Friday, November 30, 2012

Advent Quick Takes

One...Twenty years ago when I became an Episcopalian, I discovered the beauty of Advent.  Now as a Catholic, I still appreciate the stark simplicity of the Advent season...waiting and longing for the birth of Jesus.   Advent helps me keep the emphasis on preparing my heart for the birth of our Savior. 

Boo and I will make our Advent wreath Saturday.  I wanted to include a photo of it today, but Boo remembers that "we always made our wreath the day before the first Sunday."  Of course we did.   I always seemed to be running behind.  This year I'm ready.  Let me just say that we'll have a simple wreath.  Nothing fancy.

Two...There are several Advent songs that we'll be enjoying during this season.  Here are links to three of them.  The first is The Gift of Emmanuel.  The words are very meaningful.  Pay attention to them.  The second is For You O Lord, My Soul in Stillness Waits.  This one Boo really likes.  He says it helps him remember to be quiet before God.  The third is one of my favorites from years ago.  I think I sang it at summer camps and campfires for years.  Light One Candle is really about the Maccabean miracle, about sacrifice and righting wrongs and is sung by Peter, Paul and Mary.  Maybe it's not a "real" Advent song, but it speaks to me.  And Boo will sing along with gusto.  Who knew he'd know the words? 

Three...We are praying the St. Andrew's Christmas Novena this year.  Elizabeth Foss has a nice printable of the prayer here.  She also has links to further information about the novena.  Boo remembers the prayer from his childhood.  The novena begins today.

Four...One of the Sundays in Advent I make a cinnamon bun wreath to celebrate.  The particular Sunday really depends upon Boo's blood sugar.  Somehow, I've never taken a photo of one, but they're similar to this one by Charlotte at Waltzing Matilda.  (Charlotte's was made for St. Lucy's feast day.)

Five...The O Antiphons begin on December 17th, I think.  One year I designed and made an O Antiphon house with little windows that opened.  I can't find it in my Christmas decorations this year, though I'm sure it's there somewhere.  Instead, we may make ornaments similar to these by Anne of Under Her Starry Mantle.  I'm not as talented as she is, but homemade ornaments are always best.

Six...The hymn we always use for the O Antiphons is O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  This is Boo's favorite rendition...maybe because it's slower and he can understand it better.

Seven...We decorate sloooowly for Christmas.  Because of Boo's visual impairment and his dementia, I don't make changes quickly and wait until he's familiar with those before I add more.  Our Advent wreath is the first decoration.  On St. Nicholas' feast day, we put out all the St. Nicholas figurines and hang stockings.  On St. Lucy's feast day, we put out Christmas candles and hang a wreath.  I've considered putting up a small tree and adding decorations each day, but I'm not sure. 

Have a wonderful Advent preparing for the Christmas season.

Seven Quick Takes

Friday, November 16, 2012

Seven Quick Takes


After Boo's ER experience, I thought we'd come through the worst of it. Sadly, that is not the case. Boo contracted the flu. He was given an antiviral and seems to be doing just fine. I, on the other hand, have also managed to contract the flu. I'm such a baby when I get a cold or the flu. Give me strep throat, bronchitis, poison ivy, sprained ankles or a broken arm. I'm fine with those. Colds and flu just don't sit well with me and I complain. Boo has started laughing at me when I complain. Otherwise, he leaves me alone. It seems that I'm not a candidate for antiviral drugs and I just have to tough it out. (I'm really not that sick. I just feel miserable.)


Boo is actually quite improved. He now welcomes the home health nurse when she he certainly did not earlier. Boo realized that I was keeping an accurate intake and output record. That was necessary as long as he was so confused and until the antibiotics started their work. Now it's not so necessary. I continue to keep it, however, because Boo prompts me to do so. He also prompted me to record that he'd had a great day and was in a good mood, but that one of us was not. Hummm...wonder if that one could possibly be his wife?


We're listening to The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkein. Boo is fascinated by it. He has been able to follow the plot with little assistance. He does keep expecting Bilbo to appear any minute, but has contented himself that Frodo is Bilbo's adopted son. Boo has determined that we need to have a fire outside one night and tell stories. Maybe, maybe. Once I feel better.


We've enjoyed listening to several old radio programs this week. Boo has discovered Gunsmoke and thinks he likes the radio program better than the TV show. He's also enjoyed the You Were There and the Mr. President series. I discovered an old soap opera that was hilarious. Thank goodness for the internet and for Internet Archive.


Crocheting is my current past time. I'm working on a burgundy shawl for my Mother for Christmas. Boo needs several beanies because he's begun to wear one constantly inside and out. So, I guess that will be my next project. There are several “manly” versions that I'd like to make for him that shouldn't take long. I'm sure Boo needs one in Saints colors to help him cheer his beloved team when they play.


I've rediscovered the magical powers of fresh ginger root tea for a queasy stomach. After I'm no longer queasy, peppermint tea is a wonderful restorative. Dr. Bonner's Peppermint Soap is another restorative. I feel clean, refreshed and ready for...well, the last few days, ready to change the sheets and get back in bed.


My childhood friend, Kim, for whom I've begged prayers, is beginning to adjust to continued life with chemo. She is resting a little better most days and has been eating a little more. Kim's spirits are better though she is still very weak and communicates with difficulty. Still, she is able to communicate! Thank you for your prayers. Please continue to lift her up.

Seven Quick Takes

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thanksgiving Thoughts

While Boo is recovering from his kidney infection, we've had some wild conversations about everything from why cats have fur to reasons to give thanks. The last two days, I've read several quotes to Boo that he (and I) really liked. He insists that I add them to our thanks giving tree. I haven't been able to leave his side long enough to find an appropriate branch, “plant” it in a pot, and tie paper leaves to it. In years past, we've just written those things for which we are thankful on the leaves. I guess we'll be adding quotes this year...when I actually find the time to get a branch and cut out leaves.

Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving quotes:

Bless the food before us,
the family beside us
and the love between us.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest
appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
                                                                                           John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Blessed are those who can take without forgetting and give without remembering.

Gratitude shares.
Appreciation speaks.
Thankfulness shows.
Compassion does.
                             Jill Davis

Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as the lips, and shows itself in deeds.”                                                                     Theodore Roosevelt

Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.
                                                                     Native American saying

On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence.”
                                                              William Jennings Bryon

Almighty and gracious Father,
we give You thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season
and for the lavors of those who harvest them.
Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of Your great bounty,
for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need,
to the glory of Your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
                                         Anglican Book of Common Prayer

Forever on Thanksgiving Day
The heart will find the pathway home.
                                               Wilbur D. Nesbit

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues"                          Cicero

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am so thankful that Boo is beginning to recover from his kidney infection, that Kim is having more comfortable days while continuing her battle with cancer, for all our family and friends and most of all, for a God who loves each of us as though we were His only child.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fun Trip to ER

Boo is being treated for a previously inadequately treated UTI.  Now it's a kidney infection.  Imagine that! 

Boo has had IV antibiotics, extra fluids and additional medication for his blood pressure.  The ER was wonderful...very attentive, prompt and thorough.  Boo was terrified during his whole visit.  The staff did everything they could to make it as stress free as possible.  He  was moved to a private ER room with the lights dimmed.  Every staff member with whom we had contact was calm, quiet and gentle.  With one exception, all medical equipment was brought to Boo instead of transporting Boo to it.  I'm sure it helped although we saw no lessening of Boo's terror.

When Boo has an infection of any kind, his blood pressure is less stable and his dementia is more pronounced.  At home when I notice these indicators, I begin to earnestly search for underlying problems.  Sometimes I'm successful at discerning it.  Other times...well, then we have to just run tests and hope we can figure it out,  Boo tries to be helpful.  This time his suggestions about what was bothering him included:  "My hair, I think it hurts."  and  "My toes don't curl like they used to."   I wonder just how his toes used to curl?

Boo is at home now.  We're six minutes away from the hospital in traffic.  I timed it.  Boo has a heart monitor (temporarily) and a panic button that alerts the hospital and ambulance (two blocks away).  He is far calmer now.  Boo is curled up with his beloved cat.  Both Boo and Boudreaux were thrilled to see each other.  Boo is finally able to relax.  He's been telling his cat all about his ER experience in bits and pieces. 

Most of time I think that Boo does far better being treated at home where he's more comfortable.  One heals better when one can relax and feel safe.  With Boo's dementia that's a real concern.  I'm thankful that he was able to come instead of stay in the hospital.  I'm also grateful for hospitals when he needs them.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

10 Audio Books Boo Likes

Because of Boo's limited vision, he listens to audio books. These are ten that he really likes. Just so you know, it was difficult to narrow this list down to ten. Boo kept thinking of books he'd listened to fairly recently...and he liked them all.

The Hobbit, J R R Tolkien Boo had never read anything by Tolkien. Never. So, although I've enjoyed his books for years, I didn't really expect Boo to do so. Wrong. He listened to the whole book in two days and then re-listened to it over a two week period. He loves it. {For Christmas he's getting the other books in this series.}

A Wrinkle in Time and Many Waters, Madeleine L'Engle Since Boo enjoyed The Hobbit so much, I downloaded these two. Once again he was hooked. L'Engle had a habit of writing young adult books that were both engaging and thought provoking. I wasn't sure how well the deeper parts would adapt to an audio book. Some books are just better read. These are awesome. Boo still discusses some of the issues...the importance of being loved and of loving, the link between trust and love, the interrelatedness of life, etc.

All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren Boo loved all 21 hours of this. He listened to it in two days. I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as he did, though the ending was quite good.

Killing Kennedy, Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard Boo is a fan of anything written about Kennedy. So I knew this would be a hit. I didn't expect to listen to this book. I'm kind of burned out on all the conspiracy theories surrounding Kennedy's assassination. I can't begin to tell you how many books I've read aloud to Boo about it and well, I'm just tired of it. This was completely different. O'Reilly stated in the introduction that this book would deal with facts. It did. I found it a refreshing change from the many conspiracy theory books I'd read aloud.

The Chosen, Chaim Potok I'd read this in high school and several others by Potok and loved them. In fact, I still have my dog eared, much loved and reread paper back copies of several of his books. Boo listened to this because I wanted to hear it. Until last night, he's not really expressed an opinion on it and I assumed that he hadn't really liked it. I was wrong. He did like it and wants to listen to it again. The orthodox Jewish culture was completely different from anything he'd experienced. Evidently, the cultural differences consumed his attention when he listened to it this time. Boo said he remembers not being able to fully connect the story line because he was busy trying to understand the culture. This one we'll listen to again soon so that Boo can fully appreciate it.

Medusa, Clive Cussler and Paul Kemprecos Like all Cussler's books, this is an action packed, fast moving drama. Boo tends to like anything by Cussler and this one was no exception. I tend to consider these books as a man's equivalent of romance novels. Fluff with no real substance. That's just my opinion. They capture Boo's imagination and he can easily follow the story line.

The Life of the Spider, Jean Fabre Although I enjoyed this book years ago, I didn't think it would translate well as an audio book. Boo definitely disagrees! He's fascinated with the natural world and this book certainly feeds that passion.

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, Howard Pyle A couple of years ago I read Boo a book about Robin Hood while he was recovering from a stroke. He loved it then and still loves all books about Robin Hood. This is just the latest one that he's heard. On his good days, he'll compare the different renditions he's heard.

Heidi, Johanna Spyri Boo listened to this after his first stroke just because I already had it in audio form. He loved it. That completely took me by surprise. Boo generally asks to listen to Heidi every three or four months. He also goes on a cheese and bread kick then too. Just like Heidi ate. This past August, when he last listened to it, he wanted to listen to the old hymns that he remembered...just like Heidi sang for Grandmother. So, I found several hymns he remembered on You Tube. (How would I survive without the internet?)

And a bonus...

Orthodoxy, G K Chesterton Boo really does like this book although there are many days that he can't concentrate enough to “get it.” Orthodoxy is meant to be savored not rushed. So, Boo listens to small portions of it on good days. I can always tell when he's ready to hear more. He asks to hear more of “that book.” This book sparks a lot of discussion and thought.

By the way, after you vote, Chelle at Chelle's Creations has an awesome, free patriotic digital scapbooking kit.  I can't wait to use it later today!

Top Ten Tuesday

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday Snippets

This week I'm just sharing two posts.  The first is Preparing Your Elder for an Emergency.  Preparing for Hurricane Sandy left me scrambling to locate local resources that I should have already located.  This post deals with that aspect of preparation.  One day I'll write one on the emotional/mental preparation.  For us that is far more difficult with dementia. 

The second is Praying for Kim.  This one is close to my heart.  Watching a childhood friend struggle to overcome breast cancer that claimed her mother's life years ago and then to have it spread to her brain has been heart wrenching.  Kim has maintained a vibrant faith throughout her ordeal.  Now she's having difficulty communicating.  Yet the seeds of faith she's sowed in others are still sprouting and growing.  Could the same be said for me if I couldn't communicate suddenly?

Please remember to pray for those affected by Hurricane Sandy and for our upcoming election...and VOTE.

Sunday Snippets

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Praying for Kim

My heart is heavy this morning. A childhood friend has been dealt another blow. A few months ago, Kim was diagnosed with breast cancer. Years ago her mother died shortly after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Kim has maintained a very positive attitude and a vibrant Christian witness throughout her chemo and radiation. She has truly been an inspiration.

Last week, Kim received a double whammy. Cancer has spread to her brain. She is now receiving chemo for both breast and brain cancer. Her body is exhausted. Her emotions are all over the place. This is not what any of us expected.

We believed that Kim would indeed have a tough fight, but that it would be relatively straight forward victory. We believed that God would heal her in short order. After all, she has maintained that God is in control of this as He is in control of her life. Kim's faith has been unshakeable.

Now this.

Last week, Kim was still posting to Facebook. Now her ability to communicate is severely limited. One of my thoughts was, “But God, she was such a strong witness. So positive. So loving. So funny. So strong. Why should she be silenced?”

I don't know the answer.

I do know that I've heard from friends from long ago who've been touched by Kim. Friends who would never darken the doors of a church.

Last night one friend called. She's traveled far from her roots, far from where she believes she should be. It's been years since she's prayed. Last night, through tears of rage and frustration at the unfairness of all this, she and I prayed that Kim and her family will feel and know with a certainty that God has wrapped them in His strong, loving arms, that they would experience His peace and healing strength.

It's a start.

Kim's witness and her willingness to share her faith and her struggles is still a vibrant light. Even though she can't communicate well right now, her life is speaking for her. Seeds she planted are beginning to grow.

Even silent, God continues to use her. {And if you knew Kim, you'd know that this is one of the few times in her whole life she's been silent.}

If I were silenced, would my life continue to speak for me? Have I planted seeds in my friends' lives that would continue to grow? Have I created a community of friends that could nurture, support and comfort each other?

Please today, tomorrow, any time God brings it to your mind...
       pray for Kim,
       pray for her husband,
       pray for her family.
               Pray that God will enfold them in His arms,
                     that they will know His love,
                     His comfort,
                     His healing strength.
              Pray that all of us will accept God's Will for Kim
                     even while we're praying and asking for her healing.
             Pray that we will continue to nurture and support each other.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Seven Quick Takes


There are so many important issues being debated during this election on the national and state levels. Carefully consider the issues in the light of your beliefs. Pray, pray and pray some more. Then, vote.

After you vote, please keep praying for our country, for our leaders and for ourselves. We certainly need to exercise our right to vote and to be politically active. We are responsible to use all the weapons at our disposal. Even more, we need to continually lift our elected leaders up in prayer. Prayer is the most powerful weapon we have. God knows who and what we need far more than we do.

Two...On a lighter note, we've watched so many black and white movies the last few days that when a classic color movie came on tonight, Boo was amazed. He'd forgotten that movies came in color too. He was quite taken by this “new” invention and kept exclaiming, “Isn't it wonderful what they can do now?”

When I called my mother tonight, Boo had to tell her about color movies. Mother was amazed, “You get black and white shows?” It seems she wants to watch the old Perry Mason shows. Guess what I'm going to try to find for her for Christmas? That and find someone to connect her DVD player so that she can watch them. I certainly don't know how.

Three...Tonight I pulled out some glass Christmas balls to decorate. As usual Boo had to handle everything. I did caution him about the balls, but he's usually very gentle. Not tonight. Boo picked up a glass ball in each hand and squeezed before I could do anything. Two broken balls...which is fine. Two scratched palms...not so fine. After carefully cleaning his hands and pouring peroxide on them to bubble out any slivers of glass, I put antibiotic ointment on them and wrapped them in gauze.

As soon as we went back to the bedroom, he picked up another ball. That one I was able to retrieve without further mishap. Guess who won't be using glass balls this year? Instead I'll pull out fabric and crocheted ornaments. I can't remember what we have now. Oh well...

Four...Last night Boo dictated a list of things for which he's thankful. Among the expected items, he threw in a few surprises. He's thankful for the fuzzy bath mat because it feels good under his feet. He's thankful for being able to count so that he can find his way around the house. (A technique he was taught when his vision began to fail.) He's also thankful for plastic (no idea why), for mushrooms and for neighbors who are quiet (in our neighborhood that would be everyone.)

Five...While praying the rosary this week, Boo has been specifically praying for one person with each Hail Mary. That was entirely his idea. He thoroughly enjoys it and is usually able to pray two decades at once instead of one. At home Communion this week, he caught everyone off guard doing this at the point where we usually pray a Hail Mary. He almost shouted the name of the person he wanted to pray for particularly...which brought everything to a complete halt until I could explain what he'd begun to do. I'm so glad the Eucharistic minister is so flexible and has a strong heart.

Six...We are out of oatmeal. To you, this might not be a disaster. To Boo, it certainly is. Oatmeal is his comfort food. Tonight when he wanted oatmeal for a bedtime snack, I realized that we were completely out. How did I manage to miss that? He ate some whole wheat bread that we made last night with peanut butter and jelly. Boo was not a happy camper. Tomorrow, I'll buy oatmeal---three large canisters instead of two. Of course, as soon as I stock up, he'll be interested in something else.

Seven...I cut Boo's hair this week and did a reasonably passable job. For those who don't know, hair cutting in any form is not my talent. When my daughter was in grade school, I decided to save money and trim her bangs. Do you remember the super short bangs that were popular in the 1950's? Well, that's how hers looked when I finally finished. Totally not the look I intended nor the one she wanted. I think that was the first time I “ruined her life.”

Boo has refused to go to the barber shop or beauty shop to have his hair cut. He's terrified of strange people with scissors. He doesn't like the bright lights. The sound of clippers scares him. And leaving home for such an unnecessary task is unthinkable. So, I finally watched some You Tube videos and did it myself. I just can't imagine Boo in a ponytail and we were rapidly reaching that point.

Bonus: Let's remember all those who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy on the east coast.