Slainte (Cheers) … agus beannacht (and blessings)

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This holiday always reminds me of my childhood. On many St. Paddy’s Days, my parents would host a celebration – complete with green beer. Corned beef, cabbage cooked in milk and butter (and, yes, I like that), boiled potatoes, green jello and a green-colored dessert were typical fare. There may have been some sipping of Irish Whiskey going on. The best part, of course, is that us kids were allowed a small glass of green beer, after which we were banished to the upstairs – where we sat at the top of the stairs, listening to the adult conversation – instead of going to bed. For the most part, the adults didn’t notice; they were busy celebrating. 

Our mother never let us leave the house on St. Patrick’s Day without wearing something green. Well, I did not like the color green – so I would try to wear something orange. That wasn’t a good plan. You see, the ‘green Irish’ were Catholic Irish and the ‘Orange Irish’ were Protestant Irish. Our mother considered us to be Green Irish and was very firm on that. And she was clearly not happy with me when I wore orange. I never understood why she thought we were Green Irish – and I haven’t been able to find any trace of Catholics in the family. I do find a long line of Protestants. She also was convinced that her maiden name, Fadden, was Irish; it turns out it is Scottish – derived from McFadden, McFaydean, McPhayden, etc. Even though I knew about the Scottish connection before she passed away, I never told her. And I still have a small collection of books on Irish surnames, all purchased in my quest to find the Irish Faddens. Our Scottish ancestor did, however, travel from Scotland to Ireland, where he found an Irish bride just before he left for America – in the late 1600’s. So there we have our Irish ancestry. 

Thanks for reading. I hope you come back again. Slan agus bennacht leat (Goodbye and blessings on you)!!

 

 

Looking to Spring …

Today it is dark and dreary with a mist in the air. Rain and strong winds are promised until mid day and then perhaps a bit of sun. Snow is predicted for the end of the week. But signs of Spring are showing. A loud group of geese greeted me as I came outside this morning. One branch on the maple tree is budded out. Several birds were hovering around the bird feeders. And there was a chipmunk sighting.

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Soon it will be Spring after our last March blasts of winter.

As I was organizing, I came across this poem. It is perfect for today. It was written in 1941 by my mother, likely sitting at her desk after teaching school for the day. As in the title of the poem, soliloquy is when you speak your thoughts out loud. I picture her sitting at the desk and writing down the words as she spoke them – out loud, to a then-empty, quiet room.

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Rainy Day Soliloquy by Shirley Fadden Olene

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So, for now, we will enjoy the spring-like weather and wait for more.

Thanks for reading. I hope you will return. 

The lowest of low …

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Last Monday was quite the crazy day. It was President’s day, and since there was no school that day, I was lucky to spend the day with great-granddaughter Lena. We decided to go to Milaca (just 13 miles away) to a store called Milaca Unclaimed Freight. It’s a large store that has a little of most everything – from house goods to toys to tools  to tires to furniture and more. You can usually find me in the aisles for paper crafting supplies – but there are many more treasures to find.

Not long after we arrived, however, I got a phone call from Grandpa (my husband). His voice was frantic. Even though he knew our plans, he asked where we were. Then he said: “You need to come home as soon as possible. It’s bad.” Since he has several heart stents and other medical issues, statements like that make my heart sink. But – it wasn’t about him. He told me that he had received a phone call about our oldest grandson (soon to be 18); the caller – supposedly a police officer – said that our grandson was in jail.The ‘officer’ further explained that our grandson was a passenger in a car that was stopped and found to contain two bags of cocaine. Then the ‘officer’ put a person on the phone who was sobbing and asking for help, saying: “Please don’t tell my Dad.” The ‘officer’ then stated that bail would be $4000. He asked for debit card information; Grandpa explained that I had the card so he would have to wait until I got home. The ‘officer’ said he would call back.

Just a note of explanation here: Grandpa does not hear well; he really couldn’t understand the sobbing person. At that point, he just knew that his grandson might be in trouble. And, just as many other grandparents, he wanted to help his grandson.

Once I got Grandpa to take a breath and calm down, I explained that our grandson was not home. He was with his mother, visiting various colleges who have offered him scholarships. I knew that because I had been messaging with his Dad, our youngest son, earlier that morning. Also, it is very unlikely that he would have anything to do with drugs. While anything is possible, it would be TOTALLY out of character for him.

At that point, Grandpa calmed down. Later he felt a little embarrassed that he didn’t realize that it was a scam call right away. He should not be embarrassed, though. Scammers count on your immediate reaction to protect your grandchildren. This scammer even had the nerve to call back and ask if he had been able to get the $4000. At that point, of course, Grandpa knew it was a scam. He indicated that he had the money and would be bringing it to the jail. The caller said he could just wire transfer the money. When Grandpa responded that he want to pick up his grandson, he knew ‘the jig was up’ and the scammer hung up.

In the meantime, Lena and I finished our shopping and went to check out. The bill came to a little over — $4000!! Not really – the clerk had been a mistake and entered it wrong. There was that $4000 number again!!  Lena looked at me and said: “I think we better go home, Grandma. We are jinxed today.”

Unfortunately, there are many people who think it is okay to prey on grandparents, counting on the fact that they will do whatever they can to protect their grandchildren. They have no concern for how traumatic this can be – especially for grandparents with serious medical issues. These scammers are the lowest of low …  (people who have no moral standards and lack any personal qualities).

Thanks for reading! I hope  you will return. 

Happy Valentine’s Day …

In honor of Valentine’s Day, please take a few minutes of your time to be kind to someone. It doesn’t need to be a big undertaking … a kind thought, a pray, a smile, any little touch of joy. Even better  … continue your kindness each and every day.

From me, a very special Valentine’s wish to all of you who read my blog. I sincerely appreciate it.

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Thanks for reading! I hope you return.

 

 

 

Not much fun … but …

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The last few days have been quite an adventure … but not the fun type of adventure. I’ve been having nose bleeds for the last few weeks. On Sunday I had another – lasting for hours; it just wouldn’t stop. I tried ice packs. Nothing worked. Midafternoon I gave in and went to the emergency room, thinking they could simply cauterize my nose to stop the bleeding. Wrong. Not that simple.

To control the bleeding, they inserted a Rapid Rhino (nose balloon) into my left nostril. Indeed, it felt like a rhino! The device is 4 1/2 inches long – and none of it was sticking out of my nose when they finished!! I’m sure I saw stars – maybe planets, galaxies and more – as the Doctor nonchalantly pushed the device into my nose. But the torture doesn’t end there. A device is attached to the rapid rhino that adds air for pressure against the bleeding area. Adding the air had me seeing those stars again. They also sent the device along with me – to add air should the bleeding continue. And then they sent me home to wait from Sunday to Wednesday afternoon to have the device removed.

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Since I hadn’t eaten all day, we decided to order some hot wings. Perhaps this wasn’t the best idea – but they sure tasted good. Within minutes of finishing eating, however, I started to get dizzy and nauseous. I knew what was coming. I just made it across the room to the reclining loveseat before I passed out. I suspect it was my body’s reaction to the stress of the balloon- not the hot wings.

The nurse and doctor told me that the balloon would be uncomfortable. Well, this gives a whole new meaning to the word uncomfortable. My teeth and eyes were in constant pain; my blood pressure skyrocketed. Regular doses of tylenol were added to dim the discomfort. No sleeping in a bed, either, with that contraption taped to my face. So, I slept in the recliner for three nights.

On Monday, the bleeding started again. More air pressure was added – another one of those ‘seeing stars’ moments. Luckily, that was the last time I needed to add air. For two more days, I lingered between pain, a little relief, and taking naps – something I never typically do during the day.

Finally, Wednesday arrived; time to remove the balloon. As the doctor removed the balloon, I thought my left eye was going to fall out. Another stars moment … or two. The doctor advised that I could not blow my nose for a couple of days. When I mentioned that my nose was full, he simply replied: “Here’s some kleenex; after you blow your nose, I will insert another balloon.” Funny guy (or not) – but point well taken; I did not blow my nose.

After going through this adventure, I am pretty sure I know what can be used if they need to torture people. Relatively simple and quick.

Seriously, however, even though this past few days was not much fun, I realize that I am the lucky one. One of my high school classmates just endured removal of bones that had died from a previous jaw reconstruction (due to cancer). It will take up to 24 months to reconstruct his jaw/face again. The good news – there is no evidence of cancer. In comparison, my three days of pain was miniscule. So, for all the complaining I have done, I realize that I could have it much, much worse.

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Thanks for reading! I hope you will return.  

 

 

Meeting Leonard …

Today I went to my second infusion therapy treatment. Infusion therapy involves the administration of medication through a needle or catheter (intravenous). In my case, I am getting remicade, a drug typically used for rheumatoid arthritis and similar diseases, but in my case as a new way to treat my sarcoidosis, a lung disease.

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The treatment is given in a hospital room that is outfitted with two or three recliners. You simply sit in a comfortable recliner for however long it takes; it could be just an injection or it could be administered intravenously which takes 1-3 hours.  You can watch TV, drink coffee, read — or, as I do, knit. This week, however, I didn’t get any knitting or reading done because I met Leonard.

Leonard, accompanied by his wife, was there for a blood transfusion. He receives them weekly, with the amount varying based on this blood counts. I didn’t ask why he needs the transfusion; I just noted that he was pale.

After a few minutes, we started talking. – the three of us. Leonard’s wife (whose name I didn’t get) also takes remicade, which she has taken for years for her rheumatoid arthritis. She looked pretty good to me – which makes me hopeful about my treatment. In any case, I am pretty lucky. It could be much worse.

Leonard and I had a lot in common to talk about. Leonard used to work at Cornelius Company in Anoka. The company is no longer in business, but I worked with them quite a bit during the first part of my time in Anoka. Leonard has several Farmall tractors – a favotite at our house because my husband’s uncle had a Farmall (now at our house). Leonard’s son restores automobiles; we have restored many automobile interiors through out upholstery shop for years. Leonard and his wife traveled after retirement with his fifth-wheel trailer and had lots of travel stories to tell. I love travelling and stories. Leonard (and his wife) are concerned about all the negative, mean-spirited behavior that bombards us every day. So am I.

By the way, Leonard is 84 years old. I hope we are scheduled for treatment at the same time again; it was truly an enjoyable morning.

Thanks for reading! I hope you will return.

Getting to less …

My last blog started this conversation on why and how you can live with less. (Click HERE to read that post.)

Several of you posted comments about decluttering on my Facebook notice of the blog post. (Thank you! I love comments!)  One that made me chuckle a bit is from my dear friend Marilyn, who was recently widowed.

“A new life-style can make you see how you don’t need several coffee pots if you don’t drink coffee (one Keurig is fine for company) and why am I keeping tools that I don’t even know what they are used for?”

I’m sure we all have items like this. As we declutter, ask yourself: If this something you must keep? Is it of value or importance to another family member? (If so, perhaps you should give it to them.) Does it provide something of historic interest? (If so, you may want to consider donating it to a historical society – but make sure you ask them first. Often they have limited storage space.)

To make it easier to start decluttering, let’s focus on the kitchen area.

Do you have several spatulas or other kitchen utensils of the same kind? I have so many, they no longer fit in the ceramic holder. Do you use them all (and often)? If not, out they go?

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How about coffee cups? There is a reason there are shelves of coffee cups at thrift stores. We all seem to collect them. Keep those that have a connection – they were given to you by a friend or family member, they are from a special event, etc.; determine how many you really need; and give the rest away..

If you are like me, you may have old pans that have become scratched and the finish is worn? Do you really use them all? Does something fall out every time you open a cabinet door? If so, it’s time to get rid of a few of those pans.

How about flower vases (another popular item at thrift stores)? I think, at one point, I had about two dozen vases sitting in various cupboards. They were not valuable vases – just those collected over time from gifts of flowers. Most of them were either given to others or went to the thrift store (hopefully to be used by others).

How about plastic containers? Do you have the lids for all of them? If not, out they go. Too many plastic bags? Return them to the store or take them to a thrift store or other organization for their use. Some creative folks are recycling plastic bags by turning them into woven animal mats.

Have you looked at your stored canned goods and boxed food products? At least once a year, I go through my cupboards to remove outdated or partially used items. How about spices? I found some in my cupboard that once belonged to my mother. She passed away in 2002. And, yes, they are no longer in my cupboard.

Much like many of you, I have a carch-all drawer. Recently, I sorted through that drawer, removing the ‘stuff’ – papers, receipts, twist ties, etc. – and either throwing them away or putting them where they belong. I also dded small open containers for the small items. Amazingly, there is now extra room in the drawer. Just a word of warning, though … it’s very easy to fill the drawer again because it is so handy. A periodic purge makes it easier to keep this in check.

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One area I need to tackle is the area under the kitchen sink. It is packed full of cleaning supplies – in various stages of use. A lot of the items have not been touched for quite some time because they are pushed to the back of the cabinet – with many items in front of them. Not only do I need to decide what to throw and what to donate, I also need to rearrange what is left so I can actually access the items. This might require some thought …

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Just to note … decluttering is the first step. Learning to buy less is also important – if, for no other reason, than to eliminate the need to keep decluttering. I, like many others, love a good sale – but, I am now making a very concerted effort to ask myself if I really need that item – sale or not.

Just think – if you do just one of the decluttering activities listed, you are ahead of the game. Try it … just one of the activities. It gets easier as you go – and you will feel good about what you have accomplished.

Thanks for reading! I hope you will return!