Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's 2017

We have an elegant dinner dance for all the couples who celebrate their 50th anniversary during that year here in my retirement community called Savanna Club.

There were 12 couples in 2017.  In this day and age, 50 years is really commendable.  There were about 300 people at the party.  

I also helped with the refreshments for the honorees backstage. 

I am on the Social Committee and helped with the flowers.  Working with gorgeous roses and with good friends was a delight. 

Each couple is interviewed and a slide show is prepared with photos depicting special and funny memories from their years together.  The story of how they met is often amusing and they are always asked what advice they would give to others. 

Gary surprised me with a dozen red roses.  What a marvelous man he is!

Valentine's Day is soooo much better when there is a "special someone" in your life.  Gary Suter surely is  special and it is an unexpected surprise to share a special relationship with him. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Hello 2017 with My BOYFRIEND!

The reference to "my BOYFRIEND" came about when I was first seeing Gary.  

My nephew, Levi May, was razzing me with,  "Hey, Aunt Mary, how's your BOYFRIEND?"  

I kept answering,  "Oh, you mean my FRIEND who's a BOY?  He's fine."  This went on and on!!

Not long after that I got a text from Gary and he referred to me as his girlfriend.  I was thrilled!!!!

MY BOYFRIEND, Gary Suter surprised me with an invitation to fly me to Virginia to bring in the new year!

Phil and Maribeth May, my brother and sister-in-law, were having a big party and Gary and his daughter, Krista, were invited.  The plan was that I would show up at their party as a surprise.  Things got complicated when Gary got a call that they were sick so the party was postponed.  We stopped over there anyway.

The party did come off a few days later.  In the meantime, Gary and I had a great week.  On New Year's Eve, we went to Harrisonburg for their First Night celebration.  That was even better than expected in spite of the bitter cold.
Gary Suter and Mary May Angelil
Here's a photo taken by Robert Mishler.  
Robert introduced us!!  Thank you, thank you, Robert!!!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Brunch 2016

Christmas 2016 was a time that I was able to "pay it forward"  There have been so many folks who have helped me along the way in my grief process so it was gratifying to be able to help someone else.  A gal named Flo Hedges sat with me some in church.  I knew she had lost her husband fairly recently and this would be her first Christmas alone.  

I am sooo glad I asked her what she was doing on Christmas Day.  Her plan was to probably go out to eat by herself.   There was NO way I was going to let that happen!  I invited my neighbors, Gene and Jane Pinson from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and Flo for a Christmas brunch. 
We sat in my Florida Room with the windows open.  The weather was perfect and there was a gentle breeze.  The four of us had a wonderful meal, filled with laughter and good conversation.
It was a privilege to help someone through a difficult time after all the times my family, friends, and others have helped me. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Return to Florida in the Fall of 2016

My new friend, Gary Suter, drove the two kitties and me to Florida for my winter stay.  We had a marvelous time just "hangin' out" and going out to eat.  (**see below for COMMENT)
Gary likes eating seafood on the ocean or on the water.  I like that, too, so we had fun exploring Port St. Lucie, Stuart, and Ft. Pierce areas and the many neat restaurants. 
I enjoyed sharing my retirement community and my church with him.  

I live about 5 miles from the ocean "the way the crow flies." My 55+ community is called Savanna Club  http://www.savannaclubhoa.com/ .  It's a blast to be surrounded by 1,900 homes of mostly retired owners who are ready to go "play" at a moment's notice.  

My church, First United Methodist Church of Port Saint Lucie.  http://www.pslfumc.com/   is about 4 miles away and I've made a lot of friends there, especially with my Good Grief group and the United Methodist Women (UMW).

**COMMENT:  Describing Gary as "my new friend" is an understatement.  He was my friend but we've moved into the "boyfriend and girlfriend" arena!  He is a VERY special man, that's for sure!!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Catching up.....

OK, OK, I have surely been remiss with my blog.  I was thinking of just skipping the year but, when I looked at my photos, I decided it would be good to document things just for fun.  

So, you'll see short posts but that'll be better than nothing.  AND you might see more grammatical or spelling errors.  If so, PLEASE tell me.........I am not emotionally attached to my work, OK?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Yummy Apple Butter

Ah, apple butter....... I took for granted how it was made until I got involved this year.  The Ruritan Club of Singers Glen makes apple butter every year as a money-maker to fund their many service projects.  

30 bushels of apples

Ruritan members and others helping to cut the apples (I was on the other side of the circle!)

Some "machines" to make the work faster (Don't know if it did or not!)

Washing the apples.

Apples cooking.

Running apples through sieve

Preparing jars

Lots of stirring

Sugar and spice

It's ready!

Sterilizing jars in steam table

Filling jars with funnel made by Leonard Hollar, operated by his son, Hunter Hollar

Sealing and labeling jars

The label

514 quarts of homemade apple butter. 

 Wouldn't you like to buy some? It's so good that I could just get a spoon and eat it!  

It was great to be a part of this worthwhile yearly project!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Election Day Dinner

The Donovan Memorial United Methodist Church ( http://www.donovanumc.org/ ), my home church in Singers Glen, Virginia, has held an Election Day Meal since about 1945. 

This is always an outstanding meal with oysters, turkey, country ham and ALL the trimmings followed by many, many choices of homemade pies..........MMmmmm...good!

I was a pie-cutter this year and was "plumb wore out" but really enjoyed the fellowship with Gayle Davis, the head pie-cutter, other workers, and guests.

Juanita McMullen has served the oysters for over 50 years.  I think it's longer than that but she is modest.  When you come to the Election Day Dinner you KNOW Juanita is going to be serving the oysters!
We sold approximately 160 meals but I don't know how much profit there was.  The important thing, besides a delicious meal, is the teamwork that happens to continue with the various missions and projects of the church.

It is a privilege for me to be a part of such a tradition and work with people who have known me since I was born.... and I have known them and treasure knowing them.  

p.s.  I had a few more photos but have filed them in "a safe place."  If I find them, I'll add them to this post.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

My Brain Surgery is Behind Me!

Praise the Lord!!  The surgery to correct the trigeminal neuralgia is behind me.

They had said I'd be in the University of Virginia hospital (about 65 miles from home) for a couple of days and after that I would go home.  I was there for 4 days but when they discovered I live alone, things seemed to change.  I came to a rehab facility here in the Shenandoah Valley, which I chose so I would be nearer home.
VMRC (Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community) turned out to be a wonderful choice.  I was there for 18 days and realize I needed the therapy, especially to work on my balance and stamina.  A therapist had to come check my house to be sure it would meet Medicare's standards for safety before they could send me home.  By that time, I had worked hard in therapy and was relieved I didn't need home therapy or outpatient therapy.

I asked the surgeon for more information about how the surgery was done.  There were two surgeons and they started with loupes like jewelers use.  Then they switched to microscopes.  That's when they inserted the Teflon pad to stop the friction between the nerve and blood vessel.  
The faint circle shape towards the bottom of the incision is where they used a 1" drill to drill  through my skull.  Afterwards, they covered the hole with a titanium plate and used screws to hold it in place.  I do wonder if I'll set off the alarms at the airport security lines!

At first it scared me because I was still having some face pain.  The doctor at rehab explained that the nerves in my face have been attacked and beat up for three years.  It takes a while for nerves to calm down and recuperate so I must not panic.  He was right - I've been over a week without a pain pill.  

Now I can get on with my life without living in fear of an attack coming at any time, plus I don't have to take all the medications that caused me such dizziness.  I do think the surgery was a success! 

This is all so mind-boggling to me! (Pun intended!)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

My Brain Surgery is Soon

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) appeared on my face three years ago, affecting the nerve that comes from just above my ear and branches in to 3 nerves onto the left side of my face.  An attack feels like an open electric cord is touching my face.  I never know when it is going to strike or how long it may go on.  The pain is so intense that it is called "The Suicide Disease."

An MRI was sent to UVA (University of Virginia) and reviewed by a panel who then sent it on to specialists.  The MRI shows that a nerve and a blood vessel are crossing and rubbing against each other.  In order to correct this,  I will be having brain surgery on Wednesday, September 28, 2016.   

Yes, you read correctly.........brain surgery!!!!!  Am I scared?  You'd better believe I am!  They will drill a one-inch hole through my skull behind my ear.  Then, using micro probes, they will go in and insert a piece of Teflon between the blood vessel and the nerve to stop the rubbing.  They will then put a titanium plate over the hole.

Does this indicate to you how bad the pain from the TN is?  Letting someone drill a hole in my skull!!!

The result?  I will get out from under these ever threatening pain attacks.  AND I will be able to stop the 3 prescriptions (with their numerous side effects) used to avoid and treat attacks.

I would appreciate your prayers as I go through this Microvascular Decompression Surgery in trying to escape this Trigeminal Neuralgia pain.  Pray for the surgery process to go well, for speedy recovery, and that this will end my TN pain.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The County Fair with Levi

It's been awhile since I've posted anything on my blog.  That's because I've been busy "living." 

My 26-year-old nephew, Levi, had invited me to the Rockingham County Fair.  I declined during the afternoon for no other reason than that I had an attack of laziness.  Maribeth, my sister-in-law, laid on the guilt by texting,  "You turned down a date with my boy?  Bad girl!"  I replied that I hoped he would give me a rain check.  He texted,  "Rain check will not be granted."  Even though I knew he was kidding, I decided to get moving and I'm glad I did!

A first for Levi was a tractor pull.  Although we didn't really understand how this modern version works, we enjoyed watching it for a while.

Levi decided that Aunt Mary should go on a ride.  I was finally talked into the ferris wheel.  That seemed pretty tame until he moved to my side for that ever-famous selfie!  That look in my eyes would be called FEAR!
Fear on the Ferris Wheel!      
It's obvious that I am easy to persuade.....  After the ferris wheel, Levi decided that I simply MUST go on one more ride because he had tickets left.  I looked around, frantically trying to choose the tamest one.
More Fear.  I checked to be sure the emergency squad was nearby.
Yes, it was scary but I was slightly reassured when we got on the second row and these metal seat belts/bars were locked in by the operator.  After the initial drop, it was bearable.  As we got off, I was relieved to know that Levi was out of tickets.  I also knew why he wanted to do the rides BEFORE we ate!!!

One big reason Levi wanted to go to the fair was for funnel cake.  I had told him that I only wanted a taste of his but I was glad I got one of my own! It was one of those:   "Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we may diet!" evenings.
A Sinful Supper
I'm glad I fought the lazy feeling and went to the fair.  Levi, thank you for challenging your aunt and thanks for a delightful evening!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Fun But Not Frivolous

Partying and playing seem to be what I notice as I view many of my blog posts.  But that is only the tip of the iceberg of what these events are really about.

The people of Savanna Club Community give to and support a variety of different charities

For example, our Women's Club has over 300 members and we donate thousands of dollars.  We especially like to support local charities, including anything from cancer, to Boys and Girls Club,  to the local food bank, to Toys for Tots (and a program like it), to shelters for battered women, to the blind, to veterans, and many, many  more.

This giving makes our "fun" have a purpose that is worthwhile.  When people work together they can make great accomplishments.  

Friday, March 11, 2016

Lovely Luau

When it was announced that our next Women's Club activity was going to be a luau, I inwardly groaned because at my age, a swim suit isn't my favorite garment to wear.  But this luau was different. The theater (there are over 300 members in the Women's Club) was beautifully decorated, the food was great and the activities and entertainment were top-notch.  

The appetizer table featured a tree made of pineapples and other fruit.
(Wish I had taken a photo of the fruit appetizers added to the table.)
The monkeys were made of various fruits and were especially clever.
Once again Wendy MacArthur and Judy Pagenkop's creative skills brought joy to everyone.
I had the fun job of giving out the leis and our dancer greeted and took tickets.
 The room was beautifully decorated and made even better 
with the rich, cheerful colors of the mumus.
I had a tropical dress so wore it instead of a mumu.
They had a mumu parade and awarded prizes.  
Marcia Tarantino and Signe Lincioni won for most creative.
The Women's Club president, Linda Houlihan, ran the meeting.  
Most all of our events are fundraisers for local charities.
Our professional dancer added yet another thread of authenticity.  She danced the hulu and other types of dances.
One great advantage of decorating and planning for a group of ladies is that every detail is noticed, admired, and appreciated.  Men - not so much....!
All in all, it was a perfectly lovely luau! Aloha!

I shall try my skills to see if I can post this 34 second video.  It takes a little time to download and stopped a time or two but finally continued.