Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Intrepid Knitter

I enjoyed all of the examples of peculiar doctor names yesterday. Never in a million years would I see an oral surgeon named Dr. Blood-let alone his partner Dr. Payne. That's strange and ever so slightly twisted. It's almost as strange as this sign I read at the drive through ATM: This ATM is equipped with voice activated services for the visually impaired. I couldn't help but wonder why a drive through money machine would post a sign like that.

Speaking of visually impaired and twisted, I've done a bit of cable knitting in my day, but nothing quite as demanding as this square for the Aran afghan. Every other row has cables. It's enough to make a progressive lens wearing girl weep. The return row seems like it should be easy enough because one only has to knit the knits and purl the purls. What makes that close to impossible to complete without error (even with my Ott light and glasses) is that the twisted cable stitches from the right side row can appear to be something they're not on the wrong side row. I see purls where the stitch is a knit.

The charts are driving me crazy (a short trip to be sure) because I'm not all that familiar with cable symbols or verbiage and find myself looking at the chart, the printed instructions and then the key to see what the hell the abbreviations mean. I've knit 4 rows of the pattern at the rate of one hour per 2 rows. At my present speed, these squares should be finished some time in 2020. Oh. And I don't have that pesky little bugger called gauge. Lucky for Mareseatoats, this first square is a practice piece for me done in a different color. I'm thinking it'll be a pillow-mistakes and all. Then again, I should go down one size in needles with the right yarn and finish this thing before I lose my eyesight mind.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Is It Just Me?

Or is this ironic?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

United Knitting

It began innocently enough with a telephone call from Mareseatoats. She asked, "hey Rudeek, what are you doing this fall?" "Would you like to get involved with our United Way kickoff?" It sounded innocent enough so I said, "well that sounds good to me." "What do I have to do?"

In retrospect, I think it's some kind of payback for the 2004 San Francisco Breast Cancer Three Day. I'd only called to request a donation from her. Nobody twisted her arm to join me on the walk, but she did. So now it's my turn to pay her back for my kind invitation and knit a few squares of the Great American Aran Afghan. She belongs to a knitting group that has taken this project on and plans to auction it off at their kickoff.

A box of supplies containing 3 skeins of Encore and a note warning me to get gauge came in the mail yesterday. I sat down in the afternoon to read about my 3 squares. Since there are some novice knitters in her group, I thought I got a couple of challenging pieces to knit and the newbies took what the book calls the easier squares. Really though, I don't think any of them are all that easy. We'll see. The blessing is that the squares are small, and presumably, they won't take forever. The payoff will be flying to Houston to help Mares and her group put the thing together at the end of summer. Now that? That sounds much easier than walking 60 miles.

Top Photo from The Great American Aran Afghan

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tending the Garden

Since it's been nearly a month, I think enough time has elapsed to talk about Rachel's adaptation in her home.  While I spend my nights tossing and turning since we did this, Rachel is absolutely blossoming.  I'm sure my other kids would tell you I'm a good mom, but the truth of the matter, where Rachel was concerned, is that I was a better enabler than a mom.  After years of being with someone who does not speak a lick, I did everything for her-it was easier than being her full time PT, OT, speech therapist and teacher all rolled into one.  Now, she has to do a lot for herself and in less than one month, it's showing.  I'm talking the basics here-not the complicated.

When I called on Saturday to make arrangements to spend the day with her on Sunday, the staff was telling me how well she is doing.  She seems content and has stopped perseverating over watching her Disney videos.  Miracle of miracles, she is starting to seek out the company of her roommates and prefers to watch what they're watching on television-even if the shows happen to be more adult in nature than cartoons.  I'm a little flabbergasted at the whole notion.  For 19 years, she had fits if the humans around her weren't watching what she wanted.  The only exception seemed to be Wheel of Fortune.  She loves that show.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times I've seen Winnie the Pooh, Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast.  Probably thousands.  I can't believe these videos are no longer her priority. 

After a lengthy stay in the hospital to get her medications right, Rachel's third roommate finally moved in last week.  I saw her yesterday for the first time since January and hope and pray she was a good choice.  I'm not so certain her meds are right though.  For as silent as my daughter is, this roommate makes up for it tenfold.  She. Never. Stops. Talking.  Never.  Oy.  I was at Rachel's for less than 10 minutes and heard conversation on about 15 different topics-I think this is what you'd call flight of thought.  Whew.  To say the least, I was completely overwhelmed, but Rachel wasn't.  There she was, sitting by this woman's side, looking like the world's wisest therapist and listening to everything she had to say.  Of course, Rachel can't give feedback, but perhaps what this roommate needs is someone to just let her talk.  If that's the case, I think my daughter has found a full time job.

All of us have stopped by Rachel's at different hours of the day to see how things are going.  She is safe, bathed, fed and happy.  Her teacher tells me she's content at school and she hasn't noticed a change in behaviors.  Still, I was feeling a bit guilty that I hadn't been spending more time with her.  The last time I did was Easter Sunday and I spent most of that in the kitchen or trying to dodge Mr. Larger Than Life.

Last night, all of the kids were here and I cooked a feast.  By the end of the afternoon, I was ready for Rachel to go home.  Long before we actually considered assisted living as an option, I'd run out of the energy required to be her caretaker.  I reached my limit yesterday at 5 hours.  To be fair to myself, it's taken a staff of 3 women to replace what I did for her in addition to raising two others, tending my marriage, maintaining my home and working a full time job. 

Note to self:  I think it's OK to relax now and live a little.  

Image-courtesy of Slave Boy who has gotten rather good with his Nikon.  

Sunday, April 26, 2009

What's Old is New

Being enamored of microscopic bugs, I'm always interested when I hear there is a completely new virus ready to take mankind out of business. But swine flu?  Is that really new?  I recall the flu vaccine issues from decades ago where people became ill from the swine flu vaccine and died.  It's the reason I hear over and over from patients who refuse the vaccine each year.  In addition, the great flu pandemic of 1918 was swine influenza so you see, it isn't really new.  The news (I know) is stating that this is just the beginning and perhaps this flu will go away for 18 weeks, then it'll return with a vengeance.  Let the fear mongering begin.

The Great Influenza, by John Barry, was one of the best books I've ever read about the flu outbreak in 1918 and its impact on modern medicine, war and life.  His descriptions of what could only be SIRS and MODS were riveting.  People would wake up feeling a little ill in the morning and without appropriate care, would be dead by late afternoon or the very next day.  Communities overwhelmed by the sick could not provide care for the acutely ill.  This book also touched on the makings of vaccine that while not a new thing, were incredibly amazing. 

As a nurse, I've been watching the news with interest and have a few points I'd like to clarify:

  • Nobody has mentioned HAND WASHING as a means of prevention.  Do it.  Often.
  • The news (I know) has been telling people that if you have a fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, but especially a fever, to call your doctor in a week if you aren't better so you can get Tamiflu.  I'm here to tell you that Tamiflu works, but waiting a week to get help is too long.  Read my second paragraph above.
  • For the sake of everyone else, if you are sick, with the exception of going to the doctor, please stay at home in your bed.  The rest of us don't want your cooties.
  • Leave the swine alone- this outbreak is not their fault.  It's not like they created it, they may harbor it, but they get sick from it too. 
I am not making light of the issue when I say that I'm awed by the stamina of viruses and bacterium, because the ability of microorganisms to adapt and change is truly impressive. If we create drugs to combat these bugs, over time they adapt and become resistant to our efforts. For creatures that don't have brains, they're really a marvel.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Half Sloth-Half Woman

Ignoring the boxes I've yet to unpack, I went to spinning class this morning. I made two skeins of yarn and then plied them. I still have weighty issues there, but I'll tell you more about that on The Accidental Spinner. Given the product I've put together so far, I don't think I could have come up with a better name for that blog.

Yesterday, temperatures hit 85 glorious degrees. When I went to bed last night, I opened the window closest to me-not realizing it has no screen in it yet. So that was my chore today-to locate, clean and insert the storms and screens. The first one closest to the bed was a slam dunk. The other three had me breaking out in a not so feminine sweat. I would have cursed, but I was trying to manhandle the damn things and couldn't curse and grunt at the same time. For the life of me, I couldn't get them open. This will never do with my hot flashes. If it's not too hot (or humid), I don't want to turn on the A/C-I'd rather have a breeze. With the windows open, I can hear the train that passes just 2,000 feet from my house. I love that. Oh. And the church bells-I love those too. Maybe I need a less humid day. They're the old fashioned windows on pulleys. Got any suggestions?

Though I ignore the obvious around here, after my visit from Mr. Mocha Latte yesterday, I had to wash the porch. I bought him a catnip mouse which he seemed to love. In order to repay me for his unexpected treat, he peed on the porch and then left. He forgot to take his mouse. Last night, there was a hell of a racket in the back yard. Not coming from a cat neighborhood, I've nothing to compare it to, but I think there was a hell of a cat fight going on. I hope it wasn't my friend, but if it was, I hope he was OK. I didn't see him around today.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Plunge

There seems to be nightly discussion at my home about getting a dog.  Some people (who don't even live here) are saying, "but we're supposed to be a dog family-we've always had a dog."  There's a certain ring of truth to that.  My kids have always had a dog, but the problem is they aren't always here to care for the animal.  I recall the nagging gentle reminders I had to give in order for the dogs to be fed, walked, watered and bathed.  Let's not talk about poop patrol.

Last night, my son told me that he'd had enough of life without a dog.  He gave me $100 toward the adoption fee of a dog then proceeded to peruse the local shelter's offerings. He wants a dog in a bad way.   Big.  Young.  Black lab.

My husband told me that my daughter told him she was going to go out and buy ME a dog.  She is the one who doesn't live here.  She wants a dog, but she wants to disguise her desire as my need.  Mom needs a dog to keep her company.  No.  Mom needs a flock of merino sheep, some cashmere goats and a couple of alpaca.  Then mom will NEED a herding dog to keep the beasts in line.  I don't know where I'll keep all those animals-I live in town with a yard the size of a postage stamp, but a girl can dream.  

This morning, I called my husband to tell him to leave a certain amount of money in our checking account.  I told him I needed to buy a few things like some yarn at the big sale today patio furniture, and he told me, "no, you need to go buy that dog we saw online at the shelter."  He wants a dog.  A pitbull mix. 

And so you can plainly see, the heat is on.  Of course I'll cave, but I need to put a few guidelines in for my tribe:  
  1. If someone is looking to surprise me with a dog, I have a hankering for a labradoodle- chocolate or apricot.  
  2. Please, no dogs used for fighting-I don't care how cute they look, it's what they're bred to do and I don't want one.  Remember, we can nurture and train a dog to be a wonderful addition to our family, but we can't conquer nature.   
  3. $100 is not enough to put toward a 100 pound dog.  I may add here that a big dog=monumental waste and epic poop patrols.  If the website says the dog is energetic, I beg you to read into that line.  Also, please stop sighing over every puppy you look at on the shelter's website.  It's not going to work, it's not going to work, it's not going to...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ok, Ok...

I'm going to stop watching the news.  We swears it, Precious.  I just have to say one thing before I swear off  this obsession of watching TV news:  Any man who collects panties as a trinket or trophy after committing a heinous murder or assault is not a good boy.  Nor should his behavior come as a surprise to those who know him, for I'm quite certain, he was a sick soul way back before he committed his first crime.  He may have also been a liar, a bed wetter, an arsonist and cruel to children (or animals) long before he began to hunt in earnest.  These are the some of the behaviors that according to profilers, serial killers have in common.  These news stations need to stop saying he did these despicable acts to pay off gambling debts.  He did them to satisfy his own dark needs.

I need to find another outlet for my boredom.  Reading too much of  John Douglas and watching the news doesn't help me sleep at night.

Now where have I put my copy of Goodnight Moon?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Why Hello Gorgeous!

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who in the land is the fairest of all?

I haven't a clue.  When the owners moved out of this house, they took the bathroom mirror.  Subsequently, I have a non-Feng Shui type of thing going on in the deep red bathroom off the kitchen.  This leaves only the one bathroom mirror upstairs.  If I feel a need to pluck an errant chin whisker that's suddenly sprung up from nowhere, and the upstairs john is in use, I'm SOL.

Do you know how expensive mirrors are?  Damn!

On a related note, but totally deserving of its own post, how can you have no whiskers one day and something already an inch long the next?  It's so taxing to ponder menopausal mysteries so early in the day.

Image:  An illustration from page 5 of Mjallhvít (Snow White) an 1852 icelandic translation of the Grimm-version fairytale.  Image provided by Landsbókasafn Íslands.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Skin Deep

Sunday night, I changed the channel when the Miss USA contest came on the tube. I have no interest in watching women parade about clothed only their self importance and a bikini. I find it degrading. Instead, I watched A Shot in the Dark and completely missed the Miss USA kerfuffle. Woe is me.

All is not lost though because two days later, Miss California's answer to the gay marriage question and the ensuing spitting match between her and Perez Hilton (who took offense to her answer to his question) is still looping continuously on CNN.  In fact, it's running right next to stories about an eleven year old who hanged himself because of school bullies, the Craigslist serial killer, the guy who was drunk and drove his kids into the water killing all five of them, those poor dead horses in Florida (all 21 of them) and the female Sunday school teacher who sexually assaulted and killed a seven year old child. 

I ask you, in light of all of that, do you care about Miss California and the question that laid her low? I know that I don't. Really, I believe in my heart of hearts that if a same sex marriage is what makes other people happy, then it should be allowed wherever they live.  A partnership is just that and all people should be entitled to enter into lifetime arrangements of their choice.  I don't care about Perez Hilton's soapbox either.  Everyone is entitled to their beliefs and opinions.  For the life of me, I don't understand why the content of this woman's answer is an outrage-raping and killing a seven year old is an outrage.  Miss California used her first amendment rights and said this was not for her. Last I heard, this was still a free country and she used that to speak her mind. I didn't hear her condemn anyone for their beliefs-including Perez Hilton's. What Miss California said does not upset me like it did Mr. Hilton, but it did not strike me as particularly articulate, which is something I'd want from my Miss USA spokesperson.  Truth be told, that's why I've got my hair in a knot.  I think the least we should expect from diplomats and spokespersons is eloquence.

But here's the catch: Does anyone really believe Miss California (or any beauty contestant for that matter) is any sort of a diplomat as Perez Hilton says she should be? She could be down the road, but for right now, she was a beauty show contestant. Nothing more, nothing less. If that's where we're headed, just like with music artists, and physical beauty is to be the key that unlocks the door to a job in diplomacy, God help us.  I'll take brains over beauty every day.

Would these women have been considered as potential contestants for beauties? To be sure, there is much to be said for a beautiful mind, but our society seems to value something else entirely.

This media fueled celebrity narcissism is getting on my last nerve.  It's not important.  Now, does anyone know who actually won Miss USA?  She seems to be losing out on her 15 minutes.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ricky-Tickin' Striped Socks

I'm waiting patiently for the sun to return. After Friday and Saturday's glorious weather, the sun has been in hibernation. Well over an inch of rain has fallen since Sunday with a bit more expected later today and possibly some snow. Ugh.

Tomorrow though...tomorrow promises 61 sunny degrees. I'm betting these pictures of plants trying to bloom will burst forth tomorrow and Thursday.

Not being a patient person, I started to knit some socks last week to try to jazz the place up with color. One down and one to go. I think the other sock would be done if I wasn't trying so hard to make them match. They're a gift for Sebba.

Yarn: Knit One, Crochet Too Ty-Dy Socks in color #1767.
Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cheese With That Whine?

Yesterday after spinning class, I came home and then walked back to town for lunch with my son. It was gloriously warm and everybody in town was of like mind. Area merchants had water bowls in front of their stores for the dogs. We walked home and I laid down for a fifteen minute nap. Close to four hours later, I woke up. I was a little sad I'd wasted such a pretty day. Today, the weather is cold and dreary and again, I've napped here and there. They wore me out last week and I'm dreading the week to come. Is it Friday yet?

So today, between naps, I've fiddled around with the spindle. My shoulders are sore from effort, and I haven't made much progress. My hands don't know what to do yet and though I'm sure it'll become second nature, my fingers can't find a rhythm. It reminds me of when I learned to knit and couldn't get the stitches to slide on the needles because they were so tight. I had a death grip on those needles and the yarn. I'm still a tight knitter, but hey, that's OK because that means I get to use bigger needles than patterns and yarn usually call for-I rarely have to go down a size or two to get gauge. I'm sure I'll get used to what I need to do to make yarn.

Anyways, that's it for my whining. I'm going to try really hard to shake my bad attitude as all I seem to get from it is agida. We'll see what the week brings besides breakfast tomorrow at a great cafe with a friend.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Twist and Shout

Class started at nine sharp this morning. Like a dummy, I forgot my camera. Take my word for it, I was there and I have this to show for my effort:

And this:

I bought a hand painted drop spindle too.  It has sheep painted on it.  The owner of the store is going to let me get the hang of things before I make a decision about spinning for keeps.  She has all different types of modern spinning wheels, so I think I'll learn what all the parts are named before I go looking for something to buy.  

I'm also picking up an entire vocabulary of words like, spindle, and whorl, and niddy noddies, and staples, and andean plying, and well, the list goes on and on.  It took forever to come up with the right spelling for niddy noddies because I thought it should be spelled knitty.  What do I know?  I'm a newbie again.  A newbie with yarn she hand spun this morning.

I did the above sample skeins on the spinning wheel and I have a smaller sample done on the drop spindle.  My goal is to practice a bit each day so I can show off at class next Saturday.  I couldn't be more thrilled with my new endeavor.  This is going to be fun.  Before I knew it today, class time was over and I'd never once looked at my watch.  Oh.   Did I mention?  I made 6 new friends and 3 of us there are nurses.  The community with others of like interests was nice.  We never once talked shop.

Because I have nothing better to do, I've started another site to journal my attempts at this ancient art form.  Come see me at The Accidental Spinner.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Talk to Me

During the course of a work day, my only usual communication with colleagues is by text or email.  Since I work the off shift, I usually don't speak to anyone outside of the triage nurse, an occasional doctor and my patients.  This depersonalization can be very frustrating.  This week, I've found myself completely overwhelmed by my schedule and the lack of verbal communication.  It seems the 4 schedulers have absolutely no clue as to who is on first.  They don't talk to each other either and this causes huge issues.  For instance, if Scheduler A tells Scheduler B that I have nothing going on, Scheduler B looks for an opportunity to make me busy.  Scheduler B does not tell Scheduler A that she has filled my dance card, and the next thing you know, Scheduler A does the same and I need to be in two places at one time.  This leads to ticked off patients and exhaustion for me.

Last night, I sent a rather scathing email to my supervisor who is probably as overwhelmed as me.  It was laden with complaints about my work burden.  No surprise, she sent me a response that I felt was dripping with sarcasm.  Knowing my style, you can guess that mine probably was also and she was just giving it back in kind.  Over the years, I've been careful not to send these types of emails (they're a lot like drunk dialing), preferring instead to save them as drafts and delete them at a later date.

Do you work in a similar situation where verbal communication has gone away and all that is left is the printed word?  How do you handle communication during times of crisis?  There are things I'd never say in a face to face meeting (or phone call), that seem to spill from my fingertips to the keyboard with abandon.  I wish there was a message that popped up asking me, ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO SEND THIS MESSAGE?  

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Did I Find a Reflecting Sign?

In all of my years of knitting, I've never taken a formal class-I am a self taught knitter.  Luckily, I've been the recipient of many helpful yarn store owners and employees who have been kind enough to give me drive-by advice.   I'm sure it helps that I've spent small fortunes in their stores.  I'm about to change all of that and heed the little voice that's been talking to me.  I signed up for a spinning class.  Nine AM sharp on Friday morning, I'll sit down at a spinning wheel for the first time in my life.  I'm very excited about this.  The yarn store owner told me, "you've been talking about this for years."  She's right.  It's finally time to explore my interests.

Please don't bring up the fact that I don't own a spinning wheel.  I'm trying hard to ignore that for now, though I am scouring Craigslist daily.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Oh, Sit on It

Finally! As promised, the furniture delivery men were here bright and early to deliver my new sofa and love seat. It's beautiful, but more than that, it's another room to use for seating purposes. That would have come in handy on Sunday when I was trying to hide from MLTL.

OK, so no big surprise, it's green. We've long established that this is my favorite color. What is a surprise is that the love seat was to be blue. The chair and pillows would have tied the two together, but I'm pleased with the two matching pieces so I won't make a fuss. The chair won't be in for another couple of weeks. I have that long to figure out where I'll put it in this small house.

Now I'm on the hunt for the perfect area rug for the living room. I think I'll choose something with a little blue. I need something to break up all of this wood. It's pretty, but it's cold despite the warm color. With time, I'll find the perfect tables and lamps to put in this area too. Really, what I need more than time, is another paycheck or two.

For the kitchen, I was looking for a pop of red to break up all of the brown. The window is an odd shape so I was having trouble finding the perfect pre-made curtains. On Saturday, I went to a la-de-da fabric store in town. Holy smokes! I smell trouble. That place had THE most stunning fabrics I've seen in a long time. Let's just say, this wasn't Joann's Fabrics and leave it at that. I think I gave the saleswoman palpitations when I bought this fabric and a box of Stitch Witchery. No ma'am. I do not own a sewing machine. Yes ma'am. I intend to make curtains with nothing but scissors and a hot iron. I think they turned out well for $20. What do you think?

I did not give you a panoramic view of the kitchen window because the sink is full of dirty dishes. Sheesh! That maid is such a slacker.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Living With Narcissism

Narziß Artist Francois Lemoyne 1728

Do you know a narcissist? Do you live with someone who has narcissistic personality disorder? If the answer is no, consider yourself blessed. If you're not sure what NPD looks like, this is the best resource I've ever read concerning this problem. I'm convinced that this is the underlying toxic stew that drives Mr. Larger Than Life. Of course, the overlying problem these days is his head injury and this makes him nearly impossible to deal with for more than a few moments at a time. Pre-injury behaviors (what we call premorbid behaviors) are often heightened after head injuries-making pre-injury days look like a walk in the park. Put him and Rachel together in the room and an accidental alcohol OD starts to look pretty good. Today was no different. Rachel wanted to watch cartoons, and MLTL wanted to watch sports on TV. There is one TV in this house. Guess who won?

This man wasn't in the door 2 seconds before he began to tell me how to put the 4 day old vegetables and spinach dip he bought into serving dishes. I don't know what possessed him to buy the vegetables 4 days ago, or what made him buy marinated vegetables to serve with a dip. He doesn't really think right. The dips, made of dairy products, were on the warm side, making me think they were out on the counter for hours before he came over. He also brought some kibbee which he'd had the restaurant make in a manner I've never witnessed in my 52 years of eating Arabic food. It was mixed with all kinds of vegetables and stunk to high heaven. I didn't even want to put it on the table. However, he had to be told a dozen times how wonderful it was. It isn't enough that he brought this dicey food, he NEEDS to be told countless times how wonderful it all is. I've never met anyone so insecure.

My husband, trying to clean out our garage and make it a safer household for four cognitively impaired women, put some paint cans in my father in law's garage until he could deal with disposing of them correctly. Since that day, MLTL has griped about them every 15 minutes. They don't belong in his garage, and even though they aren't in his way, he is not about to let them stay there for a minute longer than necessary. Today was no different. On several occasions throughout the afternoon, he mentioned the paint cans. He is incapable of seeing how busy we've been with this move or how we're trying to float these 2 homes right now. He only cares about the space 6 cans are taking up in his 3 car garage. Argh. It's so frustrating trying to please someone who can't be pleased. As of now, I've given up trying.

Years ago, about a year or two after we got married, I made a mild joke about the men in that family being babies. Oh my God, you'd have thought I'd called him an axe murderer. He went on and on for about an hour about this benign little comment. I was chastised up and down for that little slip of the tongue and never repeated my faux pas. It had become clear that MLTL had no sense of humor. None. In the 24 years I've known my husband, I've never once seen or heard his father laugh. It's sad really, but that's the way it is.

Experts suspect NPD has roots in childhood and people with this type of personality disorder may have been abused or neglected. From what I know of his early childhood history, this is true for him, but he doesn't perceive or recognize the abuse. In his perfect world, his deceased parents have been elevated to sainthood. I find it interesting, but only from a distance. If confinement for anything more than a few hours occurs, I find myself overwhelmed. I can only please so many people at one time and Lord knows, there's a limit to how much wine I can consume.

Other than that, dinner was great. Here's hoping you had less eventful holiday meals. Next year, I'm making reservations.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pondering the Menu

From The Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter

With my head firmly in the sand, the holiday has snuck up on me.  We're going to have a quiet one.  Well maybe.  Mr. Larger Than Life is coming and because a shout is a whisper to him, it ought to be fairly loud with all these empty walls and floors.  Rachel will be here too and she should keep me fairly busy.  I hope it's nice so I can swing with her out on the porch.  Sebba is bringing her new beau to meet the family.  Nothing like trial by fire for the young man.  At least he doesn't have to contend with the dog who pretty much hated all her boyfriends.  If Duke's ashes fall off their perch, we'll know something isn't right.

I still don't have living room furniture yet, though I ordered it today.  It's coming just in time on Tuesday.  Nothing like Procrastinating, which you all know by now is my middle name.  The windows will be clean though as long as it doesn't rain.  I hired a contractor to do that dirty job tomorrow.  I also have someone coming tomorrow to help me clean the empty house.  Ha. Slacker is my confirmation name.  Really though, there are miles of hardwood in this house and it would be nice if someone else would do the heavy work here for a day.

That leaves me to ponder the menu.  Honey Baked Ham?  Ho-hum.  Roast leg of lamb?  Now we don't really know our oven yet, do we?  That could be a disaster.  OK.  How about stuffed grape leaves?  Yum.  I'll have to find a slave to help me roll them all.  I'll make a ham too-the Barefoot Contessa's mango chutney glazed ham.  That sounds pretty tasty.  Some cheesy potatoes because that sounds easy.  Roasted asparagus is pretty simple too, and a salad. I'll buy dessert and the bread, although I've had a hankering for those lemon bars again.  Those sound spring-like, don't they?  There!  Now that wasn't so bad, was it?  Remind me, I need to buy earplugs.

What are you making for dinner on Sunday?  If you tell me reservations, I'll cry.  

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fill in the Blank

Dear Doctor ___________ (just fill in your name if the shoe fits):

This may come as a surprise to you, but I'm a busy woman. When I'm at a hospital, nursing home, or a patient's home, and I make a call to you, I am not doing so for my health. I am doing so for the health and comfort of your patient. The least that I think you could do, out of courtesy, even curiosity, is return the call.

When doing so, please try to be patient with me. I promise I'm not wasting your time, I'm clarifying orders. If I had prescriptive powers, believe me, I wouldn't be calling you. I'd be writing the orders without your input and you'd be superfluous.

Last night, I threw in the towel after I'd waited two and a half hours for you to return any one of the four pages I made to your number. I called my hospice doctor instead, who by the way, answered on the fourth ring. That's what I call service.

On Monday night I called you, but your service said you were unavailable until Tuesday at 3:30 PM and I should call back then. Again, I called my hospice doctor who answered on the second ring and gave me some orders I could write. When I called you Tuesday at 3:30 PM on the spot, your receptionist tried to give me orders. I'm sorry to tell you, I can't take orders from a receptionist. Since you're an MD, you should know she can't give orders-it's against the law. When I told her this, she hung up on me! I want to let you know about this, but hell, you probably already do. She is one of your staff members and from what I know of private practice, behavior at the bottom of the pecking order is a reflection of what goes on at the top. When I had my boss called her back, she was as nice as could be and explained you're out of town until next week Tuesday. In that case, you can't be my patient's doctor until then-no matter what orders your receptionist gives me. What really burns my arse though is that in between the time I called her and then my boss did, she called my patient's home and tried to bully his wife out of selecting our hospice services. Now really, is that behavior necessary? We weren't trying to get rid of you, in fact, we were trying to include you in our plan of care. If it were up to me, I'd tell the patient's family this-just so they could know how unscrupulous you really are. To my mind, there is only one reason to behave that way, and it's all about the green.

Finally, just a note to my personal doctor. For God's sake, would you fix your phone lines already? They've been on the fritz for a few days now. Don't make me drive all the way over there just to book an appointment now-I'm way too cranky.


Just A Nurse

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sneaking it in

I've been getting a little knitting done here and there. My shawl may look like a big blob of nothing, or maybe a giant beret, but truly, it's nearly time to call it a shawl. I think 20 more rows, and it'll be time to consider what I'll do for a border. I'm thinking of a simple "unvented" Elizabeth Zimmerman border. That woman was more clever with pointy sticks than anyone ever deserved to be and for that, I'm grateful.

So according to EZ, in her book Knitter's Almanac, "when you have worked 40 to 50 rounds on 576 stitches, you will have created a stunning circular shawl roughly 72" across-large enough for anybody." I have worked 30 rows at this stitch count and will shoot for 50 and I've used probably 800 or 900 yards of wool. I'm so close I can taste it! It'll probably take nearly the rest of the month to finish, but I'll try hard. I think I'll use her method for the knitted on garter stitch border that she describes in her book.

This is the most recent neighbor I've met. I don't know if this is Mr. or the Mrs., but there are two of them who are protectively guarding their nest-right smack in the middle of my porch. I get the bird version of stink eye every time I walk past them.

As an aside, Rachel is doing great. I talk to her staff every day, and I stopped by to visit yesterday. She seemed happy and seems to like her caregivers. Her roommate loves the house. All is well. Thank you Lord.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Now that we're out of the old house and trying to get settled in the new house, I'm completely perplexed at where to put all of the stuff I've accumulated in my life. I'm also exhausted from this whirlwind of activity. Moving just plain sucks.

I swear, I made Slave Boy go to either the dump or the Salvation Army at least 10 times last week with huge loads. I've disposed of so much junk that it's hard to believe the remainder won't all fit here, but it won't. There are boxes that have mated and multiplied in my living room. That's the only explanation I can come up with for how they just keep showing up. Reminds me of rabbits. Toward the end of packing last week, I got disgusted and just started tossing stuff into boxes to deal with over here, so now I'm dealing with items I should have pitched, but didn't. I've only myself to blame. Well let me think about that, because if I put my mind to it, I'm sure there is someone else I can blame.

We've downsized from 2,000 square feet and 4 bedrooms, to 1450 square feet and 3 bedrooms. Every closet is now packed to capacity. In addition, we left enough furniture and supplies to make a home for Rachel and her roommates. Where in the world did all this stuff come from? With the exception of my yarn, I'm going to stop collecting junk. By the way, I know I've mentioned it before, but I really don't need ANY more salt and pepper shakers.

Effective immediately, anyone gifting my husband with cowboy s & p shakers, moose or farm animal s & p shakers, or plastic protective farm animals will be finding themselves re-gifted with these items at the most unusual of times. Do you think these gag gift givers will be getting candy in their Easter baskets? Think again. The only thing missing will be the salt and pepper-should go well with Easter dinner and hard boiled eggs.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Thinking of You

Today would have been my Dad's 88th birthday.  I received a beautiful photo montage from my brother to honor my Dad.  Nice job FTM, it's lovely.  It's a good thing he sent it, or with all I have going on, this day would have slipped by my radar.

In my mind, I can't believe I've lived so long without him.  When I think back to the time he died, it seems like only yesterday, but was in fact, the summer of 2002.  Where has all the time gone?  I wrote a long post about my dad last year so I won't repeat it, but you can read it here if you like.  

I'm thinking about you today Dad.  Miss you.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

You've Gotta Have Art

Effective yesterday, Rachel's Place officially opened. There were plenty of procedural issues to manage, but overall it went well. Only one roommate moved in with the rest expected to do so by Saturday. This was ideal because I don't know how much change Rachel can handle all at once and it was hectic enough that one new person was invading her territory. She's pretty fixed in her ways, but at least she isn't the one who is doing the moving.

I'm only slightly worried and to my credit, I've only called the house twice-once last night at change of shift and once this morning at change of shift. I just wanted to make sure everyone knew I'm only 8 miles and one phone call away. I'll stop by later this afternoon to make a last pass through the house to look for odds and ends I've left behind.

As soon as the dust settles, I'm going to have to decide on some art work to commemorate this special haven we've created. I know quite a few of you are artists. Debra has given me a couple of ideas, but I'd like more. What medium do you think we should use that celebrates Rachel's Place?

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Bye-bye Huskies...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Meet My Special Neighbor

I've finally met a couple of the new neighbors. It helps that Thursday was beautiful, sunny and warm. The first guy I met came to the door with a rake and was wanting to clean up my yard. I was tempted, but really, I want to do that myself. I wasn't too comfortable with this guy standing on my porch so I shooed him away as gently as I could.

I met the lady on one side who was laying compost over the strawberries that are growing along the fence line. Don't tell her, but I'm hoping for a crop that creeps onto my side of the fence. As neighbors go, she seems lovely enough, but that's not going to save her berries. Grumpy resides on my other side and he seems very standoffish. He has a lovely young daughter who I met last week-she must have all the personality in the house.  I don't know if there is a Mrs. Grumpy.

Across the street, my nursing eagle eyes have sussed out the fact that there is some around the clock care giving going on over there. Every eight hours, there is a change of shift of women in scrubs. I haven't considered walking to work, but it's an idea if things get tight. I've spent an enormous amount of money this week buying essentials.

I did have a late afternoon visitor who came to the door. He was peering in as though he knew this house and expected me to just let him in to have his way around the place. He didn't even introduce himself. To my knowledge, I've never had a blue eyed peeping Tom before, and now I do. He looks like a mocha latte to me, with extra chocolate sprinkled on top. At least he's honest about his nosiness-no speculation there, he planned on getting to the bottom of who his new neighbors were, and he did. I did ask the strawberry lady if he lived here and his owners left without him. She assured me he lives in the corner house across the street. I felt relieved, but strangely disappointed. Like I need another project right now.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What's in My Head

We are putting the finishing touches on the old house-cleaning, painting, straightening and polishing everything.  As usual, it's just the two of us, my husband and me, who are doing this labor of love.  Since we've been doing this for nearly 20 years, I guess it makes sense that we would finish this job together.  Every couple of hours or so I have a meltdown and start crying.  My emotional stew is full of ingredients like guilt, fear, excitement and regret which is all simmering together in a spicy base of exhaustion.  I can't help but feel that this is a mistake-one of the colossal variety.  My husband channels his emotions through the manual labor involved.  There are only two days left to see how things all shake out and I am so worried.  I hope it all goes well for Rachel and us, but especially for Rachel.

Yesterday, while feeling particularly weak, one of the other moms dropped by to give us a check for April's rent and we got to talking.  I confided my worries and started to cry.  There are nothing but tears around here lately-I could use them for mop water.  I told her I was praying I wasn't making a mistake, and through her own tears, she told me she was sure it wasn't a mistake because what we'd done, was the answer to her prayers.  They have been waiting years for an availability to do this, but there were never any opportunities.  Every year they'd ask for placement, and every year, they were told there were no spots available-for 8 years straight-until now.  I'm going to take this as a sign that things will go well because this was meant to be.

The Lord works in peculiar ways.  I've always prayed that before I died, I'd get the opportunity to live a little.  Although being a caregiver was a career option, I never expected to be a 24/7 mother for my entire life.  I'm not abdicating my role as Rachel's mother, but I am giving away that (always on call) position as her provider of care.  

It's OK if I live a little, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Deed is Not Done

I made one trip back to the old house rather late yesterday. I needed toothpaste and underwear. God only knows where I packed my panties. Or bras. I'd forgotten. However, when I opened the trunk of my car to stuff more of my belongings into it, I found the suitcase I'd packed with foresight. I knew I wouldn't be capable of finding clothes. Too bad I didn't recall doing that, it would have saved me a lot of time.

I slept like a baby in my new house, but awakened wondering where in the hell I was. For that split second before my mind adjusted to the surroundings, it felt odd. The bed was familiar, but nothing else was. Speaking of my bedroom, I have all of my furniture in that room, and still have space to walk around it all. I'm amazed at the space. Finally!

Tonight I work, then I'm off again until Monday. I'll try to post some pictures, but I'm having some internet connection issues. Right now, my wireless laptop is tethered to a USB port and I'm really not too happy about this. I'll try to get that fixed tomorrow.

Oh-I caught some great sales at Target and Kohl's yesterday. I only spent a small fortune trying to replace some necessities and I doubled my Target personal best. I can't believe how expensive this is becoming.

eta: where in the hell is the deodorant?