Hard to plan

It looks to be a busy week, as usual.  April 2014

It looks to be a busy week, as usual. April 2014

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” E. B. White

I am writing this post in advance as usual, but I have a better-than-average idea what we will be doing on the day it is published, and it likely will be a long, difficult day for us.  So I thought we could use a bit of comic relief today, especially since that was the theme one year ago.  Let’s all hope that laughter is indeed the best medicine.  Matt certainly has enjoyed that particular blessing in abundance; I pray it serves him well now.

Today, I encourage you to go out and improve the world.  Or have fun. Or preferably, both!  Drop me a line and fill me in on how it goes.  I am eagerly awaiting good news.

One year ago today:

Not quite refined




  1. Leslie

    I enjoy your pictures, inspiring quotes, and uplifting words every day. You are in my prayers today more than ever. I pray for God to be with you and your family, and especially with the fine doctors and nurses and everyone on the surgical team.

    • Thank you so much, Leslie. It gives us a lot of strength and encouragement to have the prayers and support of others. I appreciat you being her with us and I’m so happy you enjoy the blog!

  2. Susan

    I have a friend a quote similar to the above quote in her email signature block at the end of all of her emails.it does make one stop and think. Quite possibly, just enjoying it will make the world a better place. I hope so. I may give it a try. I tend to lean too far toward the other option, and lose my balance. Whoops!
    I wish for you bouts of genuine laughter today.

    • Susan, I think enjoying the world definitely makes it a better place because happiness is contagious! And I have found that those who really enjoy the world are the most careful not to disturb or destroy the balance of nature. It’s very easy to lean too far in one direction or the other – that’s why I like to have a wide variety of friends with different strengths, all have something to teach me. I will be on the lookout for some good laughs today. Matt has already given us a few. Yesterday when the surgeon asked Matt if he was ready to sign the consent form, Matt looked at him blankly for a few minutes (in that way I recognized he uses when he is pulling someone’s leg) and then grinned really big and said “Yes!” – so when Dr. S handed him the form Matt looked up and asked, “And if I said no?” Dr. S had a big laugh and said “If you say no, I get to take the day off tomorrow.” This morning Matt was cheerful with everyone although we could tell he was a bit scared last night – didn’t sleep as well as usual — but that’s no problem since he’ll get plenty of sleep today. 🙂 We just got word from the OR that his is now on bypass and doing fine with it so far.

  3. I continue to pray for you and your family. I hope all is well. Please let us all know how Matt is doing.

    • Thanks so much Patricia, so far, so good. We are all floating above the currents on the prayers, keeping our heads above the water…thanks for being with us through this!

  4. raynard

    Julia dont get me started singing Michael Jackson songs”Make the World a better place, or wait A moment of”We are the World” , followed by “Hands across America”.. I remember back in 1999 at my last job. My x boss’s wife gave me a day planner. I never used it and still have it.. Never was one to sit down and use any type of planner, write phone number in a “black book( scraps of paper will do) or even contact info on my computer or cell phone. Easy way for me is index cards , I buy them in a 200 pack from the dollar store.( I do have a police note for my job cause they can be use in court if it ever comes down to that we were told.( If only i could remember to buy more vitimins at the store) Might take in a Imax movie or”take the trip across to NJ to the drive in movie( yes One is still around 8 bucks for a double feature and food is healthy cause it’s privately owned not some chain. Oh about the Google plus thing.you can use the same password as your gmail. Whatever items items have the Google plus symbol you click and it will be added to your account.( it’s their version of Twitter and Google Hangouts is like their FB but have now alot of how to videos”. You ever see that commercial with the camel going around talking about”Hump Day? lol be blessed

    • Raynard, those scraps of paper I am so prone to use have become the bane of my existence. They are floating around everywhere now (when the phone calls come in I grab whatever is close) and I have got to get control of them and use a system. Years ago I used an index card system for EVERYTHING and it worked better for me than any other planning tool I’ve ever used. I need to get back to that, or at least get myself a good old-fashoned spindle such as the one I used when I was a bank teller. One day I will be interpid enough to learn the Google universe, hopefully before it takes over everything. Today is “hump day” for sure for all of us. I hope by tomorrow we will be on the gradual downhill part of this particular journey…I’ll let you know 🙂 Meanwhile tomorrow I hope I’ll be singing this old favorite which I keep on my MP3 player.

  5. Amy

    Hmmm I can’t promise to have fun today but I will try to find a laugh and encourage someone somehow. Glad that Matt liked the books. I loved that joke book and the poetry made me think of you. She has put together several books of poetry but I liked this the best. I will be keeping you all in thought and prayer today. Please keep me posted. I love you.

    • Amy, I was so excited about the poetry book. I loved CK’s collection She Walks in Beauty, especially her commentary. It’s of such high literary quality yet still accessible and down to earth, especially with her personal comments. I know we will enjoy the book together; thanks so much for getting it! (I thought it was probably meant to be at least partly for me too 🙂 – We will keep you posted. Love you.

      • Amy

        Hey I am back from work and thought I would check in on you. Been praying that things are going well. I love you all.

        • Hey Ms. Lady, all is going well. I even got some sleep last night 😀 and Matt continues to exhibit his endearing spirit, even with the ventilator tube going down his throat (he was giving people a thumbs-up earlier today). They have now taken him of the ventilator and he is breathing on his own. When he was still seemingly out late last night, I held his hand and said “Squeeze my hand if you can hear me” and he did. Then I asked him if he wanted me to stream some classical music from WHRO — and got a FIRM squeeze! I knew he was on his way back. 😀 Thanks for being here, and for caring!

          • Amy

            Glad to know he is off the ventilator. I read that he is asking for a drink and I hope by the time you read this he will have been allowed to have one. Love that he wanted the music. Kisses from me.

            • Amy

              I glad to see you were able to rest and I hope you got that walk that Jeff encouraged you to take today. You resting speaks volumes. Keep me posted. Let me know if you need anything from us.

              • I didn’t get any walking done today but tomorrow or the next day, depending on how Matt does, I might take the hospital shuttle to Union Station and walk down to the U.S. Botanical Gardens where there is an orchid show that ends April 27. We shall see. Just keep praying, that is what we need most. Love you.

            • I am relieved to tell you he is FINALLY able to take small sips of ginger ale (which is what he was asking for) but the poor guy seems to feel nauseated after only a couple of sips – and I can tell the pain is intense when he has any sort of cough or gag reflex, so I’m a bit afraid to give it to him. I cannot believe how well he’s handling it all. His music is definitely a comfort to him. Awhile ago they were playing the Lieutenant Kije Suite and I heard Matt ask the nurse if she knew who the composer was. She said she didn’t, and he told her it was Prokofiev. So the pain meds aren’t messing with his brain too much at this point.

              • Amy

                And I will keep praying that the meds do the job without messing him up. I hope this recovery passes quickly. Enjoy the orchids if you get there. I will be checking pts in all day for procedures. YUCK!!! But I shall walk with you in my mind. 🙂

                • I didn’t do the orchids today because rain was predicted, but it came so late that I probably could have gone. But since last night was so rough I wanted to stay here with Matt anyway. Maybe I’ll get there tomorrow. Sunday will be the last day for it. I’ll take you with me in my mind! And send you pictures for a virtual memoir of it, assuming I get there.

  6. Bobby

    I think I will do a little gardening today. That will make the world a better place and I enjoy it. I will get my hair cut–that will certainly make the world a better place. And I will pray. You are being lifted up by many and held in the arms of a loving God. Stay strong.

    • Thanks so much Bobby, I will have a lovely mental picture of you in your garden and even though I won’t be able to directly see the results as we used to, I can know they are beautiful! We are upheld by your prayers and good wishes. Thanks for being here with us!

  7. Julia, whatever I do today, I will pray for you and Matt first. 💗

    • Mechelle, thank you so much! I feel so grateful and fortuante to have your prayers and good wishes. So far they are being answered!

  8. Sheila

    Julia, I love the appointment book that you’ve pictured. I have held on to this very thing in our office, although the “preferred” scheduler is on the computer. We start each day with the computer generated schedule (that we print out). By the end of most days it has been added to, marked through, and looks nothing like the original PLAN. So it is with schedules! I know most of our patients, but they still ask if they need to sign in. I always reply, ” No. I know who you are and where you are, so it’s not necessary.” I know you’ll manage to smile many times throughout this day. That’s another prayer that I send up for you! 🙂

    • Thanks Sheila, I’m managing quite a few smiles so far. The staff here are wonderful, so upbeat and friendly, Matt always feels as if he is among friends and it’s wonderful to walk through this HUGE hospital and hear people calling him by name (so many people here know him now). Your prayers are like the life preserver keeping our heads above the water – we can feel and sense them – thanks so much for being with us!

      • Sheila

        Julia, personal staff just goes a long way! I have been constantly thinking of y’all today; so glad that Drew is there with you. When the family unit is together it just feels so right, so strong! Matt is so special to so many! I really wanted to let you know I’m thinking of your family this evening! You are such a wonderful person and give far more than you can imagine! 🙂

        • Sheila, as always I appreciate your generous and loving words. It was good to have Drew here. He is on his way home now but Matt was quite aware of his presence even last night (and of course he was with Matt all day the day before), and I got some photos of the two of them post-op that I hope to post here soon. I appreciate your presence here, your prayers and friendship!

  9. Carolyn Miller

    I’m going out to get flowers today to make my yard a pretty place. Well here is my up date. I saw my doctor yesterday and all blood work was great and he is very happy with all things. My new schedule is every 6 months as long as there are no problems . I was a very happy lady when I left West Clinic. Thanks for prayers and we all still need them . I pray that things are going smooth for you all today. Keep me up dated on Matt. Jeff you take care , our reunion will be here before we know it. Hugs to all.

    • HOORAY Carolyn!!! This is a super prognosis for someone fighting Ovarian Cancer. A major victory to be on a 6 month recall. That five-year reunion is getting closer all the time. We will keep praying for you and thanks for bringing us such great news today! I hope you have great fun planting those colorful flowers as a celebration! 🙂 Jeff will be so happy to hear.

  10. Julia, I went to sleep praying for you all, and I woke up doing the same.Mike and I have been praying daily for you, Jeff, and Matt. Today especially we pray for Matt’s surgery to be successful and for you, Jeff, and Drew to have peace during your long and difficult wait. We love you.

    • Janice, thanks so much – Jeff is napping and so far all the updates have been positive. Thanks for keeping us in your prayers!

  11. Julia, love the quote. Think I use it. 🙂 This day you and your family is in prayers…
    I’m a detail person, that likes things in order. I have a calendar journal on my desk to keep track of our appointments…even my husband checks it. 🙂
    I have several calendar apps on my desk top computer, on my laptop, and phone but I rely on old and trusted…

    • Hi Merry, I’m glad you like the quote – I thought it sounded so familiar! Your prayers are being answered. Matt came through the surgery safely and is on his way to recovery in the CICU. I too rely on my calendar, although lately I have “dropped the ball” even on many things I have written down. The lesson is that the calendar doesn’t help unless I make sure to look at it. 😀 But I would be lost without it. Thanks for being here with us!

  12. I wrote on your post from last year. Thanks for making me smile. 🙂

    • You’re welcome! I’m so glad you liked it. I still smile when I remember that funny bird.

  13. I am doing both. This may seem a bit strange but I love tidying up the house and folding laundry. It’s a beautiful spring day here, so I also opened all the windows to air out the house. Changed front porch furnishings to spring and began the task of deep cleaning front and back porches. Such a blessing to have both. So I’m doing what makes me happy today. {And I confess a love for my paper day-planner, which does provide “wiggle-room” for the ever-present unexpected.} 🙂
    Sending prayers your way, too.

    • What you say doesn’t sound strange at all; in fact, it was refreshing just to read about it. I love doing dishes and cleaning the kitchen, along with weeding and other chores some people hate. When asked about why I love the dishes, I tell people it’s one of the few things I do in life for which I can see instant results. I think a lot of housework is like that. There’s a comforting sameness about it but also a fresh newness whenever the dishwasher is emptied of clean, still-warm dishes, or the fragrant linens are put on the beds all clean. I love my day planner too, although some weeks it’s more agreeable than others.

      • Thanks for defining why I love housework. It truly does make an instant difference. Still porch cleaning here! 🙂

        • There’s something very satisfying about it, isn’t there? Although I feel like a hypocrite for saying it because I don’t clean nearly enough, in my opinion…not because I hate it (I don’t, especially when I’ve got an audiobook to listen to) but because there is just too much else crowding out my time right now. Maybe I’ll be able to get back to it in a couple of weeks…

  14. Aunt Peggy

    julia,today i am thinking about you,matt,jeff and drew and sending my love to you all with the
    future to be bright as you go thru this trial

    • Thank you Aunt Peggy! Matt insisted on wearing his Gator Boys shirt to the pre-ops and is looking forward to watching the DVDs as soon as he feels better! Thanks so much for your continual outpouring of love for us. Love to you and Uncle Vern.

  15. MaryAnn

    The comic relief you bring today is like “seeing” how you face whatever comes your way. You smile, praise God & do what is best. I thank our Heavenly Father for you & your family!
    Prayers are continuing, thanks for the updates.

    • Mary Ann, thanks so much for your kind words, it makes me want to live up to them! Your prayers are being answered. I will try to post a photo or two soon.

  16. Carolyn Miller

    Praying for Matt. Love you all.

    • Thank you Carolyn! Matt is resting peacefully right now in the CICU with Jeff and me right nearby. He’s still quite a trooper, that same spirit you probably remember well.

  17. Dorothy Walker

    Maybe by the time you read this Matt’s operation will be successfully over. I pray all went well. Thinking of you all with love.

    • Thank you Dorothy, Matt did indeed come through the surgery safely and the doctors are quite pleased with the results. As always, they had to get a bit creative with their problem-solving, but as of now it appears Matt is headed for a safe recovery. Thanks so much for your prayers and kind thoughts.

  18. I’ve been thinking about you all day. xoxooxoxo

    • Thank you, I knew there must be some reason things were going so well today. 😀 We are all doing pretty well, and Matt is a champ as usual. Thanks for being with us through this challenge!

      • I’m so happy to hear that, Julia. I’m sure it was a long, stressful day. Glad to see his thumbs up.

        Hugs all around,

        • Thanks Alys! There have been a few bumps in the road, as we’ve learned to expect on the second and third days following surgery. He’s had problems with pain and nausea today, and needs to start eating. But he’s hanging in there, as are we. I appreciate the cyber hugs! 😀

          • I’m behind again, Julia, so hoping that these problems have subsided. What a slog. I can’t imagine the stress you’ve all been under. xox

            • Hi Alys, things are looking up tonight. We hope to be home in a few days. Thanks for being here and caring!

  19. Michael

    Today in Seattle we are fixin to have a right smart amount of rain. But yesterday we got to take a little stroll on another stair walk. Little sore in the quads today. we did the Blaine Street stairs. And also the Volunteer water tower- at 106 stairs one- way. http://www.seattlestairwaywalks.com/
    Praying for good news for you’all today.

    • Thanks for your prayers, Michael, we have had almost all good news so far. I think that is such a cool website! I tried to find one for Washington DC but so far no luck – I did find this one but it doesn’t have any listings for our area – none in DC, Maryland or Northern Virginia. I guess they think there are too many obvious places around here (capitol steps, Washington Monument, etc.) but I might try to find a few to put on the map myself – in all my spare time. 😀

  20. Michael

    I heard , A story on NPR yesterday about a library in San Francisco who has hired a social worker to work with all the homeless folks who hang out at there. We have a similar situation at our downtown library here in REnton. The library is close to a park where many homeless folks crash in the spring and summer months. Many homeless use the facilities at the library and often hang out there. I have seen some librarians tell patrons in a gruff voice, You can’t sleep here.” What is your angle on this trend? I have taken a few naps in the library myself.

    • Michael, my feeling has always been that people who are using the library are welcome there – and one need not be reading a book to be enjoying the unique services the library offers, even such as having a quiet place to sit and meditate or take a few minutes’ rest. But it becomes a larger problem when there are people not using the library for its intended purpose, who are actually obstructing access to resources for those who are there to make legitimate use the library and seek resources available there and ONLY there. And often, the intimidation/fear factor alone prevents access for some patrons. Do you think parents might be a bit reluctant to allow children to visit a library where a number of homeless people were inclined to congregate, for example? As such, I believe a degree of control — including appropriate rules — is necessary for safety as well as logistics. I would refer you here to the wisdom of one of my favorite library professionals, the esteemed Herbert White, whose book is excerpted here (see, for example, page 27 of this preview, provocatively titled “Lead me not into temptation to do good”).

  21. Michael

    Not sure if I sent this version which has Robin Roberts in it and also Gabby Giffords.

    • Michael, I liked this video so much that I have embedded it into a post written for May 12. I was especially happy to see Scott Hamilton in it too, as I find his story so inspiring, and think of him as a brother in the faith. Thanks for sending this link!

  22. Michael

    You will have to write the stairway book for your area. In your spare time of course. The original one was done for San Fran, I believe.

    • Yes, that’s the conclusion I came to when I was reading about it. I’m glad someone thought of it, it’s a worthy project and a great way to get to know a city. If you climb to the top you are often rewarded with a great view, and then it’s a lot easier going back down. Real stairways are quite a workout, much more demanding than any Stairmaster machine, as I proved to Jeff in an actual contest many years ago where I bet him that he couldn’t do as many flights on a real (very long) staircase up a hill as he could on the machine he used every day. A friend and I had been climbing the real stairs and I found there was no comparison to how hard it was on the machine. One more reason I’ve always preferred real terrain.

  23. Ha, you’re feature image made me snicker because my week sometimes looks very much like that indeed. Great intentions don’t always transpire but I’m almost always doing something. I get to Friday and think, “where did the week go?” I guess I take ‘Enjoy the journey’ to heart. Wishing you a calm day with only happy news. xoK

    • I think “enjoy the journey” is a great way to go. I need to get a bit (OK, a lot) better about organizing my time, but I hope to always leave spaces for the unexpected. Like you, I stay busy and contented. I can’t imagine being bored; I don’t know how anyone could find life boring.

  24. bobmielke

    I retired almost 4 years ago after the plant I worked in at Intel Corp. became obsolete. I was 61 at the time and the economy had tanked really hard. The odds of finding a decent job at my age during the worst recession ever was slim to none. So, I faced the facts and retired early, preferring peace of mind to financial wealth and security. I have never regretted the move as I’m now free and, most of the time, content. I tend to be an introvert, enjoying the peace and quiet that my photography brings to me. I see so much beauty in my world and simply want to share it with everyone. My blog gives me hope as I spend a lot of my time traveling locally going on what I call, Photo Safaris.

    Occasionally I give guided tours of the Oregon Zoo. I’m not an employee or volunteer but I pick my spots to show visitors and photographers alike my knowledge of the facility, the animals and all the ways I’ve learned to get the most out of their zoo visit.

    I’m never bored, lonely or sorry for my choices. I used to be a professional photographer but haven’t sold my photos for money in 25 years. I’d rather give folks access to my blogs and online storage site to take any shots they wish to obtain for their own personal use.

    • What I like about your blog is the way you sometimes explain how you did the editing to get a particular look. Not too many people do that, and a lot of photography books are kind of overwhelming to read. It’s easier to digest in small bites. I love your zoo photos. I enjoyed the book Life of Pi partly because of the insider’s view of a zoo and what animals can be like. I think its great that you are willing to share your photos freely. One thing I love about the online world is that it’s changing so much of the gatekeeping mentality that has always gone along with publishing of anything. Don’t get me wrong, I support intellectual property rights, but I also think it’s great for people to be able to share freely without having to invest a lot of money.

      • bobmielke

        For years, as a pro, I shot everything for money and nothing for me. Now in retirement the opposite is true. You can’t put a value on photographs you love personally. They are for my joy and my followers, friends and zoo visitors.

        • I love the idea that retirement allows us to switch gears and make decisions based on values other than monetary goals. I think a lot of people dream of having that kind of freedom. I’m so happy you have been able to achieve that – everyone wins because of it.

          • bobmielke

            I grew up in a poor household that emphasized to important values in life. Money was never plentiful so I wasn’t saddened when it wasn’t there. If my parents couldn’t afford to send me to college I worked 3 jobs while winning a scholarship to a great local college in Illinois. I knew if I wanted something I had to work for it. You appreciate it more that way.

            • Bob, I think having a time in life where money is tight is a great advantage. For Jeff and me the first four years of our marriage we had NO money so we learned to live on pretty much no income. That ability has served us well, and looking back, those were very happy years for us too. The great thing about having seen both sides – having been with and withut a lot of money — is you learn how irrelevant it really is to happiness. Having said that, it’s way easier not to struggle financially, but when you learn to do without, things get easier from there on in. I do agree that we most appreciate what doesn’t come easiest to us.

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