I can find my way around downtown Nashville.  I have been pushed to learn something that I would never have chosen to learn on my own.  I don’t let Jim drive except around town.  With all of the medications that he takes–he gets too sleepy.  God has a way of working something good into our lives with  each difficult situation we face.  I have a dear friend who accused me of marrying Jim just to take care of me.  Sure I enjoyed Jim’s loving care in our early years.  Our marriage has lasted long enough that it is my turn to give Jim some loving care.  And together we will continue to enjoy our trips to Nashville to find our bargains.

July 7th is our next visit to Nashville.  We can hardly wait!

God bless each of you!

Nichole’s Slices Of LIfe, 15 (Cancer Strikes Again)

10 06 2009

Cancer has a way of showing it’s ugly face again and again.  Just about every month I hear of someone I know of who is fighting cancer.  In May, cancer entered our close family circle once again.  This time is was not my own personal battle but that of my sister-in- law. 

We had just had a big family time the evening of the Kentucky Derby.  We all enjoyed watching that together.  T seemed normal as ever.  Just a week later she had her physical and her doctor found a mass in one of her breasts.  T didn’t show a great deal of emotion. She was very silent about her experience.    I recommended the surgeon that I had used for my mastectomy.  She had to get a mammogram and take it to the surgeon.  He then did a needle biopsy.  The first report seemed to indicate that there was not much to worry about.  I was suspicious because T told me her mass was quite large.

Finally, the surgeon told T and her husband ( my brother) that she probably did have cancer.  T decided to have a lumpectomy.  I almost begged her to have a masectomy.  Her reply was that it was still uncertain about whether she had cancer so why would she want to have a mastectomy.  Well, in my heart –I knew she had cancer. 

T and my brother didn’t seem to feel a need for folks to be in the waiting room.  I really don’t think T believed she had cancer.  Jim and I insisted on being with my brother during surgery.  We did get to visit T in her holding area for about 30 minutes.  She just didn’t seem to get it–that this might be something serious.  It was hard for me to understand their reactions.  I had a different kind of biopsy and knew that I had cancer when I went into surgery.  Their experience seemed so backwards to me.

We sat with my brother for a little over two hours.  The surgeon came out and sat down with us to tell us that T did have cancer.  He ended up removing almost half of her breast and two dozen lympth nodes to get clear margins.  He told my brother that T would definitely have to have chemotherapy and radiation.  I think my brother heard the information correctly but I still don’t think he processed it very well.

My reaction to T these almost two weeks sincer her surgery has been strange.  I have to be careful that I don’t impose my own personal bias about how she should be reacting.  It has been difficult.  She went back to work the next week to finish up her school year as a school psychologist.  I just couldn’t believe she did that.  Now she and my brother are on a two week trip to visit their grandsons.  Maybe she is just trying to soak up as much of life before treatment as she can.  I just know that our stories of how we both reacted to cancer are very different.

T missed her yearly exam last year.  I can’t imagine why– because she has good health insurance.  And T never does breast self exams.  Cancer came and creeped into her life.  Women in their 50’s and older are very prone to get breast cancer regardless of whether there is a family history.  Please ladies–don’t skip those yearly exams and don’t neglect doing a personal breast exam once a month.

In 2007 I found out I had breast cancer.  However, I had never skipped a year.  I was tempted to skip the whole mammogram thing that year.  But because I didn’t– my breast cancer was found very early.  I didn’t have to have chemotherapy or radiation.

T has a long road ahead of her.  We all will be supporting her and my brother with prayers.  We will do all we can to help her.  It is  very devastating to have cancer strike our family once again.

So what else have I been doing this past month?   I finished out my school year as a substitute teacher. I’ve been getting back to working with potted plants.  I had lost interest for a couple of years.  The ones I had –I watered but I didn’t  do much else.  Now I’m working on creating new plants through my cuttings.  I’m also enjoying reading.  If push comes to shove a book always wins over blogging.  I’m also working on learning my choir music.  We sing without instruments and I sing alto.  I have a huge notebook of music to be working on. 

We have our own priest now at our mission church.  He is not with us yet because he is still trying to wrap things up in Canada.  However, he came down for a couple of weeks during the Easter season.  And today he just left after visiting with us for another couple of weeks.  He came and blessed our home last week. We also had a wonderful social after church.  We had a gathering at the home of one of our parish family.  She cooked a very full and fancy meal for us.  Most of didn’t leave until 6:45 p.m.  It was just a wonderful time of food and fellowship. 

Our priest will be back  to our parish–along with his family– by the first of July.  This time they will be fully moved.  He found a home for them to rent and has already ordered a specific date for the moving company.  We are very excited to have our first full time priest at our Christian Orthodox Church.

I hope not to be so long in writing again.  I am busy though–still making many trips to Nashville for Jim’s health needs.  I also take care of our grandsons most of these summer days.  Vera is gone for the summer.  She is an intern with a new Orthodox ministry in Kansas City,Mo.  We have missed her a great deal.  There is a possibility that this internship will turn into a job.  We are happy for her if it does but our hearts ache with missing her.

May these summer days provide many blessing to each of you!