Tuesday, July 20, 2010


mama's brother was killed in a terrible accident on july 15th. we buried him yesterday.
thoughts on my mind:
  • silence speaks volumes
  • there are no words to comfort a 15 yr old who feels responsible for his grandfather's death
  • funerals are for the living, not the dead
  • God alone suffices
  • a close-knit family is king
  • the call to duty is helpful for getting through nightmarish days
  • thankful for the love of good people
  • love hearing the memorial bell ring three times before he was carried into the family cementary
  • love hearing the strains of taps
  • grateful for the many memories at the farm.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chocolate Croissants and Caramel Cups

While holiday two weeks ago, sister and I very quickly got into a morning breakfast ritual of coffee and chocolate croissants followed by the splitting of a mother-loaded omelet. We would slather our croissants with butter and Nutella. Very good.

Because I have really missed those croissants, Hubby took me to Panera Bread this past weekend for a breakfast of chocolate croissants. It was awful! I could not even finish it. Who in the &*^% screws up chocolate?!?!?!?! If it were not for Panera's egg souffles, I would totally quit that place because, in my book, if you can not get chocolate right, you should not be allowed to serve food to the public.

This morning I attempted to make my own chocolate croissants and they actually tasted better than the ones on the ship! Big giddy up!! However, they do not look as pretty. So I am going to need to make more batches to get the pretty department down pat. Once they look good, I will post photos and the recipe.

I did make some caramel cups for a meeting a had last night. I am not usually a fan of fillo cups, however, I found that the combination richness of the caramel and dark chocolates more than made up for the bland cups. See what you think:

Caramel Cups
2 cans of condensed sweetened milk (do not use fat-free version)
2 boxes of Athens Mini Fillo shells (in frozen section)
Package of Dove's Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate Promises

Peel labels off the condensed sweetened milk cans. Place both cans in a saucepan and cover with water. Boil cans continuously for three hours. Add water as needed throughout cooking time to ensure cans are always covered in water. At the end of cooking time, pull cans out of water and set aside to cool until warm enough to handle. Take Fillo shells out of freezer and let them thaw for about 10-15 minutes. Open cans and scoop caramel into fillo cups. Cut 4-8 Dove squares into four pieces and place each piece on top of caramel.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pesto Amended

I've moved my tiny basil garden to another spot in the yard, where there is a tad bit more shade than the previous location. Apparently, they are quite happy there as evidenced by the abundance of huge fragrant leaves. Big leaves call for making a batch of pesto. Instead of pulling out my recipe, I just decided to make the batch based on my mood. And I must say that this pesto batch was fabulouso.

Right now I am going through a phase in where I am over Parmesan cheese and more into Pecorino Romano cheese. Romano cheeses, in general, are sharper. Pecorino is made from sheep's milk and has more of a salty & tangy taste. I usually buy a big block of it at Costco's and use it in pasta, salads and pesto. I am eager to try the Caprino Romano, which is made out of goat's milk, but have not found it in the local stores yet. If anyone knows where I can get this without having to order it online, please email me.

Anyhoo- back to the pesto. This time I substituted Parmesan for Pecorino and pine nuts for pecans. We have the motherload of pecans in the freezer from my in-laws, so why buy pine nuts when I can use pecans? Turns out that I like the taste of the pecans much better than the pine nuts. The pecans gave it an earthier taste while the Pecorino brought a saltier flavor (I did not add salt). I also added more garlic cloves (3) and used less olive oil.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Killing Two Birds With One Stone: Naples and Rome

Yesterday we were in Naples; however, Bee was feeling under the weather and stayed behind on the boat to rest. Mom, Dad and I got a driver and toured around town, taking in an old monastery, a magnificent cathedral and a glass domed gallery with some high end shops. Unfortunately, a family member was not all we left behind...the camera got left as well and so only one pic of Naples.

We were up around 5:45 this morning to start our long day of sightseeing in Rome. The tour started with some interesting history on Rome and a view of the old senate building and Forum from Julius Caesar’s reign, as well as the oldest shopping market on the planet.

We spent some time in Trevi Square viewing the Fontana del Trevi but did not toss any coins since we have all already found our true loves...

No trip to Rome would be complete without a trip to the coliseum, where we actually saw some gladiators fight. Outside there are many men dressed as gladiators hoping to make money off of tourist by taking pictures with them. Apparently things got a bit territorial between an old timer and a new comer and a good-old-fashion fist fight broke out. Several other gladiators got involved and we were just as enthralled as the Roman mobs of old...

After a homemade lasagna (fabulous) lunch, we spent the afternoon in the Vatican City where we were in awe of the Sistine Chapel and the Museum galleries. Bee’s favorite item was an enormous circular, marble bath tub that filled an entire room and belonged to Emperor Nero’s wife. Due to her issues with dry skin, the tub was frequently filled with Donkey’s milk. Unfortunately this was a great expense to the emperor and when he got tired of paying the bill, he had her killed. Ladies, let this be a lesson to you about staying within the budget...

We ended our time at St. Peter’s Cathedral, which is built over the tomb of Peter and is also the site of his martyrdom.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Another Day, Another Beautiful Island

Today we returned to Italy, more specifically, to the island of Sicily. We began in the port town of Catania, an architecturally amazing town built in the seventeenth century. In the distance we could see Mt. Etna, Europe's largest active volcano.

From there we headed to Taormina, a lovely town situated on Mount Tauro overlooking the Ionian Sea. Here we visited a Greco-Roman theater that had originally been built before the time of Christ.

Afterwards we spent some time shopping and enjoying gelato...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

F Harry’s Toe, Mother-n-law’s tongue, and Drunk as a Donkey... A few things we learned in Santorini

Our last day in Greece was spent on the island of picture perfect Santorini. We had really been looking forward to this because this is the location of the typical pictures you see in brochures of Greece, with the white buildings and blue roofs overlooking the sea. All the villages are set high on cliffs which provide spectacular views. The available modes of transportation down to the sea are sky gondola, walking or donkey ride.

There are over 400 churches in Santorni, adding to the beautiful architecture...

We spent some time shopping in the town of Oia, which has very narrow cobblestone streets that are only about two shoulders wide. Dad’s version of shopping...

Seventy percent of Santorini is covered in grapes, which makes wine one of their top exports. We were able to visit one of the local wineries, Domaine Sigalas. Here we learned about the production of the wine and got a chance to taste it as well. In addition, we were told about the myth of Bahkos, who is attributed with bringing vines to the island. The story goes that he planted the original vine in the bone of a bird for transportation to the island, but when the vine out grew the bone he planted it in the skull of a lion. Eventually the vine out grew the skull and he moved it to the skull of a donkey. Therefore the locals say that if you have a little wine you get light as a bird, a little more and you get the courage of a lion, and any more than that you will become an ass.

The island receives very little rain fall, and the grapes are actually watered by a mist that comes up from the sea over night. This arid climate allows for cactus to grow throughout the landscape, and the following picture is of a prickly cactus the locals refer to as Mother-n-law’s tongue, which we thought was hilarious.

Our last bit of knowledge gained was that “thank you” in Greek sounds like F Harry’s Toe in English. So F Harry’s Toe to Greece, we loved our time here!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Greek Isles, Part 2

This morning we woke to Argostolli, Greece, a quaint town on the island of Kefolonia. If you have ever seen the movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, it was filmed here.

This Island is made up of steep mountains that plunge to white sand beaches, edged by a clear, torquoise sea. We toured an underground cave via a boat ride on Melissani Lake, and then took a winding ride down the beautiful coast line...

which took us to the village of Fiskardo for coffee, Baklava, and shopping. Dad was a good sport on the shopping...

Another great day in paradise...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


We are currently spending three days in the Greek isles. Today was spent on the island of Corfu, where lemon, orange and olive trees are king. Although the olives are not in bloom yet, the lemons and oranges are about ready to pick and we have been so tempted to pick some. But given that Susan got a bit irritable with a chick who picked a flower at the palace on our tour today, we were able to refrain...

The day began with a tour of Achillion Mansion, former summer home of Empress Elizabeth of Austria and Wilhem II, King of Germany. It was later used as a hospital during the second World War. The Empress had a great love of Greek Mythology, particularly Achillies, whom the property is named for and who also has an enormous statue displayed in the main garden. The surrounding gardens were full of greek statues and fantastic views of the Adriatic Sea and an Albanian Mountain range.

From there we continued on to Kanoni and toured Mon Repo Palace, summer home of the Greek Royal family and birth place of Prince Philip of England. This palace was built for the second British governor of the island.

It was very exciting to see the ruins of a Christian church from Roman times. We discovered that Christianity was first brought to the island by disciples of Paul!

We wrapped our tour in town at one of two forts built by Napoleon during the French occupation, and headed by to our balcony for cocktails and sunset...another great day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Today we toured the medieval town of Dubrovnik in stunningly beautiful Croatia. The Dalmatian coastline has the best of both worlds, combining lush green mountains and the deep blue of the Adriatic Sea. We were fascinated by the rich history of this old world town that began on the rocks by refugees looking for a safe haven.

As seen in the below picture, the limestone walls originally served as a fort complete with a draw bridge and surrounding moat.

The architecture is quite impressive having been constructed of hand hewed stones and encompassing forty-seven Roman Catholic churches, some dating back to the seventh century AD.

After a morning of exploring, we continued south along the coastline to the Montenegro border for lunch at old country home. Here we saw how olive oil is produced. We had a fabulous lunch of red wine, salad, potatoes, beef and apple strudel. The salad was dressed with olive oil made on the property.

After lunch we wandered through the shops and outdoor cafes of the charming coastal town of Korcula...

At the end of the day, we said goodbye to lovely Croatia with a toast from our deck over a plate of nachos. We loved this country and would love to return!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hello from Europe.

We are happy to report that we made our way to Italy via Amsterdam with without incident. In fact, it could not have gone better. We were prepared for long delays between the storms in Nashville and the volcano ash hovering over the Atlantic, but the biggest delay we encountered involved 30 minutes of taxiing around the Amsterdam airport due to a pilot that apparently needed more taxi hours to get his certification. Giddy up.

The real fun began in getting to our hotel in Venice. Did we take the water taxi that routes you directly to the hotel? Heck no, what is the fun in that when overcrowded public transportation can be combined with four clueless travelers carrying way too much luggage? Oh, did we mention that the bus initially pulled away without Dad, who was returning a cart to get one stinking Euro back (thank heavens Susan was able to bring the bus to a screeching halt with panicky screams of “stop” from the back of the bus)? Or, that at our next stop, we forgot to pull our luggage up into the bus away from the doors, causing the doors to jam with the suitcase securely locked in place? There was most certainly applause from the locals once we finally made our exit.

As you may already know, old Venice is a town of canals and no automobiles; therefore, anything that cannot be reached by water taxi is reached by your own efforts. For us this involved a climb across a high bridge with quite a few steps hauling our 10 plus bags. Then a “slight” walk through a million people over wet, slippery cobblestones. Needless to say, we looked like ridiculous tourists (of the Chevy Chase European Vacation variety) while sweating, panting and giving each other a good cussing. Good news, every one was brought back to a general state of familial friendliness by local wine and pizza at a neighborhood restaurant. We were all impressed after dinner at the local gelato shop when mama looked poised to pick up the tab with her “foreign money” hauled across the pond from a bowl back home. Unfortunately, this was an entire coin collection of British pounds, and we realized we were out of luck because a good bit of gelato had already been consumed. Luckily no one had to wash dishes...

After spending the night in a small hotel in the heart of old Venice we made our way this morning to the boat. We checked in and all appeared to being going well until mama decided to use the bathroom in the ship’s lobby on our way out for sight seeing. Now some of you fellow Americans may take note that in this part of the world the flush button can only be reached by closing the toilet top. For the uninformed, there is always the bright red emergency button...and if it doesn’t work, keep on pushing until the guy with the crash cart shows up. Also called to the scene were a crew member with a wheel chair and several supporting players...Hello, Dorothy - we’re not in Kansas anymore...

Today started well with delightful pastries and strong coffee from the local bakery. And all was right with the world right up to the moment we missed the prepaid tour of the outlying islands; however, we were able to take a wonderful gondola ride through the magical canals of Venice instead. Susan was unafraid to take one giant step for mankind into the gondola that almost resulted in a refreshing dip in the Mediterranean...note to self, that first step is a doozie. Our driver was an adorable, third-generation native that shared some interesting facts along the way. In addition, we were highly entertained when he decided to play chicken with an oncoming boat under a tiny bridge. We lost this contest with our heads held high because the competition almost took a swim. The canals, quaint bridges and old buildings were more beautiful than we had imagined. It was a great afternoon of shopping and wandering through town.

Conversation of the day:

Call on global phone from Uncle Jim...

UJ: Hey Mel when are you leaving on your trip?

Mel: We are already in Venice.

UJ: Get out of town!

Mel: I already did...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Apple Martini

The obsession over my Vita Mix continues to increase. I have used it everyday that I have been in town since I bought it a month and half ago. After making margaritas using of fresh fruit, I have become a true believer. The difference between fruit-sweetened and fructose-sweetened margarita really is amazing. The difference has made me back off margaritas at restaurants. Today I experimented with an Apple Martini recipe. One word for you: fabulouso.

Apple Martini for one

2 oz of vodka
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 apple, unpeeled
dash of Cinnamon

Combine and puree above ingredients in Vita Mix and pour over ice in a martini shaker. Shake, strain and pour into iced martini glass.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Seattle and Whistler

So, last week hubs and I headed to Seattle and then Whistler for a pleasure and business trip. I don't have time to give an exhaustive list but wanted to note some things that we enjoyed before I forget them.

We skipped most of the tourist things with the exception of a day trip to Victoria. I adored, adored Pike's Place Market. If you enjoy food, this is not to be missed. Fish market. European bakeries. Fresh flowers market. Stalls full of Latin American spices. Clam chowder stalls. I sampled the famed Beecher's Mac and Cheese. This stuff is so worth standing in line for. We took a ferry over to Victoria, British Columbia and did tea at the Empress hotel. Did not think my duck-hunting and motorcycle-riding hubs would sit for long at tea but even he enjoyed it! We had a fabulous view of the water and I am sure the wonderful white wine along with the tea made it more fun for hubs. We rented a car and drove to the Butchart Gardens. Mama had recommended this and we were so glad we made the 30 minute drive. The gardens are beautiful and truly masterpieces. Saw a few ideas I wanted to try out in our yard. During our stay in Seattle, we lodged at the Edgewater and I really really liked it. Some reviewers on Tripadvisor did not like the small size of the rooms but it reminded me of a cozy European hotel. Would definitely stay there again.

Whistler, BC-
We flew into Vancouver and then headed on to Whistler, BC. Seeing the skis slopes made me nostolgic for my skiing days but did not want to risk a bad fall, so passed up on the skiing. Whistler reminds me of Park City, Utah before the rich and famous discovered it. Beautiful. Rustic. Charming. Down to earth. When not working, we spent our time walking and enjoying the cold. We stayed at the Westin in the Upper Village and really enjoyed our location. Again, if you are a foodie, check out the Araxi. We thought it was worth the expense. Fabulous ambience. Great martinis and wine selection. The cheese souffle and entree of seared scallops were fabulous. We took our clients out to Ric's steakhouse and that was nice. Good wine selection. The appetizers of goat cheese crostinis and Mediterrean dip were huge hits. Lobster was delicious even though it was slightly overcooked. Clients said steaks were tender and cooked well.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

basil, tomato and garlic pasta

so ready for summer. bought some tomato and basil plants this weekend. could not wait for the taste of summer so last night I made pasta. simple and yummy.

basil, tomato and garlic pasta

olive oil
1 box/can of Pomi or San Marzano crushed tomatoes
2-3 cloves of garlic
palmful of red pepper
angel hair, cooked
8 leaves of basil, sliced (go ahead and buy a plant at the grocery store- its cheaper in the long run. do not cut individual leaves, cut the main stem with leaves)
mound of grated percino romano cheese
kosher salt

heat pan on medium high heat for a few seconds. drizzle your olive oil around the pan three complete circle. put in tomatoes, and let it simmer 20 minutes or until sauce thickens. 5 minutes after tomatoes have been cooking, add garlic and red pepper. cook angel hair one minute less than total cooking time (did mine for 5 minutes). drain pasta and add to sauce, stirring until coated. add basil, cheese and kosher salt. stir until well mixed and immediately serve with more cheese on top.

best eaten on the porch with a glass of read wine.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Food on my mind

Have appetite back. Will eat.

Missing Indian food. Hubs took me to Bombay Bistro on Sunday for some northern Indian food. Wonder if Hubs is interested in driving me to Atlanta for some southern Indian food at Saravanaa Bhavan. Am thinking that answer is going to be a resounding no.

I am not a bread person but I have become addicted to an Indian flat bread called parantha. All in all, it is pan-fried flour that can be stuffed with different vegetables or potatoes. It is not low fat. My favorite restaurant in Delhi, Not Just Paranthas, serves many different versions along with a black Dal that will prompt you to ask for a wheelchair instead of a take-out bag. So so fabulously good.

Not sure how I made this jump, but all of these musings about Indian food has led to a craving for lamb. So yesterday I had a long chat with the butcher at Publix about cooking lamb and am going to attempt cook it on the grill this weekend. This should be highly entertaining. Hubs will be standing by with a alcohol(for me), Valium(for him), fire extinguisher (for lamb) and Pizza Hut number. So if any of you have advice, please email me!

Have a great weekend.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

india gate blog

so, i am in new delhi, india with lynn for the next 10 days to purchase more "lifestyle" goods for india gate. consequently, i will be spending the next couple of weeks on the india gate blog. check it out.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Very Own Office

While the parents were here, we tackled the hall closet. I so wish I had taken a before shot because this closet was a mess. Everything that did not have a place in the house was shoved in this closet. I was totally jazzed when I found some toile wallpaper at a discount. I think toile is such a timeless pattern. I have never gotten tired of it. It took Daddy, the best wallpaper guy around, under 2 hours to paper the whole closet.

When he finished, we knew that it could never go back to being a closet. So the idea for a small office took hold as Mama and I pulled things around the house for the new space. The table started off in the entertainment room and then behind a sofa before being recruited as a desk. The lamp came from the guest room. Doesn't the shade go so well with the paper?

I am currently working on a funky collage to hang over the desk. In the collage there is a pink crown, so when I found this Alice-in-Wonderland clock on sale at Walmart, I knew it had to go home with me.

One of my favorite things in the library is the pen holder that my grandmother made for my father when he was a young man.

Across from the desk is a shelf for all of my books and files. I have not yet arranged it completely, so those photos are another day's project. Although I adore my Hous, I am thrilled to have my very own office!


I just had to make a note of today's encouragement before the day got away from me.

Although I have been able to talk with Mama and Daddy on the phone with great success, it has been harder for sister and me. For some reason, I don't understand her as easily as I do the parents or my brother-in-law. This bothers me because sister and I share a closeness that is unique. Not only did we go through the rites of passages that bonds sisters for life, our relationship has been refined and forged into a steel bond through different cups of suffering. However, our geography separates us and these days we rely mostly on text messaging.

My desire to chat with her via phone is king.

If one knew her character and the kind of person she is, there would be an understanding of why this is so important to me. As I type these words, I am reminded of a story that I love to tell. When we were quite young, there was a boy in our neighborhood who was making fun of my speech impediment. My sister picked up a rock and threw it at his head. Sent him to the hospital to get stitches. He never bothered me again. That moment of time is seared onto my heart. I have never gotten over it.

That kind of a love. That deep loyalty. That warrior spirit for justice. That reflection of Christ.

There is no sister like her.

She has been under the weather, so I called to check on her. I was not expecting much of the conversation- just a hi-feeling-better-great-love-you-bye type thing.

We talked for close to 20 minutes.

We talked about her doing flowers for a party that she hopes to attend tonight. We talked about a guy in our church who'd lost 30 percent of his hearing. We talked about her sleeping 11 hours last night.

I got it.

I got the whole conversation.


Tears of joy.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Super Bowl

Hope to get new office space pictures put up this week.

Sunday night we watched the Super bowl with our Community Group. I was standing in the kitchen putting a pizza in the oven when one of the girls asked me a question behind my back and I answered her without thinking. Since I totally was not expecting her to chat with me with my back turned, I was surprised that I got it. We did a victory dance right there in the middle of the kitchen! My family and close friends all should be paid big time for all the work they do in constantly testing my hearing!

Three things happened yesterday that were so encouraging:
First, I was over a friend's house for our bi-weekly workout program with the P90x video series. I was able to understand several things he was saying without looking at the video. It was cool to be able to relax a little bit without having to simultaneously coordinate my limbs and read lips.

The P90x series? Six degrees of painful. I forgot to check but surely it comes with a guarantee of having a body like Jillian Michael's in just three days.

Second, I just started the music appreciation component of Rehab and it has been tough, tough and tough. I have not even been able to move past Level 1. When I wore hearing aids I loved instrumental music and classical music because I could make out the different instruments. Now, they sound different. For instance, I am struggling to differentiate between the flute and clarinet. Yesterday, while driving in car, I put in Steve Green's Always: Songs of Worship and as I listened to Majesty and Indescribable, I was able to pick out a few instruments and understand a few words!

Thirdly, one of the things that my brain is learning is the art of masking. People with normal hearing naturally mask, which is the ability to ignore irrelevant noise to tune in to more relevant noise. For example, when I am at Bible study, I struggle to ignore the noise of heating unit running so that I can hear the speaker. The chicks in my group tell me although they hear they hear the unit, they just don't notice it. That is completely incomprehensible to me. How do they ignore something that is making me half crazy? So want to be there someday! Anyhoo, last night when my Hous arrived home, I was in the kitchen, standing next to boiling water and as he was climbing the stairs, he called out that he was home. I totally got it! Over the noise of boiling water!

The biggest encouragements of all has been the ability to chat on the phone daily with my family. For that alone, it is so worth the trials and hard work of this path.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Too tired to think of a title.

My parents are here for the weekend and we've had a grand time. Last night it was out for Mex and then a movie by the fireplace. Today we worked on installing shelves in the library closet. Actually, Daddy did all of the work while Mama and I made a Costco run.

Costco + Saturday= nightmare. The store was like Christmas Eve. It took us almost TWO hours to pick up a few items. Just like Dante's river of boiling blood in Inferno, I could feel the violence rising in me - ever flowing with an increasing desire to obliterate anyone in my path with my basket in my quest to get out of the damn place.

No one got hurt.

I really am trying to work on my cursing.

Hearing-wise, today I have been struggling with a buzzing sound and distortion. Another headache. Another struggle with finding the daily encouragement. But at a little before midnight, I decided to check the online cochlear implant community before going to bed. I received such an encouraging, encouraging note from a new friend.

Love this God that I serve so imperfectly.

Friday, February 5, 2010


One of the benefits of keeping my expectations reigned in has allowed me to experience freedom in unexpected ways. For instance, last night I met up with a girlfriend for a margarita and during the course of our conversation, she received a phone call she had to take. Normally, I would just turn my head to give her some privacy while at the same time listen to see if I could understand part or any of her conversation. But since I have been trying to teach myself to relax and give myself a break regarding speech discrimination, I just turned my head and focused on other things. The place was noisy so I was totally caught off guard when I clearly heard the last two sentences before she ended the conversation. So encouraging. Such a sweet reward and confirmation to just, as Elisabeth Elliot would say, "do the next thing." Just to keep moving forward on the path; my hope will not be cut off.

Thursday's encouragement was that I heard an airplane fly over while I was in the house! Have never heard that before in my life. We may be moving...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Yesterday was my first full day of normal activities. I went to Bible study and then on to all day meetings with my business partner and two of our clients. I did not get home until 5 pm and had a terrible headache along with a complete brain freeze. Hous and I were supposed to go out to dinner but all I wanted to do was take off my processor and climb into a hot tub with a nice glass of red wine. However, something had to be done about dinner and since we were totally out of frozen pizza, it wasn't looking good. As I started looking, I realized we had some honey-baked ham that some friends of ours brought us when I had my surgery. I had frozen the leftover ham, and all I had to do was caramelize it in pan and microwave some veggies to go with it. We had a delicious meal with very little preparation. Needless to say I could have kissed those friends a thousand times over.

This morning I was just thinking about how appreciative I am of my friends and how some acts of kindness goes a long way. So many people called, brought food and gifts, and sent emails and cards. How wonderful it is to be loved. How more wonderful is it to love. I get so wrapped up in my own life that I don't always love well. Watching my friends in action inspires me to be a better friend. To purposefully put love in action.

Yesterday I struggled to hear the speaker over the heating unit while in Bible study but was not disappointed afterwards because I entered with low expectations. :-) However, I received the daily encouragement while on my way home from my meetings. A friend from church had texted me to schedule a lunch date and instead of responding via text, I called her on my cell phone. Got every word she said except for one sentence at the very end of our conversation! We were both so excited!!! It is getting better each day!

Giddy up.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Barking Frog and Mountain Climbing

I find myself these days having to purposefully look for daily encouragements. There are some days where at the end of the day I literally have to pray for my eyes to be opened in order to see the day’s encouragement. It’s not that I have regret getting the implant. On the contrary, I am slowly seeing the possibilities of this implant.

The possibilities are thrilling as well as maddening, for patience is not one of my stronger virtues.

It isn’t enough that I have been able to chat with Mama on the phone everyday without much of a problem. Or that I am discovering new environmental sounds weekly. Its just that there is a need for me to pipe down. Take it down a couple of notches. Start drinking on a daily basis. More specifically, to restrain myself from rushing ahead with inflated expectations.

On Saturday night, my Hous performed the dedication ceremony for our godchild which was held at the parents’ home. It was a lovely and intimate candlelight service by followed by a dinner that lasted several hours. Because of my recent successes with the phone, I had high expectations that I would be able to follow dinner conversations better. There were 10 of us around the table and while I knew I would miss some things, I was pretty jazzed about how well I was going to do.

Let’s just say that by the end of the night I learned two things:

I have quite an extensive fantasy life.
Barking Frog is a red wine, not a misunderstanding on my part.

I was pretty frustrated by the time we got home and through the lens of disappointment, I could not see the daily encouragement. We built a fire and settled in to our movie. Halfway through the movie I got up to stoke the fire and my implant started hissing. As I moved upstairs to get the remote control to troubleshoot the problem, the hissing stopped. I came back downstairs and it started again. Seeing the confused look on my face, Hous informed me that the hissing I was hearing was not the implant but the fire.

Come again? Fire hisses?!?! I thought it just popped and crackled but apparently it also hisses when wood has not been well seasoned or if there is water on wood. Who knew?

I had never heard the fire hiss before. With disappointment, I duly noted this was my today’s daily encouragement. Hous subtly made the point that although I’d hoped that today’s encouragement would be something with conversation, I don’t get to choose my daily encouragement. A fire hiss is no less of a celebration than a conversation.

He’s right.

And I finally understood why: In the same way that a mountaineer savors his conquest of the peak more abundantly after a hard climb punctuated with small victories and setbacks, how much more would I delight in the mastery of speech discrimination if I lived each moment of the journey?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Today was a hard day.

I have struggled with headaches on and off since the implant was activated a week ago. However, in the scheme of things, I've considered them to be small nuisances in this new world of sounds. This morning I awoke in the wee hours of dawn to an axe in my head accompanied by tidal waves of nausea. After sitting in a hot bath for a while and consuming 6 Advils, I was finally able to attach my implant around mid-afternoon. I totally missed this morning's online rehab. The frustrating part about this is the magnet attaching the external components to the internal components is too strong. I think it is this strength that is contributing to the headaches. When I try to loosen the magnet, it will not stay attached to my skull. I am scheduled to go back to my audiologist tomorrow to see what can be done.

Am also frustrated that I am doing well on the phone with my family but still struggling with human speech in the outside world. Am anxious to have more clarity when it comes to speech discrimination. Anxious to distinguish more clearly the different voices.

Daily encouragement:
Monday- I spent several hours with an old friend that I had not seen in a year. During my hearing aid era, I would be completely exhausted after being with this friend because her lips are so difficult to read and my hearing aid could not give me clear speech. However, this time, I totally got the whole conversation!! The implant made the biggest difference on lip reading with her because I was understanding her speech.
Today- after such a frustrating morning, my business partner came and took me for sushi in downtown Nashville. Because it was ice cold out, I wore my ski hat. Historically, I could not wear a ski hat over my hearing aids without turning the volume way down or it would feedback/whistle. With the implant, I don't have to turn it down and it was so cool to be able to hear things with a hat over my ears!!

Worn slap out and did not go back to proof read this. Will do it another time but meanwhile, please overlook all the errors...

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I was at the library a couple of days ago when I ran into an acquaintance whom I had not seen in a while. As we struck up a conversation, I sensed something was a little off and asked her how she was doing. Tears sprang to her eyes as she responded with "Well, I lost my husband two months ago and it has been tough". I was taken off guard because I had not a clue that her husband had been sick, much less had died. There was the temptation to not go there, just to say "I am so sorry", change the subject and call it a day.

Instead I found myself immersed in a conversation about her husband, his last days and this elephant called grief. Apparently her daughter is ready for her to stop crying and her friends are constantly trying to cheer her. No one knows what to do with this prolonged grief.

Prolonged grief?!?! Pulling oneself together only after 2 months?!?!? If this were my Hous, I would still be in my pajamas with the covers over my head, not at the library.

Later, as I reflected on our conversation I wondered what makes us so uncomfortable with grief. I get the painful aspect of it. Having surgery is painful. Having children is painful. Yet we push through those things. But curiously, when it comes to grief, we distract, medicate or ignore it. Why?

Since I have no answer to my own questions, I will move on.

Today's encouragements: I went to Sunday school class for the first time since surgery and I could tell a big difference in keeping up with the class conversation. I also had a short conversation with a close friend via phone today and understood everything! I also had a long conversation with Mama and Daddy via cell phone and understood most of what they said. Although I am seeing improvements, I am worn out by the end of the day!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Down with movie theaters!

Last night Hubs and I went out on a long-overdue night out. We headed out to our favorite Indian restaurant. Afterwards, I wanted to see how I would do at the movie theater so we went to see Invictus with Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.

I loved the movie; hated the theater. The previews were so loud that I had to turn off the implant. Although the movie was not as loud, I was still reeling from the effects of the previews and missed most of the dialog. We paid 20 bucks for this?!? We traded our comfortable couch next to a warm fire, subtitles, wine and all-you-can eat popcorn for this?!?! Wow.

On another note, today has not been a great hearing day. By 1 pm I was worn slap out and had to take out the implant. However, I have received today's encouragement: This morning I scored 90% on a word-recognition list. Giddy up!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Candy and the cell phone

So, the audiologist advised me to wait until I was further along in my program before I attempted to chat on the phone- especially on the cell phone. Of course, telling me what to do is a lot like putting dark chocolate in front of me with instructions not to touch it. I am gonna eat the chocolate.

I decided to phone sister on my cell phone. And wow.

We talked for about 10 to 15 minutes and I got 95% of what she said! I was so excited that I accidently hung up on her. Then I called daddy. Got about 95% of what he said! I was so excited that I called sister back. I think at this point she is thinking about putting a block on my number or perhaps changing her phone number altogether.

So that was my encouragement for the day! Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Four days after activation

Overwhelming and exhausting are the two words I use these days in response to inquiries about my activation and subsequent rehabiliation. Thanks to my Father above, I am making amazing progress but make no mistake, this is tough.

My brain is having to relearn sounds. Literally. I got into a discussion with Mama over the way boiling water sounds. I have heard it as a low roar most of my life but now I am hearing it as a tinkling sound. My brain tells me this can't be the correct sound, so I have to confirm it with my family and friends:

Me: "this boiling water sounds like it is tinkling not roaring"
Mama: "right- that's how I hear it"
Me: "are you certain this is right? maybe you are not hearing it right"

Nice. Its a wonder that I still have any family or friends left.

I have a small goal every day: to look for that day's encouragement provided from the One who loves me the best. He is the author of all good things and king of encouragements.

Today started out frustrating: I had to cycle through the four programs several times this morning since I was having trouble with environmental sounds. I did not do well on the word recognition lists. I felt overwhelmed -all I wanted to do is take out my implant and sit in a hot bath with a good glass of red wine.

It was a fist-clenched, teeth-grinding choice to believe that encouragement would come. Come it did. I chatted with Mama via phone twice today and understood 85% of what she said. This is huge! My two prayers have been that I would be able to talk on the phone again and understand the words of praise music. Am jazzed that I am already doing phone rehab in the first week of turn on!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Bless my heart.

Ignorance really is bliss.

Apparently those itty bitty key pads on my phone are not so quiet when I text my friends. Note to self: No more texting in church...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cochlear Implant

On December 21, 2009, I received a cochlear implant in my right ear and have since been in a world of complete silence. God willing, the silence will be broken tomorrow afternoon when my implant is activated. Several people have asked what this will look like, so I have copied a blurb from the ASHA (America Speech - Hearing Association) Web site that does a good job of explaining activation:

About 4-6 weeks after surgery, the person returns to the center to be fit with the microphone and speech processor and to activate and program (called mapping ) the implant. The initial fitting process is done over several days and may include additional visits over several months. The reason is that, as each electrode in the cochlea is activated, it must be adjusted and programmed into the speech processor. As the person develops skill in using the implant, further adjustments and reprogramming is required. Once the optimum program is obtained, fewer visits are required. Usually there are annual visits to the center for checkups.