Monthly Archives: February 2009

Mystery Weekend in Langely

Two friends and I decided to leave the comforts of the city – rush hour traffic, houses so close we hear noises from our neighbors we would rather not hear, demanding jobs and the incessant buzz of sirens, traffic ‘copters, dogs, and my six children – for the peace of Whidbey Island for a cozy girls getaway.

We were greeted with this gruesome scene on Anthes Avenue in Langley. We astutely noticed the fish outlines, the club foot, the extra hole in the forehead and the initials VM. We knew we had discovered the Crime Scene. With a chill in our bones, we began our investigation. The town coroner revealed at noon the discovery of two more sets of bones with the same M.O.D. My abbreviation, taking poetic license because I lack the correct investigative terminology, Method of Death. We now knew were were in the throes of solving not one murder, but three.

The FBI Agent Professor Plum Peacock, or was that Peacock Plum, was called in to investigate the murders. After studying the evidence, the bodies were identified by the town coroner as Xavier Rhalston, Fashion Designer missing since 1985, Xerxes “Quaker” Oats, Rock Star missing since 1997 , and General Victor Mills, still fresh on the slab. With these horrific facts, she grimly determined she was chasing a “Cereal Killer.” However, her lack of time spent investigating and her time spent speculating and hyperventilating on the streets concerning a certain reoccuring Dead Squirrel and the transient Red Spoon, led us to wonder how it came to be that SHE was in town for each of the murders, committed in 1985, 1997 and now 2009? Everybody is a suspect in February in Langely. All are guilty until proven innocent.

Our first suspect to meet and greet and grill was Candace Barr, Candy for short. Seemingly innocent, she showed us the contents of her portfolio – an advertisement for very expensive furniture. Apparently, the town gossip went, she and her husband were busy buying many things for their new home. Hmmmm…it was also revealed in hushed confidences and paper clues, that she had been rejected as a model by Rhalston, rejected as a singer by Oats and we had yet to discover her connection with the third victim.

Her husband, Hershell Barr, had the same innocent exterior, but clearly harbored many deep, forboding secrets. Displaying his bottle of “bourbonade” he claimed the still the deceased General Mills discovered was really only a home elixir mixer.

Personal attache’ (doesn’t that sound like a piece of luggage?) of the most recent victim, Misty first appeared to be a distressed and grieving loyal employee. It was soon revealed that she, too, had been rejected as a singer and a model. Could her final rejection from General Mills, who refused to marry her, also have been the final murder?

Illustrious and devious members of the 49’ers, these men reveled in money the same way the miners in California did, although they didn’t have a Sutter’s Mill, they had a still. They also had the industry of producing Chocolate Banana Slugs, an industry General Mills was going to commandeer to feed the poor in the third world countries. They had recently come into a large sum of money, enough to build a new office building and an apartment complex. The two bodies, by the way, were discovered buried deeply on their property. Plenty of motive, plenty of money, and plenty of alibis.

Zaud Eack was the town goofball, not wise enough to be helpful, not helpful enough to be wise. He just took delight in the fact that he had these cool little lights he could illuminate around his over-sized hood. His murder alibi? He passed out at 9pm, under the stars after drinking too much bourbonade. Yea, the same bourbonade the 49’ers claim is a juice healthy enough for children. Zaud proudly boasts his ability to “heat the bourbonade until it becomes an adult beverage.” He claims the youth of the town don’t know this dirty little secret, but we were beginning to wonder if there were ANY innocent in this beautiful seaside paradise. OK, sound side paradise, whatever. It’s just geography.

Who would have more motive than this Pisceolgy leader, Maggie MacRill, who appears in town every 12 years for the spawning of the Saratoga Silver Salmon, her beloved fish? She has devoted years of her life to these creatures, and graciously, but firmly, berated the 49’ers, who pump resideue from their still into the spawning area of her beloved slippery, scaled salmon. An intense study of her religion shows that she wouldn’t kill, but she would send a Barracuda to do it. However, her current Barracuda was a rosy cheeked youth, Mickey Finn, who VOWS he NEVER heats up his bourbondade when he drinks it, and was too young to have committed the first two murders. But, she WAS in town for each of the murders!

Yvonne and Terry listen intently as Ralph Channel and his wife/model Twiggy Liam, show their new line of clothing, something to do with the west and full figures. She is gorgeous for her age, but seems pretty hardened. Anybody who can stand in public and let her husband call her “full figured” and many other obnoxious things, could be hard-hearted enough to kill three men? Couldn’t she? Is Ralph’s life now in danger?

Dave joins us on the final afternoon, just in time to grill Mobey White, another highly-ranked Pisceologist. He wears his symbols well, but didn‘t show enough passion about the illegal still, the bourbonaid-heating youth of his town, the many women devestated by the betrayals and unfailfulnesses of the three deceased victims to ever have an opinion about anything other than those silly silver salmon.

After casting our final votes, we anxiously awaited in a crowded school auditorium, with painful high school flashbacks reverbrating in all of our brains, while the town marshall, I.B. Fuzze declared each suspect, one by one, innocent. In a dramatic finale, worthy of a Hallmark movie, (oh, that’s right, they did that last year) her dear neice, Bunny, was declared the murderer of them all. After all, she had the oldest gun in town. Yvonne and Dave guessed correctly! I voted for Misty, banking on the rejection theory.

It was that simple?
And what ABOUT those silver salmon ceremonially draped over each body? What did that have to do with anything, anyway?
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I’m a Good Gramma, I am!

We were gathered for a nice three generation outing for coffee.
I was relishing the time with my daughters and my favorite well-behaved granddaughter.
I think Brookie felt left out drinking milk from a sippy cup
while we were all enjoying coffee concoctions.
I also think she was getting a little bored while we talked,
talked,
and
talked.

After fidgeting on her Mommy’s lap, she squiggled down and decided to keep this gentleman company. While we thought she was adorable, sitting up on the chair, staring at him in a way only a 1 year old could get away with, I don’t think he appreciated it. For some reason, I think he was actually enjoying the solitude before Brookie parked herself at his table.

Tired of pestering innocent bystanders,
Brookie decided to use the free moments to take inventory of her Mommy’s purse.

OOPS!
I guess Mommy was a little embarrased when she realized ALL the things Brookie was pulling out of her purse and displaying for the whole coffee shop.

Quickly tiring of the new game, especially when she wasn’t allowed to play with the cool cushioned thing with the cotton top and sticky bottom,
she decided to climb on a glass table, instead.
Like a Good Gramma,
I quickly ran over to where I sensed a precarious situation
as she climbed on the rickety glass-topped table.

Like a Good Gramma, I quickly ducked under the table.
I guess you already figured out that I had my camera in hand when I dashed over to the table.

I did what every Good Gramma would do.

I laughed and snapped pics and laughed and laughed, until her Mommy,
Who is a Good Mommy,
came over and rescued the baby and lightly scolded her own Mommy. (That would be me.)
Then, she laughed, cuz she ultimately knows,
I’m a Good Gramma,
I am.

21 Days, But Who Was Counting???

After 21 days, the much-awaited phone call from my endocrinologist’s medical assistant FINALLY came. However, I was in a very busy and loud coffee shop, and despite stepping out into a quieter area, it was hard to understand when the assistant read portions of the letter she would be sending out the next day. Somehow, I didn’t hear that magical word, REDUCES until I had that little letter in my own sweaty hands and could read it for myself.

I was also a little taken back by the process. What if I HAD been diagnosed with cancer? Would she have merely been reading a typed out letter over the phone announcing this life-changing news? I am always thankful to be facing these types of scenarios with the Lord. I couldn’t do this alone.

“…The thyroglobulin (thyroid cancer marker) remains undetectable but as you are aware, you have antithyroglobulin antibodies which make the measurement of the thyroglobulin unreliable. The antithyroglobulin level 34.7 IU/ml is substantially lower than the last value of 173 IU/ml and reduces concerns regarding the possibility of residual thyroid cancer…Because of palpable lymph nodes in your neck, I would recommend that we proceed with a PET-CT scan…”

In Mindy language,
“The good news is that the antibody level is lower….
The bad news is having antibodies (even the lower level) gives an unreliable reading on cancer markers……
so it still doesn’t give us definitive answer concerning cancer…..”

The PET-CT scan will be March 4th, following thyrogen shots March 2nd and 3rd. From there I might get a better picture of what is going on – literally.

It has been three years of testing and watching and waiting to see if the cancer is back, wondering why I have these random lumps on my neck near the area where the original cancer was removed and why antibodies grew in my body AFTER the cancer was removed and not while it was in the body.

I guess I still can’t say I have cancer, and I can’t say I don’t. I just don’t know for sure. I was told at one time that I would never be cured and I would never be in remission. It can be a little awkward when people ask me how my health is. For years I have had to say, “I don’t know.” I still don’t know…yet.

But this I do know for sure – I have eternal life.

1John 5:13
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God;
that you may know that you have eternal life,

The Lord gave me the following thought a year ago when we seriously began testing, not just watching, the possibility of cancer returning. It is so much harder the second time, because I now KNOW the price I will have to pay for treatment.

He didn’t promise me a long life,
He didn’t promise me a healthy life,
He promised me eternal life, and that’s good enough for me.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death;
but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
1Timothy 6:12
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life

I praise God for the eternal life that He gave me when I trusted His Son as my Savior October 11, 1982, and I will fight the good fight of FAITH.

Hebrews 11:6
But without faith it is impossible to please him:
for he that comes to God must believe that He is,
and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
What do I know? The Lord gives me eternal life as a gift and He promises to reward me for diligently seeking Him.
That sounds like the best answer yet.

Patterns of Snow

February 9th we woke up to yet another PNW surprise – snow.
We loved the White Christmas,
we vaguely enjoyed the next few snows,
but in February we’re feeling a little less tolerant.

After all, many of us are planting spring flowers – the favored primroses.

Still, we pause to embrace the moment.
We take our pictures, the kids play in the snow.
We take the traditional “flocked trees” pictures.

Then, look for a better shot.

The traditional picture,

the better shot….

This beauty appeared in the puddle at the bottom of my drainspout.

I missed the shot of the shot of the garbage truck spinning its wheels all the way up the slight hill in front of our house, but I got the cool shot of the tracks it left in the snow.

The sidewalk beneath the huge cedar tree hadn’t been swept for awhile,

a long while, actually,
but my procrastination produced an incredible pattern.
A man walked by as I was down by the creek and I heard a
crunch, crunch, crunch, as he trampled the snow patterns underfoot.
When the morning sun broke through a few minutes later,
the crunch, crunch, crunch
turned into
drip,
drip,
drip.
To protect my camera, I went inside.
By mid-afternoon, all these patterns were almost all gone.
But that evening, the snow came back again in a flurried vengeance.
Now,
with the snow persistently hanging around the colder parts of the neighborhoods,
it crunches a little,
it drips a little,
it crunches,
it drips,
while we wait for it to
totally
disappear.

Tackling the Laundry Room

Why have my laundry room under the home schooling blog? Because getting laundry done in the midst of all the other demands of a home schooling mom can be a challenging task. You can’t neglect school to do laundry, and you can’t neglect laundry to do school. You HAVE to do them both. Granted, you are at home most of the time, and nobody will know the egg on your favorite sweatshirt is from last week, not that morning, but there’s something so refreshing about having clean clothes in the drawers….all the drawers….all the time.

Having an efficient laundry room is half the battle. The size is irrelevant, as you can see from my pics below. Functionality is #1, looks is #2. OK, so I like antiques and I like to see them when I am working. It might not be a priority to everyone, but something as simple as hanging pics your kids drew or a beautiful painting or photograph above the washer and dryer can certainly make the time spent in the room a little more pleasant.

My mom, who raised six kids, was the one who began this system of sorting dirty and clean laundry into appropriate containers. I have added my own touches to her system, making sure that the laundry room has everything I need to keep up on the laundry the most efficiently.

Not only do I always know what laundry needs to be done and I enjoy being in this little space because I have made it attractive to my eyes.

As you can see, my laundry room is so tiny, I had a hard time getting a picture of it. The smallest doll dresses on the wall were made by my mom when she was a young girl. I cherish them.

The shelf on the wall contains some stuffed bears and some old laundry supplies. In case you ever wondered – if you knock over an old bottle of bluing that doesn’t have a cork in it, it makes a really, really, big mess. I carved my own cork for the bottle after that incident.

Begin with the full hamper. This is in the upstairs hallway by the bedrooms. If the clothes aren’t in here, they don’t get washed. If they are in here inside out, they get washed inside out. If the undies are still in the pants, (sorry, gross reality – you’ll get used to it) they get washed, dried and put in their laundry basket whatever way they come out of the dryer.

Laundry gets sorted into baskets. From left to right I have whites, red, lights and darks. (I haven’t labeled the baskets yet, haven’t hit on the idea that would be sturdy enough to last and would fit the decor…any ideas?) The towels/jeans basket has to go on the floor on the left side. When a basket is heaping full, it makes a load.

In my other homes that had larger laundry rooms, the dirty clothes containers were kitchen-sized garbage cans, either under an antique chrome/red table or under a counter. Then, clean laundry tubs could be placed on top of that work surface.

My husband mounted a white shelf board flush with the tops of the washer and the dryer, giving me a little extra space for stuff. On the far left, the round enameled tin holds clothespins and lingerie bags. The rectangle shaped tin holds two or three boxes of extra dryer sheets. There is a red tin cup you can barely see in front of the red dress, but it holds all those little treasures you find in pockets – legos, chapsticks, phone numbers scribbled on scraps of paper, business cards, bobby pins – you know those things that would ruin the wash? I KEEP all money I find.

On the left side of the white shelf are tubs, the first for linens, the next is for Mom and Dad. You can barely see it, but tucked between the washer and dryer is a folding rack to dry items that cannot go in the dryer.

Everything I need to do laundry is in this room. The door mounted ironing board was a huge bonus I added recently. It makes it so much easier to actually get the ironing done. The red gizmo attached below is for plastic bags for the garbage can. You can get a view of the other sorting tub, for towels and jeans, and the box that holds laundry supplies.

Close up of the washboard container I found to hold soap, bleach, oxy, Spray ‘n Wash, and an old tooth brush for scrubbing collars and stubborn stains.

This is in front of the dryer. Dish pans labeled for each child. Clothes are folded straight from the dryer into these bins. I don’t leave them in the dryer or leave them in baskets to get wrinkled up again. I save a huge amount of time by being faithful to this routine.
The bottom bin holds iron, extension cord, cool plastic cup to fill my iron with water. Notice the garbage can? It is an old diaper pail. Love my old junk. Love the old washboards hanging on the walls, so glad I don’t have to actually use them.


And, by mounting the ironing board on the door, you are guaranteed solitude when ironing because the door is SHUT and nobody wants to come in and help.
Jon took this pic of me multi-tasking: I am sipping a latte and listening to a podcast on my Zune on Roman History from Berkeley Professor Isabelle Pafford, while ironing, of course.
By creating an efficient, pleasant room, you are more productive and less likely to get behind and create the “Mt. Washmore”, referred as such by my friend, Annie, with or without the latte.

DAY 17 and Counting

I’ve counted it over and over. It has been 17 days since my doctor visit. That makes three business weeks. It seems like years. I have checked the answering machine a few times, to make sure I didn’t miss a message. I have checked the history of the phone calls, I have asked the kids every time I leave the house if the doctor has called.

I have called his office twice, so now am at the risk of annoying him and fear I will lessen my chance of a happy patient/doctor relationship. I am also trying not to be annoyed with him because I am finding his working definition of SOON doesn’t match up with dictionary.com’s definition.

-within a short period after this or that time, event, etc.
-before long; in the near future; at an early date
-promptly or quickly:

My life feels as if it is on hold. The decisions he makes could affect my entire next year in a vast way; but I am just another patient, another life, another phone call to make.

In the continued wait, I decided to pray more fervently for his decisions. Dr. E. does have four years of charts to weed through, equal years of labwork to peruse and, although I wish I were, I am NOT his only patient. I remind myself that all his other patients could have serious issues, too.

I am asking the Lord that He will give Dr. E. wisdom and understanding and I ask you to join me in praying for him.

As I was thinking about prayer this morning, the first verse that came to mind was in I Thessalonians 5:
16 ΒΆ Rejoice evermore.
17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I am wondering to myself if this wait is more important than the answer, the Lord is giving me a chance to truly learn verse 16, to pray without ceasing. And, notice the two admonitions that it is neatly sandwiched between, to “rejoice evermore” and to “give thanks.”

And, as I reread this blog, I am guilty of what my husband has preached about “Vitamin I Disease.” Too much “I”, not enough Him. If I thought only about my situation, I would be depressed, as we all would be with whatever the Lord is allowing in our lives.

If we think about Him, His righteous and loving character and His Holy Word and allow Him to answer our furtive prayers, in HIS time and in HIS way, our hearts truly can
-rejoice
-pray
-be thankful

May we all be praying without ceasing for whatever is troubling our hearts and minds today and praise Him for answering!

Jeremiah 33:3 Call unto me, and I will answer, and show you great and mighty things, which you know not.

Pins and Needles – Prayers and Peace

This title came into my heart as I was waiting for an important phone call. I was a little anxious, I have to admit, and thought of that cliche, “on pins and needles.” That’s the human side of me. But, in my heart, I quickly added “peace”, because whenever I feel that anxiety begin to fill my heart or flutter in my tummy, I have learned to pray until I have peace. The Lord always offers it graciously, unsparingly, lovingly, I just don’t always take Him up on His offer.

Why such anxiety over a phone call? It’s from a my new endocrinologist who is making serious decisions concerning my health and testing for the return of my papillary thyroid cancer…the dreaded “C’ word. It puts terror in many of our hearts and minds. We ALL have experienced it personally or with someone we love.

That’s why Philippians 4:7 is such an amazing verse. Paul writes, “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

It goes beyond human understanding that we could face difficult experiences with peace, but this is only possible through the Lord Jesus. I had my thyroid and many lymph nodes removed in June of 2005 and went through Radioactive iodine treatment in August of 2005. It was followed by six months of a very high dose of artificial thyroid hormone, a stage the doctors call Hyper Hell. Within six months, small lumps began growing again on the right side of my neck where the cancer had originally spread. About a year ago, lumps appeared on the left side of my neck, along with thyroid antibodies in my blood. The doctor had no answers for me, always told me to come back in six months. I’ve had over three years of pins and needles, prayers and peace.

Last week, after the initial visit and blood work with a new endocrinologist, I woke up early one morning and my first thoughts were what is possibly ahead. The cost is greater now for me to count – I have experienced the surgery and the rai – I KNOW what I might have to go through. I began to cry. Not a cry of huge remorse or anger at the Lord, just a little cry of resignation, knowing it could be a hard road ahead. I cried out to the Lord and my prayers felt like arms reaching up to my Father.

I felt His presence, I felt His peace. I knew I could handle the path ahead, because He was with me.

As I recently visited with a new friend, who lost her husband to cancer only five agonizing months ago, we talked about this. I wept and told her, “How can I ever regret cancer, when I have felt His Presence so closely in ways I never had before?” She agreed, speaking of the same Presence she and her husband had shared in his final 3 1/2 years of life.

So, I am waiting. The doctor said he would call “soon.” I think we have a different definition of soon, it is now 15 days since my appointment. While I am waiting, I am turning those pins and needles into prayers and peace, because the Lord promised me “peace that passes understanding.” I choose to believe Him.