Friday, August 31, 2012


The last month has been a battle.

A battle between love and hate, care and frustration, anxiety and sleep, career and money, loss and relief, overwhelmed and aware, working and worrying, and health and stress.

I've been close to quitting and on the brink of, if not already, crying.

There has been no stride, only plodding. Pulling backwards and running away have been ever so very present.

Right before I went to sleep last night I heard one of my favorite songs. This song holds so much meaning for my family...

Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise

Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to be free

Black-bird fly
Black-bird fly, into the light of a dark black night

Black-bird fly
Black-bird fly, into the light of a dark black night

Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Lyrics from:

I'm taking the steps I need to arise and find the light in this dark black night... but it has taken me a while to admit it and allow my pride to fall.

This three day weekend could not have been timed more perfectly. I am so grateful for the opportunity to put my feet up, catch-up on sleep, relax with Jim(!) and have one extra day to prepare for the week ahead.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Until We Meet Again

Have I ever mentioned that I am horrible with goodbyes? That goes for any type of a goodbye, even happy ones. And lately, I have had to say FAR too many for my heart to bear.

Grandpa's funeral brought family from three different states and so not only did I bid farewell to one of my nearest and dearest people, I also had to say goodbye to my wonderful family on the very same day.

Look at this wonderful group!

Yesterday I spoke with my sister on the phone before she boarded her flight for Senegal, where she'll be until Christmas Eve. My family celebrated Thanksgiving with her last Thursday, since she won't be here with us in November. Yet another goodbye!

Fortunately, she'll be keeping us updated as she gallivants around Africa. She's a great writer and so I believe it will be a nice avenue for not only keeping up with her, but also getting unique perspective on her experiences and travels. I love you, Phoebe!

As if that wasn't enough, I just blubbered my way through a goodbye with Jim as he heads off to his first rotation. Leif and I are on our own during the weeks for the next three months. Hopefully Jim will be able to come home on the weekends to spend time with us, but that will all depend on his attending doctor.

First rotation up = surgery in Wytheville!

The house is not empty and I have many things to do to occupy my time/brain, but it will be hard without my dear husband. We knew this was coming at some point and I thought I was prepared... I suppose you never can quite prepare your heart.

We'll all meet again, this I know...

Goodbye for tonight!

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Walter Otto Krumich
 Born in Solothurn, Switzerland on February 1, 1921
Pass away on August 14, 2012

My grandpa was a resilient, determined, and talented man.

He came over to the United States when he was only seven years old. He came through Ellis Island and we have the records and a few of the trunks they used to make the trip. Grandpa didn't speak English, but he went to school and learned it.

Always a talented musician, he played the flute and taught lessons up until just a year ago. Many a night my grandparents would play flute duets on their back porch. He encouraged his children to become proficient on their own instruments and often quizzed them on pieces and composers when they passed through a room where music was playing. All four of his students chose occupations relating to music: two teachers, one composer and arranger, two children's music group directors, one music therapist and jazz flutist, and a professional trumpeter in the army band and assorted gigs, among other titles.
Grandpa & Marianne
Some of my fondest memories include picking blueberries in the evening with my Grandma while Grandpa played the flute down at his house. The music would serenade us from 100 yards away.

My father, a composer, said that my grandpa could always tell if he had written a song. I think my dad really enjoyed that.

Grandpa served in Hawaii and Guadalcanal and was a true war hero. He rescued a man named Brady from Philadelphia, whose ear drums had been burst, when their ship sank. When his parents heard that he had lost his nice flute, they were sure that was the last they had seen of Walter. He wouldn't leave his flute, right?

Best war photo ever.
Grandpa worked as an engineer drafting Sunoco stations for Sun Oil. He had great attention to detail and knew of most, if not every, Sunoco station in the Ohio and Pennsylvania areas.

He loved to travel and went on many trips throughout his life:  Switzerland multiple times, Scandinavia,  Japan, Germany, Alaska, and he went on a couple major road trips across the United States. Grandma and Grandpa always made sure to visit their children often throughout every year, so each family would get the chance to visit with them.

Not only did he love to travel, but he loved to take pictures and scrapbook. He has every trip carefully documented and every year since 1950, and some years before, included in a scrapbook. It's like memory lane looking through his wonderful albums. One time our family went on a canoe trip down the Clarion River and Grandma came with us. Grandpa decided to pass and he took pictures. We started they joke of "Where's Waldo?" because we'd come around the bend and there he'd be snapping a picture. Grandma often called him "Walter O" and so "Waldo" was quite appropriate.

Never could you eat a meal without Grandpa snapping a picture a few minutes into your chewing. There was many a meal when I would shove a hunk of steak into the side of my mouth and hope it wouldn't show in the pictures!

My cousin Marianne wrote a beautiful blog about my grandfather here and she reminded me of his dry, chapped hands. They were always dry, no matter the season. And those hands were strong up until the very end. He would often squeeze and not let go until you said "Uncle." That made us cringe.

He was so strong, in part, because he just never stopped working! He was always working in his garage, in his garden, or trimming the Christmas trees on my Uncle John's property. The smell of gasoline, pine, and his peppermint gum will always remind me of him.

He often wouldn't shave his cheeks for a few days and so you'd get a few prickles when you kissed him hello and goodbye. My cousin Julie often teased him about that and he always spoke of it fondly.

Grandpa had a few different sayings that he'd use: "Shape up or ship out," "You're a tough cookie," or "Finish the rest of your food!" He always called my grandma Butch... no one ever really knew why.

When we were younger he'd hitch up the wagon to his gravely and take us on rides around his trails. He always kept up a series of trails around his property and Grandma loved to take us walking up and down them.

He was a tough, gruff man, but he always had a tender side for my grandma. They cooed and flirted through their 64 years of marriage. His eyes always showed us his love.

Grandpa was a handsome man and very photogenic! I don't think I've ever seen a bad picture of him.

He was able to speak suisse deutsche fluently and without an accent whenever he returned to Switzerland. That was always impressive to my great aunt Lizzy, who was born in Pittsburgh, but has lived the rest of her life in Switzerland and has an "accent."

Wine and swiss fondue were regulars in the Krumich household. He always had burgundy in a glass pourer on a side table near the table.

Classical music was always playing in their house.

He watched the news at seven o'clock every night. Hardly ever missed it. One day last year I called during the seven o'clock news- what was I thinking? Grandma handed the phone to him during a commercial break, she thought, but it was just a quick break. Grandpa took the phone and said, "Hi Käthe, I'm watching the news. But I want you to know that you're fantastic!" Well, that's all I need to hear, Grandpa :)

Grandma and Grandpa would tape the Sunday morning show (the name escapes me right now) and then would watch it in the evening that day. They'd be so full from their Sunday dinner (lunch) that they would eat snacks and have a beverage.

Wedding day!

Walter O made it possible for us to have our safe haven of a summer home, The Pinery. When times were tight, he helped my parents out and allowed them to pay him back when they could. I never really knew this until last week. I am forever grateful.

At one point he was a trained beautician/barber in California and he did girls' hair who wanted to be in Hollywood. He cut my hair, my cousins' hair when we were younger and my Grandma's hair up until recently.

He was always interested in creating. He made sundials (all correct!), wood-burnings and photographed as many courthouses as he could all around the United States. He was so interested in the architecture of each one. Grandma said that he would often take them a half an hour out of their way, but she became interested in the architecture, too. "Might as well," she said last weekend.

National Geographics piled up on his side table and he avidly read the newspaper every day. Many an afternoon I would find him sleeping with the newspaper on his lap in his sun room.

When he was younger he carved his name in the chair at the dining room table. That same chair was the one he sat in every day at WalterWald, his home in Seneca, PA. I yearned to be transported back to when his mother discovered the vandalization.

Another thing he loved to do was transplant trees. My dad and his brothers have stories of times when he'd find a tree in the woods and get them to help him dig up the roots. Then they'd help him lug it into the yard, dig a hole, and plant it. He never wanted to tear anything down. He never wanted to destroy anything. My uncle Eric wonders if this may be because of the things he saw in the war. He never wanted it to happen again. We have many trees that have been transplanted from Grandpa's collection to The Pinery. He surrounds us, still.

He loved his family, always complimenting us on a job well done.

During my health debacle last year I called my grandparents a fair amount. They always wanted to hear the updates and didn't/don't have access to the internet. One time Grandma told me that Grandpa was sitting quietly and with his eyes closed. She knew that he wasn't sleeping, so she asked him what he was doing and he replied, "I'm praying for Käthe." That touched me so deeply.

I'll miss talking to him about the gas prices, the weather, and the price of bananas. I'll miss watching him give a tour of the drawings of his skilled father, Otto Krumich, or the paintings of his talented sister, Lizzy Löffel, to the new people visiting his home.

His hard work, determination, and courage are just a few of the qualities that I hope I've inherited from him. I inherited his draft table and I haven't taken anything out of the drawers. I love opening them up and being transported back in time to when he drafted for Sunoco. I don't think I could ever remove the items now.

Grandpa, you are greatly missed, but we know you are playing the flute in heaven! Thank you for being such a strong patriarch to our wild, crazy, and loving family. I love and miss you.

Walter Otto Krumich passed away in the company of his wife, three of his four children, and one of his daughter-in-laws. They arrived in time to tell him that they loved him and for his wife to say that it's okay to go and that they'll meet again. Those there said that it was the most beautiful and remarkable experience. A fitting and wonderful ending for an amazing man.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

If I could use one word...

If I could use just one word to describe this week it would be buried. No, perhaps drowning would be a better word. No, no words are strong enough to convey the burdens, hurting, and terror that have been placed on my heart this week.

I have been close to quitting, have cried every day, and have not able to sleep.

Family members (notice the "s".... there are THREE) who are in the hospital. Futures unknown, all battling for their lives in one way or another.

New job, faculty, principal, colleagues, pressures, classroom.

We also found out that Jim will be gone for the first three months of rotations! Perhaps not even able to come home on weekends... it depends on his attending.

Worst week of my life.

Yesterday the entire county gathered for an "All-County Opening Ceremony" that we have every year. This year we had the BEST speaker ever. His name was Brett Leake and he is a comedian. He has muscular dystrophy and he stands, yes stands, in his wheelchair to give his talks. His whole thing was turning obstacles into positive lights. Frankly, there are some negative things that happen that are quite impossible to put in positive lights, but he made me laugh. He made me want to turn my "no" into a "yes."

So, here are the positives:
- Each family member is safe, in good hands, and in the best place for their current situation. This is the most important of the whole list.
- Jim passed his board exam!!!!! :)
- I'm about to be blessed with teaching 22 third graders.
- Yesterday I saw all of my past coworkers who loved and cared for me during the last year's debacle. Hugs, smiles, and believing in me... did my heart so much good. (Thank you Vicki, Wanda, Kiah, Dave, Brad, & Margaret!)
- A miracle was worked and my neck has been healed!
- I have a doctor's appointment this week to receive a stint for my mouth to correct my TMJ! Goodbye (hopefully) jaw problems!
- I have taught for 3 years and have become a somewhat "seasoned" teacher. I CAN do this.
- I have amazing teachers in my family who always have good advice or a creative idea (Thank you Mom, Dad, Marianne, & Kim!)
- Today I slept until 10:30!
- I can work off some of my stress through exercising (FINALLY!) with Jim & Leif.
- I have a wonderful, supportive husband.

The rain's going to fall, this I know.

We'll make it through together.

Monday, August 6, 2012


Today I had an appointment with my neurologist and he came into the room just beaming!!! He then proceeded to tell us that my vertebral artery is completely clear and that I will have full use of it from now on! 

Prior to this we had been told that my artery would basically be blocked off as the blood clot in my neck would form tissue and scar at either end of the blockage. This was dismal and sad news, but we had accepted it as what must be, since this was a serious injury. Back in February the neurologist had explained that it is very rare, if not almost impossible, that an artery would clear again after such a blockage. I must admit that I cried when we heard this news.

In May I actually felt something give in my neck and tried to hold my excitement at the thought that it MAY, just may, have been the artery's flow returning once more. I will never know if it actually did give that day, but now it doesn't matter!

It was so neat to look at the before and after MRA pictures and see that the blockage is no longer there. How incredible!!! He said that he's only heard legends about such things happening before. Oh happy, happy day!

I am so humbled by the amount of support I have received over the last six months. Thank you for being by my side through it all and providing prayers, meals, hugs, and kind sentiments! We have truly felt each prayer.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Mainly Maine


After 3.5 weeks, we are home!

Home, where the cushions feel just right and where we know the location of each of our possessions. Living out of a bag and a car is GREAT, don't get me wrong, but it's nice to be home.

Adventure is deep in our bones and we got a WONDERFUL fix this summer. So, do you want to see some pictures?

We spent the first two days of the road trip at Catskills Park in New York. Our campsite was across the road from Colgate Lake, a great place to swim and relax.

The campsite was private and perfect (see below) and so we stayed two nights rather than one. We explored the towns, saw many creative Rip Van Winkle statues, and went on a hike to Inspiration Point.

Then we went on a quick trip into Boston. We both decided that we'll need to spend a whole weekend in Boston one of these days, but I enjoyed seeing Boston Commons, King's Chapel, and the Granary Cemetery.

Next we spent the night at Wompatuck State Park before heading into Maine. We stopped at the L.L. Bean Flagship store in Freeport, where they are celebrating their 100th year. It was neat because a Louisianan Band was playing in the front lawn AND they were giving our free ice cream!

On to Mount Desert Island!

A glimpse at the inside of our beautiful cabin! Yes, the TV was on... for a couple who has NO TV all year, we indulged in some news in the morning and then Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy after a long day.

We spent many a morning on Rockefeller land around Little Long Pond. It's a place that the Rockefeller family set aside as a place for people to bring their dogs and let them run off of the leash. It's basically a glorified dog park, with a gorgeous lake, 4+ miles of carriage trails, kind people, and blueberries were everywhere! Somehow we timed our visit perfectly and hit the beginning of blueberry season; it came two weeks early. This field was all blueberries.

Jim went running with Leif while I read or picked blueberries... rough life.

We hiked (slowly!) Gorham Mountain, Dorr Mountain, Gilmore Peak, and Sargeant Mountain. Fortunately the trails in Acadia are mostly 1-2 miles long, so they were doable!
A fellow from England told us about Rats and we ate his seafood for the next three days! YUM! He fetched the lobsters, cherry stones, steamers, and mussels each morning and then sold them out of his garage. Jim really enjoyed talking to him- amazing man with great stories!
On the one dreary day we took the mail boat to Great Cranberry Island and Isleford (aka Little Cranberry Island). It was an interesting day of exploring, dreaming, meeting with an elder of the village for an impromptu hour whose aim was to convince us to move there, dropping and finding the camera, and getting eaten by mosquitos. We were happy to be back on Mount Desert Island, but it was a neat day!
In the late afternoon of almost every day we went to Back Beach, which is where the locals go. Each time we were there we probably shared it with one other group, but most of the time we were all alone on our private beach! We found 11 sand dollars there, too. I had never found any before, so it was exciting!
Neither of us had ever had lobster before, so we came to the right place! Jim was partial to the steamers while I enjoyed lobster the most. I am so grateful to Jim for washing ALL of the dishes and making all of the food! It was a true vacation.
It was a wonderful week.

We'll be making it back there at some point!

Neuro appointment and family doctor appointment update from today: MRI on Friday (!), my INR was a 2.2, and we'll have a follow-up with the neuro doctor on Monday. We'll see what comes! We appreciate thoughts and prayers!

Thank you to both of our families for WONDERFUL family visits! Pictures to come soon.