Monthly Archives: February 2012

California, this is our story

Chapter 4

We wanted to get a fairly early start at Sea World, but “early” in San Diego and “early” in Delaware are, well, a continent apart.  Lena is a night owl, working until the wee hours of the morning, and then sleeping in and starting work any time after ten in then morning.  Her job as business manager for a large medical group in San Diego seems to be better executed when there aren’t all the usual office things going on.  She knows her seven doctors , two physician assistants and one nurse practitioner and bevy of nurses and staff workers well, and they call her OFTEN, but she does her best work when she is mostly alone in the building with few distractions.  She wants to retire in about two years, and is in the process of training someone to take her place, but it will be some time before her position (as the final financial word for the business) will be fully replaced.  It seems as if most things just cannot quite function without her.

Daniel got up, got his shower and went on a walk to find a paper.  Lena and I started rummaging around for some breakfast, and then he came in, declared it a perfect morning, and we got ourselves ready for a great day at Sea World.  Even though there are some closer to home, We had never been to such a place before.  Lena dropped us off at the gate, and went on to work.  We got our tickets and a map and a schedule of events and started our adventure.  The day was hot, and it didn’t take us too long to rent a locker for my jacket and my purse.  Lockers with unlimited access rented for nine dollars a day, but the attendant cheerfully told us that if we didn’t need to get into it, there were lockers that rented for $1.25 for “One Use.” That was good enough for me.  The only problem was that after we had carefully locked everything up in there, we remembered that my phone was in my purse.  I had my camera, and I decided that it was just fine for me to not have my phone.  Daniel had his, and if there was any emergency of any consequence, they would call his.  And so we set out.

There was so much to see!  We started in the Sesame Street area which is actually a play area for kids! 


The first scheduled event was something for the small fry.  We wanted to take in this show for children so that we could send pictures back for our grandbaby.  We inquired at the gate as to where it was located since it was starting in 15 minutes after our arrival.  The fellow at the gate appeared to be a bit limited, but he confidently proclaimed that it was to be in the Sesame Street Play area, so we began there.  It was discouraging to learn too late that it was, in fact, held in some theater half way across the complex.  So we decided to skip it and just work our way around to the first Killer Whale show of the day.  The way there was incredibly picturesque.  The flowers were phenomenal!  Landscaping was truly breathtaking. 


There was an area that had all the flags of the states in a circle with plaques for each state at the base of the flags.  We found all the flags for the states that our children live in, took pictures of the plaques, took pictures of the flags, and thought about our far away family.  We came around a circle and found a Shamu the Killer Whale impersonator, taking pictures with whomever wanted to participate, and a bystander took a short video of Grammy and Grampa saying “HI” to Grandbaby Charis.  When the short speech was finished, I was surprised by a sudden brush on my cheek of a fuzzy lip and a smooching sound.  Guess who got kissed by Shamu the Killer Whale!  What a claim to fame.  The only problem was, when we looked at the video, you couldn’t tell that it was a kiss.  It just looked like the whale looked at me and accidentally brushed against me.  Fuzzy, stuffed whale costumes just have no way of puckering up!  Oh, well.  It was what it was!

We went over then, to the Shamu Stadium and saw the first of the shows for the day.  What an experience.  It is hard to believe that 9,000 pounds of whale can be trained to do all that stuff! 


(I know this doesn’t look like much, but the spectacular video I took WILL NOT UPLOAD!) 

It was amazing!  We sat above the first twelve rows because of little signs that said, “Warning:  First twelve rows are ‘soak zone.’  If you do not wish to be wet, please sit above row 12.“  We did not really care to be wet, so we chose seats that were central, but higher in the bleachers.  Wow!, were we ever glad we did!  They weren’t kidding about that soak zone business.  One daddy took his little boy (maybe a year old) down the side so they could see better, and they were standing there, enjoying the show, when one of the whales turned suddenly and flung this wave of water up over the section where the guy was standing, holding his child.  Oh, dear.  Was that little fellow ever insulted!  He wailed and wailed and refused to be comforted.  The thing is, there is almost never just one splash, and I think the whale may have sent three or four heavy showers over that section before he went on to other things.  The daddy retreated up the bleachers, but it was a source of great unhappiness and noise on the part of the little guy.

The show lasted about a half an hour, and the lower sections all pretty much got their turn at getting wet.  But then we needed to really walk fast to get over to the next show which was the seals.  This was a comedy show, and it really was funny.  There were two seals with their trainers, plus a trained otter, and an emcee.  The show was on the order of a Laurel and Hardy production, and again, it was hard to believe that mere animals could do all those things.  It was lighthearted and not nearly as intense as the whale show, but still really enjoyable.


We had a little time, then, and we were getting a little bit hungry.  The thing was, Lena was going to take us out again that night for supper somewhere, so we really didn’t want to pay Sea World prices for food that we really didn’t NEED since we had eaten breakfast later than usual.  We had seen signs for funnel cakes and so we decided that we would get a “snacky” type thing to eat and then wait for supper.  We went into this nice little eating place and saw how big the funnel cakes were and what was available.  It wasn’t a big decision to buy one funnel cake and split it.  It was the best funnel cake we have ever eaten.  It was as big as a dinner plate, with hot apple pie filling on top of that and then a whole bunch of soft ice cream on top of that. 

We both had more than plenty, and were very well satisfied.  We got something to drink — I think water, and that was our lunch.  It tasted so good on that hot day.

It felt like it was getting hotter and hotter, too.  We had a Dolphin Show next on the schedule, and we meandered over there and found places about a half an hour early.  We sat there in the full sun, and I realized that we both were going to be sunburned in short order.  The bleachers were metal, and there was no shade available except down there in the (you guessed it!) soak section.  I wished and wished that I had gotten some sun screen somewhere, but didn’t remember seeing any in our meanderings.  Daniel had purchased a hat within the first half hour in the park.  One of the meds that he was on had warned  seriously about exposure to sun while on that medicine, so he had wisely decided to protect his head and face.  Up on those bleachers, though, there was no protection, and I became more and more worried that the rest of our trip would be affected by serious sunburns.  Just then a fellow came up through the bleachers, selling small tubes of sunscreen and hats.  We were both so relieved to see the sunscreen that we didn’t care that it cost $9.00 a tube.  We got ourselves slathered down and rightly protected and surprisingly, even after having already been in the sun for several hours, we both came through without any serious burn.  The Dolphin show was a longer than usual show, though, and, like I said, we had gotten there early, and I am quite certain we would have been in big trouble without protection.  The one thing that happened was that the sun was such that it didn’t lend itself well to picture taking, so I didn’t get pictures from the Dolphin show.

The Dolphin show is special for the “human interest” aspect of it.  There is spectacular and silly and stuff that takes your breath away and stuff that makes you laugh — but the dolphins have an almost human quality that is endearing and makes you go “Aw-w-w-w-w-w.  That’s so sweet!”  They actually did their show like a drama production, and both animal and human participants were perfectly trained and worked together flawlessly.  They did their share of splashing the lower rows of the stadium, too, but their splashing lacked the sense of — I don’t know — maybe malice– that the whales had in theirs.  The people who got wet from the dolphins seemed to have less a sense of danger in the drenching and more a sense of a friendly water fight.  It was a particularly interesting contrast for us.

There was one more show over at the Shamu auditorium that was different from the morning one.  In between all of this, we saw penguins and beluga whales and polar bears and sea lions and walrus and just all sorts of animals and flowers.  We caught the last show of the whales, and then things pretty much wound down for us.  It was almost five o’clock before we knew it, so we retrieved the jacket and purse from the locker, and made a final visit to the restrooms.

While in the restroom, I heard a mommy having a conversation with her little girl a few doors down.

“No, Abby,” said the sweet Mommy voice, “You said you had to go to the bathroom.  You go first.”

“Mommy go!” said the little voice.

“No, Abby, you go first.  When little girls have to go potty, they really need to go.  Mommies can hold it better than little girls, so you go first, then Mommy will go.”

There followed evidence that the little girl did in fact go to the potty and there was effusive praise from the Mommy.  There followed a conversation between them about having a little brother and the Mommy said, “This is where you understand about being a big sister, because you have your little brother, Justin.  Not all little girls have little brothers.”  There followed some question that I didn’t understand, but it involved the technicalities of the birds and the bees.  I was so impressed by the Mommy’s response to her little girlie.

“That’s a good question, Abby, and I want to explain it to you.  I think, though, that there are things about this that you can understand better when you are a little older, and I will explain it better then.”  The little girl was satisfied with that answer.  We came out of the stalls at the same time, and the Mommy was helping her wash her hands at the sink, and I watched the two of them and the obvious care and kindness on the part of the mommy and the respect the little girlie had for her mommy, and it made my day.  So often experiences such as Sea World are fraught with screaming children, impatient parents and poor parenting strategies.  This was a brief but encouraging glimpse into the great job some parents are doing, and it was heartwarming.

Then Lena came and whisked us away.  She wanted to make it to the Pacific Ocean before the sun set. Sunsets over the Pacific are like sunrises over the Atlantic. There is nothing quite like them, and we set off with the best of intentions, but very short on time to make it.  There was a wrong turn, and as a result we did not get there before the sun had sunk behind the final bank of clouds. 

It was still pretty nice, and since it wasn’t dark yet, we clambered over the large sand dunes between the parking lot and the broad expanse of water beyond.  The air was chilly since the sun had gone down, but Daniel and I both had purposeful intent.  We really, really wanted to put our feet into the Pacific Ocean. 

Lena thought we were crazy, but I took off my sandals (they were full of sand, anyhow) and stood where the next big wave would come over my freezing toes.  It caught me unprepared for how cold it was, but it was still exhilarating! 

   (It’s kinda hard to get decent pictures of your own feet!)

I watched the water curl around my toes, and thought again about what a privilege I had been granted.  It seemed almost like a dream that I was HERE.  Standing in the Pacific Ocean.  This gal from slower, lower Delaware, in San Diego, CA, seeing things I’ve never seen before, doing things I’ve never done before.  It was unreal!  Here we were. Daniel and I, on the trip of a lifetime, and it was just so very sweet!

And then we clambered back over the dunes to the parking lot, shaking the sand out from between our toes and off our feet.  My feet were freezing, and Lena’s car felt good after the hard, cold pavement.  She took us to a small, hometown kind of restaurant that evening, and Daniel and I both had chopped steak with gravy, veggies and potatoes.  We were really, really hungry, and the servings were generous, the prices very reasonable.  We lingered over the meal, telling Lena all about our day, and feeling more than a little exhausted.  We watched the people come and go, and were delighted with our happy, personable, attentive waiter.  It would take some serious time to assimilate all we had seen that day, and both of us were ready for some sleeping.  We paid the bill and headed for home.  Our plans were to head up to Pasadena the next day (Friday) to see Mary Beth and Joanna Sharp, two girls from our church who are in a mission training program up there.  Lena was taking the day off to go with us, and we were expecting a fairly leisurely day.  This day at Sea World was anything but leisurely, but we truly enjoyed every minute of it.   What wonderful, wonderful memories!



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I am taking a brief break from my San Diego story to tell a Valentines’ Day story.

Daniel and I had our first date on Valentines’ Day, 1971.

Yesterday, walking through the airports, first in San Diego, then in Dallas, Fort Worth, and finally Washington, D.C., I commented to him about how, if you had told me that long ago day that in forty-one years, we would be coming home from a trip of a lifetime, tromping in such unbelievable places (to me, then, anyhow) I would never have believed it.

Daniel has always been pretty compulsive about flowers for Valentines’ day.  He has almost always gotten me pink and red carnations with a generous amount of baby’s breath thrown in, all done up in a vase.  When we were very young, he could afford maybe three or four, or possibly a half dozen, but he always did it, and, to be honest, I think that I took it for granted.  I liked it, don’t get me wrong, but I just didn’t realize how much it meant to me.

Over the years, Daniel has taken to getting his daughters flowers on Valentines’ day, too.  Especially if they didn’t have a boyfriend or husband to do it for them.  Last year, when Rachel was in Thailand, he went to great lengths to be sure that she got flowers on Valentines’ day.  And it was gratifying to him to see how much it meant to her.  This year, well, we were in San Diego, and there were many things that took his attention.  To be honest, I didn’t even think about the fact that his girlies were probably expecting flowers from their Daddy. 

Last night, we got to talking about it and he said, “I planned to try to get some delivered from San Diego, but I needed Rachel’s address, and things were just so busy, I decided that I would just do it when we got home.  The flowers will be a day late, but I will still do it.”

When we walked into the house last night, there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers on the dining room table.  Deborah had bought them from Wal-mart for $10.00 for some sort of shin-dig she had hosted for some of her friends.  They were beautiful, attractively arranged, and I thought they were quite nice indeed.  I thought that it was nice that there were flowers for Valentines’ Day, no matter how they got here. 

When Daniel started talking to me, though, about how he was getting flowers sent to both Rachel and Deborah, I felt a bit wistful.  He needed to do quite a bit of work to get everything arranged, and he consulted with me at various times of the day working out the details.  For some reason, I was overcome with a desire for him to get me some flowers, too.  I kept giving myself very stern “talkings to” about this irrational thinking. 

“You just got home from an expensive and very romantic trip,” I told myself.  “And there are nice flowers here.  You’ve had your husband pretty much to yourself for a week, you don’t need flowers to prove ANYTHNG.” 

But it didn’t help much.  I wanted them so badly that I almost said something to him about hoping that just maybe I could get a little tiny token bouquet.  I thought about how I could word it so that he wouldn’t know that he was being prodded to do it, but I knew I wouldn’t really want them if I had to ask for them.  So, I kept my mouth shut and went about this day with grim determination to not pity myself and to be cheerful.

And what a day it was!  First thing this morning, Nettie took a tumble backwards in her room and thumped her head on the floor with a sickening ‘Ka-thump!”  I raced into her room and found her unresponsive on the floor.  She started coming around in maybe 15 seconds or so, but she really scared me.  She eventually got herself up, and she seemed pretty normal.  I needed to take her for blood work, and Cecilia to a doctor’s appointment, and that pretty much took all morning.  I did call her primary care physician to ask for advice and duly reported it to the state, and before everything was said and done, they insisted that I take her for a CT scan.  They got especially strident after Deborah evaluated her and felt that her responses were more depressed than usual, and that there was some “spacing out” going on.

I spent hours in the emergency room.  They were busy, every bed was full, and they were putting people on stretchers in the alleyways and in front of the nurses’ station — which is where Nettie and I ended up.  They sent her fairly swiftly for the CT scan, but then the hospital ER computers went down, and they waited and waited for them to come up.  Just when I thought I couldn’t bear it any more, they came and said that the scan was clear, that Nettie only had a concussion, and that they were going to write the discharge papers in long hand so that she could be discharged.  Which they did eventually, and finally we were able to come on home.

I stopped at Eldest Daughter’s house to pick up Cecilia, where I had deposited her when I went in to the emergency room.  Then I went and filled my van with some much-needed gas.  Then I went through the pharmacy drive through to pick up some prescriptions, picked up some donuts for Nettie and to serve at the Small Group meeting that was scheduled for the evening, and then, finally I was on my way home.  I was almost in tears from the frustration of the day, and the thing least on my mind was flowers — mine, daughters, or otherwise.  I just wanted to get home to my chair, get a good hot cup of coffee, take something for the aching in my head and my bones and just sit a little bit before getting supper and getting ready for small group.

Nettie carried the donuts, I got Cecilia and a few of the sundry and various things that needed taking in.  Certain Man was already home, and I came into our warm kitchen to see the bouquet of flowers that had been on the table, sitting on the bar.

And then I saw these, sitting in the middle of the dining room table:

Once again, I was fighting the tears, but not from frustration or feeling sorry for myself.  The flowers were so beautiful — and there was something in this bouquet that I have never had before.  See that foil wrapped heart there just above the pink carnation on the bottom left?  That is a chocolate candy heart.  The florist said that she had several left over from Valentines’ day and threw it in at no extra charge.  This was one happy gal!  Not because I needed them.  I really for sure DIDN’T.

But because it spoke to me of, not only my husband’s love, but of the way he makes it his business to really understand what matters to me and goes above and beyond “just getting by” to the place of delight.        .

Thank you, Daniel.

I surely do love you and I appreciate the flowers.

Happy Valentines’ Day to all of my Xanga friends.



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California, this is our story — Chapter 3

We had a short stop in Chicago, and we debated whether we should disembark.  The rules were that you had to take all your belongings with you.  There were friendly fellow passengers who (probably) would have watched our stuff, but there is that voice that booms over the loudspeaker at regular intervals “Keep all luggage within your view at all times:  Do not accept any luggage at any time from someone you do not know!” and so we decided to just stay put.  We were both kinda’ hungry.  The banana and bottle of water had long since been digested, and the airplane only serves beverages.  I usually get a tomato juice if I can, because they give you the whole can, but they don’t even give the token bag of pretzels or peanuts any more.  Nope!  Just something to drink, unless you want to buy something.  That is rather daunting, too:  $6.79 for a cold cut “breakfast” sandwich, and $10.00 for the cold cut sandwiches that they consider “dinner”  (those come with chips.)  However, though the selection would have been better inside the airport, the prices wouldn’t have been, and then there was the hassle of getting back on again.  We decided to stay put.

Once in the air again, we decided to buy and split a breakfast sandwich.  We were so hungry, it was good!  Dry, except for a slice of not quite ripe tomato, no mayo, no mustard, no nothing, but still wonderful to our hungry tummies.  We settled in and went to sleep after that, and before we knew it, we were landing in San Diego.  We were actually early, and until we got our luggage, Lena was at the curb, waiting for us.  She offered us her car, as she was going back to work for a few hours, but we decided that we wanted to go to her apartment, unpack, and maybe take a walk, acquaint ourselves with the sights and sounds of her neighborhood, and find some lunch. It was only 10:30am San Diego time when we landed, but it surely did feel like lunch time to us (it was 1:30 pm, our “back home” time.)  We did a quick perusal of the apartment (so cute, so efficient, so completely “Lena-ish!) set a few things out of the suitcase, and decided to go for that walk.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous!  We set out for the apartment and walked a considerable distance, down the street, up across the freeway, down again to another street, and found a subway.  We got a foot long turkey and cheese sub and again, it tasted so good!  We got something to drink that wasn’t water, then ducked into a nearby grocery/convenience/liquor store establishment to pick up a few things.  We picked up breakfast cereal, some eggs and a cake mix and a few things that would make it possible for us to be less of an imposition to Lena.  A cake mix???  Yepper!  There is something about baking something that makes a place feel homey and comfortable..  Lena lives alone, and every day comes home to an empty apartment  We decided that it would be nice for her to come home to a warm, live welcome that smelled wonderful.  The easiest way to do that is to bake a cake.  And so, back we came to her cozy apartment, and set about to find the stuff necessary to bake a cake.  We had bought most of the ingredients, but needed to find a cake pan, a mixing bowl, mixer, beaters  — and a bottle of oil. 

For those of you who don’t know Lena, she is a little person.  She has engineered everything in her kitchen so that she can reach most things without difficulty.  A friend of hers (who was also a little person) had a platform constructed that can be moved without too much difficulty.  It has two steps up to a good size top area and fits right up to the kitchen sink.  It makes it so that the person who is cooking, especially in an efficiency apartment, can pretty much cook, do dishes, and put things away without getting off the platform.  When he passed away, Lena fell heir to this handy device, and it is something that she uses almost all the time.  For regular size people, though, it is not the most convenient.  It is just a little disconcerting to find the kitchen sink at your knees, and your face somewhere plastered in front of the overhead cupboard door.  Lena is accustomed to the fact, too, that you need to get all of the necessary equipment out of the lower cupboards before you start anything, because once this platform is in place, you cannot really access the lower cupboard because it is too tight for the doors to open.  It did not take Daniel very long to decide that while we were in San Diego, we would do the reaching and stretching that needed doing.  He upended the platform and put it back against the far kitchen wall, providing us with two more shelves for storage and made it possible for us to forage about in the kitchen to our hearts’ content.  We found the stuff we needed — except for the oil.  I finally looked under the sink, and sure enough!  There was the oil.  Daniel decided it was time for a nap, and I got the cake into the oven.  Then I worked on a few things on my computer, getting the story down and got the frosting done for the cake.  When finished, it looked yummy, and I was pleased with how it turned out.

We had plans to go to The Fish Market for supper, and Lena came breezing in at the appointed time.  She was incredulous at the cake.

“How did you bake a cake?” she squealed.

“Oh, it was easy.  Just a cake mix!”

“Did you find everything that you needed?”

“Well, we bought most of the ingredients, but I couldn’t find the oil at first, but then I did, so we were fine!”

“Oh, good!  You found my oil down in the cupboard where I hide it?”

“Down in the cupboard?  No, I found it under the sink.”

“Under the sink!!!  Oh, no!   Did you smell it?  That‘s old oil that I use in my candle burning thingies!”

“Well, no, I didn‘t smell it.  It looked okay, though.  I think I would have noticed if it smelled rancid.”

“Well, I can hardly  smell anything, but David (one of Lena’s good friends) brought it over and said that it was old and that it shouldn’t be used anymore for cooking, but I can use it for my candles.  So I put it under there to keep it separate from my other oil.  He is so finicky about oil getting old, and insists that I need to only use fresh.”

“I don’t know, Lena,” I said, going over to cut myself a corner of the cake to see if it was terrible, “I guess the proof is in the tasting, but it certainly smelled okay while it was baking.”  We all got ourselves a sample and agreed that it wasn’t too bad.  To my critical thinking, you could taste something was amiss, but it wasn’t enough to throw it away.  Daniel would eat it with his cereal all week, and Lena would get into it too.  When we left for home on Tuesday morning, there was one piece left.  Daniel admitted to me that he could taste something was amiss, but it wasn’t strong enough to discourage him. 

And then it was time to scramble for the car so we could get some supper before it was too late.  Lena knows the haunts of San Diego like the back of her hand, and she wanted to take us to the Fish House.  This is a nice restaurant that is by the water.  We had a great supper, and the prices were reasonable.  I had grilled chicken breast (Lena doesn’t make fun of me for ordering chicken like some people do —  You know who you are!) and Daniel got seafood. 

The restaurant is right beside a Naval Aircraft Carrier (USS Midway, circa WWII) that has been made into a Naval museum.  Around the outside of the museum are various sculptures and models that have historical significance.  Night had fallen when we left the museum, but the lights illuminated several of these displays.  The one that was most impressive was a bronze, life size replica of Bob Hope entertaining the troops in Viet Nam.  The soldiers stood around in various states of injury — some without a leg, on crutches, some with various body parts bandaged up, and other sad situations.  Bob Hope stood before them, and there was playing an actual recording of his presentation to the soldiers in Nam.  The darkness surrounding the display, with the lighting illuminating it made me feel deeply the ambiguity of the comedy and sadness.  It was impressive!  On the way out there is this HUGE (and I mean HUGE!) statue of the picture “V-J day in Times Square” of a Sailor kissing a nurse.  Wowser!  It stands 25 feet tall, and it was also illuminated by flood lights against the night sky.  Just plain impressive.  Daniel was interested in coming back to see the museum one of the days that we were there, but that wasn’t going to happen.  I think we both would have enjoyed it, but there were so many things to see and so little time, that we did run out of time.

And so, our first day in San Diego came to a close.  We poured ourselves into Lena’s little car, and drove home.  It was late, even by San Diego standards, and our poor East Coast bodies were feeling the time change as well as a long day of travel.  Sleep was so welcome, and plans were to go to Sea World the next morning.  Lena was going to work, dropping us off at Sea World on the way and picking us up on the way home. 

“Maybe we won’t want to stay all day,” I mused as we were discussing schedules.

“There is plenty to see,” said Lena.  “It’s difficult to take in all the shows they have listed on their brochure because they have them all strung together.”

I was still unconvinced — but when I heard that it cost over $70 a piece to just get in, I decided that there was no way that we were going to leave before we saw everything we could possibly see.

“You can call me when you are ready to come,“ said Lena, “and if it is early, I’ll just run over and get you.“

“Never mind,“ I said.  “You don’t need to worry about it.  At $73.00 a person, there’s no way I’m leaving until they throw us out.  We’re staying to closing!“  And so that was the plans.  On to bed we went and slept the night away.  I was so tired, I didn’t even hear when Daniel got up to go on a walk the next morning.  I slept long and hard, and before we knew it, it was time to head out for Sea World.

And that is a story for the next time . . .


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California, this is our story. Chapter 2

When he came back he had a report of all sorts of “cute” things wrong with him.  “aCUTE Sinusitis.”  “aCUTE Pharyngitis.”  “aCUTE asthmatic-type Bronchitis.”  He had a great experience at “Doc in a Box“ where he found my own cousin, Dr. Bonnie Yoder, the attending physician.  The upshot was FOUR prescriptions that would hopefully make everything right as rain!  

. . .He was still miserable as all get out, but at least he had hopes of getting better.  He decided though, that there was no way he was going to be able to preach on Sunday, and his brothers on the Leadership Team took over planning an alternate schedule for Sunday morning so he could rest and recuperate.  His best friend, Gary, called and said that he was going to come and take care of chores so he wouldn’t need to go out in the damp Delaware cold– another offer that Daniel did not refuse.  And so, he rested and rested and rested — all day Saturday, all day Sunday — and even took Monday off before he was feeling good enough to go back for a single day of work before we hit the skies for California.

Our flight was leaving at 6:10 on Wednesday morning.  Over the weeks, we had discussed what we were going to do about getting to the airport.  What time should we leave?  Where should we park?  Should we go with long term parking, or just find some motel parking where we could leave the vehicle and catch the shuttle to the airport?  What would be the safest choice for the best cost?  We had gotten lots of advice from different folks, and finally put an eight dollar deposit on a special deal we had found on line.  We weren’t entirely comfortable with the time frames, but I kept praying that God would give us clear direction about how to handle everything.  All our best laid plans became unnecessary on Tuesday evening.

Jesse and Christina had brought our grandbaby down to tell us good-bye, and we were milling about the kitchen with lots of disarray, hugs and little girl prattle when Jesse suddenly said, “I don’t know what arrangements you’ve made, but if it would be helpful, I’d be glad to take you to the airport.”

Would it be helpful?!?!?!?!?  I cannot begin to tell you the relief that flooded my soul.  But he would have to get up in the middle of the night — and it would be a great inconvenience for him (and Christina, who really doesn’t like her husband going away in the middle of the dark, cold nights — or the dark warm, ones, for that matter!) Jesse good-naturedly shot down all the arguments, and remained adamant that he was able and willing!  Daniel wasn’t in the house at the moment, but I was pretty certain what he would say.  What I said was, “Oh, Jesse.  I don’t think we would turn that down.  Dad would have to say for sure, but if you are sure you wouldn‘t mind, I think it would be a blessing.”

When Daniel arrived in from his last check on his livestock and empty chicken houses, it didn’t take much persuasion (at all) to decide to take Jesse up on his offer.  Daniel and Jesse agreed on the unearthly hour of 2:30 AM to depart, and after the final squeezes and “I love you’s,” Jesse and Christina and Charis departed for their house and a few hours of shut-eye before the departure.

Then set forth the final frenzy of what was going to fit in and what was going to be left behind, final packing and discussions.  Middle Daughter was working until Midnight, and we were both still awake and going strong when she took herself to bed. 

“I don’t know if there is any use in going to bed,” I told Daniel.  “I’m so keyed up, I don’t know if I can sleep.  And I’m afraid that, if I do go to sleep, I won’t wake up.”

“I know what you mean,” he said, “but we should probably try to sleep at least a little.”  And so we did.  I set my alarm clock on the most obnoxious noise it has for waking people up, and settled in for a token nap.  I went right to sleep.  My poor husband, though vastly improved from the week before, got to coughing.  He also has a problem with Restless Leg Syndrome, and the prednisone and inhaler he was on seemed to make that worse.  Between the coughing and the RLS, he finally just got up and went downstairs to his beloved chair.  Which is where I found him when I came down a little after two o‘clock.  He was fully dressed and ready to go .  He also was peacefully sleeping.  I hated to wake him, but it was almost time to get on our way. 

“Sweetheart,” I touched his foot, and he jumped awake, wide eyed and surprised.  “It’s after 2:00.  We need to get moving.”

“Pshew!  It feels like I just got to sleep!” he said.  And that was true.  He probably had just gotten to sleep.  But he bestirred himself and got around and Jesse came and we were finally on our way!

Jesse is able to find his way in almost any circumstance, and he did a great job of getting us to the airport.  We were flying out of Reagan International, and there were detours and such, but he still got us there in plenty of time, dropped us off at the curb and headed back to Delaware in time to get to work.  We checked in and then it was time to go through security.  I always set off the buzzers.  Between my hair pins and my knees, I’m the proverbial red alert.  I explained about my knees, and the gal put me into a wire cage and asked me to please stay there until they could get someone.  Apparently, Reagan doesn’t do the body scan — at least there were no provisions made for that.  I kept hearing them call for a “Female” to come to security, and finally a man came and relieved the female attendant at the security scanner and she disappeared for a while and then finally came back, stripping on purple gloves as she came. 

All this time, I was in this wire cage, right in the middle of security, with people passing on all sides.  My patient husband was back in possession of his shoes and his belt and our carryon and my purse and the laptop bag.  He waited at the edge of the crowd, peering over in my direction to see if they were ever going to do something.  Occasionally, we would exchange “mouthed messages”  as in “What’s happening?” (with arched eyebrows)  “I don’t know!” (with helpless, palm up gesture of both hands)  “What’s taking so long?” (with a puzzled frown)  “I don’t know!” (with helpless shrug of shoulders).  I stood there, on the cold floor, without my footwear, and wondered if I was supposed to stand on the little rubber mat, or on the tile floor area beside it.  I searched the enclosure for hidden cameras, but being it was just a wire enclosure ( almost was like a chicken wire with metal corners and a wire roof over it), it was obvious that there was no extra equipment for surveillance.  This was truly just a holding pen.

The gal opened the door and let me out.  “Come with me,” she said., leading me over to a side area that was filled with strange machines of all sorts.  “Do you want a private screening or is this okay?

I fully expected one of those “full body scans” that have been so controversial, but I’ve had to have them every time since I had my knees replaced, and I certainly didn’t care if anyone saw them take the picture.  As long as the picture wasn’t broadcasted over the airport I figured it was a necessary indignity.  “This is fine,” I told her.  “I don’t need a private screening.”

Oh! Dear! Me!

I should have guessed what was up when she asked me if any part of my body was hurting.

“? ? ?”

I must have looked puzzled because she asked again.  “Is there any part of your body that will hurt if I touch it?”

“Um, no . . . I‘m pretty much just fine!”

And she got about her chore with a no-nonsense attitude.  What I got was a criminal frisking in plain view of anyone who wanted to watch!  I will grant you that she was gentle, and she not unnecessarily linger in any private areas, but she covered them all, and this naive Mennonite gal was very surprised and quietly mortified.  Patient husband was outraged, but hey!  We had a plane to catch and it seemed to us that the best thing to do was to quietly gather my shoes and watch and purse and get out of there as quickly as possible.  My red face and all.

Our flight offered no meals at all, so we grabbed a bottle of water and a banana and ate that for our breakfast.  And then we were off to the boarding area and soon called to board.  Our seats were in the next to the last row.  This pleased me to no end.  I‘m not the happiest flier, although I have conquered my terror with the help of My Heavenly Father.  Mark Lowry said that he always sits as far back in the plane as possible because whenever there is a plane wreck, the tail of the aircraft is always sticking straight up in the air.  He figures that the safest place is in that tail!  When I told someone that my theory is that of Mark Lowry’s. they said, “Or, you could look for the black box and sit on that!  They seem to always find that when there is an accident!”   That is a thought!  I wonder where they keep that black box.  I’ll bet it’s in that tail!

Our plane was not at all full.  Daniel and I had the three row seat to ourselves.  Daniel, by virtue of his position as leader, and desire and inclination always takes the window seat.  This is another thing that pleases me greatly.  I don’t really have a great interest in peering down thousands of feet to the landscape below, trying to figure out where we might be now, checking out the clouds beneath, or trying to figure out if the plane is going to stop in time or going to make it off the runway in time etc., etc., etc..  These kinds of things do not inspire confidence in me, nor does it enhance my enjoyment.  My idea of a great flight is to sleep or read or write or see if I can get a tomato juice, or talk to my seatmate or something.  Anything to take my mind off the fact that the ground is very, very far beneath me and I am quite dependent on the laws of aerodynamics that I understand NOT AT ALL to bring me safely down.  Daniel had a wonderful time.  He often tries to point out things and it seems like they are always just beyond the point that I can see, or I cannot find where he is pointing in the great expanse, or I am suddenly feeling very strange at the sudden glimpse of the ground below.   I try!  Honestly, I do!  It’s just that this flying thing isn’t quite the adventure for me that it is for him.

To be continued later . . .


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Pictures from San Diego

(The story is a part of an ongoing project — it will return. For now, here are some pictures.
(And in case you are wondering — I’m NOT here alone.  Daniel got enough better to come along!)

Some scenes from the Apartment complex:

This is Lena’s apartment house.  She lives on the upper level, next to the far end.

The flowers are spectacular — for these Delaware folks in the middle of February.







This is the view from the parking lot.


And this is the freeway that is close to her house.  
We need to walk over it on our way to almost anywhere.

We’ve been to Sea World, went to Pasadena to see Mary Beth and Joanna, and today we are going on a Safari.

Whoo-Hoo!!!!!!!  So Happy to be in San Diego!!!!!!!



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California, This is our story . . .

Before we ever left . . .

There has been some surprise expressed over the fact that Daniel and I suddenly took out for California, not only without telling anyone, but without permission, for cryin‘ out loud!  I never really thought I needed permission.  Not only that, but sometimes I think that people really don’t listen very well when I say something, and when things like this happen and I start hearing things like, “Mom! (or “Sis!” or “Mary Ann!”) I didn’t know anything about this!” — That’s when I’m a little suspicious that people aren‘t listening.  The thing was, we’ve been planning our California trip for a very long time.

Daniel’s oldest sister, Lena, has lived in San Diego for over twenty years.  When she started to noise about retirement back a few years ago, Daniel expressed great interest in visiting her before she left the area.  The thing was, My reputation is such that Lena really didn’t expect that it would ever happen.  Although we have discussed it frequently, when Daniel specifically asked me (probably about a year ago) if I would consider going, He must have caught me at a time when I was feeling at least a little bit adventuresome.  At least, I thought that it sounded like a great idea.  Daniel had never been to San Diego, either, but every single one of the offspringin’s had, and loud was the encouragement for Daniel and me to pursue this dream.

And so, after Lena had visited Delaware yet again for Thanksgiving, we decided to start planning our trip with intent.  There was one thing called “chickens” to organize our lives around, as well as care for Nettie and Cecilia  When the wonderful gals who attend the Thursday Morning Bible Study at Shady Acres gave me coupons for “Time away with your husband, we will take care of your ladies” for Christmas, my heart was more hopeful than it had been in a very long time that it just might happen.  So Daniel went to the calendar and determined that his chickens were going to be leaving the first week of February and he and his sister began to look for ticket deals in earnest. They settled on a flight that left at 6:10 AM on February 8th.

It has been a thing of wonder for me to observe how God has brought all these pieces together for us.  Situation after situation just kind of worked itself out, and the plans seemed to be going right along quite well.

Until last week,

It was one of those kinds of weeks — started out with a bang, and did NOT stop.  Daniel was fighting an upper respiratory infection that seemed to worsen as the week went on.  When he stayed home from work on Wednesday, I was secretly concerned.  Daniel NEVER stays home from work except under the duress of feeling really, really bad.  The chickens were going out on Thursday, and he had already changed his Alternate Work Schedule so that he was off Thursday instead of Monday because the chicken company somehow feels it’s a good idea for the farmer to be present at chicken catching time.  With that in mind, I knew something was seriously amiss as it was very much unlike him to stay home when it meant he would be off two days in a row.

Wednesday, I heard him call our family doctor to see if he could get an appointment.  I guess he was figuring that he only had a week to get better before he left for California, and decided that he had better get on with it.  Dr. Wilson had no openings on Wednesday and was going to be out of town Thursday and Friday.

“We could see you Monday morning,” said the ever helpful receptionist.

“I could be dead by then,” said Daniel in his usual manner of responding.

“–or, you could go to one of the walk-in,” was the helpful advice from the office.

He got off the phone and came to complain to me.  “It doesn’t make no sense,” he intoned.  “Where am I supposed to go to a walk-in?”

“They have one here in town,” I said.  “And then there is that ‘Doc in a Box’ place up by Camden Wal-Mart.”

“I guess I’ll see if I can’t knock it out by myself,” he said, “I’ll see how I feel.”  And out he went to work in his chicken house.  Coughing and snorting and looking like he could hardly put one foot in front of the other.  He spent a great deal of the day on the chair.

Thursday came, and he was feeling no better.  One thing about Daniel Yutzy is that when there is something to be done, he just kinda’ gets busy and does it.  And on Thursday, there were chickens to get moved, so he would come in and crash on his La-Z-boy, drink a cup of tea, take some cold medicine and sleep if he wasn’t coughing too hard to sleep.  Sometimes I would find him on sacked out on the floor of the sun room, while he waited for another coop truck or when he found he couldn’t push it anymore.  Sometimes he would sit in his chair and try to prepare for his Sunday sermon.  I kept watch, and wondered mightily, but I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut.  Some things a man just has to decide for himself.  But the days were getting shorter and shorter until our expected departure date.  That was something that made him push himself even harder.

“Hon,” he would say stubbornly when he saw me looking askance at yet another bout of raucous coughing, “I HAVE to get this done.  It HAS to be done before we leave, and if I don’t do it, no one else will.”  And I guess it was pretty well the truth– especially if he wasn’t going to ask someone for help.  Something he likes just about as much as he likes macaroni and cheese.  Which is not at all.

Friday Morning:
I came down to find Daniel on the La=Z-boy when he normally would have been out doing chores.  I thought briefly that there were no chickens, so maybe he was going to just flee out there at the last minute and check on things and feed the cows.  One look at his face, and a touch to his forehead and I knew he was really sick.

“There’s no way I can make it,” he wheezed.  “Where is there a walk-in that I can get to first thing this morning?”  I got on the phone and began calling.  The one in Milford didn’t open for walk-ins until noon.  I had an old phone book and couldn’t find a number for Doc in a Box.  The local hospital gave me a few numbers, but all of them were pretty much dead end leads, too.  “I’m going to go feed the cows,” he suddenly said, on his feet and looking pale, “and maybe you can figure something out until I get back in.  Then I am going to get a shower and find somewhere to go.”  No offers to help were accepted, and I was in the middle of getting ladies on the bus, so he tottered out, and I went back to looking for the elusive phone number in between showers and meds and packing Cecilia’s lunch.  Tucked away on one of the shelves of our bakers rack was a newer version of the Yellow Pages.  I quickly took a gander through the business section.

Finally, SUCCESS!!!!  I called Doc in a Box, found out that they opened at 7:30, were not especially busy at the moment, and that they only accepted credit cards for co-pay.  When he drug himself back in from his chores, it took about fifteen minutes for him to be on his way.

When he came back he had a report of all sorts of “cute” things wrong with him.  “aCUTE Sinusitis.”  “aCUTE Pharyngitis.”  “aCUTE asthmatic-type Bronchitis.”  He had a great experience at “Doc in a Box“ where he found my own cousin, Dr. Bonnie Yoder, the attending physician.  The upshot was FOUR prescriptions that would hopefully make everything right as rain!

. . . MORE LATER!!!


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Here we are in all our splendor!

I’m sitting in San Diego, waiting for my sister in law to get home from work.  Certain Man and I awoke in the very early morning, and were so encouraged to have Beloved Son in Law drive us to the airport. 

We landed at O’hare in Chicago:


and it was rainy and chilly.  I took this picture through the window of the plane, and tried to upload this one and some others.  This is the only one that came through.  Daniel and I didn’t even get off the plane.

Then we came on to San Diego where it is warm and beautiful and the flowers are blooming  and I took a whole bunch of pictures — but there isn’t any way for me to get them from my computer to this computer, so I will wait for the wifi at some other place and then I will put them on.

Oh, yes, there is one thing I didn’t take a picture of, and I am so glad of it!

We got the plane in Washington and stayed on it until we arrived in California.  The last flight was to last about four hours and I think perhaps 90% of the passengers used the bathroom during that flight.  The bathrooms were extremely small, as plane bathrooms are wont to be, and there was no time for adjusting clothing, combing back hair, etc.  You pretty much got in and got out and hoped that the line wasn’t too impatient whilst you were in there.

I’ve mentioned before Certain Man’s penchant for being the last to leave somewhere.  This was true again today when we were disembarking from our plane.  He had gone to use the restroom after we had landed, because he always plans to be the last to leave anyhow.  I scrunched around on the seat, gathering my computer bag, folding our lightweight blanket, collecting our neck pillows, making sure I had my phone, my camera and everything safely stashed in the purse.  When he came out and everyone else had gone, the stewardesses were waiting for us to finally get ourselves on out of there.  They were gracious, of course, and bid us a fond farewell, and we thanked them, and stepped off the plane — and suddenly there was this dreadful feeling of something tripping me up, and sure enough, with all that scootching around on the seat, my slip had worked itself down and was in the process of trying to fall off.  (I know, Mama, I know.  Always wear a full slip when traveling so these things don’t happen!)  Six inches of white were making themselves known.  I didn’t look back to see who of the crew may have been watching, but it was surely one time when I was glad that my husband likes to lag behind.  There were NO PASSENGERS in the long hall ahead of us, so I discreetly (I hope!) grabbed at that slip through my skirt and pulled it back up.  I held on to it until I found a Ladies’ restroom, and then I safety-pinned it securely so it wouldn’t slide down again. 

Whew!  It is my hope that I have my embarrassing moment over for the rest of this week, and won’t have to worry about what might happen.  But, unfortudiously, I know myself pretty well, and I suspect that there is another moment waiting for me around the corner.  Oh, Dear.  If I wasn’t afraid I would miss something, I’d be more careful.

But I don’t want to miss anything.  Look out, San Diego.  Here I come!



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Going on an adventure!


Just me and Certain Man!


I will try to keep you up to date!


Do you think this gal knows anything about it?

California, here we come!


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Last week I wrote a poem for a Baby Shower. 

It wasn’t meant to be profound.

Just fun.

At Middle Daughter’s urging, I’m sharing it here.

And no, this isn’t the baby it was written for
(She has not yet been born!)

. . . But this little one has changed our lives in a thousand ways.
And she’s my favorite grandbaby!


And this is the poem —

Baby Clarke

Where love takes wing, and The Blackbird Sings,
There’ll be a baby swing, and teething rings.
There’ll be sleepless nights, and nursing plights
Frilly tights, and sweet night lights.

There’ll be rocking chairs, and teddy bears,
Tumble scares, and bedtime prayers.
Searches for a binky, a Ring for a pinkie,
A Boardwalk prize, dinky, and diapers so stinky.

There’ll be tricycle crashes, resulting in gashes,
And naked streak dashes, and red diaper rashes.
There’ll be Desitin Cream, and vaporizer steam.
Sweet wistful dreams, and “kill spider!” screams.

There’ll be butterfly kisses, and tooth fairy wishes
Cheesy Gold fishes, and baby food dishes.
Dinner time spills, yucky vitamin pills.
First lisping word thrills, and so many bills.

When the bright lights are out and you feel the cold doubt,
And you think all about this day in, and day out
job you’ve taken on, and you don’t feel at all strong.
And something is wrong with the Blackbird’s Brave Song.

Hang in there, dear one. No bright crown is won
While the runners still run and the race isn’t done.
So gather your wit, your faith and your grit.
Being tired is legit, but don’t you dare quit!

(*The reference to the “Blackbird’s Song” is what makes this personal to the baby for which it was written.   “Blackbird Sings”   is this baby’s Mama’s blog.)



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