I Smell Danger

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The other day, I was with my son in an electronics store. We needed a new wireless router asap! I knew the features I required, had a price range I could live with and about a zillion questions.

A nice, young salesman gave me his undivided attention for a long time. I remember thinking ‘What great service!’ We wandered up and down the aisle talking about my choices and after a great debate, I was ready to purchase.

Moments later, I walked out of the store smiling at my son when all of a sudden he gasped for air. He expanded his chest and drew in big, deep breaths. I was startled and worried and ready to dial 911 when he turned to me and said, “Didn’t you smell that guy? That salesman had the worst B.O. Geez mom, how could you stand it?”

How could I spend 20 some minutes with a guy who stunk? Easily. I smelled nothing. Nada. Not even a whiff. No matter how many times I tell my family that I smell nothing, they just don’t seem to believe me. I am not pretending. I am not pulling their leg. I really smell NOTHING.

When my grandson poops his diaper and clears the room, I have to be told he filled his pants. I always volunteer to change his diaper because, well, why not? It doesn’t smell to me.

When we drove by a stockyard and the entire car erupted in shrieks from the stench, I sniffed and inhaled hoping to get one small whiff of anything. But no.

When we were in northern Minnesota and the antique store did not have a bathroom inside but an outhouse ’round back’, no problem. I took my time and enjoyed communing with nature.

Good smells, bad smells, indifferent smells are all the same to me. I smell gray. That is the best way I can describe smelling nothing.

But wait, I have convinced myself that I can smell one thing. I believe I can smell danger.

One day when I got out of my car in the garage I noticed that something was wrong. I smelled danger. It didn’t have an aroma. I just sensed it and later found out that our snow blower was leaking oil and gas on the garage floor.

What does danger smell like? A sense of urgency. An uncomfortable feeling. A need to find someone with an intact olfactory system to investigate your ‘feeling’.

The other day I was baking and happily going about my business when the kids ran into the kitchen an said, “What’s that smell?!?” Evidently, burning plastic in the oven does not smell like danger to me.

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New Year, New Resolution

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I once got the flu shot and then spent the entire winter, spring, summer and fall combatting sinusitis. The doctor said my problem was not caused by the flu shot and yet, I had never had sinusitis before. I can put two and two together and make it add up to whatever I want. I blamed the flu shot.

Since that time, I have avoided the flu shot. It makes me sick.

Fast forward to the fall of 2013. My place of employment provided flu shots for free. I said, “No and thank you!” That Friday, I ran a 101 degree temperature for a day. I told my husband it was lucky that I had not received the flu vaccination or I would have blamed the fever on the shot.

This past weekend I started to feel under the weather for a moment and then it felt like a sick train ran over me. Fever. Chills. Body aches. Cough. Headache. Sinus pain (no surprise). I went into action. Rest (check). Fluids (check). Cool air humidifier (check). Old home remedies involving honey, lemon and vinegar (check). Ibuprofen (check). Vicks VapoRub (check). Neti pot (check).

On day two, when I couldn’t lift my head off the pillow, I said to my husband, “Please drive me to the doctor’s office.”

Going to the doctor’s office involves telling a series of people the same information. First you talk to a receptionist who requires a brief description of why you are calling. Then you must describe the  symptoms in greater detail to the scheduling clerk so they may judge the urgency of your situation. When you arrive at the clinic, you start all over again describing your aches and pains with the nurse, but now you field probing questions. This is about the time that my sense of humor collides with my delirium and I lose my filter.

Nurse: “Do you have any pain?”
Me: “Yes, I am over 50, something is always hurting.”
Nurse: “Any new pain?”
Me: “Yes, my whole body aches and my head is pounding.”
Nurse: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is the pain?”
Me: “I’ll say a 6 but I have a high pain tolerance so no clue if this is helpful.”

So when the doctor finally arrived, I was out of patience and just wished the doctor would read the copious notes that had already been written so I would not have to say a thing. But no such luck. The descriptions and interrogation started anew. And lo and behold, we end right where I could have predicted if they would just listen to me and skip the 45 minute question/answer session. It is either sinusitis or the influenza.

I headed to the lab to have my nose swabbed with something that will feel like “a feather tickling the inside of my nose”. It did.

Later, sitting in the waiting room with the other patients wearing masks and looking miserable and tired and sick, the nurse called my name and I went back to the examination room to wait for the doctor and the lab results. He walks in, frowns and says, “You have the flu.” Oh oh.

I am now one of the statistics of the 2013/2014 flu season.

I am on day 5 of the flu. A few hours ago, I wasn’t sure I was going to survive this thing but I am having my first spurt of energy in days so I wanted to start 2014 with my New Year’s Resolution.

From now on, I will always get the flu vaccination!

I know it might not prevent me from getting the flu in the future, but I owe it my grandchildren. You see, I was with them the day I became sick. I need to do whatever I can to take care of myself so that I take care of the important people in my life.

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Just Another Mandatory Nap Day

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When our kids were young, we traveled long distances to visit relatives. We quickly learned that if one of us had to stop to go to the bathroom, we better make sure everyone else took a turn. Otherwise, five miles down the road we’d hear another little voice wailing, “I have to go to the bathroom!” So began our mandatory bathroom stops. One for all and all for the bathroom.

This past weekend, our grandchildren came to visit. On Saturday, after spending a night getting up to tend sleepless children, I was bleary-eyed. After lunch I said, “Time for naps.” Our three-year old granddaughter looked at me and asked, “Is it mandatory nap day?” Mandatory nap day? What a great idea. I crouched down to look her in the eye and said, “It most definitely is mandatory nap day. Today, everyone gets to nap.”

Our daughter and son-in-law have a mandatory nap day each weekend. It has become a family tradition and now I was going to reap the benefits of this practice with a nice long nap.

But, before we settled under the covers, we had one important stop. The mandatory bathroom stop.

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Maybe We Should Have Been Less Enthusiastic with Our Applause

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Dad was ingenious. Each summer, our family vacation coincided with his paid speaking engagements. We thought it was normal. Traveling long distances in a car with two adults and four children {pre-air conditioning} to a remote family camp so our father could work all week while we, the kids, drove our mother nuts.

Pure bliss for us. Mom? That poor woman.

Dad scored a recurring camp invitation to the Rocky Mountains for several years. Oh, the memories, the scrapes, the madcap adventures.

The highlight of the camp each year, for me, was the talent show that dad MC’ed at the end of the week. I was continually amazed at the talent, or lack thereof, we witnessed. Singers, jugglers, musicians and would be thespians. Please people! Let’s try to have some self-awareness.

One year, a man of considerable, and I mean considerable, years came on the stage with his fiddle. What ensued was minutes of ear shrieking horror that was barely recognizable as a folk song. If you weren’t covering your ears, you were wishing you could. When the kindly old gent finished, the auditorium erupted in applause, cheers and much foot stomping. Thank the Lord. He is done!

The curtain closed.

Ah, the relief.

And then, unbelievably to our eyes, a bow came slowly slicing between the closed curtains as the old guy swung the curtains wide and stepped forward for an encore. What!?!

Maybe, we should have been less enthusiastic with our applause.

The auditorium was struck into complete silence. Please. Please. This cannot be happening.

He lifted his fiddle and a second song began but now the audience was not so polite. The grumbling started. The barely concealed ‘boos’ were emanating from the back.

Dad walked onto the stage and stood by the fiddling fool. He smiled at the audience, raised his eyebrows while shrugging and then began to clap. Taking our cue, we began to clap too. As we raised the volume of our clapping and cheering, the fiddling was overpowered with our own noise. We continued this way until the bow was lifted from the strings. Then dad gently grasped the man’s arm as he chatted with the fiddler and escorted him {bowing as he went} off the stage.

Now the applause was thunderous. What a night. What a man, my dad…

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Time to act Grandmotherly

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When our daughter informed us she was pregnant with our first grandchild, I decided to act grandmotherly and learn how to crochet.

I signed up for a class at our local yarn shop. In just one evening we would learn how to crochet a beautiful shell stitch baby blanket. The beginner friendly pattern was reported to be fast and easy. Sounded perfect.

Two weeks before the class I received a packet in the mail containing a list of required materials as well as the crochet pattern. As I reviewed the contents, I became slightly concerned because the language on the handouts seemed foreign to me. Terms such as skein, worsted weight, 5 dc in next sc, and sl st to name just a few. I took my list of materials to the store, handed them to a clerk and was soon the proud recipient of $22.00 worth of yarn, hooks, needles and other items I didn’t recognize.

The evening of the class soon arrived and I brought my materials {still housed in the original plastic shopping bag}. I sat near the front of the class so I would be able to see and hear the instructor. As the instructor began, I was rummaging for my ball of yarn, ripping open the packaging surrounding my hooks and trying to balance the pattern on my knees. I looked at the pattern and watched and listened to the instructor but within moments I was hopelessly confused. I raised my hand.

Instructor: “Yes?”
Me: “Could you show me that again?”
Instructor: “Which part?
Me: “All of it.”

With a smile, I was relegated to the back of the room where a remedial session was taking place.

Ah, this was more my pace and yet this slower version of the class was not any more helpful. What was the woman doing with her hands any way? Her hands were moving up and down, in and out with yarn somehow forming the beginnings of a beautiful baby blanket. My blanket looked like a knotted mess. I raised my hand.

Second Instructor: “Yes?”
Me: “I don’t seem to be getting the hang of this. Could you show me how to do this again?
Second Instructor: “Which part?
Me: “All of it.

The instructor moved into a chair next to mine and demonstrated each stitch slowly and clearly. I didn’t get it. So she took my yarn, unknotted the mess and began constructing my blanket from scratch. She completed two rows as I watched. I kept edging closer and closer to her as I tried to make sense of what she was doing. I was seriously invading her space bubble but I thought if I could just get a better look then I would be able to figure this out. When I was practically sitting on her lap, she decided she had had enough. She murmured  encouragement as she dumped my work and yarn back into my lap and moved far, far away from me.

I turned to the struggling ‘student’ sitting beside me and we both started chuckling. I asked her, “Are you going to be a new grandmother too?” She replied, “Is it that obvious?” After looking at her knotted mess of yarn, acknowledging her age and the fact that we were both trying to crochet a baby blanket I said, “Well, yes. Yes, it is.”

With a wave and best wishes to her, I packed my yarn and tools into my plastic bag and made for the door.

The yarn and materials sat in that plastic bag for four years. Then one day I happened to watch a YouTube video on how to crochet a hat. Through the magic of video I could watch and listen to the explanation over and over and over again. I dug in the closet and unearthed my yarn and hooks and started to crochet that very day. And I have not stopped since.

~~~~~ Here is a sampling of my latest crochet creations ~~~~~

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The Jar Cozy ~ pattern from Confessions of a Sewciopath

I plan to embellish the cozy with crochet flowers or snowflakes and fill with treats for gifts.

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The Flower Burst Handbag ~ pattern from Chocolate Mints in Jar

Since this was my first attempt making a handbag, I used that baby yarn from that long ago class rather than purchasing new yarn. I have yet to make an actual baby blanket out of this yarn. Some day….

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My favorite project to date is the Daisy Blanket from tillie tulip and the Waving to Granny Hat from Mr. Micawber’s Recipe for Happiness.

A coworker recently had twins so I decided to crochet each of them a blanket and hat. Hattie will receive this pink version. Parker is going to get the same designs in purple. I look forward to gifting these handmade treats.

Click on the following links for the daisy blanket patterns:
How to create the daisy
Adding rounds to the daisy
Join as you go part I
Join as you go part II

I crocheted with an I (5.5 mm) hook. I used baby soft acrylic yarn with a bulky (5) white  and a medium (4) pink and yellow.

To make the adorable hat, follow the pattern located here: Waving to Granny Hat pattern

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The Power of a Loving Touch

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When grandma came to visit, she offered an extra ear to whisper into, extra eyes to watch over us and extra hands to tuck us in at night. At bedtime, she would listen to our prayers, settle the covers around us and rub our backs as we drifted off to sleep. Those back rubs were in high demand in our household.

This summer, I’ve had the privilege of tucking my grandchildren into their beds. Some nights, the five year old has a difficult time falling asleep. He is a deep thinker and lets his mind wander and linger on thoughts when he should be sleeping.

One night, after settling the covers over him, I told my grandson about my grandma and how she would rub my back at night. I started rubbing his back as I shared stories about her. As I talked and rubbed I could feel his muscles relax and sensed the quieting of his mind. As he calmed, I sat silently rubbing his back while thinking about long ago days when I was on the receiving end of one of these back rubs. As he drifted off to sleep, I continued to rub his back. Why? Touch is a two way street. That simple back rub was as relaxing for me as it was for my grandson.

An excerpt from The Power of Touch in Psychology Today succinctly highlights the benefits of reaching out and sharing a loving touch:

“Every evening at bedtime, DePauw’s Hertenstein gives his young son a back rub. “It’s a bonding opportunity for the two of us. Oxytocin levels go up, heart rates go down, all these wonderful things that you can’t see.” Moments like these also reveal the reciprocal nature of touch, he says: “You can’t touch without being touched. A lot of those same beneficial physiological consequences happen to me, the person doing the touching.””

Grandma taught me the power of a loving touch and I have never forgotten that long ago lesson. As an adult, when visiting her in the nursing home, I would remind our children to reach out and touch this wonderful woman. During our visit, one or more of us would be holding her hand, rubbing her back, massaging her arms, brushing her hair… anything we could do to convey our love via the sense of touch.

Touch. So simple. So necessary. Make an effort to reach out and physically touch those you love.

Follow the links below to jump start your very own touch therapy:

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No, Not Yet

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My granddaughter is 2 years old. When I said, “You are getting so big.” She said, ‘No, not yet.” When I said, “You need to use the potty chair.” She said, “No, not yet.” When I said, “It is time for bed.” She said…that’s right, “No, not yet.”

I believe my granddaughter is really quite brilliant. She has found a way to say no that is completely endearing. A simple ‘no’ is easy to reckon with but a ‘no, not yet’ said in a calm, practical voice is hard to resist. How did she get so smart?

Smarter than her grandma, that is for sure. Juggling two demanding jobs {the day job and the night job} has gobbled up my free time. Family has first dibs on any free time I salvage. Everything else is taking a back seat as in “No, not yet.”

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