Free Friday

I would usually do a post on Ecclesiastes today, but I’m just not in the mood. Not a good excuse, I know. I always get into the mood once I start writing, but today I’m deliberately taking a break.

I had to go in for a couple of routine medical tests early this morning–fasting blood work was one of the tests. Then I hit the Walmart for a few groceries, and now I’m back home, all by myself for the entire day. I love it.

Terry’s down at church mowing. It’s a large property, and it takes him all day. So I have several hours rolling out in front of me with nothing planned, nothing pressing, nothing I HAVE to do. That’s really cool 🙂

At the doctor’s office, the secretary was checking my info and asked if I’m still working at the counseling office. I said, “No! I retired this week!” and the other women in the office all turned and offered me congrats and well wishes.

I’m a Baby Boomer, after all. Most places I checked agreed that the Boomer years range from 1946 to 1964. I was born in 1947. Retirement often happens between 60 and 65, but more and more people are working into their 80s. Sometimes, it’s just because they love their work. I did. I’d still be working if I were physically able to do so.

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I’m beginning to get a little glimpse of what a big deal this really is. People work all their lives hoping to be able to retire. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out, for a variety of reasons. I retired because of my health. It’s hard to focus on people when you’re hurting, and I knew I was losing concentration. I was also missing days at a time because I just couldn’t physically endure the hours of sitting. In any case, it’s a major life change that is slowly beginning to sink in.

But it doesn’t mean I’m going to do nothing. My calendar is already filling up with one thing and another. I’m taking this next week off completely, but after that I have some responsibilities that will require me to study, plan, and prepare. One big thing is that I’m going to carve out the time, every day, to work on a book I’ve had in my head for way too long.

But the main thing is to spend more time with the Lord. No more rushing, hurrying through my daily Bible reading and prayer time. I’m looking forward to that.

Sometimes we see retirement as the ending of something. I’m seeing it more, these days, as the beginning of the rest of my life 🙂

Saturday

This is a ramble. Saturdays are good for rambling.

We’ve had a horribly hot and humid week, but today we have our AC off and our windows open. I can hear birds, frogs, lawnmowers. I can even hear the breeze that’s moving the tree branches. Well, no, I can’t hear the breeze itself, but I can hear the leaves fluttering and brushing together. The air smells clean and sweet, and it’s a totally pleasant out there. A beautiful summer Saturday.

My mind goes back to summers in Portland, Oregon where we lived for five years from about 1955-60. It often rained a little in the morning, but then it would clear up and be warm, not hot. Very little humidity. We’d walk to the municipal swimming pool and spend the afternoon there, then walk back home. On the way, we could enjoy big fat blackberries that grew wild along the roadside. Back then, nobody worried about safety for kids walking over a mile just to go swimming. This was in the little town of Milwaukie, a suburb of Portland. It was a delightful place, and I was sorry when we moved into the city.

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There was so much to enjoy out there. The beach. The roses. The Rose Parade. Jantzen Beach, an amusement park. Just being able to be outdoors and not worry about mosquitos! And Mount Hood, too.

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That was a golden summer for me. I’ll never forget how much I loved it there.

I love it here, too. We live near Philadelphia, but you’d never know it. Lots of green, lots of trees and other vegetation. Rolling hills. It’s a beautiful drive to church every Sunday, and on Thursday morning when I go down to teach a Bible study class.

And then there’s Lancaster County, which is a beautiful place just to go for a drive:

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I am often reminded of I Timothy 6:17:

“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.”

God didn’t need to make the earth beautiful. He could have just made it practical. Aren’t you glad for the beauty of the earth?

Home!

There really is no place like home.

Our flights were problem-free. We had wheelchair help arranged at each place, from check-in to baggage. What a wonderful help that was. You get taken to the front of the line, and everyone seems to be perfectly okay with that. All our helpers were polite, kind, and efficient.

It’s very hot here in our corner of PA. Supposed to be record-setting highs tomorrow, up to 100. Ugh. I’m missing the cool mornings and evenings near Oxford. We had wonderful weather the whole time we were there. This heat saps my energy. I’m looking around at all that needs to be done, and I don’t want to do any of it! We do have central air, which is a huge blessing, but there’s just something about the atmosphere that changes with that kind of heat.

I was just looking through Dan’s pictures, and this one made me hungry 🙂 This was the meal they prepared to celebrate our 50th anniversary. The rosemary was cut fresh from the garden. The aromas of the rosemary, meat, and veggies roasting was unbelievable. Sooooooo good!

I can’t remember if the Peacock Garden was at Blenheim or Warwick, but this photo perfectly captures the peacock in full display:

Josh, Victoria’s boyfriend, is from New Zealand. He certainly met a lot of us all at one time–not sure, maybe that’s not a good thing. Hope we didn’t scare him off 🙂

Ivan with his mom, Sheila.

You can see that when I get started posting everyone’s photos, it’s hard to stop. They all bring back such a good time.

Well. It’s good to be home, and we have memories of a lifetime with everyone who was there.

I’m hoping to get back to my regular blogging tomorrow with Sunday Morning Coffee, and then back to Ecclesiastes on Monday.

Catching Up

I haven’t posted since we went to Blenheim, a week ago today. Lots and lots has happened, and I can’t sort out what happened on what day, so I’m just going to hit the highlights, along with some photos. There were 15 of us, so we didn’t always go as one big group. When we could, we wandered to whatever grabbed our interest, and made a meeting place and time to re-gather.

We didn’t go to the most well-known Stonehedge, but a smaller one that is nearby.

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Avebury Stones
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Breakfast in an Oxford cafe that was the first room in which the professors gathered for counsel, back in 13–something 🙂
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Lots of sheep in Avebury. You needed to watch where you put your feet 🙂
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Salisbury Cathedral
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The Magna Carta is inside this structure, to protect it from vandalism and damaging sun rays.
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Lef to right, Ivan, Alayna, Kyle, outside Salisbury Cathedral
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Sheila got a good shot of the best-known Stonehenge made of blocks of fudge 🙂
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Ken is taking a turn pushing my chair just outside of Salisbury.

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Alayna (in chair) and Victoria
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We opted for the Thai restaurant. Giggling squid really didn’t appeal to most of us 🙂
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Alayna and Maria
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The whole crew. Photo was taken by Victoria’s friend Katerina
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Dan and Maria
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The Womping Tree, used in 2007 Harry Potter movie, grounds of Blenheim Palace


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Outside the back yard at Dan and Maria’s place
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Bunch of goobers pushing Granny up a very small hill 🙂
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My favorite rose, the yellow Tea Rose edged with pink. Love them.
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The rose gardens at Blenheim were a total delight
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This old woman kept showing up with our group. We finally decided to take her home with us 🙂



Katerina with Alayna and Victoria in the rose garden at Blenheim

There’s more, but this is getting too long already.

We fly out of Heathrow at 8:30 tomorrow morning, have a layover in Frankfurt, and then nonstop to Philly. I’m looking forward to being home, but I’m really going to miss all the people we’ve spent nearly two weeks with.

Special thanks to Mike, who has done the lion’s share of planning and has been a driver; also to Janan, who has taken on driving on the wrong side of the road and in the wrong side of the car 🙂 Thanks to Dan and Maria for housing everyone, and for helping to find a lovely place for Terry and me to stay at night. Almost everyone got involved in the cooking, which was SO good! On Sunday, they prepared a feast, literally, in celebration of Terry and me and of our 50th anniversary in June.

One evening, we all gathered around the piano and sang for maybe two hours, maybe longer. Ken even found a violin, and it was so good to hear him play. Sheila manned the piano, and she always does such a lovely job.

In Oxford, we came across a Baptist church that was open to viewing. At one point, Mike and Janan started singing. Connell, Kyle and I joined them, and we were caught on video by the little elderly man who was the welcoming committee. He was so pleased to have us there and listen to us. He gathered us all around when it was time to leave, and blessed with a heartfelt prayer on our journeys.

There’s more, but I think it’s past time for me to stop.

Thursday and Friday

Thursday, the 11th, I was feeling very tired. The plan for the day was London, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up. I’ve been relatively pain-free for the last couple of days, which is something I want to keep on doing. Anyway, Maria couldn’t go because she was working; Dan had some things to attend to, so I decided to spend the day at their place.

When they all got home, Ken told me I’d made a good decision. It would have been hard to get me on and off the subway (excuse me, underground) and I can’t move fast at all. Mike agreed, good choice for me to stay home. They went to the Tower Bridge, and then to see the crown jewels; after that, the British Museum. I have seen all that, so it was good to just chill. The only trouble is, I was reading; I’d pulled a cosy blanket up over me to my chin, and I fell asleep almost instantly. I slept for three hours. NEVER do I do that during the day, because if I do I can’t sleep at night.

So I was awake until somewhere around 3a.m., and that makes me a very unhappy camper for the rest of the day.

Once Maria got home, we had a quick supper, and then enjoyed a walk through the village where Dan and Maria live. Beautiful old houses, lots of flowers, lots of friendly people. They’re in a good place.

Today, the 12th, we drove up to Blenheim Palace, the home of Sir Winston Churchill. It’s a huge estate, acres and acres of woods, river, lake, gorgeous old trees. The palace itself is an amazing place.

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We took the audio-guided tour, in which you are given a headset and what looks like an iPhone. In the phone, there are taped descriptions and histories about the rooms and the furnishings. It was most interesting–lots of history I was mostly familiar with, and beautiful big portraits of family members for a very long time ago. I loved the tapestries that covered entire walls, all stitched by hand.

We also went out to the fountain garden, and then to the incredibly beautiful rose garden. I could have sat there among the flowers for a very long time. It was a gorgeous day, sunshine and clouds and a delightful breeze.

I enjoyed the rooms that were dedicated to Winston Churchill. Lots of interesting photos, pictures of him working on the paintings he loved to create, war history, and so one. For a history buff like me and many of the others in our group, it was a real treat.

We were hungry, so we trekked to a Chinese restaurant that took great care of us. Our group numbers 15, and of course everyone ordered something different. They took it all in stride, and we were pleasantly stuffed by the time we were finished.

The drive home, or a drive anywhere here, scares me to death. They drive on the wrong side 🙂 I have to force myself not to watch, because cars coming toward us always seem to be coming right at us. Very hard to get used to. But we stopped for some ice cream to have when we got home, so that was worth the trip. Right now, the younger part of the group is in the kitchen playing some kind of game. Judging from the noise level, I’d say they’re enjoying themselves. The rest of us are looking at all the pictures taken today, catching up on email and blogs ( :)) and just kind of winding down.

Took no naps today, and it’s deliciously cool outside. I plan to sleep very well tonight.

Sunday Through Wednesday Morning

We left home around 10:30 on Sunday morning.I had arranged with the airline to have transport (wheelchair) for both of us, because neither of us is good at walking a distance these day. The escorts who pushed our chairs were wonderful. They were kind, helpful, and completely pleasant. They took us right to the front of every line, and no one was upset or unhappy with that. We breezed right through TSA, and then they wheeled us through to our gate. It’s the first time I’d ever experienced that service, and it sure saved us time and a lot of pain not to have to walk all that way.

Our escorts left us in the seats designated for the handicapped, and told us they would return to help us board. Again, we were taken to the head of the line and right to our seats on our first flight.

When we landed in Toronto, we were again met by two delightful women who tended to us until we were in the right gate. But between the Toronto flight and the London flight, I lost my Kindle e-reader. My own fault. I had dropped into the pocket on the back of the seat in front of me, and totally forgot about it. We have a report in the Air Canada’s lost and found, but I really don’t have much hope It will be returned. I need to get in touch with Amazon and tell them not to accept any new orders. Also, I will file a claim with the airline. I’m not going to do that until we get home, though, because there’s an off chance that someone will turn it in to lost and found, and they have our mailing address.

We arrive at Heathrow around 8:30 a.m. Ken’s family came in around noon, and we all piled into a couple of vans and drove up to Oxford, and the village of Islip where Dan and Maria live It’s a wonderful little village, just like you read about in Agatha Christie mystery novels or Jane Austen’s books. Dan and Maria are enjoying their time here, wishing they could find a way to stay after Maria finishes her degree.

It was so much fun when we were all finally together in one place. Lots of hugs and joking and just enjoying each other. Two people to add to the mix: Katerina, who has been Victoria’s friend since they were six years olf; and Josh, who is Victoria’s boyfriend. He’s a very pleasant guy, and and great cook. He and Janan have done major food prep. Victoria likes to cook, too. And I find absolutely no stress in having the opportunity to sit back and let them do it without my participation.

On Tuesday, we went in to Oxford. What a cool place! Amazing artisanship in the old buildings. You can almost envision Harry Potter and his buddies scooting around on brooms 🙂

We went through the University of Oxford Museum of Natural History. You could spend all day, every day, looking at the amazing collections there, for at least a month and maybe more. They have lots of fossils from dinosaurs, which I’ve always found fascinating. The size of those animals is astonishing.

From there, we went to the Botanical Gardens in Oxford. Oh, my, how beautiful! There are all sorts of things, but I especially loved the rows of all kinds of flowers. They’re planted in thick rows, and walking between the rows tends to stir up the scents from the various blooms. I want to go back there before we leave and just spend a couple of hours–or more–enjoying the color, variety, and aroma. It’s a delightful place.

I stole some pictures from my daughter-in-law Janan, who posted them on her Facebook page. If they don’t show up here, you can find myt FB easily. On your FB, just search for Linda Fullmer Kreger.

I’m sure there will be more pics.

The days are already flying by so fast! My back is holding up fairly well, but is still recovering from all those hours in an airplane.

One of my favorite things is just to sit and listen to my family talking and laughing together. Memories that will never fade.

It’s Baaaaaack!

My back, that is. Sigh. The reason I didn’t post my usual Bible post this morning is that I just couldn’t sit in the chair. It hurts.

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I’m not a doctor, but I sure am learning things I wish I didn’t have to know. My pain is most likely from a pinched nerve in my lumbar vertebrae caused by herniation. It screams from there to the top curve of the pelvic bone. And it stays there, burning and laughing at me when I have to move around. This is not sciatic pain, which goes down the leg. It’s diagnosed as radiculopathy. It’s ridiculous, for sure. And the pain level is waaaaaay above a 10.

BUT! I have lots of people praying for me. I have a team of doctors who truly listen and do their best to help me. I have medication that I started taking today, and already I feel an improvement. I don’t like prednisone. It wires me up and makes me manic. But if that’s what it takes, then so be it. I can’t have another injection because it’s been only 2 1/2 weeks since the last one.

We fly to England on July 7. The doctors are working with me to get this under control before we take off. I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am for these guys. Doctors who listen, care, and respond to your calls and messages? Priceless.

Any way, that’s my story for today. Hoping for a better one tomorrow 🙂

And I treasure your prayers.