Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fall into Winter

Thursday morning was quite cold here in the Near North Valley with the first freeze of the season. Being forewarned by the weather service, Caro and Baldo spent a lot of effort potting up tender plants and I helped cart them inside. Shelves in the back hallway and in Frances' room are now green and lush while outside the garden starts to wind down. The tropical bonsai are all inside and the hardier ones have been moved into the garage. Only the larger pots with the Ponderosa pines and largest bonsai will remain outside over winter.

Even after the cold snap butterflies, grasshoppers, and a few fugitive snails are seen. But the hummingbirds have flown south and Terrance has burrowed in somewhere. He's elusive this year and I don't know where he's tucked in, so we'll have to be careful about any digging until he surfaces next April.

Last Sunday I took a last swim in the pool, super-chlorinated it, and shut the cover for the season. Time to tidy up the jacuzzi for winter now.

I voted early at the Ranchitos polling place yesterday. With the real likelihood of an Obama presidency, this is yet one more indication that things are changing.

Next Friday will be Samhain and Halloween, when the world moves from the light half of the year into the dark half. Seems to make more sense to me than having the fall season begin on the equinox. By the time winter officially arrives on the solstice we in NM have been in the grips of cold and dark for weeks. Usually the first big storm of winter comes within two weeks of Samhain. Some neopagans associate the non-solstice/equinox dates with the moon, making Oct. 29, the fall new moon, the date of Samhain this year.

Either way with the change of seasons its fitting to think back about Aunt Frances. Life is returning to its usual rhythms for us. Kathie was over on Wednesday to pick up most of the scrap booking materials and some odds and ends from the garage. For now Frances' room is a quite place of reflection with her favorite possessions and art works still on the shelves or hanging on the walls. The cats seem drawn to the place, which is not surprising. They always liked that particular room and that goes back all the way back to the original four old cats who now rest together beneath a flagstone outside the Hidden Garden door.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sun News Obituary

The following obituary will appear in the Thursday October 16 issue of the Myrtle Beach Sun News:

Frances "Shorty" Duckworth, 75, passed away on October 8, 2008, at the home of her niece and nephew-in-law, Carolyn Beaty and Karl Horak, in Albuquerque, NM.

Ms. Duckworth was born and raised in Hallsboro, NC; spent most of her adult life in Miami, Florida; and relocated to Myrtle Beach, SC, in 2002.

She is survived by her sister, Christilla Kefalas of Myrtle Beach, SC; her daughter and son-in-law, Katherine Blackmon and Blake Learmouth of Albuquerque, NM; and her two nieces and their husbands; Carolyn Beaty and Karl Horak of Albuquerque, NM, and Athena and Vito Finizio of Waterford, NJ.

Ms. Duckworth requested that no formal services occur. If you would like to honor her with a contribution, she so loved her dogs and all animals, and always supported the Animal Humane Society. Also, contributions to the American Cancer Society or to your local hospice would be in keeping with her wishes.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sad News

It is with great sadness that I tell you all that Frances took her last breath at 4:30 p.m. today. With the assistance of our wonderful Hospice friends, we were able to keep Frances sedated and comfortable after her condition worsened last night. She seemed very peaceful and still today. We were with her throughout and stayed with her for a long time afterward.

We are very grateful for the time we shared with Frances and so glad she was able to come here and enjoy so many lovely moments with us, despite her illness. She was one tough lady, who kept her humor and spunk no matter what happened.

Thank you all for your support and love. Frances knew she was loved and enjoyed your cards and emails and prayers. I know she especially missed her Myrtle Beach friends and neighbors, who were so very, very important to her. She often told us that the last five years, after she moved to her home in Myrtle Beach, were the best years of her life.

We are also so glad that her beloved partner, Bill, was able to share good times with Frances in Myrtle Beach and that they had the opportunity to travel together to visit family and friends in New Mexico.

Frances did not want any type of formal services on her passing. If you wish to honor her with a contribution, she so loved her dogs and all animals, and always wanted to support the Animal Humane Society. Also, contributions to the American Cancer Society would be in keeping with her wishes.

May lovingkindness enfold us all during this sad time.

Kathy & Blake
Carolyn & Karl
Athena & Vito

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Monday Update on a Tuesday

I'm in Washington, DC for training and a conference on web technologies. In fact, its for Plone the stuff we used for Paul Chilcote's liver transplant follow-up website. This site just uses Blogger because Aunt Frances isn't using the computer directly and we can handle updates, photos, and comments with this quick and simple system.

I spoke with Carolyn last night around 5:30 PM MDT. Kathy was still there--she had worked on organizing Frances' scrapbooking materials. Caro was working on one of several high priority projects for various lawyers.

Shortie had pretty much slept all day after a small breakfast. She was resting comfortably and Caro was expecting to give her a light meal sometime later.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Late Balloon Fiesta Update

Its a cool, rainy evening here in Albuquerque. We can use the rain and it will help set the plants and trees up for winter. I'm sure Terrance is hunkered down somewhere after a warm day--perhaps behind the rosemary in the Bodhisattva garden or in the west end of the Vinca, right under the electrical breaker box.

The Balloon Fiesta was a stunning success, although both Frances and I took long naps this afternoon. Its so wonderful that the weather held off for just 6 hours.

Here's a balloon burning its propane as it flew directly overhead. Schlepp was there as well and, as always, was mugging for a photo. Lots of good stuff for his calendar next year.

I've uploaded all the photos to the laptop I'll be taking to DC, so I should be able to make updates and additions every evening plus include whatever info Kathy and Caro get to me via Skype. Stay tuna'd....

Balloon Fiesta

Well... we had one of those rare, magical days. Although the forecast was for cloudy, we had plenty of blue sky between the clouds to let the sun shine in. Click on the pictures for a full-size view.

Our friend Debbie had invited us over to her backyard, which is only a mile or so from the balloon field, for easy access balloon watching. As it turned out, the winds were out of the south and sent all the balloons towards Bernalillo. So after checking the TV at Debbie's, we abandoned her (she needed to pack for her trip to Pagosa Springs anyway) and headed north through Corrales.

On the north edge of the village we began to intersect the stream of balloons going slightly west of north from the take-off field. We noticed a likely side road heading east but were past it too quickly. Being forewarned, we took the next turn, which conveniently was a paved drive.

It was great--easy parking (at least for us early arrivals), pavement for easy wheelchair wheeling, and surrounded by what turned out to be excellent landing areas. The sky was filled with balloons, but soon one came bearing down on us. I began to think I should move the car. Instead it landed a short distance away. I had to stop shooting video to run over with Blake and add weight to the basket so the balloon wouldn't run into a fence. The kindly balloonists of the Fleur de Tucson even volunteered to take Frances for a ride :-)))

Soon after the pace quickened and we had balloons coming in one after another. They landed in the empty lot across the street, in the cornfield behind us, and, most sought after, the large patch of open green lawn up the road. We took zillions of photos and will have more to come... but first a nap!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday AM Update

We've had a cable TV problem in Frances' room since late Wednesday. Normally this wouldn't be much of deal, since she doesn't watch it much. But last night was the vice-presidential candidates debate. I did manage to hook up our laptop to the TV and rig some speakers to the computer, but Frances pretty much faded out after dinner even though we had the debate running on CNN's website.

When I got home, Caro was making a sauteed shrimp and asparagus pasta. Frances finished off a fairly large portion and Caro had it for dinner, too. Kent and Ric were over for the usual Thursday boy's gaming night and we worked on left-over Rudy's BBQ. While Frances napped, we ate and watched the Palin-Biden debate.

Now its 5:00 AM and all's quiet after a non-eventful night. Looks like the weather will hold for the Balloon Fiesta. Best option is to go over to Debbie's house on Saturday for the 7:00 AM mass ascension. We'll have a good view from about a mile away and the famous Albuquerque box (the special winds we have here) should just about guarantee that some will come close by overhead.

I want to thank all the family and well-wishers who have left comments. We print them and read them to Frances every day. We want to especially thank Inez for making this site accessible to Tilla back in Myrtle Beach.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

New Bed--Not So New Photo

Cousin Kathy took this shot of Aunt Frances last Friday in the Hidden Garden. Frances was taking the airs, enjoying the fall flowers. Most prominently, our hibiscus has been blooming promiscuously since early September and seems content to continue until first frost.

Today the AmberCare folks decided her bed wasn't comfortable enough and gave her an upgrade. They delivered a super-duper $5000 foam and air mattress to replace the standard pillow top. With individually controlled air bladders, it cushions feet and legs differently than hips, differently than shoulders. Frances reports that it is much nicer.