Thursday, January 31, 2008

Lessons from a Mountain Mama

We have been hit with low snow here in CA for two weeks now. We have had rain and a few sunny days mixed in to keep the snow from piling up too high. Our TV and computer run off of two satellite dishes that fill with snow causing loss of signals. We recently heard about spraying "Pam" on the dishes to keep the snow from sticking to it. Cross your fingers. ;)

The snow is so beautiful and I can watch it from my heated recliner near our toasty wood stove for hours. The propane bills were reaching very high amounts so we chose to heat the house with wood. The problem is that Dave leaves for work at 12:30pm so the fire eventually dies down by 5:00pm and Dave does not get home until 10:00pm. I taught myself how to keep the house at seventy three all evening by mixing oak and pine. Dave cuts them smaller for me and I learned the art of manipulating the damper. He was very proud as he came home this week to a toasty fire. Woohoo for me!

Dave had thought he was prepared for mountain life with his 4WD Tundra, sporting snow tires with studs, until he slid sideways down a street on his way to work. It scared him and he bought chains that same day. His job is so excited to have such a hard working guy that they put him straight to the top of the pay scale. I was happy that he was finally validated for having such a great work ethic. We call this picture our muffin top. :)

We welcomed grandson number four on January 14th. Warrick was 9lbs 5oz and as handsome as his big brothers. We fly out to WA to meet him on Feb. 15th and I can't wait to hold a sweet smelling baby again. Dave's daughter and her husband are thrilled with their new son and Warrick's big brothers think he's very cool.

I have not seen this precious face since Christmas and I miss his terrible two pout very much. He is also no longer chatty on the phone so I'm feeling a TK fix is needed very soon.

I have not left the house in over a month but that is not unusual, especially in winter. The no TV and computer is making it harder. I don't buy DVD's and I don't keep books after I read them because I pass them on. I lost my glasses in the move so I can't read too much or I'll get one of my famous migraines. New glasses in March...woohoo! I did get season one of "I Love Lucy" from my daughter and have reconnected with my inner Lucy.

I miss my blog friends and clubs very much! I have this blog ethic that is all my own and I feel awful if I have not read my blog buddy's blogs or commented. I refuse to participate in my clubs if I can't read and comment on the majority of the entries. I will be back soon, as I'm watching another storm roll in but I'll need to start fresh.

BTW my arm has healed very nicely and I have gotten used to "the monster."


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sensual Senryu

Passion bottled up

cork is popped

bubbly sensations

Sandy at started a new blog after I called her senryu sensual. To help launch her site I thought of this. ;) Give it a try just for fun.

* A senryu is a three line poem, similar to a haiku, based on human nature.

Photo from Stockxpert

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

3WW - "The Date"

Breath, Scattered, Tomorrow

I was terrified that I had finally went too far. I said yes but maybe I should have voiced my fears that night on the phone. Something in his voice calmed my scattered thoughts, forgetting my limitations. The idea to go river rafting, before my illness, would have impressed me for a date so my old thought processor jumped at the chance. That’s the problem when your body deteriorates, your brain keeps forgetting what your body is capable of.

I spent extra time in dressing the part of a hot, athletic girl (ok, my walker was a tad distracting). This was a very important date, feelings were developing and I wanted to look like I was in control. I was concerned that the forecast predicted 102 degrees for today. I’m like a Cinderella at midnight but instead of turning into a pumpkin I turn into a rag doll in extreme heat. I sat on the couch waiting for him to come and pick me up, while convincing myself I could do this.

On the drive to the river I sensed a little nervous tension so I started asking questions. He reluctantly admitted he had never rafted before and he had reserved a private raft. We would be on our own but he assured me there were no rough rapids. I masked my panic while constantly reminding myself to breathe. When we arrived, I realized getting to a raft and into it might be the hardest part of the day. He gently helped me down to the cool, calm water and I felt myself start to relax.

When they pointed to our raft, we both gasped as the same time. It was huge and held up to six people. We also found out it was a five-hour ride to the pick up location. I knew right then this was not a good idea but he was very special so I took a deep breath and prayed. They handed me an ore and I took it but my arms dropped to the bottom of the boat with its weight. My partner not wanting to show his fear asked the guy if there was help along the way in case we needed it. A few houses was his only reply as they pushed us off down the river.

We were armed with life vests and two ores, I sat in the front and he manned the rear. The river took us through tree branches and over sandbars where we became stuck but as a team we began to find a rhythm. The river was so still in some places that I had to row and it took everything I had as the sweat from the sweltering sun beat down on our heads. We would finally get a moment to enjoy the serenity of the river when another obstacle would arrive. Taking a dip was not an option due to how hard it would be to get back in but they had a rest stop with restrooms. The cool water beckoned me as my make-up was slowly dissolving down my face. I was not a pretty sight as I began to slowly wilt as my face turned red as a beet. My partner in crime was starting to panic and we were entering hour number three.

He spotted a house and used all the power he had to steer us under a tree onto the bank. He cupped his hands with water to cool my body and when I was feeling better he hiked up the bank, disappearing into the brush, as I waited. He eventually reappeared and dragged me up the bank into an air-conditioned van. The driver was a sweet lady and asked us how long we had been married. We replied that we had just started dating and she said that the way he was with me she would have never guessed we were newly dating. I smiled at him with new eyes as the lady turned back and said tomorrow is supposed to be cooler. We looked at each other and laughed because unless we were with a group we would never do that again.
Photo from Stockxpert

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sunday Scribbling - "Fellow Travelers"

When I think back on my personal journey I can't help but think of all the people that have influenced that journey. We are all travelers on this planet and our choices touch the lives of others, like ripples in a pond. I have zigzagged my way through life and could never forget the people who have touched it.

"There can be no testimony without tests."

My grandma taught me about love, affection and forgiveness.
My mom taught me strength and to try new things.
My Clients validated my work.
My ex husband brought me down into the pits of hell, revealing my fighting spirit.
JD taught me how to have fun after I was divorced.
Steve, no longer with us, taught me self-worth and that I deserved more.
Dr. Olney gave me hope in his clinical trials.
Friends with illnesses give me weapons to fight the fear.
My children taught me perseverance, patience and reasons to keep fighting.
Vicky & Mark held my hand on my spiritual journey.
My neighbor Lynne taught me about money and how to receive help with my ALS.
Dave taught me how to love again, romance is real and gave me a future.
Bloggers have given me a voice, encouragement and friendship.

These people came into my life and changed its direction in a positive way. Not everyone treated me well but I still learned from knowing them. Many are no longer fellow travelers but others continue to touch my life. I like who I am but there's always room to grow. I can't wait to meet my future fellow travelers.

To visit other SS go here:
Photo from StockXpert

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Three Word Wednesday

Awkward, Kitchen, Obsessed are the three words at


I have moved to the sticks
but found myself in a bit of a fix.

My body is too awkward to clean my house
and I so I must leave it all to my spouse.

I tried to hire a cleaner to give him a break
and she left out the kitchen, what a mistake.

I'm in the house most days staring at the dust
so I've become obsessed, living in disgust.

My quest will continue each day
for a good cleaner to come my way.

A good job and a reasonable price
is all I ask in my mountain paradise.

This is apparently harder to find in the mountains! Photo by StockXpert.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Writer's Island - "Treasure"

There are not many "things" I treasure except the precious photos of my past. I no longer care much about clothes, cars, shoes, purses or jewelry. I have spent the last two years putting most of our money into our home and now that it's completed I had decided to go against my grain by wanting a luxury item.

Two years ago Dave gave me our tax refund check to buy a flat screen TV for our mountain abode. I protected that money as if it was sacred so I could get a surround sound TV with a good size screen. I love my movies and TV so I diligently did my research before we went to purchase it during the after Christmas sales, this last Christmas. The sales people were very helpful in pointing out that I had not done enough research on my little project. When you see a wall of TV's staring at you, 52" does not seem very big in the store or online. We chose the 52" but I had to keep tugging Dave away from even larger screens. I had no idea how much crap you need for a TV. Once you add your cables, mount, HD DVD, installation, cord cover, wire, warranty, delivery to the boonies, that sale price adds up fast. I was in a state of shock and anger at myself for spending this much money on a want and not a need. Dave was really excited and kept saying we deserved it. I managed to stay under budget but not by much.

Dave was getting really excited for the big day but I was still apprehensive from sticker shock. It truly came to a head when they lifted it onto the mount, I gasped. I had the worst case of buyers remorse I've ever had. It looked huge in our living room and I kept asking the installers if that was what we had chosen. I had to go blog and try to ignore the elephant in my living room. When I walk into the room it growls at me and taunts me by whispering "hypocrite" in HD. It is called "the monster" when referred to by me but Dave thinks it's great. I never wanted a TV to be a focal point in my cosy living room. I don't understand how I got sucked into this whole big screen thing, it's just not me...or is it?

We finally had our first movie night and I temporarily forgot my remorse. It was like being in a movie theater, but with the TV if the channel is not in HD the picture stinks at 52". Our local Fox station is not in HD yet, so House, Prison Break, 24 and Idol will be a mess. The coupons we will receive from our purchase will pay for a Wii and I will get to box with my TV. I will be kicking some serious monster butt. I've re-decorated to disguise "the monster" but it just keeps growing. Karma! I've learned keeping things simple is more my style but I must make peace with the monster.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sunday Scribbling - "The Date"

The proposal
(To get full effect choose "Somewhere" in song selection )

It was a beautiful September day that finally convinced me adolescent dreams can come true. Dave had been planning a surprise for me and as the word spread around the neighborhood he ended up with much needed help. Location, china, crystal, linen, silver and seating were all donated to his plan. Dave lived an hour and a half away and he knew what he wanted but it took a neighborhood collaboration to make it happen. He had not met but one neighbor in the area but romance was in the air. They all managed to keep me totally clueless to the plan.

On the big day it was nearing dinner time and Dave suggested we go for a drive up a nearby street leading to the top of a hill. I said "I'm hungry, lets go eat instead." He anxiously replied " I'll pick something up on our way back" so I reluctantly agreed. We drove up the hill overlooking my neighborhood and canyon. Dave pulled into an old apple orchard and I was so in awe of the view I hardly noticed the table. He helped me out of the car and asked me to give him a minute. I yelled after him "is this someones land, are we allowed to be here?" He looked over his shoulder while lighting a candle and said with a wink "I made a reservation." I was shocked into silence as I began to take in the details of what he had done. He helped me over to my chair, he it the CD player and joined me. Barbra Streisand was belting out "Somewhere" as Dave poured chilled sparkling cider into two champagne flutes. It was intoxicating and surreal sitting in my shorts at this elegant table watching a deer nibble at the apples, undisturbed.

Dave was shaking as he took a folded piece of paper out of his pocket. He unfolded it and began to read a poem written from his heart. He poured out all his feelings in this poem and wrote somethings he had never said out loud. I was overwhelmed by the depth of this man as I hung on every word. I had no idea he could write poetry but I knew he was a romantic. When we had stayed at an historic hotel, on a much earlier date, he had written in the guestbook (kept in each room) that he would return with me as his wife. It melted my heart but at that time I was not even considering marriage.

We had talked about marriage but with ALS I had mixed emotions. Dave's love had convinced me that he knew what he was walking into and his poem said it all. I knew what was coming as he fumbled in his pocket and I was overcome with a wave of love. He then got down on bended knee and opened a little black box. He asked "Tammy, will you be my wife?" I was so emotional but I managed to not go into the "ugly cry" and said "yes!" We kissed, we ate, we laughed and watched an amazing sunset.

To read other important dates visit
Photo taken from the hood of the car on auto shoot.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Writer's Island - "Over the Horizon"

We had our first mountain storm and it was a whopper. My new neighbor said a 4 day power outage and 18" of snow is "nothing up here." We had no batteries, snow blower or generator like our neighbors so we took notes. We did have a cosy wood burning stove, hot water, propane cook top stove, snow shovel and candles. We lost 10ft off our huge blue spruce but it luckily landed in the driveway. We weathered this storm and you bet we are ready for whatever is over the next horizon. I wrote a poem as I watched the storm. I was as fascinated as I was scared at the power of nature.

The Storm

The trees swayed a Rumba
as the wind kicked up her heel's.
Rolling in with a roar, like a wave
crashing into silence.

The trees stood shuttering, waiting
for the wind to whip around.
Just one tree began shaking like
a dog during a bath.

Pine cones pelted the house as if
the trees were fighting back.
The skies opened up bringing a
rhythm to the chaos.

Rain turned to tiny pearls
which burst into white confetti.
Clinging to everything as if not
wanting the armistice to end.

The sun comes up, the trees
hung over from their battle, droop.
They drop their heavy loads with
an avalanche of joy.

This is a work in progress so beware. Dave filled a whole card with snow photos on our camera and is dreaming of snowblowers.

To visit others go here

Thursday, January 03, 2008

One More Year and Counting

January has held a special place in my heart for the last ten years. It marks for me one more year of life that I have survived my prognosis of ALS...woot,woot! I have made it for 17 years and could not have expected the quality of life these years would bring. I was asked why I think I have survived this long when the average life expectancy is 3-5yrs. My answer has changed over the years because I've learned so much. At first I felt it was my fighting spirit (mind over matter)but then I witnessed God's hand holding me up when I felt my spirit becoming overwhelmed. In time I added the elements of drugs(on my terms), physical exercise(the pool), research on other people with ALS and taking control of my medical care. All of these things, along with love, have kept me strong.

When I hurt my shoulder I kept my spirit, prayed, threw away the sling, refused Vicaden, insisted on a more thorough exam, cancelled the MRI and am using my arm as Ibuprofen helps me push through the pain. I'm sad to report my co-ed showers are now over but my razor burned armpits are thrilled. Dave is back at work and I'm sure he is thrilled to get time off from his PMSing, helpless, pissy wife. Caregivers are certainly a rare breed and I get chills when I realize Dave chose me along with my colorful, heavy baggage.

Dave is not a saint but if you watch him as an observer in my home he knows what I need before I have to ask. My clothes, bras and jewelry give him fits because my arms won't cooperate, my breasts pop out the bottom of my bra and he can't see the earring holes without his glasses. He knows I need to get back to water therapy so his current plan is to give up his garage and add a above ground heated pool with a ramp and no slip Astro Turf, brilliant. Even though he leaves things lying around, is not a housekeeper, still mixes colors with the darks, has not mastered the remote, yet must control it, he is still the best man I'll ever know.

Two years ago we decided to sacrifice time and the luxuries money could buy to map out a dream. A home in the mountains, near a lake. We spent one year fixing up one home to sell and one year fixing up this one to live in, putting aside money for things we wanted for our dream house. We managed to not touch our stash for two years awaiting Dave's retirement, but then the housing market hit bottom and we got stuck with two mortgages. Dave got a job after he retired so we could wait out the market, allowing us to use our luxury stash to complete our dream. After two months of living our dream Dave was still waiting on paperwork to start his new job. I knew something was up after that first week of work and Dave was not being the best communicator so I had to pry it out of him. He confessed that now he's back working he hates having to work. The dream he had for retirement was dangling before him like a carrot.

My first reaction was a selfish one because I had been waiting two years to have some fun and thought to myself, he is 50 and healthy but I'm not, no way. I got where he was coming from but I could not wrap my brain around it. When I fell Dave was off work for the holidays and it scared us both. I came very close to losing the use of my left arm. If I had torn my Rotator Cuff completely I could not be alone and would be confined to a wheelchair overnight. The doctor warned me that my muscles are too weak to protect me in a fall. We dodged a bullet that would have changed our lives drastically. He wanted to quit his job the second I fell but I never thought he was serious and I don't want to get dependent on Dave but being home alone is tough.

I've had time to think about my attitude and I came up with a marital compromise. We listed what we needed for his summer yard projects (to keep him busy), cushion for emergencies and bills (with housekeeper). We have no debt except mortgages. If we can save enough by spring/summer I could make the money stretch until the other house sells so Dave can truly retire. Dave needs to keep busy and we've managed since Oct. so I'm thinking 2008 will be an interesting year.

That's our 2008 plan and for 2009, Kauai, here we come! Plans are good to have but keep in mind they may change when you least expect it, so expect it!

Photo by Dave