Friday, February 29, 2008

We're back in Missouri after a wonderful week in Florida. We spent a good part of the last day trying to leave it in as good a shape as we found it but, in spite of our best efforts, we weren't sure if we did. We never did find a junk drawer, something that exists in every other home we've been in. There's some snow on the ground here and the temperature is in the 30's. We adjusted to the Florida weather quickly and probably won't readjust to Missouri quite as fast.

Yvonne and the baby came back on Wednesday to get Loretta, and we were all going to go out to dinner that evening at a seafood place that Vita had recommended. It was at some distance from where we were and near a place where we could have watched the boats come in. (Fishing boats, I guess.) When the tow truck driver had brought us our second rental car on Tuesday he had it running, so Rose didn't try the ignition. When we got ready to go to dinner on Wednesday, we thought the ignition key didn't fit. Both Rose and Shirley tried with no luck. We couldn't all six fit well in Yvonne's car, so we went to a nearby restaurant which turned out to be superb. Luckily it wasn't far cause Rose and I took turns sitting on each other's laps. The seafood was great as was the service. Our waiter even offered to try to start our rental car for us, but it wasn't within walking distance.

After we finished dinner and got back to the house and before we called Avis to complain, Yvonne suggested she give the key a try. She went outside and came immediately back inside to say she had it running. We felt like three senile old ladies. The rental car was a Dodge van and the key did not look like a key. It looked more like a remote door lock and unlock and that's what we assumed it was. Needless to say, it was the ignition key. Avis did knock $100.00 off our bill for the troubles we had with the first car. We didn't mention our troubles with the second car.

I had an email from Mike Madden. He had gone to Springfield to celebrate Aunt Virginia's birthday the week before. He said she is doing fine. Joe runs into her sister at arthritis exercises occasionally, and she keeps him posted.

I also had an email from Sandi 2 LL's. She's been very busy and was down with the flu for a week. Maudie is coming to Missouri this summer to spend some time in Conway with her sister. We hope she isn't coming that far without seeing all of us. Sandi is going to try to come for part of that time. I hope some of the rest of you 2 LL's can make it, too. For that matter any of our relatives.

Shirley is going to Chicago on Wednesday. I have to stay overnight that night for my IVIG in the hospital, and Rose is going to Chicago on Friday. Goldman, Maddog, Doug and I are going to go to the lake and decide what their projects for workweek are going to be. These young men are like my other sons.

Goldman dropped us off at the airport when we left for Florida and picked us up on our return. Meanwhile, while we were gone the garage door stuck open. He took care of calling the repairman and seeing that it was fixed. He is truly named - GOLDman.
Today is Wednesday and almost the last day of our vacation. We have had a wonderful time. Donald and Vita’s guest house is more like a playhouse. The houses in the community are all named, and this one is named ‘Happy Days’. ‘Turnbo South’ would not do it justice. It has every commodity you could wish for. The only thing we haven’t found is the junk drawer. Donald, you’ve gotten above your raising. Rose, Shirley and I arrived last Wednesday and the week has flown by. We would have had no trouble finding the place if we had listened to the GPS, but we made a few wrong turns.

Shirley’s niece Yvonne, and Yvonne’s daughter, Savannah, drove Loretta over from Louisiana and they arrived later that first evening. They didn’t listen to the GPS either and drove around the area for quite some time until Rose drove out of the subdivision and flagged them down. Savannah is almost two and lots of fun to have around. She and Yvonne are coming back today to get Loretta. We’ve only eaten dinner out once because we hated to leave. A rush trip to the grocery store is the extent of our outings. We just enjoy the ocean which is a beautiful aqua color, the sandy beach, the solitude, and the sunshine. It has rained some, but we just played cards and ate while it was raining. Vita, we’re glad there are no scales. This is some of our usual entertainments when we take our pre-Spring vacation.

There are several swimming pools here, a tennis court, a playground, restaurant, coffee shop, gift shop, chapel, and I’m sure lots of things I’ve missed. I’ve been walking almost every day and have made it to almost three miles a couple of times according to the pedometer. I’ve had to be careful not to get lost but managed to find my way back without using the cellphone to call for directions. All the other houses are cleverly named too and I’m trying to think of a clever name for the lake house. Any suggestions?

Rose and I had to leave the premises yesterday, and did so reluctantly, but had to find a Walgreens to have a prescription filled. We were driving a rental car with less than 1,000 miles on it. The nearest Walgreens was 12 miles away, and this time we did every thing the GPS told us to do. We pulled into a parking spot and a young man started opening my door. I thought it was just southern hospitality and that he was being cordial. Soon I heard him yelling “Get out. Your car is on fire!” I got out as fast as I could (which isn’t very fast) and Rose hopped out, too. The fire was underneath and everyone stood back until it seemed to have gone out. Needless to say, we were afraid to drive it. Rose got on the phone immediately and tried to contact the emergency roadside service assistance number at Avis. She did get a person who asked if it was drivable and she had to be extremely explicit about the fire. After about being transferred around about ten times and then getting cut off, she finally got a person who would take the information and promised to send a tow truck with a different rental car for us. It was going to take a while for the tow truck to get there so we ask a man a Walgreens if there were a seafood restaurant in walking distance. He told us about ‘Dirty Dick’s’, which was near. We had time to kill and didn’t want hamburgers, so decided we’d try it. There was a roll of paper towels on the table and the silverware was wrapped in a paper towe,l but the menu was a bit pricey. Pete, we needed your credit card. We had the best crab cakes we’ve ever had in our lives. They came with Hush Puppies which were superb and red beans and rice which Rose liked but I didn’t. The service was excellent. Donald had advised us to tip more than two and a half per cent or they would think we were Canadians, so we left a good tip. We told the bus boy how much we liked the crab cakes, and he said the grouper cakes were even better. We had never heard of them. We’re going out to eat tonight and are going to check the menu.

When we got back to Walgreens, there was still no tow truck with our car. Avis called on Rose’s cell phone to say the driver had gotten stopped by the police. When he finally arrived he explained that the police asked him to remove an accident from the highway. The car he brought us wasn’t nearly as nice as the one that caught, on fire but we hope it’s more trustworthy. Moral to this part of the entry: EAT AT DIRTY DICK’S AND DON’T RENT FROM AVIS

Sunday, February 17, 2008

It's a cold windy rainy Sunday here in St. Louis. We're looking forward to leaving for Florida on Wednesday. Though it won't be really hot down there, it will be better than Missouri has been and better than what the forecast for here is predicting. Pete called Saturday with his weekly update. He said they still have lots of snow on the ground in Idaho Falls and it was snowing there again as we were talking.

Maddog went with me Thursday evening halfway to Louisville to meet Scott and to pick up Brayden. Scott had suggested we meet in Santa Claus, Indiana. Maddog talked to Scott a couple times on the cells phones while we were enroute and he kept asking Scott which side of the road it was on. I couldn't imagine why he kept asking this knowing we could easily see the town from the highway. Finally Maddog told me he was expecting a giant Santa Claus, NOT a town by that name.

My 'butch' haircut hasn't grown any. Brayden won't let me go anywhere without my hat. Joe says he doesn't have much hair either and can wash it with a washcloth so not having much hair does have its advantages. He says his does grow fast and he has to get a haircut monthly. He knows when it's time when Pepper, the dog, needs his nails trimmed. He takes Pepper to a dog salon, but Chris said he trims his dogs' nails himself. He felt really bad last time cause he made one of them bleed.

Chris and Brayden took me to the wig place Friday to be fitted. They had lots of different colors - even purple - but none that matched the little hair I have left. They special ordered one that was fairly close to my colors (gray and black) and are having it overnighted. It should be here and be styled before we leave for Florida on Wednesday. The salon that cut it so short has agreed to pay part of the cost of the wig, but I'm holding out for the whole amount and would like to see the stylist fired. He would make a much better barber.

Goldman is going with me tomorrow to meet Scott halfway again and deliver Brayden. Goldman has been to Santa Claus before so he will know what to look for. We've had a wonderful time with Brayden, but it seems too short. He's only had one little bout of missing his Dad, and when Jalen called this morning he was too busy to talk to him. He says he still feels four even though he's been five for almost a week now. He and Shirley are both great Harry Potter fans, and she very patiently explains things as they watch the movies. He asks all kinds of questions about what is going on.

Dinner's ready. Rose and Brayden are cooking and he set the table. My next entry may be from Florida. We also need some news from other parts of the country.

We'll have photos to post soon.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My computer has a 'virus' and Shelly has the flu so Chris is taking care of both and hasn't had a chance to bring the computer back yet. I'm using Rose's in the meantime and hope to have mine back tomorrow. Margaret got worried about me Saturday cause she didn't see me online all day and called to see if I was okay.

We liked Sabrina's update. I could tell that it took a lot of time and effort. Let me explain where "I hope I don't look too cheerful" originated - When Uncle John died Sabrina came to Rose's and was blubbering and crying and could barely talk and I don't even remember what she was wearing but she blubbered to me "I hope I don't look too cheerful". She certainly didn't mean to be funny considering the circumstances but it was. It's become an old family expression that we use in different situations.

She mentioned Margaret's unfavorable results from her mammogram and the treatments that she's going through. This inspired both Rose and me to go for mammograms. We went this morning and they said we should have the results in a week or two. I went to the neurologist yesterday and all he did this time was change my medication a bit. The results they got from the electrodes weren't what they had hoped for but he said never say never. This is the neurologist that was born in the same hospital as me and Donald. He asked if I'd been down that way recently but I said no but my brother volunteers at 'our' hospital.

Brayden turned five today. Scott took him and Jalen to an indoor waterpark in Cincinnati Sunday and Monday. He got to skip school Monday and Scott said he didn't care if he got to go anywhere if he didn't have to go to school. He still cries til he gets to the carpet in the morning. Scott peeks in the window to check. Uncle Chris says it's okay cause he cries everyday on the way to work. Brayden called me today and said he may be five but he still feels four. Maddog and I are going to meet Scott and Brayden halfway between here and Louisville Thursday night and we get to keep him for the weekend.

Pete called Saturday morning with his weekly update. This week he was in blizzard conditions. He said the snow plow had been by three times already that morning. It's really cold here and we had just a bit of snow and ice last night but not much. It's supposed to stay cold all week. We leave next week Wednesday for Florida and are getting excited about it. Donald called yesterday with directions and said the key is in the mail.

I know I wrote about how they shaved the sides of my head when I had the surgery and it looked terrible. I wore a hat or a scarf for a few days and then said to heck with it. I went yesterday for a haircut and explained that I wanted my longer hair trimmed a bit and I was just waiting for the shaved part to grow out. He gave me a BUTCH!!! I'm going Friday to get a wig. After the haircut Rose and I drove around a bit and I cried a while and we went back. The man who cut it hid in the back of the shop. The manager won't tell us who owns the shop but I think this is a matter of public record. They are going to refund my money but say they won't pay for a wig. I'm going to get really nasty. Rose took some pictures this morning and I'll let her post them when I get a wig and I have a before and after.

I'm typing this on Rose's computer so it may say she wrote it. She could type it in about 5 minutes when it takes me probably at least 30.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

We had a most wonderful and complete contribution to the blog from Sabrina, Margaret and Norman's second daughter. We post it here with great delight:

"I woke up at 6:30 this morning, for whatever reason, and started thinking about your blog and how Aunt Sue said I was added as a contributor. I was wondering what the heck I would say, and started thinking about it. Here's my contribution, is it too much? Do I look too cheerful?

So, I was asked if I wanted to be a contributor to the famous Felin Blog. And at first, I wondered, what would I write about? I decided that maybe an update on the “Abbott Clan” would be sufficient.

I’ll start with the two that started the so-called “Abbott Clan”, my parents, Margaret and Norman. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last August, in a fashion suited to their lifestyle, a simple dinner with all of their children and grandchildren, in a small restaurant in a small town. When you get us all together, there are 21 of us (including Nathan’s fiancĂ©, Nichole, but more on that later). Mom and Dad epitomize love to all of us. Through thick and thin they have been there for us, for each other. Dad celebrated his 80th birthday in October, and the day after his birthday celebration at my house, Mom discovered a lump on her left breast. She was diagnosed with breast cancer less than a week later. She had a partial mastectomy and has just started her radiation, with about 27 more treatments to go. She will complete her radiation just in time to celebrate her 70th birthday on March 28th! My parents still look at each other with love in their eyes, still hold hands and are soul mates in the truest sense.

We’ll go in birth order on Margaret’s and Norman’s children, starting with their eldest, Stephanie, “My Sister”. Stef and Dan have been married for just over 26 years, and another example of two people destined to be together. Jessica, their daughter who passed away in 1988, would’ve been 25 this August. Nathan, their first son, will be 23 in March, celebrating his birthday on the same day as his Meemaw Maggie. Nathan is a free spirit of sorts, figuring out what to do with his life, and enjoying it every step of the way. He is engaged to Nichole, who is studying to be a Pharmacist. I can see her working, while Nathan stays home and takes care of the children. Then there is Jacob, Stef’s and Dan’s second son, who turned 20 in December. Jacob is a special soul, always searching for how he will “fit in” to the world around him. He is going to college now, studying to be a gaming programmer. Jacob had a tough beginning, being born 2 months premature, and having a sister who died two months after his birth. God bless his Mom, struggling with a premature newborn, and her first born’s passing, how hard would it be to nurture and grieve all at the same time? The effect on those two boys has been profound, to say the least.

Next in birth order would be me. I married my true love, Dave, in December 1992, had my first son, Alex, in January 1994, and my second son, Brett, in March, 1995. There is 1 year and 47 days difference in age between Alex and Brett, and 1 year and 48 days difference in age between “My Sister” and me. That amazed me the first time I figured that out. Today my boys are 14 and almost 13, both of them taller than me by more than 4 inches and both of them are amazing athletes. These days are filled with basketball and then more basketball. Alex started and co-captained the undefeated 8th grade team this year, while Brett held his own on the 7th grade team and another select team. Brett is taller than Alex by two inches, standing 5’ 9”, weighing 125 pounds, tall and lean. To say that they are my pride and joy would be an understatement. God knew what he was doing when he gave me two boys. I work a lot of hours and travel often with my job. Dave takes them to all of their basketball practices, drives them to school every morning, while being self-employed as a painting contractor. I used to hate it when Dave could take off any time he wanted while I had to work, but that has turned out to be the best thing for our family, like I said, a blessing. Dave’s daughter, Lauren, was 7 when I met her. People used to ask me if being a stepparent was hard, but Lauren was always more like my daughter than my stepdaughter. She’s just one of those people who has always been easy to love, not only for me but also for my entire family. Today Lauren is married Josh, who is a Marine, and they are living in North Carolina. They have a little baby boy, Tristan, who turned one in December. Josh has already served two tours in Iraq, the second time coming home last September, and he is only 24 years old.

After me, comes my brother, Randy. Randy is one special man, hard for me to believe that he is a man, because when we were growing up, Randy was my best buddy, and always such a boy. Randy has a wonderful family, starting with his wife, Lynn. They will celebrate their 20th anniversary this year. I hope one day (a long time from now), that I will have a daughter-in-law as special as my parent’s only daughter-in-law. Randy’s and Lynn’s first daughter, Erica, will be 18 on February 13, 2008. When Erica was born, I was single, thinking I would never have children of my own. Erica looked more like my daughter than Lynn’s, and used to love to watch her for Randy and Lynn. She spent weekends with me and I would take her the stores with me, pretending that she was mine. Erica is now exploring colleges to go to next year, leaning towards Belmont College in Nashville, Tennessee. She makes really good grades in school, just like her Aunt Bebe did back in the day. Their second daughter is Amanda, who will be 16 in June. Amanda is the spitting image of her mother, a real beauty inside and out. Amanda is a sweet and gentle person, with a real sense of style. Connor is Randy’s and Lynn’s third child, a son who will be 15 in September. Conner is a scholar and an athlete. He is the top of his class, making straight A’s and acing his assessment tests. The most amazing thing about Randy’s children is how humble, yet confident they are. As for Randy, he has learned that his calling in life, besides having a wonderful family, is spreading the word of God. Randy drives down to the city of St. Louis every Thursday night and preaches the word of God to a group of homeless people, a growing group of people who continue to show up week after week, to hear him. He has been successful at getting some of them off of the streets and into homes. Lynn is Randy’s Pillar of Strength, who is, in my opinion, much like my Mom, the glue that keeps the family together.

Okay, so then one would think, after all of this, Margaret and Norman had one more child? What could make this child special? So, lastly, there is Catrina. I am old enough to remember the day my Mom brought Catrina home from the hospital. Old enough to remember how Stef and I used to feed her and then pushed her belly because we like to hear how it sloshed when we pushed it, neither of us liking, though, how she spit up on us after we did this for a while. The joke about “My Sister” is that I always referred to Stef as “My Sister”, because I called her “Sis”, so when Catrina was born, there was “My Sister” and Catrina, and this still holds true today. Old habits I guess. I liken Catrina to my Brett. I don’t think Catrina was “planned”. I am pretty sure that my parents were surprised when they found out they were going to have her, given that by then Randy was 6, I was 10 and Stef 11. We lived in Germany when Mom got pregnant with Catrina, and Mom says the reason she cried so much when she found out about her pregnancy with Catrina was because she was afraid the doctors would make us stay in Germany until after Catrina was born. The reason I liken Catrina to my Brett, is because, I too, was shocked when we learned we were going to have him, after all there is only 1 year and 47 days age difference between him and Alex, but now I could not imagine my life without Brett anymore than I could imagine my life without Catrina. They are equally special. I think Catrina was parented differently than the rest of us. While we were all scared of my Dad, she had not even an ounce of fear. The belt, the sir and ma’am, cleaning up your plate or you don’t leave the table, even if the brussel sprout you were given 3 hours ago is cold and even grosser now than then, the chores…. Catrina knew none of that in her childhood. Catrina has always been the rebel in the family. Today, however, she is married to a wonderful man, Rob. Catrina has two children, Sam and Liz, from a previous marriage. Rob adopted her children and also has two sons from a previous marriage, Andrew, 18 and Matthew, 14. Andrew just joined the Marines, while Matthew lives in Phoenix with his Mom. They both love Catrina. Sam, Catrina’s son, is the most kind hearted and gentle soul that I know. He has one of those voices that just soothes a bad mood. Now Liz, well, she’s her Mom’s daughter, to be sure. Sassy and precocious, she isn’t going to take any flack from anyone. I’ve no doubt that she will make her mark in the world as will her Mom.

And this concludes my update on my family. I think that the older I get, the more I appreciate the family that I have been given, or more correctly, blessed with. I pray that I never take this for granted, for I know firsthand that everyone is not as fortunate as I. My wonderful family extends way past those that I have mentioned here, to my Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Second Cousins, Great Aunts, Great Uncles, and Grandparents….we are all blessed. Let us not ever take this for granted.

I think my contributor access might be revoked after this update...."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

It's been a while since my last post but there hasn't been a lot of news around here. Rose has recovered from her Bells'd Palsy. She had some twitches of her eye for a while and food fell out of her mouth for a few days (which suited her cause she thought it helped her diet) but she's finished her round of prednisone now and seems fine.

Donald and Vita went off to there place in Florida for a few days. Rose, Shirley and I are scheduled to go down there and spend a week later this month and are all excited about. Shirley's niece, Yvonne, is driving Shirley's sister, Loretta, over from Louisiana to join us. She always joins us on our winter vacation. She makes our fourth for cards and relaxes, eats, chats, and just does nothing with us.

Pete and Janet left Arizona early this year and went back to cold wintry Idaho. Joe found it hard to believe they would do that but Pete told me they were leaving last Monday. Probably missing the kids and grandkids.

John is still working on this side of Missouri and going back to home (Lenexa, Ks.) on weekends. Jana said he had a couple interviews this week. I'm sure they will both be very happy when their lives get back to normal. John is staying with Chris and Shelly during the week and he really likes the dogs which he says Chris and Shelly treat like people.

Sabrina is going to be our new contributor to the blog but Margaret told me she's been in Mexico this week. We need some updates from some of our other contributors, too.

We may get to have Brayden and Jalen for a weekend later this month. Brayden will be five on the 12th and what he wants for his birthday is tickets to some wrestling event - WWE. Some of the same guys wrestle that wrestled when his dad was a boy and I'm sure they take steroids and some of it is fake but he and Jalen both love it. Scott picked him up from school the other day and asked him if he had thought of anything else he wants for his birthday. He replied "Yes, how about a trip to Florida?" "Out of the question" Scott told him.

I have an appointment with one of my neurologists on Monday. Attaching the electrodes to the surface of my brain didn't give them the results they had hoped for
so they aren't going to proceed with the brain surgery. The activity is coming from both sides of my brain so it would be risky to proceed and do both sides. I'll find out more on Monday what they'll try next. This is the neurologist that was born in the same place I was - only 18 year later.