Finding Some Peace


The world has finally tilted back into focus.  It has been over a month since my sister passed and the ensuing hurried preparations to find a suitable place for my elderly parents is now at an end.  Last Thursday my dad, mom, and I had an uneventful flight from West Palm Beach to my home in Pennsylvania.  In a few weeks, my parents will be settled in their new home in a beautiful assisted living facility nearby in Maryland.  In a week, Paul and Frazier will also be home from Florida.  Paul is meeting the movers and tying up loose ends in West Palm Beach where my parents lived.

My mom and dad seem delighted to be visiting in my home.  They are enjoying the peace and beauty of my yard and my little house in the country while they wait for their furniture to arrive. And I believe that they feel that the meals I cook each evening are an improvement over the ones they had at Prosperity Oaks.  I am still making small errors with their medication but I am beginning to memorize which doses must be given when to each one of them. Now I am able to spend some quality time with them, talking about their lives in Germany and hearing stories that I never heard when I was a child.  Surprisingly, they were not saddened to leave their Florida home but were anticipating a new adventure.


At the end of the summer I will have a “Celebration of Karen’s Life” at my home.  I miss my sister terribly and regret that her passing has led to such hectic activity to tend to my parent’s needs.  She was a wonderful person and my partner in crime throughout my life.  We were together through all our big challenges: immigrating to America, our trip to Hawaii, working at Phillips Crab House, attending the University of Tennessee and traveling around the country.  We texted every day, so while she was 1000 miles away in Florida, it seemed as if she was with me all the time.


One day soon I will look through the crochet patterns that I have accumulated and choose a new project for the winter.  My mom will need some hats and sweaters now that she is living in the frozen north.  My brother-in-law will visit and Paul and I will acquaint him with the delights of our area.  Perhaps he will move, perhaps not. But all of us are aware that life is moving us forward and that we must gracefully adjust to our new circumstances.



Posted by on July 26, 2014 in This 'N That





Who would have guessed that the summer of 2014 would bring such profound changes to my life and to the lives of my family members?  Paul and I had scheduled several little camping trips, two of which we were planning to spend with my daughter and her family.  Our longer trips were on hold for the time being because Paul’s 92-year old mother needed our help from time to time.  Then my sister Karen died suddenly at the end of June and life as we knew it was over.

Suddenly I was responsible for the care of my elderly parents whom Karen was helping virtually every day.  Our first days in Florida were given over to the massive administrative issues that surrounded the financial and medical well-being of these two elderly people.  Neither of them wanted to move but I simply could not leave them in Florida without sentencing myself to endless anxiety and unscheduled trips south.  Once that decision was made I began the very difficult task of finding an assisted living facility near my residence in Pennsylvania.

A Place For Mom was extremely helpful.  Their services are completely free and Michele, who contacted me within five minutes, was a godsend at a very difficult time.  She asked me some questions, did a bit of research, and e-mailed me a list of elder care providers in my desired area complete with addresses and contact information. She also went to bat for me on the pricing of a larger apartment so that I was able to get a two-bedroom apartment for the price of a one-bedroom.  After endless e-mails and phone calls I chose one of the providers on the list.  My dear friend Sandee visited the residence and confirmed my desire to place my parents there.  I still had no idea how I would get my mom and dad from Florida to Maryland.  They are  frail and can sometimes become a bit confused when they are out of their usual environment.

Paul and I decided to make a quick trip home.  We wanted to put our bedroom at their disposal while they waited for their apartment to be ready.  So we moved all our things into the guest room and emptied drawers and closets for my parents.  We purchased medical devices that would make their stay more comfortable and I outfitted the king-sized bed with new pillows and comforters.  Then we went to visit the assisted living facility and were very pleased to find that it exceeded our expectations,  It is located near Paul’s Mom’s residence so the area was well known to us.

To make a long story short, in a few days we will drive south once more.  I will fly my parents to Pennsylvania and Paul will remain in Palm Beach until the movers have emptied my parent’s apartment.  He will dispose of any remaining furniture and then drive the motorhome north with only our little pooch Frazier for company.  It is not an ideal solution but it is the only one that works.  Once my parents and I  arrive at the airport in Maryland, my daughters will meet us with my car and I will drive the folks to my house in Pennsylvania.  My friend Rose will arrive the following day with a week’s worth of groceries.  What a blessing my friends have been!

I already have my folks set up with the doctor that will be associated with their assisted living facility.  The continuity of their medication is very important and I spent many sleepless nights trying to untangle the web of prescriptions that they take on a daily basis (more on this in another post). I had to be sure that they had enough of each medication to tide them over during the move.

As painful as the last three weeks have been, I am beginning to sense the dawn of a new beginning.  I am well aware that many people in my age group are facing the prospect of caring for elderly relatives.  Finding the right living facility is only one aspect of the challenge. My parents and I have switched roles and I am now the parent.  The stresses and strains that accompany this role-reversal can sometimes be overwhelming.  But every day I remember how my parents cared for me when I was a child.  They ran interference when danger or difficulties arose and forgave me my childish transgressions.  How can I do any less for them?



Posted by on July 15, 2014 in This 'N That


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A Terrible Week

I lost my sister, Karen Wolf, on June 22. My brother-In-Law Ron called at 7:30 am to let us know that she had died at the breakfast table in their hotel in Germany. With a broken heart, I helped my husband Paul to throw some things into the motorhome and head to Palm Beach Gardens, Fl.

My sister had been taking care of my parents who are in their late 80’s. My mom and dad live about a mile from her home in an independent living center. They have their own spacious apartment but need help virtually every day. My mom is almost blind and deaf and my dad has Alzheimer’s.

Karen had been accompanying them on doctor’s visits, administering their medication, taking them shopping, paying their bills, doing their taxes and filing their insurance claims. She also had them over for dinner often and saw to it that all their needs were met.

My sister was a senior account representative for a trust company in Palm Beach before her retirement last year. She had organized the lives of her wealthy elderly clients with compassion and skill. Knowing that tragedy could strike at any time, she prepared me to take over in case something should happen to her.

Last winter Karen introduced me to all my parent’s doctors and the other helpful folks who are so necessary in their lives. She sent me Excel spreadsheets detailing every aspect of my parent’s care from their financials to their medications. She had made up packets for each of my parents that contained their IDs, medical information, living wills, and all legal papers related to powers of attorney. These packets were to be handed to medical personnel in case of an emergency.

Now I am here in Florida and I am once again visiting all the doctors to let them know that Karen has passed. Every day I encounter shock, disbelief, and tears. The good people involved in my parent’s care had forged strong bonds with my sister. My parent’s primary care physician told me that he was devastated at her death.

It has been a terrible week. Each new day brought confusion and anguish from everyone who knew her. My own grief must be set aside so that I can begin the monumental task of managing my parents care from 1000 miles away. There will be some difficult decisions to make and I am struggling with the implications of leaving them behind when I return home. There isn’t a health care aide on the planet that can replace a daughter.


Posted by on June 28, 2014 in Projects


My Sister, Karen Wolf: 1/12/53-6/22/14

My Sister, Karen Wolf: 1/12/53-6/22/14

I lost my dear sister and best friend in the world Sunday morning. Karen and I immigrated to the United Sates from Germany along with my parents in 1956.

Karen died of a massive heart attack while on vacation in Germany with her husband Ron. She had never had any heart problems.

I am completely devastated and can’t imagine how my life will proceed without her.


Posted by on June 24, 2014 in Projects


A Mini Trip


I have warned you that I will be off-topic for a few months as I work through my annual inability to crochet in the summer!  Judging from the response I received to my last post, Toxic Talk, I seem to have hit a nerve.  It’s refreshing to air my heartfelt views from time to time and to find that you are interested and engaged and willing to share with me as well.  Be prepared for more of this in the future!

Learning to Drive


For a few weeks now I have been regaling you (and hopefully not boring you!) with accounts of the purchase of our new motorhome and all the preparation that we made to get it ready for the road.  When you invest in such a project, you feel almost driven to justify the expense by using it as much as you can.  To that end, Paul and I have decided to take mini trips in Pennsylvania and the surrounding states.  Not only will this enable us to get to know our adopted state better, but we will have the additional benefit of many tiny vacations throughout the year.  But first I had to learn to drive that puppy!

So a few Sundays ago, very early in the morning, Paul drove the motorhome to the local elementary school and I got into the driver’s seat.  Now, I had driven the truck-fifth wheel combination that we had previously all over the country!  But somehow, sitting in a huge bus-like contraption seemed very intimidating.  I was worried that I wouldn’t judge the width properly and sideswipe parked cars on my right or stray over the center line on my left.  I had watched Paul driving and he tended to get very close to curbs and cars on the passenger side.


Nevertheless, I scootched into the driver’s seat and navigated around the school parking lot without a problem.  Then I got really brave and drove through the narrow streets of my town!  Cars were parked on the right but I negotiated all turns without incident.  I was ready for the highway.  Onto Interstate 83 I went, easing myself off the ramp and into the flow of traffic.  What a kick!  I have to admit that driving the motorhome was actually easier than hauling that 14,000 pound trailer!  So now I am ready for our next sojourn down to West Palm Beach.

Raystown Lake and Seven Points Campground


Staying in an Army Corps of Engineer facility was a brand new experience for us. The Raystown Dam project is run by the federal government and is surrounded by gorgeous green space.  This space is made available to the public for camping and recreation for a very nominal fee.  My understanding of these federal lands has always been that they were very primitive but that they offered a much more natural experience.  Raystown Dam and Seven Points is about a three-hour drive from our home.  So we hitched up the Fiesta and drove over hill and dale, finally arriving at 7 Points Campground.


What a surprise!  The campground was immaculate with each gravel site being level and surrounded by landscape ties.  We had a place over-looking Raystown Lake.  Our site offered an electric hook-up but no water or sewer connections.  We had decided to make do with our on-board water and were extremely aware of keeping our holding tank levels low. Next door to us was a delightful family of seven who went out in their pontoon boat each day. The park itself featured well-tended trails, a marina, a small beach, a Visitors Center, and endless beauty all around.  The fish in the marina were a real tourist attraction, opening their mouths wide when anyone walked near the water!  They were looking for the dry puppy chow that could be had in the marina store for fifty cents a bag.


Unfortunately for us, the weather was very volatile during our stay.  We managed to dodge the rain enough to explore the region but on Wednesday night our neighbors informed us that a tornado had been sighted across the lake.  We kept our weather radio tuned in as we listened to hour after hour of tornado warnings for our area.  Our neighbors told us, “keep an eye on our trailer and if you see us making a break for the bath houses, follow us!”  I imagine that this young family must have felt a certain amount of responsibility for the elderly couple in the motorhome!  Little did they know that we have had 14 years of RV experience behind us.  But by 10:00 PM the warnings had been cancelled and we spent a restful night.


Huntingdon, PA


The closest town to us was Huntingdon and we decided to have a look around and maybe eat lunch there as well.  Consulting my iPhone for the best restaurant, I came across a place called Tops Diner that boasted 5 stars from nearly every reviewer.  Let me tell you, 5 stars in Huntingdon PA is nothing like 5 stars in Philadelphia PA!  But since we love the local establishments we gave it a try.  I ordered the Chicken Caesar Salad which was the special for that day.  Paul had a Cheese Steak Sandwich.  Immediately I did not like the combination of the lukewarm pieces of chicken on a bed of  cold plain romaine lettuce.  The chicken seemed undercooked and had a funny flavor.  Not wanting to hurt the feeling of the enthusiastic waitress, I ate about half of my meal.  You guessed it, the remainder of our visit in Raystown was dominated by time I spent in the bathroom!


Our Last Night

On our last evening a thunderstorm was threatening but we turned on some music, started the campfire, and set the table.  Under black skies we grilled our hotdogs and listened to the thunder rolling across the valley.  The storm passed over and Paul, Frazier and I spent our last evening outdoors enjoying the lake and the wind in the trees.  During the night another storm broke with the fierce staccato rhythm of rain on our fiberglass roof.  The wind blew and the thunder crashed.  We had noticed several dead trees near our site but none directly overhead.  But all was well the next morning when we awoke to another gray and drizzly day.  Neither one of us felt like lingering so we secured our belongings, dumped our holding tanks at the dump station and headed home.



Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Projects


Toxic Talk?

Over the last 20 years I’ve been noticing a significant ramping-up of disagreeable discourse, not only on cable and network news, but also in our conversations on social media and even in person.  We are a nation of citizens who hold strong views and we feel that by expressing these views aggressively we will sway others to change their minds and agree with our viewpoint.  It’s not unusual to see newscasters shouting and interrupting each other.  Indeed, they shout and interrupt so much that it is almost impossible to understand them at times!


On social media like Facebook and even in our Town Hall meetings, we have forgotten to disagree with  politeness.  Perhaps there is a prevailing view that maintains that any person in public life opens themselves up for criticism and abuse.  Or maybe we feel that these venues give us a certain amount of anonymity and that the name-calling and insults are acceptable as long as we are not face-to-face.


I think that we also believe that in order to be respected and taken seriously, we must assert ourselves at all levels.  After all, this is the way that we express our personality and let others know who we really are.  If we neglected to push our opinions out there, we could conceivably be mistaken for wimps or people who don’t care about political or social issues.  Sadly, this negative rhetoric has served to heighten our differences and not to  bring us together as citizens of the world.


Perhaps we can all reflect for a moment on the beliefs that we hold most strongly, especially those of a political or social nature.  If we examine each one and write down everything we know about each particular issue we would have many statements to support our beliefs.  But if you look at the above sentence, highlight the words “everything we know”.    Now let’s imagine if there is anything we don’t know about that issue.  In our world, is it possible that any given topic could have an infinite number of factors that contribute to its reality?  Is it possible that what we know about an issue does not even scratch the surface of the kaleidoscope of facets that make it up?  I wonder if we would be as outspoken if we had all of the infinite facts at our fingertips.  Or would we be unsure, undecided, confused?


Each of us carries around a different piece of “The Truth”.  We choose our pieces based on our personalities , the way that were were raised, and our religious beliefs.  Each one of us carries a PIECE but none of us carries the WHOLE.  If we were able to see the whole, most likely we would agree with any opinion that was offered on that subject because each opinion would be one part of the larger truth.  We could simply observe the multiple aspects of any issue and listen to the many opinions that are expressed about it and say, “hmm, that’s interesting.”  As a result of opening our awareness to the world and to the ideas of its citizens we could teach ourselves to see how each person could arrive at a different conclusion based on their teachers and their experiences and we would understand that if only one person believes something, it automatically becomes truth for that person.


So how do any of us take a stand?  How do we express what we believe?  I can only share a recipe that has worked for me. Whenever I am faced with a political issue that is dividing our country, I read all the facts and opinions I can about that issue.  More often than not, I  then see many sides and can agree with many divergent points of view.  In the end, I simply let it go and decline judgement. After all, the impact that any of us make upon the people in our sphere of influence is based on our actions and not on our words.  Do we really believe that we can change anyone’s mind by arguing with them or by vilifying the views that they hold dear?  There is really no longer a need to contribute to the babble that has taken over our lives.  Living our truth then becomes a matter of expressing our beliefs through our actions.  We can ride the roller coaster of public opinion and quietly live the life that we believe reflects our unique point of view. Haven’t actions always spoken louder than words?



Posted by on June 7, 2014 in This 'N That


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The Frog and the Toad

frog clipart

As nice as a project may look in the picture, the reality of actually picking up a hook and making it can be something else altogether.  The Flutter Cardigan is just beautiful.  I was looking forward to making a drapey little sweater to throw over a t-shirt.  I virtually never wear white or off-white but this time I decided that a lighter color would be nice for the summer.  I went with Aunt Lydia’s Bamboo Thread in a size 10.  Right away I started having problems with the doubled-up strands dropping off my hook.  Then I was having problems memorizing the stitch pattern (the old bean isn’t what it used to be!) and having to refer back to the instructions constantly.  My row gauge was so off that I had to make twice as many rows to achieve the required measurement.  I found myself dreading the prospect of sitting down to crochet!  Rip it! Rip it!  the frog made his appearance!


Now on to plan B.  I love modular crochet so I decided to try the Adriana Top by Irene Strange.  Now I know that I could have made up my own pattern for this but I was too lazy to do so.  I’ll probably have to play around with the hook size and maybe even change the stitch pattern a little but I think that this project will be a little more up my alley.  Of course it will be in solid off-white instead of the multi-colors in the photo.


In working the first rows of the ribbed bottom, I have found that this stitch pattern is very interesting!  Instead of the endless and tedious single crochet rows that are worked in the back loop only, this pattern has you working a single crochet row in the back loops only and then a double crochet row in the front loops only.  Not only does this make for a wider rib, the entire effect is very attractive and doesn’t take as long to complete.

Making Progress in the Toad Department


Our toad (tow car, dinghy) is hitched up to the motorhome at last!  Switching from a fifth wheel trailer to a motorhome has caused a cascade of activity this month. First we had to get the Vista titled and inspected. Then we had to do our research to find a good compact tow vehicle. This was not as easy as it may seem since very few cars with automatic transmissions can be towed with four wheels on the ground.  Once we found the 2013 Fiesta, it also had to be titled and inspected.


The next step was to sell our 2000 Ford 350 diesel truck.  It was a happy day last Sunday when Pablo, a landscaper in our area, saw the sign on our truck and purchased it.  He was familiar with the Ford diesel engine and the 260,000 miles on the odometer didn’t faze him in the least.  As part of our agreement, Pablo did a landscaping job for us that Paul has been avoiding for 5 years!  I am so happy to be able to see daylight out of my bedroom windows now that those huge, gloomy evergreens have been removed.


So the next thing on the agenda was to install a battery disconnect switch on the Fiesta, which Paul was able to do at home.  After that, the Fiesta went to the RV dealer to have the  full tow apparatus mounted on the front of the car.  Then finally, Friday afternoon, we drove the motorhome to the dealer in Lancaster to have the Fiesta connected to the motorhome.  So for the first time, we drove home together in the motorhome, towing our toad and loving life!


Our first camping outing with the toad will be in June.  When we were full-timers we made our home base at Merry Meadows in Freeland Maryland.  We usually spent a month there in the fall and in the spring so that we could re-connect with family and friends in our former home state.  What times we had in those years!  All the grandchildren were still little and they loved joining us in the woods for family cook-outs and Halloween weekends.


Recently my daughter suggested that we re-visit Merry Meadows once more.  As it happens, this campground is only a few miles from our house but in the interests of nostalgia we made a reservation. I’ve already warned the kids that things will not be the same as they were years ago.  The children have all grown and the oldest will graduate from high school next year.  We weren’t able to get a wooded camp site so we will be perched on the hill with hundreds of other folks.  But just as we are embarking upon a new chapter in our camping experience, our children and grandchildren are facing new chapters in their lives.  Perhaps this last weekend at Merry Meadows will provide a great send-off for everyone and we can close the Merry Meadows chapter for good.


Posted by on May 26, 2014 in crochet, Projects, This 'N That


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