A Letter To You, My Friends

The New Normal

So much has changed in the last few months that my life has now been turned completely upside down.  Paul and I are providing support to three elderly people, all of whom are living in assisted living apartments but who still need our help constantly.  Aside from the mountains of medical and financial paperwork that must be completed, we are driving the old folks to doctors, taking them for hearing aid repairs, optical, and dental appointments, shopping for them, and generally troubleshooting their difficulties with their televisions and phones.  It seems that making a simple phone call has become all but impossible for any of them.  It gets expensive to have the phone company come out only to find that they accidentally turned off their ringer!

Each trip we make to each living facility takes 40 minutes one way.  Paul and I are having difficulties tending to our own affairs at home and find that our days are filled with errands and activities related to our parents.  I am grateful that all the old folks have the funds to live in nice homes and that their personal needs are being met by caring and skilled staff.  I can not imagine what life would be like if we also had to have everyone living with us!  But for whatever reason that the gods ordained, we have been called to attend to three folks who are in their last years of life.

Paul’s mom, who is 92, is having cataract surgery this week. She has been losing her eyesight gradually over the last year. For a brief time, after her surgery, she will stay with us so that we can monitor  her condition.  My mom, who still imagines herself active and spry at 89 (she isn’t!) still wants to go shopping and out to lunch despite the fact that she can neither see nor hear and has difficulty keeping her balance.  My dad has Alzheimer’s.  He still recognizes us but he must be watched constantly so that he does not come to harm when away from the apartment.  Both my parents, with their walkers, want me to take them to the mall to buy winter clothes!

I want to confess to you today that my creativity is nonexistent.  Every once in a while, during a spare moment, I halfheartedly pick up my hook and resume work on the Lilac Time Cardigan that I started.  But my interest is at a very low ebb.  I have had some wonderful years traveling around the country with Paul, meeting my sister and brother-in-law at various National Parks, and indulging my love of crochet while on the road.  We have been blessed enormously to have had the opportunity to live our retirement years as we wished.  I imagine that it is now time to give something back and Paul and I are doing it willingly and with full hearts.  We know that this situation will not last forever.  But in the meantime, please bear with me as I take a small hiatus from blogging.  I will continue to respond to comments but will not be making any new posts until I can devote myself to my writing with all the interest and passion that I once did.


Posted by on September 5, 2014 in This 'N That


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In the spring, Paul decided to plant a small garden next to the shed in the back yard; nothing ambitious mind you, just a few tomato plants, some zucchini, peppers, and eggplant.  We were delighted to watch the garden grow and when we spied our first little green tomatoes, we couldn’t wait to harvest them!  Then disaster struck and we were needed in Florida for over a month.


The garden was a wreck when we returned!  Plants were overflowing the chicken wire surround and all the tomatoes had slumped and were lying on the ground.  You couldn’t set foot into the enclosure without crushing a plant or a vegetable.  But what a bounty!  Once Paul cleared a small space for our feet, we were amazed at the vegetables that had thrived in this wilderness during our absence.  We immediately shared our largess with our neighbors and took the rest into the house.


There was still a mountain of fresh goodness to harvest every day.  I got busy and dug out my biggest pan.  I decided to make a vegetable sauce for pasta or perogies.  Since there was such a overwelming amount, I couldn’t be bothered with seeding or peeling.  I simply cut all the veggies into cubes, threw in some sliced onions and leftover fresh mushrooms and carmelized the whole batch in my pan coated with Pam.  I didn’t have any fresh herbs on hand but I simply love McCormick’s Herbes de Provence.  This blend adds so much flavor and aromatic goodness to a dish that I am a bit ashamed to say that I use it in almost everything!  I threw in about 2 tablespoons of this wonderful mixture.

Veggi sauce

The tomatoes began to release their juice so I turned the flame to low and continued cooking until the sauce had thickened, adding salt and pepper to taste.  Once it had cooled, I spooned it into containers, keeping one for tomorrow’s dinner and freezing the remainder.  What a feast this will be!  Fresh vegetable sauce from the garden paired with whole wheat spaghetti or perogies and a little garlic bread on the side.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

Lilac Time Cardigan

I know that I had begun the Adriana Top earlier in the spring but I simply couldn’t pick it up again.  I had been working on this project when I learned of my sister’s death.  One day I will try this pattern again with different yarn but for now, I have become very smitten with the Lilac Time Cardigan.  I had a bit of a time tracking down the pattern as it is published in a UK magazine called Simply Crochet.  This cardigan is worked in V-stitches so it is quite easy to make but for the reason the combination of these stitches with the wide ribbing really took my fancy.

Lilac time

I went for Knit Picks Palette Fingering Yarn in the color Ivy.  I have no other dark green in my wardrobe but my mother has recently given me her emerald ring so I wanted to have something green with which to wear it.  It’s a funny thing about green, although emerald is my birthstone, I have virtually never worn that color.  But it turns out to be quite flattering after all so I’ll give it a try.  At this point, my enthusiasm for crochet has not really returned but I have a real need to resume my normal activities.


Smoky Mountain Trip

It’s time to get back into that motorhome and take another trip before it becomes too cold.  My daughter Lana and her family are visiting the Smokies in October so we will tag along and enjoy a week out in nature with her and the grandchildren, Sammi and Charli (both girls!).  I went to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and some of my fondest memories involve those beautiful mountains.  Of course, the kids will want to do all kinds of crazy things like zip-lining and bungee jumping but we’ll be happy to chronicle their adventures with photos.  My last big adventure was free-fall skydiving when I was 41 but I think I’ll pass on anything that extreme now!




Posted by on August 23, 2014 in crochet, Delicious!, Projects


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Hooray! Problem Solved!

Well, after all the sturm and drang, the countless hours spent trying to learn about computer plug-ins, scripts, and the vagaries of various WordPress Themes,  as a last resort I changed my browser to Google Chrome. Voila! The images uploaded without a hitch!  I don’t prefer using Google Chrome but if it means that I can now update my blog with photos, then so be it.  Thanks to all of you who wrote in with suggestions.  I tried every one of them except buying a new virus protection software.  In fact ,it was immediately after running the virus scan and cleaner that I began to have this problem.  So maybe I should switch after all…  But the upshot is that I can now postpone the dreaded NEW COMPUTER and all the NEW SOFTWARE that will come with it.


So here is the little sugar glider hive that I made for my daughter.  That is not a sugar glider peeking out but a small plushie that helped me to gauge the size.  This was not a big project but just big enough to keep me occupied during the few down times I had in the last few weeks.

Mom and Dad

My parents had been living with me for 18 days.  My dad has Alzheimer’s and my mom is almost blind and deaf.  We were waiting for their furniture to arrive from Florida so that they could move into their new assisted living complex.  While my folks were with me, we had the opportunity to reconnect on a more personal basis.  We reminisced about old times.  My mom helped me to set the table for meals and my dad dried the dishes every day.  They were perfect house guests despite their disabilities.

The word last Saturday that the movers had arrived resulted in a flurry of activity for Paul and myself.  We placed all their furniture, hung all the pictures and mounted cabinets and shelves.  My mom would not part with a thing so we arranged all their clothing and keepsakes as best we could in the space available. We liaised with the health-care workers, nurses, and aides. This morning we carried the last painting through the lobby and up the elevator.  My parents are happily ensconced and we are finished at last!

And I must tell you that the peace of mind I feel now has made this terribly difficult move completely worthwhile.  When I started the ball rolling in Palm Beach in late June, I  almost couldn’t envision an end to this process.  Just getting them onto a plane and to my house was a major accomplishment.  But now they are no longer 1000 miles away and all their health needs are being met.  I am a happy camper.  I will leave this post with a few photos of their new home.





Posted by on August 16, 2014 in Projects, This 'N That


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I’m Still Here…

Yes friends, I am still here.  I even finished the little hive for my daughter Lana’s sugar gliders.  I added a small detachable strap so that the hive can be carried around the neck too.  Lana loved it and I hope to see her carrying her little charges in it soon.


I am having a serious problem with WordPress.  Whenever I try to upload a photo to my blog post by clicking on the “select files” button, I get no response.  I have tried everything including the WordPress help desk, WordPress forums and other forums and nothing is working.  So I have been working on this problem for a week with no result.  Do any of you who use WordPress have any ideas?  I’ve run all the virus software, Spybot and the cleaner but it didn’t change anything.

I’m afraid that I may have to abandon this blog if I can no longer upload photos.  I wonder if it’s time to move on to something else?


Posted by on August 14, 2014 in Projects


A Hive for Wee Creatures

sugar gliders1

My daughter Lana is mom to two little creatures called sugar gliders.  These little fellows are exotic marsupials from Australia named for their diet of mainly fruit and nectar and their ability to glide like flying squirrels.  Sugar gliders are highly sociable animals and love to snuggle up to each other as well as to humans.  Their favorite ride is in a pocket or the bottom of a sweatshirt.  If you own a sugar glider, you must provide a cage for them far from your bedroom as they are nocturnal and get very busy at night.  As they play they make little barking sounds that can awaken the soundest sleeper.

 sugar glider2

Lana asked me to crochet a little pouch for her boys so that she can carry them around.  I chose this pattern.  So when I was at Wal-Mart I picked up a couple of skeins of Peaches and Cream.  Since Lana wants to carry the little fellows around, I thought I might make a detachable strap that she can put over her shoulder.  The Peaches and Cream is worsted weight cotton and the tight stitches are a bit hard on my hands so this is slow going.  In my younger years I would have dashed this pouch off in an hour!  But that’s okay.  I have been spending my evening sitting with my parents and talking about the old days.  That is the perfect activity to accompany a little project like this.


Because of all the sadness that I have projected in the last month, I would like to leave you with a laugh.  I came across this t-shirt for sale in one of the catalogs that fill my mailbox every day.  I couldn’t help but chuckle.  If one person has a bad situation in their life, there is always another person who has one which is worse.

t shirt1



Posted by on July 31, 2014 in crochet, Projects, This 'N That


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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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