Monthly Archives: April 2010

Certain Man’s Wife Does the Fire Drill

Certain Man’s Wife has a home visit every month with her case manager from the State Department of Disabilities.  Darlene picks up spending records, medication reports, documentation of doctor visits, and social reports from each of the ladies in the home at Shady Acres.  Once every quarter, CMW needs to do a fire drill and document that for someone somewhere in the hierarchy of the state.  So often, CMW thinks that whoever is reading these things must find it the most boring thing in the world.  And it is great fun to write a report that has surprises or details in it that will cause someone to take a little notice.

Mandatory fire drills are things that make little sense to CMW.  Both of the ladies who reside with CM and CMW will never get themselves out in the event of a fire.  Someone will need to physically get Cecilia on her feet and guide her out.  Someone needs to explain to Our Girl Nettie why she needs to get out — and supervision is very much needed.  This may explain why Certain Man’s house has six smoke detectors and they are careful to keep them in order.  The family at Shady Acres knows it will take time to get people out in the event of a fire.  However, the state still wants each foster care home to run a fire drill every three months, and to fill out their detailed form.

When CMW went to awaken Cecilia this morning, she suddenly remembered that she hadn’t done the fire drill for the first three months of 2010.  With the two knee replacements, it was one of many things that went right over her head.  And this was the morning for the monthly visit from the case manager.  So in a sudden burst of inspiration, CMW decided that this would be a good morning to do a drill, and decided that maybe it would be good to have it start while both ladies were still in bed.  “After all,” reasoned CMW, “how often do we plan a convenient time for our house to catch on fire and we will need to evacuate?”

CMW hit the button on the smoke detector in their bedroom several times and neither lady budged an inch.  So she made note of the time on her wrist watch and went over and gave Nettie a nudge on her ample rear that was sticking up under the mound of covers.

“Nettie!  Hey Nettie!  Wake up!”

“Ummmpfff!”  She said in a complainy sort of way.

“Hey, Nettie, wake up!  We are having a fire drill.  You need to get up and get out to the garage!”

“Huh??? “  She said sleepily, “Wha’d’ya say???”

“I said,” repeated CMW clearly, “We are having a fire drill.  You need to get up and get out to the garage.”

“Oh.  Um.  Okay.”  She grunted, and began to swing her legs over the side ponderously.

CMW went over to Cecilia’s bed.  Cecilia was awake.  “C’mon, Cecilia-girl.  We need to have this fire drill.  Come on, let’s go.”  Cecilia wasn’t impressed, but she got up out of bed and shuffled along with CMW  towards the door.  As CMW looked back over her shoulder, she saw that Our Girl Nettie wasn’t really moving much.

“Nettie, come on.  We are pretending the fire is in the kitchen.  Come on.  You don’t have time to get dressed.  Just come!”  CMW guided Cecilia through the bathroom where she had to forcibly take her past the toilet where she usually sits down immediately after getting out of bed.

“Sorry, Cecilia-girl.  I’ll bring you back in just a little bit.”  Cecilia was not at all happy with this development.  She was in her jammies, barefoot and it was cold.  CMW thought about the cold cement at the bottom of the ramp and decided to have some mercy on her.  They moved through the laundry room, through the entry way and to the top of the ramp.  Right about now, Cecilia had just about had enough.  STAMP!!!  STAMP!!!  Went her stubborn little foot at the top of the ramp.  “Huff!!! Puff!!! Snort!!!”  CMW looked over her shoulder.  There was no sign of Nettie.

“Here, Cee-Cee,” she said, using a pet name, “You stand right here with your hand on the railing until I come back.”  She curled the fingers around the railing and made sure that Cecilia was safely holding on and then flew back to the bedroom to check on Nettie.

Nettie was busy making her bed.

“Nettie, Come!” she said more than a little forcefully.  “We are having a fire drill.  You need to get out.”

“Wha’?” asked Our Girl Nettie in her usual slow way.  “Wha’d’ya sayin’?”

“I said,” said CMW with just a bit of exasperation, “that we are having a fire drill.  Your case manager comes this morning and I have to have a fire drill to report.  Come on.  You just need to go to the top of the ramp.”

Our Girl Nettie looked down over her nightgown and back with distaste at CMW.  At this point, CMW got a firm grip on her hand and assisted her across the room and through the bathroom, through the utility room, through the entry way and to the landing at the top of the ramp.  It was more than a little crowded there with Cecilia, CMW, and Nettie.  CMW looked at the motley crew, all three barefooted in the morning chill, She and Nettie were in their nighties and Cecilia was in her P.J.’s. Cecilia was mad at the interruption in her morning routine, Nettie blinking owlishly and  looking like she couldn’t believe the indignities heaped upon her, and CMW couldn’t help but cover a grin as she checked the time on her wrist watch.  She had managed a fire drill!!!  One minute and forty five seconds.  Not too bad.  Hopefully,  whoever read it wouldn’t have to be bored at the details, and even though she felt sorry for her two ladies, sometimes their irritation at CMW is a cause for mirth.  CMW doesn’t blame them a bit for being provoked.  But when she accomplishes something that she really needs to do, and they are both looking so out of sorts – Well, to CMW’s biased eye, they are just plain cute.  And somehow, more normal in their aggravation than they are at almost any other time.

And that is the news from Shady Acres where the fire drill got reported, all the reports got filed, and CMW’s day was off to a grand start!


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Last night, before heading up the “Mountain” to my bed, I sat on my chair (are you all getting tired of hearing about me sitting on my chair???  I SURELY AM!!!) and thought about the morning.  The pain was rather insistent, and I toyed with the idea of asking Middle Daughter if she would get up and do my ladies for me so that I could sleep in.  She hasn’t been feeling the best, either, and I knew she would do it without complaint, but I felt sorry for her, too, and finally decided that I would just take care of things.  Besides, I love being up and getting breakfast for my husband — which needs to be done before anybody else gets up.  So I resigned myself to just getting up as usual.

I got off my chair long enought to put the last load of laundry in the dryer, and noticed that Certain Man hadn’t locked up.  So I went to find him and asked, “Sweetheart, are you done outside?”

“Yep.  All done!  Why?”

“I just noticed that you hadn’t locked up.  Did you have something you were going to do?”

“Well, I was thinking about starting a fire in the pellet stove.  What do you think?  You probably don’t think it’s necessary, do you?”

“Oh, Daniel.  I would love a fire.  What is the weather supposed to do tomorrow?  I’ve been so cold all day.”  (I had done the weekly laundry, made a casserole for my friend’s funeral meal with good help from my family, been to physical therapy, and gone to the funeral, and the cold had seemed to penetrate my bones and made these old knees ache like nobody’s biz.)

“I don’t know what it’s supposed to do, but I can sure find out.”  He checked the weather report and went to fetch a bag of pellets.  I headed on upstairs at this point and figured he would be a while getting there.  He came up in a very short time, to my surprise, and when I asked him if it was burning he said, “I hope it will start.  I guess we’ll see.  It might not take off.”  He must have left Middle Daughter down there to watch over things, because some time after we were in bed, she hollered, “Dad, the fire is burning!” as she made the corner at the top of the steps to her room on the other side of the landing.

I had some trouble getting to sleep, but then slept pretty well.  I was awake at 1:30 and had difficulty navigating the few feet to the necessary room, so I was really surprised when I got awake at about 5:30 to discover that the pain was actually minimal.  I thought maybe it was a short-lived thing, but when I got up soon after six, it was absolutely amazing!!!  I could not believe it!  I looked out the window at the drippy morning, and marveled at how little pain and stiffness I had in these new knees.  It has been my best day pain-wise in months.  And all I can figure out is that the nice little fire in my pellet stove took enough dampness and chill out of the air to affect the knees in a positive way.  I am so grateful to God and to my good husband.

It makes me want to sit by the fire and just enjoy it, but I have a case manager coming later this week, and I haven’t done any serious paperwork for Ceclia and Nettie since before my surgery — So I really have my work cut out for me today and tomorrow.  And I’m so glad that in it all, I don’t have to battle the grinch of pain on a major scale.  Thank God for this Golden Day of reprieve!!!  It give me hope and courage.  There are surely more to come.


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Last night there was a party at Shady Acres!

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There were presents . . .


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Auntie Jess did some decorating . . .


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Sue Swann made some cakes

All because . . .

Our little Love Bug turned one.

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 I am reminded of the text message that her Mama sent to all of us when she first laid eyes on this precious baby:

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“She might be the most amazing baby ever!”
(She was/is!)

And so, we celebrated last night with a few family members and friends who have been especially involved with her and her family:

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Auntie Abi helped to put up ballons and arrange the food table.
She made a beautiful vegetable tray to share with the guests.

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Some friends came from near and some from far.
Some dropped in for a few minutes, some stayed for the evening.

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The food was pretty simple — but no one went hungry.  It was a really chilly evening, but the rain that had been expected all day held off.  So we wrapped ourselves in extra jackets and even blankets to keep warm and enjoyed supper with good company on the pavillion.

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Halfway through supper, Charis got very tired.
George, Chuck and Nick from Dolce’s had given her this very soft Pooh bear for her birthday.
She made it into a perfect pillow, and put her tired little head down.

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. . . and was out like a light.
She slept for a major part of supper.

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Uncle Caleb and Uncle Joel

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Aunties Sabrina and Jess with Mommy.  Auntie Sabrina will have her very own little girl in just a few short weeks, Lord Willing.  She and her husband Ryan have been honorary “Aunt and Uncle” to Charis.  Certain Man and I would gladly claim their new baby as a grandchild, but I’m afraid we would have to fight some very determined biological grandparents.  Maybe we can still be honorary Grandpa and Grammy.

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Grandpa says “Go away!!!” to Grammy and her camera.

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Great Aunt Freda came along with Great Great Grandma Yoder.  We are always glad to have her.

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Great Grandma Yoder never misses a chance to engage in conversation with or hold Charis.
We were delighted that she braved the cold to come and celebrate with us.

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Pappy and Achi Bontrager

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“What shall we do with this???”

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“Is this allowed???”


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There was quite a gift opening melee!”


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There was plenty of help.

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Let’s see what is in this interesting package.

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Oh, Goodie!!!  A water bottle!
Whoops!  Grammy is mistaken!

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One of the privileges of being one!  The car seat can face the front.
Our little Love Bug is growing up so fast.




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Nearly seven weeks ago, I was reading in my morning devotional reading and I came across the following verse:

Numbers 13:30  Then Caleb told the people near Moses to be quiet, and he said, “We should certainly go up and take the land for ourselves.  We can certainly do it.”

It hit me like a ton of bricks.  In the margin of my Bible, I wrote:  “How often to I look at something (a problem, a habit, an upcoming event) and say, ‘I can’t!’?  Today, March 6, 2010, I want to say, ‘I certainly can!’ to a specific thing — stopping my pet habit of 50+ years . . . Nail biting.  Not alone, but by God’s grace.  Lord, help me!”

And in the days that followed, I came back to the verse over and over again, and literally, dear friends, I did not bite my nails again.  They grew long and had to be trimmed, and I told my Sunday School girlies about it and challenged them to take God’s grace seriously.  That He wanted to help them do things they thought they couldn’t.  I honestly did not feel any pride in this.  I had been over fifty years coming to this place.  My Sweet Mama had tried everything she knew.  My Grandpa Yoder would scold me.  My Daddy one time gave me a serious whipping with the razor strop.  My Uncle Paul promised me a whole dollar, as did other people.  NOTHING HELPED.  Sometimes I stopped for a while, but I always went back to it.

This time has been so different.  I have a dear cousin who is fighting a battle of her own, and when I am tempted to nibble, I remember how much harder it is for her to break her habit than it is for me to break mine.  She is doing so well, and I am so proud of her, and her courage has helped me with my battle. 

However.  (Did you know that was coming?)  Monday night, our renter came over with a paper he wanted me to fill out and sign that would give the man who lives with them (I suspect  the arrangement may be rather temporary) Medicaid assistance for the young son who also lives there.  Mr. Ruiz does not speak enough English for me to communicate with him.  I called my cousin James and put him on the speaker phone so he could translate for me and the three of us could discuss this.  It was a difficult situation.  I have told my hispanic friends that I will help them all I can but I will never lie for them.  And in this situation, it was difficult to delineate between the truth and the “stretching of the truth” and the whole thing was very uncomfortable for me.  What Mr. Ruiz wanted me to say was that Mr. Rengle was paying the entire amount of rent.  All my family forsook me and fled.  James kindly advised me of what it was that Mr. Ruiz was asking, and said that I would need to decide how to handle it.  He was sympathetic to my situation, but it wasn’t his decision to make.  The truth is — I don’t actually know what their arrangement is.  I don’t who is paying what.

So I prayed for wisdom, and began to fill out the form with what I could honestly answer.  And when it came to the question about what the rent was for the trailer I decided to add a note beside it.  (It said that I could explain anything that I wanted to!) and I made this notation. 
“Mr. Ruiz and Mr. Rengle share the rent.  I honestly do not know what their arrangement is.” 
I handed it back to Mr. Ruiz, and he went off with it.  I don’t know what will happen from here, but at least I felt like I had made my postition clear.

And that is when I noticed that in the midst of all the quandary, I had bitten my left hand little fingernail right down to the quick.  It hurt!  It was a major hangnail, and I was surprised and then mad and then sad and then very, very determined.  It had a rough edge on the hangnail that kept getting caught, and I wanted to revert to my old habit of nibbling it off, and making it straight (which never really works, but it was how I did it for 50+ years).  I looked at that poor bitten off nail and decided that I would not put it back in my mouth for any reason at all.  It was just going to have to catch up with the rest of them.  I had this quiet assurance that if I left it alone, it would be okay eventually, and it would be way better for the rest of them.  So all week, I’ve looked at that poor short nail and reminded myself. “I can certainly do this!” and that has held me pretty steady. 

Here!  Have a look at that poor left hand!


I know — the cuticles need some work, but the nails are certainly not bitten off — except that poor little finger.  But it will grow out!  And I intend to give it a chance.




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What a difference just one week can make!

I will grant you that by evening, this old knee lets me know that it still means business!  But —

This morning, I baked bread for the first time in two months.  (I did very little else today besides bake bread and sit on my chair, but–) I still got the bread baked and sliced and packaged ALL BY MYSELF and that was a great encourager in my progress!

And tonight, I took my van out for a little test drive around our circle, then out the chicken house lane and back in the house lane and it did not hurt.  Not one little smidgen. 

Today I got the very saddest news, though.  Another neighbor, Joan Niblett, is dying.  She has lived right across the road from me for over 20 years.  She is a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.  She was the best neighbor and friend a gal could want.  Our kids swam in their pool in the summertime, and she and I exchanged recipes and neighborhood stories and she gave the most unique and appreciated gifts at Christmas.  Some of my most treasured items on my walls are from my good friend Joan.  She has been battling breast cancer for over a year, and it metastasized to her brain and spine.  Just before I went for my second knee replacement, I had talked to her mother and then to her.  She had a new grandbaby, and she was doing a little better.  Apparently, things went downhill suddenly, because she was admitted to hospice this past Wednesday, and has been largely unresponsive since then. 

When I realized that I could drive, I asked Certain Man if I could go in there to see her one more time, and he gave me permission.  Milford’s beautiful Hospice Center is just plain wonderful.  It is peaceful and quiet and it feels like you are stepping into a little Island of Calm when you walk in.  I found Joan’s room, and she was alone, a little mound in the middle of a bed.  I pulled a chair up to the side of the bed, and reached under the covers to find her hand.  It was very warm.  She was breathing that hard, raspy breathing of the dying, and I talked to her about what a great neighbor she has been, and how I should have told her more often what she meant to me.  I sang her some of the old, old songs of Heaven, and I stroked what is left of her hair because she always loved it when someone stroked her hair.  Her breathing slowed down very far, and became less labored, and then evened out to a pretty easy rhythm.  I know that her family has been keeping a pretty steady vigil, and I was glad that God allowed me to be there when she was alone.  It felt better to me somehow to be there alone with her, and I felt free to sing to her, to say things to her about her coming journey that I wouldn’t have been able to if there had been others there.  I didn’t stay very long – Just shy a half hour, but it felt like long enough. 

And then I came out and got into my trusty mini-van and came on home.  I didn’t feel like celebrating the fact that I could drive. 

I just felt very, very thankful to the Father.  He gave me this gift just in time to tell my friend “Good-night, Darlin’.  I’ll see you in The Morning . . .”



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Certain Man’s Wife Hears a Noise

Now it came to pass that Certain Man’s Wife has been recovering from her second knee replacement with somewhat less aplomb than her first one. There haven’t been any real glitches in the process, in fact, range of motion is considerably better than the previous knee’s ability at the same stage of recovery. However, the pain has been raucous.

CMW has spent considerable amount of emotional energy trying to stay optimistic, trying to be brave, trying to OVERCOME. With the admission of the pain, CMW risks being the recipient of pity — which she hates with a passion. But one Saturday morning, there was a great deal of self-pity going on in her chair in the corner. It wasn’t just the pain, although that was a contributing factor. It was a whole conglomerate of things. Stuff people don’t really need to know, CMW figures, but still important enough to her to cry about.

It didn’t take too many minutes of writing all her feelings down to discover that she really did have things pretty good, and so she decided to get on with her day. It was a lovely day outside, and the next day was Easter. Certain Man and Middle Daughter were very busy with many things outside and so CMW stirred about and made a salad for the next day, and worked on plans for Easter family Dinner. Middle Daughter spent some time in the basement, getting a few things organized and airing the place out.

That evening, just as Middle Daughter was getting ready to go out the door, she said, ” Oh, Mom!!! I forgot! I opened one of the windows in the basement, and forgot to shut it. Maybe Dad should go down there and close it.”

“Uh, Beebs. Does the window have a screen on it?”

“No, it’s one that doesn’t have a screen, but it was the one I could get to.”

“Something could crawl in there, Deb, and really make a mess. A cat, or a squirrel or even a skunk!!!”

“Yeah, so probably Dad should shut it before it gets dark.”

“I should say so!!!” said the longsuffering CMW, thinking to herself that if she could just get down the steps, there would be no reason to involve Certain Man, whose knee has a torn ligament behind the knee cap and has been giving him a lot of trouble. (He has his own appointment with the good Dr. Choy, but not for a couple of months yet.) She tucked the information into the back of her mind with a mental note to tell him the minute he got in.

Of course, she forgot.

She stayed pretty busy in spite of the pain, and later that evening, after it was dark, she decided that she needed to do her daily physical therapy. So, while Certain Man was checking some scores on the computer, she set up her folding chair and began the slow stationary bike pedaling regimen that gets thing loosened up for further torture. She was (maybe) half way through the 12 minutes when she heard a muffled thump in the basement. Sorta’ like something falling off the shelf. It was an isolated noise, but it really got her attention. All of the sudden she remembered the open basement window, and realized that she hadn’t told Certain Man about it.

“Sweetheart–” she called hopefully from her therapy chair in the family room. She thought she heard an acknowledging from the depths of the study. “I just remembered something. Before Deborah left this afternoon, she said that she had opened the one window in the basement and didn’t have time to go back down there and close it. I wonder if you should check it. It was the one without a screen.

There was no noise from the study. If Certain Man heard, he didn’t answer. CMW pedaled on. Suddenly, she heard it again. It sounded like something alive. “Daniel– Sweetheart, did you hear me?” she asked. He came out of the study looking like a man who had been interrupted when he had been checking out his favorite team’s scores for the day.

“What? What did you say?”

“Deborah opened a window in the basement that doesn’t have a screen on it and she forgot to close it. And I keep hearing noises down there. I wonder if something got into the basement.”

“Its okay,” he said with that unflappable calm that men are capable of when they really don’t want to check things out. “It would be hard for anything to get in there.” And he disappeared into another room. Right about then, CMW heard the noise again. She made a quick check to be sure that the family cat wasn’t somehow in the basement, and saw her lounging under a table in the family room.

“Honey, I heard the noise again. It sounds like a cat is down there knocking stuff down, or jumping or something. I wish you would check it out.”

He wasn’t very enthusiastic, but he did betake himself to the basement and checked everything out. He was back shortly to report. “There is nothing there. I shut the window, but there is nothing down there, running around.”

CMW left her therapy then for a quick check from the windows around the perimeter of the sun room and CM joined her to make sure there wasn’t some wild animal of some sort throwing itself against the outside of the house. Certain Man didn’t actually hear anything, but he must have decided that if CMW was so sure she had heard something, he wasn’t going to get any rest until he at least gave some attention to the story.

When neither of them could find anything, he went back to the computer, and CMW returned to her physical therapy. Scarcely was she back on her chair until she heard it again. It seemed louder, but just when she was sure that she would have to call CM, it stopped. A short time later, she heard it again. It sounded like it was coming from the air conditioning vent that was on the floor about six feet away from her chair. So she pulled her chair over there, and waited. Yes, sir, it happened again. Definitely in the air vent. It sounded like an animal of some sort was down in the air vent, struggling to get out. It was brief, but very definite. CMW pulled the grate off and peered into the darkness of the vent. And waited. Sure enough, it happened again. Struggle, struggle, struggle. Then silence.

Certain Man’s Wife debated her options. She continued to do her physical therapy while listening to the poor trapped animal. It seemed like the struggle was less with each episode, and the episodes kept getting further and further apart. She finally went into the study to talk to her poor beleaguered spouse.

“Sweetheart, I keep hearing this noise. I know you are tired of hearing about it, but it seems like it is in the air conditioning vent. It sounds like an animal is caught in there and is trying to get out. And it sounds like it is getting weaker and weaker. Would you come out here and sit in a chair beside the air vent and just listen?”

He is a good man, and he knew that his wife was obviously upset about whatever it was that was dying in the air vent, so he came out and parked his folding chair by the air vent and waited.

Sure enough, there was a sudden scratching noise that came from the vent. Certain Man’s indifference disappeared in a snap. “What in the world?!?!?” he asked of no one in particular.

“Did you hear it?” asked his excited frau, “Did you hear it?”

“Yes, I heard it,” he said, “But I can’t figure it out. I don’t see how anything would have gotten into the air conditioning vent. There shouldn’t be any way for that to happen.”

His wife had no trouble at all imagining how something had gotten into the duct work. First of all, there is so many lengths of ductwork that run under the house, through the attic, through the basement and wall. She could see any of a number of animals finding a place to squeeze in. “Well Daniel, maybe it is a bird that came down the chimney or maybe a squirrel found a place where it was apart, or maybe a rat chewed a hole through somehow.”

He looked at her askance. “I’ve not seen any rats around here for a long, long time. Have you?”

“Well, no, but it could have come in from somewhere –” She could tell that he wasn’t very enthusiastic about checking this out, but she also knew that he wouldn’t rest until he knew what was going on. He looked thoughtful, and got some gloves and headed for the door.

“What are you going to do?” asked his ever helpful wife.

“Well,” he said with a great glint of determination in his eye, “the one thing that is convenient is that I can get to that air vent. The duct work runs right across the basement ceiling, so I can certainly get to it. I’m going to go down there and see what I can find.”

“Oh, honey, it could have rabies.  Be careful!!!”

“I will. I just can’t figure out what could have gotten in there . . .” He disappeared down the steps to the basement and CMW stayed in the family room, still working at her physical therapy. Suddenly, there was a great scrambling noise at the air conditioning vent. So much so, that the family cat went flying over to investigate with her tail as big as a toilet bowl brush. She sniffed and stood watchful guard over the hole in the floor. This did not do much for CMW’s peace of mind. What could be in there that interested the cat so much? She hobbled over and looked down again to see if some beady eyes were peering up at her. She put her hand down there and waggled it around.  Nothing. So she hobbled back to her chair.

About five minutes later, she was aware that Certain Man was back upstairs. And he was clearly amused. “What was it?” she asked. (She didn’t want it to be anything that would bite him, but she HATES it when he laughs at her.)

“Oh,” he said teasingly, “It was really scary!!!”

“Daniel, what was it???”

“Well,” he said kindly, “I got down there and checked and couldn’t find anything in the duct work, and I was just ready to give up when I heard it again, and I looked up there and here the pipe from the sump pump is against the duct and every time it turns on and off, the pipe shudders, and it jiggles the duct and that is what you heard. Sometimes the pipe has a stronger shudder than at others so it sounds louder. Also, the episodes get further and further apart as the basement gets more and more pumped out. And there you have it. Mystery solved!!!”

“Oh,” said Certain Man’s Wife in a very, very small voice. “I see.” And she went back to finish her physical therapy without calling Certain Man even one more time about a single thing.

And that is the news from Shady Acres, where CMW hears that animal in the air conditioning duct every time she does therapy and it doesn’t worry her at all. Not even a little tiny bit.



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Our family (minus our Rachel) had a delightful time together this evening in the wonderful spring evening air.

Lem and Jessica were getting ready to head back to Philadelphia:

Jesse and Christina, back from California, were relaxing after a very eventful weekend since they got home.

Raph was chillin’ with his guitar — “What songs do you want to hear, Momma?” he asked — and then played them for me.  Gina was hovering close — sometimes singing along, sometimes just being there.  The evening sun made interesting patterns on their faces and hair.

Deborah worked last night, and spent a good deal of the day sleeping, but came out, still in her sleeping clothes, to be with us, too.  She and Jesse were looking at a book about “Innocent Juices” that she and Rachel became acquainted with while in Europe and are very fond of.

Certain Man was with us.  He and I love this wind chime that sounds like a Westminster Clock (!) that he bought for me in a store in New York that was run by a conservative Mennonite group.  He realized later that it was an incredibly low price for such a quality chime.  It has given us so much joy, and we plan to move it back to the other side of the house where we can hear it from our upstairs bedroom window during the breezy, Delaware nights.

He also needed to “walk the grandbaby!”

Of course, Charis was one of the chief attractions.  It seems like she grew up a whole lot in the California sun:
She still isn’t walking by herself — and we are sure it isn’t because she CAN”T, but rather that she is choosing not to. 

“Give Mommy kisses–!!!” was met with some resistance tonight.

So happy.  So precious.  Such an incredible gift!

Hanging upside down on Mommy’s lap to get the diaper changed.

What fun!  A ride on Cecilia’s Wheel Chair with Auntie Gina.  Mommy is doing the pushing.  Is this safe?  We don’t know, but we sure are having fun!

And Grammy’s knee was feeling good enough to come outside and cuddle this grandbaby for a little while! Charis is very worried about my knee — especially when it has Lidocaine patches on either side of the incision.  She will suddenly think about Grammy’s “owie” and will reach down and yank up my skirt and then (depending on her mood) give it a gentle, wonderfully sweet rub, or will act like she thinks it needs some “bossing up” and will try to squish it or smack it or pinch it like the recovery depends on her making sure that Grammy’s knee knows that this kind of appearance is totally unacceptable.  Her Daddy, whom she loves intensely, will say, “Be gentle, Charis.  Don’t hurt Grammy,” and she seems to know to go easy.  She cheers me up so much.   We are enjoying her more than I had dreamed possible.

Such a nice, nice day!!!


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I just had a major disappointment . . .

I was sure that I could drive my mini van up the road, just to pick up our usual Saturday lunch specials for Nettie and Cecilia from the Country Store on the corner.  Certain Man had been at our church clean-up melee all morning, and was exhausted, plus he had sprained his ankle in the trench they were digging and could hardly walk.

“I’ll be okay,” I insisted to his drowsy eyes, where he had crashed on the La-Z-boy for a brief nap before working on the sermon he’s been mulling over all week.  “I’m sure that I can do it.  I made baked oatmeal this morning — also, changed the sheets on two beds.  I should be just fine.”

“I don’t think you should,” he mumbled, “but I’m too sleepy to argue with you. . .” and he was pretty much asleep again.

I collected all my things — cell phone if I needed him, my purse, the money, and headed out to my trusty servant, the mini-van.  I got in gingerly, and adjusted the seat, started the motor, tested the brake. 

“Ouch!  That really hurt!”  I eased the car into reverse, testing the foot on the brake and finding that every single little pressure on it was excruciating.  Now why would that be when I can walk on it, even go up and down steps with step over step without hardly any additional pain?  It didn’t make sense to me, so I sat just outside the garage and readjusted how I put my foot on the brake, put the car in park, and pushed the gas pedal.  That worked just fine.  Back to the brake.  “OUCH!!!”

I sat there and weighed the options.  “Could I possibly make this?  What if I was in an emergency?  What if I managed to get there and back again, would I be able to do anything the rest of the day?”  Humbled, I knew that to go ahead and go was an exercise in foolishness, but I wanted to go so badly.

I sat there for a while, thinking.  And then turned off the ignition and slowly gathered my things and went back into the house.  Certain Man came awake the instant he heard the door open.  “What???” He was alarmed at my tears, and was instantly off his chair.  “Hon, what’s wrong???”  I just shook my head. “You can’t do it, can you?”

“No,” I sobbed.  “I just can’t do it.  Could you please go and get the order for me?  I’m sorry.  I really thought I could do it.” 

“It’s okay, Hon.  I’ll go and get it.”  He got his slippers and wallet and went with his usual cheerful helpfulness.  And I stirred around in the kitchen and cried and cried and cried.  I was already weepy after reading the post that my friend, Albert Mast’s daughter, Joy had written about her daddy (see but I have had a tough week with this old knee and I didn’t feel like being brave anymore.  So I cried until I thought that it was almost time for Certain Man to be back home, and then I got myself together, made some sweet tea and got things around for when he got here with their food, and decided to try to be cheerful.

The truth is, I am a month post op tomorrow.  Rehab is going well, and they didn’t expect me to be able to drive yet.  I just wanted to prove them wrong.  And I am really, really tired of being dependent on everyone for almost everything.  I am learning just how proudful and independent a woman I am, I guess.  Not a pretty picture.

And I can try again next week to drive that old mini-van.  One of these weeks, Lord willing, I’ll be able to do it. 

Until then, I guess for the most part, you’ll find me on my chair . . . 


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I told you that there would be some beautiful tulips this week!

One of Middle Daughter’s friends told her this week that her “ex” asked her what her favorite flower was.  She told him, “Anything but tulips.  I hate tulips!”  So he proceeded to plant hundreds of tulip bulbs in her back yard.  They come up every year, and it drives her crazy.  What would you do with a man like that???  But then,  how could anyone not like tulips???  To each his own, I guess!  I love tulips and if I was mad at Certain Man and he planted hundreds of tulip bulbs in my back yard, it would certainly be grounds for making up!

This old barrel has been a source of great enjoyment for me.  It has such endless possibilities and the rustic condition of the barrel only sets off whatever I plant in it.  It has been a few years since I had tulips in it, but sometime between the snow and the Knee Replacement, I went out and threw some of my bulbs into this old whiskey half barrel and, once again, I am not disappointed.

These tulips were planted in that whiskey half barrel a few years ago.  I transplanted to the north east side of our barbecue pit, and they have multiplied and flourished.  I think it is the sun off the bricks that make it such a great place to grow them, and they seem to be doing their utmost to please me.

Just in case you haven’t heard it from any of the other Delaware Xanga Girls, we are having a heat wave.  2010 is the year for setting records — first for the amount of snowfall, and now for Heat.  It is in the eighties today.  I refuse to turn on AC this early in the year!  Certain Man might overrule, though.  He’s been working so hard because we are getting chickens tomorrow.  He took today off because I needed someone to drive me to Physical Therapy.  And it was right at an inconvenient time.  I wish I could drive myself, but it isn’t feasible right now.  I am still not able to move my leg laterally very well, and since it is my driving leg, I have to listen to the powers that be.  I think I kinda overdid it this week — my therapist tells me that I am on my leg too much and that I should probably be using my cane when I am out and about.  Mornings are best, but by noon, all I want to do is sit on my chair and prop it up.  This week is four weeks, and I thought it would be considerably better by now — but the therapist told me today that when they need to build up bone, there is quite a bit more healing that needs to be done, and also, since my joint was off center, there was a specific kind of fixing that needed to be done there – so she encouraged me to not be discouraged, but to maybe not be on it so much. 


The big news is that I am done with coumadin!!!  No more blood tests, and I can take ibuprofen!!!  This is a significant corner to turn, and it makes me a whole lot more optimistic.  The outdoors is calling my soul with all its persuasive power, and there is so much I want to do.  But it can go on without me, and maybe someday I will catch up!

Counting my blessings, here, dear friends, and the minutest percentage is mind boggling.  How very great is our God!


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Love Bug plays at Grandpa and Grammy’s House

It’s Saturday evening.  Daddy and Mommy are out at the fire ring with Uncle Raph and Auntie Gina, Uncle Lem and Auntie Jess, Auntie Beebs and Auntie Rachel.  Love Bug has a bit of a cold, and since there is a big trip planned, Grandpa and Grammy are going to watch Love Bug while the young people sit around the fire and talk.


If Grandpa will just let me go, I am sure that I can find something to get into.



Oh, here is my basket of toys.
Lots of stuff to unload, look at and discard.



I like all these little soft things that I can hold in my hand.
That pink pig is a little disconcerting.
I wonder why it is lying on its side like that.
H-m-m-m-m-m . . .



Wait a minute.
 What are these things that Auntie Beebs has over here?
I’ve been trying to get at them for a long time.
Grammy just went to get some batteries for one of my toys.
I think I can finally find out what these strange things are.



They come apart!
I’m going to taste them.
 Out goes my binky.
In goes the stuff.



Squish, squish, squish.
  They don’t taste so good,
but I would take each and every one of them apart
and probably taste them
( if Grammy didn’t stop me, that is).
Let’s go see what else I can find to get into.



O-h-h-h-h-h, Look!
Uncle Lem’s Guitar!
Now that’s what I call exciting!



I wonder if they will let me play with this. 
Uncle Lem makes such pretty noises with it. 



Pluck, pluck, pluck.
H-m-m-m-m . . .



Maybe if I get both hands on it, I can really do something! 
This thing doesn’t seem to be working for me.



Smack, smack, smack.  It makes strange noises.  Not at all like Uncle Lem. 

I think I need to get just a little


bigger —

but oh, what fun to see what I can get into at Grandpa’s house!



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