Sunday, April 30, 2006

back at the ranch

and we're picking up where we left off--unpacking! We have finally managed to unpack all the books that used to take up space in my church office: four, 36"-wide bookcases full! While Ken was handling that task (he loves fondling theology books), I tried to tackle the mountain of boxes and paraphernalia that were stacked in my studio office and had overflowed into the guest bathroom. The bathroom is now almost free and clear, and I have managed to unpack all my scrapping paper (I think). There's still lots of things to organize, put away, and find space for, but progress is progress, and I'll take it!

After this somber week I think it's time to revisit cruise pics. Gosh, it seems so long ago already, but so much has been crammed into the short time since we got back... I'll try to load pictures again later. In the meantime, it's nice to be back home, even if it's still chaos!

xoxo

Friday, April 28, 2006

there are no words...

... to summarize this past week in any way that would do it justice. It was a horrible, wonderful week, for all kinds of reasons, some more obvious than others. The service for Kathy on Thursday turned out to be an extraordinary event--Carrie, her daughter, delivered a wonderful, poignant message, as did Kathy's brother, Tom. I made it through my homily with only one bought of having to choke back tears or gather my composure. What was amazing was how the music integrated itself into the service, which was nothing short of Grace. I finished writing my homily about 45 minutes before the scheduled service of Eucharist that the family attended prior to the inurnment, which was scheduled before the memorial service. The last word of it was "Alleluia," a suitable Easter and resurrection word! The organist had substituted a choral anthem in lieu of a selection of music the family had chosen, and it followed the homily. Guess what it was called? "Alleluia," and the words were nothing but Alleluia. And then the closing hymn echoed themes from the homily, such that it sent shivers down several of our spines. It was eerie and magical and wonderful, and from where I was sitting up in the chancel I could exchange looks with Carrie and Scott (Kathy's son) and smile and nod our complicit "isn't this cool?!!!" reactions.
There were other things, too many to write now, that made this is a special time. One of those things, though, is captured in this picture. Kathy had saved the cards she had received since her illness was diagnosed last October. The good wishes and get wells and "thinking of you's" number closer to 300! We strung them up on ribbon and hung them across the doorways of the rooms in her house for the reception that followed the memorial service. This picture shows what that looked like. Imagine seven door ways, facing each way, filled with these cards! It was really extraordinary.

I am only now really beginning to grieve, and that, too, is wonderful and terrible. I'm sure that more will dribble out from my fingertips over the coming days and weeks, but I wanted to share this picture as a tribute to the love that Kathy received from so many. She was truly a special, wonderful soul.

And so, by the way, are all of you!!!!!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

preparing to say good-bye

The last few days have been task-oriented, and much of it, for us all, managed in a daze. Today is the visitation, and my job is to assemble a photo collage of Kathy's life. It won't be anything fancy or artistic, just tasteful (LOL!), since there is little time to assemble it. Efforts are underway to make Kathy's house even more hospitable than usual, since there will be a reception there following the service tomorrow. We are laughing more, and stunned less, but we are also sharing our tears and holding each other up. I will be preaching at the memorial service, and have written about six words thus far, but have some general sense of what I want to say floating around in my head. I am hoping that later today I can begin the process of translating thoughts to coherent words.

Thank you all for your prayers, love and support. They mean more than you know. And now, back to the poster board assembly project...

Monday, April 24, 2006

rest in peace

It is with sadness that I share with you the news that my dear friend, Kathy, passed away peacefully Sunday morning. (Blogger has been uncooperative in allowing me to publish this post, so I apologize for its tardy appearance.) Although I was in the process of heading her way to see her one last time, I did not have a last chance to see her, which breaks my heart. My only consolation is that just prior to the time she took her last breath I had shared her story, and to some degree its impact on me in my life of faith, in my sermon. Perhaps that connection, in some galactic, spiritual way, was sufficient for her as a means of farewell for us. The memorial service will be held Thursday afternoon. Thank you all for your prayers and support through this time of waiting and watching. Her soul rests now in the joyful presence of God.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

the bell begins to toll

I'm borrowing the above reference from John Donne's famous poem, the one whose first and last lines (or portions thereof) we know so well: "No man is an island..." and "ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee." In my world right now, that bell is warming up to toll for my friend Kathy. In spite of all efforts to slow the cancer and find some small niche of functioning in her life, it hasn't happened. She has decided to cease any medical intervention to prolong her life and begun the transition to hospice care for what remains of her days. Her internist, who has made daily house calls in the last week, believes that Kathy's passing appears imminent. She is asking when I will be there. This morning I will head to church with Ken and the dogs, and after the completion of my duties there we will be on the road to St. Louis. We don't know how long we will be gone--imminent is a difficult timeframe to translate--but I will use this forum to be in touch along the way. Your prayers, as always, are appreciated. Your love and support is felt keenly, and means so much.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

cruise pics!

At least a couple of them. I'm tired of writing about moving matters! Here's Kath, Kip and Jules during our sojourn into in Key West. What a great place, wish we'd had more time there. Below that is the gang assembled at Pancho's Back Porch, or something like that, on Cozumel. I think there are four versions of a margarita at that gathering, LOL. Those suckers were potent! And finally (since blogger doesn't like multiple images in posts), one of my 50 beach pictures at Cozumel, LOL. They pretty much look alike, sad to say, so I'm not sure you'll be seeing any others! For now, enjoy!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

relief

With the nonstop pace of life lately, I am appreciating relief that is offered in small ways. For instance, with all the clutter and disarray that is the reality of my living space these days (not to mention an awful lot of brown--must be all those boxes that still dot the landscape), some visual relief is nice. I'm offering that to you all today in the form of this picture taken down the street from Kathy's house in St. Louis. The weather was beautiful while I was there, and spring was fully in its glory!
We also have some relief here in terms of tasks. There is still plenty to do, and we will be busy enough to today continuing to work through the “to do” list that seems to grow exponentially with each passing day. But we were able to empty out the garage yesterday and sort through things there for the yard sale. We had to refill the garage before the day was over, but at least now we know what is there, and where those things are. Saturday morning early we will empty most of it again and try to sell it all! We dream of having nothing leftover to put back, especially some of the furniture, which takes up so much room. Anyone want a couch? It needs a little cleaning, but it’s perfectly good and quite comfortable for snoozing, I speak from experience! Today’s relief is from the garage!

My job today is to tackle my office and temporary studio. I don’t know where I am going to put some things. Though the space is bigger than what I left behind, an 8-foot work area (a must!) means sacrificing storage space. I’ve been dreaming of where to relocate the contents of Iris carts. Surely it can be done!

For right now, relief from having to do anything at all comes in a cup of coffee. Ahhhhh…..

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

an inch of progress

Okay, so we didn't make much (any?) headway in the garage yesterday. But we DID get every last box in the kitchen unpacked, and most of it put, um, somewhere! One feature of the kitchen is a set of tall, deep (24") cupboards. Great storage space, but so deep that anything past the first eight inches requires magic to retrieve. Unless, of course, you get drawers! A trip to Lowe's provided half of the drawers we needed (and we cleaned out their stock), but what a difference it made to us to have them and begin to arrange food in the cupboard. We also got the shelf put up in the utility area, replaced the closet pole and shelf in the closet in my office, filled two large boxes with kitchen items for the yard sale, hung up a wall-mounted coat rack, two kitchen clocks, and dealt with some miscelaneous storage issues in the bedroom. We are primed and ready to work on the garage today, our last day of assured sunshine before the weekend. Did I already ask you to wish us luck? We still need it!

Monday, April 17, 2006

starting today...

... we tackle the garage in anticipation of a yard sale this weekend. It's actually hard to capture in pictures how full the garage is, despite a variety of angles. This picture looks like it's just the end of the garage that is filled, but it goes allllllllllllllllllllllllll the way back. Stuff. Lots of it. There are also items in the house and up in the attic that will join the fray, but today we'll start pulling things out of the garage to determine if they stay or go, and to place them strategically for easy access (or out of harm's way) when the time comes. I'm glad I had a good breakfast! On my list also is to tackle the kitchen, which STILL has some boxes to unpack, and though we made some attempt to organize things in the beginning, organization had to yield to expediency along the way. That job is also mine. Ken is busy installing a shelf in the utility area of the garage so we can get laundry paraphernalia off the floor and make room for attempts at reorganizing the space. Wish us luck!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter!

This picture from sunrise on the first morning of our cruise seems an appropriate picture to include this Easter morning. I confess I'm not feeling much like shouting "Alleluia!" today, but I do know that Easter is about light conquering darkness, so I can appreciate the significance of this photo.

I returned last night from St. Louis. Kathy was able to come home on Friday, an environment she much prefers to the hospital! It was also easier for everyone else to be on hand and alternate time with her individually, or even as a cluster of family. She has started a regimen of a new, oral chemo drug, the last shot at any hope of extending her life with quality and comfort. The percentage of people who respond to this drug is apparently small, but those who do respond do very well. we are hoping and praying for the best, but anticipating a journey that is far less satisfactory for us all.

Everyone pitched in to help get things arranged for her homecoming: hospital bed, oxygen, etc., as well as begin to put things in place for that time when she departs our midst. It was a difficult time, but a good time for us all to be together and share our love and concern for her along with our own sense of impending loss. I am so grateful to have been there while I could, and will go back when I can. Ken has been a prince to tolerate my extended absence!

Back at the ranch we still have LOADS of boxes to go through and unpack, and find places to put things. We are targeting a yard sale next weekend, and our goal is to be rid of half of the contents (at least) that now occupy the garage, as well as an assortment of other things that have been relegated to the attic crawl space or stashed in the guest room. In the midst of that preparation I need to find some time to bring some semblance of order to my office so that it is semi-functional, not to mention locate items that have been packed and will be needed soon (like the blue cartridge for my printer, which has run out!).

In the meantime I send wishes of joy to all, and the blessings that Easter brings.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

no rest...

I got home from my cruise trip last night to the news that my friend Kathy had been admitted to the hospital and that complications from her cancer were besetting her. I've managed stage one of unpacking (emptying the suitcase) and will now pack again to head to St. Louis later this morning. Not sure how long I will be gone, depending on what they learn after a surgical procedure this morning to drain fluid from her chest cavity. X-rays indicate that her lungs are a mess and that the cancer has spread.

This picture was taken last week when I was able to visit her while she was on Marco Island for a week with her kids and grandchildren. How convenient to be in Florida at the same time! Cruise pics and tidbits will have to wait for another time. For now, please keep us all in your prayers. Ken, too. I think he'd like to have me home for a change!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

see ya next week!

Our bags are packed and we're ready to go! In a few minutes Jules, Teri and I are will load ourselves into the car and meet up with a few others heading south and then we'll caravan across southern FL to Ft. Lauderdale to depart on our cruise. Yippeee!!! I'll look forward to posting to you when I return home next week, and promise pictures!

Ciao!

Monday, April 03, 2006

we're done! we're done!

Phew! What a relief... we have finally moved all of our collective belongings from the mountain, and not a moment too soon. Evidence of how weary this has become can be found in the fact that Ken's truck still contains portions of Saturday's move, and we have yet to unpack my car, even four hours after returning home. Enough.

Joyous as it was to finish the move, it was bittersweet to bid farewell to the wee girls, and my sweet little Carmella. They were very feisty today, climbing all over me and nibbling on my clothes. And oh, how they leap! Wish I could capture that for you to see, but there is nothing better to bring a smile to anyone's face than to watch these baby goats leap through the air (sproinging, I'm told, is the word to describe this), onto fallen tree trunks, over each other, you name it. Rascals, the bunch of them!

I'm trying to pack for my trip, and I think I actually have that task pretty well under control, though of course it is not quite completed! Later. Right now, a glass of wine with my hubby before we head out for dinner sounds like a better idea.

Cheers!

one last trip...

This is it! The last day of moving. Of course I have thought that to be close to being the case on other days, but I think it will ring true today! We had planned to empty the last bits from the cabin yesteray afternoon, but by the time we got home from church and unloaded the trailer and my car from Saturday's efforts, it was close to 4 PM. Severe storms blew in, and we sat in the car ready to go and looked at each other and said, "naaaaaaaaaaaaaa..." So, this morning we're heading to the mountain to retrieve the remnants. It will be an easy trip, and it's a gorgeous day out there after yesterday's and last night's storms (which were tragic for those in the western part of the state!).

We still need to unload Ken's truck from Saturday, then we'll be on the road. Finding places to put all these boxes is a serious challenge. We bought more bookcases the other day at Home Depot, and they will help a lot (tall, with doors for the lower portion), but they are unfinishsed and need to be stained and assembled, so we will live with boxes for a good few days here! (Or I should say, Ken will live with boxes, since I leave tomorrow for my cruise!).

At the moment I've got a couple of dogs who want me to put on my walking shoes, so I guess I'll finish my coffee quickly and get to that task. They've been so good about being on our schedule when it comes to THEIR relief!! Bless you Dooley and Juliet!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

sounding like a broken record...

...but not for long! The end is within our grasp. We have spent four days this week continuing with our move, and the last of it will be accomplished this afternoon. We had really hoped to be done before now, but we only have so much energy, and yesterday, even with only a few things remaining to pack, we had to call it a day and head home. A good thing, since it was 9:00 PM by the time we got back, and there were a couple of four-leggeds that were more than glad to see us! We'll head back this afternoon after church and a chance to unload things from yesterday to gather up the remainder from the cabin. ... In the meantime, for your visual pleasure, here's a picture of our first fire when we had company for dinner the other night. It was a beauty!
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