Tuesday, February 24, 2009

thank you, Peggy.

I used to change my little sister Peggy's diapers and carry her on my hip and wipe her tears. And I'm not sure where all the time has gone, but all of a sudden she's this beautiful and caring young lady who, in a sudden reversal of roles, is the one comforting me. When I got home this afternoon, there was a surprise from her on the doorstep...a card, some DrPepper, milkduds, Oreo cookies, and a flower. There's nothing quite like a sunflower in a jelly glass to cheer a person up...

Monday, February 23, 2009

winn workin' his kitchen magic.

I had the best bowl of chili for supper. And better yet, I didn't have to make it. Winn is vying for the blue ribbon at the chili cookoff tomorrow night, so I get to be the taste-tester for his "experiments." He really is better in the kitchen than I am. But then again, we would expect nothing less from a chemist.

Now supper is over and the dishes are done, and I can hear the saw and sander buzzing away upstairs as he works on the window trim. During this emotional roller coaster of a week, he is all muscles and action, processing this unwelcome news about his mom's cancer in his own way. Calm and steady, sensitive and solemn. Our good friend Chris lost his father unexpectedly over the weekend, and at church on Sunday, while worshipers around them stood and sang, he and Winn sat shoulder to shoulder, bent over in their chairs, two strong men shedding tears of pain for their loved ones. And I can't explain why that scene touched me so much, but in that moment, expressing their sorrow, taking comfort in each others friendship, they looked stronger than ever.

The unwelcome news. I have been putting off telling you, because then it is real. My mother-in-law Sherill came up here last week from her home in Iowa, looking for answers from Mayo Clinic about the recent severe pain she's been experiencing. The answers came. But they weren't the ones that we wanted to hear. What began as breast cancer many years ago, and then spread to her liver and lung, has now metastasized to her bones, and there are several additional tumors as well. And after a long and courageous battle, she has decided to end her treatments.

In this next season of life, this wonderful family that I've come to love and appreciate so much, will gather to soak up precious time together and create many priceless memories. Two of Winn's siblings are already there, the third is on her way, and we will head down this weekend. I'm trying to prepare myself, as much as one can, for the bittersweet times that we will experience, as we savor every moment together, contemplating a time in the not-so-distant future when Sherill will be free from pain, when she'll finally have a body that's not overcome with disease, when she'll be able to run and dance and see her dad and her sister and, like she told me a couple days ago, finally get to see Nova Scotia. We don't know what we'll do without her, but who can begrudge her a future like that...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

cancer is ugly, but you are beautiful.

~my amazing mother-in-law~

Photos taken by my sister-in-law Kendra at Free Spirit Photography.

Monday, February 16, 2009

this is me today.

...sporting newly painted toenails
...relieved to have finally made a decision about tile for our kitchen backsplash
...listening to this guy's music
...putting off gathering some last-minute paperwork for our accountant
...enjoying heart-shaped cookies from our little valentine Ashton
...trying to find a vintage replacement cover for an old heat register in our living room
...deciding whether to order a range hood from this company
...thinking about slicing up another fresh pineapple for lunch
...getting ready for my in-laws to arrive tomorrow
...excited for the draftsman to come this week to do the preliminary drawings for our new garage
...getting ready to work on a medical transcript

Saturday, February 14, 2009

happy valentine's day.

felted valentine

Ordinary Saturday here so far. I'm working on a rush transcript request, in my sweats, enjoying the sun streaming in the window, looking out toward the barn every so often to make sure that Winn is still perched on the roof and hasn't fallen to his death. Sometimes I hear a bang when the steel hits the trusses, and my heart drops into my toes, imagining the worst, until I hear movement again and know that he is okay. I'll be so glad when that job is finished.

When the sun goes down, we'll drive to the Hubbell House and have a quiet dinner. Then, for our V-day gift to one another, we bought a massage table. It's perfect, with a face hole and armrests, the whole works. I'm so excited to try it out tonight. I've set up some candles and oils and music...more than you wanted to know, right?

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

down home on the farm.

roof renovation

I know I've said this before...but we have the greatest friends in the world. We really do. Not only are they super-fun and creative and always willing to lend a hand, but they're also the kind that will come over for a visit and end up staying for ten hours, just hanging out with us. I love that. I learn a lot from them. I enjoy them. I'm comfortable when they're near.

On Saturday such friends came over for the day. In the morning, after showering and sweeping, I brewed some coffee and donned my new apron (handmade by my darling and talented friend Rebecca) and began making brunch for the crew of eleven. On the menu: artichoke cheddar quiche, pumpkin cream muffins, almond pastries, smoked sausage, and an assortment of fresh fruit.

After the gang arrived and we ate, Amos and Chris headed outside to help Winn hang the steel on the barn trusses. Meanwhile, the gals hung out inside, gabbing, drinking coffee, and working on our various artistic endeavors (knitting and quilting and the like). Even the kiddos brought felt projects to work on and Lego kits to build.

The guys came in at dusk, and we had a Pikes Peak roast and potatoes and hot rolls for supper, with Tin Roof Sundae ice cream for dessert. It was around 10:00 in the evening before we said goodbye. And then we went to bed, feeling happy and grateful for those nine beautiful souls who make our world so much richer.

Friday, February 6, 2009

good ol' waseca.

I had a choice on Wednesday of taking a job in Owatonna or one in Waseca. Had I known what the case in Waseca was going to be like, I might have chosen Owatonna. But I didn't. I set off down Highway 14, leaving early and taking my time, drinking my coffee and enjoying all the farms along the road and taking photos of the icehouses on Clear Lake. And the sun was shining. Good morning, Waseca!

When I arrived at my destination, one of the parties had the room all "set up" (to their advantage), purposefully positioning the space heater right behind the chair where the other party (who hadn't yet arrived) would sit and snickering at his ingenuity in doing so, pointing out to his colleague how he planned to make this guy sweat. The proceedings that followed were frustrating, and I had to bite my tongue at the supposedly "impartial" meeting that this employer conducted. When it was the employee's turn to ask some questions, the designated witness was the second most disrespectful person I have encountered in my job thus far (the first being an incredibly cocky doctor a couple of years ago), periodically ignoring questions posed to him while he checked his Blackberry messages, smacked his gum, and chewed on Milkduds while he talked. It was extremely gross and disconcerting. I left Waseca steamed and baffled at some people's lack of self-awareness. The day couldn't have ended soon enough. Goodbye and good riddance.

On a more positive note, the above-freezing temperatures the last couple days have been a treat. I didn't even need a scarf and mittens today when we went downtown to meet with our accountant. After a little grocery shopping and a quick stop at the knitting shop, I'm home and eating my lunch/supper, getting a little distracted by Sajak, who is at my feet, staring intently at the spinach and tomato pizza in my hand, drooling at the possibility of me getting sloppy and dropping a piece on the floor. Sorry, buddy, I've had to clean up after your finicky stomach one too many times, just Purina Dog Chow for you tonight!

Well, I'm off to get started on my weekend... Tonight: scrub the kitchen and bathroom and freshen up the bedrooms, find a good quiche recipe to make for brunch tomorrow morning when our friends come over, and finish some laundry. Tomorrow: bake muffins and mix some fruit salad, begin a knitting project while visiting with my friends as our hubbies work on the barn roof outside, and then spend a couple of hours at worship practice. Sunday: church, nap, and homework. We'll see how much of it actually goes as planned.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

recent highlights

* watching my little sister give birth to my niece

* seeing Cate and Joel bond with their new baby sister

* visiting with my sisters while coloring in coloring books

* coming home after four days away

* looking out the window at my husband working hard on the barn roof

* worshiping in church today alongside my friends

* hitting an inventory reduction sale at World Market

* giggling in the kitchen with Winn while making chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

* finishing a paper for school

* roaming the aisles of a vintage consignment shop

* going for a walk with my niece and nephew in the 45-degree weather

* taking a little vacation from work

* having my great grandma's hutch passed down to me from my aunt

* leaving the trunk open while I run inside and stepping back outside to see that Sajak has climbed in, wanting to go for a ride

* listening to Condoleezza Rice tell about the great parents she has and all the opportunities they gave her while growing up and being grateful that there are people like her in this world

* being inspired by a friend to begin making valentines

* searching for the perfect fabric for master bedroom curtains

* registering for a closed captioning bootcamp in May

* looking forward to holding my new niece again in two weeks