Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass- it is about learning to dance in the rain.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


"I See what you're saying"
or
What you see is what you get

This is my attempt to participate in Linda's "Carnival" of videos over at 2nd Cup of Coffee. It's an attempt at getting better acquainted.
video

Amazing discoveries as I watch my video:

1. I have now given up all hopes and dreams of ever becoming the Anchor of an evening news cast, or the beautiful hostess of an early morning talk show.


2. I talk too fast.

3. That alternative diet needs to work faster (or I need to actually do alternate days instead of alternate hours)

4. I now have evidence to sue the company that produces my wrinkle cream. It isn't working.

I cannot tell you exactly how much time I spent editing, filming and re-filming this presentation. But if you will add up the time on the video clip itself and add...

oh about 1 minute to find the camera,

1 more minute to try to get the tripod legs to stand up (A not completely successful endeavor, I must say),

and one 30 second trial clip to make sure I wasn't talking with only my left boob -- because that's the one that's reconstructed! At least it looks better than the other one, which the doctor did try to "lift", but without much success. Is this a run-on sentence?


Anyway, if you add up those times, that's the total time spent on this project upon which the rest of my blogging career rests.


(Okay, I lied. I ended up having to use Windows moviemaker because the format of my camera is MVI and this spot takes avi format. Or something like that... I think?)


Because if after this video, my blog readership goes down, I shall be devastated! And you lurkers out there -- I do at least have your number in my site meter -- so after I have opened myself to world-wide ridicule with this video, you can at least make some little comment.

Like: " You Poor thing. I will come over here and commiserate with you daily!!"


This is a little like walking out of doors naked. Except don't even ask. That is NOT my next movie.


More Winnabago Tales

As I said, we didn't have the luxury of making our own schedule with time to find convenient RV Parks and such. Large cities presented the most challenge. So that night in Washington D.C., we had found that the guidebook said the closest Park was something called Yogi Bear RV Park. In the book it was only about 100 miles away. But after inquiring at a couple of gas stations, it was a 4 hour drive from the city. That was the closest.

We had learned from other places that sometimes, the local Police Station would let you park in their parking lot. No luck there. A couple of inquiries and we understood clearly we might be arrested for vagrancy if we tried it.

My best representation as the desperate young mother was met with rejection.
So we resorted to our fanciest trick for hiding a 24-foot vehicle in a metropolis long enough for us to get some sleep. We found a parking lot with several semis. This one was a grocery warehouse. There was space between two of the semi-trailers, so we backed in carefully, cut all the lights, pulled down the beds and prepared for the night.

Preparations also included some intense and sincere prayer that we not be interrupted by police cars either running us out, or arresting us. God was good. That night we slept in the nation's capitol from 1 AM until 8 AM well protected from view by semi-trailers.

I'm sure there were some angels perched atop those trailers as well.


Another day traveling this land.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Winnebago Tales

Sometimes traveling in the Winnebago presented interesting dilemmas. Since we were traveling for ministry (a job), our schedule was made by others. We didn't have the luxury of planning trips with things in mind like RV Parks available, time of day to arrive, etc. We were at the whim of others who had no clue about such things.

It was fall and we were headed into Washington D.C. The drive was beautiful coming up through Virginia. I did have a travel brochure of some kind and was making notes of what we'd like to see if our hosts would either release us long enough to do some fun things or if they actually asked what we wanted to do.

It was midnight when I had my first glimpse of the capitol. I was twenty-six years old and farther from home than I had ever thought I would be. It was heady stuff for one so young, raised in rural poverty. Both boys were awake. Ages two and three-and-a-half. After all, in our world midnight was not yet normal bedtime.

We drove past the White House and a light was on in an upper story room. "Looks like the President is up studying." I commented.

"Well, let's go visit him," pipes up the three year old.

"Oh, honey, we can't just go knock on the White House door," I explain.

"But why? Doesn't the President like us?" He asked as his bottom lip began to quiver.

"It isn't that he doesn't like us." I try to explain. "It's that he's the President. We don't know him. You can't go see the President if he doesn't know you."

"Why doesn't the President like us?" He repeats. Crying in earnest now.

I had no words to explain. In his world, we drove up to strange houses everyday. People came out to greet us, introduce themselves and invite us in. Why wouldn't the President do that? It just didn't compute for a 3 year old.

He cried himself to sleep then. Fortunately, that was before seat belts and laws about being belted down. So I held him in my arms in the captain's chair on the passenger side, rocking from side to side. (That WAS a good chair.) Finally his sobbing subsided and he slept quietly.

Two days later we were able to tour Mount Vernon. He was satisfied that the President liked us since he let us into his house. Never mind that that "President" had been dead for nearly 200 years. I was delighted that Washington did NOT decide to make an appearance!

Another day on the road.

Sunday, September 28, 2008



On the Road with Bob & PJ

By popular demand from my readers, all three of them, I'm delving into dangerous territory...that of my memory. You do realize these RV stories are from...oh about the time of the American Civil War?

In a time long ago and a land far away, a small family of four started on an adventure. In order to get to the land where they desired to be, Ecuador, they first had to pass a series of tests set by the O.G.RE in the tower. (OrGanizational REview otherwise know as the Missions Board). Their world required that they be able to prove their ability to adapt to a new culture and climate in which m.o.n.e.y was of little import, by demonstrating their ability to collect large sums of this m.o.n.e.y. in the American culture, specifically in their Denominational (De.m.on) churches.

Our friends were young and clueless. They approached this great adventure as ... a Great Adventure. There were some wonderful days in which the people in the De.m.on were marvelously friendly and helpful. In other place, on other days the people in the de.m.on seemed, well, De.m.on.ic.

It was a friendly day when our family found themselves in a beautiful bright sunny Southern state. The normal routine for our family was: Monday was travel day, with the evening for family time or simple chores like laundry and cleaning the RV. Tuesday thru Friday,there were services every evening in which they presented the program and tried not to beg for funds. Following these evening presentations the pastor usually invited the little family for food, either at his home or at a restaurant. These meals lasted well into the night. The family would return to their little abode about midnight and spend an hour or so reading stories to the children before everyone fell asleep. Saturday was usually the same. Occasionally Saturday was also an evening off, but not often. On Sunday there was a morning presentation usually at 10 AM in one local and an evening one, maybe a hundred or two hundred miles away. On Sunday evening our little family felt fortunate if everyone was in bed by two a.m.

This particular evening, the meal had been substantial AND there had been older children to play with the little boys. Everyone was wide awake on return to the RV. The RV Park was located right next to the runway of a U.S. Air Force Base. When they returned to the RV at 1 AM, planes continued to land and take off with regularity. The bright lights from the runway made it seem like mid-day, so the children played in a sandbox beside the RV while the parents washed and cleaned the RV.

Yep. There we were at 3:00 A.M., hose in hand washing the RV. The boys were giggling happily in the sandbox. At one point I looked around and began laughing aloud.

"If anyone from child services saw us now, they'd arrest us for sure with a charge of insanity." I chortled. "Who in their right mind has their kids up at 3 AM cleaning the house?"

We laughed...and continued cleaning. Somehow we felt safe and happy there in the shadow of fighter jets taking off and landing. And then the boys decided to join us at the hose -- so it was a 3:30 A.M. bath, disguised as a water fight for all.

Just another day in the life of a nomadic family!

More from the past

Writing about the motor home reminded me of other events. We lived in that thing for almost two years. At times it was lovely and idyllic: time for family, together all day, beautiful scenery, meeting new people. At times it was plain hellish: a cracker box on wheels, hot in summer, cold in winter, small, tight quarters. Bradley had his first haircut while we lived there; Robby learned to hit a baseball.

And there were memorable events. That night in McAllister, Oklahoma in March was cold. But the cold air didn't send that chill down my spine. The pastor's announcement following the Sunday evening service was the culprit. With a voice that would have chilled a volcano, he admonished us all not to be frightened. Then he advised moving quickly to cars and getting home becoming careful not to stop, not even at stop signs. Especially on a dark street, worse if you're alone.

"Now I don't mean to scare any of y'all single women. But when you get out of your car at home, be careful to stay in the light. Sometimes they hang out in the dark. Have yer keys out an' ready to open that door. Ya never know who cud be awaitin' in the dark."

And if I'd been going home alone, at that point I think I would have throttled him.

But we boarded our RV and followed him to his house. He instructed us to park beside the house, in the shadow because there was a hookup for electricity there. We hooked up quickly while he stood outside and pontificated about the dangers that could be lurking in the shadows.

Our meal that evening was punctuated with his stories of other prison breaks, enhanced occasionally with the radio reports of the break that evening. There were six prisoners still missing. Authorities suspected they were still in the area and were only slightly less ominous than he with warnings to not stop for strangers, check the back seats before entering cars, etc.

After the meal, the family made arrangements for their grown children to spend the night in order to avoid going out into the darkness with the dangers of lurking escapees. So, we picked up our 2-year-old and 4-year-old and headed out to the motorhome parked in the shadow of the sturdy house with the deadbolt and double-chain locks. He didn't accompany us this time. Too dark, I think.

So we bravely opened the door of our big crackerbox with a little aluminum key about the size of the one for my diary. We closed the door, careful to engage all four corners the way one does with a high school locker door. Security measures: double-check the paper clip holding the sliding glass window by the driver's seat, pull the big 3/4 size master bed down in front of the windshield. That should stop any intruders. Oh yeah!

So locked safely in our little aluminum box, I lay awake most of the night hoping that the shifting shadows in the yard were really shadows and not prison escapees.

I can't remember for sure, but I think all but one of them were caught that night. With the pastor's warnings not to pick up strangers ringing in our ears, we hit the road. For sure, we didn't pick up any strangers that day. Nope not that day! (Hey! I'm being ironic. We didn't pick up strangers, period!! Not after we had kids.)

Ah! The joys of life on the road.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Embarrassing moments
This series of entries can be categorized: Dark Moments in the life of PJ!

Strange how minds work (assuming mine actually IS...working, that is). These things come to me in undefended moments. Maybe I'm a tad too busy right now and have lost the ability to control my mind. (Is that a definition of insanity?) It just catches me unawares.

Like: Do you remember the time you fought with a parking meter?? With an RV as your weapon? A proud moment, indeed!

I've always been really good at parallel parking. Still am. (pat pat on the back) So the fall we got an RV (it was our HOUSE, not just our vehicle) to tour the US on behalf of a missions project (with a 1 year old and a 2 year old!), I had no problem parking it in two spots (It was a 24-foot Winnebago Indian!) I parked right on the main street downtown in front of the barber shop. I made my purchase and headed back to the car/house.

As I climbed aboard with my two little ones, I noticed that a car had parked right behind me. AND there had always been one in front. It was a tad tight, but I figured, "No Problem."

So, I back up slowly cutting the wheel sharply to the left. I clear the car in front with maybe four inches to spare. "Very good, PJ." I think to myself. And slowly attempt to accelerate. The thing won't budge. Really! I'm pressing the gas, the motor is revving and nothing is happening. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. No forward movement.

So, like a good little driver, I climb down the stairs and out the door on the sidewalk side...It's the only way out of the thing, people. One door out of the cracker box into the world.

And, outside, there is a parking meter firmly planted between the motor home and the rear bumper. The very strong, very large, steel bumper. I wonder how the parking meter jumped there. Wish they wouldn't feed them so much, but....

I get back in, turn the wheel the other way, and try to extricate the vehicle. Did I mention I was parked in front of a barbershop?

By now the gender-biased customers all have their noses pressed against the glass of the front window with Cheshire-cat grins plastered from ear to ear. I wouldn't really look at them, but there was some animation too. Thigh slapping, shoulder punching and such I would imagine. I refused to give them the satisfaction of noticing.

Finally, I had had enough. I just gunned 'er. Slowing, with loud creaks, she moved forward like a snail until the final leap forward let me know she was free.

I didn't stop to check the damage on the parking meter nor on the RV. My husband greeted me at the apartment that we were vacating with, "Why is the rear bumper sticking out at a 90-degree angle."

"Is it, really? Maybe it got attacked by a parking meter." I reply.

Note to the wise, if you're ever driving an extra-long vehicle, beware those parking meters. They attack when you're least expecting it.

Any embarrassing moments out there? Or do I walk this lonesome valley alone?


Friday, September 26, 2008

Odd and Smelly Job

I'm moving back in time again to College. The smelliest job ever. This job started at 11 pm and ended at 7 am. Rough hours when I had classes all day. It was one of those "I have to work my way through college" jobs. At the cannery--in California.

It was tomato season. I was in the first batch of sorters. we were standing just inside these huge garage doors where the trucks, big dump trucks, came with loads of tomatoes and deposited them in a huge bin. They came to us on metal chain-link belts. Those tomatoes fresh from the field, with chunks of mud, some smashed, some rotten, some perfect. Our job was to grab all of the bad ones, chunks of mud, rotten tomatoes, smashed red fruit and toss them down garbage chutes.

The others we were to rough sort, large ones on the right, small ones on the left. All of this happened on the third floor of the plant as that belt moved relentless on. Some nights it felt like the scene in the chocolate factory from the old "I Love Lucy" episode.


Below us the tomatoes were sorted yet again, then steamed, peeled and placed in cans mostly with machinery that worked noisily through the night. The smell of warm stewed tomatoes floated up to join with the smell of freshly squashed and rotted tomatoes mixed with the smell of mud.

Visually, as I worked I could see the chain link belt moving both directions. Since it was open mental work, the belt moved forward on the top and on the bottom looped in the opposite direction. Dizzying stuff at 3 a.m. As I'd begin to get sleepy, my hands would work more and more slowly. Just before I fell into a complete stupor, the floorwalker would yell, "Look alive there! keep those hand moving." Really. She sounded like an army sergeant. At the time I even found it funny, she was so stereotypical; I was so sleepy!



Neither picture is accurate. The one on the right is closer though, than the one on the left. I promise that in addition to being smelly, it was significantly rustic. Although the picture is of fish cannery, tomatoes come a close second to fish when it comes to bad smell!! Our conditions were as primitive as the ones on the right. It was a rugged place!!

It took at least ten years before I could tolerate the smell of cooked tomatoes again. Today? I do love a bowl of tomato basil soup and usually eat without even a bit of memory of the cannery days.



Thursday, September 25, 2008

Odd Jobs

I've done some odd jobs; and then I've had some odd jobs!! For three days I was a soda jerk. (Hee Hee). I made fountain soda -- On the first day I told a young teenager that we did not have Chocolate Coke. Little did I now, it was a best seller -- for the soda bar at the mall. But PJ from Missouri had never heard of putting chocolate syrup in a coke, so it did not exist on that day for that kids.

Then I waited tables at the University Banquet center. One night at a faculty banquet, I let a drop of coffee from the lip of the coffee pot hit the bare back of a faculty wife. She scremed loudly enough to be heard three counties away. Her husband thought it was funny. There were about 500 people crammed into a room that could have nicely held 300...maybe. Every time I turned sideways and sidled past their chair to avoid bumping into the back of the person at the next long table, he'd grin at me. Then laugh when I blushed bright red.

I did well carrying plates. I could manage five at at time: three on one arm and two on the other. If there was no one to "unload" one of the plates, I could only carry four. But...I didn't drop a single one.

Those were both "work your way through college" jobs.

Right after we were married, I had a hard time finding a job because we only had one car and my husband had to drive about 30 minutes to work. So I applied for a factory job near where he worked.

I ran a punch press. Usually a punch press cuts sheets of metal, or bends and shapes them. However my punch press was a specialty one.

Remember when it was all the thing to have your Christmas cards engraved with your name? The punch press was set up to engrave Christmas cards, the big fancy ones with velour on the Santa costume and sparkles on the snow. There was a template for the card, I'd set it on the face plate and the machine would print it. (Okay. Gotta go find a picture. This isn't translating.)


The machine was big and ugly like the one above, except the one I operated had a big arm with a round plate that went up and down in a rhythm kind of like the little manual one on the left. I had to move the cards in and out rhythmically without getting my hand smashed.

It was kind of fun. I'd start the thing slow, and move it faster and faster working as the rhythm built. Place the card with the right hand; remove it with the left. But every now and then my boss would come by and hit the emergency "stop". When the noise from the thing was silenced, he's warn me not to go so fast or I'd get my hand in there. He'd quote how much the psi was...I don't remember, but it was several tons. Enough that my hand would be only a greasy spot if I goofed. The guy running the machine before me has lost a couple of fingers in the thing.

I loved running that thing as fast as I could get it to go. Only once did I think I was in any danger. That day I had it going fast enough that when my right hand positioned the card, it wasn't quite straight. I almost reached in to straighten the card. instinctively, without thinking. Then quickly I realized that I wouldn't have time to get my hand out again. And I reached to the throttle and slowed the thing down for the rest of the day.

What Odd Jobs have you done??

Stay tuned tomorrow for the smelliest job ever. For me anyway


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It all happened on Sunday

So while Little M & A had a teaparty, M invented a game for the two of us to play. Just right for Sunday afternoon with Grandma. That's when M wasn't making shadow pictures, joining the little ones at the hose filling the teapot, raiding my snack cabinet for teaparty goodies, or pretending to be attacked by a very sad dried up cactus! There are some special advantages to being the big girl!









And the first two pictures will NOT load correctly. Because the perspective is unusual, blogspot insists on turning them around. Just give your computer screen a 90 degree turn to the left. Or you could just tilt your head a bit if the screen is too heavy to lift! HA! (With acknowledgement to Ballerina Girl!)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TEA TIME
Do you fawncy a spot o' tea?







Time for tea, time for friends!



Oh fudgesicles!! This is Wednesday's post. I was trying to be all organized and schedule things when I have time to upload today!!! And I goofed and hit publish before "Post Options". Doesn't anybody know how to "unpost" and reschedule??? Probably can't get there from here!!!

Okay. When you read this, just pretend it's Wednesday!!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Shadow Pictures
(Self-Portraits)
Grandmother
Granddaughter

Sunday, September 21, 2008


The Good News:
Little V is doing very well
Let's call him Little Victor. This is Victor's son who was almost 5 at the time of the liver transplant. Although Victor was only 7 years younger than me, he started the parenting thing much later! My gift was really for Little V. I had hoped so desperately to rejuvenate his Daddy.
Here's Little V with M, my granddaughter. They play on the same soccer team. My granddaughters, M & M, are 6 & 8. Little V is 7.

(Although I do get a wrench in my gut watching my son, Brad, coach Little V. When Brad was Little V's age, Victor was teaching Brad soccer moves. We were in Ecuador and Victor was a student there who lived with us. Little V looks sooo much like this Daddy - - and then the irony of the switch in roles. I cried through part of a very happy soccer game!!!)

And this still qualifies as a happy post! :) See, I'm smiling!


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Soccercita!!

Think two little boys can best my little girl??

No way, Jose!

That's it, little one, leave those boys in the dust -- er...grass!

Persistent little guy, aren't you?


This little girl's having none of it.
Go!! Go!! Go, little M!

Ha! She just got past ya!!


The Case of the stolen wallet
by PJ
This is a true story

I was falsely accused today.

Yep!! The attendance secretary emailed me:

Her: Did you lose something?


Me: What did you find? My head?

Her: A black bag.

Me: I'm fairly certain the only black bag I have here today is safely stashed in my office.

Her: Well I have one here.
It's big; it's black; it looks like you.

Me: Okay. I may be crazy. I'll come see if it's mine.

And...it wasn't. It was big and black, and I liked it a lot, but it wasn't mine. So we checked for I.D. and I delivered it to the owner in her classroom. I'm nice like that.

It made me remember another time someone tried to return something to me. Circa 1985. We'd just come home from church on Sunday about noon.

The phone ra
ng.

Our city's police department: (After verifying my name and my husband's name) Ma'am, have you been robbed?

Me: No. I don't think so.


Police: We have your husband's wallet here. Are you missing anything else in your house?

Me: (To my husband) Have we been robbed? Are we missing anything? The police have your wallet.

Hubby: My wallet?

Me: Yes. You don't have it do you?

Hubby: Huh? (Searching his pockets and the top of the dresser.) No.

Police: I have the wallet, Ma'am. Are you missing anything else?

Me: (To hubby) Are we missing anything else?

Me: (To Police) I'm looking around. (I had a cordless phone...It was the 80's. We were with it with our cordless phone. Just not with his wallet.)

Hubby: (Joining the search without a cordless phone to his ear.) I don't think we're missing anything besides my wallet.

Police: (to me, on the cordless phone) We arrested a woman at the mall today with your husband's wallet. Have you been to the mall today?

Me: No. We just came from church today. We've only been to church.

Me: (To Hubby) Where did last have your wallet? Where did you leave it?

Hubby: (Frantically searching for anything else that might be missing.)

[That's harder than it sounds. Try looking for something that is missing when you don't know what is missing or when it might have left. Okay. Never mind. It isn't a skill you'll likely be needing soon.]

Police: Were you at the mall yesterday?

Me: Yesterday? Oh. Yes. We were at the mall yesterday.

Hubby: (Suddenly, remembering.) (to me) I gave you my wallet yesterday to put in your purse. When we ate at the buffet.

Me: (To cop) Yes. I had his wallet in my purse at the buffet.

Police: Where did you put your purse while you were eating.

Me: I hung it on the back of my chair.

Police: Not a good idea. This lady grabbed it out of your purse while you were eating. She lifted several others that same day.

Me: (To hubby) No one broke in here. She stole it while we were eating at the buffet yesterday.

(We're both terribly relieved and stop looking for other stolen things. Like the 15 year old toaster. It's there. So are the Target lamps in the living room. Our stereo sound system from 1976 is right there in the living room. Stereo Components. And his LP collection. All present and accounted for. Very with it.)

Police: She says her name is Barbara [our last name]. And that [my husband] is her husband.

Me: Can't be. I'm his wife. And my name is PJ.

Police: Do you know a Barbara [name]?

Me: No. We don't.

Police: Can you and your husband come to the police station and identify the stolen property?

Me: Sure. We'll be right there. (To identify the wallet we didn't even know was missing.)


But today? Nope! My bag was NOT missing.

I Promised humor

So I'm a little behind the times. These are a couple of years old, but I haven't seen them before! If this tickles your fancy, there's another over at 2nd Cup of Coffee. (I actually like it better!)






Monday, September 15, 2008

NON-SERIOUS PLEDGE

¡Ay, Querídos! After that last serious post, I promise only humor or silliness for at least a week! So, it's a meme. You may join or not, as you choose. If you do, leave a comment with the link for yours.


RULES: You may type only one (1) word. (Not as easy as it sounds.)


1. Where is your cell phone? Purse

2. Where is your significant other? Computer

3. Your hair? Curly

4. Your mother? Heaven

5. Your father? Creaky

6. Your favorite thing? People

7. Your dream last night? Lost

8. Your dream/goal? Book

9. The room you're in? Office

10. Your hobby? Writing

11. Your fear? Failure

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Traveling

13. Where were you last night? Trail

14. What you're not? Young

16. One of your wish list items? Best-seller

17. Where you grew up? Ozarks

18. The last thing you did? e-mail

19. What are you wearing? outfit

20. Your TV? Flat-panel

21. Your pet? Husband

22. Your computer? Lifeline

24. Your mood? Tired

25. Missing someone? Yep

26. Your car? Oldish

27. Something you're not wearing? socks

28. Favorite store? Macy's

29. Your summer? Busy

30. Love someone? Tons

31. Your favorite color? Purple

32. When is the last time you laughed? Today

33. Last time you cried? Saturday

34. Who will tag this? You!


Saturday, September 13, 2008

WHY I BEGAN BLOGGING
(In honor of Post #500)

December 2005. I had decided to become a living liver donor. Thus, I was entering a new phase in my life. I wanted an outlet for my thoughts and a place to post news and progress to friends and family. So, I began a blog. I imagined that it would be a triumphant first few months of blogging. I could encourage more donations of organs (upon one's death) so that the kind of sacrifice I was making would not be necessary. I was to become a living liver donor.

My friend Victor Gomez had been diagnosed with liver cancer. He was so far down on the recipient list that a transplant was not going to become available for him before his time ran out. I had volunteered that Spring to be a living donor for him since our blood types matched. But his half-sister from Peru had agreed to go through the testing. However, after the painful liver biopsy in March, she opted not to donate. It delayed their even looking at me as a possible donor since a family member would be a closer match. After 6 weeks of testing, 22 vials of blood drawn, a liver biopsy and every test known to man (EXCEPT a Pap Smear and Mammogram, I might add), I was accepted as a donor. At age 55 I was healthy, but certainly older than the recommended age for living donors. I didn't even tell my primary care physician. I didn't think he'd like the idea. The University promised the best of care. And in the event that my liver ever failed, I would be put at the top of the donor list.

December 29th Victor and I both checked into the Transplant ICU at a hospital in Chicago. He was ill and could barely walk. I was hale and hearty. A tad nervous, but hale and hearty nonetheless.

The next morning in adjoining operating rooms, the two of us underwent separate 14-hour surgical procedures. Two teams of surgeons; two ORs. It was expected to be 8 hours, but when they opened him up, the remaining liver was again riddled with carcenoma. They had to keep a vein and the bile duct from his liver, because a living donor can donate 2/3 of the organ, but only one of three veins and no bile duct. With a cadaver donor, all of those items are also available for transplanting.

The bile duct was a problem from the beginning. At first it was leaking. They did another surgery and repaired it. Then it infected. It never did heal. The news was both good and bad from the beginning. The transplanted liver in him pinked up and began to work. But the wretched bile duct continued problematic.

I left the hospital after a week. I believed I'd be back at work in a month. It took almost two, and then I only returned because I was out of sick days and couldn't afford not to return. Mostly I was tired and weary. I returned to work February 21st.

For Victor, infection continued. His body became weaker and weaker. The last two week, they didn't bother closing the surgical incision. Daily procedures were done to try to combat the infection and entice his declining system to fight for health.

He was valiant to the end. The last week, each time I saw him tears ran down his face, and he'd whisper, "I'm sorry." I didn't understand at first. I kept reassuring him that I was fine, that he could make it.

But eventually I got it. He realized that his time was at an end and he was apologizing for the sacrifice that I had made. The pain he had endured was unbelievable with daily surgery and swelling of his body to the point that he could no longer speak. He was conscious, but just barely. I reassured him that it was okay to let go. The last thing I told him was to relax into the arms of God. That it would be alright. Two tear rolled down his cheek and he tried to smile. Two hours later he was gone.

That was February 22, 2006. I blogged rarely for several months. My strength did not return. I blamed it on depression. I struggled, emotionally, spiritually, physically.

Then before school started in August 2006, I decided that a mole on my left breast which had been there for years HAD to be removed. Immediately. Later my daughter-in-law said she really wondered about be because it was not characteristic of me at all.

My primary care physician said I had to have a mammogram and Pap Smear. Those were the only two test not done during December before liver surgery.

I knew right away at the mammogram that things weren't right. The technician became brighter and cheerier as the tests continued. She used every attachment there was on that wretched machine, leaving after each time to go see the radiologist. She'd come back even cheerier. And use another attachment. Finally, I had to have an ultrasound. That technician may as well have been made of stone. Absolutely no emotion of any kind marred her visage or impeded her movements.

When I got home, I sat down and tried to think. I was stunned. It was 4 pm on Friday. "I'd better make a note to call my doctor on Monday," I reminded myself. "This feel sinister."

The ringing phone interrupted my desperate attempts at reassuring myself. It was my primary care doctor. He gave me the name of a surgeon to see for a surgical biopsy and recommended that I call "Today" for the appointment.

And the whirlwind of breast cancer, mastectomy, chemotherapy, and breast reconstruction began. From August 21, 2006, the day of the mastectomy, until May 23, 2007 when the last of reconstruction was finished it was a wild run from doctor to doctor, treatment to treatment. And all of it had nothing at all to do with the mole. That was only my fixation for the feeling that something was wrong.

I blogged regularly. Blogging kept me sane. Most of the time I would simply write how I felt, what God was teaching me, or things that were happening. During the school year of 2006-2007, blogging was my regular contact with the world. I did not get out regularly except for church. Blogging was my window to the world.

So while I started blogging in order to tell a story, that story has made so many turns and twists, I barely recognize it. And that's in only three years (minus 2 months!). I keep blogging because I've made friends I want to keep in touch with; because blogging helps me keep my thoughts straight; because it reminds me where I have been and just occasionally, it points the direction in which I should go.

Here's to the next 500 blogs!!!



AND THE WINNER IS. . .



Friday, September 12, 2008

Blog #500
What a wonderful rainy picnic

I left school today in a steady rain. I called hubby.

What are we doing about the cookout? I ask

We're having it.

Seriously?

Yep. Elizabeth is on her way. Emma will be there. Rachel has the food ready. Everything is set.

It's raining. I respond.

Only a drizzle.

Okay. A drizzle. So we're cooking out in the rain?

Yep. He assures me.

About now I'm beginning to believe him. (He sometimes just leads me on with tall tales!)

Don't you think it's a good idea? He asks.

I think it's crazy. I respond. But...it also sounds like fun.

It's warm. He says. And he's right. It was 74 degrees outside. 'Bout right for an outdoor shower!!!

And it was fun!!!

The kids had fun playing in the rain.

Miss April from the Nature Center helped them catch water bugs off the dock.

And they loved roasting hot dogs over the fire.

So did everyone else too!!


That's me fixing my favorite fire roasted hot dog!

Later we cooked s'mores too.

Wes had a great time fixing a huge fire. He had a pickup full of wood pallets to burn. They made a huge fire!!! I think we startled Ms. April with the size of the fire!!wonderful day!!! Now I gotta go get the girls for the drawing!!!

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