Tag Archives: Middle Daughter

One Left Behind

Our chickens went out today.  It has been a mess, to be honest.  They were scheduled for yesterday, and Certain Man had asked for the day off.  Then, as things are wont to do, things got messed up at the plant, and so they were delayed a day.  Certain Man had a mandatory seminar today from 8-4, and even though he could “run home” at lunch, nothing makes up for the farmer being on the property.  Of course, everything went wrong.

For one thing, the wife of Certain Man has not had much experience with raising the water lines in preparation for the catch.  And the water lines are the things that are left down until the last minute.  Certain Man instructed her in the things that needed to be done in case he wasn’t home, and she duly noted everything — except she failed to notice that there are EIGHT sections per house that need to go up.  I still do not know how this was missed.  If she looked down the row and there were still water lines to go up, she should have know to put them up!  Right!  Well, I didn’t.  I was thinking that there were four feed lines that usually go up — (they were already up) and I took that Milwaukee Hole Hog that almost shook my teelh loose, and ran those drinker lines right up, being careful not to bend the stand pipes.  I checked things carefully, turned off the water as instructed, and took the drill and put it away, because we have had catching crews that took things and we really didn’t want that to happen.  And then I went back to the house.

When Certain Man got home, he found a very disgruntled crew leader.  It seems that they had to roll up four lines of drinkers without the benefit of the electrical appliance.  Certain Man apologized for his wife’s oversight, but then found two manual cranks in the litter by a wall.  And they weren’t his cranks.  They were the old style cranks that often have a nail replacing a bolt near the handle.  Certain Man, some years back, ran one of those vicious nails into his hand, causing great damage.  It also caused him to go forth and purchase cranks that were steel, one piece, all good quality, that would not inadvertently damage him.  Someone had taken his good cranks and replaced them with these old cranks.  One was even badly bent.  He was more than a little upset.

“These are not my cranks!” he said to the crew leader.

“I got them in your chicken house,” the man said.  “I got one over there and one over here.”

“I tell you, these are not my cranks!  Mine are fairly new, all one piece, going down so there is no nail in them.”

The man was unmoved.  “They are yours,” he said again.  “I got them in your house.”

“They are NOT MINE.  And somebody had better give me back my cranks before they leave here today.”

Of course, they didn’t.

And then there were so many big beautiful chickens just lying dead.  Over sixty in each house, for no apparent reason.  Certain Man’s birds are big.  Probably close to nine pounds a piece.  I saw the wheels turning in his head as he calculated his losses.  “That is half a ton of chicken,” he sad to me sadly.  “And that can make a bunch of difference.”

He went back out to chicken house to finish up for the night.  Around nine o’clock he came in.  He was walking slow, the weariness pulling him back on his heels, his eyes were grey and tired behind the chicken house dust.

“There’s one big beautiful chicken out there that is alive,” he said.  “I don’t suppose you want to do anything with it.”

“Sure, I want it,” I said.  “I’ll just go and quick butcher it and it can soak in salt water overnight.”

“Well, if you are going to do it, you’re going to have to do it alone.  I am just too tired.  I’ll go get it for you, but I don’t think I can do any more.”

“That will be fine,” I said.  “I’ll get some water started, and if you go get it, that’s all I need from you.”  He helped me get the big pot down from the high shelf and then went out.  I got the water started and then went out to see how things were going.  He already had the hapless victim hanging from the twine hangers on the side of our old garage.  The chicken appeared to be calmly surveying the surroundings, oblivious to the fact that time was fast running out for him.

“I want the water hot before I kill it,” I say to my spouse.  He looks relieved.  Butchering chickens is not his department — especially the part where the head leaves the body.  “I think we will just let it hang for a bit and I’ll get the water and come back out.”

“Then if you don’t mind, I think I’ll go get a shower and call it a day.”

“That’s fine, Daniel.  It’ll be okay.”

My knife was sharpened to a fine, cold flint.  I do not like to kill chickens, and I especially do not like it when they look at me just before I cut their heads off.  It was dark tonight, and I usually find the space in the neck and make a quick sharp draw and it is over.  And because I do it more by feel that by eyeballing it, I often shut my eyes once the knife is in place.  Which I did tonight — right after I caught the beady eye of my victim looking at me.  I shut my eyes and with one swift slice, the head was off, and on the ground and I was out of the way.  It made me feel so sick.  But there is always the next thing to do, so once he stopped moving, I took the headless chicken off the twine hanger and plunged him into the boiling water.  I got a good scald on him, hung him back up, and the feathers came off relatively easily.  And then I took him down again, rinsed him off, dumped my bucket of water, severed his feet and carried him into the kitchen.

Middle Daughter came home from a Hospice call about that time and when she heard I was going to butcher a chicken, she was daft enough to want to be involved.  She is a game helper (pun intended) in this situation, and once the pin feathers were off, she went to it.  Conversation was lively, and it wasn’t too long before the neck, liver, heart and gizzard were submerged in a sink  of iced salt water along side a fat, beautiful chicken.

“What are you going to do with it? asked Certain Man, on his way through the kitchen to get something to drink.

“I think I’m going to have it for Sunday dinner,” I say.  We are expecting company and it is a fairly large group.

Certain Man looked down at that chicken and his eyes clouded over.  “I wouldn’t think that would be enough to feed everybody,” he said dubiously.

“I did think of roasting it and having stuffing,” I said, “but I think I will just cook it and take it off the bones and have chicken-etti.”

That pleased him, as this particular casserole is an old family favorite that can feed a crowd.  I finished putting some stuff away, and decided it was time for me to get some shut-eye, too.  It’s been a busy week at Shady Acres, and tomorrow!  Ah, tomorrow, I am going away (just overnight) for a Beth Moore conference with some of my favorite people.

I can hardly wait!

My heart gives grateful praise.

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Tears in the night

We are traveling a familiar road, Certain Man and I.  I knew when we set out on this Deacon call that we would be going this way, but I was not prepared.

We came around the curve and came up a small hill.  Far away in the distance, the lights of our church building shone through the Sunday evening cold.  It took my breath away.

“There are lights???  At the church???” I asked Certain Man.

“Sure are!”  He replied in his off-handed way.  “They’ve had them on ever since they got electric back in after the fire.”

“But how???” I am still more than a little incredulous.  “The lights were all taken down!”

“Oh, they just strung them up however they could.  They want lights on, especially at night.”

Oh.

We come on down the road, closer and closer to the church, and my eyes drink in the light shining out of every window.  As we get closer, it was plain that the lights are from various wires, strung all over the empty, gutted church.  Up close, it isn’t half as beautiful as it was from the distance.  I look hurriedly and hungrily through the dusty windows.  It is full of light, but without life.

I am sad and reflective on my side of The Silver Chariot.  “I’ve not been in,” I say quietly.

“What???  You’ve not been in since the fire???”  I feel Certain Man’s disbelief spearing me through the darkness.

“No.”

“Why not???”  There was so much coming and going in the days following the fire, so much traffic from our house in particular with Certain Man being the first on the scene from our congregation and then both Eldest Daughter and Middle Daughter playing a part in the aftermath and the clean-up that it had been so easy to hide the fact that I didn’t go.

I feel the tears welling up in my eyes.  “Because,” I almost whisper.  “I just didn’t think I could bear it.”

“Well, Hon, I think you need to go,” says my steady spouse.  “I really think it’s something you should do.”

“Why?  I feel so terribly sad, and it is something I just don’t want to see.  Maybe after it is all fixed up, I won’t hate it so much.  But for now, I have no desire to go in and see it.”

He doesn’t push me, and we stop at the four-way stop sign at the corner of Carpenter Bridge and Canterbury Road and then go on.  I sit in the dark and think about this church family that I call “mine” and I think about the strength and courage and grace and forgiveness that has marked these days since that early morning call on December 2, 2014.  Our people have not wallowed about in despair or self pity or been immobilized by this bump in the road.  They are still gathering for worship, encouraging one another, doing the things that have been a part of our lives for so many years.  We are still praying, singing, giving to needs outside the congregation, some of us are teaching Sunday School, some are volunteering at Stevenson House, some are preparing and delivering sermons, and last week, in the middle of the coldest, icy-est, darkest time of our winter, most of us gathered together for renewal meetings and the majority of us didn’t miss a night.  And this doesn’t cover the everyday lives of our people who work and play and raise families and maintain their homefires.

And so I remind myself that we are not defined by that damaged church house there on a country road in Kent County, Delaware.  These people are The Church, and though we are certainly re-evaluating and seeking to hear what God is saying to us through these difficult times, we are very aware that God has something so good for us through this fire that has truly proved to be a Refiner’s Fire.

And while I may shed some quiet tears when I look at a building that holds the church memories of almost 50 of my 61 years, I will not hang my heart on a structure that can, well — be destroyed.  This made me think about a passage in 2 Corinthians that goes something like this:

1-5 For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less. (The Message)

And so, when it is all said and done, it isn’t a church structure.  It isn’t even these earthly bodies that are so prone to letting us down.  The Hope is in that Home that will not be destroyed.  Heaven.

How my soul wants that to happen!  Job 19:27b

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Beyond the glitz

It is Valentines Day in the good old USA.  People everywhere are speaking of their wonderful Valentines and the wonderful gifts they have been given.  Certain Man’s Wife has been guilty of the same.  Her heart was delighted with two dozen multi-colored roses delivered on Thursday afternoon — ahead of the rush.  Practical as ever, Certain Man has found that it’s a WHOLE lot cheaper to order on line and have things delivered ahead of time.

This morning, standing in the kitchen, Youngest Daughter rehearsed her good friend, Anna Downing’s take on Valentines Day — that it is a day to tell everyone you love that you love them and to say something noteworthy about them in the love message.  Youngest Daughter got one this morning thanking her for being a good friend and wishing her a happy Valentines Day.

I like that very much.

I also got to thinking about the  ways Certain Man has tied the stuff that life is made of to speaking love to his unobservant and often clueless spouse.

For one thing, he has loved our children so intently(I did mean intently) and well.  Certain Man is not perfect and does not claim to be, but his children had better not hear anyone rehearse his faults.  I’ve seen his children struggle with having Christian Charity towards people who have, however unwittingly, said or done things that have hurt their Dad, and it is no small thing to them.  (They tend to rise up snarling!)  Certain Man did not get that kind of loyalty and love by being a selfish or distant father.  He draws them into his interests and into sharing his serving heart.  For example, this morning he hooked his trailer to his farm pickup, loaded his tractor, corralled Middle Daughter and Youngest Daughter and headed up the road to stack wood for an older man in our church who is having a tough time.  I looked at my girlies and knew that the last thing in the world they wanted to do this morning was go out in this bitter cold and pick up wood, but there was not a single word of complaint.  “Sure Dad,” they said, and grabbed gloves and old sweatshirts and warm tzibble kops and piled into the old truck and away they went.  He was jovial and exclaiming loudly about any of a number of things.  They were marching to their father’s music and “ever’thin’ was good.”

That is something that always melts my heart.  In this day when there are so many fathers who refuse to be dads and so many fathers who name the Name of Christ but whose hearts selfishly demand to be first or best or most, this Certain Man has never — and I truly do mean NEVER– made me choose between serving him or meeting a child’s needs.  I sought to put him first, would often protest when he would encourage me to comfort a child or talk late to a teen or take a late night phone call from a adult child.  “It’s fine, Hon,” he would/will say.  “Don’t worry about it.  There’ll be time later.”

This evening, we went out for a Valentines Day early dinner, and looking back on our trek, I have to smile when I think about how this evening could sort of define not only this man, but our marriage.  Certain Man worked all day at one thing and then another, reminding me now and then that we were going out to eat “somewhere” and “sometime before it gets too late.”  And also, “Maybe we could pick up those shop lights at Lowe’s when we are out.”  He had helped Gary and Elaine with their firewood, he had taken extra care of his animals and equipment because of the cold,  He had noted that some of the bird feeders were getting empty and he filled the feeders and replenished the suet hangers.  It was a great aggravation when ACE Hardware was out of, not only ear corn but out favorite “nutsie” block that we particularly like for woodpeckers and for diverting the squirrels from other feeders, but he decided that we would look at Lowe’s when we got there.

So, along about four o’clock this afternoon, we got on our way.  He had decided Outback! and I had gotten him a good gift card for there for Christmas, and there is a Lowe’s in this Lewes town, so he thought it would be the best destination.  Heading down Route 1 to Lewes, he surprised me by suddenly getting into the left hand lane and turning on to the road to Argos Corner.

“I’m just gonna’ see,” he said, “if I can figure out where they live.”  We both knew of whom he spoke — “Our Kids” as we’ve been wont to call them over the past few years.  They were homeless for almost two years, shuttling between counties and motels and trouble until about a month ago when they landed in a trailer “where the store had burned” in this small Sussex County community.  I had made a trip through a couple of weeks ago, but hadn’t been able to discern which trailer was theirs.  But Certain Man has discerning powers that I lack, and the trailer was soon found.

“That’s it, right there!” Said Certain Man.

“I guess it is,” I agreed.  “Same vehicle, and look!  He still has his old classic car.”

I noted the completely curtained windows, the big “No Trespassing” sign in the window.  He noted that the trash was already beginning to pile up in back.  Certain Man made a U-turn at the deserted intersection and we resumed our trip to Lewes, considerably more pensive than we had been.  Traffic was heavy as we came into the seaside town, and as we pulled into the turn lane that went to Outback, I noted the crowded parking lot.

“I’ll have trouble finding a parking place,” said Certain Man, “So I’ll just drop you off at the door and you can put our names in and then I’ll come on in.”  He pulled up to the curb and I bailed out, and went in.  The waiting area was crowded, and a hostess took my name and handed me a buzzer.

“Do you know how long the wait is?” I asked when I could get an word in edgewise.

In response to a quick question, a harried looking co-hostess looked up briefly and said, “60-70 minutes.  At least.”  I clutched the buzzer and decided to go and talk to Certain Man.  I looked all around the parking lot to no avail  and finally called him.

“Hon, it’s going to be a 60-70 minute wait.  We don’t want to wait that long, do we?”

“No way!  I’m having to park way out in the far parking lot anyhow, and I wondered how long a wait it was going to be.  I’ll be right back up to pick you up.  Let’s go up to Cracker Barrel and see how long that wait will be.”  And that was just fine with me.  I happened to have even better gift cards to Cracker Barrel.

“Go in and see how long the wait,” said Certain Man five minutes later as we pulled into the parking lot.  “I’ll go park.”

“Maybe five minutes,” said the pleasant hostess at the crowded Cracker Barrel.  “Not long.”

I put our names in under “Daniel” and called him with the news.  Actually, by the time he was walking across the parking lot, he heard them page us for our table.  We had a very nice time at our “early” dinner.  He had fish, I had chicken.  (Is anyone who knows us surprised?)  The conversation was good, and I even sent a picture of Certain Man and a short note to his children:

Me and my Valentine went to Outback to dine.
60-70 minutes to wait just wasn’t fine.
Off to Cracker Barrel we go-
got seated just so-
and decided that we wouldn’t whine.

(Poor rhyme, I know, but I was in the middle of organizing  it into something impressive when Certain Man proceeded to tell me about a restaurant that gives a percent off if you do not use any electronic devices while in the establishment and I considered that a hint to put my cell phone away!  Besides, we had plenty to talk about.)

We did not linger long over our meal, and soon we were on our way to Lowe’s to pick up lights for the shop that Certain Man has been working on for some time now.  First, we got a bag of ear corn, and a mealyworm cake and feeder for our beloved Bluebirds and then we picked out four shop lights and the bulbs for them.  Then I waited while Certain Man looked for hinges to fix a cupboard door that has been giving his orderly soul distress.  I looked at our loaded cart, thought about this Valentines Day Date and it made me laugh.  I just really like this guy  who is always taking care of farm and family and birds and people.  He made one more stop at the Best ACE Hardware in Lewes where he found the seed, nut and fruit roll that he wanted and we bought TWO so we wouldn’t run out, and finally we were done.

We came home in the cold winter twilight to our warm house and the lights of home.  We unloaded the shop lights and then he fixed the door that was bothering him, bedded down his animals for the cold winter night, checked his chickens, put pellets in the pellet stove, went up to Gary’s and filled his outdoor furnace as full of wood as it would hold, put out his corn and the other bird seed that he had gotten and puttered around pondering many things.

He has no idea how loved the ordinary things of this day have made me feel.

And so I thought about this man that I’ve loved for so long- and it reminded me of a song of that Steve and Annie Chapman sang.

(Wherever the seasons of life find this Certain Man, I still pick him!)

Seasons of a Man

I am the springtime, when everything seems so fine

Whether rain or sunshine, you will find me playing

Days full of pretending, when a dime is a lot to be spending

A time when life is beginning, I am the springtime

 

I am the summer, when days are warm and longer

And the call comes to wander, but I can’t go far from home

When the girls become a mystery, and you’re barely passing history

Thinking old is when you’re thirty, I am the summer

 

I am the autumn days, when changes come so many ways

Looking back I stand amazed that time has gone so quickly

When love is more than feelings, its fixing bikes and painting ceilings

Its when you feel a cold when coming, I am the autumn days

 

I am the winter, when days are cold and bitter

And the days I can remember number more than the days to come

When you ride instead of walking, and you barely hear the talking

And goodbyes are said too often, I am the winter

But I’ll see spring again in heaven, and it will last forever.

(You can listen to this here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3us8-U9-4s)

 

 

 

 

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My heart aches . . .

We are in Philadelphia for the day.  Youngest Daughter (Rachel) had begged us to visit, and since she is still on semester break from Bryn Mawr, it seems like a great Saturday to go.  Though she has been back at her internship for a week, at least there are no papers to write, no books to read and no tests for which to study.  It is the coldest Saturday for some time, and Certain Man and I are bundled up against the wind and cold.  Something about Philadelphia makes everything seem colder:  The big stone arches, huge concrete structures, stone statues and iron gates and cold, cold glass and steel.  Even the big, colorful LOVE statue in the center of town doesn’t help much on this cold day. (Maybe it is just that this is “the city.”)

But the people!  Wealthy people in big cars, various ethnic populations, ordinary people in heavy coats and scarves, all moving along the sidewalks with hurried steps.  They are stepping around and over and away from the various bumps of humanity sitting along the edges of the sidewalks, on the street corners, outside the doors of establishments, swaddled in various garments against the bitter cold.

It is impossible to help all the homeless, I know, but their desperate plights on this freezing cold day is almost more than I can bear.  A little black lady, sitting cross-legged on the sidewalk, rocking and talking to herself, with a cardboard sign that is illegible.  A man without legs in a wheelchair, cupping a steaming disposable cup of something in his hands, his eyes begging, his words unintelligible.  And the one that really gets me:  A person, I suspect female, but I cannot tell for sure, is sitting wrapped up in a quiet side street near a parking garage.  The sign reads something like this:  “I’m homeless.  I’m hungry.  No job, and I’m too ugly to prostitute.  Please help!

We are scurrying along the sidewalk, trying to get out of the stinging wind, trying to beat the parking meter, trying to find shelter ourselves.  Youngest Daughter is leading the way, and I hurry to stay in step with her long, confident strides and my husband’s naturally long steps.  It feels like my heart will break and I finally say to her, “How do you stand it?  How can you bear all these poor people?  Doesn’t it just feel like you have to do something???”

Our daughter, young, full of life, full of hope, and compassionate to her very core says, “It is really troubling, Mom, and it is especially bad in the winter.  During the summer, I give away anything in my lunch that I think will help — an apple, a granola bar, whatever.  But in the winter, when the biggest issue is the cold, there is so little anyone can do that is going to help.  The churches send out buses when it gets really cold, and will take anyone who will go to a warm place, but there is so much misery and sadness and hopelessness out here.”

It is late afternoon, and the temperature is dropping into the teens, we abandon our walking for a driving tour of historical Philadelphia, and then drop Rachel off back at her apartment and head for home.  The van is warm, dependable and quiet.  Both Certain Man and I are in our own thoughts, and eventually I sleep.  Then home again, safe and sound, I revel in the silence of the Delaware night and the little farm that we call Shady Acres.  Inside the house, Middle Daughter has everything under control and I am home in time to put Our Girl Audrey and Blind Linda to bed, and collapse in my comfy chair.  The pellet stove is burning brightly.  The people near me are ones I not only trust, but love deeply.

But I think incessantly about a human being out in that freezing cold, so alone, so hopelessly caught in wretchedness and sorrow with no shred of self esteem . . . (“too ugly to prostitute???”) and wonder again what will be required of this handmaiden of the LORD.  What will my answer be some day when I am called to give an account of how I’ve used what has been entrusted to my care?

The truth is, being faithful where I’ve been called is important.  But there have been many times in my life where my efforts on behalf of all the need I saw were so scattered that I ended up doing more harm than good.  And I have a serious calling on my hands right now on my home front that I am committed to doing with all my heart.

But that doesn’t stop me from praying.  I do not know how God ministered to the needs in frigid Philly last night, but there were people there who were the object of a Delaware Grammy’s prayers and I believe in a God whose hands will reach where mine cannot, and whose ways are far above my understanding.  It doesn’t bring complacency.  It doesn’t keep my heart from hurting.  But it does bring renewed commitment to do what I can do in this time and in this place with what I’ve been given and to the ones I’ve been given. And to share in ways that will help those beyond my physical reach.

This verse, from my favorite translation, The New Century Version, rings loud in my head: (Jesus speaking!)

Luke 12:48b:  From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded. And from the one trusted with much, much more will be expected.

I have nothing that I haven’t (directly or indirectly) been given!

Do you know what?

Neither have you.

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Das Alte Seese Grumvalda (That old sweet potato)

Middle Daughter brought home a couple of sweet potatoes last Thanksgiving or Christmas.  I let them lie on my kitchen cupboard for a very long time.  Months, in fact.  Several times I asked her what she was planning for them, but the answers were vague — something about sweet potato fries.  And mumblings about looking up a special recipe.  Certain Man said that she didn’t have to worry about him taking them when she wasn’t looking.  He was convinced that he didn’t like sweet potatoes.

 

So the months went by.  (Yes, MONTHS)  And then the largest of the sweet potatoes showed signs of life.  Little sprouts started to appear and it shriveled up and looked pitiful.  One day, when one of my outside planters was looking rather bare, I gathered it up, dug a quick hole in the planter and put it in.  Didn’t ask, didn’t tell until some time later when a gorgeous vine had started to spring forth.  There was more relief than anything else on the part of Middle Daughter.  She was tired of looking at them, and tired of me asking her to do something with them.

 

For several months, I’ve watched and watered and fertilized and envisioned what might be going on in that big brown planter.  I planted some mums in there to give some color and they are blooming for the second time.  Several times I asked people if they thought it might be producing a crop of sweet potatoes down there.  I was especially interested because we have discovered that Certain Man is not as adverse to them as he thought he was.  I kept waiting and waiting and over the last week, the vine looked like it was wilting.  I was so excited.  I was thinking there could be so many sweet potatoes in there that there wasn’t hardly enough room for them all.  I was sure they would be a few in there as big as my hand, and they would be smooth and sweet and wonderful.

 

Tonight was the night that Middle Daughter left for her next big adventure.  As she was pulling out of the driveway (on her way to Youngest Son’s house, then to the airport, then to Miami where she meets her Aunt Lena, then on to Buenos Aires , then on to ANTARCTICA!!!)  she paused when she saw that I was beginning to dig into the brown planter.

 

“Oh, Mom,” she said, “I was hoping that you would dig that up I want to see!”
I pulled up the plant.  Nothing on the end of it that was remarkable.

 

“There’s nothing there,” intoned Certain Man, also watching with great interest.

 

“I’m pretty sure there is,” I insisted, and began to dig deep into the soft dirt.  Sure enough, I came up with one that was about a quarter of the size I was hoping for.  I dug deeper and deeper, came up with a few more puny ones and that was it.

155

 

I don’t expect that they will make much of anything too pretentious for a company dinner.  I think they will taste good, but there just isn’t enough of them.

 

Next year, I just might see if Certain Man will plant a few in the garden.  If we could do this good by accident, just think what we might do on purpose.

 

And that is the news from Shady Acres where Middle Daughter has gone off on her excursion without doing our Thankful Wall, where Certain Man is working on it while we speak, and this Delaware Grammy is so grateful for the blessings of this time and this place.

 

My heart gives grateful praise.

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Oh, No! Not again!

It was bed changing morning at Shady Acres.  Saturday.  It was also the morning that Certain Man, Middle Daughter, Only Granddaughter, and Certain Man’s Wife were planning to get into Certain Man’s pick up, and go to Ohio for the adoption hearings for grandsons;  Simon, Liam and Frankie.

Now we had been planning for this journey for a long time in general terms, but ever since the end of the July, it has been specific:  September 8th @ 9am.  Of course, this is the week when the weather had been very warm on Delmarva and our chickens will be five weeks old by the time when we get back, so Certain Man was concerned about their well-being.  I meandered through the last few weeks with some specific goals in mind that I wanted to accomplish before we had go leave.  It took me a while to connect that nobody accomplishes much while meandering, so I kinda tried to get it in gear before it was too late.  And I pretty much got the major projects finished up and when morning arrived, all that was left was to finish up the packing.  We had even gotten to bed at a reasonable time.

The morning was an immediate flurry of things getting done.  Only Granddaughter had spent the night and she was up early enough that I was able to get an early start.  The beds got stripped and remade, morning meds given, several loads of laundry sorted and the washing machine was purring away.  I had Linda on the potty and was ready to give her her shower when I needed to use the potty that she was sitting on.  That was fine, since she was ready for her shower, so I started the water in her shower and got it regulated.

Then I remembered something.  It was Saturday morning.  Friday night, Our Girl Audrey always cleans her bathroom, using copious amounts of cleaner.  It is not unusual for her to use half of a large can of bathroom cleaner to accomplish this task.  A great percentage of it is used in her shower.  This makes for very, very slippery conditions in the shower.  Even with the mat in place, when Linda steps into the shower, even the mat will slip like it is on ice.  This is especially so if no one tamps the mat down into place, making sure that the suction cups are engaged.  However, even when it has been secured, sometimes the rubber mat still slips, at least until someone picks it up, rinses under it thoroughly and then re-tamps it down securely.

So herein was the dilemma:  I was really in a hurry to get Linda into the shower so that I could use the porcelain convenience.  I hurriedly tamped the mat down with my heavy foot and then actually stepped onto the edge of the mat, hoping it was firmly in place.

What happened next happened so fast that I didn’t have time to think.  I was holding the grab bar with my right hand, but both feet went sliding out from under me in one blinding, unbelievable cataclysmic split second.  I didn’t even have time to register what had happened when I landed outside of the shower, on one dreadfully sickeningly solid left sided bottom thump.  It felt like an electric current jolted through my lower back and my first thought was to make sure my legs worked.  They did.  I hauled myself up and was grateful to note that, not only had I NOT wet myself, I no longer needed to use the potty.

I stood outside the shower with a thousand emotions crashing over my heart.  We were only hours away from leaving on an important, milestone marking trip.  I knew that whatever had happened could have some implications as to the many miles we needed to travel.  I don’t travel very comfortably under the best circumstances, but this weekend was especially a challenge already.  Our Silver Chariot had developed serious issues and was in the shop, being repaired, thankfully under warranty, but still out of commission.  We were planning to take Certain Man’s pick-up, but many of the amenities of the newer vehicle were glaringly lacking. The biggest concern was space to stretch out if I needed to.

Oh, boy!

I needed to get Linda showered.  I picked up the mat from the bottom of the shower and rinsed it thoroughly.  I washed the floor under the mat until it was no longer slippery to my touch, and put the mat back down firmly, making sure the suction cups were not going to move.  Bending over was clearly a problem, but it seemed like it was not as bad as I thought it would be.   I got Linda into the shower and washed her.  As I washed, I started praying while the water ran down and anxiety plied its nasty trade.

“Oh, Lord Jesus.  This is no surprise to you, and I bring it before you.  Could you please use this for my good?  Could you somehow work what has happened to the betterment of traveling today instead of complicating things?  Please give me wisdom and endurance and help me to know what is best to do.  Above all else , if there is something really seriously wrong, could you please make that very plain before we leave?”

I finished the shower, aware that both of my feet were experiencing a strange sensation– that of being “almost half-way” asleep.  My toes were tingling in a strange way, and there was definitely some kind of trauma to my lower back.  But it didn’t hurt when I sat down, and it didn’t hurt too much when I stood up.  But getting from sitting to standing, and from standing to sitting was a reminder that something had happened.  And I was not moving as quickly as before.

I decided not to tell my family.  If I could get ready to go and not tell them, I was probably okay to go.  I truly lumbered through the rest of the morning, calling upon Middle Daughter for some assistance.  She helped incredibly much without asking questions.  Sometimes I would go and hide in another room to try to stretch things out and to relieve that ongoing tingling in my toes.  How was I ever going to make and eight hour pick-up ride?

I decided to tell my family.  I went out and started a conversation that I could “lead gently into” the account of the fall, but it never would develop easily.  I decided to not tell them.

We finished packing, got the caregiver for the ladies informed and we were on our way.  I settled into my seat and suddenly realized that, somewhere along the way, my toes had stopped tingling.  That gave me renewed courage and excitement for the miles ahead.  We had a book on CD and we listened to James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small as the miles pleasantly passed.  I was increasingly aware that I had almost no distress or pain.  Whenever we stopped, it was a little hard to walk normally and it was pretty hard to get in and out of the vehicle, but I began to believe that the pick-up was probably the best vehicle for me for this trip.  Yet another provision for me in spite of  all my clumsy misadventures.

And so we came safely to Ohio.  Somewhere on the PA turnpike, I told my family about the fall and how grateful I was that it seemed things were going so well.  Middle Daughter was concerned.  Certain Man was highly indignant that I hadn’t said anything before we left.  However, I was glad that there was no turning back at that point.  It sounded like he would have probably insisted that we delay departure.

And everything truly is okay.  I’m pretty sore, and it still doesn’t go very well to go from standing to sitting and sitting to standing, and my right arm appears to have experienced some sort of wrenching.  But all in all, it is surprisingly insignificant.  I was able to walk a half a mile today, and for the most part, things are good.

The best part is that we are all together at Raph and Gina’s house:

Adoption weekend 003 Adoption weekend 005

Adoption weekend 008

My heart gives grateful praise.

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