Adventures @ the DMV

This was the year that Delaware Grammy had to renew her driver’s license.  I knew that I was supposed to get down there and get it done, but there were extenuating circumstances, and I kept thinking, “Next week, for sure, I’m going to get down there!”  But the weeks kept passing by, and finally I was down to the last week.  Then the last day.  Friday, October 13th, came up with various interruptions and when Certain Man assured me that I could go in on Monday, the day after my birthday since my birthday fell on a Sunday, I decided that Monday was a far better day, and opted to wait.

Monday had its own constraints, but eventually I found myself on the way down to the DMV, hoping that it wouldn’t take too long to get this license renewal behind me.  On the way down, I wondered if I would be allowed to take a new picture.  Sometimes, depending on the state of the photographic equipment, the State has opted to not take a new picture.  This resulted in Youngest Son, Lemuel, having a picture from his 14 year old I.D. on his Driver’s license.  It’s not so bad (usually) when it’s one of us oldsters keeping a younger picture, but in Lem’s case, the fresh-faced boy on his license was an insult to him as he entered his later teens.  And for this Delaware Grammy, it so happened that I really, really, really wanted a new picture.

The old picture, taken five years ago, was notoriously bad.  So bad, in fact, that shortly after receiving it, when I handed it to a clerk as identification, she handed it back and said that it wasn’t me.  She asked me something about why I was using my father’s identification.  I handed it back and protested that it was, in fact me.  She read it over, realized that it was in fact me, and said, “That’s a terrible picture!  You should demand a new picture.  They should HAVE to redo it!”  As I told my family, it did not inspire any confidence.  It did NOT!  I really wanted a new one.

Besides the photo business, rolling around in my head were the usual things about the DMV.  (The terrible wait, the terrible wait, the terrible wait.)  Also on my mind was the fact that I needed to get a replacement for a title that I had misplaced.  That always takes an act of congress.  I resigned myself to spending an hour or two within the confines of the walls of our Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

I came through the double doors at Delaware’s Sussex County DMV to discover that there was no line, and two people, a policeman and a nice lady, welcoming new arrivals and handing out numbers.  I told the policeman that I needed to renew my license and also get a copy of a title.  He said that I should take a number to get my license renewed, then come back for another number to get the title.

He handed me my number and said, “Your number is —- and they are calling it now at station 26!”

Huh!  They were!

I headed over to the station, was taken right in.  When I handed in my old license, the clerk said, “There is going to be a ten dollar late fee because your birthday was yesterday.”

“Really?” I asked.  “Yesterday was Sunday.  I’m not allowed one day’s grace?”

“I’m sorry,” she said.  “But we give you six months ahead of your birthday to get in and get it renewed.  We do not allow any days of grace.”

Bummer!  I should have gotten in while the getting was good!!!  Oh, well.  But the gal was helpful, kind, efficient,  There was no question about whether I was to have a new picture, and in a strange new twist, she even said, “You may smile if you wish,” and I wished.  Before I knew it, the paperwork was all completed and in less than ten minutes from start to finish, I had my new license in hand. The photo wasn’t going to win me any contests for being stunning, but no one will mistake me for my father.

Now for the title.

I went back to retrieve a number, and again was handed a number that was called while I stretched out my hand.  I walked over to another counter, had another incredibly friendly and efficient person to help me, and was finished there before I could believe it.

I walked out on air.  It was unbelievable!  I had literally been in that building less than 20 minutes.  I thought about my dark thoughts on my way down, my pessimistic expectations, and about how wrong I was about everything.  So often I think I need to “hope for the best, prepare for the worst,” but I’m not so sure that is working for me.  Maybe in this as well as a whole lot of other situations.  That “hoping for the best” business gets overshadowed as I “prepare for the worst.”

And I had wasted precious time fretting about what I was going to say if they didn’t want to let me take a new picture.  I had armed myself with my new Readers’ Digest in case I had to wait a long time and couldn’t find anyone to talk to.  It almost felt like I had been gypped some how.  All the angst preparation had been entirely unnecessary.  I had been treated with respect and pleasantries and efficiency and speed.

There was nothing left for me to do but to be very grateful.

And I truly, truly was!

And this old heart

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Adventure @ Walgreens

I just realized that it’s been quite a while since Delaware Grammy has updated her blog.  There has been plenty to write about, what with having several adventures and a bonfire/hayride and birthday, then a wedding, church retreat, siblings gathering and a baby shower.  Life keeps marching right along for the folks at Shady Acres Dude Ranch. Estate. Chicken Farm.  Whatever.

Early in the week before my birthday, my fine sisters, Sarah and Alma, and I went on a little bit of a getaway.  Honestly, I don’t think we have EVER done this before.  Just the three of us, telling nobody but our husbands and any necessary family members needed to hold things together in our absence, we took off in the morning on Monday and came home in the evening on Tuesday.  We shopped and talked and laughed and cried, we went to a motel in Bind in Hand and spent the night.  We got up the next morning, had breakfast on the same grounds as the inn, and went to a play put on by the Bird in Hand Stage in the same big building that we had breakfast.  Alma had heard about the production from her mail carrier, Diane Breeding, and thought it would be fun for us to attend.  The motel, breakfast and production was Alma’s gift to Sarah and I.  You can read all about it here, (but it’s getting awful late to get in to see it.  They are stopping production on October 28th.)

After the production, we did a bit more shopping, first at the outlets and then at our favorite store — Goods.  And then it was time to grab a late lunch and get on home.  Which we did!  I’m so glad we could go.  But, as usual, I was so glad to be home again.

So, after being gone for two days, there were things that needed doing.  Appointments and prescriptions and catch-up.  I needed to go into Walgreens one afternoon to pick up a prescription, and decided to do some early Christmas shopping for stocking gifts.  I had been to the pharmacy, and was pushing my cart around, when I heard a furor at the front of the store.  I didn’t pay much attention, because there is often a hullabaloo in that store for some reason.  One of the last times I was in, the place was up in a heaval over a shoplifter who had gotten away, but was known to the store, and the police were there and it did seem as if there was a bit more publicity of the details than was necessary (but I didn’t know all the dynamics, and maybe there was a whole lot more than they were saying).

For whatever reason, this particular uprising didn’t pique my interest much as I motored about the store, looking for – well – stuff!  As I got closer to the front I began to overhear snatches of conversation that caused me to get curious.

” , , , don’t know who the vehicle belongs to … . .the other driver just left!”

“Yes, but another customer got a license tag number, and the color and make of the car!”

”  . . . it’s the one right outside.  She hit it and didn’t even stop!”

Then someone in the conversation mentioned “gray van” and I decided I had better investigate.  I was driving that “gray van, parked right outside.”

I stopped at the checkout and said, “Is there some sort of a problem?  I overheard something about a gray van, parked right outside?”

The Clerk was obviously relieved.  “Is that your gray van right outside the door?”

“Yes . . .?”

She couldn’t wait to tell me, “Someone ran into it and didn’t even stop, but the manager has the license plate number and color and make of the car and  – Hey, —–!  Here’s the lady whose car was hit!”  She hollered down to the photo department.  “Go on over there,” she said to me.  “She knows about it.  She’ll tell you!”

I looked at my cart and decided to park it.  I couldn’t bear to go look at my van.  I decided to go over and talk to the manager.  Of course she was waiting on a customer, and so she said that she would be with me in a minute.

“Is it bad?” I asked over the shoulder of the customer (who didn’t look like he cared a bit).

“I don’t know,” said the manager of Walgreen’s Milford.  “I haven’t gone to look, but the customer seemed to think it was important to pass on the license number.  Just let me finish here and I will go with you?”

“Do you think we should call the police?”

“We can do that for you,” said the manager.  “If you want us to.”

“I’m going to go and assess the damage,” I said.

“I’ll be right there,” said the manager.  “Just as soon as I finish up here.”

I put my cart by the door, took my prescription that was already paid for, and went out.  I was already thinking about what I was going to tell Certain Man.  I wondered if I could drive it home.  I steeled myself for carnage and destruction.

My Silver Chariot sat stoically exactly where I had parked it.  I couldn’t see anything on the driver’s side that warranted any dramatics.  I walked around the end.  Still nothing.  I examined the passenger’s side with a great scrutiny, but could not find anything at all.  By the time I was searching the unscathed surfaces for about the third time, the manager was out, waving the white piece of paper.

“Find anything?” She asked cautiously.

“I can’t find a single thing,” I said, still looking.  “I’ve looked and looked!”

She joined me in another round of “Ring Around The Vansie,” and then started looking for anything less obvious that would explain the hubbub in the store.  Finally she stopped at the back bumper on the driver’s side.

“Here,” she said, a bit doubtfully, “I wonder if this isn’t it.”  I came around to where she was peering at the area with intent.  I still couldn’t really detect anything there.  My puzzlement must have shown on my face because she pointed to a fingernail  clipping sized nick in the bumper’s paint and a small brush beneath it.  I moved in close to inspect, wiped the dust off and looked up at her with relief and a sudden crazy sense of hilarity.


“Um, this isn’t anything at all to worry about,” I said.  By then, other people who were a part of the exchange inside had joined us.

“They said it was an old lady driving,” one man volunteered.  “I’ll bet she didn’t even know she hit you!”

“Well,” I said, ruefully.  “I’ve done a whole lot more damage to the front bumper by just driving into my garage too far.  This isn’t anything I’m going to do anything about.  It’s not worth it to call the police.  It’s not worth it to try to track down who did it.  As far as I’m concerned, there just isn’t really any damage at all.”

There was general agreement around the circle, and then the manager pressed the paper into my hand where the license number and color and model of the car had been written.  “If you decide to do anything different,” she instructed, “please call within the next two to four weeks so that we can go back on our camera and get any information that you might need.  Like, if you get home and find more damage, or decide that you want to do something about this.  Of course, depending on your deductible, you would still have to pay more than it’s worth.”

I looked at my trusty minivan (who has been our faithful replacement of the old white one that I thought I wanted to keep forever) and laughed.  The Silver Chariot was not bashed in, totaled or in any need of our faithful body shop, Start2Finish Collision over there in Harrington, DE.  I was truly giddy with relief.

“Nah,” I said to the concerned lady.  “I’m not going to do anything about it.  It just isn’t worth it!”  I stuffed the scrap of paper into my purse, and went back into the store and checked out my purchases and headed my undamaged van towards home.

I got to thinking on the way home about the people who had saw the incident and had been so zealous to report it.  I wondered what made them so conscientious to report it.  Had someone damaged their vehicle sometime and not stopped?

And that reminded me of another story I had read years ago (probably in the Readers’ Digest) about a woman who came out of a place of business and found her vehicle damaged extensively.  She was terribly distraught until she noticed that there was a scrap tucked under her windshield.  She gratefully grabbed it out and read.

Dear Sir or madam.
I am responsible for damaging you car.
Right now there are a number of people
watching me carefully to see what I’m going to do.
They think I’m giving you my name, address, 
phone number and insurance information in this note.
I’m not!

(I promise you that she wasn’t so grateful for very long!)

So any way that you look at it, I had the best end of the deal.  I had a car with no damage, and if I would have had damage, the good people of Milford, Delaware, were looking out for me.

~My heart gives Grateful Praise.


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Old Fashioned Apple Dumplings


makes 12 — Sheet cake pan

6 medium-sized baking apples, cut in half, peeled and cored
4 cups flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/3 cups butter flavored Crisco
1 cup milk

To make pastry:
*Sift flour, baking powder and salt together.
*Cut in Crisco until the particles are about the size of small peas.
*Sprinkle milk over mixture and press together lightly, working dough only enough to hold together.
*For ease in handling, separate dough into two parts.  Roll each half out to at least 10″x15″  (or 12″x 18″)  and cut into six equal squares of 5″- 6″ each.
*Put a dab of butter (like 1/2 teaspoon or so) on each square.
*Put about 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of sugar on top of the butter.
*Sprinkle cinnamon on top of the sugar.
*Place a half apple on top, with the middle cavity over the sugar and cinnamon.
*Fold the dough up and around the apple to cover it completely.
*Place dumplings 1 inch apart in the greased baking pan, with the seam down and the sugar cavity up.
*do the same with the second half of the dough.
*Pour over the the sauce made as follows:

3 cups brown sugar
3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter

*Combine brown sugar, water and spices.
*Bring to boil and cook for 5 minutes
*Add butter
*Pour over the dumplings, trying to drench each one with the sauce.
*Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes.
*Baste occasionally during baking.
*Serve hot with rich milk or ice cream

Variation:  Sometimes I grate my apples – especially if I’m using seconds and don’t have nice “halves” and then I use a half-cup measure pretty tightly packed to put a pile of  grated apple on top of each sugar pile and wrap it in dough, just like it was an apple half.  Daniel seems to prefer this to having a half apple in there, but it is strictly personal preference.

Another variation that I’ve had (but never made) is to roll the dough out, butter the dough, sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on it and then spread it with the grated apple, and roll as a jelly roll, slice as a cinnamon roll, and put into the pan and pour the sauce over it like you would with the regular dumplings.  Bake as instructed.  This is REALLY good, and I’m indebted to Loretta Miller for my exposure to this method.




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Names and Titles and Mamas Who “Never Go Away”

There has been quite a discussion going on over on Dorcas Smucker’s facebook page about what to call adult children.  Those of you who read my blog know that I refer to our children collectively as “The Offspringin’s.”  Certain Man calls them “The Young’uns”  (I’m not sure how to even spell that!) along with other specific dutch words that fit individual children at any given time.  His parents firmly believed that you did not give nicknames or shorten names in any way, and I decided early on that it wasn’t in my best interest to shorten his good, strong name in any way.  Hence, he has always been “Daniel” to me when I use his given name (or “Mr. Yutzy”).  When we had our children, it seemed like there was this plethora of names that just came naturally, and when I read somewhere that “a love child has many names” I decided that it wasn’t something to worry too much about.

We were a little cautious in the use of the words “kids” because we had been severely schooled in the sinfulness of that usage.  Even the name “Mom” was frowned upon by my paternal grandfather as disrespectful.  I can remember coming in from school on afternoons when Grandpa (David S. Yoder, Sr.) was there and calling for “Mom!” and hearing him clucking his disapproval and saying, “Ach!  The kids came home!” (A word that was verboten in his vocabulary under any other circumstances).  The correct word was “Mama.”  (And don’t you forget it!)

Along with that were other titles of respect. We would never have thought of calling our aunts and uncles by their given names alone.  It was always, Uncle Jesse, Uncle Lloyd, Uncle Amos, or Aunt Ruth, Aunt Naomi, Aunt Gladys, Aunt Dottie, etc..  To this day I wouldn’t/couldn’t call them anything different.  Somehow there was something that went with that title that was compelling.  And my myriad of aunts and uncles were worthy of all the respect given them.  They were beloved and Godly and always interested in the lives of their nephews and nieces.  When our children came along, we insisted on the same respect given to aunts and uncles.

But that is not the story, although the discussion on Dorcas’ blog spurred both the preceding paragraphs as well as this story.

When our children were very young, and even before Rachel was born, our children were exposed to a difficult family situation where the father had abandoned the family and the mother was struggling with a desperate mental illness and the children were temporarily in various homes who tried hard to provide some stability whenever they could.  Two of the little boys were with our family at various times and their heartache was difficult to see.  Our youngest son, Lemuel, was a curly haired, verbal, blond three year old at the time, and he didn’t miss much that went on around the little house on Andrewsville Road that was our home.

And so it was that one day while I was in the laundry room, working on the unending loads of wash, a little tow-headed guy sought me out with a furrowed brow.  “Mama.” he said, with that look of urgent concentration on his face, “Would you ever go away?”

I looked into his young face, knew immediately the impetus for his question, felt his anxiety and made a promise that I prayed I could always keep.  “Oh, no, Lemmie Joe!  I would never go away.  I love Daddy and your brother and sisters too much to ever go away and leave you.”  He turned abruptly and motored his way out to the living room where his unsuspecting siblings were involved in their own worlds.

“Our Mama say she NEVER go away, ” I heard him announce to them in full voice.  I wondered what in the world they thought of such an unexpected proclamation, but there were various acknowledgements of his statements that carried muffled through the walls.  I smiled at his earnestness, but scarcely had I had time to think before my little guy was back at the door of the laundry room with a proclamation for me.

“I telled your chill’jens you said that!” He declared with a satisfied air, like he had just settled a great big issue and since I had given my word and he had “telled them” there was nothing more to be discussed.  He turned away, out of the door, and went back to his play.

It has never, ever left my heart.  I can tell you right where I was standing when he came in to ask me the question that was on his young mind.  Often I’ve thought about all the Mamas (or Daddies) who go away and don’t come back, or are sent away and not allowed to come back, or who, for whatever reason, physical or emotional, are unable to come back.  How my heart aches for the “chill-jens” (some now all grown up) who are wishing for a parent to come to stay.

And my heart gives grateful praise for parents who are “staying” when no one stayed for them, or are staying at great personal sacrifice of their own dreams and opportunities.  Sometimes it seems like the years stretch on forever when the walls hold us in, and the demands of our little ones make us wonder if we ever even had a mind to think plausible thoughts, much less dream.  It takes lots of love to hang in there.  But it also takes energy and grace and creativity and commitment and wisdom and courage.  It’s a huge, scary adventure.  But it’s worth it.  So very much worth it.  And now that those “Chill-jens” have become adult “offspringin’s” and have brought into our lives other people to love and more little ones to nurture, I’m grateful for all the choices, some mine, and some totally out of my hands, that allowed me to be one of the Mamas who didn’t need to “go away.”

For this and so much more on this rainy Monday in Delaware, my heart gives grateful praise.

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Those Who Sow in Tears

Today, just about now, our son and his wife and their three little boys are saying good-bye to a precious little slip of a girl who has stolen all our hearts and will take more than a piece of us with her when she goes.

There should be no criticism of the social system in this particular circumstance.  This is one of the good decisions, and it would be a malicious wrong to indict anyone involved.  This is the sort of thing that happens when things need to be done right, and it takes time.  There is relationship in place.  This baby will be loved.  She will be cared for.  She will be taught about Jesus.  And she will have contact with the family that holds her first year in their hearts, in their minds, and in their memories.

My heart is caught up today with the sadness of our Ohio family.  On my mind and in my prayers are Raph and Gina and the boys as well as the extended family .  Especially, I keep thinking about the grandparents there, Andy and Saloma Yoder.  My grief as a Grammy has surprised me, making me aware of how far reaching this event is.  Looking at this from a Grammy’s point of view has triggered memories that I had almost forgotten.  Specifically, I remember something that happened to us nearly forty years ago that comes to this day with a familiar, aching twist.

We had gotten an eight and one-half month old baby boy, Joseph, in December of 1975.  We were so in love with this beautiful baby.  He was with us over 20 months. He was our first foster baby, and he was a favorite of everyone in our family. When he left to go to an adoptive home (back then, foster parents were not allowed to adopt except in rare situations) we thought we would die! Because our agency was known to close homes or withhold placements in homes where people “became too attached” we couldn’t voice our anguish to anyone at Franklin County Children’s Services. Our church was supportive, but I often felt alone in this grief that I felt we had “signed up for!”   Certain Man and I moved through our days with a slow sadness that couldn’t be brushed away or even washed away by the buckets of tears.  I remember the day I stripped the sheets off his crib to wash them, and I buried my face in those sheets and smelled the essence that was my baby, and I muffled my screams and cries of despair in their thick softness and then sobbed uncontrollably until the storm passed. The days were dark.

Soon after Joseph left, My Sweet Mama came for a week to “help out.” I was pretty much wrapped up in my own sorrow, and she didn’t invade much. One day she took a load of laundry to the wash line for me, and didn’t return. I finally went to see where she was, and I found her crying, standing among the flapping clothes in the breezy Ohio sunshine.

“I can’t stand it, Mary Ann,” she managed to say through her sobs. “I miss him so much! I just feel like I HAVE to see him, hold him, and hear his little voice calling for ‘Gammaw’,”

I remember standing there as a realization dawned on my fuzzy, grief-stricken heart. This loss was not only ours. It was everyone who had loved him – all of those to whom he was a grandson, brother, nephew and toddler friend. As I cried with My Sweet Mama, the sweetness of sharing this aching loss was comforting, and it was good. I look back on that day as when my grief started to turn around, although I sometimes think that the depth of sorrow that I feel over these grandchildren who come and don’t stay, (and the fierce protectiveness towards those who come to stay) probably has more to do with our experience as young parents in a sunny house on the hill in Madison County, Ohio.

The hard times, the grief and the days when we would rather die than live through them (except for the people that are counting on us) are the times when we come to realize what it is that we really believe, and what it is that we are trusting.  I’m so grateful that God didn’t give up on that headstrong young woman who had so much to learn.  And not only God, but so many strategically placed people who cared, and invested and supported and believed that their investment would be worth it.  I’ve been the recipient of so much grace.  I’ve been given so much.  And in this loss, and in the other losses of my life, there has been an anchor for my hurting heart.

Today, I choose Jesus again.

My heart gives grateful praise.

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And Then It Was The Eye

The world keeps turning, and there are many things to ponder these days.  Delaware Grammy has had more than enough to keep her hands busy, and there hasn’t been enough time to process much of what has gone on in our world.

If I didn’t believe . . .

But I do!  I’ve found that sure anchor for my soul and even when I’m heartsick or discouraged or uncertain about what is going to happen or how people will cope or what will ever become of the people I love or even whether some of them will make it safely HOME, there is that sure anchor that the winds will not overwhelm my little boat and it will not sink.  The Master of the Wind, the Maker of the Sea is in this boat with me and He has promised that He will never leave me, never forsake me.

There has been so much to be happy over these past few weeks.  Certain Man and I went with my brother, Nelson and his wife Rose to North Carolina to our older brother, Clint’s wedding.  (You can see pictures on an online album that has a link over on my facebook page:  We had a wonderful time. The wedding was low-key, holy and joyous.  It’s interesting to think about the dynamics of getting a new sister in law at this stage of our lives.  There are a host of possibilities to consider, and there is so much history on both parts that are now part of this bigger whole, and it’s both awesome and scary!  But it is also so very, very sweet, and I am happy for my brother’s happiness.

I came home to finish some important paperwork, and to get ready for Blind Linda’s return home and to get ready for a “meet and greet” reception for Clint and Sharon next week.  I knew that my time was going to be pretty full, but it was time to get on with these other things that had been put on hold until after the wedding.  Blind Linda has made excellent progress and the therapists at Genesis Health Care deemed it time for her to be moved back home.  (This may have had something to do with the fact that her 100 days were going to be up on September 1st, but she has been doing well, and they would have probably moved her home last week if I had been home).  In any case, she is scheduled to be released on 09/01/2017.  This Friday.

Over the last few months, there have been some questions put to me gently about whether we should take Linda back.  “Don’t you enjoy the freedom of not having to worry about her?” “You’re getting older, and it would be nice if you didn’t have to do this.”  “When are you planning to stop taking care of ladies?” “Don’t you wonder if maybe Linda is going to be ‘too much’ for you?”  All well meaning, and said with love, the comments were nothing that I could dismiss lightly.  I am getting older.  She is a lot of care.  And I am going to be tied down incredibly much, at least at first.

From the beginning of this saga, back at the end of January, when Dr. Kottom, the gastroenterologist, came back from doing Linda’s colonoscopy, and said gravely, “We need to talk,” I’ve prayed much about this situation and how I should be involved.  It has been a tough seven months, and there were times when we didn’t know if Linda was going to make it or not.  There have been plenty of times when it looked as if she was not suitable for family care placement.  The prayer that I have consistently prayed has been, “Lord Jesus, may it please you to make clear what your will is in all of this.  For Linda, for me, for our family.  If Linda is not to return home, let that be crystal clear.  And please, Lord Jesus, let this be something that is obvious to all concerned, that it would not just be a case of me deciding that it’s too hard, or that I don’t want to do it.  Let there be a concise, external, physical reason and let there be no question.”

It was a selfish prayer, to some extent.  It sounds like I don’t want responsibility for making the decision, and in part, that’s true.  But there is also that whole thing of Linda, her history with us, this being her home for 17 years, and how she has endured so much change and misunderstanding in her life and how very much I would like for her to live out whatever time she has left in a familiar, safe and peaceful environment.  She may not appreciate it.  She may not even realize what could be.  But I know, and it hurts my heart to think of her not being cared for with gentleness and understanding.  I’m not saying that I’m always gentle and understanding.  However, it is my goal to love and care for those entrusted to us in a way that will reflect Jesus — to the ones who are my superiors, to the families of those for whom we care, but especially to Our Girl Audrey and Blind Linda.  The knowledge that, unless we speak Jesus into their lives, they may never know, is a “charge to keep, I have!”

So the days have passed, and on Monday, I found myself on my home turf, digging out from being away, picking beans, doing laundry, unpacking the “stuff” that seems to get so unorganized when we travel.  I was tired from the long trip on Sunday, but it was good to be home.  Around ten o’clock, Certain Man said he was going to bed, and I said that I was coming soon.  I had been experiencing something strange in my left eye, and wanted to make a quick check on the internet to see if I should be concerned enough to call my doctor the next morning.  I was having these small flashes of light in the upper left corner of my left eye.  They were not huge, and sometimes I almost felt like I wasn’t really seeing them, but every now and then there was these small, silver streaks, dancing off the edge of my peripheral vision.  I was very tired, and I read a bit, but nothing impressed me as being too urgent, and I decided that it could wait until morning unless it got worse.  I decided not to tell anybody.  Yet, anyhow.  I went to bed, feeling vaguely uneasy.

Tuesday morning I got up and everything seemed to be fine.  No light flashes, no nothing.  I had a “heavy” head, almost like a headache that was trying to happen, but nothing significant, and there was much to be done.  I worked on some computer things, worked on paper work, answered phone calls, made phone calls, and then, along about 10:30, I noticed something in my upper left eye’s line of vision.  It was like a rat’s nest of hair that looked like it was hanging over the edge of my glasses.  I went to brush it away, and it disappeared, but not by my hand.  I realized that it was something like a “floater” in my eye.  H-m-m-m-m-m.  This was more concerning.  It wasn’t really large, but it did appear to have some strings floating off of it.  I decided that I should call my eye doctor for advice.

“We want to see you today,” said the suddenly solemn receptionist when I told her my symptoms.  “We are always concerned about retina tear with symptoms like this.”  Retina tear???  Oh, dear.  I went to the internet to see specific symptoms and treatment and recovery time.  What I found there was disconcerting.  Well, I would just need to go and see what Dr. Iskander would have to say.

“Deborah!”  I hollered up the steps to Middle Daughter.

From somewhere in her apartment on her side of the landing I heard her answer.  “What’s up, Momma?  I’ll be right there!”

“I just wanted you to know that I’m going in to the eye doctor,” I said.  “I had some light flashes last night and today I’m having some string-like floaters and they said they want to see me.”

The reaction was overdone, of course.  “Mom, you aren’t driving yourself!”

Of course I am,” I said.  “I need to go by the nursing home and take some clean laundry in for Linda and then I’ll just run right over.”

“Mom, it’s not safe,” said my nurse daughter.  “I’ll take you!”

“Someone will need to be here for OGA,” I said, feeling myself wilting down into an “almost-blind-already-looking-for-a-guide-dog” old woman.  “Do you want me to see if  Christina can help?”

“Yes,” said Middle Daughter forcefully.  “See if she can come and be here.”

And so Eldest Daughter was called and brought in for reinforcement, while I contemplated my immediate future.  I reviewed the symptoms and realized with a start that I had almost every single one of the warning indicators for the retina tear.  And I thought about what this was going to mean to Linda being able to come home in a few days.  The prospect was daunting.  Immediate surgery.  No physical activity.  No lifting.   No exertion for weeks.  “Oh, Lord Jesus!  What are we going to do?”

I do not profess to hear the audible voice of God, and I’m careful with the words “God said . . . ” unless I’m quoting scripture.  But I’ve been given the Holy Spirit, even the “Spirit of Truth” who speaks to my heart, and comforts me and gives me help in time of need.  And this was a time of need for me.  I needed to purposefully redirect my thinking and praying.

“You’ve got this, Lord Jesus,” I whispered above the anxious noises in my head.  “I’ve been asking for you to make it clear to me, and I believe that you have a best plan here — for me, for Linda, and for all concerned.  I pray that this will be a clear cut answer, that I will KNOW what I need to do before we are out of time.  Give me courage, whatever is going on.  I believe that you are in this and that you will go before me, giving me exactly what I need, and that you will provide for Linda as well.  I reject the feeling of frantic panic and I will not allow these anxious thoughts of “what if” to cause me to be a faithless mess.”

The time for the appointment came.  It was raining hard and the sky was gray.  Middle Daughter drove me carefully to everywhere I needed to go, and waited in the car like a hovering guardian angel.  The staff at MyEyeDoctor was efficient.  My wait was not unduly long.  I listened for discouraging words and indications that my eyesight was on a steady, steep decline, but through the precursory evaluation the assistant was pleasant and gave no indication of anything.  Then Dr. Eskander came in.  He is one of my favorite people when it comes to doctors. To read his bio online sheds some light on his motivation, and I am impressed with his life theory and the impetus that drives him.  He was thorough, but he wasn’t at all depressing.  He was reassuring and kind.

And when he was done, he said, “Well, your retina is in fine shape.  There are no tears, nothing to worry about.  What you have is a separation of the vitreous gel from the retina, called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). I want to see you back in a month to make sure it isn’t worse, but you should be just fine.  It causes “floaters” that can show up as threads or cobwebs and it’s annoying, but it isn’t serious.”  He went on to tell me what I need to do in case the small flashes become a lightening bolt and the floaters are big and starting to obstruct my vision (Get to Christiana Hospital as fast as possible!) but he reassured me that he could find nothing wrong with my retina.

I wanted to be sure about what I could and couldn’t do.  “Are there any restrictions?”  I asked.  “Are there things I should or should not do?

He looked at me with a funny grin.  “Well,” he said, trying to look serious, “I think you should definitely give up boxing,” He paused like he was thinking hard.  “And bungee jumping, too.  I don’t think you should do any of that.  But otherwise, I think you’re good!”

I laughed, of course.  (Mental images here.)  It was funny.  But the overwhelming feeling that was flooding my soul at that moment was a sense of the presence of Jesus, standing there and saying, “I’ve got this.  I’m going to be with you through it.  It may not last for months and months, and it may be a lot harder than you realize, but I’m with you, and this is the way.  Walk in it with courage and grace and joy.”

Whew!  I could have danced in that doctor’s office.  I went in with a deep unknown, and no idea of how things were going to be, and suddenly it was all done and I’m healthy and things are good.


Well, there was that whole issue of developing cataracts since my visit there a year ago.  I have a family history of cataracts, but thought I maybe had beaten the odds.  They aren’t bad, at least not yet, and Dr. Iskander said they were another something to watch.

There was also a sentence in the online site that was another indication of “why” the visceral separated from the wall.  “The condition is common among people over 50 years of age and is not serious.”    That was comforting to know except for the inference  that parts of this body are no longer young.

One other thing.  In reading over the office notes, I found this little jotting:  Patient appears to be well nourished.  Huh!  I wonder what that has to do with anything.

Well, that’s a gentle way to describe my particular body shape, I guess.  (That doesn’t mean I like it!)  But when I consider that over what could be noted on my chart regarding a retina tear, my heart gives grateful praise.

And since care for Blind Linda won’t involve boxing or bungee jumping, we are planning to bring her home when scheduled.  Tomorrow.  At one o’clock.

For this and so much more, my heart gives humble, grateful praise.


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Smelly Intrusions

There seems to be some conspiracy against Delaware Grammy’s nose.  Ever since returning from family vacation last week, there have been assaults upon my olfactory sensory neurons that are anything but pleasant.

It started on Wednesday when I had an appointment @ 10:00am in Dover.  Because our small group meets at our house on Wednesday evening, I took a look around my house the night before and decided that drastic measures were needed before I left for the appointment.  The kitchen was in a mess, my corner was utter chaos, newspapers were scattered about and there was an offensive smell coming from a closed ice cream bucket on my counter where I had been putting table scraps, melon rinds, tomato discards and even onion cuttings.  That would need to be dumped into the bucket that went to the composter.  I also had a Sam’s Club Rotisserie chicken carcass that needed to be disposed of.

So Wednesday morning I flew around and got a great deal of things accomplished.  The kitchen got straightened, the papers were sorted and put into their proper places.  The dishwasher was loaded to the gills, and started, and I decided that I would empty my ice cream bucket and dispose of the chicken carcass as a very last thing before heading out.  So when all was accomplished, the last counter was swished, and I was dressed and ready to go, I picked up the container with the chicken, and the ice cream bucket and headed out to the back deck, where resided the big bucket with a lid on it that carries “stuff” to the composter.  (When I was a little girl, we called it the “slop bucket” and we carried it to the pigs . . . but I digress.)

Anyhow, I carried the stuff out and dumped the carcass first, and then sent the contents of the very smelly, very full ice cream bucket into the larger pail.  It seemed that things did splash about rather muchly, but I didn’t think too much of it.  I made sure the ice cream bucket was empty, and carried it back to the kitchen.  I washed the bucket and disposed of the Sams container, gathered my stuff and headed out.

I wasn’t very far down the road when I smelled something really stinky.  It smelled just like that stinky old slop bucket.  I kept searching down the front of my shirt, scrutinizing my skirt and my shoes, even checking out my nylons to see what ever could be clinging there that would be making such an unacceptable smell.  I got to thinking about my appointment, and wondering what they were going to think when I arrived smelling like a slop bucket.  Oh, dear.  I found some wet wipes that I keep in the car and washed my arms and hands, wiped my neck and face, and even brushed over my clothes with them.  I had some deliciously good smelling Rose lotion, and I worked that into my hands.  It seemed to help, but every now and then, I would still catch a whiff of something.  I do not know what it was, even to this day, but I finally decided that the smell had lodged in my nose and kept sending out a warning.  But whatever it was, it wasn’t pleasant.  And it served to make me feel a little insecure, to say the least.

Then Thursday, I had a basket of laundry from the nursing home from Blind Linda that needed washing, and I was so puzzled.  I’ve been doing her laundry from there since the end of May, and I have NEVER had it smell so strong of old urine as that basket of stuff did.  It was so strong and stale a smell that I wasn’t sure I could even get it out of her clothes in a satisfactory manner.  So I shoved it into the washer, added some laundry booster, some smell good beads, plenty of detergent and whitener, brightener, and washed it up.  It smelled sweet when I was done, but sometimes when I came into the house, I thought I still smelled something suspicious.

Today the bad smell seemed pretty much contained in my laundry room.  And let me tell you, it was “rankin’!”  Shew!  I just could not figure it out, and of course I kept complaining to my family about it.  They didn’t think they smelled it, (at least not “too much”) and I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that could possibly smell so bad.  I looked and sniffed and sniffed and looked.  Nothing would yield the results I wanted.  And the smell seemed to have several possible indicators.  Most of the time it seemed like a dirty diaper.  Sometimes even more offensive — like a dead mouse.  I even thought that someone may have even brought a live sea creature in a shell home from the beach in their pocket, where it (naturally) died and was now making its presence known.  I sniffed the various articles of clothing in the closet and none of them seemed to be the culprit.

Then in the middle of the afternoon, Middle Daughter took a load of sheets to the wash line and when she came back in, she said, “Oh, Mom.  I found the source of your bad smell!”

“Oh, really?  What was it:”  I asked.

“Remember that bucket of potatoes?”  She asked.

My heart sank.  Of course I remembered those potatoes.  “Yes?” I answered, afraid to hope and fully prepared.  We had dug the last of our potatoes before going on family vacation and I had left some of them in a bucket.  When we were leaving, I set the bucket outside the back door and had told Audrey’s caregiver that she could use them if she wished. and then I had pretty much forgotten about them.

“Well,” Deborah said with that note in her voice.  “What happens when you leave a bucket of potatoes out, and it rains on them and then it gets really hot?”  She could have skipped the science lesson.  I’ve lived long enough to know these things.  “Anyhow,” she continued, “those potatoes are terrible.  They stink awful!  Somebody better do something with them!”

Oh, dear!  Well.  Somebody should, I guess. I wished it wouldn’t need to be me.  She wasn’t offering anytime soon, obviously.  And I was getting ready for a wedding.  Certain Man was getting ready for the wedding, and he had to preach tomorrow, so I didn’t want to disturb him.  Besides, I felt really guilty about needing to get rid of them, what with the hard work he had put into planting them and digging them.  We had gotten some really good eating off our small patch, but there’s never a good reason for wasting “the end of the bucket.”  And it happens entirely too often at this house.  I decided, though, in light of the wedding and such, that I was going to let it go until we got back. I was doing some laundry for Blind Linda, though, and a smell just kept wafting up every now and again, reminding me.

When Daniel and I left for the wedding, I decided to come clean about it.  I told him how I thought a bucket of rotten potatoes on the back deck was making my house stink, and his only comment was a resolute, “Well, we will need to take care of that when we get home.”  The wedding was sweet, and we enjoyed it very much, but it was getting dark by the time we got home, and I decided that I would just go ahead and take care of it while Daniel was doing other things, but he saw me loading up the golf cart with the offending bucket (upon which I had put a tight fitting lid) and he offered to help.  I said that I thought I could do it, but he was pretty intent on helping me, so we meandered off together to the composter, and got everything dumped, and the bucket washed.  Wow!  Was I ever glad that was over!  And he didn’t even scold me!  Not that he usually does, but he doesn’t like hard work and good food going to waste, so home grown red potatoes and their use is a touchy subject.

Then we came into the house and he decided to go get milk and I said that I was going to take some clean laundry down to the nursing home and visit Linda a bit.  So he got our milk pail and headed out.  I went to get Blind Linda’s laundry into her laundry basket and laid her hang up clothes on top.  Just as I was turning away from the closet, I smelled that terrible smell again.  It was really bad.  It seemed different from the “rotten potato” smell, and it definitely seemed to be in the area I was standing.  So back to the fray I went, methodically searching all along the perimeters of the laundry room.  When I got to the entry way, I definitely smelled the lingering aroma of rotten potatoes, but this other smell really was different somehow.  It smelled like something dead.  I opened the basement stairwell, and stuck my head into that confine and drew a deep breath. Nothing there offensive.  I went back to the laundry room, opened the electric panel and sniffed there.  Nothing.  (I know, I know!  The electric panel.  One time there was a bad smell in the wall and it seemed to come out of the electric panel . . . )  I had just about given up when suddenly, I thought of something.

Early in the summer, one evening Certain Man and I were working out in the garden.  He started his chicken house generator in the course of the evening, and a nest blew out of the exhaust pipe.  Now usually this would have been one of those pesky starling nests, but this time, three tiny, beautiful eggs were spit out and they lay, unbroken on the grass.  I looked at those eggs and I was heartsick.  This was no starling nest.  I carefully brought them into the house for identification, and had put them in a little container up on the shelf in the laundry room.  I would look at them frequently, and think about the pair of Great Crested Flycatchers whose home we had unwittingly destroyed.  I remembered their frantic cries and the way they flew anxiously about after their nest was destroyed and I wondered if they had found another suitable cavity in which to make their home.  I had thought, briefly, that maybe I should get rid of those eggs, but they had seemed very stable up there on the shelf and they were so pretty, I just never did away with them.

Well, now was the time when I wished I had.  One of them had succumbed to either the pressure inside, or from an inadvertent bump from without, and it was in a most disgusting, putrid and offensive state of disintegration.  E-w-w-w-w-w!  What a mess!  It didn’t take this Delaware Grammy long to pick up the container, hold it at arm’s length (while I held my breath) so as not to catch another whiff of anything, and carry it to the outside dumpster where I unceremoniously disposed of it, Great Crested Flycatcher, notwithstanding.

And then I came back in to use some Febreeze and to replenish some plug-in air fresheners and to feel greatly relieved that the search for stink had been resolved, at least for now.  Whew!  What a relief, indeed!

And that’s the news on a lighter side from Shady Acres, where the night has turned to the beginning of a new day, and this Delaware Grammy is going to bed.






































































































































































































































































































































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