Saturday, December 11, 2010

First day

Sooo… my first day of subbing. I am at Meade, one period at the junior high and the other five at the high school. Algebra! Me! What are they thinking!?!

It is a very nice facility, all purple and everything. The library is as big as Mission’s and the common area is a big wide hallway sort of affair with a few 8-person round tables. They have two lunch periods, so only need to seat about a hundred at a time. During lunch, they put out 12 of the tables, plus one long one for the staff. Classrooms are huge, carpeted and equipped with smart boards. I GOT TO USE ONE! (Excited!)

Class size will make some people cry,

P1 18 (8th graders)

P3 10 (Algebra 2)

P4 9 (Algebra 1)

P5 19 (Algebra 1)

P6 8 (Algebra 1)

P7 17 (Algebra 2) and since it is basketball and wrestling season there were only 5

Since it is December, the parents take turns bringing food for staff. There was so much today that there wasn’t room on the table. They told me it was usually like that. Good thing I’m not working every day!

When I got up at 6 a.m. I was worried about making it on time. Because I am a timid night driver, I was afraid it would take me longer than an hour to get here. The sun rose about 7:15 and it was actually light by the time I pulled into the junior high.

The kids are great, everyone knows everyone’s family so they know they will get ratted out. Some of the kids are slackers (go figure!) but for the most part, they actually try to get the classwork/homework done in class. Everyone is white! Elizabeth, this is for you!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

December is upon us

So ... I invited the usual crew of suspects to come to the farm for thanksgiving and started cleaning. When I talked to Kathy (she and Terry live in Houston 700 miles south) she told me that Terry would have to work Wednesday so they would start after he got home from work and should be here in the morning of TG day. Driving to church I began to feel a little guilty. I don't have to go to work, don't need to count my days off and don't need to haul 4 people up the freeway. So I called them and asked if the invitation to Houston was still open. They were very happy to be able to stay home. Of course that meant that Marian and Eileen wouldn't be coming, but they do have family locally, so I decided to be Texas bound.

Texas is kind of interesting. It is so self absorbed. Everything declares that you are in Texas. I could drive through any of the other states I regularly traverse and if I wasn't paying attention to progress, I probably wouldn't know what state I am in. In Texas, you need only to check the nearest billboard or storefront. You are in TEXAS! and you know it.

It was fun finally seeing the house that I had heard about since before it was built. And Terry and Kathy are excellent hosts. Their only flaw was a determination to participate in The Black Friday Madness. After much urging, I convinced them that I was going to stay in bed at three a.m. and they were welcome to do what ever they wanted. They went out at 3 to attempt to purchase the one TV that target had that they wanted. Other things were bought (that's for you Ebeth) but no tv. Then everybody came back and rested.

About 2 p.m. people began to get their second winds and so off we went to the malls. 2 p.m. was a good time to do that. While I didn't have much shopping to do, I managed to get a couple of things, but it was most entertaining. Later that evening, we made another foray and this time we went to the crack house where I only bought black and orange yarn (for Giants scarves) and some Lagoon Homespun so Marian could make my Christmas present. She told me to find what color I wanted, but it was sooo on sale that it only made sense to buy it there instead of her paying full price and shipping. Aren't I good. But even better was that I didn't buy any other yarn.

So Saturday morning I loaded up again and headed home. Made it to Norman and spent the night. Had dinner with cousin Chris and his son Chris. It was really nice to see them. Little Chris has turned into an entertaining young man. Would probably get along really well with Ryan.

Tried to make it home in time for church, but was about 30 minutes late in spite of an early start. Probably should have skipped the coffee, the soda and all the pauses on the way.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

New/old friend

Ryan is terrified of spiders. If I hear him scream, I know there is a spider around. But he has become fascinated by a friend who lives on the porch. She is a beauty, and fun to watch. She can capture a grasshopper and spin it invisible in about 10 seconds. I am trying to get her on video just because the season is almost over and she will soon be gone.

Just for size ID, my hand is about 6 " behind our girl.

Well, there is plenty to do. Besides the obvious cleaning and sorting and talking to lawyers, there are events. I've been to the stock car races and county fair, a "beans and jeans" luncheon given by the men in the community, an evening of music (sign in at the door and you will be called to perform), a fundraiser for a woman who has cancer ($15,000 from donated brisket dinner and pie auction), a West Fest street fair, and a fundraiser fish fry for the local museum.

This next week I am going to a presentation for elders (The Trail of Years) that talks about one of the local luminaries, Mary Spurgeon, and the Watonga Cheese Festival. The latter is a big deal I understand. And there is a yarn store in Watonga. And a car show.

My niece comes in from Chicago on Sunday, ostensibly to help with the sorting. (This is the niece that burns anything that is standing still, so I must be vigilant!) I will have to find forms of entertainment, as I am sure it will be difficult for her. Shel was very attached and made it down here for vacation every year. She was also the one that could make Mom giggle every time, even at the last. Don't know if I can deal with the energy.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I am making an effort at becoming part of the community. The week after Mom's funeral, I got called on to help with Aunt Bea's funeral dinner. (Aunt Bea is aunt to my cousins so that is how I knew her although we are not related.) The Ladies of the Club were responsible for desserts and the meal was catered so I made lemon bars. They were okay.

But first let's talk about funeral dinners. I don't know about the rest of the world, but here, where people travel great distances and there are usually no facilities (hotels/motels, banquet halls, huge houses) the family time related to the funeral happens at the community hall. The ladies of the community provide a meal, serve and clean up while the family eats and mills around talking to people they haven't seen in years, and may never see again. The burden of being host or hostess is taken off the shoulders of the family by the ladies of the club (and some men in this place and time).

Why is it that the good party happens without the guest of honor?

And so it begins

The funeral is over. The company is gone.

I still have much to do, and a lot of time to do it. But now I feel like I have some control over my life. I have been making lists. I have been looking for things. I have even starting going through things. I only hope I can keep doing with no deadlines to force me to do. I am not good at non-deadline accomplishment

The world has settled down...

Two weeks later, the company is gone, the daily trips are planned and not daily, and the things I have thought needed to be done are getting done. And I am resting.

It is hard to believe how tired driving to Meade and sitting by Mom's bed made me. Now I can't sleep because I don't get tired enough. I am trying to step up the activity, making daily trips to the mailbox. If I can get them in, I try for 4 trips with each being about 1500 steps.

The following week, I got to pretend that I am a farmer. Decisions need to be made and I want to know what I am deciding, so when the crop insurance agent had a meeting to explain the next year's required actions, I went. What I learned was that meetings are catered too! A well known barbeque wagon came loaded for bear, a huge meal was served, the meeting was held, and then door prizes! I won a raffle (a can of WD-49) and shopped the free goodies (flashlight, bottle cozy and ...)

Everything is a party here

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Elsie G. "Goldie" Dixon
(November 30, 1918 - August 18, 2010)

KNOWLES – Elsie G. “Goldie” Dixon, age 91, died early Wednesday morning, August 18, 2010, at the Lone Tree Retirement Center, Meade, Kansas.

She was born November 30, 1918, at Zelma, Oklahoma, the daughter of Charlie Lewis and Lena Alice (Hochstetler) Smothermon. As a young girl she attended grade school in Eddy and Knowles, Oklahoma, graduating from Knowles High School in 1937. After her graduation, she furthered her education by graduating from nurses training at St. Francis Hospital in Wichita, Kansas, in 1940.

On June 2, 1942, she married Ralph Leroy “Buster” Dixon at Wichita, Kansas. After their marriage the couple lived in several areas where she worked at various hospitals, including Wesley Medical Center in Wichita and the Beaver County Hospital in Beaver, Oklahoma. She retired after fifty years of nursing and made her home in Knowles.

She was an eighteen year member of the Knowles Church of the Nazarene, having served on various committees throughout the years. She enjoyed reading, gardening, caring for her cats, and spending time with family and friends.

She is survived by:

  • Her daughter, Lois Dotson of Knowles, Oklahoma
  • Four grandchildren, Ryan Dotson, Brett Dotson, Trish Brooks, & Shelly Dixon
  • Three great-grandchildren, Jonah Kelmon, Emilia & Finley Dotson,
  • Many nieces and nephews whom she cherished deeply.

She is preceded in death by her husband on September 17, 1987; a son Ralph Leroy “Buster” Dixon, in October, 1994; a brother, Eugene Smothermon; a half-brother, Bob Moore; and a sister, Dolores Maphet.

Goldie was a woman of great strength and character, leaving us all with a role model to challenge us to be better people. The world will be a sadder place without her mischievousness and her quiet but feisty sense of humor.

Friends may call from 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Monday at Fidler-Orme-Bachman Mortuary, Meade with cremation following the visitation. Celebration of Life services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, August 27, 2010, at the Knowles Church of the Nazarene, Knowles, Oklahoma, with Reverend Tom Webb presiding. Private family inurment will take place at a later date.

The family would welcome memorials to Heifer International in care of the funeral home.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Yesterday I signed Mom into hospice. She started to downslide seriously late last week, and hasn’t showed signs of grabbing at branches. The goal of hospice is to make her comfortable, and who knows? Being comfortable may make her better, but so far it only allows her to sleep without outward signs of pain.

The doctor came to the nursing home yesterday because she was in such pain and so weak that moving her didn’t make sense, and he made a comment that I love. He said “She was born in an era when they built things to last, and she is going to last until she can’t fight anymore.” We have said goodbye to her several times over the last year and she has come back each time. I don’t know if she will this time, but I continue to pray for healing or release.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Two weeks ago, Mom had another stroke. I am convinced she has had a few small ones in the last year, but this one was not small. She cleverly managed to do it in the doctor’s office where we had come for a follow-up appointment so was treated immediately, but when they did all the tests, nothing showed up. A comparison of the brain scan from last year with the new one showed no further damage, X-rays showed no embolism, blood tests showed she was in good health, yet she had clearly had an event of some import. One of my favorite aides, who cried when we airlifted Mom to Wichita last summer, came to me and said she was going to be gone for a week and gave me a big goodbye hug because she knew we wouldn’t be here when she came back. And I started making plans for a future without a mother. Again.

For a woman who swore she would never go to a nursing home and prayed to not live long enough to be impaired, that woman has the strength of an ox. She came back again. I don’t know how impaired she will be. She is now rational when she talks, speaking in sentences instead of nods and monosyllabic responses like the last few months. But she groans terribly while she sleeps or dozes. And she clearly hurts when she is moved. Last week she was sitting in a rocking recliner, rocking … of course … and she told me she wanted to get up. I told her she was up and she yelled, “No, I’m not. Don’t argue with me. I want to get out of bed.” Sometimes she is not the Goldie we all know and love. But at the same time, she knows Ryan is on the road, and will ask if I have heard from him, and where is he?

Everyone keeps asking me what my plans are and I can only say I don’t know. As school time closes in, I am beginning to fear that I won’t make it back this year, and it breaks my heart. I miss my job, my friends, my house and animals, and my grandkids. I have spent the summer polishing my curriculum as I was to have only eleventh graders this year and I could really focus on them. And I need to be back in Cali very soon. But at the same time, how do I leave my mother. I can’t take her with me, I would be miserable if I left her here. And I don’t even know if she would know if I were gone. But I can’t really leave her, so I guess that really answers my question, doesn’t it?

I have requested a second leave of absence. I am applying for an emergency sub license. (That is harder than applying to be a teacher!) I am waiting. And Mom continues to deteriorate.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In response to a comment

Yeah, the mental image just doesn't work, the actual image doesn't work either. I am amazed every time and wonder who that woman is and what she did with my mother. I am hoping and praying with all my heart that the original mother comes back soon.

Rain? we got 3 inches one day, and lost power for a while. There were tornados spotted in the county, but they didn't say where. The nearest town (Forgan, 23 miles away) got 7 inches in 6 hours but they are on the side of a hill so it just ran out of town.

Sometimes the trip between Meade and the house requires pulling over to the side of the road and waiting until the visibility gets above 10 feet. And it is wheat harvest time, so we all wait for the sun, and curse the hail and hope there is still a crop there when it is all over.

Another option

So ... she began to deteriorate again, and hunky doc decided he would do the amputation. So he did, last Monday. The surgery went well, by now she says the toe doesn't hurt anymore, just her bottom and her knee. Of course there has to be a complication, and there is.

Mom has become randomly crazy. Sometimes she is just fine, talking, laughing, and wanting to go for walks. Other times she is crazy, hitting nurses, spitting in faces, cursing (yes! my mother! cursing!) and refusing to take her meds or to eat. Yesterday, hunky doc saw it in person and prescribed anti-psychotics. Today she is pretty lethargic, but not fighting treatment. HD says we should be out of here by early next week and by then she should be out from under the anesthetic/pain med/whatever and be her old self.

We will see.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A month later

So much has happened, I'm not sure I can even remember.

Ryan moved here, fell in love, broke up, got a job, may have a second job (everyone does here) and has charmed almost every female in the nursing home. And his cat died the day before he left California.

Mom got better, and then got worse. So much so that we spent a day walking up and down the halls, crying, and Ryan sent a text message to Brett telling him he better come quick if he wanted to see Gram. We agreed to move Mom into hospice and try to make her stop hurting. The doctor needs to write the order for hospice so we went to see him, and I told him I just wanted her to not hurt any more. He sat and thought and said he wanted to try one more thing. We went up to the emergency room where he shot her toe with lidocaine, and she stopped moaning, looked up at him and told him "You did good." He was able to mess with the toe and determine that there was no flesh under the scab, you could see bone that was deteriorating. He wrapped the toe in a lidocaine transdermal patch and that has made a big difference. Her foot doesn't hurt anymore (if the nurses put the patch on right). He says that amputation is the answer but doesn't know if anyone will do it as the infection is still there (although it is a different bug every time.)

In the meantime, Brett is on the way home and when he gets here, she isn't on death's door anymore. He was here for the best day of all, April 30, which was Marian's birthday, so Marvin took me and the boys to Pizza Hut for dinner. Mom was chatty, and happy and doing well. Then she started to hurt again. Once the pain in the toe was gone, her knee really hurt her. By now she wasn't talking to me or even eating if I was helping. She would only eat if Ryan fed her. (She really lost the use of her hands between the stroke and the arthritis.)

Then my nieces, Shel and Trish, came last week. A good time was had by all some of the time. Shel can make Mom giggle under any circumstance and she did. Trish is a hospice director and we had a lot of long talks about what that really means. Trish looked at her records, made some recommendations and assured me that hospice is a good thing. It was good to see the girls, and to have someone here who knows stuff.

We have gotten into the routine of pain pills and bio-freeze on the knees but she has stopped eating enough to survive, so I will request the doctor to move her into hospice again. He was out of town last week so I will have to talk to him this week.

Life is what happens to you while you are making plans

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Medicine is good ... sometimes

So Mom has a problem with neuropathy; her feet hurt. I asked the doctor about it and he prescribed neurotin or something like that. Her feet stopped hurting, I think. But she wouldn't wake up, and she couldn't sit up, only lean to the side and forward. We were wondering if she had had another stroke. When Nurse Norma came on duty, she recognized it as a reaction to the neurotin. She contacted the doctor but it was Friday and he didn't get back to us til Monday. So I told the med aide that we were refusing the meds. She gradually came back to the world. On Monday we saw hunky doc and he reduced the dose from 600 mg to 100 mg and she was doing okay but not great. Now, a week later, she is back to sleeping again. She is more responsive, and doesn't droop, but still not her old self. I think I will refuse meds again.

In the meantime, Ryan is back in California and plans to start back to Oklahoma with the first car load tomorrow. I worry about him, but I guess I made the drive by myself three times last year, so never mind.

We are having cat drama. Mom's tiger cat, Tiger, got injured in the leg and hasn't put it down for over a week. He is getting to be really good at getting around but still is a three legged cat. When the same thing happened to the spotty cat, he recovered after a week and mostly doesn't limp. I am wondering if Tiger got a snake bite.

In the meantime, in California, the neighbor's dog got ahold of Meeka and Ryan thought she was dying. The vet said she was in shock and gave her some sort of shot that made her perk up. Today she doesn't look good. More to follow.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bad Me - Bad Blogger

So it has been almost a month since you heard from me and Jenn finally got me in gear. The weather has gone from always bad to enticingly occasionally lovely followed by nasty. Tuesday was warm and sunny, Wednesday it rained all day and not far from us, it snowed. Today is warm and sunny and nice. Ahhh Kansas. Truly a place where if you don't like the weather, stick around...

But spring is springing. The wheat is growing a bright green carpet

Ryan is here now, and he is becoming a Okie. Some rumors say that he is planning on moving here. He already has had 5 job offers, including jailor at the Meade County Jail. Hmmmm. Sounds like he would get to know all the cops which might be a good thing. Anyway, he will be going back to California in a couple of weeks and we will see if he comes back.

My little cottage industry knitting is keeping me busy, and I often think of how I used to long to be home knitting and now I long to be back in the classroom, with no homework so I can keep knitting. Am currently working on ring scarfs in a variety of colors and a doll blanket for one of the aides' little girls. People constantly ask how much I want to make something, but I am hesitant to commit unless I know I can do it. And besides, no one would be willing to pay what I should be making based on time and yarn used.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Snow is a 4 letter word!

Not really but it is a good title. That last storm was actually 14 inches of snow, followed by 10 inches a week later and then a nice 6 inch snow and another 6 inches Thursday night. I am becoming an expert snow mover. Yesterday I had to shovel again, and then the road was like an ice skating rink. However when I got to the highway, it had been plowed and salted and sanded. (Will my paint job ever be the same?) I made it safely to Meade and then watched the snow melt. It was in the 40s yesterday, the 50s today. Last night, the melting snow made the road all muddy, but it was frozen today so driving it wasn't bad, but I'll take the highway home tonight.

Mom is swinging between good and bad as usual. Unfortunately the good isn't as good as it once was, although the bad is no worse. Yesterday we took the home bus to Dodge, ate Chinese food, went to the heart doctor and came back. She was exhausted (and I have to say my back hurt after the ride in that bus). Today is a bad day. She barely awoke for lunch and after lunch went into that night terror state where she becomes totally unreasonable. In fact she is kind of like a hysterical 3 year old.

I have been looking for a wheelchair van and found one in Wichita. Am trying to convince Ryan to fly into Wichita to check it out. It is being sold by a bank as part of an estate sale, and they weren't enthusiastic about it, but ... we will see. In the meantime, one more piece of paperwork and we can order the lift and wheelchair, so that we can be more mobile.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


The weather has become entertaining. Everyone was all worked up about the incoming storm, but I went to Meade anyway. However I did leave a couple of hours early and had heavy snow for the last five miles home. And it snowed. It was pretty, and soft and dry and gentle and there was a lot of it. I haven't heard numbers but I would say 6 inches with drifts up to a foot. I kept going out and watching, because I have been away so long it was like the first time, and I swept the ramp every couple of hours until I went to bed.

Woke up to a winter wonderland. And a lot of work.

Spent the day sweeping and shoveling as it kept snowing lightly until afternoon.

Next morning the shoveling got serious but I forged my way onward. Only after I got to the bottom of the ramp did it occur to me that I could have gone out the back door directly to the driveway. But... I am glad that I got the ramp clear, as it is a lot easier to come and go that way.

Then on to the driveway! worked my way around the car and was able to get in. Had cleared the drifts behind the car so was able to back up and back and up and back until I reached the tracks where Dirk had come through with the big truck. Then I discovered that there were drifts across the gate, so had to shovel those too, and the ones at the road gate by the mailbox. Finally by noon, I was on my way to Meade.

See my little car under all that big snow? When I drove to Meade, I cleared a bunch off, but when I went out to the parking lot, there was a huge pile in front of and in back of the car that slid off in the sunshine.
For those of you who know the farm, this is looking down the hill from the back porch. The hill doesn't seem to exist. Snow filled in the low part.
Just a nice picture of the front yard.
Sorry, just too cute!
Lovey contemplates an adventure in the snow. And he got it. Didn't come in and ended up spending the night in the chicken house. Wouldn't walk across the snow until I started working my way out to him.

Everyone looking for Lovey!

Lovey braving the elements.

Moonrise over the front yard.
Morning of the second day.
Looks like everyone came out to check the snow.
Look! I made it all the way to the driveway!

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Begininng to wonder if California will still be there when I'm ready to return!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bad Daughter

I'm a bad daughter. Today I woke up with a headache, runny nose and cough. I decided to stay home and not contaminate, so I called the home and told them I wasn't coming in. But as the morning went on, I began to feel better and decided that maybe my malingering had to do with the fly-in at the Beaver Airport today. So ...
I hopped into my trusty Buick and headed toward Beaver (population 1300). Thought I knew where the airport was but no! Drove through town and found the sign that said airport that way, followed the road for about 5 miles and gave up, turned around and went back to town, turned around and ... and around ... and finally saw a plane landing, followed it and lo and behold! The airport! (I know, run-on sentence, but it was a run-on experience)

But there was the fly-in and yay! one old plane showed up, a Cessna C35. The P51s didn't show just because it was 5 degrees on the field, with wind.

I discovered that my Badz Maru fleece gloves don't prevent frostbite. So I went into the airport waiting room to warm up.

The Waiting Room

The heating/airconditioning system

But the fly-in was really sponsored by the experimental aircraft bunch so the little buggers appeared like crazy, with one of them landing about every 5 minutes.

I left at noon and there were probably 35 planes there, and for some reason an Aston Martin and a Jaguar.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Winter can be cold! And freezing fog is something new to me. No snow, but every plant looks like it has been flocked. The weather is hanging around zero and the wind chill makes it -10 to -15. I try not to go outside unless it is necessary. Every time I drive that 15 miles of dirt road with no telephone reception, I think about what I am going to do if for some reason the car decides to stop, especially if it is after dark. Which it often is since my mother has discovered she can get me to stay longer if she acts hungry because I will stay to help with supper. The road is the road less traveled, in fact, hardly traveled as I often don't see anyone else from the time I leave Meade til I get home 42 miles later. Feeling very pioneer.