Thursday, December 18, 2014

Baby Animals & the Garden of Eden

Dear John,
 
Today I've been thinking about vulnerability. It seems there is nothing that melts the human heart like receiving the love and trust of a creature that is completely vulnerable to us. That's what makes us love children and baby animals. Glance at Facebook and you'll see that it's universal.
 
I've been experiencing that with the animals, especially Maggie. She's so little and small-boned, and feels so frail in my hands. Of course, she's made of rubber like all cats are. But she is so vulnerable to me. I control the food, water, litter, veterinary care, and safety for all of them, and I'm so much bigger and stronger. And they love me and trust me completely. They all love to sleep cuddled up with me, they welcome my touch anywhere and anytime, they greet me when I come home. And they were that way from the beginning - they immediately trusted me without me doing anything to earn it. When I went to Angi's house and she first put Hunter in my arms, he snuggle up and purred. The other two were feral, but I first picked them up and they did the same thing.
 
I am completely undeserving of this unearned, unconditional love and confidence. Sinner than I am, how do I come to be loved by creatures without sin? Does that sinlessness itself give them the ability to love and trust as I can't?
 
And all of this sheds light on the times you said it meant so much to you that I trusted you enough to go to sleep in your arms. You never used the power that your size, strength, and gender gave you over me, but it was very real power and I know that you felt it's presence and the responsibility it laid on you. And now, when I hold Maggie in my arms and she closes her eyes tight, snuggles up, and purrs, I understand.
 
Somehow it all ties in with the Garden of Eden, with the relationship we had with animals and with each other before sin came. As Handel wrote, "The kingdom of this world is become the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ." And so it is appropriate to ponder this as we approach the Incarnation. And it raises the question: Do I have the love and trust for God that my animals have for me? That's something to work on.
 
Thank you for listening to me ramble and think. Thank you for waiting patiently until I could understand what you meant. Thank you for being worthy of my love and trust. Pray that I may be worthy of the animals.
 
Still loving and trusting you,
Joan.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Day for Knitting with Cats

Dear John,
 
It was an odd day. I don't think I told you - I woke up at 4 AM yesterday with a  stomach ache and felt worse as the day went on. I came home, threw up, and felt a bit better. This morning I got up, dressed for work, then ate breakfast and immediately regretted it. I had to stay home. As I texted Danielle and Tammy: I don't always text in the bathroom, but when I do I'm texting Danielle and Tammy.
 
I only threw up a few times today, but I've stayed very nauseated. And I slept a good bit of the day. The rest of the time I knitted and watched Christmas shows. I only have one sock to go. And I got the dishcloths ready to put in the mail tomorrow. Everybody should get them by Christmas. I'll deal with cards after that last sock is done. There will have to be a short letter this year, with my new job and Jethro's new kitten. The only other thing left is to bake cookies. I'll only work half a day next Monday and Wednesday, so I'll get the baking done then.
 
I do love not buying any Christmas presents. I have no need to be in the stores this time of year, and it's wonderful. I've been knitting for six months and have loved every minute of it. I have more knitting to do for a few more people, but the things with Christmas Day deadlines will get done. It is good.
 
And now it's time to go to sleep. Maggie's hormone storm is winding down and I have hopes of a good night's sleep. We're all worn out from this. It should be her only time. Here she comes, up on the bed with a felt mouse in her mouth. Yep, she seems to be done with it. And we all survived.
 
So now it's safe for you to visit. I expect no more cat yowling. Come and watch your baby catch a felt mouse. Pick her up and feel her cuddle up with you and purr. You'll never want to leave. And that would be just fine with us!
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Of Rain & Feline Hormones

Dear John,
 
There was a bit more sleep here last night than the night before. Maggie only yowled half the night, the dog only lay on my head for a couple of hours, and he only woke me up to let him out at midnight and 4 AM. There is room for improvement. Last night I dreamed that you and Jethro and I were out for a walk, and kept running across abandoned kittens. Jethro was trying to bring all of them home. When we got here and opened the door to go inside, kittens flooded around us getting in through the door. I can't imagine why I'd dream about that, can you?
 
This morning I took the car in to get new tires put on. Bob drove me to work since it was pouring down rain. I don't mind getting wet, but didn't want to work all day in wet clothes. I was gray and rainy all day. I didn't mind walking in the rain to get the car after work because I was coming straight home and could get right out of my wet clothes.
 
Before I left for work this morning I had the sheets and blanket in the dryer and the bedspread in the washer, so I'll sleep on clean sheets tonight. I still think every night about how much you loved the flannel sheets. They'll feel good on a cold, rainy night like this. I'm unsure who will lie where tonight, but know that I will end up under several furry creatures. I'm still hoping to hear from you with suggestions regarding Jethro's compulsion to sleep on my head.
 
For now, rain is falling outside, the Christmas tree is still standing inside, Maggie is yowling, Jethro is asleep, and Hunter and Abby are hiding from Maggie. Poor little thing - this should be over in a day or so. And we'll all sleep for a week to recover from it. We're off to bed and hoping for more sleep tonight. I would say come and join us, but I have no desire to subject you to Maggie in heat. Come in a few days!
 
Love you, adore you, worship the ground you walk on,
Joan.

Monday, December 15, 2014

From Yowling Cats & Ugly Sweaters, O Lord, Deliver Us

Dear John,
 
It's been an altogether alarming twenty-four hours. Let's take this chronologically. Roughly.
 
The dog woke me up at midnight needing to go out. So we all got waked up. By the time he was back in and settled down enough to go back to sleep, Maggie had started yowling and trilling. Our little girl decided to go into heat at 1:00 in the morning. The good news is that she'll be neutered next month. The terrific news is that it's winter and the windows are closed - otherwise we'd be besieged by tomcats. The bad news is that she's trilling and yowling constantly. Jethro immediately decided that it was a menace from which I needed protection, and lay down on my head. Hunter came running and plopped down on my left side to sleep. Abby went and hid somewhere. Needless to say, there was very little sleep for the rest of the night. While I was eating breakfast, Hunter decided he'd had enough of all this, walked up to Maggie, and smacked her in the face. The yowling continued unabated.
 
I should have seen it coming. There were enough prodromal symptoms. For the preceding forty-eight hours, Maggie had been restless and less cuddly than usual, and Jethro had been edgy and protective of me. Tonight she's alternating between roaming the house yowling, and clinging to me while sleeping. Poor little thing, I remember what the onslaught of female hormones felt like. It's not fun. I had to outgrow it in the natural way, but this will be Maggie's last time. I do hope we all get some sleep tonight. I was rather sleep-deprived at work today.
 
And speaking of work, today we had Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. A good time was had by all. We took a group photo to commemorate the occasion. Charley and Mark aren't in it, having not worn ugly sweaters. We and the customers did a lot of laughing today. Here we are in all our glory. I do love my job.
 
And I love you, but for your sake I'm glad you weren't here last night! You put up so graciously and gently with my hormones - you don't deserve to have to deal with Maggie's. This will be the end of it. Until Jethro finds his next kitty, that is.
 
Please pray for sleep for us tonight. The Lord deliver us from yowling cats and ugly sweaters!
 
Love you with all my heart,
Joan.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Thing About Toasters

Dear John,
 
I had a bad fibro day, stayed home, slept a good bit of the day, knitted, and watched football. I'm feeling some better now. The busy week caught up with me. Nothing surprising there.
 
I've been pondering you and toasters. You weren't one of those men who flip out over cars, or need the latest electronics, or decorate the walls with dead animal parts. Your thing was toasters. You were always looking for the latest features. You brought home ones that toasted four slices of bread at once, or did bagels, or had adjustable-width slots. And all of them disappointed you in some way. You never found the perfect toaster.
 
I remember when you brought home the one we have now. Our old one did need to be replaced - it was giving us toast that was raw on one side and burnt on the other. And here you came home from work one night with a gallon of milk and another toaster. You were so excited because it was made by Black and Decker. And I decided that it must be a guy thing. I know Black and Decker makes great tools, but toasters? You were disappointed and my fears were confirmed. It's a lousy toaster.
 
Now it's getting old, too, and toasts to the same darkness no matter where you turn the dial. I need to shop for another one. When I do, I will miss your enthusiasm about toasters - baffling as it was to me, it was part of you and I loved it. I will attempt to find one that would satisfy even you. Who knows? Maybe John Deere makes a toaster!
 
Love your eccentricities,
Joan.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Grownupness Diatribe

Dear John,
 
What I have now . . .
Here's the latest on the hair-growing project. It's almost long enough to put up, which will be nice. I'm getting lots of compliments on it.
 
I posted the photo to Facebook and commented, "Gimme a head with hair." Of course, more lyrics have followed. That led me to ponder the fact that, while I like the song, I despise the movie. I never did understand why Hair was so popular. My problem with it was that I didn't like any of the characters. And today I think I figured out why: Nobody behaved like a grown-up. They were all rather childish and irresponsible, and they were too old for that kind of thing. As Mike Doonsbury told Zonker, the world needs grown-ups.
 

. . . what I'm going for.
And that led to more pondering. I always shake my head when I have the radio on and hear what that couple was doing while they were playing Sweet Home Alabama all summer long. I remember that summer very well. It was 1977, I was 21, and had an externship in the ICU at Greenville General. I worked full time and carried a full patient load. I was being a grown-up.
 
And here's the thing about me: I had an absolutely wonderful summer. I've always enjoyed acting like a grown-up. I'm just too practical. Being immature and irresponsible isn't fun because you know you're going to pay for it later. It isn't worth it. Life is so much easier if you're mature and responsible. And it's much more satisfying. I never wanted to act like the people in Hair, and I wouldn't have traded my summer of 1977 for anybody else's. It's my upbringing, I suppose. I was brought up to work hard, never sit down unless everybody can sit down, be responsible, and take life seriously.
 
So here I am now, all grown up. Sorry about the diatribe, but I know you agree with me. After all, that was the summer you scrubbed toilets at the Y to earn money to buy my engagement ring. We're a lot alike. Thank you for being a grown-up, for taking life and responsibility seriously. We had lots of fun, but not the kind of fun you had to pay for later. Thanks for listening. I'll keep you posted on my hair.
 
Love you like a grown-up,
Joan.

Friday, December 12, 2014

How We Celebrated Ourselves

Dear John,
 
I lived through another Friday. I was in the drive-up with Margaret, which is always good. I enjoy working with her, we make a good team, and she knows the drive-up very well. It was a busy and good day.
 
We celebrated ourselves today. We had pizza brought in for birthdays - mine, Connie's, Charley's, and I think somebody else. Our year-end bonuses arrived today. And Mark brought a cake with the bank emblem and congratulatory things on it. Our branch has had a terrific year, beating our goals by a good bit. So today we celebrated. It was good.
 
I know what I'm going to do with my bonus money, but I'm not going to tell you yet. I want it to be a surprise. But I know you're going to love it, and it might even make you cry a bit.
 
So go to sleep tonight thinking about that! Don't bother to try to guess what the surprise is. You'll never get it in a million years. So wait and wonder! It will be my Christmas present to both of us.
 
Glad I can still surprise you after all these years,
Joan.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bedtime Miscellany

Dear John,
 
I'll try to be quick tonight - we'll see how well that goes. It's almost 10:00 and I have to get up at 5:30. I'm up late because I dropped a stitch in Jen's sock - this pattern is too complicated to be able to just work it back up like I usually can - it took me a solid hour to take out enough rows to get to the dropped stitch. Rats. But the good news is that I did get it fixed.
 
Jen came by tonight to exchange mail with me. She's really missing you right now, so if you could encourage her a bit I'd appreciate it. I had an unexpected grief period yesterday at work. Amanda treated us to milkshakes, and I realized it was the first one I've had since you died. We used to split them - chocolate, easy on the chocolate - and I hadn't had one by myself yet. It was really good, but surprisingly sad.
 
I had a busy day off. I did laundry (so I will sleep on cereal-less sheets tonight), paid bills and updated financial records, went to the post office, returned some clothes that didn't fit, paid the water bill, and made a huge recycling run. Important safety tip: Don't make a recycling run when there is a lot of wind. I spent a good bit of time chasing paper and flattened cardboard. Back at home, I ran the dishwasher and put dishes away, went through magazines, and started going through my Lia Sophia things. Did I tell you that they're going out of business at the end of this month? It's sad for so many of us. I have supplies and jewelry to sort through, half the office closet to work on. I got a good start on it today.
 
And now it's time for me to go to sleep. Tomorrow is Friday, so it will be a busy day. I'll be at the drive-up with Margaret, and will enjoy that. And we're getting pizza brought in for lunch for my birthday and the ones in December. Pizza is always good!
 
I'll leave you with this cartoon. I so know the feeling! I can't believe I'm still having hot flashes eleven years after my hysterectomy, but here I am. You put up with them so patiently. If you come for a visit and find a puddle of water with a carrot in it, you'll know what happened to me!
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Skype & the Great Hot Cereal Disaster

Dear John,
 
I managed another cereal disaster tonight. I was curled up in bed with a puzzle book and a bowl of oatmeal, when the cats came up for their bedtime treats. In the process of giving Hunter his treat and keeping Abby away from it, I managed to pour part of the oatmeal into my lap. It wasn't much, thank goodness, but enough to soak through the sheet onto the mattress pad. I refuse to change sheets at this hour of the night. So I got up, mopped up the oatmeal from the bed and floor, washed milk off of my legs, changed nightgowns, and put a couple of towels on the bed. I'll sleep on towels again tonight and wash the sheets and mattress pad in the morning. I never had this problem when you were here. This is the third cereal disaster since you left and forgot to take me with you, . See what trouble you've caused?
 
My brain surprised me again a few days ago. I saw a commercial for those books you can make on line with your own photos and things, like the one Jen made for us several years ago. And I immediately thought that it was perfect for me to do for you for Christmas this year. I could put in photos of the cats, the things I've changed in the house, my hair getting long, so you could see everything you're missing. Then I heard myself.
 
It was an interesting brain glitch. If you were still here, I wouldn't need to make one for you. Since you're not here, I can't send one to you. You need the book. But you'd also need a mailing address, and I don't believe you have one. I'd rather you have an internet connection than a mailing address. Until I can be with you, what I really want is to Skype with you. That would be much better than sending you a Christmas present. So there's your priority - get to work on it, will you? That can be your Christmas present to me. I'll await your call!
 
Waiting to hear your voice,
Joan.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Non-Medicinal Onion Rings

Dear John,
 
The tree is still doing fine. I found one ornament on the floor when I got home. Not bad for the four of them being here alone all day! I just put it back on the tree.
 
I've been fighting a cold all day. I woke up in the middle of the night with a stuffy head and sore throat, and got up this morning with huge lymph nodes and lots of sneezing. I took aspirin all day, which helped a lot, and Tammy brought me an orange, bless her.
 
Father heard my confession on Sunday, and told me to be gentle with myself regarding the Nativity fast since I was sick last month. As always, he was right. I realized today that I wasn't going to be able to fight this off without eating meat. So I went next door for the big hamburger for lunch - and onion rings, which didn't have any medicinal value but were lovely - and opened a can of salmon for dinner. And I feel a bit better tonight, though my neck still looks like it belongs to a linebacker.
 
You always said I was too hard on myself, and I always felt like I was lazy and irresponsible. The truth probably lies somewhere between the two. Be assured that Father has taken up your job of telling me to be gentle with myself. I'm always surprised to hear that. But he's always right, and you usually were, too. Pray for me while I struggle to find the middle ground. And get over this cold. Maybe you should just pray for me on general principles.
 
Sneezily yours,
Joan.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Power Failures & Reindeer on the Roof

Dear John,
 
My work day started off with a bang. At 7:45 the power went out - and I mean that all the town went out. Since it's dark at that time now, the inside of the bank was pitch dark. It was only out the few seconds it takes for the town to switch from one substation to the other, and all was well after that. All was well, that is, except for my computer. It took half an hour and turning off the power strip for me to get logged back in. Thank goodness I didn't have any customers during that time.  All the other computers came right back up, but not mine. It was a bit too entertaining.
 
We had excavation companies in today to tour the bank and give estimates for the cost of dismantling the existing building after the new one is completed. This included a walk on the roof, which led me to comment to Mark that evidently Santa had arrived early, since I could hear reindeer on the roof. Mark tried to tell me he didn't hear anything, until I threatened to stop supplying him with paper clips. We have a deal - I supply him with paper clips and he doesn't tell anybody how much I talk to myself back in my little corner. It's a win-win situation
 
The Christmas tree was intact when I got home. This evening I heard a quantity of hissing and found Abby staunchly defending the prime territory under the tree from Hunter's encroachment. This went on for a while until Jethro got up, wandered over, and slowly, calmly, lay down between them and broke it up. Sometimes he's so needy and immature, and then he goes and does something like that. He so has the German shepherd personality.
 
It's late and everybody is in bed with me. Hunter and Maggie are wrestling on my legs, Jethro is licking my feet, and Abby is trying to sleep through it all. I believe I will emulate Abby. Sleep well tonight, and pray for your little family!
 
Missing you,
Joan.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas: Stage III

Dear John,
 
So worked up over the tree . . .
Well, I did it. After church I put the ornaments on the tree. Thankfully, we have lots and lots of unbreakable ones. I miss seeing some of the sentimental ones, but it looks nice. So far the cats are not excited about it. They bat at the lower ones occasionally, but that's been it. I've found that I can't leave the tree lights on overnight like we always loved to do. The cats won't settle down and sleep while they're on. And since nobody sleeps until the cats sleep, I have to unplug them at bedtime. It's a small sacrifice to make for our little family.
 
Other than decorating the tree, we had a lazy afternoon. I had gotten all the housework and laundry done yesterday. So I watched the Steelers beat the Bengals and knitted socks. At one time or another, I had each of the animals asleep in my lap. They do enjoy my days off. Bless their sweet hearts, they love me. And I love all of them.
 
Now I'm off to bed. Jethro is asleep beside me and the cats just stopped rampaging up and down the hall. The house is quiet and dark, and I'm getting sleep. I love you so, so much! Sleep well tonight. Come visit me in my dreams!
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Regarding Goose Circumference

Dear John,
 
I have no idea if the goose is getting fat, but I do know that Christmas is coming. By the time I got off work, the town Christmas celebration was wrapping up. But we had a treat this morning - the choir from Emma Mennonite was caroling through town, and they came in and sang in our lobby. It choked me up a little, and finally made me feel like Christmas is really coming.
 
It also motivated me. I came home and finished all the decorating except putting ornaments on the tree. I did get the lights on - Stage II of the tree project. So far, they've only sniffed gently at them. Abby got quite enthusiastic about the tree while I was eating lunch, before the lights went up. She stepped across from the stairwell half-wall onto the tree and settled there for a while. Maggie just likes to sit under it and bat at the lower branches. Hunter, at the advanced age of two, maintains his dignity and watches the younger generation from comfort on the back of the couch. I'm only going to use the unbreakable ornaments, and will probably leave the lower round of branches bare. We'll see how this goes. It's a learning experience for all of us. I really do want to have a tree, so it's worth the time and effort to try.
 
I'm heading to bed early tonight. I have a runny nose and sore throat, and am hoping to sleep it off and be able to get to church tomorrow. Keep an eye on the tree for me!
 
Would love to sit under the tree with you,
Joan.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Sleeping Electively

Dear John,
 
It was a busy, crazy, upside-down sort of day. And I ended up staying until 6:00 to let Amanda go to a special event with one of her children. I'm beat and not-quite-coherent, so I'll be brief tonight.
 
The tree is still standing. I'll get the lights on tomorrow and see what the cats make of them. They still bat at the branches sometimes, but they really pay very little attention to it. So far, so good.
 
I'm falling asleep typing, so I'd better give in, turn off the light, and go to sleep electively while I still can. I love you so much, and I still miss you the most at bedtime. It still feels strange to turn out the light and not have you here. I'm glad for the animals - they're much better than sleeping alone, but they're just not you. We'll gladly make room for you if you can come for a visit.
 
Adore you,.
Joan.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas: Stage I

Dear John,
 
I've had a busy day off. I vacuumed, washed sheets and blankets, washed windows, took out the screens and hung the wreaths, and put up the Christmas tree. I didn't put anything on it yet - just put up the tree. It looks funny that way.
 
I'm taking this tree thing in stages because of the cats. Abby and Maggie have never seen one. I had it up when Hunter came to live here, and Jethro knocked it down chasing him. The cat was completely innocent of wrongdoing. This afternoon they all went over to explore it. They sniffed around the base of it, batted at the lower branches, then got bored and ignored it.
 
I am taking all due cat-precautions. I weighted the base of the tree down with 90 pounds of pavers. The tree skirt hides it all nicely. I'll put the lights on it tomorrow or Saturday. If they get accustomed to - and bored with - those, then I'll start adding ornaments. I'll only use the unbreakable ones. I may hang garland like I did last year for the special fragile ones. And I will not put the china angel on top!
 
Outside, we're ready for Christmas. I put the big wreath on the door today, and hung the four other wreaths on the outside of the front windows. I'm doing the inside gradually. Today I put out the Christmas tablecloth and decorated the Hoosier cupboard. I'll get the rest done over the weekend.
 
I'm looking forward to Christmas a little bit this year. That's huge progress for me, after hoping the Mayans were right so I didn't have to deal with it. I will avoid shopping - I'm making all of the Christmas presents again. Tomorrow and Saturday is the town Christmas celebration. I'll stay downtown for it after I get off at noon on Saturday. That means pork burgers, the high school choir, Santa at the fire station, and everybody there. It will be good.
 
Thank you again for moving me here. It certainly beats living in Mishawaka a block from Grape Road, near the mall. We had to hibernate after Halloween. Here, you can hear yourself think. You have space to remember that this isn't just secular Christmas, it's also the Nativity of Christ. It is good to be here.
 
So this is your invitation to come and join in the festivities on Saturday afternoon! I'll even spring for your pork burger! Then you can come and help me decorate the tree like we always did, and see how lovely the Hoosier cupboard is all decorated. I can't make you meatloaf because of the fast, but I will promise mashed potatoes.
 
Still sorry the Mayans were wrong,
Joan.
 



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Good Side of Hot Flashes

Dear John,
 
It was a normal slow Wednesday at work. The entertainment was provided by a failure of the furnace that heats the non-lobby parts of the bank. That includes the drive-up, Mark's office, the break room, storage rooms, and restrooms. Mark was out of his office nearly all day, which was good. People were wearing coats to eat lunch. I did okay, partly because my hot flashes could heat a moderate-sized house, and partly because we have a space heater in the drive-up (in lieu of things like insulation).
 
I was relieved to see the repairman and find out that the furnace really wasn't working. You know me - my thermostat has been broken for decades, and I only get cold when I'm sick. I was starting to wonder if I was coming down with something. It was good to find out that it wasn't me.
 
Other than that, it was a quiet day. After last week, we're glad to have one of those. I'm off tomorrow, and have at least three days of work to get done around the house. I'll try to be sensible. No promises.
 
I did cry myself half-way to sleep last night. My good cry was interrupted by Jethro lying on my head. I believe the dog was trying to protect and comfort me. What he did was make me laugh. For some reason he's going through a time of wanting to sleep on my head almost every night. I can't imagine why. My temper is getting a little short with him. I'm open to suggestions.
 
The animals are asleep, Jethro and Abby on the bed, and Hunter and Maggie under it. I'm ready to join them. Sleep well tonight! And please pray that the dog stays off of my head tonight!
 
Come sleep with me,
Joan.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Some of Those Things

Dear John,
 
Today I found myself thinking about the rehab hospital and the time you spent there. It isn't pleasant to remember, though we did enjoy some times there in spite of everything. But it wasn't good. They are great at vent weans, but you had too much else going on. They weren't up to handling your CHF. Basically, they weren't a critical care unit. You had one at home with me, and together we handled it quite well. But we never did get them to listen to us, even on basic things like giving you Lasix before transfusing you. In spite of all that, you were getting better and the vent wean was progressing until you got MRSA. I fought for you there, too, even visiting the administrator's office. The only people that seemed to listen to me were the doctors, and I was thankful for that.
 
Being somewhere else wouldn't have changed the course of events; I know that. Nobody could reverse the radiation damage. I was so frustrated, fought so hard. And I know you didn't feel safe there. I felt terrible about that and would have been there night and day if I hadn't had to work and let the dog out. It was hard. Maybe we should just leave it at that.
 
I drove by there on the way to see Barb last month, for only the second time since you were there. The compulsion to turn was so strong that I drove by saying out loud, "Don't turn in. Don't turn in. Don't turn in." I'm not sure if I need to keep driving by it to desensitize myself, or if I should never go that way again. Probably the former, but it will take some time.
 
All of this is one reason I remember Methodist so fondly. The memories after that are painful. Methodist was our last good time together. Tonight I'll go to sleep remembering those days - the last times you were able to talk to me, the last time you walked, the last time you could stand up and put your arms around me. Hurry the next time!
 
Still hurting for you,
Joan.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Technical Difficulties & Abnormal Normality

Dear John,
 
Pinterest is experiencing technical difficulties. I had a funny pin that I wanted to show you. But when I try to bring up my Miscellaneous Humor board, I get Art Deco & Art Nouveau. Every other board I click on takes me to Pottery & Such. Technical difficulties.
 
I had a good day at work. It was just normal Monday-busy, which is nice after being so holiday-busy last week. A normal week would be a lovely thing. Of course, "normal" is a relative term, true "normal" having moved in 2011 and left no forwarding address. But this new normal is getting easier, feeling more like it may really be my life that I'm living. That probably doesn't make much sense to you but, believe me, any widow would understand. Go talk to my grandmothers and great-aunts - they'll tell you.
 
I'm really tired and the dog is making complaining noises, so we'd better all get off to sleep. The cats are still rampaging around the house, but as soon as I turn out the light they come and arrange themselves on their favorite spots on the bed. We'd all be happy, however, to make room for you whenever you'd like to join us. No reservations necessary.
 
Love you more than life,
Joan.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Brioche Triumph

Dear John,
 
I've had a slow day. Ben was supposed to come by on his way home from his parents' house, so I stayed home. I haven't heard from him, so I don't expect to see him.
 
Staying home was frustrating but probably for the best. I've been having trouble with numbness in my left hand and arm for a few months, and last night it progressed to pain and kept me up half the night. I may have to actually see a doctor about it. It's not cardiac - it's positional, not exertional. It isn't a circulatory problem - color, temperature, and capillary refill are unchanged. It has to be pressure on a nerve. And since I have a torn rotator cuff in that shoulder and that was the clavicle that got smashed in the accident, I have plenty of reason for nerve problems. Anyway, it's getting annoying and disturbing my sleep. So I should probably call Joe
 
I had a knitting triumph today - I finally figured out the brioche stitch. I found instructions on the internet, but they were for a scarf, which is knitting across, and I'm making a sock, which is knitting in the round. So I went to YouTube and found a tutorial on brioche socks. It's taken me most of the weekend to get this sock going, but going it is, and I like the stitch. Things should go smoothly from here on out.
 
Meanwhile, I have managed to avoid Black Friday and I'll be at work on Cyber Monday. I'm not buying any Christmas presents this year anyway, I'm making all of them. I went to Goshen yesterday, but just to the farmers market, co-op, and yarn shop - not exactly hotbeds of Christmas commerce. I remember I went shopping on Black Friday one time about twenty-five years ago, and decided I'd never do that again as long as I live. I'm having my own quiet little holiday season.
 
Sometime this week I'll put up the tree and decorate. I'm looking forward to it a little bit this year. We'll see how it goes as Christmas gets closer. Prayers would be appreciated. Or you could just come home for Christmas!
 
Wanting you under my Christmas tree,
Joan.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Of Yarn & Yogurt

Dear John,
 
We went to Tiffany's for breakfast before Jim and Irene headed home. Tiffany's has a breakfast haystack now, so I ate too much and enjoyed every bite. Bless Jim - while I was at work yesterday he insulated the north side of the garage and put up pegboard on about half of it. Have I told you lately that I love your family?
 
I went to Goshen after they left. I got cheese and lettuce at the Farmers Market, and bread and toothpaste at the co-op. I couldn't get yogurt - their refrigeration is out of order. I'm so spoiled to Brown Cow yogurt that I didn't even consider getting another kind somewhere else. Once you eat organic yogurt, there's no going back.
 
On the way out of town I felt like I should go to the yarn shop. And you know how hard it always is to get me to go to a yarn shop! I'm glad I did - I found the yarn and pattern for Jen's Christmas socks. I hadn't been able to find something that was just right, and now I have. I also picked up some sock yarn just for me. After Christmas, I may actually knit something for myself. Such self-indulgence!
 
You taught me lots of wonderful things. One of them was that if I find yarn or fabric that I fall in love with, I should buy it because it won't be there again. You were right. I always find the perfect thing to use it for, too. Thank you again for being a yarn enabler. I promise to avoid the road to yarn-addiction recovery and continue to frequent yarn shops!
 
Love you more than yarn,
Joan.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Everybody Gives Thanks for Me

Dear John,
 
Today, by decree of Congress, the country took a holiday and everybody gave thanks for me. I do love it when my birthday comes on Thanksgiving Day. It seems appropriate that there's so much turkey involved.
 
We had a good day. Irene brought curry, condiments, and cookies, and I fixed applesauce salad, rice, bell peppers, and cake. And we had a feast! Jim puttered around the house for me, which I appreciate no end. Jen and Bob and the kids came by and brought me a Key lime pie and a Steelers yard flag, bless them! Jen has a knack for finding the perfect gift. The cats hid all day, Jethro had a great time playing with his Uncle Jim, and I knitted in front of football. We watched Drowning Mona - as I expected, they liked it. It was a good day.
 
Now it's after 9:00,and I'm in bed with the dog while the cats rampage around the house. I'll be up at 5:30 for work so I need to get to sleep. While I'm at work, Jim plans to get that last set of new closet doors put up. Then we'll all crash and eat Irene's corn chowder. Saturday morning we'll meet for breakfast, and maybe the farmers market, before they leave for home. It's a been a good Thanksgiving with much to be thankful for.
 
Still the most thankful for you,
Joan.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Pismire Predicament

Dear John,
 
I read yesterday that there are one million ants for every human on the planet. What am I supposed to be doing with my share of ants? Should I get a large magnifying glass, make them burst into flames like guys did when I was a kid, and incur the wrath of PETA? Should I cover them with chocolate and have a protein feast? Should I feed and water them? Do I have to build an ant farm big enough to house all of them? I am unsure what my responsibility is in this situation. I am experiencing a pismire predicament. Maybe I should get an anteater, like Salvadore Dali.
 
Meanwhile, at work, we were having a normal Wednesday until 11:15 when it turned into a Friday. The plants that weren't closed all week, closed early and gave out paychecks. I had almost 180 transactions and I only sat down for lunch. After 11:15 I had a line of cars almost all the time. I'm glad I have tomorrow off to recover from today. Friday should be slow - there are no more paychecks out there to cash.
 
Jim and Irene got into town a little while ago, and came by to drop off food and tools. Jim wants to do some work around the house for me, bless him. We'll have fun tomorrow. It would be more fun with you, but that's true of everything. Think about us here, eating curry and watching football. I have so much to be thankful for! But most of all, I'm thankful for you. And that my one million ants are somewhere else.
 
Love you huge amounts,
Joan.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Good, the Bad, & the Gratuitous

Dear John,
 
The good news is that we have heat again. The house only got down to 55 last night - not bad for being without heat for 36 hours. It was chilly when I got up, so I dusted and vacuumed while I was waiting for the repairman. We're nice and warm and happy tonight.
 
The bad news is that the furnace worked perfectly for him. He did a thorough check on it, and cleaned the burners and igniter. So far, so good.
 
The completely gratuitous excitement was that the repairman accidentally let Jethro out the front door. I needed to get to work as soon as possible, of course. He didn't come when I called, so I got the leash and took off walking toward some barking, and here came Jethro charging around the corner of Adam's house. He ran up and I put him on the leash, and he took it in his mouth and dragged me home. I suppose he was cold and he missed his kitties. Bless him, he never goes far.
 
People have been very nice to me, offering space heaters and being concerned about me being cold. Everybody wonders how I can stand having the house at 64 all winter, but that feels comfortable to me. If it was any warmer, I wouldn't be able to wear winter clothes. And I refuse to pay more than I have to for gas. It's much more sensible to wear warm clothes and pay less for heat. And, as I've pointed out, I sleep with four heating pads.
 
So don't worry about us. We have heat, and most of the cleaning is done for Thanksgiving. All I have left to do is clean bathrooms and cook. I did the last of the grocery shopping after work today. I wish you could be here for your family and chicken curry. We'll miss you. But we'll eat too much and watch football and enjoy spending the holiday together. The thing I am most thankful for is the years I had with you. I have a lot of years to give thanks for!
 
Still in love with you,
Joan.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Entertainment Provided by the Weather

Dear John,
 
Let me take this chronologically.
 
You know I was hurting when I went to bed last night. Hunter always knows when I don't feel good. When I lay down, Jethro was at the foot of your side of the bed, Abby was on my feet, and Maggie was on my left side. Then here came Hunter and curled up around my head, and kneaded my forehead with his paws. He stayed there until I woke up and midnight and got up.
 
I got up at midnight because I realized the furnace wasn't working. I could hear the heating element  trying to come on and failing. I went downstairs and tried turning the furnace off and on again, to no avail this time. So I turned off the power to the furnace and thermostat and went back to bed. I called NIPSCO first thing this morning. The company they contract out to couldn't get here today but is scheduled to come at 8:00 in the morning. I'll get to work late, but Ellie will work for me until I get there.
 
I worked from 9:00 to 1:00 today. The entertainment was provided by the weather. The wind was howling - still is - and there have been lots of power outages. Topeka's went out twice this morning. It came back on after three seconds, thanks to the fact that we have lines from two substations. But each time it was long enough to shut down all of the computers and make us work off-line until 1:00. I spent the morning helping with the night drops and business deposits. It was a nice, busy day except for the power problems.
 
Now we're all hunkered down for the night. This house is so well insulated that the temperature inside has only dropped from 64 to 61. I've had several offers of space heaters, but I won't need them unless the furnace can't be fixed tomorrow. Don't worry - I won't hesitate to borrow them if I need to. It will be in the 20s tonight and tomorrow, so it's not a bad time to have to go without the heat.
 
On the other hand, we wouldn't mind having you here to pile up with us tonight. We'll be happy to make room for you any time at all. You were always so nice and warm to cuddle up with! Now I have four little heating pads, but they can't take your place. So come and help keep us warm. You know where the key is!
 
Leaving the light on,
Joan.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

It's Raining, it's Pouring

Dear John,
 
I've had a slow day. I woke up with fibro pain and excruciating jaw pain, so I spent the day on the heating pad. I watched and slept through football. I didn't even knit because of the arm and shoulder pain. That tells you that it's severe.
 
It's rained all day. Jethro has had a lovely time going outside and digging in the mud. This dog is certainly a dedicated digger. And he's happy because it is warm enough that this is rain and not snow. He doesn't like the cold at all, poor baby. But he loves rain.
 
I love rainy days, too, but getting one when I'm already fighting the fibro is not especially pleasant. I will do as the meme says - go to bed, take pain meds, and hope it all feels better in the morning. I get to go to sleep listening to the rain, and that is wonderful. All that's missing is you - which could be said of the entirety of my existence. But I still miss you most at night, miss curling up with my head on your shoulder and your arms around me. Could you come and rub my shoulders tonight? The cats knead them, but they don't have your upper body strength. As has been said, they're wonderful but they can't replace you.
 
Missing you on this rainy night,
Joan.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

TMJ + Almonds = Regret

Dear John,
 
I'm tired. We're all piled up in bed (except Abby, who is under it) - Jethro is asleep, Hunter grooming himself, and Maggie torturing a felt mouse. And I'm trying to stay awake.
 
Friday was very long and very busy. I stayed until 6:00, doing my 11-hour day. I didn't sleep much last night, between fibro pain and jaw pain. Did I tell you about my jaw? It's the left side of course, the one that was out of joint when I was born. I was eating an almond last week, chewed wrong, and it popped out again. It's back in joint most of the time now, but there's still a lot of swelling and pain. I'm eating soft food and taking Motrin.
 
Today was a bit slower. We had freezing rain this morning and the roads were dicey, so the drive-up wasn't as busy as on a usual Saturday. I came home, ate lunch, and involuntarily slept through the first quarter of the Notre Dame game. I should have slept through the fourth quarter, too. Their season started off so well and is ending so badly. I don't recommend watching the game. It was ugly.
 
This is one of those night that I really miss you. Maybe it's the rain, maybe that I'm hurting all over - between the rain and the overtime, I'm at the mercy of the fibro tonight. Or maybe it's just that I love you and wish you were here. As much as I love the animals, they're a poor substitute for you. If you can, reach down and hold my hand tonight.
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Joy of Socks

Dear John,
 
The snow went north of us and the weather advisory was cancelled. We should be in the clear until the freezing rain arrives on Saturday.
 
I went to my half-day of training in LaGrange, came home for lunch, and went to Walmart for a major trip. It's been over a month since I did major grocery shopping. I had to  walk the aisles to be sure I didn't miss anything.
 
The fun part was buying socks. They're knee highs, now called boot socks, and I found them in all kinds of delightful colors and patterns like they used to be. You'd love it. I remember about ten years ago you said how much you liked my wild, crazy knee socks and you wondered why I'd stopped wearing them, and I told you that I'd worn them all to shreds and they weren't making them anymore. Well, they're making them now. I bought a bunch today and will start wearing them tomorrow. So come visit me at work and look at my wild and wonderful socks!
 
Everything old really is new again, isn't it? I told you in the 1980s that bellbottoms would come back in style. You disagreed, but I was right - they just called them boot cut when they came back. Turquoise came back after a forty-year absence. And now knee socks are back. I am content.
 
See what you're missing? My knee sock resurgence, growing my hair out long, and having three cats in the house! This is what you get for leaving and forgetting to take me with you. Of course, you're welcome back any time you like. Like Robert Johnson said, you've got a home as long as I have mine.
 
Saving home for you,
Joan.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Birthday Cake in Heaven

Dear John,
 
We had another slow day at work. This town is sensible - people stay home when it's snowing and the wind chill is below zero. Our Winter Storm Watch has turned into a Winter Weather Advisory, now calling for less snow and more wind. I hope tomorrow isn't bad  - I have to spend my day off in LaGrange for mandatory training. Everybody from all the branches has to go, and our branch doesn't have the staff right now to be able to send us on working days. So we'll all be in LaGrange for classes on our days off this week. Imagine our excitement.
 
Normally I'd rather not have slow days, but this week is an exception. I'm just back from being sick, I'm working my day off which makes six days in a row, and I picked up some overtime on Friday staying late. So I'll take all the slow, easy days that I can! We're expecting freezing rain on Saturday. I just hope the town doesn't decide to do a whole week's worth of banking on Friday. That much entertainment I don't need.
 
And a quick reminder - today is Becky's birthday, so go hunt up Kyle and have a piece of birthday cake together! I remember so well how surprised she and I were to end up roommates our senior year. We were having to take dorm pot-luck; the odds were overwhelmingly against us ending up with each other. It was certainly divinely ordained. We enjoyed that year, and we're still enjoying our friendship. It has turned out to be one of the most important in my life.
 
You guys be sure to get some ice cream to go with that birthday cake. And know that your wives are looking after each other. Who knows - we may end up roommates again, if we can find that lighthouse to live in!
 
Love to you, Kyle, and all the guys,
Joan.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Batteries, Storms, & Flannel

Dear John,
 
The car is back up and running. Bless his heart, Bob called a little before 7:00 this morning, and came right over and replaced the battery. I appreciate him so much. He has new tires for me; I'll schedule getting the car in next week when the weather is supposed to be better for walking around town. I can't complain about the battery - the car is a 2008, and it was the original battery that died. I believe it was entitled.
 
The wind chill did get above zero today, however briefly. We're under a Winter Storm Watch tonight and tomorrow. The lake is going to drop a boatload of snow somewhere; we'll see if it comes toward us. But I have a car to drive to work, so I don't have to walk if I don't want to. And the furnace is running perfectly. So all is well in my little world.
 
Meanwhile, the cats continue to lie between the curtains and the windows, the dog still hates the cold, and I'm curled up in bed wearing a flannel nightgown. You had no idea how amazing it was to me that you liked me in flannel. You didn't want me to look like a model in fancy lingerie. You wanted me to be me - warm and comfortable, wearing something sensible and practical. And maybe soft and cuddly, too, for you to snuggle up with. It was another way that you loved me, really me, just like I am. I never had to be anything but myself with you. I miss that complete ease, having somebody to totally relax around. I miss the unconditional love you always gave me.
 
But I know that your love for me hasn't ended or gone away. For now, I take it on faith. Some day I will see it all again. And when that day comes, this waiting period will seem so short. Are there flannel nightgowns in Heaven? Maybe I should bring one with me, just for you.
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hail! The Comquering Heroine Comes on Foot

Dear John,
 
I think this has been a day about triumphs. But I'm not sure.
 
The day started early when I woke up at 3:30 and the house smelled funny. The furnace fan was running constantly and blowing out cold air. The thermostat said 64, which is where I had it set, so nothing should have been running. I went downstairs, found the main power switch for the furnace, and turned it off for a minute. It seems to have just needed re-booting. It's run fine ever since. I'll keep an eye on it in case the igniter is going out. But so far, so good.
 
The next adventure was at 7:15 when I tried to leave for work and discovered the car battery was dead. I left the garage door opener out for Bob and walked to work. I called his place after they'd opened and asked Ryan to have him to look at the battery, but he didn't get here today. The message may have gotten lost or mangled between Bob and Ryan. I'll call again in the morning. It's not urgent.
 
And I finally figured out that heel pattern. After dinner I sat down and concentrated on it and got it done. I must have been too tired yesterday. That heel is done and I'm ready to knit the top of the sock. Even in Fair Isle, that's much simpler.
 
I think that's about it for today. I'm tired, and no wonder after being up for an hour in the middle of the night fixing the furnace. But I'm proud of myself - I fixed the furnace, handled getting the car looked at, and even got the hang of a wrapped-stitch heel. I am widow - hear me roar!
 
Now it's late and the wind is howling out of the west. I'm still up because the Steelers and Titans are on television, but I'm only seeing about a quarter of it because the wind is messing with the reception. Snow is blowing down the street and the wind sounds like a freight train. I have the curtains closed for insulation - the wind chill is well below zero - and the cats are all lying between the curtains and the windows. Jethro is asleep at my feet, and I may be asleep soon. I doubt that I'll make it past halftime.
 
Thank you for wanting an independent, capable wife. Now you have an independent, capable widow. Widow, wife, it's all the same thing. I'm yours, no matter what. There's no getting away from me!
 
Forever yours,
Joan.