Monday, December 14, 2009


I turned on word verification for a while. I've been getting an amazing number of spam comments and it's such a pain to find them and then delete them. I'm hoping this will cut it down.

Going grey

So, my friends and faithful readers will know that I have been coloring my hair since shortly before my wedding. The above picture was taken a few years before that... maybe '01? I don't really remember. The one below was taken in Jan or Feb of '03, shortly before. Believe me, I really did have some "silver" at that time. I got my first grey hairs in college. My friends and I called them "silver" for a while because it sounded much more distinguished.

And here's the picture from my 40th birthday, with all the gray safely covered up. :o) The scary thing is that now there is a lot more of it to cover.

About two months ago, I decided, "that's it! I've had enough" and I started to let my gray grow out. My hair dresser has been putting some color partially into the top of my head for the last two visits, but none underneath where most of the gray is. I was at a party the other day and someone was surprised to hear that I was growing it out, so I take that as a compliment that the technique is working... I don't have any pictures yet of my new look. But I'll get some up at some point.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

a new post

Well, I just caught up with reading my friends blogs. It's been quite a while since I've been following them. It seems some action is picking up again as people are writing a bit more steadily again. Shall I join the ranks?

I'll give it a shot.

If you are my friend on Facebook, you probably know that we put down one of our cats yesterday. I've had Phoebe and Monica for about 10 years, which is hard to believe. Bringing Joey into the house two years ago just about did in Phoebe, but she made a miraculous recovery. And now it's Monica who got ill and we had to say goodbye. She got sick very quickly, but I've already written all about that elsewhere.

I just mention it here to say that I've been just kind of blah and dull today. Not much motivation to do much. It seems a bit silly to be depressed over losing a cat, but so be it. I know that I'll feel better soon.

We were supposed to go get our Christmas trees today, but it was quite icey and slick on the roads this morning, so we decided to put it off. Hopefully we will be able to go tomorrow, because Mom is really looking forward to it.

Ho Hum... that's about it for now. It was really fun to read you all's posts. It's nice to see more action on the blogs again.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I don't get it...

what is the purpose of blog spam? It seems that my blog has been targeted for random spam comments because of my inactivity. But I don't quite get what the point is. There have been 5 span comments on old posts from June or so, but who would ever read them to see the spam?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Ok, I'm awake at 2 AM and feeling increasingly bad that I haven't written anything on my blog in months! Now seems like a good time to write something, whatever, anything...

I've been up at this hour several times in the last week - mostly it was with fever and chills last week. Tonight it's with congestion and wheezing in my chest. It's not dangerous, just annoying. I can hear the noise in my ears and it keeps me awake. Asthma is so weird, at least for me. I have started a course of Prednisone and I'm taking my Albuterol inhaler, but I don't really notice that they help much. I'm always left wondering if I would get better just as quickly if I just ignored it and let it run its course. But I won't, because I'm generally an obedient patient...

I haven't written about the chickens lately. They are just about full grown - 5 months old or so. Denis is keeping track, but I lose count on the passing weeks. No eggs yet. This is about the time that they are supposed to start. We've added a light inside the coop to increase their "daylight hours". Some books say they need 14 hours of daylight to be in production mode. Since our girls have never been in production mode, we're giving the light a try to make sure they start on time. I need to take some new pictures - the girls are very pretty now, with all their colored feathers in place.

While I was sick, Denis and I had to cancel our plans for a weekend trip up to the Willamette Valley (just South of Portland) to meet up with friends who were driving down from Seattle to meet us there. This is a friend from my old church's singles group. His wedding was one month prior to ours and we've not had much chance to hang out together over the last 5 1/2 years. We had been planning the trip for two months and then I had to go and get the flu 2 days before we were to leave. One of the reasons that I was in denial about having the flu initially.

Our next trip is going to be a quick one - flying into Denver and driving a rental car to attend a niece's wedding in Nebraska. We'll stay two nights in NE, then back to Denver to fly back home. One nice little detail is that we both have friends in Denver who we'll get to visit, though briefly. I made our hotel and car rental reservations yesterday. I was able to buy our tickets with frequent flyer miles! Yay Alaska Airlines!

Well, that's enough for now. Hope that gives a bit of an update.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Joni and Friends Camp report

Sorry, folks, but pictures on my blog will be very limited due to privacy reasons for the families that attend JAF camp. Here are two - above are myself and Esther, the other nurse who attended camp. I was so grateful to have her there. We ended up taking turns staying the in the "First Aid Station" during the times of day that people were all over camp and most likely to just drop in there looking for help. During "all-camp" activities, though, we went to the location where everyone was gathered and got to watch and participate.

Praise God, we had no serious injuries. A couple of minor incidents were a bit stressful, but mostly we had bandaids and ice packs as our tools of the trade for the week. With all the things that could go wrong, it's truly evident that God has His hand of protection on the JAF camps each year.

I had a wonderful time and am SO glad that I went. Here are some of my thoughts as I reflect on my camp experience:

  • Overall, I felt a bit like an outsider/observer. A lot of folks attend this camp year after year and a majority of people already knew each other. It's a happy reunion of old friends for them. I, on the other hand, did not know anyone but the people from my church. Esther and I were technically part of the leadership team, but didn't really know what was going on a lot of the time. I had the wonderful opportunity to wander and meet lots of campers, kids, young adults, parents, siblings, but I didn't get to know anyone very well. A lot of the campers with disabilities are a bit reserved around new people, so I didn't end up on a huggy basis with very many campers. I would love to go some time as a hands-on STM (volunteer assigned to be with a single camper for the week).
  • On the other hand, I was priveledged to get to meet lots and lots of campers. I saw a more vulnerable side of them when they came to me with an owie or bump on the head. At first, I was kind of stymied by the communication challenges of treating these kids. But after a day I was really enjoying the challenge of trying different approaches until I was able to address the problem at hand. Keep in mind that the STM who works with the camper about 12 hours out of a day gets to know how to communicate best with them. But I'm just meeting them in a small crisis moment and don't know the best approach.
  • The people who go to JAF camp every year call it "Heaven on Earth". People also say, "I can't explain it, you just have to go". Well, I'm going to give it an attempt at explanation. JAF camp is a place where people with and without disabilities are all accepted just the way they are. Not just accepted, but celebrated. People are not made fun of for enthusiasm that may not seem "appropriate". Activities are geared to meet everyone where they are and let all participate with as little barriers as humanly possible. A highlight of the week is the talent show night. It's a performance night in which it matters more that you got up and did something than that you sounded "great". The growth and change in campers from year to year is a real highlight for those who go each year.

I came back from camp feeling much less intimidated by our own plans for disability ministry in my church and much more excited to see who may walk in our church doors. Bring it on!

Here is our group on "camper day", the day campers arrive.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I'm going to camp!

It's been a while since I asked for prayer about Denis and I attending the upcoming Joni and Friends Family Camp as medical personnel. Unfortunately, Denis is not going to be able to go because he's working the entire week. I was not real excited about going without him, but decided to take the step of faith and send in my application. I was in contact with the camp director, making it clear that I hoped to have a second person there with whom to share the responsibility.

So, I'm please to report now that I am definitely going to camp next week. I'll be the "camp nurse" along with another gal who is from the Bay area in CA (where camp is located). I spoke with Esther on the phone and we were both pleased to realize that we have a lot in common. We've both got a lot of experience in hospital nursing. Esther currently works the night shift on a Med/Surg unit, which is where I spent most of my nursing career as well. We are both really happy to have another person to collaborate with. We will be roommates for the week, so I'm expecting to have a new great friend at the end of this. I think we'll be getting to know each other really well. :o)

The medical responsibilities are actually not that extensive. Though there are a lot of medical issues with the folks who come to Joni and Friends camp, they are chronic needs and the families continue to provide any personal care, or they bring a care provider with them. Our responsibilities are to assess any emergencies that arise, treat minor injuries and determine if a hospital trip is needed. All our decisions will be made in collaboration with the camp staff as well as the family. So, we will also get to participate in the camp activities and are not expected to just stay put in a "sick room".

I have no idea what to expect except being challenged to grow as I trust in God to meet any need that arises, give me wisdom and give me a servant heart towards the families that I will meet. I am also looking forward to spending travel time with my fellow church folks who I'm carpooling with and getting to see God work in all our lives. And then to see how our church is blessed as the 19 members who have participated in camp this year infect our church with passion for disability ministry. If you think of me in the week from July 18-24, please pray for camp - for all involved to be blessed and be a blessing to each other. Thanks!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

from Moline, IL

I can't get onto Facebook from this hotel computer, so I thought I'd type a little something here on my blog. So far, we've travelled at least half-way across the country and are on our way to OH tomorrow where my brother and his family live.

We had a great time visiting with Denis' sister in Nebraska. We spent a day with the nephew who has two little girls. We went to a museum and then a winery. We found out that a "dry red" in Nebraska means a sweet red in Oregon. We will be flying out there in October for our neice's wedding.

We stayed one night with Denis' folks in Iowa. Then tonight had a really nice time at dinner with three couples that Denis used to go to church with when he lived here. It was great getting to meet some of his friends who were so close.

Tomorrow, we should have just a 6 hour drive to get to Ohio and hope to make it there in time for my nephew's baseball game. That's it for now!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Been so busy!

Hello my friends! I know that I have been very negligent in keeping up my blog of late. I guess it's been over a month now since I last posted. Here's a bit of an update on what's been keeping me so busy these last weeks.

Chicken update: the baby chicks are now a little over 3 weeks old. Our original plan to have a broody hen mother them didn't work out. The hen pictured below didn't take them, so we did a quick hen trade the first night that we brought the babies home. The second hen took them initially, but then didn't know what to do. She had never raised a brood of chicks before. So we've been taking care of them ourselves. It's been fun, but a bit time consuming. Our weather has been getting pretty hot during the day, but cold at night. There were a few nights that we were worried that it would get too cold out in the coop. But they have all survived so far. They are going outside now and really enjoying eating the grasses and weeds in their little enclosed space.

Work: I've had a bit of a perfect storm of responsibilities at work in the last two weeks. I have a chart review project that I've been trying to work on for the last month. But my manager wants me to prioritize it now and get it done. I worked extra days the last two weeks, covering for a coworker's vacation and then going in on my days off to start three new insulin pumps. Starting a new insulin pump always means receiving multiple pages. So I've been getting paged almost daily by three different people for the last week. All making Tracy a bit scattered.

What's next: Now, I finally have a somewhat normal week coming up and we have to get prepared for our big road trip. We'll leave one week from today and we're taking my car which is a MESS. I'd like to get it into the shop for a look-over. Got to clean the house so it's ready for our house-sitter, cat company-keeper, chicken wrangler extraordinaire. We thought that the chicks would add a bit much extra work for just my mom. Between the two of them, things should go smoothly.

I'll be very ready for the vacation. :o)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Project chicken continues

So, if you have been following our ongoing saga of getting set up to have chickens for fresh eggs, you know that we have progressed through a couple of stages already.

Stage 1 - gather information, read books, talk to friends, find out legalities, etc.

Stage 2 - obtain a coop and a location for it. Done

Now we have moved on to stages 3, 4 and 5.

Stage 3 - decide what breeds we want and if we want to buy adults or raise chicks. We decided to raise chicks so that we could get the specific breeds that we want. We ordered our baby chicks from a local store and we will pick them up THIS WEDNESDAY (and I mean it this time...) We're getting two chicks each of three different breeds; Barred Rock, Americauna and Rhode Island Red. We're also hoping that we can get a hen to raise our chicks so that we won't have to do quite as much work.

Stage 4 - borrow a broody hen from a friend. Enter the hen in question!

One of my coworkers loaned us this hen who has been broody (sitting on eggs hoping for chicks to hatch) for about a month. I have named her Henrietta Penelope Cluckbottom (Henny Penny for short).
She came to us sitting on two real eggs and one glass egg in a pet carrier. Do you notice anything wrong with this picture? one, two, three real eggs and one glass egg. Yep! Henny Penny laid a new egg. This means that she's not broody any more. She's snapped out of it.

I didn't realize that when I opened up the door to the coop to have a little chat with her on Saturday. And when she decided to step outside, I wasn't too worried. My coworker told me that a broody hen will go outside for a while, but go back to her eggs pretty quickly.

We started to worry about 30 minutes later when Henny Penny showed no interest in returning to her nest. She decided to roam around our garden instead. She quite enjoyed a little dust bath amongst the garlic plants. We shooed her away from the small lettuce, radishes and pea plants in another planting bed, however.

After about an hour of exploring the area, Henny decided that her favorite spot was underneath the coop. So we decided that it was time to move onto
Stage 5 - complete the enclosed chicken run. We hoped to make it all the way around the coop with the chicken wire to catch her inside. Here we are 1/2 way around.

At 3/4 around, Denis thought we might be able to corner her into the enclosed portion and shoo her back inside the coop. He blocked the way out while I did the shooing (after taking a picture).

No good. Henny was determined to stay outside. After more than 30 days sitting on those darn eggs, she wanted to enjoy the sunshine! So we kept going. We managed to get all the way around with the chicken wire which she stayed under the coop.

Aha! We've got you Henny Penny Cluckbottom! Now you will stay inside your enclosure like a good chicken...

We had to leave Henny in her enclosure because we had a game night to attend. We left my mom in charge of checking on Henny and shutting her coop door once she finally decided to go inside for the night. We didn't find out until the next day that Mom found Mrs. Cluckbottom OUTSIDE her enclosure. That's right, she'd flown the coop! But she happily marched into the coop once the door was opened up for her. On Sunday, a tarp was added to cover the top of the chicken run. A permanent roof will be added on Saturday.

Okay, the good news is that Henny is sitting on her eggs during the night. I find her there when I close up the coop for the night and I find her there in the morning when I open it up. My coworker thinks that is a good sign as hens generally ignore their eggs entirely if they are not broody. We're hoping that Henny will still take the chicks. Just two more days, Henny. Hang in there!

Monday, April 20, 2009

A nice busy weekend.

This past weekend was really busy in a good way. Friday and Saturday, I attended our Oregon Diabetes Educator association's annual conference, which is an opportunity to get a lot of continuing education credits that I will need to renew my certification in a few years. The topics this year were quite good and I enjoyed the company of my coworkers who also attended. Some of the subjects this year were:

  • Continuous Glucose Monitoring - what it is and how to use the info (This is the latest tool that we have for managing diabetes, it's not used widely yet, but we believe that it will change how we treat the disease in the coming years.)
  • Why your patients hate to test their blood glucose and what you can do about it. (This was presented by a psychologist who specializes in Diabetes issues.)
  • Diabetes and Exercise. (presented by a very fun physical therapist)
  • Inpatient Glycemic control (This is very applicable to my job, especially the special projects that I work on)
  • Current trends and controversies in nutrition
  • Type 2 diabetes in children (a growing problem in the US!)
I learned a lot and came home inspired to make some changes in my own eating habits.

While I was at the conference on Saturday, Denis helped out at a disability ministry event sponsored by our local chapter of Joni and Friends. I think I heard that over 30 people from our own church volunteered at this event, which is so exciting and encouraging. It was a great opportunity for people to get some experience with this type of ministry. On Sunday, a few special guests from JAF came to our church to speak and it was great to get to speak with them afterwards to keep "picking their brains" about how to keep things growing at our church. They were asking Denis and I if we would like to go to the July family camp as the medical personnel. Please pray for us for this. We would really like to do it, but will have just used up three weeks of vacation pay for our June trip cross-country. It would be a significant financial cost to us when you consider the lost pay.

After church Sunday, we bought our last supplies for the chicks - food and water containers, chick feed and wood chips. Denis has been working on the enclosure, so I'll post pictures of the finished coop when he's all done. And of course, chick pictures will have to be posted!

Some attempts at art

Here are some pictures that I have taken in the last year. They were all taken around the Rogue River which is a world0-class fishing and rafting river here in Southern Oregon.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Adventures in cooking

One of Kristina's three questions last week was "What do you like to cook/bake?" In pondering my answer, it occurred to me that there is a difference for me between "what do you cook often?" and "what do you like to cook?"

The food that I cook often is stuff that I like to eat or whatever is easy. I get stuck in ruts and just do the same stuff over and over. But what I like to cook/bake is whatever is new and adventurous. I like experimentation. When people have company over, usually they cook something familiar so that they know it will turn out well. When I have company come, I usually pick something new to cook that I have never made. It's a good excuse to open up my cookbooks or magazines and try something new.

However, this makes me tend toward buying new cookbooks but then only making a few recipes out of it before I get tired of that particular method. Sigh... Well, my newest adventure is making yogurt and I was successful last night. It's pretty good. We'll see if I find this skill useful enough to make it a regular habit.

My last adventure was inspired by Christine Jolly. She wrote about this book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (on facebook, not on her blog). You make up the dough and store it in the fridge, then use it as desired for two weeks. Here's what the dough looks like

The yummiest creation was the sticky rolls. Here they are rising.

and the finished product!

I did learn I need a better container for storing my dough and I need a plan for how I will use up all the dough/bread. So this book is not in use at the moment.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The chicken plan progresses

After about a year of Denis researching and planning how he wanted to build our chicken coop, we got a phone call tip from my coworker who's an organic farmer and lover of chickens. She had seen a ready-made coop on the sales lot of a local company that makes backyard sheds. So we went to check it out one Sunday when we could snoop around without getting a lot of sales man pressure. The coop was very sturdily made, seemed to be pretty raccoon-proof, etc. Denis predicted it would be priced at $1200. The following day, I went to get the price. Surprisingly enough, they only wanted $800 for the finished, painted coop! Denis honestly didn't think he could do as good a job for as cheaply, so we decided to go ahead and purchase. It was delivered on Friday.

We had our custom made with just a couple of minor adjustments - our chicken door and ladder are on a different wall than the original and we had the latch changed so that it can be locked. After AM's horror encounter with a raccoon, we are particularly concerned that our coop be raccoon proof.

Here is the backside. All openings are lockable with a padlock except the ventilation window on the front. It has a sliding latch, but there is strong mesh covering the opening, so we don't think a raccoon would be able to pull it off. Still to do:

  • paint the exterior to match our house. We have left-over yellow paint to match. We'll need to get more green made up.
  • paint the interior for easier maintenance.
  • install the roost where our gals will relax. The original had a mesh roost which is not the style recommended in our chicken books.
  • Denis has to build a chicken run, fully enclosed so that they are protected from dogs and such during the day when we are not there.
  • in the future, he will put a fence around a larger area so that they can be let out to forage - better eggs.
Here's the interior.
Denis also wants to lay VCT flooring which will make it easier to clean. Don't you think the hens will appreciate the stylish black and white flooring?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What I learned at Joni and Friends Summit

Denis and I had the privilege of attending a Joni and Friends training summit in Pasadena, CA along with 6 other folks from our church this past weekend. We went to learn from people in other churches who already have more mature disability ministry programs up and running. The days were full of different workshops with a variety of topics, so we took a "divide and conquer" strategy. These are some of the take home points for me:

  • People with disabilities need the church - they need to be told that God loves them, Jesus understands their pain and that hope is only found in Him.
  • The church needs people with disabilities - people who have been to the end of themselves, looked suffering and self-pity in the face and learned the long-suffering patience of putting their faith in God have a powerful testimony that we all need to be exposed to. Not only that, but we need the opportunity to give without being repaid. I don't think I really had a vision of this until one of the workshops about ministering to adults with disabilities. Sometimes, it may not be as much about the people we serve getting so much out of it from our perspective, but that we can put ourselves aside without earthly reward.
  • We are VERY blessed that our pastor is the one who initiated our disability ministry. Most of the attendees were struggling to get their church's attention on the need for a disability focus. They were very envious of our position. Our church is already leaps and bounds ahead of some because our pastor is enthusiastically promoting it from the pulpit.
  • It's not necessary to have all the answers or programs in place to get started - most of the mature programs started with just meeting a couple of needs as they arose, then growing from there.
  • "Disability Ministry" doesn't have to be hard and intimidating. It's good to provide low-commitment opportunities for people to get involved. It's contagious and the desire to be involved will spread.

The icing on the cake was getting to hear Joni Eareckson-Tada speak in the closing session. I've admired her for many years. What a blessing!