Thursday, December 03, 2009

Highs and Lows

I haven't written about my brother-in-law Mark for a while. We were told he had but two months left to live...that was back in September. Mark decided at that time to try one more round of chemotherapy and radiation, but it was to no avail.

This morning hospice has finally been contacted.

Bernie's mom Barbara is up in Fresno with Mark and his wife Kathie. Mark is in the hospital as there was surgery performed to remove a tumor that had developed on his arm. Two weeks ago the tumor was the size of a pea; when it was removed on Tuesday it had grown to the size of a small lemon.

We learned that Mark had cancer early last February. Despite undergoing surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation the aggressive cancer has nevertheless grown and spread.

Today Mark and the family will need to decide whether to discontinue feedings, and thereby expect him to live but two more weeks, or to continue feeding him, which in turn will also mean feeding the rapidly growing cancer that has likely invaded his stomach...resulting in more pain, but also more time here on earth.

Mark has said he is not ready to die quite yet so the decision is very difficult.

Today is Barbara's 57 wedding anniversary. Bernie's Dad at home in San Diego today, so not only are Barbara and Hal apart on this anniversary, Barbara is meeting with hospice to set in place the final plans for her youngest son's life.

I can't imagine a worse way to celebrate an anniversary.

Bernie and I will be in San Diego this weekend helping Laura with some repairs on her new home. We'll play with her kittens, see Hal and my folks, and experience highs and lows of joy and sadness together.

Please pray for Mark and the family. Mark usually was one to arrive late to family celebrations such as Christmas. I'm wondering if this year he will simply arrive at the eternal Christmas celebration early.

It will be a wonderful thing to think that someday in heaven he will be the one who got there early, and will be the one who is saying to us

"You finally made it!"

instead of the other way around.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Peeks at the Christmas Ranch House

Wouldn't it be nice to curl up under the Christmas quilt on the sofa out on the deck....

...and sip a cup of hot chocolate with whipping cream AND a strawberry flavored marshmallow Santa...

And consider all the reason there are for rejoicing in this Advent season

We could linger over breakfast in the kitchen, and watch the chickadees and towhees flitting through the tree outside.
(Now why those silly birds were so shy when Dad was here I just can not understand!)
Then off to work...reluctantly, but thankful to have a job, praying for all those who are jobless now...

When the work day ends, the Christmas lights in the neighborhood are ablaze with cheer.

It is a blessing to live in a cheerful, friendly and safe neighborhood.

The lights on either side of the garage shine a welcome home.

(The mauve pink mortar looks especially whimsical between the bricks behind the bright red bow. I must remember to track down the house with the blue bricks and see how it looks all trimmed up!)

Time to share our days adventures. The tea pot is filled with hot mulled wine...and the small cups are the perfect size for the warming treat.

(Thanks Mom for making the tiny mugs and a tea pot to match!)

The star quilted plate was made by me long ago when small children littered my life.

How ever did I find the time to make things like that back then???

An evening on the couch relaxing...with the Christmas frog who croaks out Christmas songs whenever his foot is squeezed. His carols still makes me laugh!
(New ditsy print pillows from IK-you-know-where-EA for the season...replacing the orange accent pillows and throws with red was a fast and inexpensive bit of fun!)
The fireplace is put to good use...and white box of Christmas trivia questions is used for a friendly game after dinner.
The autumn colored fireplace glass has been switched to a Christmas-y mix for the season.
Outside through the sheer curtains the Christmas lights glow.
A slice of Dad's fruitcake (a yearly gift) for dessert, and then it is off to bed.
(More peeks to come in future posts!)

Monday, November 30, 2009

(Re) Cycling through the Season

I love autumn; love the leaves changing color all about, love the orange pumpkins, crunchy leaves...

Fall corn and candle scents....

And a time of Thankfulness.

The chilly evening twilight with lamp posts lighting the neighborhood...

I love it all.

I wish the autumn season could last a little while longer.

But...there is snow on the ground and Christmas lights up all around us.

Time to get busy (re) cycling the seasonal trimmings.

Orange pumpkins: Still in great shape.
A can of spray paint....

Some greenery to replace the leaves...

A wreath, and door mat with a cozy snow themed welcome to our home....Ta DAh!

Suddenly...(sing along with me)

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

(A spritz of oil rubbed bronze paint was used to add some shading...I might paint the stems gold or green later.)
I never carve pumpkins at Halloween; I want their bright colors to last to decorating the steps and shelves throughout my home all the way until Thanksgiving...and sometimes even longer.
After all...the first day of winter isn't until Dec. 23!
The first time I tried this paint stunt I had several massive pumpkins on our front porch in Dallas. It seemed a shame to just chuck them out.
So I bought cans of silver and gold and metallic plum spray paint and gave them each a good coating.
Then I added fir tree limbs about them.
People thought I had purchased huge outside Christmas ornaments until I mentioned what they actually were.
There are two upside to this trick:

1. I get my money's worth out of the pumpkins for two seasons
2. I don't have to take up space storing the decorations the rest of the year!
I started decorating my new house the day after Thanksgiving; the decorating is now 98% complete. Tonight I'll finish up. It is interesting how all the things I own seemed to find a place in this new place, and how much I am enjoying the decorating process after two years of no Christmas decorating to speak of!
And now that it is done, I plan to enjoy this Christmas with reading and baking, letter writing, special events and visitors.
I'll be posting more season changing "Before and Afters" pictures soon!
Like I is still Autumn..and Advent is here too!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mom and Dad's Visit Wrap-up was a grand visit...and it included celebrating Dad's 86th birthday.

Still doing great!
Rachel and Jeff had all of us over for a lamb dinner, one of Dad's favorite dishes.
Rachel is such a good cook.
Rachel bustled about the kitchen cooking in perfect control and confidence for about an hour.
It was so funny-- the kitchen could be viewed from the living room where Dad was seated.
After about a half hour my dad commented how amazed he was at all that went into making the meal.
All us ladies were amazed that he was amazed...then we realized that Dad had never been in a situation where he had a front row seat to watch what goes on in a kitchen.
Oh ain't just magic that makes a meal happen!

Since Rachel and Jeff had everything under control in the kitchen, I enjoyed cuddling my oldest grandkitten Meowsie.

Poor old guy...having a new baby in the house after being an only cat for ten years has been quite an upset.

Mom cuddled the baby kitten Cheeto....

Dad opened gifts....

And Cheeto got to help with unwrapping as needed.

The bows were made from recycled ribbons.

We feel pretty strongly about trying to find multiple ways to use any item.

For example...Cheeto also serves fashionably as a fur collar on occasion.

Well, all too soon the visit drew to a close. We squeezed in quite a few adventures...a trip to the aviary, lunch at the hippy restaurant, a peek at the Cathedral, massages and facials, a tour of Bernie's company.

(Apparently other people were into squeezing things in as well.)

Thanks for coming Mom and Dad!

Come again any time!