He who sings, prays twice: Cancer and faith

The last hour before you start a theater show looks crazy.  Everyone is getting into costume and doing their makeup in front of too few mirrors. People are making sure their props are in the right place.  Actors with mikes sing for the mike check.   The run crew makes sure the lighting, curtains, etc. are correct.  The orchestra and the singers warm up. Everyone is excited and rushing around.  The house opens and the audience starts to arrive.  Everything gets quieter backstage, but the excitement still simmers.  

Finally, the lights go down.  The orchestra starts the overture.  Everything quiets down backstage.  The actors get into place onstage and in the wings.  You focus on what you're about to do.  It's like you're suspended and waiting to move.

In that beautiful moment of suspension, focus, and anticipation, I often (okay, almost always) have some of my most focused prayers - that the show will go well for everyone, that the audience will enjoy it, that cast members who are sick or sad will be able to enjoy the show...

...and thanksgiving.  Those are some of my most thankful prayers - particularly during this summer's show since I wasn't even sure I'd be able to sing again last fall after my surgery.

I don't know that I've written about this before because... well, your best prayers are supposed to be at church, right?

After not being able to go to church for months after my partial thyroidectomy last year (post here), I embrace any way that I can worship.  I've always thought that one can encounter God all over, not just in church.  But after months of being too dizzy and exhausted to make it through a formal service, I now enthusiastically advocate meeting God anywhere and everywhere.

Otherwise, only the healthy can encounter God in a significant way!  If you can only meet God in a long church service after a drive which exhausts you, that leaves those with health problems out in the cold.  If you look at the stories about Jesus, leaving the sick out is not following Jesus! 

I've always liked physical expressions of faith - making the sign of the cross, kneeling for prayer (before I had knee surgery), genuflecting, etc.

During my long recovery from surgery, I started feeling like genuflecting at places other than in the Nave at church. 

At Ayr Mount in the spring...


...at family dinners, at choir rehearsals (I could go to rehearsals long before I could last through a formal service), while doing short hikes in the mountains, out in the gardens, etc. - anyplace I felt thankful and closer to God.

 At various churches, we've heard all sorts of things about how and why to pray to God:  To remind God of His promises (evangelical); adoration, petition, thanksgiving, confession, and intercession (Catholic), because the Bible tells you to, etc.

Since my surgery, pat answers about prayer seem even further away.  Petition?  Walk around the Duke Cancer Center and see the small,tired children with bald heads and large stuffed animals being wheeled around in strollers or wagons by their parents.  Why was my cancer solved by surgery, and their treatment goes on and on?  I don't know.  There are few prayers that are more fervent than the prayers of those parents.  

I still pray.  Mostly for other people, a bit for me, lots of thanksgiving.  I pray because... God.  

There's really nothing else to add.

Praying in a church at a service is nice - it's pretty and inspirational.  I no longer believe that it's essential - because anything that leaves out the sick can't be the only way to God.

I still believe the Eucharist is important, but - and here's the difficult part for me - I no longer believe that it's essential because anything that leaves out the sick can't be the most important way to God.

My faith at this point is expressed in two ways.  

First, by taking care of people.  After not being able to do much of that for months, it's so wonderful to be able to do.  Those of you who were in this year's musical saw that on overdrive this summer.  I recorded music to help people learn it, had the altos over to my house to work on music, hosted set painting work evenings in our garage, sewed, and I'm now going through the over 1,000 photos that my husband took at a dress rehearsal to edit the best ones for the cast.

Taking care of people - and almost all of that could be done at home because my energy isn't back to lots of running around yet.

Second, by singing to God.  That's where the title quote from St. Augustine comes in.  After the post-surgery possibility of totally losing my voice, singing is even more important that it was before.  Whenever I sing, and whatever I sing, I'm always singing to God.  It doesn't matter if it's an Alleluia, a choir anthem, a musical theater audition, blending my voice with others in the chorus of a show, or singing along with a song by P!nk.  I'm always singing to God.


[Note:  I wrote this a year ago, after I was in a local production of Li'l Abner.  After not being able to sing for four months the previous fall/winter because of my partial thyroidectomy, I actually got my first solo singing role in a theater production!  Being with my theater family that summer and being able to help out so much, was very healing for me after a long year of a slow recovery (and choir helped immensely over the spring, even though I wasn't well enough at that point to make it through a long Sunday morning).  A year later, after two more wonderful musical theater experiences (Ragtime and Annie), I've come back to this post, and it's still pretty much what I believe.  I'll be looking for a church closer to home (hopefully) in the next year or two.*  What I'm looking for in a church hasn't really changed from what I've always wanted, but I'm finally being really open about what I feel is what I should do with this time I have been given.  More on that in future posts, but, it's really all here in this one.  Singing and helping people.]

 * Younger son has one more year of homeschooling left so I'm not splitting my focus at this point.  Also, we've always rushed into joining churches, and I'd like to do things differently this time.  

Doing without the Eucharist: Cancer, faith, and family

Through my time in the Catholic and then in the Episcopal Churches, the Eucharist has been central to my worship.  No matter how bad the homily/sermon, regardless of the music for Cantor versus choir, no matter how little I could pay attention due to active small children, receiving the Eucharist meant a great deal to me.  Most of the time, we haven't lived close to a church with a daily Mass, but, even so, I tried to go to the occasional Daily Mass - whether at St. Leo's in Winston-Salem where we worshiped with the nuns before work or at St. Thomas More in Chapel Hill, which was just close enough to daughter's ballet class that I could get to the 5:15 Mass and back in time to pick her up (until the following year when her class was later).  

After last year's cancer diagnosis, surgery, and very slow recovery, I'm not sure where my faith is now.  I pray, but it's more along the lines of "Please?" than for any thought that my praying will change anything.  Maybe I pray because, in some small way, it connects me to God.  Or maybe I pray because it seems rude not to.  Or maybe it's habit.

It's now been half a year since I received the Eucharist.  That's where the cancer surgery recovery comes in.  

I miss the Eucharist.  

I won't go into the details of my current physical condition.  It would be so easy to descend into a whine, which is part of why I haven't blogged these last few months.  But here are the parts that relate to church:

  • Anesthesia:  My doctor said it could be months before I got back to normal due to my sensitivity to drugs.  Besides making me tired for months, the anesthesia made me unable to multitask.  Do you know how many things that affects? - Putting together a mental picture of the scene you're looking at, having a conversation and reacting to non-verbal cues - even having a conversation and just looking at the other person.  I've spent lots of dinners conversing but staring at the tablecloth.  Just walking across our yard was visually overwhelming.  It was months before I could drive again.  It's much better than at the end of the summer, but I still get overwhelmed very easily.  All the different people and activity at church?  I can't handle it yet.  I've missed so many theater performances that my friends have been in the last few months because I can't handle that kind of overwhelm.  I'm still also very easily tired and worn out.  Just the drive (with older son driving) to church and back would wear me out, much less a service where there is so much to do right.
  • Post-Operative Traumatic Stress Disorder:  Yes, that's a thing, and it was my diagnosis back in October.  Not only are things overwhelming, they're threatening.  Younger son and I were having pizza before one of daughter's dance performances a month ago.  The restaurant was very crowded, loud, and brightly colored (not harmoniously).  You know in horror movies when all of a sudden a benign crowd turns menacing - usually the camera work goes slantways and the people elongate.  That's what it felt like.  I had to quietly talk myself out of the restaurant.  After walking around in the peace of Durham streets, I was better.  Again, I would find church overwhelming - particularly since they combined the two later services last fall so there would be lots of people I don't know, and it would be much more crowded.  [POTSD, for me, also involves a lot of anger - to a level that I've never experienced before.  Really, put it all together, and I feel like a stranger in my body.]
  • Thyroid hormones. I had a partial thyroidectomy so that, hopefully, the remaining thyroid would give me what I need.  My hormone levels have been going down since surgery.  I find out in two weeks whether or not I need to go on artificial ones.  That's also contributing to my exhaustion.
  • Costochondritis (inflammation of the chest muscles and tendons):  When this is bad, my chest won't expand for me to breathe normally.  Trying to squeeze into a crowded church would make me tense up all of those muscles.

So, I don't have the energy to go to a service.  I've considered trying to go to the Daily Service at the Episcopal Church in town, but I'm not sure I'm up for being a stranger at a formal church,* and I can't usually do more than one out-of-the-house activity a day or I'm exhausted, nauseous, and dizzy.  Their Daily Services are on Wednesday, which is our busiest day.  

So praying seems kind of unreal - actually, very little in the whole panoply of faith and church involvement (over the last 32 years) has had anything to do with my cancer treatment, I haven't received Communion for half a year, and I'm wondering what faith has to do with anything.  Much of my church involvement seems like it's been whiffling activity - except for the parts I've enjoyed like choir and our Catholic small group.  Church involves lots of running around - it's almost defined as that.  I've always tried to do that, but I absolutely can't now.  

I ran across a Buddhist-themed quote yesterday which prompted this post.  I can't find it now, but it was along the lines of the importance of really looking at what is around you and giving thanks.  

That, I can do.

What's interesting is that there isn't any reason that a follower of Jesus can't follow that idea.  In fact, it's quite appropriate.

So where do I find my faith now?

In the face of my husband, who's been so patient and encouraging with my slow recovery, who jumps at any opportunity to make our living situation better for me, and who does acupressure on my chest muscles before bed every night so that I can breathe well enough to sleep.

In the face of my older son, who, even if he feels awkward when I cry, just sits there with me, caring written all over his face, and who also drives me all over the place.

In the face of my daughter, who cries with me, who has been so busy taking care of me, and who comes up with new ways to help every time I turn around.

In the face of my younger son, who is fiercely protective, has unlimited, highly expressive, teen-age sarcasm for anything (or anyone) that hurts me, and who has spent so much time looking out for me this last year.  


  * I did go to a wonderful, less formal, Christmas Eve Lovefeast at the United Church of Christ (6 minutes from our house)(where I've played flute before).  Not unexpectedly, because this happens a few times a day, I had a brief period of exhaustion about halfway through.  It was uncrowded enough that, if I had decided to, I could have just lain down on a pew to listen to the rest of the sermon.  People there were really welcoming - which was wonderful because that was only about two weeks after my restaurant experience. 


My scar looks great, but what about the rest of my life?

"Dr. S does such beautiful work!"  "Another example of Dr. S's beautiful work!" were the exclamations from the nurses and the assisting doctor at my six week return visit after my partial thyroidectomy this summer.  It's true, Dr. S does do beautiful work.  My scar is very small and not very noticeable.  

How one's thyroidectomy scar looks is a big deal in thyroidectomy circles.  It's such a minor thing to me. Medical professionals tell you lots about the scar before your surgery, but I had no idea how completely the rest of my life would fall apart afterward.  

Some people sail through major surgery and back on into their lives.  I, apparently, am not one of them.  There are so many ways surgery has made my life smaller and more broken.

If your thyroid levels are in the correct ranges, which mine are, recovery from a partial thyroidectomy should only take a month or two.  It's been three, and I'm still nowhere near normal.  I have bouts of nausea and weakness, and my energy level is still very low.  I can't drive more than 5 or 10 minutes.  The surgeon and the endocrinologist both said that these nothing to do with surgery.

However, my regular doctor, who knows my drug allergies and reactions (many extreme), said that she's sure it's from the surgery and my body's reaction drugs to the they used, and that it could be months before I have normal energy again.  Adding to the reactions to the surgery itself, when I had my surgery, I hadn't totally recovered from my prednisone reaction from last spring.  I was already starting from behind. 

So, if I overdo it - which means anything like a normal day - I can end up nauseous and lying in bed for days.  Over the last three months, I've designed a schedule for myself that works for my body, and which I can gradually increase.  If I stick with that, I'm mostly fine.  If not, my recovery goes way back.

That's not where someone is supposed to be at this point, though. I irritate people by not being able to do what they want me to (my kids and my husband, on the other hand, have been great at helping me and encouraging me to rest and recover).  

All sorts of things are crazy about my body right now.  I have costochondritis (inflammation of the chest muscles and tendons) which constricts my breathing, makes it difficult to sleep, and keeps me from carrying much.  I was in physical therapy for that, but I haven't been able to drive to it for the last few weeks.  If I use any part of my body the slightest bit to excess, things get weird.  I planted a dozen pansies yesterday, and my right arm is really weak today.  Planting pansies isn't a big deal.  If I try to dance, which I don't have the energy to do, I get dizzy.  I've got vision problems so I have to go for a brain MRI next week.  I'm claustrophobic so that makes me really scared (to say nothing of how scared the vision problems themselves make me).  

On top of that, we've had the cloudiest, rainiest fall that I can remember so my seasonal depression is in full swing. 

On the bright side, sort of, I'll be able to sing again.  Currently, I'm an alto.  Before surgery, I was a second soprano - and an alto if I was having problems with my voice.  I don't know if I'll ever be a second soprano again.  

When I had my knee surgeries, six and seven years ago, choir was one of the things that got me through. I could sing on crutches (and did for the Christmas Eve service).  Obviously, that can't be the case this time.  I don't even know if I can go back as an alto, though.  

I always struggled to be soprano-y enough for choir.  Because of my weak vocal fold on the right side (found out in voice therapy), my voice takes about 15 minutes to warm up.  If I have to sing high right away, it's really bad for my voice. 

I've tried for many years to be a good choir soprano.  One Sunday morning, there were no high sopranos there for the rehearsal before the service.  The choir needed high notes so I tried really hard to sing a high F - five minutes after we started singing.  By the time some high sopranos showed up, a few minutes before the service, I could barely croak.  I ruined my voice for the day for no reason at all.

The choir's had lots of altos lately and not as many sopranos as they need.  The choir director doesn't like it when I have to sing alto rather than soprano so I'm not sure that I should even try to go back when I can sing regularly again.  I can't even try to sing soprano (for those who know music, my voice teacher, a retired voice therapist, doesn't have me sing above a C right now).  

So, choir brings me to faith.  

Along with praying for other people, I do pray about my surgery and recovery.  I have thanked God so many times that it turned out to be an "easy" type of non-aggressive cancer.  Two of the ladies in the choir sent me get well cards.

Beyond that, faith and church have helped almost not at all.   I didn't expect them too - after all, neither helped after my father died or after my father-in-law died.  Church, and the expectations of faith, seem to be even more burdens to worry about at these times when I feel fragile.

Among all the things I have to do around the house, but don't have the energy to do, the church pledge form burns like a beacon.  I don't know when or if I'll be back at church, but if I don't return it, I'll get a phone call (not that anybody's called to find out how I am).  A number of years ago, when I hadn't been to church for months because of health issues, I got the "you-haven't-returned-your-pledge-form" phone call.  The guy wanted to take me off of the church membership because I hadn't been there.  I told him that he could if he wanted, but I was waiting for a call from the doctor so I had to get off of the phone.  They can take me off this time if they want - I'm not healthy enough for church.  

Singing brings me a large part of my social life, and that's gone when I can't sing.  One community theater group is doing Hairspray this winter - I'd love to do it, but I don't have the voice or the energy yet.  My usual group is doing Li'l Abner next summer, and I don't know if I'll be doing that either.  I'm not deciding until I hear more about the show and what the director is going to do with it.  However, I remember detesting that comic strip because of its stereotypes and casual sexism so I hope that the musical is different.

There are two singing possibilities when I get better enough, though.  There are two groups in Durham -Beer and Hymns and the Pop-Up Chorus - that you can just join and sing.

I'm on a Facebook group about thyroidectomies, and people have so many posts on how their scars look.

I'd rather have a far more nasty scar and have energy, not have broken relationships, and be able to sing and dance.  

Going to church while stoned out on Benadryl

It was a totally different experience!

I had a pretty intense allergic reaction to the balsam decorations at the choir rehearsal the night before Christmas Eve.  Older son said that the smell of balsam was more intense than at the top of Mt. Mitchell (without a breeze for fresh air).  After that, I wasn't sure that I should go to the Christmas Eve service at all, much less try to sing with the choir.  However, I was... less than prudent and went anyway since I love the service and the music.

I decided to take Benadryl to try to minimize my allergic reaction.  I didn't take enough to put me to sleep, but I took enough that it wasn't a good idea for me to drive.  By the time we pulled into the parking lot (driven by older son), I was floating on Benadryl.  

All those worries I have every time I go to church?  They were ALL GOOOOOONE (say that in a drawn-out, sing-song voice).  I just talked to people without worrying whether I was saying the right thing.  

During the service, I usually try to focus on listening and behaving correctly.  The choir sits on the side so, in order to look at the altar/readers/priest, I keep my head turned to the side for most of the service.  When I get home, I take almost always take Advil for the tension headache I got from keeping my head perfectly still and turned 45 degrees to the side.

When I was spaced out on Benadryl, I didn't do this.  Not only that, but I looked around and OTHER PEOPLE WEREN"T DOING THIS!  They were looking all over the place!  It was wonderful to come home from church and NOT have an appointment with the Advil bottle.

I sat with the choir for the Service of Lessons and Carols, and then I sat with my family for the regular Service (in case I had to go in and out of the Nave in order to take breathing breaks)(I also brought a brand new inhaler).  Near the end of the service, the Compline choir (which is not the regular choir) sang Silent Night near the side back doors.*  I was going to crane my neck to be polite and look at them, and realized that NOBODY ELSE WAS CRANING THEIR NECK.  I didn't either (remember, I only even noticed what everyone else was doing because I was spaced out).

I also usually worry about how well I'm singing and what notes I can or can't hit.  If my voice is bad due to allergies, colds, etc., I end up feeling very guilty if I can't hit the higher notes for choir.  Not on Christmas Eve - even though my throat was still raw from the previous night's allergies.  I just looked at the Ds (I'm currently singing alto), and laughed inside, saying, "That's not happening!"

I usually try to focus very hard on the sermon.  That didn't work so well on Benadryl.  It was a really good sermon, but I sort of fuzzed in and out.  Near the end, the priest mentioned the poem, In the Bleak Midwinter, by Christina Rossetti, and the lines: 

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.
To which, my stoned mind added:  "If I were involved in choir and musical theater, I would bring a song.  Hey, I've done that!!!!"
Thus missing the rest of the sermon.  Maybe it will show up on the church website...


*  This is one way that you can tell that this is an Episcopal church and not a Lutheran one.  In the Lutheran churches I've been to, the congregation almost always sings Silent Night while holding lit candles after Communion.  One year, the staff of one church sang it to the congregation instead, which was a sweet thing for them to do.  However, it didn't go over very well, and the congregation got to sing it again the next year.

Since my inner Lutheran couldn't sing Silent Night at church, I was glad that I'd already sung it numerous times in December with the two community theater groups we're involved with!

Random Thoughts

  • I haven't been very good at coming up with anything to write during this NaBloPoMo so I'm glad that I have lots of photos to post.  I actually do come up with ideas - in the morning or early afternoon.  By the evening, when I have time to write, I usually don't remember what they are - or I don't care.
  • Every summer, I think that I should be able to do something to prevent my seasonal depression.  By mid-November, I realize, again, that I can reduce it, but I can't get rid of it.  
  • Since it's in the mid 30's, and I don't seem to be able to stay warm inside, I listened to the Puffin Cam highlights for a while to make it feel like I'm outside.  
  • This would be a nice room to have in the winter:  hot tub to stay warm, huge windows for sunlight, and plants.
  • I end up feeling trapped inside without space to move in the winter (except for Zumba and Broadway Dance).  I've started doing much more walking while I fold laundry - fold a shirt, walk to the bedroom and put it away, fold another shirt, walk to the bedroom, etc. - rather than fold them all and then put them away.  It helps a bit.  
  • I've got a good winter coat, but it's heavy and drags on my shoulders.  I had tension headaches every day for two weeks (three days now without one!) so I don't really want to start wearing it.  I'm trying to find a lightweight winter jacket to help me get outside more.
  • I've injured my knee twice this year - minor injuries, but they keep me from really being able to throw myself into things (including Zumba & Broadway Dance).  
  • I finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy and loved it!

The Forgotten Books

Summer BookI could remember what I was reading on vacation because I always put the book(s) in the same place(s).  The ones I was reading I left either on the dresser or on the bedside table.  This isn't the case at home so I end up with books that I forgot I was reading.

This afternoon, I read another chapter of The Summer Book by Tove Jansson (author of the Moomin books).  It's a beautiful book, and I only read a chapter at a time so that I can slowly soak it in.  I started it in July, and put it next to the chair in our bedroom.  

The chair is placed in the bedroom so that we can see the flowers in the backyard.  It's in the space that the bedside table used to be, and there isn't room next to it for a table.  I put the book in the small space between the chair and the wall, and forgot about it.  I notice it every few weeks, sit down and read a chapter, and then forget it again (this afternoon, I took the other book off of it).


I'm finding that Goodreads occasionally reminds me of the books I've forgotten because of the "Currently Reading" list on the home page.  Sometimes I go back to reading them, and other times I just delete them off of the list.  

For instance, I was getting allergy shots last year, and you have to wait for 20 minutes to see if you have a reaction (or longer if you have one, as I often did which is why I eventually stopped).  I had a bag with three books in it that I took to the shots.  When I stopped going, the bag sat in the playroom for a long time until I finally admitted to myself that I wasn't going back and put the books away.  I'll get back to them someday, but I deleted them from the "Currently Reading" list.  

On vacation, I started reading Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore.  It's the sort of book I only read when I'm awake and attentive enough to really appreciate it.  It keeps getting lost since I don't read it every day.  Currently, it's ended up under a pile of really cute t-shirts that all three kids wore.  I'm going to take pictures of the shirts and then give the shirts away.  Maybe then I can get back to the book.




About two weeks ago, I started reading The Song of the Quarkbeast, a fun, Young Adult, fantasy book (the sequel to The Last Dragonslayer).  It's the sort of book I could read at bedtime so I put it on the ledge to remind myself to bring it upstairs.  It's gotten covered by lots of other things.  Someday it will ascend.  

 You would think that I'd remember a book on the end table next to the chair where I usually sit in the living room.  No...


I still have had Listening Below the Noise:  A Meditation on the Practice of Silence on my Currently Reading list.  It's another book that I only read a chapter of occasionally so that it sinks in. Unfortunately, It got buried in the pile.  I still had four or five chapters left to go when it had to go back to the library.  I just rounded up and marked it as read.  I really should own a copy because I'll go back to it over and over.

Some are much older.  I started reading a chapter a day of Inspiration from Pope Francis as a Lenten practice.  I put the book in the desk shelf right next to the computer - and forgot it halfway through the first month.  The chapters are in alphabetical order, and I got as far as "Education."


The worst ones are e-books.  I started reading Nine Goblins by T. Kingfisher (who is really Ursula Vernon, one of my favorite authors and bloggers) back in April.  I put it on both the laptop and dear husband's Nook.  There's absolutely nothing, besides the Goodreads listing, to remind me.  The Nook is on the credenza (to the left of the pile of shirts in the photo above), and its case does not tell me that there's an unread book inside.   Putting a yellow sticky note on it won't help because yellow sticky notes mean "work" so I'd ignore it when I'm ready to read.

The two best places to remind me to read are the eye level shelf on the most accessible bookshelf downstairs.  I usually put current books on the left side on top of the stack.  If other books end up on top of them, however, they descend into oblivion.  

The top of the bedside stack(s) is(are) also best, although I forgot about Damiano for most of the summer because of other books.


I'll often start a new book because I'm not in the right mood for one of the current ones.  I usually have at least a non-fiction or two, a sci fi/fantasy or two, a romance, and a general fiction going at the same time.  I end up being in the middle of ten or more because I forget some of them.  

A happy problem.  


I've had horrible allergies this week, and they've been the worst when I've been in the bedroom, particularly when I wake up in the morning.  We vacuumed and dusted, and my allergies were just as bad.  They started when we turned on the heat, and they're much better when the heat is off.  I finally realized that the air vent in the master bedroom closet was blowing dust from the closet into the bedroom, leaving me with full sinuses and puffy, itchy eyes when I woke up in the morning.

We've been needing to clean out the closet for... oh, maybe a decade now.  I can't even reach the other end anymore.  

One of the boxes in the back of the closet - not because it's unimportant, but the opposite, it's so important that it's not going anywhere - is a box of mementos from older relatives who are gone.  

I know the prevailing cleaning philosophy is that, if you don't use something for a year (or, for some very lenient cleaning gurus, two years), you should take a photo of it and give it away.  However, I don't have the kind of room in my house to keep everything special out on a shelf.  That doesn't mean that I want to get rid of things.  Some of them will end up in a box and only come out occasionally - like this weekend.  

Photos wouldn't do these mementos justice.  There's nothing like holding something in your hand and being ten years old again with your godmother next to you.

The worst day of the regular year (plus garden photos because, apparently, I'm not all that good at ranting posts anymore)

There are other kinds of worst days, but today is the worst one of the regular calendar year for me.  We turn back the clocks AND we have the first frost tonight. 

I'm not totally grumpy.  Older son is singing to himself while making breakfast which is actually cheering me up.  We usually have breakfast with him before he goes to sing in choir (oh, I'm not singing today,even though I hoped to be back in choir in November, because it's a feast day and there will be incense.  I can manage breathing incense some of the time (I never enjoy it), but I've had really bad allergies and asthma the last two weeks so there's no way I can go sing).*

The other three of us that are home (daughter is at her church), had breakfast an hour ago.  We woke up at the same time as usual - by the sun, which means that, clock-time-wise, we woke up an hour early.  We ate breakfast at the same time, sun-wise, because we were all getting hungry and didn't want to wait for the right time. 

I know all the stuff about changing the clocks back for the farmers and the kids at bus stops.  I was a kids at the bus stop back in the 70's when we didn't go off of Daylight Savings time for one winter.**  I understand it for that.  It doesn't mean that I enjoy it.

I really hated it when I worked in insurance.  I could only exercise while taking walks during lunch.  Jogging after dark wasn't safe so I didn't jog during the week unless I drove to one of the universities and jogged there.  It's much better now - I can arrange homeschooling around a mid-day walk or go to dance/Zumba in the evenings. However, there won't be any weekday walks, even in the twilight, with dear husband until the time changes back in March.  He doesn't get home early enough.  We do lots of wintertime walks in the dark - pretty in its own way, but not really good for people with seasonal depression.  I also hate doing all the evening driving around totally in the dark - particularly on rural roads with psycho deer:  "Look!  It has lights!  It will be my friend!" 

The first frost just makes today worse.  Instead of planting pansies this afternoon, we'll be putting away most of the clay pots and yard ornaments, although we'll keep some of the pots of annuals in the garage.  After tonight, we'll have another week until it gets this cold again.  I should pull up the impatiens and the nasturtiums in the flower beds because they turn to disgusting slime when they freeze. Right now, I'm typing this at the kitchen table while glancing at marigolds, nasturtiums, cleome, geraniums, tithonia, argeratum, hyacinth beans, two new annuals whose names I don't remember, and a bounty of morning glory flowers - all in pots on our back deck.  We'll try to cover them tonight, but, even if they don't freeze, they'll be damaged by the tarp.   

Today has its excellent points, however - it's sunny rather than rainy & gloomy, and, most importantly and happily, all five of us are going to my Mother's house for dinner!


Here's the deck the way it looked while I was writing this post this morning:



The morning glories grew all over the deck and climbed up the tithonia all summer - then they started blooming beautifully in October.  I'm glad I left them.

I planted these two for the hummingbirds - who loved them.


* Older son is busy with a show the next three weekends - move in next weekend and then two Sunday matinee performances.  If I go to choir those Sundays, I'd go by myself, which is very lonely so I'll have to see. :P

** It actually wasn't that big a deal for me, and I just looked forward to the sun coming up during Social Studies, but I can see that it could be a problem for kids who are in more dangerous situations than standing on a suburban driveway.