Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Simple Life - Part One

I started my vacation with a trip to Amish Country with Aunt Trudy. We were immediately transported to a different world. And it was a perfect way to start the week. . .to get out of the "fast lane" and get in the "slow lane." Trudy only lives about 20 minutes from Fredericksburg, Ohio, an Amish village. We just drove around enjoying the peacefulness of the countryside and the gentle lifestyle of the Amish.

Monday must have been washday because every house had their laundry hanging out on the clotheslines.

All of their gardens were growing in straight rows, perfectly weeded and manicured. There were one or two rows flowers decorating the fronts of the gardens.

We passed a hayfield with little piles of hay.

A man and young boy passed us on a horse & buggy and waved to us. Everywhere we went, these special people would smile, wave, and/or nod their heads politely. I rolled down the car windows so that I could hear the wheels of the buggy turning and the "clip-clop" of the horse's hooves trotting on the road as it passed us.

Our first stop was at a Bulk Food Store where the Amish sell food in bulk. There was a young girl working the counter in traditional Amish dress and bare feet. When I asked her if I could take her picture, she kept her eyes down and said "We don't do pictures." So, I respected her privacy but found out she was only 11 years old. She wrote down our purchases in the book in front of her and meticulously figured out the tax and total. And gave back the correct change.

We also stopped at the local auction, which is held a few times a week. The local Amish farmers bring in their produce for sale and people come from miles to bid on them.

Their vegetables and fruit were BEAUTIFUL and COLORFUL and looked liked they had been washed and dried for perfection!

These homegrown onions sold for $1.06 a box!

No, we didn't buy anything here. We would have had to get a number and the auctioneer was calling off the goods way too fast!

To Be Continued. . .

Monday, July 30, 2007

Family Reunion

I arrived safely at my Aunt Trudy's house in Mt. Gilead, Ohio on Saturday evening around 6:30 p.m. It took me 7 1/2 hours to get here, which included a wrong turn. (I need GPS in my next vehicle. *sigh*) I treated myself to a cherry dip cone at the Dairy Queen in Kentucky (it is my favorite ice cream treat and I cannot get this in Tennessee.) The traffic was good and I relished the solitude of my car. It was just me and John Denver on the road singing "Take me home, Country Roads, to the place where I belong. . . " There is something special about driving down the country roads and seeing the fields, farmhouses, barns, and animals. I feel like I am home again. Both of my grandparents lived on farms and I spent many years in the country visiting them. It is nice to get away.

The fresh air is wonderful and I love hearing all the sounds of the country. No city sounds at all. . . I'm hearing a lot of tree frogs and crickets, usually at the same time. The tree frogs sound interesting because their song increases and decreases in volume constantly. I’m also hearing birds everywhere. Even though I'm away from the city, it is still not that quiet! I'm hoping to hear an owl while I'm here. . .

Sunday was a family reunion (my mother's family) and was fun. It was only about 20 minutes away from Trudy's house and I saw many relatives I had not seen for a long time. There is nothing like good old country food like fresh corn on the cob, vegetables from the garden, deviled eggs, potato salad, homemade pies, etc. Here are a few family pictures. . .

This is me with my cousin, Becky. Can you see the family resemblance here?These are my mother's three brothers, Bill, David, and Richard Thurston
This is me with Aunt Janet and Uncle Richard. My uncle is a minister and married me and Steve 30+ years ago.

Friday, July 27, 2007

This Energizer Bunny Quit

Even though I "run" on batteries, I cannot keep "running" forever. My "batteries" are nearly drained and I am in desperate need of a break. These last few weeks I have been so tired. It is a tiredness that will not go away with a good night's sleep, a massage, or a day off. I’ve had several indicators lately, too, telling me that it is time for a "time-out."

Several weeks ago, Pastor Jeff, centered his sermon around Matthew 11:28 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” As soon as he spoke, I felt as if the message was designed especially for me. Ever feel like that sometimes? He talked on the subject of finding rest the following Sunday, too. On July 20th, I accidentally read August 20th in my devotional book and Matthew 11:28 showed up again. Later that week, as I was driving down the road, I saw the verse again on a church billboard. It was clear to me that God was sending me a message! My family, friends, and coworkers have all noticed my weariness, too, and have voiced their concerns.

One friend in particular commented to me that mothers and wives take care of everyone and everything and mentioned that I could be the spokesperson for the Energizer Bunny! She also reminded me that I just had major surgery this year, lived through the horrors of Virginia Tech, take care of my husband, family, friends, our children’s friends, worry about them, run the household, work two jobs (my credit union job and finances for our business), volunteer and participate in church activities, travel, etc. etc. etc. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. So, I’ve scheduled some time off to get away from everything.

I feel guilty for being tired because my husband is exhausted, too, and works so hard for all of us. But, he knows that I am at my "breaking point" and understands my need for solitude and time to think with no distractions. He says he has his “vacation” on the golf course every weekend and is content with that. We are no good if we are both falling apart! One of us needs to be strong for the other.

So, this Saturday, I will pack up my SUV and head north to Ohio ALONE for nine days. I plan to spend some time with my Aunt Trudy, who lives in the country north of Columbus. I will also spend some time with my brother and relax by his pool at his house. I’ll have lunch with my mother-in-law and dinner with my father in the middle of the week. I also plan to attend two family reunions and a high school reunion. But the rest of my time will be spent in peace and quiet.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. . . .”

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Very Special Announcement

I just checked the Governor of Tennessee's website (I've been checking it every day) and discovered that "the announcement" has finally been made for his recent appointments for various boards in the State of Tennessee. Go here and scroll about halfway down to the Tennessee Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. And you will see my name! This will probably be in the local newspaper here as well as several others. I also have a nice plaque and letter from Governor Bredesen.

I have known about this appointment since April but the Governor had the first rights to make the press announcement. This appointment as a citizen representative is for three years and I will travel to Nashville four times a year (all expenses paid) to sit on a council. I'm not sure of all of my responsibilities yet but I do know that I will be an advocate for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for East Tennessee.

Some of you are probably thinking that I don't need to add one more thing to my schedule. But I cannot pass up this wonderful opportunity. Now that I can hear well with two cochlear implants, this is a new chapter in my life. I know first hand what it is like to live with a hearing loss and the trials and frustrations that go along with not being able to "get the message" and miss out on so many things. I would not be where I am today without the wonderful support of my family, friends, coworkers, teachers, and other people who have been a part of my life all these years. Plus, our children are getting older and "leaving the nest," which will allow me to spend time helping others. So, I hope to be a voice for others who cannot hear and "pay it forward," like others have done for me in the past.

My first meeting is next month on August 24th. I'll give a small report on my trip to the HLAA conference in Oklahoma City. I also have been asked by the director of the Disabilities Office at the University of Tennessee to be a mentor for incoming deaf and hard of hearing students. While I'm in Nashville, I plan to spend some time with Jennifer and my Nashville relatives. It's a three hour drive from here and will be well worth it!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sounds of Summer

  • A lone mourning dove cooing softly in the morning

  • Wind blowing softly through the leaves of trees

  • Rain gently falling

  • Booming Thunder

  • Lightning popping and crackling

  • Birds chirping and fluttering around the bird feeders

  • Pitter patter of puppy feet

  • Coffee percolating

  • Ice falling and water filling ice maker in freezer

  • Car and truck tires crunching gravel on neighbor's driveway

  • Lawnmowers cutting grass
  • Construction trucks backing up

  • Dogs barking

  • Neighbor children laughing, talking, playing

  • Crickets trilling loudly in the evenings

  • Air conditioners and fans humming
  • Clocks ticking

  • Sounds of silence

  • The still quiet voice of God. . .

(Click on the comments and share some of your sounds of summer with me. . .or email me. . . I'd love to "hear" from you.)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Monk & Neagle CD

I love music, especially Christian music.

I listen to music every chance I get. . . and found a site for a free CD by Monk & Neagle!

Go HERE to register! And let me know if you get one!

(Postscript: Friday 7/20/07 - I had an email today from the Assoc. Director of Interactive Marketing at Provident Music Group telling me that my free pre-release CD of Monk & Neagle is on its way to me in the mail! Can't wait to get it and download it to my iPod!)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Happy Birthday To My Best Friend!

Happy Birthday, Steve!

Today is his birthday but he is not here to celebrate with us. We usually go out to eat and have presents for him. He left on July 5th for a business trip to Latvia and Bulgaria so I put a card and present in his suitcase while he was packing. He returns home at the end of this week. Two weeks is just too long to go without my best friend!

I did arrange for him to have a surprise celebration today and he emailed me to tell me about it. We have been to Latvia several times for mission trips and business so we have some good friends there. The church that he went to this morning sang "Happy Birthday" to him and gave him several gifts. They also had a reception afterwards with cake and tea. I also arranged for our administrative assistant, Irina, to take him out to eat after church. So she, our engineer, Sergey, Steve, and our friend & lawyer, Apolonija, went to the Macaroni Noodle Bar for lunch. Apolonija needed to leave early so he, Sergey, and Irina had tea at the Apsara Teahouse afterwards. He was pleasantly surprised and had a nice day. I'm glad.

I did talk with him on Skype yesterday morning. I have some great headphones and can hear him as if he were sitting next to me. There was a slight buzz in the background but I was able to understand most of what he said. And he types on the computer if I miss a word, much like an instand message. He has been sick with a fever and deep cough so I've been a little worried about him. But, he does have people taking care of him for me!

I miss you, Steve. Hurry home so we can celebrate YOU!

Saturday, July 14, 2007


I haven't posted a puppy update in awhile but just had to share these pictures that I took today! As you recall, Riga had eight puppies in April. We now two left - one is for our son, Chris, and the other is for our son, Brad, at Virginia Tech. The puppies are now three months old and are trying to put their ears up. But, they look so funny! The ears will straighten out eventually and be the German Shepherd ears they're supposed to look like.
Meet Brutus (Chris' puppy)

Meet Leon (Brad's Puppy)

Huh? What did you say???

Leon was the runt of the litter and I just couldn't let him go. I'm happy that he will stay in the family. Both puppies are doing well with their housebreaking and do everything together. They also get in trouble together! The two of them are pretty good about staying in the yard most of the time. It's funny how different their personalities are. Leon goes crazy when he sees Chester, the cat, and I can always tell where the two of them are when I hear him barking. He also howls when he hears the neighbor dogs barking. Brutus could care less about the cat but he barks, too, when he wants to. Brutus is very photogenic and will pose for a picture but Leon always turns away when he sees the camera. I was lucky to get these pictures! Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Post Script: Ambulance Service

Right after I posted my entry about the Ambulance Incident, I read in the paper that this particular ambulance company was fined almost $100,000 for slow ambulance service for the month of May. It seems to me that in their haste to get to an emergency on time the other day they forgot to turn on their lights. Hmmm. . . I hope they make some changes!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

An Unnerving Incident

There is no question that my cochlear implants have caused me to be more aware of the sounds around me, especially sounds that need to be paid attention to. You will recall from this post that I could not always hear sirens unless I saw their flashing lights first. Yesterday when I left work, I had the sunroof open on my car to let the heat out because it was so hot. Normally, I keep my car closed up with the air conditioner running to cool off in this July heat. As I approached an intersection, I heard a siren but had no warning, no lights or anything. There was an ambulance coming right at me and it startled me. Luckily, I was able to move over so it could pass. I was confused about why I did not see it coming but soon realized that it did not have the warning lights activated. But, thankfully, I clearly heard the siren. If I had not heard it first with my cochlear implants, the ambulance would have had another emergency with my vehicle!

This incident bothered me so much that I felt like someone needed to know about it. What if I didn't have my cochlear implants? What if it was another deaf or hard of hearing person driving down the road? Even normal hearing people don't always hear sirens when they have their cars closed up, play loud music, or are busy doing something else besides driving like talking on their cell phones. But flashing lights, even off in a distance, would alert someone and catch their eye before they actually hear the sound of a siren approaching. So, I went to the ambulance company's website this morning and wrote them a letter. And got a response in a few hours. I will leave names out but here is an excerpt:

Dear Ms. P.,

Thank you for your letter. First off, I would like to apologize for the incident regarding the ambulance siren. On this particular incident, the ambulance crew was responding on an emergency call. When the crew left the station, they failed engage all of their emergency warning devices. The siren obviously was on, however, the lights did not "engage". The crew did not do this on purpose. In their "rush" to get to the scene of the emergency, they failed to fully engage all their warning equipment.

This is embarrassing to us as an operation and quite frankly, I wish I could tell you that " a fuse blown" or some other malfunction had occurred. Unfortunately, however, we just plain failed to completely do our job. Again, I apologize for the incident occurring and I will definitely speak with the crew involved and review with them the procedure for emergency response. Thank you for taking the time out to notify us so we could address and correct the issue. If I can be of any further service, please contact me at (999) 999-9999.

EMS Operations Manager

As an advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing, I felt that this needed to be addressed. And was pleased that someone cared enough to respond and do something about it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Happy Couple

Here they are! The happy couple, Jessica and Jason!

We had a great time with them in Houston, Texas last weekend. Our flight to Texas was delayed on Thursday night so we didn't get to meet Jessica and her family until the next day. Our three days in Texas was a fun and busy time. She, my sister-in-law Deb, and I went shopping on Friday while the guys played golf. Jessica proudly showed me her wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses that she had picked out at David's Bridal shop and her shoes at Bruccettes shoe store. (Her dress and shoes are on order and had not arrived yet.) I even found my shoes for the wedding for me! I had not planned on shopping but I could not resist these shoes! This is the first time I've purchased shoes before the dress. Later, we also went out to lunch and met her mother and brothers at Chili's.
On Saturday we all went out to eat at The Original Claudio's Italian Restaurant and Piano Bar where Jason had played his guitar and proposed to Jessica a few weeks ago. This place seems like a popular hangout near the beach and had a great atmosphere. This time we met her grandparents, too. There were eleven of us, which included the happy couple, Jason's friend who was visiting from Ohio, Jessica's grandparents, her parents, Steve & I, and Deb & Stacy. Our table was right next to the dance floor and the music. We had a great time, the food was delicious, but I had trouble conversing at the table because the atmosphere was so noisy. (I think everyone had trouble carrying a conversation so it wasn't just me.) It was also dark so I couldn't read lips very well either. No matter what I did with my processors, it was hard to find the right mix. Every now and then a couple would come and dance with the music. I love to watch other people dance, especially when they are good. I danced with my son and my husband a few times. I think it would be fun to take dance lessons before the wedding. I've always loved the movie "Shall We Dance" with Richard Gere in it and have always wanted to learn to dance.
On Sunday, we went to church with Jason & Jessica, Jason's friend, Jessica's parents and one of her brothers. We went to the First Methodist Church in downtown Houston where the wedding will take place in November and it is BEAUTIFUL! The church has lots of stained glass windows, burgundy carpet and pews, and a pipe organ behind the choir loft. The sanctuary is spread out in a half moon shape with a balcony and the sound system seems good (better than most churches I've been in.) After church we went out to eat for lunch at Maggiano's Little Italy Italian Restaurant to talk and plan some wedding details as a family. Jason loves this place and ordered for all of us - we ate family style! Steve and I left at 2 p.m. because we had to be at the airport to catch our 4 p.m. flight. As it turned out, our flight was delayed leaving Houston because of storms in Atlanta, so we missed our 9 p.m. connecting flight to Knoxville. We got on the 10:40 p.m. flight but that one didn't leave until after 1 a.m.!!!! So, we finally made it home and in bed by 2:30 a.m. It was a long weekend but a good one. We had not seen Jason since Christmas. And I hadn't seen him face to face since my 2nd CI surgery. We'll be back in Houston for a wedding soon!