Friday, December 30, 2016

Looking forward to 2017

I have ever been one to cherish the idea of a new year, a new season, a fresh chance to evaluate and change my life. That doesn't seem odd to me, even though my life is usually one I am thankful for. Even being mostly content, I have always seen the things I do wrong, and wanted to do better. I like the clean slate, the fresh journal. I buy blank books to write diary entries in, or begin a novel, or fill with poems. Nine out of ten times I fill no more than five pages, and then the book loses its freshness and sits, abandoned.  I don't just do this for January First, either. I will hold the same hopes and dream of new beginnings each Fall as well, because after 47 school years, the start of the year for me, really is when school begins.

I've heard a lot about how bad 2016 has been, and it hasn't been an easy year for sure, but it has had moments of pure joy. It has had laughter and hugs and growth. It has had the birth of my grandbaby boy. I published my 7th book, and my husband and granddaughter both like it so far. I earned enough money that we have less bills now than this time last year. I hate that hate has dominated so much of the global news this year, but refuse to let it change who I am.

What are my goals for 2017?
Do I want to write a long list of small things I've been tolerating and then go through and start fixing them?
Do I want to choose a focus word and leave it at that? Maybe simply, "Love" because the world needs it still, and yes, my mind did break into song.
Do I want to challenge myself to a poem or a photo or a page of writing every day?
Do I want to work on health or finances or . . . .?

I haven't quite decided yet which direction to go. Finding the answer is not always the goal, sometimes just thinking through the process is enough to make me realize I love my life. I've connected with some family but lost touch with three people who really are important to me and somehow I need to reach out to them, for my own sake even if they don't need me to too.  I'm excited and curious and a bit fearful of 2017, but I'm buckling in for the ride.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

Merry Christmas 2016 and May A Happy and Healthy 2017 Be Heading Your Way.

This was a year that made me wonder if I could bear to write a Christmas letter.  I told Greg that if I only talked about the good news I would end up sending a blank letter except for the news that May 9 gave us a great gift in Gavin Patrick Goode-Pitt.  Austin and Trisha had a baby boy. He was born big and beautiful and strong and not exactly eager to leave the comfort of his mother’s womb.  He has been growing quickly and every time we get to hold him he is more curious and alert and wanting to interact with people. Once again, I have fallen in love. Austin and Trisha are wonderful parents and that is so obvious when you see how happy their baby boy is.
Lance and Mom sound like they are doing as well as they have in over a year.  Lance is excited and happy to be going to Virginia college and to be taking Choir, computer, and woodshop, and to work there and have homework.  Brett’s step-daughter, Caitlin,  takes him to many places like the Library and Dairy Queen and to the lake.  He also frequently visits our mom. He hasn’t recovered completely and still can’t eat solid foods, living on ensure, and ice cream and cheese and I’m not sure if that will ever change. Mom doesn’t really talk on the phone very often anymore although I have talked to her a couple times this year when she was clear on who I am although foggy on some details. Lance has a cell phone (540)-359-1413 and you can send cards and pictures and letters to them at the same address

  Lance Miller /PO box 865/ Middleburg, VA 20118

 Brett sent me this picture

 Emerson and Daisy moved back in with Greg and I in March and it has been a good thing in many ways. It has been sad because Daisy’s mom hasn’t been able to be a part of her life since then, but Daisy at 2 ½ is growing strong and is always singing and exploring and so happy that she makes everyone around her happy too. Emerson works hard and always has more people wanting him to work for them than there are hours in his day.  He works with Autistic children and is as gentle and playful and firm with them as he is with his own daughter.

Greg has been working 11 years now up in Brookings at that school district and is having a wonderful year with really good kids, but he is also starting to want a change again, especially when thinking about the income he gets there. He applied to teach at the prison here, and has passed all their requirements, so if a job opens up, that could happen. Meanwhile he has been working on setting up a trip to Disneyland with his High School Students, and on turning his community Children’s choir into a higher level, audition only performing group.
Since Greg and I have been together since 1982, by now his family and my family all just feel like one family. His parents and siblings have always been a big part of our life and His Mom, Mimi Goode, died on November 9th in Rapid City, South Dakota. She has been in poor health for so long now that my sons barely remember when she was strong and healthy and taking part in leading so many efforts to improve lives in Newcastle, WY. They do remember driving around with her to feed stray cats and to check the live traps for ones for her spay and neuter and re-release of the older cats, and for adoption of the kittens.
We went back to Newcastle and had her memorial service with family on November 22, and then a family Thanksgiving dinner at Harvey’s home (my Father-in-law) on the 24th before driving back to Crescent City for three more hectic weeks of school before Christmas break.  It was wonderful weather all the way, although we came around the edge of some storms.  The funeral was sweet and well attended and the burial was just as a gorgeous sunset broke over the hillside there among the bare cottonwood trees.  The service felt like a celebration of her life and the only real sadness there was that Mimi’s brother suffered a stroke just after arriving in Wyoming and was in surgery during the funeral, but made it through well and was released from the hospital Thanksgiving Day.

I took a 60% job teaching in the High school’s Severely Handicapped/and Emotionally Disturbed class. I only teach Wednesday, Thursday and Friday most of the time, unless I get sub jobs the other two days of the week.  Lately my partner was on a two week long trial as a juror so I had full time starting the day we got home from driving 3,000 miles in ten days, and in that class, that is exhausting! I have 17 students, but so many Instructional assistants that I also supervise 15 adults, and have Emerson working with me pretty frequently.  It has been high drama and yet very rewarding.
I also managed to publish my 3rd picture book for children, so with my 4 novels, this makes 7 books I have available in Libraries and on Amazon. This one is called “The Redwood Tree” and is photographs and non fiction text.
No, I’m not mentioning the political news this year. Other than to say that most people’s first comment after learning that Mimi died the day after the election, was to say that she heard who won, and decided it was time for her to exit. She was one of Wyoming’s few, and fervent Democrats.
Miss Daisy has become a book lover, and a singer and a storyteller. She loves Peppa Pig, and our cat Rocky, and playing outside.
I love Christmas and the gift of going through my family and friends list each year and remembering why you are so special and important to me. I hope that this finds you weathering the changes and remembering the blessings.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Dixie and Greg

Sunday, September 11, 2016

What happened to May through August??!

I was going to be so good at everything. Keeping up on a blog, teaching, being a wife and mom and grandma and a writer and making an old house into a warm, welcoming home. Well, just the fact that I haven't written an update here since April proves the lie to that.  But I'm still trying.  Most of this blog, for a year has bee dedicated to updates about my brother Lance, so let me tell you a bit about him first.

The ninth is my Brother, Brett's third wedding anniversary. I didn't talk to him, Lance says they are on a trip, but I did talk to Lance today. He is very happy, still can't eat enough to take out feeding tube, because the exit from his stomach had narrowed and he doesn't recover well from surgery, but he visited Mom today and had lunch with her, he can eat things like soup, pudding, ice cream, cheese. he was sad, their dog died this week, but he is taking choir, computers and woodshop at Virginia college and stays a couple nights each week in a dorm. That is something he is thrilled about, even the homework. He says mom is happy and he insists she is getting better. When I talk to her she is confused but not totally, often less sure of time and place but more aware of who people are.  Lance is already planning his October 24th birthday when he will turn 41, with TGI Friday's CheeseSticks and Ice Cream Cake from Dairy Queen.   
cards are of course much anticipated
 Lance has a cell phone (540)-359-1413 and you can send cards and pictures and letters to him or to Mom at the same address

  Lance Miller /PO box 865/ Middleburg, VA 20118

 He also has his Mutant Ninja Turtle Halloween Costume planned and the sooner October gets here, the happier he will be.

My husband's Dad on the same redwood stump two decades ago

As for the rest of us, Daisy and her dad, (My youngest son) are living with us, and we are having fun being grandparents. My oldest son also has a four month old son, so I haven't even been on the blog since baby Gavin entered our life.  It is wonderful to see how fast he is learning to interact and laugh and be happy to see grandma.

I am teaching a Severely handicapped special day class at the high school three days a week, which is supposed to free up two days for writing, but so far is consumed by errands and dishes and laundry and life.  My husband is starting a children's choir, teaching High school band Choir and orchestra and organizing a spring break trip to Disneyland with his students.

anyway, there is so much more, but if I hit publish now, I can go fold laundry, Oh Joy!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

April update

#TeamLanceMiller update 4/2/2016

Lance called from home today and sang "Happy Birthday to Austin" (my 23 year old son) and told me he had ice cream to eat, at home, not in the hospital, and that he had stayed up but Brett and Emily (my other brother and his wife) were already in bed. He told me there were four baby cows that were twins in the stable on the same floor with his bedroom, and that they were being bottle fed. Then he asked to talk to my husband Greg, he told Greg, "There are a lot of elk out my window here." Then added a huge laugh and, "Happy April Fool's Yesterday."


Talking to Lance today, he was excited about the baseball teams and their opening days. Very Happy the Pirates won, and trying to insist that everyone in my family had to have a favorite team.  I guess I failed. I did take my boys to see an Angels/Dodgers game several years ago, but it wasn't enough to turn his nephews into die hard sports fans.  Something about living 300 miles from any team is a bit non-conducive to rabid fandom.  He is also in love with the baby cows at the farm this spring and especially that there are so many twins, but our call was cut short when my brother's daughter delivered him some ice cream.

He was also delighted to talk to my granddaughter now that she is almost 2 and will use a phone a bit, and he was telling me which pictures he has on his wall. He has a lot of cards that you have sent him. Thanks for that, and if you think about sending another postcard his way, Lance has a cell phone (540)-359-1413 and you can send cards and pictures and letters to him or to Mom at the same address

  Lance Miller /PO box 865/ Middleburg, VA 20118 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Team Lance Miller Update 3-11-2016

 Lance is having a rough time still, he has been moved to ICU at the University of Virginia Hospital where Infectious disease specialists are trying to figure out what he needs and discovered a lingering infection behind some vital organs in a spot fairly dangerous to operate on, but highly resistant to antibiotics.  Yesterday  3/10/2016 in the evening, 
Brett says Lance just now got out of surgery, they put in a drain directly in his kidney to give his ureter a break and allow it to heal and he seems to be doing really well but he is in ICU.
today I got this message on facebook

with this picture from today.

When I heard that my old classmate and buddy Lance Miller had been moved to UVA, I called on my friend Alice who works there to pop in to let him know that a friend from Cody, WY sent her to say hello! They talked about football, his job at Walmart and Cody. She said he was so happy and that the visit made her day! I bet it made his too😊Thanks Alice! Here's a pic she snapped for me💕

Lance has a cell phone (540)-359-1413 and you can send cards and pictures and letters to him or to Mom at the same address

  Lance Miller /PO box 865/ Middleburg, VA 20118

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Lance Miller update March 1, 2016

Once again I come to bring an update of Lance Miller, and have to start with saying that Lance is back in the hospital again.  I hate saying that he is basically back dealing with the same thing that put him in ICU on September 1st, 2015  -   6 months go today but that is pretty much exactly where he is.

I talked to Lance 2 weeks ago on Valentine's Day and things seemed to be gong really well. He was happily ensconced in a Motel with our brother, Brett and Brett's wife. They had gone to an evening Church service, and to the beach and to a Horse race and shopping for a jacket because Lance was too cold, not on the beach, but in Church.

I also talked to my Sister-in-law and she said Lance was getting a lot stronger, but still on a feeding tube and a catheter. Still sick but making progress.

Only five days later Lance was back in the hospital for a barium swallow test to see why he couldn't eat but could drink things like Ensure or juice.  The barium test went OK, but once he was home he was violently ill, all night with the heaves but nothing in his stomach. A new Dr. said he might have a narrowing where his stomach entered the bowels and he does, and his pancreas was inflamed so he needed antibiotics, and still the urine leak, "Repaired" in September, is unhealed, as if it had just been done inside, only the skin healing. So the urine leak can be causing the pancreas inflation, and the stomach narrowing needs addressed but at the heart of the matter, most of ll he either needs the kidney bypassed of the leak repaired and that means more surgery. So tonight he heads to UVA hospital and the knowledge that every surgery impacts his blood pressure and breathing enough to put him in ICU.  He still is having issues getting approved for medicare and his hospital bills are outrageous by now of course.

If that isn't enough, Brett's wife has been very sick too, and 
mom's money is running out so they may need to bring her home to their house soon, but she is really difficult to care for too.  Any positive thought, prayers or funny cards you care to send their way would be greatly appreciated I'm sure.

All the other details in life pale beside the fact that they are actually still together, still sounding cheerful and hopeful and not giving up.

Lance has a cell phone (540)-359-1413 and you can send cards and pictures and letters to him or to Mom at the same address

  Lance Miller /PO box 865/ Middleburg, VA 20118

Monday, January 25, 2016

Worries and Joys

Let me start todays post with a quick update on my brother

Five months after he first went to ICU
Last night, 1/22/16 I got a call from Lance, at first he sounded normal, chatting about the upcoming games in the run up to SuperBowl and making certain Austin and Emerson were doing good, and their girlfriends and Daisy, but once he had checked on all of us he started sobbing, "I'm sorry, Dixie. Brett's upset with me."
I asked why, but Lance is hard to understand in person at times, and even when he knows what he is saying, he has to triple check that you understand him, he won't accept just "uh, huh" but makes me repeat what he said back to him because he's used to people nodding even when they can't understand. He's harder on the phone and even more difficult when he is upset. So with the tears all I was getting was "work out, hospital, I'm tired. Hurts"
I had to get in touch with Brett to get a clearer picture. He says Lance was fine by then, showered and in his pajamas. But that he had a difficult day. He was refusing to do his physical therapy, even though he knows he needs to get strong and even though he doesn't want to end up back in the hospital. So Brett had to make him do it, and of course Lance is so dependent on Brett now that the idea of making our brother mad, terrifies him. but of course he is exhausted and no one likes pt every day.
Brett is worried still, Lance went into ICU BEFORE Christmas again, and the micro robotics revealed he hasn't healed at all from the original leak in his bladder/kidneys. They did a feeding tube then and Brett feeds him 4 times a day. He is also being treated for sores from sitting and laying in the same position so much. He still has a catheter and sometimes is incontinent and the nurse says the feeding tube can make it hard for him to tell he has had a bowel movement. 
Brett swears he is slowly getting better, and I think Brett is an amazingly patient caretaker, but the long, slow road has been brutal on their side of the country. That is without considering that both our Mom, and Brett's Mother-in-law are there and suffering dementia and physical issues too.

Edited to add that I talked to Lance Sunday the 24th and he was in much better spirits, the snow in that DC area this weekend, and the two teams who are headed to the Super Bowl have him energized and playful sounding.
The picture is Brett, and Dad's dad, Emerson Miller and Lance in about 1985

Lance has a cell phone (540)-359-1413 and you can send cards and pictures and letters to them at the same address

  Lance Miller /PO box 865/ Middleburg, VA 20118

The rest of my life since Christmas has been a mixed bag.  Things are really saturated here, I've measured 60 inches of rain at my house since Thanksgiving, and our town has flooded and receded a few times, my firewood is soaked and the woodstove is hard to keep burning so the house feels cold. My bills are a stressor, and my abdominal pain has been back at the old mystery attacks.  But it has been beautiful too, and I've made a lot of progress on my novel editing, and over all the frustration and worry is the Joy of knowing I have a great family, a chance to sell a few more books and a school or two that like having me teach, or present as an author. I have a granddaughter who means the world to me, and a grandson due in early May.

 So while somedays I want to burrow into my blankets and refuse to face the world, I do keep getting up and forcing a smile, until the smile is real.

 I hope you are all into 2016, and finding more to interest you than the political scene.  Thank God life is so much more than the debates.  More later, but not promising how soon.  Joy for now.