Monday, September 30, 2013

Playing The Waiting Game!

Morning View from Uncle Pete's Cabin at Rockhaven Farms
Mt. Juliet, Tennessee - September 22, 2013


Thanks so much from both of us to those who have written asking about Bill's health.  I am not surprised at the outpouring of support from the blog community, but Bill's surprise and appreciation has been fun to observe as he is not quite as deeply involved in this community as I have been for the past 3 1/2 years and he still is amazed at the bonds developed among people who have never even met in person.  I don't intend to devote this entire post to an update, but here is what we know at this point.  Basically, nothing!  The swelling in his neck has begun to decrease and doctors still believe that it is complications from coughing and that the laryngitis is a result of the swelling pressing on his right vocal chord.  We are assured that this is treatable and fixable.  But the question remains that the whole issue is very, VERY odd and they want to be absolutely certain that nothing else is going on in there.  He has had several tests, a CT Scan and is facing more testing this week since the results of the original tests were "inconclusive."  (Don't you just love that word?)  Thus, more waiting and more time without his voice.  Again, doctor assures us that attempting to use his voice as much as he can will NOT hurt and might possibly even be helpful.  But his voice is very hoarse and raspy with little volume and sometimes attempting to use it brings on more coughing, so he mostly whispers.  His incredible patience and grace throughout this ordeal is such an inspiration to me.  We've both had a couple of complete meltdowns, but sadly, it's more often been HIM encouraging me rather than the other way around.  

But there is so much value to be found in the process of waiting and I often wonder if that isn't one of main reasons these periods of adversity come our way.  Bill's kids at school have been so caring, patient and concerned.  The faculty and staff have been amazing.  As for me, I think I can safely say you'll never hear me complain again about Bill talking to much or dominating conversations.  Those of you who've met us, know that he is a total extrovert who simply loves people, loves a group and loves TO TALK!  Some of our most intense conversations arguments over the past 36 1/2 years have been my saying something to the effect of, "wouldn't it have been nice if someone else could've had a chance to say something?"  Right now, I don't care if anyone else ever has a chance to say something - I just want to hear HIS voice.  So for me, there has been value in reminding myself to take nothing for granted and appreciate every moment to the very fullest.  

IN THE MEANTIME............

Last weekend, we had to be in Nashville for Bill to attend a required meeting relating to his annual Travel Abroad program.  Long before he became ill, we had made reservations for the weekend in our favorite cabin, Uncle Pete's, at Rockhaven Farms in nearby Mt. Juliet.  Today's picture is an early morning view from the large picture window in Uncle Pete's and I've written many times before about what a haven this place has become for us.  While Bill attended his meeting in Nashville, my sister (who lives nearby) came over to the cabin for some sister time.  Our intent was some walking at the wonderful Long Hunter State Park which is just a few miles away, but mother nature had other ideas.  It had rained all night and the rain continued to pour, so we spent the entire time sitting on Uncle Pete's front porch...................

 September 21, 2013

..............enjoying the longest uninterrupted sister time I can ever remember since we've been adults.  It was glorious!   Between our parents (who live close to me) and her two daughters (who love their Aunt Sharon and Uncle Bill), suffice it to say, spending time just the two of us has been next to impossible.  We vowed to try and make it happen more often.  

This past weekend, Bill has felt better and his coughing seems to be improving, so we've enjoyed a couple of almost "normal" days.  Saturday found us dining al fresco at Mimi's Cafe for a decadent breakfast (on his part, I had my usual oatmeal) and to the hospital to visit a friend.  Both of these events are significant in that it has been weeks since we would have considered either because of Bill's constant coughing.  Following that, we visited a nearby nursery for more fall flowers and to Trader Joe's for some dinner fixings!  It was a wonderful Saturday!  

Sunday was spent quietly watching our church service broadcast and enjoying pizza with friends who we knew wouldn't mind an occasional bout of coughing.  Thankfully, these are becoming much, MUCH less frequent.  These are special friends who despite being on vacation all week last week, called or texted every single day to check on Bill.  

Before I close out this incredibly long (too long) post, please let me ask once again for your patience in neglecting YOU during this ordeal.  I've blogged long enough now that my long time blog friends know my routine and know that during hectic times, I tend to read blogs quickly just to keep up and not comment as often or as thoroughly.  But lately, I've picked up a few new "followers" (I prefer to call you friends) that I haven't even acknowledged and must confess I haven't even been around to visit YOUR blogs.  This is not my usual style and I promise to catch up as soon as I can.  I thank you so much for reading and making the commitment to read often by becoming a follower.  I do appreciate it and will visit you soon.

It would encourage me if you'd share a time you found value in a period of waiting! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

One Day At A Time!

Forney Ridge Trail - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
September 7, 2013

Someone asked a few weeks ago, if I had stopped hiking.   The answer to that is no and yes!   I have never been much of a summer hiker.  Between the heat, overgrown trails and abundant wildlife (the kind I DONT wish to see), it's just somethng I've mostly enjoyed in the fall, winter and spring.  Last summer was somewhat of an exception as I found myself with a myriad of hiking partners who were available thanks to unforeseen circumstances.  But the fact still remained that I was happy when fall rolled around and I had to drag out long sleeves for early morning hikes.  

I have also learned over this summer with no hiking that my body was tired.  My joints were screaming for relief and once I stopped hiking 1-3 times a week, my whole physical being began to feel better.  I'm not quite sure what to do with that information just yet, but I was able to put it to the test a couple of Saturdays ago when one of my favorite hiking buds asked if I was available for a "short" hike.  We chose a hike in the upper elevations that was less than four miles total distance, but included a steep descent along a very rocky trail.  It was a great day and so good for my soul to be back out in the woods, but yes, I was sore the next day particularly my wrists.  I had suspected that the pounding of the poles was causing my rheumatoid arthritis to flare in my wrists and this hike pretty much confirmed that.  Yet the poles are an almost necessity to minimize stress on a hiker's knees.  So I'm anxious for fall to arrive and do some more testing to find the balance between hiking these trails I love so much, yet not overdoing.  At the very least, I think my hiking range is shrinking and that's o.k.  These mountains offer hiking opportunities for EVERY range and most of my favorites are mileages that will be comfortable.

Love those long sleeves!!
September 7, 2013

Our lives continues to be stress-filled.  Please continue to remember Bill in your thoughts and prayers.  He is not bouncing back from his illness like we hoped.  The stress of trying to do the work he so loves with laryngitis and a hacking cough has affected him mentally and physically.  Technically, it has only been 2 1/2 weeks, but it feels like an eternity.  

We thought our house was sold, but the deal fell through.  This all happened over a short period of time, so here was a few days of total excitement followed by a let-down of monumental proportions.  To say we are struggling is putting it mildly.  Yet I've always promised honesty on the blog so there you have it.  

We know these struggles will pass, but when in the midst of them, sometimes it's almost too difficult to even try determining what the NEXT best step should be.  We simply keep reminding ourselves how much we love our condo and how certain we are that we made the right decision.

It has been awhile since I mentioned anything about my weight loss journey and since that's the subject on which this blog was founded, it's time for an update.  In many ways, it's the kind of update I love to give because there's not much to say.  No, I am not at goal and yes, I have gained a few pounds.  It began somewhere around the time we returned from our Summer Trip to New York.  For now, I am o.k. with this because although I hover 8-10 pounds above goal, I have actually maintained that weight easily for almost four months now.  That includes the time leading up to and through our move to the condo when many days, meals were either brought to us, grabbed from somewhere convenient or thrown together with whatever could be found in the pantry, fridge or freezer.  And through all of that, I maintained.  Fall is the time I've done my best work in losing weight and I suspect this year will be no different.  For now, all is well.  I'm relaxed with my weight, I can wear all my clothes and I am eating a healthy balanced diet.  

What's happening in your world? 

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Day I Sorely Needed!

Norris Dam - Norris Dam State Park
Norris, TN - August 29, 2013

My last post was a hard one to write.  Following my third trip in one week to the Toyota Dealership where I purchased my RAV4 18 months ago, I headed to Norris Dam State Park.  It is close by and I knew on a Thursday afternoon, I'd find the peace and solitude I so desparately needed.  I planned to let the remainder of the day unfold in front of me.  

After three weeks of what seemed like one illness, accident or calamity after another, I stood at the foot of that dam, a place I've been coming to (or brought to) since I was baby, and looked up at that massive wall.  It is much taller than it appears in this picture.  What I knew that you don't, is that just on the other side of that wall lies one of the most beautiful lakes you can possibly imagine.  Gorgeous blue water surrounded by hills and on a clear day, the mountains of the Cumberland Plateau visible off in the distance.  It reminded me that despite some weeks of pretty rough sailing, with perhaps some climbing yet to be done, there is another side to this very gray wall.  I've seen it and it is spectacular.  

I sat here at the foot of the dam for awhile and enjoyed a snack before heading over to that other side and spending some time there as well.  Then I drove on up to the very nice overlook where I pondered the idea that from there, it is easy to see BOTH sides and understand how neither can work properly without the other!  The meaning of all that for me right now may be lost among the words, but it was an extremely poignant moment for me.  (Sorry no pic of the overlook - it never crossed my mind)

Following my instincts of what to do next, I chose to take the old road back to Knoxville.  In the early 1950's, my father's parents moved to Cleveland, Ohio for my grandfather to find work in one of the many car factories where jobs were plentiful.  My dad was already finishing high school so he remained in Tennessee.  As a child, I can remember that once a year (normally around Christmas), we would make the long trip to Cleveland for a visit.  This was pre-interstate, so the trip was very difficult and took two days of driving.  My parents would put my sister and I to bed and then sometime in the wee hours of the morning, I remember being picked up and laid in the back seat of our already warm car.  Now laugh if you must, but some things never change.  Even then, if you put me in a car and think I'm going to sleep, think again.  Heavens NO, I might miss something.  I remember peeking up and out the window as little towns in Tennessee and Kentucky rolled by complete with Christmas decorations I can recall to this very day.  My favorite wasn't far out of our home in Oak Ridge at the Blue Haven Motel in Lake City, TN.  Because it was there that I couldn't wait every year to see Santa Claus diving off the board into the swimming pool at the Blue Haven.  Lake City has changed since those days in the not so good way that has affected small towns all over the US when an interstate comes through, but on my ride through last Thursday, there sitting just as it was more than 50 years ago, was the Blue Haven Motel.  It's September, so Santa isn't diving yet, but my memory is whetted and it's on my calendar to check back sometime in December!  (I even remember that he wore red,white and blue swim trunks)

Driving on through Lake City toward Clinton, I had an "ah-ha" moment.  This would be a perfect day to visit the Green-McAdoo Cultural Museum, something I'd been wanting to do for a long time.  It is not likely that you've heard of the Clinton 12 or know their place in history.  Here is a small tidbit taken from their web page, but please take a moment to delve deeper.  It's an important story and so fitting given that we've just celebrated the 50th anniversary of MLK's "I have a dream!"

On August 27, 1956, twelve young people in Clinton, Tennessee walked into history and changed the world. They were the first students to desegregate a state-supported high school in the south. Clinton High School holds the honor of having the first Black to graduate from a public high school in the South. It was a great victory for the Civil Rights Movement.  The events of that school year and the years that followed are to be commemorated on the 5oth anniversary with the opening of the Green McAdoo Cultural Center on August 26, 2006.

The school/museum is located high on a hill above Clinton, TN.  It is a short five miles from Oak Ridge, TN where I was born.   I was 1 year and 1 month old when the Clinton 12 entered the high school for the first time.  I was alone in the museum which is incredibly well done starting with a video in what was the main classroom of the school followed by exhibits which meander through what was the auditorium and gymnasium.  I was mesmerized, moved and extremely emotional as I read about those events which occurred so close to me, yet of which I was totally unaware.  I was loved, I was sheltered from unpleasant things and I grew up with every opportunity made available to me.  So many things have changed since 1956, so many things have not!  My time at the Green McAdoo Cultural Museum was time well spent.

Memorial to the Clinton 12 at the Green McAdoo Cultural Center
Clinton, TN - August 29, 2013

It was a valuable day in so many ways.  I spent time in solitude.  I spent time in nature.  I wallowed in precious memories of love and family.  I can still feel the warmth of being picked up by my dad and carried amidst all those blankets to our car where it was assumed I'd sleep at least through Tennessee and Kentucky.  Instead I was peeking over the car seat waiting to see Santa at the Blue Haven!  I felt my conscious pricked as I saw the pain, embarrassment and injustice heaped upon those 12 high school students just because they wanted an opportunity for an equal education, something I'd have and take for granted.  And I felt abundantly grateful for the time, energy and desire to just let a day unfold and have it turn out with so many lessons.

 From the Green McAdoo Cultural Center overlooking Clinton, TN
August 29, 2103

Somehow having to make three trips in one week to the Toyota Dealership didn't seem so bad after all!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Norris Dam State Park - Norris, TN
August 29, 2013

I wish this were a post about fish (see title), but it isn't.  It is one of two posts which I'm writing back to back and have finally decided to post the less positive one first.  I'd love to always be able to write about the wonderful things that are happening in and around my life.  Thankfully, the weeks leading up to and through our move into the condo went flawlessly.  Almost too much so........

Since the day we moved in, we have experienced almost non-stop problems.  Not with the condo - no, everything there is wonderful and we absolutely love it and our new neighborhood.  It just seems as if the forces of evil have said, "ok, you're all settled now, let's see what I can throw at you."  

So in the interest of the honesty I've put forth by calling my blog, "Gains and Losses: LIFE Through Sharon's Eyes," today, it's all about the losses.  Unfortunately, the first thing that happened, I am not at liberty to share on the blog, but it was significant and occurred on the Friday after we moved.  We've helped the person involved work through the details of that and hopefully, have moved on, but it was extremely stressful and put a damper on our excitement.

Would you believe on the Monday following our move, my mother fell on the golf course and broke her wrist.  She is doing as well as could be expected and I can't tell you how proud I am of both her and daddy's response to this.  They are very active folks and I expect this to get old quickly, but for now, she's doing o.k.  We met last week when I took my car in for service (yes, that's part of litany) and had a salesperson snap this picture of us as we were leaving.  Like I said, I am so proud them!

August 26, 2013

We have been disappointed so far in the movement on our old house.  There have been several showings, but doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm.   We consented early last week to have carpet removed in the old living/dining room as we knew there were hardwood floors underneath.  The carpet was outdated and had worked for us, but we could see that it likely wasn't impressive to most buyers.  The carpet was 100% wool and original to the house.  Needless to say, the dust, dirt and grime left by the carpet removers was unbelievable.  Really makes you understand why no one who suffers from allergies should have carpet in their homes!!  Rather than have the floors professionally cleaned, Bill chose to do it himself resulting in most likely a much more thorough job of cleaning, BUT breathing all of that has left him extremely ill.  This has been going on for a week starting with a hacking cough that has morphed into something much worse including total laryngitis.  Not good for a college professor.  He is heartbroken as this is the first full week of classes, a time which he normally can't wait to arrive.  It breaks my heart to watch him struggle.  Please remember him in your thoughts and prayers.  He is very ill.  

And then there are the things which under normal circumstances, would be rather humorous, but interspersed with these more serious things that involve people I love, I'm finding it hard to see any humor.  It's more like I wake up each morning wondering what today's calamity will be.  And that is not at all my nature.  For starters, I broke the sensor on the garage door opener at the condo and my new RAV4 developed some serious issues resulting in numerous trips back to the dealership.

Are we second guessing our decision to buy the condo?  With the exception of my mom breaking her wrist and a couple of the more minor issues, it is likely none of these things would've happened had we not moved, nor would we be in the position of needing our house to sell to get our finances back in the order we've worked so hard to establish.  But we have no doubts and a great deal of faith that all will work out.  Most reward involves a good deal of risk.  We believe the reward is just around the corner and our responsibility is to learn all that we can in the meantime.  

Those who have been blog friends with me for a long time are well aware that Bill returning to school each year always poses a few weeks of challenge for me.  We enjoy each other and utilize his summer breaks to the fullest.  It is always an adjustment for me when he returns - I don't mind admitting that I just plain miss him!  Unfortunately, those feelings have coincided with all these other things and sending him off to school each morning with that dejected look because he can't talk or stop coughing is breaking my heart.  

So there you have it!  I have been writing this post since last Wednesday wondering whether or not I'd actually post it.  But you know what?  It's real!  And it's the way things are for me right now.  So yes, I'm going to post it.  And hope that rather than feeling sorry for me (there's no reason to), it will encourage you to be "real" on your own blogs.  I happen to know that there are people reading this who care about me and because it's through words that we share our lives with each other, you want to know how it really is!

Towards the end of last week, I did have a day I sorely needed.  It was during that time that I took today's picture of a tranquil and serene, yet very foggy Norris Lake just below the dam.  I watched the fog lift and realized that the same would happen for me.  The fog will lift and all will be clear.