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“It’s called muffin-top” says my daughter who keeps up with all the latest terminology and gives great graphic descriptions.

My mother is more reassuring. “You look fine.” But, I remember a story she used to tell about ladies from her square dancing class who bought stretch shorts and had to wear them backwards As they got older the lady’s fannies had flattened and shrank. Their weight had gone to their middles forcing tummies to pooch out the front.

I used to find that story cute. But, I’ve been going through clothes and not liking anything.

Soon, I’m going on vacation. We will be away from the horrible snow and cold. We’re heading for sunshine. Which I love. But it’s also the land of swimsuits and short shorts and college girls in string bikinis.

Everything I own has been thrown to the bottom of my closet floor in disgust.

I’ve been wearing big comfy overalls around the house this winter and the goldfish has expanded to fill the bowl. I refuse to buy bigger sizes. But, I dig through my husband’s t-shirts and his shorts. The look is casual & faded…perfect…maybe.

“Why aren’t you eating?” my husband asks watching me pick at my food. He worries I’ll make myself sick. Later he sits beside me on the couch with a snicker’s bar.

I can smell the chocolate and the nuts.

“Would you like a bite?” he offers.

“Ummmm…well, yeah, just a bite….”

He’s going to be sorry when he sees the granny pants I bought. Those are pants made to accommodate eating Snicker’s bars. Lots of them…

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My new sexy “granny pants” undies.

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I got this book at a garage sale years ago. It was fun to read.

Dating Advice and cutting edge medicine from “The Favorite Medical Receipt Book and Home Doctor”…

About Marriage — Now I am going to speak to you on a delicate and difficult subject, wrote Dr. Warner M.D. in 1904.

You are thinking of marriage; it is right that you should. To be married to a good man, sound in body and mind, whom you sincerely love, is the best fortune that can come to you

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Dr. Warner was ahead of her time.

— It is better you die an old maid than marry a man that is fast. —
 
You are limited in your choice of a husband to the men who have signified their wish to marry you, but it is better that you should die an old maid than marry a man who is “fast” as your friends say, i.e., dissipated. Of course in marriage there are many considerations besides those of health, but those of health are the only ones on which I undertake to advise you.

There are two forms of dissipation which are to be avoided in a husband on the score of health — habitual use of alcoholic drinks to excess, and the habit of association with immoral women. It is not very common for a young man to be what is called a habitual drunkard, but a man who is frequently intoxicated when young will, in all human probability, be a habitual drinker before he is forty

  — Marriage to a man who drinks can cause your children to have nervous troubles, hysterics, epilepsy, and sometimes idiocy —

If you imagine you can reform such a man, you are greatly mistaken; he will grow worse and not better. He will not injure your health directly, only so far as misery, want and distress are likely to do it; but your children will suffer. They are likely to have all sorts of nervous troubles, hysterics, epilepsy, and sometimes idiocy.

The second form of dissipation is even more dangerous. It is quite common for a young man of that sort to contract diseases as a result of his bad habits, which, if you marry him, would be very likely to be communicated to you or to any children that you might have by him. Do not allow yourself to become interested in such a man, even if he has beautiful eyes and fascinating manners.

Choose for associates sober, steady young men. Do not be afraid to give them a little kindly encouragement if they are shy and awkward.

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Morphine, quinine and a slew of other ingredients took care of neuralogical disorders in 1904.

As to Diet —You should eat good, simple food. Avoid rich cake, gravies, rich pastry and preserves. Ices in moderation are wholesome enough. Eat all the fruit you want, provided it is ripe and sound, but do not eat too much candy. It would be better not to eat any, but that is too much to expect of you, for candy is a girl’s greatest temptation in the eating line. Hot breads and buckwheat cakes are good to the taste, but trying to the digestion. Use tea and coffee with great moderation; they are nerve stimulants, which you do not in the least need. A cup of weak coffee you can have in the morning, if you want it, but save the tea till you are an older woman.

Take plenty of time for your meals, and masticate your food thoroughly.

Cosmetics, Powder, Rouge, etc. —Scorn everything of this kind.

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I wonder if this receipt is where Smith Bros.’ Cough Drops began?

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The editor explains the purpose of the book as well as the receipt and information sources.

NOTE: This was cutting edge medicine from the leading physicians at the beginning of the 20th century. It shows how far we have come as well as how little has changed.

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Tuesday night my father died.

He had terminal cancer, congestive heart failure and failing kidneys. The last years of his life he slept in a recliner to breathe because fluid kept filling his lungs.

The daily newspaper and keeping up with goings on around town was my father’s pleasure. But, he developed a problem with his tear ducts. Not only did that prevent reading, but his cheeks were often chapped from being wet and wiped dry.

On good days my father was able to drink a couple of cans of Ensure. Other times he only finished half a can. Nothing else stayed down. With so little food, the weight drop and dehydration caused his arms to turn dark and purple, which itched. His arms became scratched and bruised. Because the cancer had spread to his bones, the pain was constant despite prescribed patches. The doctors kept upping the dosages. But care had to be used with medication because my father’s kidneys and heart were failing

Yet, almost to the end and on the last day of his life, my father was aware and communicating coherently.

I never knew a person who wanted to live or savored life more.

He refused to sign the “no code” papers.

“I want to be around a little longer,” he said, “the pain isn’t so bad.”

“What about prostate cancer vaccines?” my father asked the doctor who inquired if he had looked into hospice.

The doctor said it would be awhile before they were released and said he would discuss vaccines with my father then. Which to me was his way of telling my father he was going to be gone before that ever came about. It hurt to see my father’s lingering hopes so casually stomped out. I looked up the latest information online and was heartsick to find out that my father had already been alive long past the most optimistic results from the newest vaccines for his stage of cancer . I gave excuses to my father for not looking up and printing out for him the information he requested.

Last summer my father’s medication caused internal bleeding, a loss of 8 pints of blood, weeks in the hospital and a stay in a nursing home. Few would have survived the blood loss, even without cancer, congestive heart failure and poor kidney function. But, my father was motivated.

“I don’t want to die,” he said to my mother while they waited for the ambulance. “I don’t want to leave you.”

The doctors asked my father if he had a living will. He refused to answer. Despite his pain and limitations, he wouldn’t consider an end. Life still contained pleasures.

My father slept days so he could stay up late to listen to the RFD channel which featured old time country and western music in early morning hours. I remember how his eyes shined when he told my husband and I about a Statler Brothers’ special.

My mother’s Yorkshire terrier, Pixie, is something else. She doesn’t come when called most of the time. She digs into pockets and purses at every opportunity and refuses to give up her stolen treasures. She’s full of bounce and mischief. Yet, she was gentle and careful with my dad and often took naps with him on the recliner. I can’t believe I will never again see her cuddled up against his leg with my father absently stroking her.

More than anything else, and with every core of his being, my father loved my mother. He loved her voice, her moods, the way she loved animals. He loved the way she spent days and hours researching to get a piece of furniture in an exact color. Or repapering a kitchen wall because she’d decided she didn’t really like her first wallpaper choice. My father was as proud of her accomplishments as if they were his own.

And no matter how bad things were for him, mom was my dad’s main worry.

“Go see your mother,” he told me when I visited him in the nursing home. “She gets lonely.”

“Your mom is going to wear herself out coming back and forth to see me,” he said while he was in the hospital,” she doesn’t have to come tomorrow.”

During my father’s last good day, my daughter called him. They discussed stocks, one of dad’s favorite subjects. But, before they hung up, my father told my daughter to be happy, to do with her life what she wanted to do and not to waste a moment.

My son visited. He got a lecture on being careful with his money. Then before my son left the hospital room, my father asked him to stop. He told my son he loved him and said to stand there for awhile because he just wanted to look at him.

Soon afterwards my father was drowning from the fluid in his lungs and unable to breathe. He still would not discuss coding with hospital personnel. The doctor said that they could drain the lungs but there was a good chance they would fill again. I did not want my father to drown that way, scared, unable to breathe and knowing he was dying.

I see things differently than most people. My Living Will includes taking extraordinary measures.

Like my father, my happiness comes from life on this earth. I cannot imagine greater pleasures than seeing my husband’s special smile for me, hearing my child’s voice over the phone announcing a new baby on the way, hearing one of my daughter’s works has been published, burying my face in Simba’s cottony good smelling fur and kissing him all over or seeing Abby’s face light up when I say the words “walk “or “garden“. I want to stay here. Clouds and harps and song and light hold no attraction. I want to live.

My father took his last stand. He wanted his lungs drained. He was trying to do what he had been able to do so many times in the past. He was trying get better and go home. The operation was a success. His lungs were x-rayed and declared clear. I thought he‘d make it.

He always had.

Only my father’s voice became raspy. His face became ghostly and gray. He couldn’t talk. Trying drained him. He might be aware enough to see my husband and I and say, “How have you been?” Then he’d be gone. He slept most of the time. He’d smile to see family, but his eyes would roll back. He began breathing mainly through his mouth.

Tuesday the nurses called and said to come right away.

When we arrived at the hospital, my father didn’t seem to know us. My mother said she and my brother and I were with him now, that we loved him and that we would stay with him. She said he nodded.

The doctor ordered blood.

As the blood dripped into his arm, the change in my father was dramatic.

He rasped out a request for water. He was able to sip from a cup. He said something about home. Soon, we said, maybe tomorrow. My father’s heart rate began dropping. He started making the scrunching movements he makes when he needs to be raised in his chair to breathe better. He asked for air. He already was getting oxygen. We got a fan and blew it in his face and asked him if that was better. He nodded yes.

He said he hurt and tried to pull out his IV.” Hurt” he kept saying, and then he would beg for air.

I went out and talked to the nurse. She said because of my father’s heart and kidneys they could not give him pain medication because it would wipe him out. She said he had not had medicine for pain for two days. I asked if his lungs might be filling up again with fluid. She said they most likely were.

My father was drowning and hurting. I asked the nurse if he was going to die. She said he was, and that the best thing to do for him was to be with him and to hold his hands.

I started crying.

“He hurts. He‘s drowning and he knows it. He‘s scared.”

The nurse said she would talk to my mother and then talk to the doctor.

I went back to my father and watched my husband and brother try to make my dad more comfortable. He was squirming and trying to pick his shirt off. He pushed my hand away. He said something about my mom. Fortunately she soon came in.

“He wants you, mom.”

“I’m here. The kids are here,” my mother said. She put her hand over his.

“I love you. I‘m going to stay with you.”

Then, I saw the nurse. She had liquid medicine in a plastic cup and held a hypodermic. Softly she said the doctor had ordered morphine. I looked into her eyes and knew.

“Take your medicine so you’ll feel better,” my mom said.

“She’s giving you medicine so you can go home, Dad.” I said.

My dad relaxed. As dutifully as a little boy obeying his mother, my father pursed his lips. He sipped the drink. He then straightened his arm. The nurse injected morphine into the IV. My father’s face became soft. His breathing slowed. He quit gasping and picking at his shirt.

I watched the machine that had long ago started flashing red instead of green. My father’s heart rate dropped to twenty, then ten., My eyes began misting. I couldn’t look at my mom or brother. I looked across the room and saw my husband fold his hands in prayer.

My father was not a quitter. He raged and fought against the dark longer than I ever believed any human could have the strength. But, in the end he went gently.

For that I am grateful. I know his last thoughts were of home, my mother and all he loved most.

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Simba helping DH play the piano. 

One of DH’s most treasured possessions is his mother’s piano. Although he only took a few lessons, he spent many an hour, growing up in his parent’s home, playing whatever tunes were popular on the radio. Simba, our big orange tomcat, also has an ear for music and hurries to join DH at the sound of a piano key.

Not that he is especially wanted.

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“Jolynna, I’ve got a small problem on my hands,” says DH, “can you come and get him?”

“He won’t stay with me,” I respond.

And it’s true. Although Simba was my cat before we were married, Simba is DH’s cat now. Simba meows and scratches the bathroom door should DH be so rude as to close it. Simba follows DH inside. He follows DH out. When DH takes an afternoon nap, usually all three cats join him.

I tease DH about his animal magnetism. And all of the (ummm…) cats he gets.

But, actually, DH’s love for animals is the reason we met.

When I first moved to the midwest, I checked out the Yahoo personals. Just to look. Although I had moved into a rural area, there were 900 men in my age range on Yahoo. But, it was the “must love animals” in DH’s ad that caught my eye. (That and he is nice looking.) I joined Yahoo personals immediately, composed my own profile and sent DH a response.

“I am looking for a man that is macho enough to know how to fix the things that break in my  house, and sensitive enough to hold my hand during scary movies.” I listed among my requirements. But, there was more…

It took DH three long days to check his e-mail and answer.

“Yes,” he said,” yes I have a barn. And yes, I will get you a horse.”

We were married within three months.

jolynna.jpg My Yahoo personals’ profile pic. It is still taped to the back of our bathroom mirror. That’s where DH put it when he got the first e-mail.

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Work in progress …

DH has been working on a solution to our “cat box” problem. He’s been at it most of the day.

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It’s almost finished.

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Biggs braves the heat to lend support from the sidelines.

The “cat box” is gone.

Biggs goes to the door and asks to be let out. And sits in front of the door and waits for someone to come along to let her in.

But, if Biggs used the dog door, she could go in and out without our help. DH thinks that’s what Biggs should be doing. Only using the dog door means going into our fenced-in backyard. Which is dog territory.

Our other cats DO use the dog door. Then they race up the fence posts to escape from Buster chasing at their heels. Most of the time. Sometimes, when Simba, the orange tom, isn’t in the mood to be chased Simba just lies down. Buster  gives him a disappointed sniff. And that’s the end of it.

DH is right. Buster IS just playing. And, DH HAS been trying to train Buster.

Only DH’s “Buster…no”, in my opinion, is said in too nice of a voice. I think our pack needs meaner  more assertive leadership. Because Buster only stops sometimes. Other times, he pretends not to hear.

To make up for DH’s over-niceness, my no is extra stern and usually followed by a psstt hiss, dog whisperer style. I point my finger, like Cesar, for emphasis. Only, as I am in cat protection mode, I end up doing assertive without the calm part. Which  sends Buster slinking up against DH’s legs like he’s been whipped.

The looks Buster gives me are reproachful and accusing.

Biggs stays as far from the situation and dog door as she can.

Today DH worked on resolving things and built a “cat ladder” for the cats. Now they won’t have to climb the fence and can instead zip up the ladder before Buster has a chance to get outside. Using a ladder won’t be new. Our cats are up and down the ladder to the hayloft all the time.

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Kitty inspects the “cat ladder”.

UPDATE: The cats were suspicious of the “cat ladder” at first. Only kitty would sit on it long enough to have his picture taken. BUT, today, only one day afterwards, every cat has successfully gone up and over, come in, been fed and gone back out to the barn. Without being chased.

DH’s “cat ladder” is a success.

dsc00196.jpg Biggs contendedly gives herself a bath after using the dog door  to go outside.

Bigg’s story and everything you ever wanted to know about the “cat box war” between my husband and I is here: http://www.turkeycreeklane.com/?p=48

I couldn’t believe what DH was asking me to do.

We were touring 38-room Oliver Mansion, Copshalom, (http://www.memoriesinmotion.net/south_bend.htm).  And, as we were being shown the gardens, DH had picked seeds from a tree. Then he wanted me to stuff them in my purse. Right in front of everyone.

“Nooooo…..they aren’t going to grow, anyway. You can’t start trees from seeds,” I whispered, giving DH “the look“.

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These days, Quince trees are few and far between. Before touring the Oliver mansion, I had never heard of a Quince tree.

However, the seed that I had grudgingly put in my purse, the same seed DH carefully planted and nurtured, is thriving.

As it ages our Quince tree will develop a bark similar to that of some crepe myrtle trees. Its fruit will be knobby, mottled, hard and bitter, but so fragrant that in ancient times the fruit was used to perfume rooms, much as we use air fresheners today. It is easily transformed into excellent jams, jellies and preserves.

More about Quince trees: http://msucares.com/lawn/garden/msgardens/02/021202.html

dsc00020.jpg   DH is upset.

He does not want a cat box in our house. But, Buster , HIS DOG, is preventing our new cat from using the dog door and going outside.

We didn’t want another cat. We had two cats already.

But, no stronger crusader for saving downtrodden animals exists than my daughter. Biggs, the cat, was down on her luck. And Heather was determined to save her.

Biggs, had been Heather’s grandmother’s ( my ex mother-in-law’s ) cat. She had a good life.  The food bowl was always full. Biggs had toys. Biggs had catnip. And her antics made her the center of her elderly owner’s lives.

Then my ex mother-in-law entered her final stages of cancer. She became confined to a hospital bed moved into her living room.  Biggs became a permanent fixture on the corner of the bed. Hospice workers and family and friends came and went. Biggs was admired and petted by all. But,  Bigg’s life was about to take a turn for the worse.

My ex mother-in-law died. My ex father-in-law’s health deteriorated and he had to go into a nursing home.

Poor Biggs, at the age of five, after spending all of her life in a loving comfortable house, was given to a duck farmer and tossed outside to make her own way. My daughter lives in California. But, she worried about Biggs and looked her up every time she visited. Overjoyed to  see one of her people, Biggs never failed to greet Heather as a long lost friend. She would crawl into my daughter’s lap and purr and purr and purr…when Heather left, Biggs tried to follow her crying.

Things did not get better, either. 

Biggs found a way to get in the machine shop to stay warm. Soon she was covered from nose tip to tail tip with black grease. The duck farmer was given a  black lab named Buddy who barked, chased, bit and mauled poor Biggs.

Heather’s pleaded for DH and I to take Biggs. I was stubbornly saying DH and I had enough cats and that her “father” should take the cat when Biggs got her tail caught and broken in a machine shop machine. That did it.

DH and I caved.

Biggs spent her first days on our farm, in our house,  upstairs on one side of a door with her new cat brothers, Kitty and Simba, sniffing and growling and hissing on the other side. Buster and Abby, our dogs wanted no part of a cat fight. They stayed as far away as they could. 

I worried that we had made  Bigg’s life even more miserable by bringing her into a house full of  animals. Kitty and Simba behaved as if DH and I had committed adultery by bringing “another cat” into “their” home. I was sure if they met Biggs, face to face, fur would fly.

 The slightest bark downstairs would send Biggs up the nearest piece of furniture. It didn’t look as if she would ever get over her “bitten-by-Buddy” trauma.

Fortunately, cats and dogs are  resilient and forgiving. They don’t carry baggage or harbor grudges the way people do. After only a few weeks,  Biggs is now coming downstairs with Simba and Kitty in the room. They will get a swat across the nose for sniffing or getting too close. But the growling and hissing has stopped. To get to the food bowl, Biggs walks past the dogs. If they are lying down, that is.  

We  have only to resolve the cat box situation.

DH thinks Biggs is ready to learn to go out the dog door.

I don’t.

Buster has a quirk. Cats that are inside are family members. Cats that go outside through the dog door get chased up a back yard tree. Buster lives for the sound of the dog door flap.

DH says he will train Buster to stop chasing cats when they are outside. Then he says that even IF Buster DOES chase cats it is all a game and that Buster would never actually HURT a cat.

I don’t care that Buster won’t actually HURT a cat.

Poor Biggs would be traumatized if she were to be chased. She trusts us. The poor cat has been through too much already.

DH says the cat box makes the whole house reek.

And so the lines have been drawn.

(The picture at the top of this post is of  Biggs (cat on the bed) & Simba (cat on the rug).

summer.jpg I pinch myself every single day because I never believed it would happen to me.  My marriage of more than 20 years ended. I was thrust into dating. I was overweight, jobless, and pushing the dreaded 50. 

What to do? Well…drastic times call for drastic measures. I restarted my career at the lowest of basement levels. I starved. I had liposuction. I had lasik eye surgery and got rid of the glasses. It took awhile, but it worked. After 8 years of going steady with men who couldn’t get to the “I do”,  I met the love of my life and remarried.

I will be sure to post ALL the gory details of those eight years in future posts.

Nowdays, as an officially married retired lady for over three years, I’ve taken to a life of doing nothing like a duck to water. I spend my summers participating in the Nothern Indiana flower wars. I am experimenting and trying to find a way to successfully garden without doing any weeding.  I have piles of books to read. And a new art box filled with paints, pastels and pencils and watercolors. I really AM going to draw or paint something. Soon.

Our little farm includes two horses, two dogs and two cats. I adore them. But, they prefer my husband, DH, in a most insulting way.

 Buster, the black lab/border collie mix, mournfully howls as  DH leaves. He seems convinced DH is never to return as he paces and nervously cocks his head. He’s hoping he’ll hear DH’s Jeep motor noises. I try to get his attention, but Buster’s busy, he can’t spare me a glance. If I were to go outside or upstairs, Buster would be on the kitchen table in a heartbeat. That way he’d be high enough to look out the windows and see the drive. The cats are outside.  Nobody is in the house to make being inside worthwhile. Only our good natured, sweet Abby dog dutifully lies at my feet. But, she’s listening.

Until the wheels of  DH’s jeep hit our driveway. Then the dogs writhe with joy. They wag their tails so hard anything left where it shouldn’t be is knocked over. Skipper the white horse, whinnies across the barnyard. The cats poke their heads out from the sunflower plants beneath the birdfeeder and run for the backdoor.

I smile, too. DH is home. It’s all good.  

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