Friday, October 24, 2014

Interrupted Updates

Have a sick kitten...posts suspended for now.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dad and the Mini-Stroke, Part Two: Chasing Dad...

To recap in brief, my Dad was admitted to the hospital on August 27th with a minor stroke...well, one of the first things they did as they tucked him into his hospital gown, and ran IV's and medication (one being his blood thinner), was to put red socks on him. Now, red socks are a visual code at this hospital for "do not get out of bed without assistance from hospital staff, period."

Pretty much what 
Dad's socks looked like. 
I should have taken a picture
 of them!
Dad immediately grumped that he didn't need this. We told him, um, no, that's what you have to do, Dad, for your safety. He grumped some more. The first time he tried to get out of bed by himself, we fussed and hit the call button, and he blew up, furious. He did not, DID NOT need help, thank you. And then the fun really began.

First night we were all in there together, exhausted, Mom and I were both sound asleep and he made it out of bed by himself, to of course use the bathroom. Weak and shaky, he didn't make it and, poor man, had a major accident. The staff caught him and there was a major uproar - which I slept through, but finally woke Mom up. We both fussed at him the next day. He remained unmoved by our anger or fears. He, dammit, did not need help. Much stress was had and shared all around.
Until the Dr. came in to see him that morning.

Evidently, the nurses and staff had reported Dad's incident during the night, and the Dr. came down on Dad in no uncertain terms, that he was to call for assistance EVERY time he wanted to get up, because if he didn't and he fell, the results would be "catastrophic", to quote the exact word the Dr. used.
At this point I piped up and asked if the Dr. would define "catastrophic" in these circumstances. Which he did. Evidently, given the high dose of blood thinner that Dad was on, to dissolve the blood clot in the brain, if Dad were to fall, it would be fatal, it would kill him, from internal bleeding.
*THAT* got Dad's attention, or so we thought. His grumping faded to inaudible mutters and he grouchily allowed us to push the call button from there on out. Battle won...or so Mom and I thought. However, no. We weren't out of the woods yet.

Whenever Dad woke up - and not just at night, but when he napped during the day, which he did a lot of - he would wake up confused and foggy...and promptly proceed to get out of bed on his own and become furious when thwarted. In a sense, it wasn't his fault. He was so groggy from sleep that he did not track things or remember where he was or what he was supposed to be doing. At that point, we started stationing a family member (several of my brothers were in and out to see him and visit and support mom and me) with him when we went to the cafeteria to eat, because we did not trust him to stay put and behave if he had just waked up.

This led to a number of memorable occasions, the first, when I stayed with him while my mom and oldest brother went to supper...and Dad woke up and - completely out of it - tried to scramble to his feet. That round finished up with me desperately hanging on to the back of Dad's hospital gown to keep him on the bed, while frantically pushing the call button, as he howled at me. Oy. Things I never thought I'd be doing, I have to say.

The second memorable one was in the middle of the night, with Dad, once again, fogged from sleep wanting to get up and use his pee bottle (I assume there is an official name for those things), which he preferred to stand up to do. I was not, repeat, NOT to hit that dad-blamed button, and I was to hand him the %$#@ bottle! Immediately! Of course...I hit the button. More fussing and language ensued. Demands for the bottle. The room was dark, and the pee bottle was hanging on the edge of the bedside table. He couldn't see it,  but I could and I just told him I had no idea where the bottle was, and he'd have to wait. Much fussing and fuming. The nurse showed up and we got him assisted and handled.

I have to point out, that when Dad was awake, he would hit the call button or ask us to do so, even if he wasn't thrilled about it. It was only when he woke up, foggy from sleep and disoriented that he got out of control. And while we were stressed and freaked out, and yes, furious with him, we did understand that this was not entirely his fault. Also, his anger and the extremely uncharacteristic profanity - up until then I'd heard him say two swear words in my hearing in my entire life! - was also symptomatic of the stroke. Anger issues and rages and emotional outbursts tend to follow a stroke, and the stroke victim has no control over it, may not even really be aware they are doing it. So we tried very hard to be patient with him. I can't say we were always successful, because we were pretty terrified, given that definition the Dr had given us of catastrophic!

As the week went on, each day with him fussing to go home and stating this was the day he was going home, and bitterly disappointed when he couldn't, I learned something new about my Dad's past.
Dad has always been leery about hospitals and hospital stays. He will just barely tolerate staying over night. Or having someone he loves in his family stay over in a hospital. He was furious last year, when my Mom, who'd had a pulmonary embolism that could have killed her and probably did come close to doing so, was kept over a second night on oxygen. She was so weak, she had difficulty walking down the hall and back, their test to see if she could go home safely. They assisted her back to bed, and while they were tucking her in, Dad boiled over, saying it was their fault that Mom couldn't go home, they'd made her walk too fast, and he was going to take her out of here - at which point, I turned and told him to shut up and had he lost his mind! I did this deliberately. I figured if he was fussing at me, he wasn't yelling at the staff and causing a bad situation. And let me tell you, I felt really weird doing it, because I have always treated my Dad with deep respect.
Mom finally looked over and saw us about to boil over, and asked what was going on. We both dodged and said that nothing was, where upon she said that she really didn't want to go home, feeling the way she felt, and would prefer to stay here. That brought that to a halt, and he settled down. (Mom by the way, is fine, healed up and no longer has to use an oxygen tank. This has been quite an eventful year or so.)
But I was shocked by his anger and unreasoning desire to get out of the hospital at all costs. I mean if it were Dreamweaver, my wife, in the hospital having almost died and still in danger, I'd be begging them to keep her, until she was better and safe!!!

During this week in the hospital with Dad and his stroke, I caught a glimpse of what may have been a clue to my Dad's almost pathological fear of hospital stays. Dad and I were talking, as we sat together, me by his hospital bed, and he told me this story of his childhood, which I had not heard before, or at least not in full. He was born in 1927, the youngest of 10 children, and his mother - my grandmother - lived to be a little over a hundred. When he was a young boy, he fell and broke his arm, rather badly. His mom took him to their family Dr, who concerned about the severity of the break, offered to have dad admitted to the hospital and anesthetized for it to be set.
Evidently, his mother hit the roof. NO child of hers was going into the hospital over night for any reason and that was THAT! End of story.
Well. Think about it.
Back then, people who went into the hospital often didn't come home. It was a place you went when things were fatally serious, and terrifying. All of his mother's children, including him, were born at home. She managed to pull all of her children of the time - before Dad was born, obviously - through the 1918 - 1920 flu pandemic, though she was told that she and the children would die. A tale to terrify any child. And she did it at home nursing them from her own sick bed. She was a tough woman, but I suspect that hospitals were a terrifying thing for her, implying the possibility of death in those days - which was probably more true than not, and she vehemently refused to have Dad admitted to one. Loudly. In his hearing. That had to be frightening!

I suspect as a young child this made a permanent terrifying impression on him, and stayed with him subconsciously all his life, shaping his reactions to hospitals. And I think, as he has gotten older and more rigid and less flexible (not that he ever WAS particularly flexible in the first place, mind you.), that this has become more and more of an issue, rising up from that childhood experience.
So, I learned something about Dad, that was sort of a key, to understanding him and what was going on inside him. Even if, in the wake of the stroke, he could not have understood it, himself.

It made it a little easier to deal with him, as he obstinately grouched his way through being in the hospital for a week. Part three on the way tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dad and the Mini-Stroke...Part One.

The last update I have below specifically about Dad was that he was being tested for Diabetes...a lot of people immediately leaped to the conclusion that he automatically was diabetic, when they issued him the little doo-hickey (technical medical term, trust me) that checks your blood sugar levels. However, turns out, he was to spend a week using it to check his blood sugar to see if he actually had diabetes. Turns out, he doesn't. His sugar was perfect, and never once deviated into any of the danger ranges that presage diabetes. So that got ruled out. Which is good...
And then everything went to hell in a hand cart.

On August 27th, I went out to Mom and Dad's to drive them around on errands that needed to be done, Drs appt, and other things. Dad had started using the walker and put down his keys and not driving after 2 falls he had taken...he was very concerned about how weak and shaky he was. Mom stopped driving some years ago, and is on a walker and every now and then a wheel chair, due to a bad back. (He is 87 and she is 86 years old, respectively.) Since both of them needed assistance to the car, and there was only one of me, we started with Dad, with me shadowing his steps as he crossed the den heading for the door. And then something strange happened. He paused by the end of the sofa, and leaned with his right arm down as though he were pointing at something on the floor, still clinging to the walker. I stepped closer and said, "Dad, what is it?" He replied that the walker was wet, and there was something wet on the floor. He couldn't get his arm back up to put it on the walker. Stubborn man that he is, he insisted on staggering on out to the top of their wheel chair ramp and there it completely went wrong. He stopped making sense, lost the walker all together, and if I had not been standing right with him and caught him, would have hit the ground.
His speech was completely word salad garbled and he was clinging to me desperately trying to stay on his feet. I held him up, looked over his shoulder at my Mom and we both mouthed the same word at the same time - "Stroke."

I had Mom get a chair and put it right behind him, touching the back of his knees, and I slowly lowered him into the chair and held him there. And he began to clear up, become more lucid and regain control of his arm and legs. Eventually, we got him back up and assisted him with the walker back to his recliner chair....and THAT was when the fun started.
He, as far as he was concerned, was fine now, and no, we were not going to call the EMS, he didn't need to go anywhere. Oy. Mom managed to get him to take some aspirin which is advised for someone who has just had a stroke, and in a fit of inspiration, said we should call his GP, and see what the Dr or one of the Nurse Practitioner's said to do.
This took a little while...they close for an hour for lunch everyday, and we still had about 20 minutes before they re-opened. Meanwhile the argument raged on, with Dad getting furious anytime we tried to over ride him and just call Emergency Services anyway. He was fine, dammit, and didn't need to go to the hospital. Finally, Mom got through to the Nurse, who when she understood the situation, exclaimed in blue horror, "You mean you haven't already called the EMS?!? You call them right NOW!" Since Dad had agreed to do whatever they recommended, he was stuck, and Mom made the call. Dad sat and fumed. His speech was clear, though he was still rubbing things with his right hand and saying if felt weird.

The EMS arrived and the two techs went over Dad carefully. I do have to say, he was in pretty good shape, it was obvious that it was a mild whatever-it-was, and he might have slithered out of going to the hospital except for one lovely piece of irony. Mom and Dad get their mail at a UPS store, it is not delivered to their home address. So, one of the men asked Dad to recite his physical address. They haven't gotten mail at their physical address in years and I knew for a fact that Dad, since he has not had to recite it in forever, didn't remember it. He had never had to. I started laughing. He stuttered and fumed and could not recite it - but he wouldn't have been able to, even if he hadn't had a stroke. So, they looked at him and said, guess what. You get to take a ride. What Hospital do you want to go to? More fuming from Dad, but he really did let them pack him up and get him on the gurney and out the door with fairly good grace. I suspect, looking back, that Dad in his heart of hearts may have been scared, and probably glad to go, but he wasn't about to admit it.
Mom rode in the ambulance and I followed in my car, and off to the hospital we went.
At the hospital, in the ER, it turned out his cardiologist was there, on call that day, and things moved fast after that. He was admitted, for at least over night - oh, little did we know!
I tore out of there, and went back to Mom and Dad's and packed them up some clothes and over night stuff...and then I ran home to my place, and did the same for me, walked the dog and loved on everybody and went back to the hospital. You see, the staff was there to take care of Dad...but Mom, with her bad back and mobility problems was going to need help and care for her, and she wasn't an official patient. So I stayed in the room to be there for her.

In the following 24 hours, after arriving at the hospital, Dad was given a CAT scan, an MRI, an ultrasound of his carotid arteries and an echiocardiogram, that last one they did in his room and I had to hang around outside in a waiting room because they shoe horned all the equipment for it right in with us.
The upshot of this was that Dad was diagnosed as having a mini-stroke due to heart arrhythmia, on the left side of his brain, which showed swelling. And suddenly, we were not just there over night. We were going nowhere until the swelling went down. Dad was put on enough blood thinners to stun a horse, and - God BLESS the hospital staff! - they moved our crowded selves into a bigger corner room where we could spread out and Mom could have a cot to lie down on. *I* however got the door prize...the window ledge. It was just wide enough barely for me to lie down, though long enough for me to stretch out on at least. One arm or the other inevitably hung off, since I was wider through the shoulders then the ledge.

Home sweet window ledge where I slept for a week! 

All the comforts of.... 
And there, friends, we were, for a WEEK. Thus ends part one, as I have to go feed a baby kitten we inadvertently adopted last week. (There will be a blog post about the kitten too - and oodles of cute pictures which will probably be needed as an antidote by all by the time I get to the end of the tale of Dad's Mini-stroke. It really was a small one. But it has left big effects on our lives.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A very Small Update...

In brief, a little over a month ago, my dad had a minor stroke - it was minor, but the effects from it were pretty major from all our perspectives. Dealing with the situation was grueling, and life is only now beginning to adjust to a pace where I may sit down and write again...I realize this meant a terribly neglected blog, so I am doing a quick update here and now, and tomorrow or the next day, more likely, I will sit down and fill all this in...not only for those who do read or follow my blog, but for myself, as I work towards understanding what these changes mean in my Dad's life and in my relationship with him.
See ya shortly.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

News About Dad...

Dad who has been having health issues has been diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 87. He goes tomorrow to the Dr to get his gizmo to check his blood sugar with, and to get information and what he must do to manage his illness.
I have heard so many comments sort of along the lines of "What a relief, you can do something about that". True. The problem is that the number one killer of diabetics is "denial" and non-compliance to health regimens to keep them alive and healthy.
Dad is notorious for rewriting reality to suit his views, he is not particularly flexible, and he's half in denial already. I'm trying not to panic before time, but honestly, he's all set to be a classic mess about this, particularly given his life long love affair with sweets and carbohydrates. He will snack all day long. And I think when they hand him what he can and can't eat and how he must limit the things he loves, I think he's going to be very upset. Its going to be very hard for him, its hard for anyone who is diagnosed with this. I'm just afraid he's not going to be very good about managing this and he's going to be terrible about people sitting on him to make him do. Which means my mom, and given that she's a strong stubborn woman, she might be the one to pull it off, but it won't be fun if it goes that way.
So here's hoping that for the first time in his life, my Dad will be flexible and calm and dig right in to do what he must. He says he will...but I know he hasn't seen whats in store for him yet. I've told him I'm going to hold him to it.
We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

No Day But Today...

In honor of our 11th Anniversary, Dreamweaver got us tickets to go see Rent live today in a local theater! I'm so excited I can't stand it, and can't wait til show time! What a wonderful gift and way to celebrate! Dreamweaver, I love you - thank you so very much, not just for seeing Rent, but also for the wonderful years so far together and all the wonderful ones to come! 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Difficult Times...

The air conditioning has been fixed, my phone has been replaced, and I have my van back...however all this has paled into utter insignificance by an abrupt decline in my father's health. He is 87 years old, and while he has been showing his age more and more the past few years, he has always been very healthy and able.

In the past few weeks he has lost interest in food, become weak and infirm, and fallen once. He was not injured, thankfully, and he has been intelligent and sensible enough to immediately put down his car keys and grab a walker and be consistent about using it. He is showing also cognitive lapses in memory here and there, though he remains over all lucid and intelligent. He has been seen by his Dr whom we all feel is being a bit cavalier about the whole thing, and a second visit and more blood work has been scheduled, with Dad more inclined towards being a bit more aggressive about finding out what could be wrong. The fall was a bit of a wake up call, he's not so much in denial anymore.

We have been going over to see them and visit and impart company and cheer as we can, and I spent today running Mom and him around for errands. This had its challenges, as Mom has severe untreatable back issues and is herself on a walker or in a wheel chair. She is actually managing to care for him and his basic needs, as she is now abruptly the more able of the two of them, but its difficult for her. Of course, if he falls or something goes very wrong, she cannot manage that. So I was playing musical walkers and wheel chairs all afternoon, helping them get things done - fortunately we all have good senses of humor and even had fun.

Mom did express privately to me that she is frightened that this is a decline that he may not be able to recover from, and I have to agree with her. That is my own fear. However, it may also turn out to be treatable. We don't know what's really going on yet.

Looking back, I realize now that at the Greek Festival we attended in town three months ago, he didn't eat all day - and that is shocking, because my Dad loves food in general and would never have passed up good Greek food. He's not been eating much if at all for months, we have just realized. A few weeks of not eating enough will not totally enfeeble you like this and there is more going on than just loss of appetite or lack of food.  It goes back that far, and I should have seen that, but hindsight has much better focus. This is something that has crept up gradually, this situation did not just pop out of the woodwork over night. Even though it feels like it did.

So, my blogging has been yanked sideways the past few weeks, with all this. And truthfully, this is a short post, as I am very tired myself from today. And I get to go do it all over again tomorrow. Which is a privilege all the same. When I was a child, for 5 long years I was in a wheel chair, a leg brace, spent time in a body cast, hospital stays...and through it all, Dad wrestled and wrangled wheel chairs and crutches and medical situations with unfailing good cheer, patience and love.

Its my turn, Dad. 
I love you! 

Mom and Dad at the Greek Festival in 2014 - the picture below them in
the picture is of them on Dad's high school graduation day in 1944,
which was also their first date. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

There's News and Then There's News....

OK...good news and bad news. Lets start with the bad news...All happy and excited over the AC repair guy coming this afternoon to get the air conditioner back on. Around noon got word that he would not make it until tomorrow, probably afternoon. I swear I nearly lost it. Saturday will be day 6 without air conditioning, in 90+ degrees, humidity "Feels like" 99.
I managed to rein in my homicidal moment, did a bunch of grounding, centering, and breathing, and readjusted my expectations. He did message us and apologize, the usual each thing on his schedule kept taking longer and longer as repairs are wont to do - you think you've got a hour and a half job all figured out and when you get into the repair, it suddenly take 3 1/2 hours plus time spent going and getting the widgets and gizmos that you suddenly don't have. And one will be out of stock. So the jobs get pushed further and further out through the day, and some people fall off the end and have to be scheduled tomorrow. I really do get it. I know he's doing his best.
So...tomorrow. We can do this. The cats and the dog are OK, making sure they have plenty of water, but the cats particularly are doing Salvador Dali melting imitations all over the place, draped over the furniture.

The good news is that I went ahead and got my phone replaced, and am very pleased with it. It has good resolution on the camera, good connectivity, and it cost less that my old phone which the only way to describe it was "piece of crap." The new one is great. On the other hand, I lost phone numbers, so am working on building them back up.  The lake pictures are officially back, and not only was tonight's sunset beautiful, it gave me a chance to really see how the resolution on the camera phone did. And it is excellent.
So...I will leave you with my view of the lake tonight, and look forward to tomorrow and a much cooler house. Good night and blessings to all....

Thursday, July 10, 2014

We're getting there....

Day four of the air conditioner being broken down. Still not promising coherent thoughts in blog posts til this is over. The cats are beginning to resemble Salvador Dali paintings, draped all over the house in melting poses. We did get some relief today when a major storm with hail blasted its way through the neighborhood - it probably dropped the temperature 15 degrees out there, the house became substantially cooler and even comfortable for a few hours!
Tomorrow the AC repair person is coming to fix the motor. Less than 24 hours to go, this is going to be such a relief! Bonus moment, if possible, will probably pick up new phone tomorrow evening too. AC comes first!
Also, it is now July 11...and fireworks are still being shot off in our neighborhood.

This whole situation has been a bit nuts, my van, my phone and the air conditioning all died and broke down within a week of each other. We managed to put together part of the funds needed to dig our way out, some very dear friends have jumped in to help us make it the rest of the way.
Somewhere in the foggy zone of coping with heat prostration I wrote a Filk* song about this.
I wrote the lyrics, the music is by Leslie Fish.

These Things Come in Threes, Y'know..."

"Helping out a friend that day and miles away from home
The van locks up, now broken down, no further here to roam
Fortune comes in tow truck dude
who gets it turned back on
Just get it to the shop he said,
And then you journey on.

These things come in threes you know,
So wonder what is next
I've reached the shop, come pick me up
I'm sending out in text.

Next day I call the shop to find
It closed for holiday
I leave a message to be found
A week from now today
And hanging up the phone I find
Disaster number two...
The phone gives up the ghost and dies
Just as I'm calling you...

These things come in three's you know
And that was number two
The van is dead, the phone won't charge,
You'd think I'd get clue...

So working out the budget now to
Pay for phone and van
I noticed that the house is hot
And to the window ran
The air conditioning froze up;
the cats began to melt
I really can't repeat the words
Describing how I felt. (Spoken: I really can't...there might be kids present...)

These things come in threes you know,
And oh boy was that one three
Forget the van, forget the phone
The heat is killing me

So step by step we'll figure out
A way to pay these bills
And wonder just what deity
We angered for these ills
We're trying hard to focus on
The good things we still have
Shared joys will double if we try
And misery it halves..

Those things come in threes you know
How precious they can be
My friends who hug, my pets who purr
And my wife, who so loves me!

(Lyrics by Cameron
Music by Leslie Fish)

*For non-Filking friends, Filk is the art of writing songs, often in a SciFi Fantasy milieu, though subject may be about anything, and often to a tune that someone else has written as a deliberate parody. So I have committed Filk here, but I promise, I washed my hands afterwards...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Kinda Sorta Update Post...

A lot has been going on...some of it includes arguing with Blogspot 
over whether or not I even have a blog, while trying to log in here, with it telling me
 "You currently do not have a blog. Do you wish to start one?" Argh. 
At any rate, finally won that argument. So, I'm coming back...however, our air conditioning here at home has broken down, too many brown outs, surges and close lightening strikes on the lake. The motor has to be replaced. Which as its been in the mid to high 90's here, with intense humidity, I don't think I have any brain cells to concoct a coherent post. 
The air conditioning is scheduled to be repaired on Friday. 
I will be posting here tomorrow, but seriously, I don't really expect anything that makes sense out of heat prostration before Friday night. I will do my best...I promise you, oh blog. And anybody who might be reading. It will get better. 
I just think I'm going to melt before then! LOL! 

And here's a cute picture of a cat...
Yes, its Thor...

Friday, February 14, 2014

Winter Storm Pax, Part Two....

....and, the first few days of the winter storm Pax, we spent companionably enjoying the snow, and all the things that go with it - 

Children out sledding on the neighborhood hill - which faces north
and REALLY gets the snow/ice. Its great for sledding, but the one
 and only time we had a snowplow actually show up in our neighborhood 
about 3 years ago, it reached the top of the hill, stopped dead and carefully 
backed out of the neighborhood and left us covered in ice. Its a pretty serious hill! 

Sledding is not something kids in South Carolina get to do every day - I mean, snow
is rare here. We can go years between measurable snow fall. So when they 
get an opportunity like this, they sled all day, literally! 
Our other great joy is watching the bird feeder. I think we were the only people in the neighborhood with one filled up and ready to go, so the birds were just all over it, all day long as well. We had Wrens, Chickadees, a bright red Cardinal (and his quieter plumaged mate), Blue Jays, and Mourning Doves. Every so often a murder of crows would swoop in, run off all the song birds, eat their lunch and scatter again, where upon the smaller birds would return. The Cardinal kept burrowing in the feeder for the whole shell sunflower seeds, and taking them aside, would crack them open to eat. 

However, this morning dawned with the snow slowing, then ceasing and the serious question arising...can we get out of the neighborhood? Because Wordweaving was going to have to try to go in to work at noon and the roads were an un-plowed mess. I was greeted first thing in the morning to one of the neighbors putting his car in the ditch in front of our house. I wish to point out, he is from Massachusetts and knows how to drive in this stuff. I watched him, he was careful, slow, and did nothing wrong or careless. And he still hit the ditch. This was not an auspicious beginning to our day. Nor his, for that matter. 

He was well and truly stuck...however, 6 guys, a lever of a long 
rail of wood and fulcrum of a heavy cinder block and some
sweaty effort finally pried the car out of its ominous position
- they did have to push him, wheels spinning, back up to his driveway
there was no traction to be had. What you see is ice from sleet over snow
over ice again.
Wordweaving was very alarmed about this, because like her, the only reason he had gone out was that his employer had required him to come into work today. (Needless to say, he did not make it.) And Wordweaving's turn was next, in a few hours. Temps rose, but light snow continued to fall, and things were no better when she set out mid-morning. She made it further out of the neighborhood than he did, but came to grief about a quarter of a mile from the house, spinning her wheels and getting stuck on a frozen incline. She was loaded for bear so to speak, with extra food and drink, sleeping bag for warmth, flash light etc. However, none of this had to be invoked....she managed to slither backwards, eventually, back down the hill to a turn out, got pointed towards home and managed to make it safely back into the drive way. Called her employer and explained that she had tried, that she was not the first car to come to grief, and she was not coming in, (Insert furious rant about employers who, in terrible conditions, force their employees to choose between safety, and keeping their jobs.)

On towards late afternoon/evening, as the day warmed (we achieved a high of 39 degrees which was a veritable heat wave at this point), Wordweaving and I ventured out in her car into the mess which was now icy slush, rather than frozen iron, and carefully ran several routes and plotted out the safest route for her to try for work "tomorrow". 
Tomorrow being 5 AM, which she will be leaving for about 4:15 AM to be able to drive slowly and carefully to get to work on time. When the temperatures have dropped to about 27 degrees. And all the slush has refrozen back into lethal iciness again. 
Oh frabjous joy. 
And I call 4:15 the middle of the freaking night...not "tomorrow". 

When we got home, we inspected our poor rutted, eroded red slush and icy muck driveway. Not good. However a brilliant idea was evolved. This past summer, we planted a huge crop of tomatoes in 2 gallon buckets, with soil layered on small stones in them (and holes for irrigation drilled in the bottom). The buckets with their soil-and-stone contents were still over by the garden. We hauled the buckets over to the end of the driveway, dumped the contents out, and spread out the soil and in particular the stones and gravel for added traction for her car to grab onto when she pulls out.

The really mucky, slushy icy driveway - imagine it at 4:00 AM
in the morning at below freezing temperatures.

Something obviously had to be done! Hence the earth and gravel from the 
garden buckets....

Which gave us the demented feeling initially as we dumped them out of
building a child's sandcastle with a child's pail and shovel.

Wordweaving just had to immortalize this moment. But you can see behind me 
where we were spreading it out, and getting the gravel into the ruts. Hopefully by
the middle of the night, it will add more traction to a potentially slippery problem. 
Our exploratory jaunt out and our filling in the bottom of the driveway did much to bolster Wordweaving's confidence.   Having done all we could to prepare for the up coming middle of the night journey to come, I turned to a ramble around the neighborhood as the sun began to set. 

Walking around the neighborhood found new friends
had sprung up to greet us....

...and tiny exquisite moments of treasures such as
the pine cones blown down in the pristine snow.

The sun coming out of course
cast its usual stunning beauty on the snow.

And evening was absolutely gorgeous with the
clear, clean light. 

The mountains were vivid in the distance....

And as evening approached, the quality of light became
mystical in the silence of the snow. 

So later tonight I will be getting up to see Wordweaving off, and stay in touch with her by cell phone to see if she arrives and be available if she gets stuck. That however, is Friday, and once she gets home, she is done for the weekend. And the weekend is a 3 day one due to a federal holiday. While I doubt much of the snow will remain, by then, we will enjoy having again some extended days together to enjoy our lives and each other's good company. A little bit more wintry mix is suppose to come in Friday night, but the warming temperatures will keep it from lingering. However, given the rolling winter storms coming down and across the country, who knows - we could do this all over again before the end of Winter. Winter however isn't really bleak. It can be harsh, even unforgiving. Care and preparedness can be important to comfort or survival or both. But it has, as each season does, its own unique beauty and character, that refreshes the heart and the soul. I am grateful for it. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Winter Storm Pax, Part One....

We are having more snow this year! Winter Storm Pax, so named by the Weather Channel, is aiming straight through us here in South Carolina, and we have begun today with a lovely 2 inches of snowfall....

The early, early beginning of the snow, up by the lake...
the ducks are out and paddling in the water - if you look closely you can see them.

An attempt at seeing the ducks a bit better through the snow falling...

So, we sat and watched the snow pile up out on the deck...

With continual forays up to the lake to see how it was going...

And it was going nicely!

The lake swiftly became a showcase for the snow....

....with the soft snow clinging to every branch....

...making exquisite contrasts of the darker branches against
the white and grey world.

Wordweaving ventured up to the lake to join me, which
ended up producing the most adorable picture of her,

Saw the snow against the deep evergreens that contrasted so
incredibly with the crisp whiteness....

And as always, some of the last of the rich red berries....

By late afternoon the snow had paused, leaving an
altered world in its wake....

There was no where to look that was not simply
stunning, visually!

The snow is still there, now, and has not melted...

I remember the words from Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame,
describing from Mole's perspective the change in the woods after the snow began to fall....
"Holes, hollows, pools, pitfalls, and other black menaces to the wayfarer were vanishing fast, and a gleaming carpet of faery was springing up everywhere, that looked too delicate to be trodden upon by rough feet. A fine powder filled the air and caressed the cheek with a tingle in its touch, and the black boles of the trees showed up in a light that seemed to come from below."
This is the world that I saw today, transformed and transformational...

Of course I did not go on these adventures alone - MacDubh accompanied
me, wearing his Spiffy Winter Coat! He enjoys snow, and thinks its great fun!

Ibn, the cat however....
Ibn thinks the only place a civilized cat should go potty is outside. No litterpans for him!
However, he loathes snow. Despises it. He grumbled all the way out the door....

Long pause of total disgust - "Really? Seriously? %$#@"

He did accomplish his business, and immediately teleported back to the door
with the demand to be let in NOW, this INSTANT! Poor Ibn...more
snow is on the way! 
 And there is more snow on the way - a lot more. We keep getting varied and changing reports, but by all accounts, there is a lot more snow and some ice heading this way, at least 9" according to various forecasts, maybe more, is possible tomorrow....


In the brief pause between the storms, the moon has come out,
and all the world is draped in magic, and silence and sacred light under
its blanket of snow...

The snow in its soft covering blesses all, turning a simple
familiar landslide into something wonder full, and holy...

This is part one - tomorrow the magic will continue to grow - for us, at any rate, it is magical, because it is so very rare for us to get snow like this here in the southern lands. 
May blessings go with all travelers who must be out and about these next few days
and may we be given eyes to see the beauty all around us...
and be transformed...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Update and Shifting Weather

Well, my last post was about a wonderful snow day...the temperatures have since gone into the 60's and 70's with some rain, and some beautiful sun....

Beautiful day up by the lake....

The clarity of the light and the air was brilliant...

However, I recently spent some nights away from home staying with a friend who has been struggling with seizures, and could not be alone when her housemate was at work for third shift. I am delighted to say that today, test results have come back in and a diagnosis of epilepsy has been made and medication prescribed for her. Well, maybe not delighted, but relieved as she is that there is a.) a diagnosis - not knowing what or why was very stressful, and b.) that there is something that can be done for the situation that may control the seizures. She sees her Dr. again in 10 days, after the meds have gotten into her system and we shall see where we proceed from there!

I have arrived back home, for yet another beautiful day...and the temperatures are plummeting again into freezing weather tonight. Let us once again sing praises for the wood stove! Today, I took my first steps into the realm of splitting wood, with a splitter (an ax with a wedge built into it). My efforts are fairly clumsy - I swear the logs giggle maniacally as they dodge left or right, but my strength and aim will improve. I am being careful as I learn, but I find it to be fun and invigorating!

I work on it in small doses - once I start to miss too much, its
time to take a break! 

And the cats of course, continue to enjoy the wood stove - we obviously acquired it just for them....

Lugh wallowing by the wood stove...he has completed his
takeover of the house via his nefarious "cute beams" and
now contemplates world domination.
Only adult cat I know who can "Out - cute" a kitten! 

So, I am home and happy to be back with my Wordweaving, and my furry four footed children, the house is warm, all is well and I am grateful that there is help for my friend! 

Breathtaking sunset to a gorgeous day...