Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Experimenting with eggs

What a great gift! Mary Lynn gave me these eggs from her farm on Friday, and I have had fun baking with them. The brown egg is from a chicken. The big white one is from a goose. It has a hard shell and a huge yolk and is equal to about three chicken eggs. The smaller white one is a duck egg. The whites of duck eggs are supposed to have more protein and make a higher meringue, which I haven't tried yet, and make a richer cake than chicken eggs. I have made a quiche and two small cakes using the goose and duck eggs, all of which were really good. The chicken eggs are for breakfast. One of my favorite things - good eggs.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Tonight at 11:30 when I hear the recorded female voice say, "Clock out recorded," that will be it. My so called "Retirement" will officially begin. When you come to the end, it is amazing how short the time seems to have been. (I have learned that is true for most things.) But when I was going through it day after day after day, I wondered if it would ever be over, and when I entered my sixties, would I ever reach my goal of leaving it all behind at sixty-five and half. Now with this afternoon's shift ahead of me - my last - I can say I made it! There is no easy nursing work, and even a calm day can erupt into a crisis at any moment. Many days however, especially several difficult ones in a row, have left me exhausted, and I am not going to miss the tired legs that came with them. What I will miss is the actual work. What is at the core of the work? I was pondering this and my answer is...timing. Knowing, and listening, and having the antennae up at all times like a mother tending to her babies are all necessary, but putting them together to make it run smoothly? Timing. The days that have given me the most personal satisfaction are the ones in which I used the art of timing with an individual or the group at large to reach positive results. (If I could only adapt that sense to the rest of my life!) It has been a good run. I have finished the course, and am ever so thankful for all I have experienced and learned.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Disorganized and tangential

It has always been interesting to get a glimpse into the thinking of one of my patients. Not too long ago, a middle aged female wrote this, and I could see how one thought connected to another in a way that is different from a person who does not have a thought disorder.

"Today is a sad day. I miss my family. I need to get back to chores for family and friends. That'll be the day when you say bye. That'll be the day when you say good-bye. You swore you'd never leave me but that is a lie - I swear I waited all day for you to prepare - I wish that you could understand the trouble I go to Congressman, Preacher, Press and also the Mayor. I could move up to North Carolina but why should I run because that doesn't satisfy me only true facts. Understand and Faith and also love is the best."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Yard Sale

The yard sale went well. When I got to Mary Lynn's about 7:30, still fairly dark, her husband was already driving sale items that were loaded in the trailer attached to his John Deere down to the slope in front of their house. It was much colder than I expected, and I continued to freeze much of the day. That's what I get for not checking the weather. The sleepy sun crawled out of bed eventually but never did reach its full warming potential as far as I was concerned. Overall however, I can't complain. It was a lovely day to be outside and greeting strangers, some of whom were kind enough to pay a glad penny for my discards. One thing I was glad to see go was a heavy upright carpet cleaner I bought a couple of years ago that had frustrated me to no end. I couldn't figure the darned thing out. The instructions were imprinted in the clear plastic parts and even with my strongest glasses I could not read them. It seemed as if some jokester Chinese factory worker was playing a trick on me. After spotting it from the street, one couple came to inspect. It didn't take long for them to do some of the same manual gymnastics with it as I had. I offered them to just take it and figure it out at home, but being principled and wanting a trade, they wouldn't dream of it. Eventually they paid the five dollars and I loaded it in their truck. Whew! Maybe Mary Lynn's most interesting giveaway was her roosters. An older man who was milling around looking at stuff heard crowing in the background, and I assume asked if the noise was coming from her roosters. Yes indeed, and they were just what he needed. Into a box and covered with a dark tarp, off they went to torment some new hens. The biggest ticket item I sold was Trip's hot dog steamer and after subtracting that, I made about fifty dollars, about enough for a visit to the Japanese steak house.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Peeling the Onion

Since this weekend is expected to have good weather, I am planning on participating in a garage sale at the home of someone who lives in an area better for garage saling than I. Amazingly I am still finding belongings I can part with. Who would have thought I had so much stuff after weeks, months, years of paring down and simplifying. So far anything that was decent has been donated or given, but now maybe I will make a few bucks. If not, it should be another interesting study in human behavior.

During the purging process, the outer layer of less useful and less sentimental stuff went first, but now I am down to things I have liked but see no sense in taking with me. And I find that it has been easier to say good bye to newer items than the old things that have sweet memories attached to them or represent an era in my lifetime or personal history. Our possessions can validate us and tell stories about who we are.

When I was in my twenties and lived in a busy neighborhood with other young families, we all held a huge, well organized two day garage sale. When it was over and we had collected our money - I think I made about $100 - we all squandered much of it on a restaurant at a Japanese steakhouse. Even though I later regretted selling some of my stuff, it was a fun time.

This time I am hoping for sunny skies, the ability to get up at the crack of dawn, and people who think I have cool enough stuff to help me keep peeling to the center of that onion.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

how embarrassing

It has been over a week since the house went on the market and so far five sets of lookers have been by. No offers though but I hope the right one will come soon. It is a pain keeping the house mess free, the bed made perfectly, personal items stashed, but having to deal with locked doors is even worse. After showing the potential buyers the house on Sunday, the realtor must have dutifully locked all the doors including an inside one in the sunroom that has been kept unlocked forever, and I got trapped in there early yesterday as I was letting the dog out. I soon realized my only option was a bad one. I could get back inside only if I ran around the house to my car and used the garage door opener that would lead me in the kitchen. I had previously checked that door and knew it was unlocked. The cushion on the loveseat was large enough to cover my short nightie clad, modest self, so I held it as a shield while I dashed out. Gee I hope the neighbors were not at their windows.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Appearing in my back yard now are thousands of tiny, delicate white flowers. I suppose some would call them weeds, but they are so pretty. Lots of periwinkle covers the ground.
I keep the wild cherry tree for the birds. Looks like it is getting ready for feeding time.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Kitty is of age

The baby got fixed yesterday, and was she cranky! Today she is feeling better, but my challenge will be to keep her inside while she heals. She thinks she is a lioness and loves being in nature. By the way . . . she comes with the house.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Look Inside

a Lenten Rose. These perennials bloom during Lent. They keep their shy blooms facing down or maybe bowed in prayer, so we see only the back sides, that is unless you get down in the dirt and look up at them like I did today.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010


The fashionista. So many ways to wear a scarf.

Friday, March 12, 2010

As was told to me . . .

Our co-worker Gary, an excellent Mental Health Tech at our hospital, had planned on going on a medical mission trip in February to the Dominican Republic where it borders Haiti. The team of five doctors, several nurses, and support people were to be stationed at a field hospital and from there help to set up some smaller clinics in the area. But when the earthquake hit in January, the focus consequently changed. I worked with Gary today and finally got to hear some of his story. At first he didn’t know what he would be called to do, but as it turned out, he helped them deal with the emotional trauma. He gave me permission to blog about it.

Gary’s team arrived about 6:30 one evening and he volunteered to get right into the action. With a nurse, he made rounds until very late on patients who were lying on mats in tents, holding the flashlight so the nurse could take care of wounds and change dressings. The next morning the Greenville team got organized, and he and a psychologist were paired and came to be called “Psychology.” They were preceded by a volunteer psychiatrist who stayed long enough to tell them how he had been helping the traumatized Haitians. Through an interpreter he would ask, “Do you remember the earthquake? Can you tell me what happened?” thereby getting the people to start processing what had they experienced.

The field hospital, operated much like a MASH unit, was only one part of a larger medical compound that was surrounded by a block wall with iron gates and protected by the Dominican military. Volunteer medical workers from several countries used the various facilities within the walls. The one permanent building/OR/ER was a two story block structure where surgeries were done. When stable enough, patients were taken outside and placed on the ground under tents where follow up care was given. People who had endured terrible tragedy and losses, as the news reported, kept being brought in for all kinds of help.

Gary and his partner would walk through the tents as the patients were getting their medical care and would hear, “Psychology, we need you!” and they would run to help. For sixteen hours a day, he listened to “heart wrenching” stories, and cried and prayed with the people. He said the stories were so horrible he had to pull away and regroup once in a while, but he said also that he saw people who were so grateful for what they did have left.

Most of the volunteers slept on mattresses on the ground with no covering. He said it was hot and the roosters crowed and the pigs snorted during the night, but he was so exhausted, he didn’t care. Rice, beans and chicken were the food staples. I think it was a life changing experience.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bragging Rights

I used to notice that as women got older they started talking about their age. Now I am proudly right there with them. Every couple of years, I succomb to the allure of the Lancome ad that promises a free gift if we spend enough, and yesterday found me at their counter in Belk's. Another woman arrived about the same time as I, and she cheerfully offered to the heavily made up, slim young clerk, "Let her go first. She's younger than I am." Gee . . . I hadn't heard that for a while. The woman then looked toward me and began a conversation that started with, "I'm seventy-six," like in how could I ever believe she was that old. As prompted, I complimented her on her youthful appearance, but there was more. Her inner being showed through, and I knew she was still loving life at least as much as she always had. These upbeat, active older women are an inspiration to me as there are fewer and fewer people we can find for wisdom or role modeling as we age. And just maybe we brag about our age because of what we went through to reach it, and we know we have come through it all to see the sun still shining.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Nice Afternoon

On this sunny day when the fat, plucky robins are looking for worms, it is hard to believe that one week ago, the sky was filled with big whirling snowflakes with winter showing no signs of leaving. Now it seems spring has already arrived here in my corner of the world, and we are all ready. After some morning duties, I met a work friend at a cute Thai restaurant for lunch. The pretty Asian server brought our order speedily. First and new to me was a soft vegetable spring roll made with rice "paper" wrappers and topped with Thai peanut sauce. Yummy! Soon served was hot lemongrass soup, Pad Thai noodles, and some fragrant jasmine tea. Even though it was all quite a large and delicious meal, Joan insisted that we go for ice cream at a place nearby where she often stops for a sundae before work. Was I surprised to see a drugstore with a big soda fountain looking just like something from my childhood. We sat at the counter, and barely having tummy room, enjoyed our one scoop sundaes. What a day to have left my camera behind, but with the lovely weather that calls me out from the dormancy of the cold months, it was a good day to be with a friend who will be missed when I eventually move away.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What does a house mean?

This week has been all about the house - painting, cleaning, tossing, showing, remembering, enjoying my remaining time here. I think houses have more meaning for women, that they are not just places to put our stuff, but are more like exterior wrappings for the persons we are. We played house when we were little, and when I piddle and organize, I sometimes feel that I am still at play with my toys.

Most of my recurring dreams are of houses. In one in particular, when we (because I am always with someone) walk down a back staircase, we are surprised to find a huge unused and unending area with many beautiful, fully furnished rooms, and I feel that I want to offer them to people. Another dream is that I live in a house with an unending length of rooms, and as I walk down the halls and look into the rooms - bedrooms some with people sleeping in the beds and bathrooms that get messier as I go along - I realize I cannot keep them all clean. One dream reminds me of a previous home but with rooms that are filled with fine, heavily handcrafted antique furniture, and I am trying to choose which pieces to keep. Many dreams take me back to houses I have lived in, which is probably true for all of us. This week I dreamed of a house I had been away from for a long time, and on my return, in the water filled basement, was my old dog Bonnie, moldy but still her sweet and happy self . . . but that is getting me off to dreams of my sweet old pets.

Even in the current society when more household duties are reportedly shared, women are primary breadwinners, and full time dads tend to the children, I think it is still the nature of a woman to identify with her home, or in the absence of time to do so, desire to make it a special place for herself and her family.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What's Behind the Door?

This Six Panel Colonial Door has an interesting history. As I was admiring the new paint job today, I thought I remembered a little of the story, that it represented the cross in the top four panels. However until I looked it up to verify what I had heard, I didn't know that the bottom panels represented a Bible, that it is also called a Christian door, and that it indicated a "safe house" in Colonial times. The design served a practical purpose as well. When doors were handcrafted or even made of wood in factories, and I guess they still are, the panels and frame allowed for expansion and contraction during the weather changes. Now many doors are molded or hollow core, but they have still have the good looking, popular design with a history.


After all these years I still haven't made the perfect brownie, but I keep trying. It has less to do with the ingredients, I believe, than with how it is all mixed together. Beating the eggs well is important but I still haven't figured out the best order to mix everything together. This is today's imperfect batch. The nice buttercream frosting is to overcome it's shortcomings.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Getting it done

Fortunately the painter showed up today about noon and spared me the frustration of having to do the room myself. I had bought paint the color of desert wind at Lowe's on Monday and was ready. He brought in his stuff, a plush roller as soft as my black cat, an old comforter that he spread out on the floor, and some man tools. In his soft drawl he politely asked if we had a radio. Sure. I also like to listen to music when I have a big job to do and brought it upstairs for him. First he had some prep work to do, removing shelf brackets, patching holes large and small, and sanding, which I helped with in part to observe his work. We spread putty and sanded as 102.5 played "Sexual Healing" and other old songs with semi-suggestive lyrics. I figured I didn't know him well enough to groove along and excused myself to do some work in the kitchen. Before long, he was pulling the brush along the moulding with finesse, and eventually applied two coats on the expanse of walls. About seven pm we three were sitting at the table eating pizza. Mission accomplished.

The last painter I had was Wonder Woman who with a bucket of paint in her left hand and a big brush in her right, and zipping up and down ladders, and using no drop cloth because she didn't drop drips, could have had the entire room done in two hours and charged me half the price. But she was nowhere to be found. There was no comparison. While I was thankful for today's painter, I wasn't awed as I had been by Wonder Woman a few years ago. Nevertheless he is willing to help us move and paint any new house we may find in Wilmington. I just may take him up on it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Poetry of Childhood

What we learn as children, when we are imprintable, sticks with us and can be recalled more easily than those things we learn the rest of our lives. At least that is how I have found it to work. A poem by Eugene Field, Wynken, Blynken and Nod, has been one of my lifetime favorites - my grandmother used to read it to me when she put me to bed - and I still recite it in my head occasionally when I am having a hard time falling asleep. Field also wrote The Duel (or The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat), which was a fun story that left me wondering if those stuffed animals were real. My daddy had me memorize The Jabberwocky, quite an impressive feat for a five year old, but I always loved its fantastically big words. What did they mean anyway? My mother loved best The Children's Hour by Longfellow. I think it reminded her of her beloved father. I wanted to pass along some of these family traditions as well as A Child's Garden of Verses to my children. I must ask them what they remember of them. For old time's sake, here is:

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe---
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going, and what do you wish?"
The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!"
Said Wynken,
And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea---
"Now cast your nets wherever you wish---
Never afeard are we"
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam---
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home.
Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought
twas a dream they 'd dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea---
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one's trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
And Nod.