Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Not Feeling Like an Easter Person

During the session last night at our weekly RCIA class, we were asked to write how activities of the past week had affected us in terms of our spirituality.  Here were my thoughts:

Several times over the past week I have said that Passion Week was difficult for me.  Instead of being one of the Risen People, I have felt inadequate, shamed by my lack of compassion with Julie.  Yes, I have spent time with her, but that root feeling of impatience in doing things for her has come over me too many times.  Too often I have felt anger, pity, judgment and frustration.  Instead of acting out of love, I have been quick to jump into areas not within my realm of understanding.

That written, I was caught again by one of Richard Rohr's meditations.  Just today, I read these thoughts found here.
We Christians are such a strange religion! We worship this naked, bleeding loser, crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem, but we always want to be winners, powerful, and on top ourselves . . . at least until we learn to love the little things and the so-called little people, and then we often see they are not little at all, but better images of the soul. 
Yes, those with mental and physical disabilities, minority groups, LGBTQ folks, refugees, prisoners, those with addictions--anyone who's "failed" in our nicely constructed social or economic success system--can be our best teachers in the ways of the Gospel. They represent what we are most afraid of and what we most deny within ourselves. That's why we must learn to love what first seems like our "enemy"; we absolutely must or we will never know how to love our own soul, or the soul of anything. Please think about that until it makes sense to you. It eventually will, by the grace of God.
I simply need to shut my mouth.  And listen.  And act from love. And learn to accept my enemy, my own unworthy soul.  And just maybe I will learn the lesson, by the grace of God.

The most important lesson is this:

God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.
--1 Corinthians 1:27

Happenings at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church last week:

Abbreviated Rosary (called a decade rosary, made of ten repetitions) hand made by my sponsor, Ramana. She made this and gave it to me at Easter Vigil late Saturday evening.  The cross she made is that of St. Brigid of Ireland, my chosen patron saint. I think it is beautiful.

Ramana is shown in photo below, right, when she sponsored me at my confirmation into the Catholic Church on December 19, 2015.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Saturday Update: March 19-26

Best Recipe made this week: Chicken Enchiladas with Poblano Sauce, easy, tasty!  These are worth a try, even if you are a half heart-ed cook like me.

Favorite Lenten Service during the week at Immaculate Heart of Mary: the Tenebrae Service on Wednesday evening.  It was a lengthy service, with the Passion scriptures and excerpts from Psalms read, candles extinguished, and reverence abounding.  We exited the sanctuary after conclusion of the service in silence and semi-darkness.  That was Wednesday.

Pictures taken during the week: baptismal pictures that cannot be downloaded because of privacy responsibilities.  And kid pictures of the Easter Egg hunt today at the manor.  Many critters showed up for the goodies, littles were mostly family of residential members.  Again, no waivers were signed for picture permission. A good time was had by all.

SewingLiberty of London yardage purchased to be sewn up in one of those 70's style A-line comfy dresses.  Have had that pattern for a while, purchased from a vintage pattern online store.

Liberty of London

Reading Update: Almost through with C.S. Lewis' Letters to an American Lady (thank you, Elizabeth, for the suggestion).  Started A Pain in the Tuchis two days ago: it is about a murder in a Jewish retirement home with lots of references to Jewish slang, foods, synagogues, life in general.  Julie seems to like listening to it, especially when I get the elderly, screechy Jewish female voice right.

Ollie the Owl Update: He is still here! (same picture as previously) Mice population in the back area must be decreasing as he seems to be getting fluffier.

Art Update:  Gave one of Juliet's nurses one of my aspen paintings that I worked on during our Wednesday Painting Days at the Manor (failed to take a picture of it before it left the premises).  I really liked it and wanted to keep it, but that nurse was very kind to Julie, and I felt rather obligated.  Now the staff keeps asking when I will paint one for them ... no winning there.

And more art update:  purchased a dozen 5" x 7" canvas boards and another dozen white mattes for smaller art projects that I'll paint and contribute to the fall Fine Arts Show here in town to benefit Brush & Palette club.  Pinterest has lots of good ideas to follow.

Knitting Update: Finished another Piper's Journey Shawl in Ginny's poke berry dyed yarn and Berocco Chunky Vintage.  I ran out of the pink dyed yarn so had to complete the ends with the purple yarn, and had to deconstruct, then reconstruct the lace edging. That re knitting was quite the feat, and a more accomplished textile artist could have made it look more finished, but a shawl pin might just do the trick in covering over that dodgy row of Kitchener stitch.  Details here.

Julie Update: she is getting up for about 3-4 hours/day and into her wheelchair.  Pressure wounds?  No idea.  Headaches? None.  Low salt diet and diuretics and fluid restriction are working. Disposition: not the greatest on either her or my part.  I am trying to be more patient.  Which leads me into another topic of frustration: electronics.

Electronic Update:  Last week it was the iPad that had to be replaced because it happened to fly off Julie's bedside table. Then yesterday it was her phone that would not charge.  After an hour at the AT&T store, it was replaced, but now all those numbers that Uncle John put in on her device regarding speed dialing are lost. And she does not remember her password for email.  I tried several days to get it back, but now am on to another tact.

Come back, Uncle John, because my limited tech savvy is exhausted and her telephone directory is lost.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Art Blom and Updates

March 17, the day aka St. Patrick's Day, saw Art Blom as the featured artist providing a demonstration to the Brush and Palette Club.  Blom's art medium is painting with a palette knife and oils. From the Brush and Palette website where Elise wrote: 
Art has successfully made the transition from the three dimensions and tactile quality of sculpture to painting. 
Art grew up up in Idaho and received an MFA from Ohio State University. He was the head of the sculpture program at Grand Valley State College in Michigan, and taught classes at the Community College of Denver, in high schools and private classes. He has given demonstrations of his two and three-dimensional art techniques throughout the country and has shown extensively in one and two-man shows, juried shows and invitational exhibitions throughout the U.S. He moved to Colorado in the 1980’s, and quickly became enamored with landscape painting. He switched from acrylic to oil paint, and then discovered the textural possibilities of painting with a palette knife.
Art begins with a covering of oils on his canvas and primarily wields only one palette knife when he paints 

Applying a base coat of oils

Brooks Powell and Art

One of Blom's landscapes on display

...another Blom landscape

...and another Blom landscape

Captive Audience Attending Blom's demonstration

Trudy Ungaro won the March mini show!

And on to other news:

Yesterday, I received an illustrated letter from PomPom!  You really need to check out her blog for lovely pictures and her wonderful family.   She sent off Mr. Badger for a trip to the UK where he went to Downton Abbey, a cathedral, had tea in many places and lots of exciting adventures; did he have tales to tell!  (*She always make me smile.*)

I don't think she will mind my showing you a picture of Mr. Badger from her website.

Yesterday, Saturday, was the first day that Julie allowed herself to be transferred from the bed and into her wheelchair for a spin around the manor.  She is afraid that if she gets out of bed, her pressure sores will take longer to heal.  Oh, contraire'...but she must have heard someone say that while she was in Denver, so it stuck in her head.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Ring Neck Dove

Rather a good shot of a dove in our yard this week, don't you think?

Gene says it is of the invasive species brought in from Africa and Asia; it is called a ring necked dove. In Colorado, Fish and Game says there is no limit to hunting doves, but
TO HUNT EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES, and other invasive species, you must have a hunter education card.
They also have a gentle nature, and are often kept as pets, so I will just look at them and listen to their cooing.  No dove hunting for me!

These are emerging from under mulched cottonwood leaves packed over by snow through winter:






Julie sent me 2 dozen tulips by mail!


Crocus (March 19)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Six Days Later

Looking back over this blog, I realize this online journal is now mostly about daughter Juliet, not "Arts and Crafts".  And it has been almost a week since it was updated.  (Thank you, Sharon, for your text last evening asking about Julie and prompting me to write an update.)  Here is what has happened since last Tuesday:

Julie was taken by ambulance from Denver on Wednesday, a five hour trek over the Continental Divide, which resulted in more trauma to her pressure wounds.  She was placed back at the manor, sans IV medications, all being replaced by oral meds.  Good news: she was transferred from the hospital back to her "manor home." I returned a few days earlier back to GJ.

Since arriving back in Grand Junction, she has been kept on bed rest and on a special mattress and bed at the manor that shifts her body weight to try to help her heal the back thigh area. We have read half a book aloud since then: Virginia's Diary. And Gene reads his book to her.  We play Word Chums. 

Today she was angry, mad, and frustrated at being kept in bed.  She broke her iPad Saturday (it fell off the bed), so I got it replaced and found some little cord attachers that will keep her phone, her Fire, and her iPad all hooked up and disentangled from one another. Maybe.  And I bought a one year guarantee so that if she breaks it again, the warranty will cover it.  Bad news was that I got a glass cut from the screen; just glad it was not Julie that received the sliver in her hand.

And we have had several talks about hospice being brought in to help her.  These were not easy sessions, but realistic at this time. For now, the APH (atrial pulmonary hypertension) is being managed, but APH is a progressive heart disease under the umbrella of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), a diagnosis that results in eventual death.  The good news is that the lasix are keeping fluid from building up around her lungs, and she is breathing easier.  We will not discuss the bad news.

And I finished the Promenade Shawl.  Never will I knit that again as those garter stitches never seemed to end.  But eventually, finished...

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Free Time on My Hands: Promenade Shawl; Piper's Journey Shawl

Yesterday, I said I would be knitting.  And yes, I did just that.  

Almost finished with the Promenade Shawl.

And the (3rd, count it) Piper's Journey Shawl is well on its way to completion.  That pretty pink yarn is from Ginny, who dyed it with pokeberries!  I am joining in with her YarnAlong.

All this knitting is happening because Julie is still in Denver in the hospital.

The news last night, set to the background of Julie crying over the cell, was that the manor is reluctant to take her back as her "home" because she is on an IV.  But the IV is only temporary, we hope, and she should be on oral medications shortly.  Does this mean Julie will need to find another nursing home placement?  Will another nursing home here in the home town take her on, or will there be further reluctance because of her complications?  (She does require lots of assistance in turning in bed, electronic lifting into her motorized wheelchair, bathing, help with her two ostomy care bags, daily wound care, etc.)  Need I go into further detail?

So instead of biting my nails, I have turned to reading (again, PomPom, I am into the Tuesday readings with help from the Paraclete) and knitting, and even getting a haircut yesterday and planning on coffee with friends this morning.

And Julie stews in Denver at hospital.  Pray hard, friends, for answers to her placement here in Grand Junction.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Back at the Homestead

On Saturday, it was such a privilege to meet PomPom, whom I have followed on her blog for at least five years.  We have participated in Christmas swaps, and exchanged comments  on our blogs over many past posts.  She is a delightful, warm, sweet, loving person who has prayed me through many a trial (as has Sandra and many another, thank you very much).

Here is a picture of the two of us taken by PomPom on Saturday:

"That is God's call to us--simply to be people who are content to live close to Him and to renew the kind of life in which the closeness is felt and experienced." ~ Thomas Merton ~         (as read on Sandra's blog)
It was so kind of her to give me a fixed hour prayer book, The Paraclete Psalter.  I am reading today Psalm 24.  Thank you again, PomPom...prayers for your husband as he is in Taiwan this week.

Yesterday, I returned back from University Hospital in Aurora, leaving Julie for more medical care.  Over the weekend, she was bombarded with lasix (diuretics) and today is to have a follow-up echo-cardiogram to determine what levels of medications would be in her best interests to hold pulmonary hypertension (PAH) at bay. She might return this afternoon to Grand Junction by ambulance, or she might not.  The roads were to become icy by last evening, and Glenwood Canyon will be closed tomorrow during the daylight hours for repair from a previous rock slide. It is unlikely that Julie will have to be air ambulanced back to Mesa Manor here in Grand Junction.  But she might have to be in hospital until Wednesday when the roads are open and passable.  It appears we are back living in the wild west when wagon trains could not make it over the pass, which is almost the way it is over the Continental Divide in present day.

That reminds me of the book A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains, a good read about a single woman in the mid 1800's, Elizabeth Bird.  Amazon says:

"A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains" is one of the many accounts of Isabella L. Bird's amazing travels and adventures. At the age of twenty-two in 1854 Isabella left a comfortable life in England for a life of adventurous travel. "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains" is the account of six months of those travels in 1873 through the rugged terrain of the Colorado Rockies. Based upon her letters to her sister this account relates the many hardships of the great western frontier in the pioneer days as well as the awesome beauty of nature she found in the western territories.
But I digress.  Now the day lies ahead.  It is rainy and dark, a good day to finish up that Promenade shawl.  And wait to hear more news from University Hospital on its 254 acre campus, a city within a city.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Pulmonary Hypertension and No Surgery

Julie was flown over to Denver Monday night with a flight nurse, arriving at the Aurora Anschultz Campus, where the University of Colorado Hospital is located, along with Children's Hospital. She flew with Full Armor.  Thank you, friends and family, for holding her up in prayer.

A shunt revision, for Julie, with many complications due to spina bifida, is no longer a viable possibility at her age and stage.  Over the past 48 hours, she has been and is still being evaluated by seven medical specialty teams.  She is on contact precautions this morning, meaning gloves and gowns are required by anyone entering her room, and remains in the ICU.  I will get breakfast in one of the dining areas prior to going into her room.  Then back to gown and gloves and reading to her before leaving her room again for lunch.

But the good news is that her involved problems have led the neurological and cardiac teams to a likely reason for her shunt related pressure problems: atrial pulmonary hypertension.

Mayo Clinic has a video explaining this medical complication, but I cannot seem to find the link on this iPad to make it work on the Blogger platform.  If googled, it is easily found.

Treatment to get this pulmonary hypertension under control will require medications to draw off fluid from around the lungs, decrease of salt intake, weight loss and fluid restrictions, along with a usual cardiac diet.

Julie will remain here at University of Colorado Hospital for a few more days, and more tests.

Word Chum friends, playing words will be one of my activities on schedule today.  It would be for Julie also, but we are having issues with charging her device.  Must charge up her Kindle Fire so she can get back to work with Word Chum power!  In the meantime, we will be reading aloud.

PS:  I drove over Vail Pass yesterday to get here.  The Pass had high winds and blowing snow, and I was driving the seventh car in line behind four snow plows, so I felt led over in a special way on dangerous highways