Friday, July 3, 2015

Croakerfest Begins!

It's that time again -- Croakerfest in Oriental!
This is Oriental's annual July 4th celebration.
For a few days this little village wakes from its usual quiet slumber and is awash in visitors and tourists.
This morning at 9:00 tent vendors were already setting up in Lou Mac Park on the green grass that's usually free for napping and puppy play.
They've set up the stage for musicians all weekend. The chorale will be leading the way this afternoon with various patriotic tunes, complete with the county band.
Bojangles and a taco truck were already claiming spots this morning too.
Bicyclists are fast and thick through town, along with golf cartists. I'll use my bike the next two days. A bike can take you anywhere in Oriental!
The  boy scout troop is here too ~ Note the low-slung live oak trees and the strings of lights. This is our rural version of "swag"!
It's the 35th Croaker Festival. Each year they have a contest to see who can design the winning logo. Here's this year's winner:
Very nice!
Colorful wares are sold all weekend. These are versatile wrap dresses.
Vendors set up right on the riverfront -- what a view! It's a good time to sit and visit with a friend.
Lots of bunting is being sported around town.
Happy Independence Day, everyone! I'll have more later. Adam and I plan to watch the fireworks display Saturday night from the comfort of our boat, out on Smith Creek with the other boaters.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Update on Adam's Health

A little over a month ago, Adam noticed some physical changes -- muscle weakness and a general inability of his body to do what he wanted it to do. He noticed it first in bike-riding; while trying to get off his bike he fell off -- his legs just collapsed under him. This happened five different times. He stopped riding his bike after that fifth time. That was nearly two weeks ago.

He noticed weakness and numbness in his left hand also. He attributed that to carpal tunnel syndrome from riding his bike. This is fairly common with bicyclists, but it was only his left hand. His leg issues were also with his left leg, but he chalked that up to having damaged that leg so badly last year.

He discussed these issues with a nurse friend who told him to make an appointment with his doctor and get it checked out. Adam tends to suffer with a bit of hypochondria. (He specializes in brain diseases. Did you know that hypochondriacs have specializations? haha!) This tends to make him aware of medical issues, but also to disregard them at times.

He saw the doctor Tuesday morning. He failed nearly all the little physical tests she set for him. These are simple diagnostics -- tapping your toes, touching thumb to fingers quickly, maintaining balance with eyes closed, pushing back against the doctor's hands with your leg or arm. She asked him to stand on his toes, and to walk on his heels. He could do neither of these. The visit was not conclusive but did indicate that something was wrong. She referred him to a neurologist.

We went to the neurologist yesterday. She performed many of the same types of tests. (This time I was there to watch.) It's clear that Adam lacks some strength on his left side. She called it a subtle weakness on the left. He also has noticeable lack of motor control and response on his left side. She asked him to sit with his shoes off, and then to tap his left foot (just the toes). It took effort and determination to do it, and he could only tap slowly, about one tap every two seconds. With his right foot he could tap quickly and normally. She traced a number into his palm with her finger while his eyes were closed. He could not tell what the number was on his left palm; he could tell easily on his right palm. The doctor was quite thorough.

We went from there to the imaging center to get a doppler ultrasound done on his neck arteries. Of course, the technician can't tell you anything. You must wait for a phone call with any results. The doctor tried to get an MRI done yesterday also, but they could not fit him in. He will have the MRI on Monday.

At this point, the most likely diagnosis is that Adam had a mild stroke sometime in the past month. He has high blood pressure, which is an indicator, but it's been very well-managed for nearly two years now. He's also been under tremendous stress at work in the past month, and since high levels of stress are now linked to stroke, that could also be a contributing factor. He has not had a "mini-stroke" or TIA, which leaves no residual damage. But he is still functional and you probably would not be able to tell a difference in him, although he can tell a big difference in how his body works.

Stroke is the most likely diagnosis, but we won't know for sure until the MRI results are done. If the MRI does not indicate stroke as the cause, then other options much be examined, and the other diseases indicated are actually worse -- things like Parkinson's. So at this point we are actually hoping it was just a mild stroke, and that physical therapy will gradually restore the strength and control he's lost.

We ask for your prayers. Adam has had so many health issues over the years, and he has enjoyed being healthier and stronger these past two years. He's only 49 years old. Please pray for God's help and comfort as we adjust to a "new normal" in life, and as we seek the answers that will help us cope and adjust. We know God plans our days and that this illness is a trial especially prepared by Him for us, to gently mold us into children that better resemble Jesus. If, as Scripture says, the Son of God "learned obedience through the things that He suffered," then we should too! Please pray that we will have the strength to do the physical things that need doing this summer, especially moving all our stuff to the new house/property, especially the beehives, and for the strength to manage the property when we are there. Thank you so much.

Learning to respond well to trials is (I think) the primary personal task of the Christian. God puts us through our paces in this regard, over and over again. It's no fun to contemplate the fire as you're being shoved in. But once you're in the trial itself, there is almost a sense of relief. You cannot say, "Ah, this is the worst. It can't get any worse than this." But you can say, "At least the waiting is over. This is the latest trial. I will adjust to this and learn to be thankful."

God bless you all. Thank you for your prayers.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Welsh Quilts

The other day I picked up an old Victoria magazine to read. I still have a few scattered around the house. They never, ever go out of style.
This particular issue was March, 1995. Over twenty years ago! I'm feeling a bit nostalgic.
This was when Nancy Lindemeyer was the magazine's editor. Remember her friendly but elegant style?
And before I launch into Welsh quilts, just look at this!!! Back in March of 1995, they invited readers to Bloomingdale's in NYC to meet Tasha Tudor, who would be there drawing and reading to them in the children's department. Can you imagine? Oh, I wish!! Now Tasha is gone. Nancy Lindemeyer is gone from Victoria. Time marches on and life changes, and sometimes it is not for the better.
Well, as I glanced at the magazine's cover, I noticed an article about Welsh quilts. My blogging friend Dasha is a quilter extraordinaire, and she derives such pleasure from quilting. I do not quilt. I wish I did.
I tried quilting once about 27 years ago. I know it was 27 years ago because my first nephew was a baby, and I wanted to make him a baby quilt. I did try. I cut fabric and sewed a few pieces together and made a stack of stars. Many years later I forced myself to finish the quilt, which was very ugly. I never gave it to him or any baby. It's around here somewhere, unused. I learned a valuable lesson about quilting: Do NOT use random pieces of fabric you have lying about the house to finish a quilt. They will match in neither color nor texture the lovely quilt stars you made so carefully a decade before.
On to Welsh quilts and why I think they may be my answer to quilting angst!
Apparently Welsh quilts are solid single pieces of fabric on both sides -- no cutting and piecing and making little two-inch seams. No worries about the fabrics looking good together. The secret to Welsh quilts is apparently the intricate stitching.
If you go to Google and type in "Welsh quilts" you'll see many lovely varieties of these solid quilts with so many lovely stitching rows, or perhaps a floral fabric, with that same stitching. I think I could enjoy this particular type of quilting. The idea of lots of curly stitching appeals to me. So maybe ... maybe ... I'll quilt again someday?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Stepping the Mast

Stepping the mast is one of the final stages of getting our newly-renovated sailboat back in the water. Adam removed the mast to work on her; today we put the mast back on the boat -- called "stepping."
The weather was lovely this morning -- cooler, less humidity! A high of only 86 degrees! I took an early bike ride to better appreciate this climate shift.
morning sun on the Neuse
 Later I drove Adam to the marina, where he motored the boat back to Oriental to the wildlife ramp near our house. We tied her up. He returned home with Peter to get the mast and walk it down the road on their shoulders.
 I stayed with the boat so it was not left unmanned at the ramp, which the authorities dislike.
I love just sitting in the boat, enjoying the gentle rock, just being in the boat.
 You don't have to do anything in a boat. If people see you sitting there in your boat, they assume you're up to something useful. You're boating. It doesn't matter if your boat hasn't moved out of its slip in three years.
Peter and Adam arrived with the mast and boom and all those lines and cables.
 They laid them out on the ground and sorted the situation.
 They walked everything out on the dock. Especially trying were the lazy jack lines, which were everywhere. I had to keep track of the two ends, which needed to be threaded through two pulleys on the mast top.
 Okay ... here comes the mast at last!
 The boys laid the mast along the boat.
 The mast rests solidly in the mast tabernacle -- that box on the deck that keeps it secured with pins. You can see it in the photo below, where the mast end is sitting.
 When the mast is upright, it's supported tightly in place by metal cables called shrouds and stays. The two stays secure the mast to the front and back of the boat. Four shrouds run from the upper- and mid-mast and attach to the sides of the boat deck.
 It was a three-person job, so I was relieved that Peter was there, and glad I could stay a bit to help. The mast is very heavy, especially when trying to lift it to an upright position while standing in the cockpit. Peter is wonderfully strong. It was windy and the water was choppy and unsteady for standing.
I had to leave before the job was finished, but they stepped the mast and attached the boom and tightened all the cables, and the boat got her mast back! A few jobs remain before we can sail. Adam need to finish attaching two winches. He needs to fill in lots of wooden screw holes with wood epoxy. He needs to reattach some registration/number plates on the boat. But today we got one step closer to having a SAILboat again :)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

When Love Fails

You can always tell when humans are behaving badly. You can tell because love fails.

What does it look like when love fails? You know -- well, you know what love looks like:

Love is patient

... kind

... thinks of others and not self

... brags about others, not self

... enjoys others' successes

... never dishonors other people

... is almost always gentle

... forgets and forgives all offenses

... is happy that truth will win

... can discern and reject evil

... is strong, trusting, optimistic, enduring

... is eternal.

It outlasts even other wonderful, miraculous, desirable things.

I've used this scripture as a litmus test this past year to evaluate myself and the interactions I see around me -- on social media or in person. Hold up LOVE, like a mirror, and see if you find yourself there. Usually I don't get past the first two criteria -- am I patient? am I kind? -- before realizing that I am not loving. I am hating. I'm not like Jesus; I'm like the devil. I need to change myself and stop worrying about anybody else changing.

It puts so much in perspective. It seems to me that there's not much in the Bible about bashing the world around us and forcing it to change. There's a lot in the Bible about beating my own heart into compliance and forcing it to soften. The only time I can think of  Jesus (my example, my mentor) exhibiting anger was in church. He didn't go to Rome and lose his temper, but he was upset when the His church was corrupt.

This post is not about any particular events happening now. It applies all the time. Followers of Jesus, we are called to love, and to be known as his followers because we love. Since love outlasts all other things, if we don't succeed with that assignment, nothing else much matters. I Cor. 13 makes that painfully clear. Let's ask ourselves honestly: "What is the loving thing to do, toward my neighbor?" And then, even if you have to change yourself, do it.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The V-Go Insulin Pump

At the farmers' market this morning I spoke with a customer who had something unusual on her bare arm. I asked her what it was. "A V-Go," she replied. "It's insulin."
I was immediately interested. My father is diabetic, as are many friends of mine. The V-Go is fairly new technology for administering insulin into the patient's body.
You can see it is a plastic rectangle stuck to her upper arm. She prefers it to the old pumps that were in the abdomen and were uncomfortable when sitting or bending over. The V-Go patch is removed, refilled, and reapplied each day. She switches it from arm to arm, adjusting the spots to give the skin a few days to recover.

The V-Go does not test your blood sugar levels for you; you still have to do a finger prick. But this lady has been diabetic for twenty years. She's only 57 now. She was giving herself insulin injections 4 to 5 times daily.

She's been using the V-Go for two years. She's very pleased. She knows how much insulin it injects (via a little needle on the underside, activated by a spring), and she can do the dosage as she wants. In order for the needle to inject, she has to push one button, and then push another button, so the chance of someone bumping your arm and accidentally injecting you with insulin is very slim, if not impossible. She did confess that it made her nervous the first month or so she used it. She's wearing enough insulin on her arm to kill her, with a needle in her skin. But she's never had any trouble with it, and is very pleased with its performance.

I wanted to share this info with anybody out there who hasn't seen this new device, or wanted to hear a report from a user. I'm so glad they're making advances in fighting diabetes!

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Day with the Girls

Yesterday I experienced a rare treat -- a blessing that some people never have.
I spent the day on the beach with my girlfriends.
I'm keenly aware that I'm a woman of privilege -- I have real girlfriends.
The kind you can cry with, be real with, let-your-hair-down-with friends.
I haven't always had a gaggle of girls like this.
I also discovered a forever-and-always secret to The Perfect Beach Day (for me) -- a good umbrella! See those legs in the shade -- ahhhhh! I discovered at last that I adore the ocean, the waves, the sand, the calm air and salt smell. But I just loathe the sun. I do not like to be burnt to a crisp like a strip of bacon.
Christine has this umbrella thing down to an art form -- see what she brought along? A five-gallon bucket. She used it to carry stuff (sandals, water, book) to the beach, and then filled it with sand to hold the umbrella securely. It never fell over, all day long. Genius. I'm getting a sturdy canvas umbrella before my next beach trip, and using it for the rest of my life.
Storm clouds threatened all afternoon but never carried through on their rumbly words.
Patti and Kip basked in the sun while I basked in the shade :)
I relaxed my soul with a little watercoloring. Painting shells prevents me from bringing more real shells into the house.
This interesting fellow brought his paddleboard and paddle to the beach. 
And he ... walked on the water, in a manner of speaking. He rode a few waves for a bit, but mostly he floated along on his board, standing tall, viewing the ocean. I'd never seen this done on the ocean before.
We stopped for breakfast at Waffle House before the beach. I hadn't been to a WH since high school, if then. My daddy took me once, I think, because I begged. I love waffles.
Those girlfriends can put away some breakfast food!
This is what it's all about -- sweet, sweet. Real friends, real love. They stick with you through good and bad, hug you when you cry, finish your jokes, tell you when you're being ridiculous. We are all so very different, but we get along like bread and butter.
And although we do have our beautiful moments, most of our moments are more like this ...
Just crazy.
Not every woman needs a pack of friends. I've lived years without it. They were serious, hard-working years. Adam says he likes me when I'm with my girlfriends -- I'm more relaxed, more my old, happy, silly self. I've had years of paying such close attention to the hard work of life, that I've usually forgotten how to do silly. It's good to know my silly button still works. Thanks, girls :)