Sunday, June 17, 2018

Thankful Sunday-Happy Father's Day

I am thankful for all of you out there who are a father and/or a mentor to some lucky person. The value of your work is immeasurable. I have been fortunate to be associated with several wonderful fathers including Ward, his father, and my very own father. 

My father is no longer with me, but the memories of him still are. Below is one of the stories I remember about my father. I have it shared with you before, but I will tell it again because it is one I often think about on Father's Day. 


Vanilla ice cream was the family favorite.
When I was little, my father was larger than life. He did the obvious of working hard and providing for our needs, but it was the other things I noticed. Youth is like that. Nothing could equal the thrill I got from riding on his shoulders, or the feeling of flying when he pushed me in the tree swing. I loved carrying his lunch pail and was proud when I could stretch my legs to match his stride. When I got too big to ride on his shoulders, he made things fun in other ways. He fixed the lights at the local swimming pool so we could swim all summer for free. And he made sure we always had ice cream.

Then there was the summer I turned thirteen when I was at camp on a week long canoe trip. One night we ended up camping unscheduled in a farmer's field because of a sudden thunderstorm. We got permission from his sons to camp in their field, but not from their father because he wasn't home. As we were pitching our tents, the dad showed up and was quite upset about our trespassing. After a bit of explanation and negotiation, he said we could stay the night. However, it was obvious that he wasn't happy about it.

After things had calmed down a bit, I mentioned that my family used to live in the area. He asked a couple of questions and soon realized who my father was. His face lit up because my father used to be his fishing buddy. He said that Red (my father's nickname) was a fine man. The farmer said no more, but soon his sons showed up. They carried our water, gathered our firewood, and did anything else they could think of to help. So even though he wasn't there, my father was still making things right. He turned what could have been a tense, difficult night into a good one.

On this Father's Day, I want to thank my father for watching out for me in many different ways, and for making sure that we always had ice cream.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


Recently, a friend from high school, Christy, contacted me because she needs a kidney transplant and she is searching far and wide to find a donor. She doesn't expect me to be a donor, but would like me to help spread the word that there are 100,000 people waiting for a kidney including her. While this is a very serious situation, it is a situation with hope. She can lead a full life with a transplant and can buy time with dialysis.

Christy and I at Girl Scout Camp
However, this news is affecting me harder than I would have predicted. When I think about it consciously, I have high hopes and expect it to work out. However, I find thoughts of Christy sneaking up on me every time I turn around. When I'm doing something mindless, I find I am thinking of her. When I am sleeping, my dreams are filled with her. In fact, when my mind is not actively engaged, she is there.

I've been trying to figure out why I am so preoccupied with this. Besides the obvious reason of someone I know being seriously ill, I think it reminds me of my own mortality in an unbelievable way. I was trying to remember and I don't think I have seen Christy in person since high school. Even though I know that was 40 years ago, that is where I go when I think of her. We're leading a cheer or playing Dizzy Gillespie in jazz band. Or we're in 5th grade, giggling at a sleepover. And when you're young, you have a very hard time imagining that you aren't immortal.

So when I heard about her illness, I think part of my brain can't believe that it's true. Things like this  don't happen to kids. But she's not a kid and it's true.

While I'm still processing all of this, here is part of her email that I said I would share. Thanks for reading.

 " Some of you may know that I have a kidney disease. About ten years ago, I was diagnosed with a chronic kidney disease called IGA Nephropathy. My immune system has been working overtime at the expense of my kidneys. I have luckily been able to keep it stable with regular medication and checkups. Over time however, my kidney disease has gotten worse. In the past six months, my numbers have spiked to a level that is causing my kidneys to not operate well enough to keep me alive. This is what I am facing now, and my treatment options are limited to dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant. Getting regular dialysis treatments, usually three times a week for four hours at a time, will help my kidneys do their job and keep me alive, but a transplant would offer me more freedom and the ability to live a longer, healthier, more normal life. A transplant would also give me more time to do the fun things I enjoy most, like spending time with my family and friends as well as to remain working and at my regular activity level. However, finding a kidney for a transplant is not easy. Just ask the 100,000+ people on the waiting list for a deceased donor kidney like me. 

         Asking a family member or a friend to consider donating a kidney to me is difficult for me, but it greatly improves my chances of getting a transplant. A living kidney donation typically lasts longer and has better function. You might not know a lot about living donation - I know I didn’t before kidney disease affected my life. Understandably, some people are afraid about the surgery and what living with one kidney will mean for them. Here’s some basic information about kidney donation: You only need one kidney to live a healthy, long life.

•  Most donor surgery is done laparoscopically, meaning through tiny incisions. The recuperation period is usually fairly quick, generally two weeks.

•  The cost of your evaluation and surgery will be covered by my insurance. The hospital can give you extensive information on this.

•  You will have a separate team of healthcare professionals to evaluate you as a living donor. Their job is to help you understand the risks and benefits and look out for YOUR best interests. 

•  You can also learn more about living donation on the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) website: or by contacting the NKF’s free, confidential helpline at 855.NKF.CARES (855.653.2273) or If you want to talk to someone who’s already donated a kidney, NKF can also help.

         Thank you for taking the time to read my story.  If donating a kidney to me is something you would like to consider, I would be happy to tell you more and explore the process of determining if you are a match for me.  You can also contact my transplant center directly at 804-289-4941. However, I know living donation may not be right for everyone — but you can still help! Consider being an organ donor after death and also, help me by sharing my story with everyone you know. Please feel free to forward this message along to your own contacts and help me spread the word. At the very least I want to bring awareness to kidney disease and living donation. I am hopeful my efforts will help me receive a kidney sooner and encourage others to consider helping the many people on the wait list.

          I have a meeting next week with the transplant center to get more information and will keep you updated. My goal is to hopefully find a living kidney donor before I have to go on dialysis. My doctor is working aggressively to get me set up to be ready to go when that person comes forward. Prayers are much appreciated and I hold fast to the belief that God will provide and that there is someone, somewhere out there with a kidney and generous heart who can help change my life. Thankfully I feel good at this time and look forward to the summer break!

Thank you and much love,


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Thankful Sunday, June 10,2018

I am thankful for a day away.

Recently, Ward and I had one of those days when we needed to get away from our chores and worries and do something different. I keep a folder with ideas for just such days. When someone tells me about a place to visit or I see an interesting brochure or article, I put it in. Later, if we need an idea for something to do, we pull out the folder.

This time the folder guided us to a local barn quilt tour and we spent the day searching out quilt patterns.  Most of them were on working barns, but a few were on other public buildings such as an art center. Sometimes we could get close for pictures and sometimes we were far away. Part of the fun was exploring new areas while finding them. Not always an easy thing, even with an address. We found about half of them and will find the rest on another restless afternoon.

So for this day away, I am thankful.

Here are the ones we found with their pattern name. You may be able to tell from the pictures that the day started out foggy and remained overcast.

Birds in Flight

American Homestead

Generation Star

Black-eyed Susan

Corn and Beans

Country Fair

Sunflower on Star

Shriver Millstones

Crazy Quilt

Stairway to Stars

Tulips in a Basket

Friday, June 8, 2018

A Second Look--June 8, 2018

It's that wonderful time of the year when everything just wants to grow. The extreme hot and cold temperatures aren't present and the rain is plentiful. In fact, maybe a little too plentiful. I've been working a lot outside, but have to plan everything carefully between the rain storms. The grass is lush and we have to mow twice a week now.

Having gone through one season at our new house, I'm starting to understand the yard a little better. There are invasive plants in every bed, but I think we're making progress against them. We still have poison ivy, but we have eliminated it from several areas. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, but for now, here are somethings I saw recently during a Second Look.

The pansies I planted last fall are actually gone now. I recently replaced them with begonias.

The iris are almost gone. I've started to divide and move them because they have grown into the fence enough that we can't shut the gate.

The rain brought out mushrooms of various kinds.

I hope the coral bells continue to bloom most of the summer like they did last year.

As I do for the purple sage.

A few poppies emerged above the ground covers to bloom. There are several other flowers in there that have been overtaken. Someday I hope to move them.

I have pulled several beginning oak trees from the beds. I always get excited when I see the acorn still attached. This acorn was gone the next day. Maybe a squirrel come back to claim it.

I showed you this pileated woodpecker the other day. I forgot to mention that it was a female. You can tell by the stripe by the beak. In females, it is black. In males, it is red.

While I recently saw the "rare" pileated woodpecker, the most common bird at our feeder is the house finch. 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Thankful Sunday

I'm thankful for a rotting fence.

We have a split rail fence around the entire perimeter of our backyard, and it seems as if one rail or another is always rotting. This requires continual maintenance and I find that annoying. But not yesterday. Yesterday, a pileated woodpecker decided that the decaying fence rails were the perfect place to look for bugs. He stayed long enough going up and down the fence that I had time to go inside and get my camera. This sighting made my whole morning. So for my rotting fence and the visitor it brought, I am thankful.