My Daughter

Eva, as she is today...

My beautiful daughter Eva, who is so beautiful inside and out. I know I probably vex you on a daily basis, but what's new? I am a very vexing person, although I don't mean to be. I love you deeply, am so proud of you, and continue to wish the very best for you in life... 

Compassion, empathy, and love are written on your face. I saw it in you as a little girl, and your capacity for them has only grown as time has passed.


Embroidery Reverie

I am SEW (pun!) excited about this book!! I ordered it recently and it's on its way to me. This video shows some of the exciting projects and lessons I'll be learning from it.

I recently got back into embroidery after a much-too-long break from it. I learned embroidery as a wee girl from my Grandma Fitzpatrick. I loved doing it, and did pillowcases, dresser scarves, and dish towel sets back then. My little fingers were busy, busy, busy learning straight, lazy daisy, french knot, and satin stitches. It has been so much fun getting back into it. I look forward to making my first embroidery journal, or book of stitches!


Running Away from Home

I was about 6 years old, and I was really mad at my mother.  I don't remember why I was mad, but I was so upset that I wanted her to be very worried about me.

I ran out of the house, grabbed my red tricycle, and started madly peddling down the gravel road towards Grandma's house. Halfway there, I realized that Mom would likely check for me there first thing.  So I thought I'd really outfox her, and went into the big ditch and hid in some trees.  It seemed like it took her a long time, but soon she walked past me on her way up town. 

I waited as she inevitably came back. As she walked past the area I hid within, I could hear her say, "I am so sad.  I hope Patricia comes home soon..."  I almost spoke up, but I was a very stubborn little girl,and held onto my anger.  After she left for home, I waited to make sure she was really gone.

I struggled to drag my trike back to the road, but I did it.  On to Grandma's house!  When I got there a couple of minutes later, I ran into the front porch, letting the wooden screen door slam behind me. Inside, Grandma was in the kitchen.  I don't really remember a lot after that, except that once there, I felt home-free.  I had accomplished my goals:  I ran away, and I worried my Mom.  I was satisfied.  I obviously got picked up at some point and brought home.  But in the meantime, I may have managed to wrangle an overnight at Grandma's house with homemade hot cocoa and brown sugar toast in the morning...


Change of Life

Gastric Bypass Surgery Diagram
I'll be having bariatric surgery two weeks from today.  Gastric Bypass surgery to be exact. Last night was my last normal meal for many weeks. Today I start a pre-operative diet to prepare my body for the procedure, mainly, as they told me, to lessen fat around the liver, making the operation easier.

After surgery, I will be in hospital for a few days, walking every 2 hours or so to ensure all the air they pump into me during the surgery makes its way up my body and out. When I go home, I was told I'll need to take it easy for 2-3 weeks so nothing internally is torn or hemorrhages.  I'll be having a liquid diet only at first, then pureed, and finally at about 2 months I graduate to soft foods, etc.

I am told that a lifelong habit of chewing to applesauce consistency, eating slowly, eating small amounts but more often, is how I'll be eating from now on.  I'll also need to eat a combination of high protein and nutrient-dense foods (certain vegetables and fruits, but mostly vegetables) - rather like a Paleo diet.  And lots and lots of water (minimum of 64 ounces a day, taken 30 minutes before and after meals which are only 2 hours apart, leaving one hour to drink in sips only of 1-2 ounces at a time...I still can't figure out how they think we're going to get 64 ounces drank a day at that rate...!!)

The final piece of the puzzle is to move more.  Housework, stairs, walking, yoga, weights - all will be part of my daily life for the rest of my life.

I admit I'm nervous.  But I'm also excited.  I want to have a great quality of life as I enter the homestretch of my life.  Sure, I'm only 58, but I don't kid myself - it's more likely I have less time left than the life I've lived.  Whatever time I have left, I want it to be as healthy and fulfilling as possible.  If you're reading this, I encourage you to do the same...


Old Friends

The author, with her teddy bear, circa 1961 - trees behind her...

Many of the trees of my childhood home are gone now. They were very large and old oak and elm, surrounding our home like giant sentinels. They guarded us, a canopy providing cooling shade in summer, and with endless entertainment - from racing squirrels who sometimes had ferocious, chattering quarrels - to choruses of bird song from morning to night.  There wasn't an upstairs' window you could look out, without seeing a branches of trees nearby, curling around towards the house like hugs.

The rustling of their leaves could be soft and comforting with a breeze, or loud and threatening during a windstorm.  Strong winds would cause them to creak and snap; once during a storm of my early childhood, one of the mightiest and oldest oaks snapped in two about 12 feet up, thankfully falling away from the house. It lay there for many years, only its outstretched branches taken away.  I used it to play on, climbing on it higher and higher as I gained confidence.  Finally one day I got to the top and looked down on my mother hanging out clothes, calling down to her in victory.  It has been thrilling and at the same time terrifying, climbing up so high, but something inside me pushed me on to do it.

In winter, their branches were so bare in stark contrast to their heavy summer foliage.  Like giant shado puppets, they seemed to be in constant silhouette against the white, white snow.  They stood guard around the house, while their brethren in the woods to the north stood at the ready.  When it would get very, very cold, the trees would crack and boom.  The first time I heard them do that, it scared me and I asked my mother what that was and she explained.

Trees are more expressive than many people realize if they don't live among them all the time.  Especially the older, larger trees. There were many days and nights I heard the wind and trees make the most forlorn moaning and creaking sounds together. With the shorter days, it made for much melancholy even for a child. Spring became that much more sweet and meaningful after months of cold and short days.


Idyllic Summers

This song got me through one of my first periods of depression when I was attending NDSU in the fall of 1977. My dorm room mate was my best friend Kathy. I listened to this song over and over again, because it spoke to me with it's melancholy melody, and lyrics that reminded me so much of parts of my life at that time. "...riding on the roadside..." was to me, the idyllic summers my friend and I had riding our horses day after day, with no cares at all. We knew at the time it wouldn't last, so we drank it in and treasured it, even as it was happening. Days and days of sunshine, wind, and open prairie, cantering and galloping across the fields and dirt roads. This song brings it all back to me...


Tar Paper, Lath, & Storm Windows

Ventilation holes on bottom of old storm window...
Every fall, Dad would get the wooden storm windows out of storage in the shed, and swap them out for the screen windows; he did both the downstairs and the second storey.  It was during one of these bi-annual chores, up on a wooden ladder doing an upstairs' window, that the accident happened.

Another winter preparation chore was insulating the foundation with tar paper and lath.  There was even times that windows were additionally covered with plastic and lath. In 1966, during the period when we were still doing this (all the way until 1977 when my folks replaced all the windows), the house was already 60 years old.  My grandparents built it themselves in 1906. It needed some seasonal tender-loving care to cut heating costs and keep us nice and cosy!