Monday, December 31, 2007

Mercies, Faithfulness and Grace

What a year it has been!

It has been a year that has held some genuinely life changing trials, but most of all it has been a year of God's mercies, faithfulness and grace.

A dear friend sent me an email this morning so graciously wishing me and my family a "new and better new year." I know she had David's stroke and its impact on him and our whole family in mind when she wrote, and it does seem that that single huge event has defined the year 2007 for our family. Yet, while we certainly would not have chosen to have gone through that, and while it truly was and remains yet extremely impacting, many blessings and much learning have come even from that.

Certainly, in regard to that situation, we DO wish for better things in the new year. Of the "better" things we would hope for are to be able to get to go on our traditional Pismo Beach camping trip (missed this year while David was hospitalized), for David to run the Sacramento marathon he had planned to run this year, and for David to totally regain function on his left side and to have his cardiac issue successfully repaired so that he can move on into the future with full health.

In spite of David's stroke, and even through our experience with David's stroke, this year has been one of tremendous blessing! I spent the morning going through our MANY HUNDREDS of pictures for my own reminiscing and in order to put up a few here to share.

Um . . .

. . . because there are SO MANY PICTURES illustrating SO MANY BLESSINGS I have found that it's a nearly impossible task to sort through them and pick out a reasonably smallish number to post! I have spent far more time on it than I dare admit, so at this point it is way beyond time for me to give up on that for now and get on with my day! I hope over the course of the next week to post a sampling of our year.

For now, I want to post this hymn, which is such a good reminder of where we have been, where we are going, and Who is holding us and guiding us on our way! It certainly has been "another year of mercies, faithfulness and grace!"

Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
In working or in waiting, another year with Thee.
Another year of progress, another year of praise,
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.

Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace,
Another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face;
Another year of leaning upon Thy loving breast;
Another year of trusting, of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of service, of witness for Thy love,
Another year of training for holier work above.
Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
On earth, or else in Heaven, another year for Thee.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Wishing You Were Here

Last night the family welcomed my niece Sierra Katherine (pictured with her mommy in the first picture below), who was born in North Carolina and is visiting California for the first time. She is quite a busy little girl these days. Before California she was in Utah and Idaho visiting her daddy's friends and family. Now she's visiting her mommy's friends and family.

I thought I'd put up some images of last night's party for family who live at a distance or could not attend for other reasons so that you can enjoy the party with us vacariously. The party involved good fellowship, good food, fooz ball and pool - good times!

Thanks to Tony, Paula and Tia Gloria for a great evening!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Quote for Thought 10

You see things; and you say "Why?" But I dream things that never were; and I say "Why not?"

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

We Say Potato, They Say . . .

My brother-in-law Tony inspired this with his "Funny Chinese Signs" posts on his blog here, here, here, here, here and here. Check them out. They're REALLY funny! (Now that I've opened my Christmas gifts I have another inspiration as well, Bill Bryson's book The Mother Tongue, which I highly recommend!)

My post has a different flavor to it than Tony's, and while perhaps they say "po-tay-toe" to our "po-tah-toe" I certainly don't want to call the whole thing off. Although my trip to England was 4 years ago, every bit of it is still very clearly in mind. In fact, I'm eager to get back to England just as soon as possible!
Rather than being mere "exits" their places of departure are "WAY OUT!" which just seems so much more exciting!
The following photo, of course, gives a whole new meaning to that childhood ditty, "Skip, skip, skip to the loo!" We American children had no idea what we were singing! I think it's quite honorable that such pride it taken in the upkeep of loos in London. This photo was taken in a loo in the Tower of London - apparently they have the best. I must say, however, that I am SO glad they updated from the garderobe I saw in another part of the tower!
The next picture was taken at lovely, lovely Stratford-on-Avon. The term "Bouyancy Aid" just seems to have so much more pizzazz than our "Life Jacket." Knowing what I do about who the Ferryman is, I'm not so sure I want to contact him!! I think that would kind of make whether I was wearing a bouyancy aid OR a life-jacket rather a moot point.
Doesn't anybody ever go down? In England these devices are called "lifts." In the US they are called "elevators;" both of which denote rising. (I'm a little concerned about the picture here, so I took the stairs!)
I couldn't help but be curious how many POUNDS a quarter-pounder cost at a London McDonalds!
Waiting is no fun no matter what, but at least it seems a bit more sophisticated to be in a queue than merely to be delayed.
I doubled over with laughter when I saw this sign, but now I notice we are beginning to call them this in the US too. I'd only ever heard of speed "bumps" before - humps?! Hmm . . .

What do you prefer in what follows:

"Engaged" vs. "Occupied"??

"Nappy" vs. "Diaper"??

"Speed Cameras" vs. "Radar"??

"Diversion" vs. "Detour"??
(Personally I'd rather experience a "diversion" than be detoured!)

"Give Way" vs. "Yield"??

My only question is, "Where are the ZEBRAS?!"

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


David is not only tackling all sorts of things in therapy but also learned how to blog today (what progress!!), because he wanted to leave a message himself, a Christmas message, and a message of thanks. To get to it, click on the big red word DAVID to the right. I want to add my thanks to David's and to wish you all a VERY


Monday, December 24, 2007

A Wrinkle in Time - In Memoriam Madeleine L'Engle

At the end of the year magazines are full of memorials to those we have lost during that year. This year marked the passing at age 88 of author Madeleine L'Engle, who, among other things, provided a wonderfully accessible introduction to the fourth dimension in her children's book A Wrinkle in Time. The clip above is of a tesseract, a fourth dimensional "cube." To see a better image (and one that also that rotates continuosly) click here. I'll put up a post in the future with a bit more explanation of the tesseract. For now, enjoy the image in memory of Madeleine L'Engle and her wonderful stories.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa's house 1991:

Today we celebrated Christmas with extended family at my grandfather's house. This marks the 43rd time I have celebrated Christmas in this way, and it will be the last. Grandpa, who is 94, moved to Bethany Home this week. He had lived in only two places during those 43 Christmases of mine: in the home he was in until a few days ago and, before that, in Ripon's firehouse. Yes, he lived IN the firehouse. Part of the building housed the trucks, and part of the building housed the family of the fire chief. Grandpa was fire chief in Ripon for 39 years. He retired in 1979 and moved to his new home, pictured above, about 6 blocks from the firehouse.

Above is a picture of Grandpa in uniform and a picture of me in front of the firehouse home in 196?. It was pretty amazing as a kid to get to tour the firehouse every Sunday after church. Actually, it is amazing as I look back; then it was just normal.
The pictures above and below are from 1978, our last Christmas at the firehouse.


I just saw the following picture in a Ripon newspaper today and couldn't help but append this note to my post. It is a picture of one of the Ripon Police Department's FOUR dispatch modules in the new police department headquarters. Grandma used to be THE dispatcher in Ripon for ALL the emergency services. This was for no salary. It was just her job, BECAUSE she was married to the fire chief and lived in the firehouse!! (It was certainly a different world back then! Can you imagine anyone today taking on a 24/7 job -- and I do mean LITERALLY 24 hours a day, 7 days a week -- with NO pay just because of what her spouse does??!! Add to that raising 5 children in your "work" environment!) Notice all the computer screens below, and compare them with the black phone on the table next to Grandpa in the photo above. That was one of a bank of phones that made up that corner of the LIVING ROOM! I remember as a child learning very young to become absolutely silent when one of those phones rang. I can still remember Grandma sitting there saying all the official code letters and numbers as she sent on the information. Then she would go back to being Grandma and serving cake!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Book Quote

"If you take a book with you on a journey, an odd thing happens: The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it . . . yes, books are like flypaper -- memories cling to the printed page better than anything else."

-- Mo (from Inkheart by Cornelia Funke)

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I've been a little suspicious, and as certain "therapy" instruments continue to enter our home (like a "quarterstaff"?!?!), I've been wondering if David actually had a stroke or if he'd been drawn in by some secret organization to be trained as a ninja and had to simulate a stroke in order to enter the training program undetected.

My suspicions have been confirmed as can be seen in these photos.

Notice how this second photo was damaged in the explosion they used to try to stop me as I escaped the top secret security room in the facility after my exploratory mission!

Sorry, David, your cover is blown!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Quick Update on David

After his therapy today David told me that as he makes progress he feels more and more "tipsy." When he told his PTs that this morning they said that was a good thing that he's sensing that, because it shows a growing alertness. We just keep learning as we go! Who knew?!

Mind, Sea and Sky

The Brain -- is wider than the Sky --
For -- put them side by side --
The one the other will contain
With ease -- and You -- beside --

The Brain is deeper than the sea --
For -- hold them -- Blue to Blue --
The one the other will absorb --
As Sponges -- Buckets -- do --

The Brain is just the weight of God --
For -- Heft them -- Pound for Pound --
And they will differ -- if they do --
As Syllable from Sound --

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Notice Anything??

I'm just REALLY hoping that the engineers who design the vehicles are much better at geometry than KIA's marketing staff that designs the advertising!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Commandeering by Caleb

Never one to miss an opportunity for invention, Caleb has taken David's physical therapy equipment (elastic bands and exercise balls) and commandeered it for a whole new use!

Ever heard of a "trebuchet?" Well, this isn't one, but it is the biggest slingshot I ever want to see in my house!!

Water skiing without the water?!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Shared Relaxation

NOTE: There is an update on David at his site; to read it, click on his name just to the right under "Internal Links."
I found this "Aqua Music" so relaxing after my final exam last night (the semster's over - YEA!) that I wanted to share it with you in the hopes you too will find it relaxing during this busy season.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Caught in the Act!

David was wandering around with the camera tonight and caught me doing the only thing anyone could catch me doing lately - studying! (Well, actually to the left of the binder, underneath my grade sheet, is a stack of finals I graded today.) The notes in that LARGE binder are for two classes only. As I keep saying, once this is all over with I'll be very glad David encouraged me to finish in spite of what else was going on in our lives . . .
That won't be long now, as my last final is tomorrow night. I certainly can't imagine having had to start all over. If only I can maintain my stamina through tomorrow night I'll cross this finish line. The grades I earn this semester will be the most hard won grades I have ever received!
Note to any of my students who might be reading this: Your grades have been posted electronically to the official school site; I will get the details, along with the write-up of the "pigeon problem," up on my homepage as soon as I can - might be a few days. The scores were good! You really rose to the occasion on those exams! As a class you finished well! I'm VERY impressed!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

I Get It!

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

I have never had an affinity for this poem nor really understood it until just now (and maybe it is the delerium of pulling nearly all-nighters at the end of the semester). As the semester has entered its final week, here I am frantically working at writing papers and studying to the exclusion of nearly all else. It has seemed the world has receded and all that is left is me and my keyboard, and yet I needed to eat. I took a break just now to grab a brownie. Not having enough time to be civilized about it, I leaned over the sink so the crumbs could fall directly down the drain, and as I did so I saw out of the window the shadow of an empty trellis against our shed roof. This simple image brought these words to mind: "so much depends upon." I was reminded that no matter what else is going on (strokes or busyness or whatever), the sun keeps making shadows whether anyone sees them or not. So much depends upon this - upon sun casting shadows and upon currently unused wheelbarrows sitting there in rain and shine and upon chickens going about their business whether human beings take the time to notice them or not.

I may be delerious, but I GET IT, and I figure since this poem by William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) is one of the emblematic poems of the 20th century, perhaps I am not in bad company - even if it took some amount of delerium to get me there.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Look (OUT) Who's Driving!

Earlier I shared the "Look Who's Walking" poster that English Oaks put up about David's progress.

This morning David DROVE to church, and I was asked why I had not shared THAT news, so I guess it is time for the "Look Who's Driving" update! (He's progressing so fast I can hardly keep up!)

Yes, David is once again on the roads - LOOK OUT! - just kidding. :-)

We had a lot of conflicting advice about this. One PT advised not doing so for a month or two, but the neurologist had told him to just try on a quiet street and see how it went. He is in no danger of seizure activity, and the Coumadin is protecting him from another stroke, so the only issue is whether his body is going to cooperate with him, whether his awareness of all sides is intact and if his response time is appropriate (given that his brain is busy with trying to reintegrate his left side). Well, it looks like we have all systems go in those categories, so he's back behind the wheel as of this past Friday - first time on the highway this morning.

Not only is he driving a car, but, what I think is more amazing because it involves balance, is that he is RIDING A BIKE! We went for a family bike ride yesterday. YEA!

In other good news he is also walking without a cane!

He is still wearing an AFO (brace). He walks with a pronounced limp and yet has to be careful, but he's doing great! We're so glad he is still under the guidance of physical therapists, however. On Friday one of them decided it was time for David, the runner, to try sprinting. David tried, and he promptly fell down - well, nearly - the physical therapist caught him before he hit the floor. He tried to take off sprinting, but his left leg was totally clueless and didn't cooperate.

They work him hard, and he comes home exhausted and sore but grateful.

It's a bit tough to know where the boundaries are between what he can do and what he cannot do.

While he was talking with a friend this morning at church he was using his hands to gesture as he spoke. He was talking about how tPA is the ONE drug that is effective for administration after stroke. To emphasize the word "one" he lifted his left hand to stick out his index finger and TWO fingers, rather than one, extended. We all had a good laugh. David is very able to laugh at himself.

The BIG PICURE is GREAT, but there are things that are more difficult to describe that remain frustrating. Whenever David's body shifts position while sleeping it wakes him up, because there is just something so different about that left side.

There are a lot of things he can't hold quite right that cause some problems. For instance, when we were washing dishes together last night he was holing the metal lid of a frying pan in his left hand, and the lip of it was cutting into his hand, because he cannot figure out how to hold things. He can hold it. He can see what he is doing. It comes absolutely naturally on his right side, with no thought. But he just can't get his left hand to do it quite the right way.

He also has a tendency to drop things.

One piece of his homework is having someone put a block in his left hand while he is not looking; he then needs to identify the shape of the block, triangular, cylindrical, etc. It is nearly impossible for him to tell the shape; in fact, it's nearly impossible for him to tell there IS something in his hand at all if he is not looking. Caleb was really messing with David the other night by putting the same shape in David's hand over and over (David, of course, assuming it would be different each time, thus making different guesses). Caleb would also mess with him by putting two blocks in his hand rather than one, and David could not tell that this was the case.

There are uncomfortable sensation issues too. We wanted to go to a movie as a family yesterday, but David could not go, because it is far too uncomfortable for him to even consider doing such a thing. He feels this very strong discomfort when trying to sit in a movie theater or when trying to sit in church. His arm still kind of does its own thing if he is not consciously moving it or looking at it, and the sensation he has in it is such that if it is against the back of a pew or seat it's extremely irritating.

I'm not explaining this well. I don't understand it well. I'm not sure David could explain it well either were he writing.

I'm writing in so much detail, because people are asking and want to know, and I'm being told I'm being derelict in my duty, so there you go - lots of details! :-) Thank you for wanting to know! Thank you so much for caring so deeply! We remain aware of what yet is not right, but mostly we are just so grateful he is making the progress he is - that he can move, that he has strength, that he CAN walk, that he CAN drive, that he can BIKE, that he is at a point where the PT would even suggest TRYING a sprint!

One of the passages mentioned in church this morning was about the paralytic that Jesus healed by telling him to take up his bed and walk. That passage hit us so strongly today in a way it never had before. What hit us was not what normally would capture our attention, the fact that Jesus healed him; that is, Jesus allowed whatever was wrong with his body to be healed. What hit us this morning was the fact that AS SOON AS HE WAS HEALED HE GOT UP AND WALKED. The second issue of the learning to walk was also immediately taken care of. We consider David's healing miraculous. He has been recovering well ever since being given tPA on November 2, but we have seen how long recovery and relearning after paralysis can take (and we're told David is progressing quickly!). When Jesus healed the paralytic, the man just got up, picked up his mat, and walked home right then! No walker, no cane, no brace, no relearning - just straight from paralysis to walking. WOW!

OK, now I need to get back to my OTHER writing. The finish line of MY individual piece of this autumn marathon is in sight (OK, maybe I shouldn't push the metaphor so far!). I'm finding, however, that the finishing kick is like "Heartbreak Hill" in the Boston Marathon. I was up until 2:30am last night (this morning) working on a paper, nowhere near the end . . . will spare you the rest of the details of what yet remains in my race to the finish line at this point but rather will just get back to running this part of my race now.

On the one hand I'm so grateful David encouraged me to finish, but . . . this was hard enough without trying to do it with my mind divided in its focus and without having to play catch-up after falling behind. I'll be much more grateful a week from today.

All of us are SO eager for the quieter times together as a family that, God willing, are coming soon.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Quote for Thought (9)

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.”

George MacDonald (1824-1905)

Friday, December 07, 2007

We Are Family! All These Brothers and Me!

What a great week we've had with Uncle Dan (a name the boys then morphed to "Unky Dan" and finally to "Hunky Dan"). Part of our last evening was spent with Dan styling Jacob's very long hair, taking digital pictures and laughing over them, crazy banana eating, and a piano duet.

Brothers and brothers!

Jacob's new "do."

The boys had their name for Dan, but Dan called himself the "freaky fruit guy." That was because he bought all sorts of "weird" fruit - pomelos and these bananas, which were about 5 inches long, and then he had such interesting ways of eating them!

Digital photography - what a world!

We love you Uncle Dan!

A duet before leaving.