Monday, November 24, 2008

GREAT LINK!!

I found this really really great link:
The person that put all this wonderful info together is my new best friend!
I love the 50 apron pattern, the quilting, the knitting, crocheting, cooking, cleaning tips!
.....Well I don't really love the cleaning part!

Juliet at 15 Weeks Old

What does a 15-week old doggie do? They run and run and run and run and run! Juliet refuses to come when called, since running away is so much more fun! She knows how to sit and stay and she knows that she's supposed to potty outside, but instead she does exactly whatever whim hits her. Her attention span is very short and she is like a darling and lovable, rotton-egg toddler.

Today Juliet is 15 weeks and three days old, and the vet scales weighed her in at exactly 3.0 pounds. Her legs are getting long and she is still very small and slim. She can jump up onto the couch now (it sometimes takes a few tries) and her new favorite place is on the arm of the sofa. She plays hard and then suddenly she is asleep. She doesn't just jump off the couch, she does a high swan dive, then lands on all fours. Silly puppy!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

C-C-C-COLD!

Last night I didn't feel well, the beginning of a cold I guessed. This morning it was SO COLD! The wind was whipping and the temperature was in the upper 30's but the wind chill made it seem colder. I was at the sales table for FMBC, selling admittance tickets for the 1A and 2A marching band competitions all day long. The entrance was shaded by a building and so we stayed really cold, to the point that our fingers were numb, most of the day. The lady that worked with me and I took turns running into the bathroom to put our hands under the warm hand blow-dryer. Around 3PM the sun finally broke over the top of the building and we were able to warm up a bit. I will buy some cheap gloves next year and cut the fingertips off so I can count money. That's my main job, counting all the money, strapping it, totalling... Mark is the door guard, making sure things go smoothly and that we are safe, as we handle a lot of cash.

Being exposed to low temperature and wind all day was baaaaad. I felt increasingly worse, and by the time we left, my throat ached, I had no voice, but a frog's, my nose was running, and my lungs felt like rocks were rattling around in them. My head was swimming. We drove home (it took just over an hour) a little while ago and I am drinking a cup of tea with some Southern Comfort and honey in it. If this doesn't help, well, at least I'll sleep well!

Leigh's funeral was today at 2 and I thought constantly of my friend Pam and wondered how she could even breathe in and out, dealing with such grief.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Viewing

Today was Leigh's funeral viewing. Her casket was open and there were wonderful pictures all around the room that showed what a vibrant and outgoing personality Leigh had. Pam and Ben received guests with both tears and laughter. Yes, it was a very somber and sad time, but there was a lot of laughter and good memories. Pam encouraged everyone to wear pink, which was Leigh's favorite color. Rarely did you see Leigh when she didn't have something pink on. Tomorrow is Leigh's 33rd birthday. Pam and her family wanted to make Leigh's death a celebration of both her life and her re-birth into heaven. Everyone was to wear pink again.

Mark and I had committed to work for Cathy and Jon at the Florida Marching Band Competition in St. Petersburg as we do every year. We will leave around 10PM for the St.Pete hotel, and have to be up and out by 6AM to go to the high school in Bradenton.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pam's Family

Pam is from Jacksonville Beach, but I didn't know her when I lived in Jacksonville. Her mother still lives there. Mother has something wrong with her spine that makes her lose balance and fall, so neck surgery was done last week. She is still in the hospital and Pam has been away from her Apopka home quite a bit to take care of her. Her house has suffered and so I went over to do some chores while Pam and her husband and Leigh's husband took care of funeral plans. Their entire house is tiled and I swept and mopped, cleaned kitchen and bathrooms, and cooked a chuck roast with potatoes, carrots, celery and onion. The gravy came out delicious. Pam knew I was there, but still, it had to be nice when she walked into her home and found scented candles lit and everything sparkling clean and dinner too.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Leigh - such sad news

video
We saw my friend Pam's 32 year old daughter Leigh singing with the Caroling Company yesterday at the Festival of Trees and I took videos and photos of her. Today Pam called to tell me that Leigh had a fatal car accident. I am sharing a short clip of Leigh as she and the company sing a carol. Leigh is the big girl on the end.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Juliet Is So Busy!


Here she is, our baby Juliet. The leaf photo was taken in NC when she was 8 weeks old and weighed 1.5 pounds. Both ears up, now sprouting some silver hair at 12 weeks old and a whopping 2.6 pounds, our little girl is as busy as can be, tearing through the house. Every household item becomes a great toy! This day she chose to play with the bright orange lid from the Spot Shot (carpet cleaning spray) can. Oh she had a ball running blindly up the doggie stairs to the big foot stool with the cup-lid covering her entire fact, then she'd leap a foot across to the couch. After some fun play with the lid, she'd finally drop it over the edge, swan dive off to the floor, then do it all over again!

POOH Quilt Decision Nearly Made!

I decided on this pretty star pattern for the Pooh quilt. It will look so cheery with the bright colors. Imagine replacing the white with the yellow, beige with orange, the dark gray with the checked pooh, fussy cut the centers of the small red stars with cute characters from the solid material (in my hand), and maybe the swirl for the points of those stars and red stripe on edges. Final decisions will be made after I cut out enough for this idea and then lay it all out to see how well it works. If the quilt pattern looks familiar, it should be! I made a large quilt for my son Robert from this same pattern and similar red/blue fabrics.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Voted

Here is a photo of the voting precinct (a church) as we were leaving. The line looks short, but you cannot see the line inside, as well as a cue line that wraps against itself and under the portico. Our neighborhood is loaded with McCain signs and one lone Obama sign. I woke up early this morning and was at the voting precinct by 6:20AM, the twentieth person in line. Mark and Robert joined me within ten minutes, and by then the line wrapped around the building. My next door neighbor was so excited to vote this morning, he wanted to be first in line, so he arrived at 3:30 AM. Little did Chris know he was supposed to wait at the back door, not the front. He was second in line, as the woman in the know would not budge from her place, even though she arrived a full two hours later! Chris was bummed! Needless to say, we all cast our votes and proudly wear "I Voted" stickers. Coffee shops, ice cream shops, donut shops, and who knows what other shops are trading their products for voted stickers. Frankly, I don't want to lose my Vote sticker, as I will wear it proudly on my collar all day. All the high fives will happen tonight at midnight - once McCain wins. I'm thinking fireworks will be in order!

Princess Juliet Octavia

Meet our newest family member, Juliet, born 8-8-08. This photo was taken in early October when she was only 8 weeks old and weighed 1.5 pounds. Juliet is 12 weeks old now, and has gained one whopping pound! She is smart and energetic, loves to romp and jump with a twirl landing. She sees people she loves and her ears go back and she makes that "I love you, love me" face. Charming. She tilts her head when we talk to her. I love that too.

I love having another doglet, and Mark is totally smitten. It is hard to teach a tiny terrier terror tricks, but so far Juliet knows to "sit" and we are working on stay and come. She understands the words "go outside potty" as I say that as we head out the door and also when she is successful. The neighbors must think I'm crazy because we nearly have a party when she does "go outside potty". Lots of cuddles and cheering and repeating those three magical words. Eventually she will respond when I say that to either looking indifferent (a no) or running to the door (that would be yes). I have tried to get her to go to the door on her own and instead she squats when I tell her those words. Eventually she will realize it means GO OUTSIDE and not just go potty anywhere.

Having a puppy again has been a lot more challenging than I remembered from 13 years ago. Still, it has taken the hurt off of losing Kelsey. A few days ago I got misty about missing Kelsey. It sneaks up on me so unexpectedly. I often mistakenly call Juliet Kelsey. They are nothing alike, a good thing.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Clean House

Shuntika just was not dependable and her cleaning was sub-par. I really liked her, but I was paying her to clean, so two weeks ago, I let her go. Today I found Melody in craigslist.org in an ad for home organizers. Oh goodie, a neat-freak organizer that will clean my house each week too! I will meet her tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kelsey

Our darling yorkshire terrier's health continued to decline very quickly. It appeared that Kelsey had a fast-growing brain tumor. Only 3 weeks after her first seizure, I made the difficult decision to have Kelsey put to sleep. The date of her death is September 10, 2008, nine days shy of her 13th birthday. Our home is painfully empty, so our plan is to wait a couple of months, then consider getting another dog.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Jacksonville Zoo

Today was spent at the Jacksonville Zoo with my sister Kat, her daughter Robin and her family. Robin and Keven just moved back home from living in Buffalo, NY for several years. Their sons are just darling, ages 4 and 18 months. The zoo is wonderful, and much much better than Disney's Animal Kingdom. I wish I could go again and again! This photo was taken a week earlier when we had dinner together at a local barbeque restaurant.

Monday, September 8, 2008

My Mother

My mother has been very sick with a lung infection, heart arhythmia, high blood pressure, and extreme weight loss (and she's already thin) from the lung medications, and so I went to my hometown of Jacksonville to spend time taking care of her in the hospital all last week, from Friday to Friday. I stayed at night, my sister Patty stayed during days. On the last day our sister Kat came in town from the Pensacola area and has been a great help. Saturday my dog had several grand mal seizures and I hurried home Sunday to say my last goodbyes to her. What a surprise to find my little dog smiling at me and her little stump-tail wagging! She was very groggy, but recovering. Today is Monday and she is nearly normal...a little senile acting, and her muscle tone is flabby. I took her to the doctor to see what could be done. Kelsey now will take medication twice a day, phenobarbitol. It is a barbituate and makes her seem sleepy, but she will not die from too many seizures! At 1:30 I will leave with my dog and drive back to Jacksonville to continue taking care of my mother and father in their home. Next weekend I will go home for a week, then I will go back for another week. Hopefully by then my mother will have strength to take care of herself.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mark Flies to Houston, Texas

Mark and his friend Kevin are both Snap-On Tools dealers. They have big trucks and drive to auto repair shops in their routes selling tools to mechanics. Kevin's truck is very big and expensive, and he sold it to buy a smaller truck like Mark's - which is still a huge tool truck. Kevin found a used tool truck near Houston, so he and Mark left for the airport this morning at six, flew out to buy it and drive it home, a long long drive in a big, slow tool truck. The truck looked good. A few miles down the road, the air conditioner started acting up. One of the fans didn't work, and the a/c belt broke. The compressor froze up and needs to be replaced. Good thing there are three fans inside the truck to move the warm air. No place to fix this on the weekend, so on they drove. Mark called me just a few minutes ago to tell me that the brake lights don't work, and neither do the driver's dash lights. They use a flashlight to watch the speedometer, making sure they are going fast enough on the expressway. One drives, while the other rests on a fold out chair in the hallway of the truck. Mark says they should be home tomorrow night. They were getting gas and talking about hotels and dinner (at 9:30!) when he called.

Kelsey Dog Had a Stroke, or maybe it was a Seizure

My little doglet will be 13 next month and her age is starting to show. Tuesday she had a haircut and when I picked her up, she started screaming and crying as if she were being hurt, but she wasn't being hurt at all. I held her and she cried out. Her mouth got frothy and she drooled. This is NOT common at all for my dog. I took her straight to the vet, they checked her out and said, well, she may have had a stroke or a seizure. They did a full blood panel and she only had low glucose, which could be because she refused breakfast that day. She was confused, and has remained confused and a little lost since this. Although her eyes are cloudy, she could see okay, but now is totally blind at night, and is terribly afraid of the darkness. She seems to use her nose and ears to get around in daylight, seing only shadows. Kelsey has her days and nights mixed up and cries all night. I get up, take her out, she just stands there in the grass. Kelsey usually sleeps in a little doggie bed on the floor near our bed, but Tuesday and Wednesday nights, she kept getting lost under our bed, or just being afraid and crying for me. I would get her, and she would not want me as badly as she just wanted me only moments before. I took her and forced her to lay on the couch with me so we both could get some sleep. She fought like a madman to get down, the wanted back up almost immediately. I took her to the vet on Friday and they gave her some sleeping pills. OH HEAVEN! Still terrified of being alone in the dark, we gave up and allowed her to sleep with us on our bed near our feet and I got to sleep all night long! She slept so soundly, I checked her a couple of times to be sure she was breathing.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Getting Ready For Fay

A tropical storm is headed this way, and could become a hurricane! David and Audrey enjoyed their first day of school today, but they announced closure on Tuesday and possibly Wednesday, depending on the severity of the storm. Robert's next day is supposed to be Wednesday, so we will just sit tight and see how things go. You can follow the local news on Channel 13. My city of Apopka is in the top (little flag part) of Orange County near Orlando.

Robert and I finished cleaning the interior of the pop up camper today, sweep sweep, mop mop, scrub scrub. It rained like crazy as we worked and we had to close the camper with wet tent material, not something I would recommend, but thar's a hurricane a comin' and we needed to batten down the hatches! As soon as the sun comes back out in a few days, we'll open it back up and dry things out.

I need to go to the grocery store for a gallon of water each, some simple canned food, lunchmeat, mayonaise, fruit, bleach, and paper plates. I also need to go to the hardware store to get something to keep the big wooden gates to our stockade fence closed. We certainly do not need those flying open and closed in the storm!

Kelsey dog, almost 13, is getting more and more disoriented as she ages. Last night, well early morning actually, she woke me up because she got out of her little bed and I heard her (lost) under my bed. I finally got her out and headed her out of our bedroom door, thinking perhaps she needed to go outside. Instead, she made a fast turn into Mark's office and hid under his desk. I coaxed her out, picked her up and carried her outside. Yep, she needed a potty break. This afternoon I got the dog crate down and tonight she will begin sleeping on her bed in the crate, as she did when she was a puppy. I don't mind getting up at night to let the dog out, but squeezing under a bed doesn't fit in my nighttime plans.

School Daze!

I stepped outside this morning to hang a load of clothes and noticed that the neighborhood was certainly quiet today! The four young children next door are no longer playing ball in their front yard, the two boys on the other side of our house are both in middle school now and their pool is empty of them and their buddies.

Even both of my boys were gone today, David and his girlfriend Audrey both going to Winter Park Technical school, Robert gone to orientation at the law school. Nice...

Gobble Gobble

We have a group of 18 turkeys that roam our neighborhood daily. We counted them in our front yard when they were just a group of bitties with two mother hens. This photo was taken with my cell phone as I left my neighborhood a couple of days ago. The babies have grown up so fast! They were scratching for bugs in the park at the front of the neighborhood. Kids have worn down the grass by riding their bikes down the little hill. School is back in, so the grass will once again return.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Trip To Patty's New House

This is my sister Patty's new house. It's so nice, both inside and out. I spent a week with Patty and George, helping her get things in order...well, that's what we were supposed to be doing! It was such a nice visit. I brought my little Kelsey dog along too. Mark drove up, stayed overnight and we went home on Saturday.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Momma's 77th Birthday

One of the reasons I went to Jacksonville was to be with my mother to celebrate her 77th birthday. Patty made mom's favorite, a heavy chocolate cake with pecan/chocolate icing, called a Texas Sheet Cake. Momma was so thrilled with all her goodies. Patty set momma up with a memory card and a case for her Blackberry phone, Kat sent a wonderful assortment of new Mary Kay mineral makeup, and I gave momma a Prada purse (not really, it was either a knock-off or a second), and momma loved it all. We recently watched the movie, The Devil Wears Prada, and we all enjoyed it very much. Momma is growing her hair so it will be the same cut that Meryl Streep wore in that movie, so cute on mom. Momma is diamond Lil with a beautiful new watch and bracelet that daddy got her. If this is what it's like, I can't wait to be 77!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kelsey's Train Trip To Jacksonville

I took the train to Jacksonville to visit my sister. Pets are not allowed on trains, but I reserved a roomette and smuggled my little dog along in my suitcase. She is old and gets upset when I go out of town. The above picture was taken as we waited for the train to arrive. The lower photo is of Kelsey as she enjoyed looking out the window of our little room. The drapes were shut to the hallway, but I had to quickly zip my dog back into hiding when the steward delivered my supper. I gave him a good tip and told him I did not want to be bothered after that, and felt more comfortable allowing Kelsey to leave the suitcase and lay on he seat. We shared my dinner and Kelsey enjoyed watching the buildings go by.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Repair TV/Internet Cable

Our internet and cable reception has been sporatic at best. We have had an appointment for the repairmen to fix everything at the end of this month. I wish it were sooner!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Getaway

Mark and I went to visit a nearby sulpher spring, walked in the water to help heal a staff infection/rash on the top of his right foot. (The doctor saw him mid-week and gave him prescriptions.) The water was clear and icy cold. We left and decided a visit to the beach might also help speed the healing, so we drove to Cocoa, and as we neared, Mark suggested an overnight stay. Oh what fun to get away! We had the clothes we left the house in, a bathing suit, and an extra shirt each, and we rented a room at the timeshare we have a week at each year. The beach was so pretty, the water a little chilly, but we both swam and bodysurfed in the waves. Being unprepared, we had to do a little shopping and got travel sized shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrushes. The only item the timeshare offered was soap. We had barbequed chicken for dinner, then holding hands, walked more on the beach before turning in. In the morning we took another beach walk, keeping in ankle deep water for Mark's foot, and I picked up a lot of shells, pieces of sand dollars in the low tide. We had breakfast, then drove home. I worked at the travel agency today from noon-5PM.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Looking at RVs

Mark and I went looking at RVs yesterday. We liked them, but aren't ready to buy. Two decisions were made: I can live without a washer/dryer in an RV and we will get gas, not a deisel.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Laundry, New Medication, Work

I hung a load of laundry on the clothesline at dusk last night and got chewed up by bugs. They bit me on the scalp, arms and ankles, but I got the laundry up before dark. Except for the mosquitoes and gnats, it was quite enjoyable because I watched two deer wander past my back fence. They were just as curious about what I was doing as it was thrilling to be so close to them, maybe 30 yards away. This morning I waited until the sun had been up for a couple of hours before taking the clothes down and hanging another load up. The heat and humidity had already reached the "rolling sweat" stage. I freshened up and hurried to my rheumatologist's office for an appointment at 11. I haven't been doing very well and so my doctor decided it is time for me to take another biological drug, twice monthly shots called Humira. I'm upset that my arthritis has gotten out of control and concerned about the price of the medication, almost $1700 a month. My insurance will pay all but 33%, which leaves me with over $500 due. The drug company offers some assistance, and besides having to pay more than a car payment each month, I am concerned that I will max out my prescription insurance for the year. I'll know more about the coverage on Monday I guess. Until then, I won't fill the prescription. I have pain medication and no pressing physical chores to do, so I'm alright. After seeing the rheumatologist I went to work for Bonnie at the travel agency from noon until 5:30. I didn't want to go to work, but once there, I was so busy, I forgot about myself. On my way home it started raining cats and dogs! Oh no...the clothes on the line. I wonder if they'll be extra soft after being rained on and then air dried again?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Daytona Beach and didn't see the ocean!

Today I went to Daytona Beach for a medical appointment, just the basic bloodwork and quick doctor checkup at the medical testing facility. It turns out that I developed antibodies from the experimental drug I was given a couple of months ago and they wanted some blood to do medical experiments with. This was my last visit for the rheumatoid arthritis study, but they'll call me if I qualify for any other guinea pig trials.

On my way out of Apopka, I delivered some Mary Kay products to a customer, and two doors down, saw my old friend Sue in her front yard. She was happy to join me on the long drive (an hour each way), and we enjoyed a nice flauta lunch at Tijuana Flats after my bloodwork. This was my first time eating at this restaurant, however on July 4th, I did enjoy the company of the owners, the Wheelers, who are parttime neighbors to our friends, whose second home is also in NC. We all sat together at our friend's fire pit, enjoyed cold drinks and toasted marshmallows while the rest of the crew set off fireworks on the street. Nice people.

Like yesterday, I did more laundry, hung on the line outside, and worked on my Mary Kay stuff that still is being reorganized after being evicted from what was my office and is now once again Robert's room. The camper is also getting some attention. It's hot and I really would rather just stay inside and read. I have an appointment to see my rheumatologist tomorrow, plus I am supposed to work at Bonnie's travel agency.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hot Hot Hot

We pulled out the little camper this weekend and popped it open. It's been sitting for over a year and what a mess! Bugs camped out over the winter and left their calling cards, plus that musty Why haven't you opened me in a year? smell just hits you when you go inside. I made the mistake of announcing my plan to vacuum and sanitize everything, and wash whatever I can snap or zip off, plus air out the mattresses. I stepped outside and the heat and humidity smacked me in the face. You could cut the thick hot air with a knife! Never mind. I didn't do as promised. Maybe tomorrow!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Faker Fish

My little fish is so happy now with his friends the striped danios and the sheepish little ghost shrimp that do all the gravel cleanup. He swims all day and plays hard. He loves his lilly pads and has saddened me several times now, as he is a very heavy sleeper and chooses to lay upon the highest lillypad with half his right gill, eye, and mouth outside of the water with his body hanging loosely in the water. One touch to his body and he is shocked awake and dives into the water, acting disoriented and distressed. You'd think I'd get used to his sleeping style, but it looks like he's floating dead when I get up in the morning. I leave him alone, speak nicely to him and he wakes on his own and flutters free from his plant to begin his day. Sometimes he takes a midday nap this way too.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Rain, Popcorn, and Movies

The laundry was in the dryer, dishes put away, dinner in the crockpot, and what to do?? I had some movies saved on my DVR, so it seemed like the perfect day to veg out and have fun. I watched my favorite, 50 First Dates, and also another Drew Barrymore movie I'd never seen, Music and Lyrics. It was cute, but not as good as 50 First Dates. The popcorn was yummy. The rain made me sleepy, but that's okay, I've seen 50 First Dates about 50 times, so a little mid-movie snooze is alright.

Rain and Green Pool

We have had daily rain, better known as "liquid sunshine" to us Floridians. It rains almost every day here during this time of the year. I like it because the rain cools everything off from the otherwise roasting temps. So in Florida, instead of a dry sauna, we get a steam sauna. Good for the skin! On the other hand, I am missing my clothesline. I can hang a load in the morning but I better not leave home if it starts to rain. It usually starts around noon though. I'm hearing thunder rumbling right now. The rain does cause havoc on the pool water, an unbalance that creates green algae. I will take a water sample to the pool shop today and get the right chemicals to get things right. While there, I need to get a new vacuum hose, expensive I think, as the current one is probably ten years old and has some cracks, letting air in.

I cook every day now that we have a house full of people here most of the time, and I keep a log of what I made in my dinner blog listed below. If there is a new recipe, it'll be added to my Marty's Family Room's Food site (also listed below).

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dinner Party at Del Frisco's

Mark and I were invited to a birthday dinner for the man I work with at VIP Vacations, Bruce, who turned 59. Mark and I went to Costco and bought Bruce a bottle of Franciscan Oakville Cabernet Savignon for $20. We had a nice dinner at Del Frisco's, along with about 20 other friends. Dinner was delicious, but the prices were crazy expensive. Mark had a salad, ribeye steak, and a beer. I had petite (and we're really talking petite here!!) sirloin tips with garlic buttered spaghetti noodles and a glass of water. Total price: $76 plus a $15 tip. We could have made this dinner at home for $20 and I would have gotten some green vegetables with it! All in all, an expensive evening for us. We both had an allergy headache from whatever is blooming and the people at the party weren't my type of people. Young women with old men that had money, a bunch of single women, and I have to say, Mark and I have never seen so much plastic surgery and fake boobs in one room in our lives. One table of 40-ish single women were hooting and hollering, and and one of them sang the Happy Birthday song to Bruce, a la Marilyn Monroe. Nice voice. Mark and I left after dinner and the party continued at Bruce's house. I heard from my friend Bonnie that later that girl pulled up her short dress to show her indecent panties that said something nasty on the front - her gift to Bruce. Bonnie and her husband felt the same as Mark and I did about the people that were there. Bruce has improved, but these are the only people he can attract until he (if he ever) cleans up is own act. It's such a shame too, because Bruce is a nice person. He just must act so obscene when (other) women are around.

Hey There Lonely Boy

My new betta fish, Yul Brenner, seemed so lonely. He just hung around, leaning on his aquarium plant, lovely fins hanging down sadly. I talked to the fish experts online and they suggested that adding other fish is a good idea for a lonely bettas, namely striped danios and ghost shrimp. Mark and I went to Petsmart and bought three ghost shrimp and three danios, which aren't only pleasant fish to bettas, but also the least expensive fish in the store! When we added the new fish to the tank, I fed them very well so nobody would be hungry enough to consider eating their new tankmates. I named the three fish (from largest to smallest) Roger, Ari, and Leena. The ghost shrimp are named Susan, Julie, and Peggy. They all got along swimmingly with Yul Brenner, however I can't account for Peggy, who disappeared overnight. Ghost shrimp are pretty see-through and so he could be hiding, but I am guessing she may have become a meal to a piggy fishy. Yul Brenner is perky and seems much happier. He even comes to the front of the aquarium when I stop for a visit.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mom! The toilet's backing up into the shower...

I called the septic tank folks yesterday to set up an appointment to have our septic tank drained. The receptionist asked me when I'd like to have them come by..."Now?" Ok, so I took the next available appointment at 8 AM this morning. This is only the second time in 21 years that we've had to have it drained, and I am happy to announce that our septic system is now empty and healthy for the price of $265. Each month I flush a little packet of yeast into the toilet, and the man told me this is why we've had such luck with our septic tank. It's strange to admit it, but I am excited to get to do laundry after a day of wishing for the huge pile of dirty clothes, towels and sheets to disappear, but we couldn't add more water to the overflowing septic tank.
I went to the grocery store for the first time in over three weeks, and spent $250 for less than two weeks' worth of meat, fresh fruit and vegetables, canned and dry goods, toilet paper, and large jug of bleach to scrub down the shower floor. My grocery bill has grown since Robert moved home. It is not uncommon to have six people at our table for dinner. Robert likes to bring leftovers to work for lunch and so I make sure to have enough for his extra meal when I cook. Dinner tonight was yummy.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Dark Eyed Junco Babies, Day 2

And then there were three! I reached my camera into the hanging plant while the parents fussed and dive-bombed me. Needless to say, the baby pictures will probably always be fuzzy, but we can see here that there are three little baby birds, with the last one freshly hatched! I sent copies of the adult bird to the local audubon society and they verified that our little birds are Dark Eyed Juncos, formerly known as the Slate Colored Junco.

Monday, June 30, 2008

We Have A Birds Nest!

When leaving our house yester-day, a bird
rushed from the plant that is hanging from the corner of our house! A closer look today and I noticed mom and papa birds coming and going. Once they were away from the nest on a food run, I took a quick, but blurry photo of the babies - two teeny tiny birds and an egg. The egg looked about the size of a dime. Momma came back I got her picture before going back inside. What kind of bird is this?
The hanging plant is fake (silk) because we are not here year-round to take care of a real plant.












Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Alone and Loving It!

Here we are before my sisters and mother left me here at my mountain house with a kitchen full of NutriSystem food and no car. I have great neighbors so I'm pretty comfortable and not frightened to be solo. I've been washing sheets, towels and rugs, filling out student loan stuff online for the boys, and lots of fun things like rooting mandevillas, sweet roses, and raspberry plants. I have some petunias and impatients to plant and I need to weed like crazy, so I am not bored at all. Two neighbors have offered to bring me with them to Boone while they run errands, which sounds great to me (I need a new kitchen trash can). I have a couple of girlfriends coming over tomorrow night for dinner and that should be fun too. All that and a busy hummingbird feeder and popular bird seed feeder to gaze at as well!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

NC - Painting Pottery

There was a big storm here last week with baseball sized hail. The house is fine, all windows are okay, just lots of leaves that look glued to the stairway bannister outside and our hostas (plants) are pretty beat up. Not a flower to be found, and this week is supposed to be the peak of rhododendron blooming season. We do, however, have chips and pieces of roof shingles all around the house. This morning a roofing man came over to view the roof and he told us that we do need a new roof. This afternoon an adjuster from our insurance company was supposed to come by (I have no idea if they did or not) and they'll make the executive decision on whether or not we will be covered for a new roof. If we are allowed a new roof, we first must pay a $500 deductible and the insurance pays the rest for the same roof as we currently have. We plan to pay additional money to upgrade from a tar architectural shingle roof to a dark green tin roof.

Momma, Kat, Patty and I drove to Boone to see a movie and go to a pottery studio to paint something for each of us. On the way, we ate lunch at Sunrise Diner, then we went to the painting place, and we each chose something...Momma chose a small footed bowl and painted strawberries in it. Kat made a pretty celebration plate with a beach scene, Patty made four coaster tiles - one for herself, her boyfriend, her son, and a guest, and I made a covered butter dish. Momma decided we all had to have a small tile and so she made one for her and daddy, Kat made one for herself, and I made one for Mark. Everything looked so pretty! The shop owner will dip each piece in glaze and fire them in the kiln, then we pick them up on Saturday. We were exhausted when we left and decided a movie was out of the question.

After we ate a quick dinner of Mandarin Chicken Salads at Wendy's, we went straight to Lees McRae College in Banner Elk to see a play, Southern Voices. What a wonderful pleasure! We are now home. Patty is in bed, Kat and momma are playing the little digital game, 20 Questions, and I will soon be in bed. Maybe Kat and I will play a game of Scrabble first.

NC - Valle Crucis

We lazed around until lunch, had hot dogs with slaw, then we drove to Valle Crucis where we went to the old Mast General Store, the Mast Annex store, and Candy Barrel. We each picked out some old fashioned candy, and momma got us each a pretty shirt from the sale rack. It was Mast's 125th anniversary and they had a celebration with a bluegrass band, vegetables, fruit and dips, cold drinks, cake, and other yummy things. Momma and I danced. From there, we went to walk a labyrinth. This was a different type of labyrinth, made by cutting the hayfield into the design, but the labyrinth was overgrown and too narrow, so we decided not to walk it. My sister Patty called her 18-year old son, just to check in, and he had just had a car accident. He was not injured, but his truck rolled over and it is totalled. The truck that hit him was totalled too, and that driver wasn't injured either. I'm sure both of them will feel sore.

We went home, Patty and I ate some candy and played a game of Scrabble. Patty has such a good vocabulary, it was a real surprise that I won 270 to 235.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

North Carolina

Yep, after a long drive yesterday with many leg stretch and potty stops, we are here in Beech Mountain, NC. It is beautiful, and the company is great! We watched 3 movies: Hairspray, The Devil Wears Prada, and Shrek. Momma had never seen any of them, and Patty and Kat had not seen one or two of them yet. We all talk SO MUCH, I had to rewind the movie many many times so we could catch it all. Momma loved Meryl Streep's hair in the Prada movie, and she decided after a little hair growth, she could fix her hair that way. We paused that movie each time another angle of her hair was shown and paused so we could get a good look.

We stayed home all day, relaxed, and watched the sun set.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Mark and I ran errands yesterday, including a stop at the AT&T Warranty Repair place. What a treat, the man that waited on me took pity (probably the splint had something to do with it) and replaced my Blackberry with a brand new one. I kept the same SIM and memory cards, but I'm afraid some of the info I had didn't stick, like second phone numbers of most of my contacts. That's okay, I'm just so happy to have a perfect phone again.

Mark painted the baseboards white (on sawhorses on the back porch) and we installed the new toilet in the boy's bathroom last night, They won't be using ours anymore, yay. We are working on installing the vanity and sink tonight, and maybe cutting and installing the baseboards.

I recently read the nicest quote, 'The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.' ~St. Augustine. Tonight at 10:30 I pick my sister Kat up from a little airport just north of here, in Sanford. She and I will then drive to our other sister, Patty's new Jacksonville home. We are all so excited, as Monday morning us three girls will drive across town, say hello to our dad and then take our mother for the four of us to drive to my North Carolina mountain home for a "girl week". We have never done this before and are looking forward to a relaxing week of doing only girly things.

It is dinner time, and we are having steaks and pork ribs for dinner in honor of my husband, the wonderful father of our sons.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Blam!

While on the home telephone to see if I could get my wonderful red Blackberry Curve 8310 mobile phone insured (insurance has just become available), and clumsy me with the big splint on my hand, I dropped the home phone into my lap ONTO my Blackberry and shattered the screen. The end result was, my phone was purchased in February before insurance was allowed and you have to insure the phone within 30 days, which was impossible at the time, so I am plain out of luck. I am going to the local AT&T phone center this afternoon to see if they can help.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

David and Computer School

David signed up at Winter Park Technical School last week. He took some tests and did well, so he was accepted in the Computer Tech program and orientation for classes will be in August. This morning David asked me to go with him to the Vocational Rehab office or an appointment. He told his counselor that he is signed up at the VoTech, and because of his interest in computers, they will try to place David in an evening computer job so he can attend classes full-time during the day. David is 21 and is anxious to move out of our house. It is his hope that he can make enough money to pay $200 a month to rent a room in a friend's (nice) house, about 3 miles away from home. I like this friend a lot.

Splint Revision

Today is day 9. To see the new straps easily, this photo is taken without my arm sock on. Typical for a new splint, I was having some trouble with pressure points. The bone on the side of my arm was becoming red and sore, and the bulging artificial joint in my ring finger was making a dent in the newly fused area of my long finger. Can't have that! Instead of driving an hour to the OT clinic at the doctor's Celebration location, they allowed me to go to a satellite clinic at the RDV Sports Complex in nearby Maitland. What a delight to be seen by my "original" therapist from over ten years ago, Sylvia. The last time I saw Sylvia was about five years ago, and she was single with a new puppy. Now the dog is mature, she's married and has a 13-month old daughter. Sylvia is a genius with splints, and she not only made it comfortable, but she also removed the zillions of pieces of velcro from the back of it and simplified the straps. The new straps are much cooler and I'm not sticking to everything my splint comes in contact with. Sylvia called the doctor and told him my stitches were ready to come out, so she was able to save me a trip to Celebration tomorrow and took the stitches out. This is not painful and my fingers feel the same as they did before the stitch removal.

Bathroom Renovation

These two photos were taken from the bathroom doorway at almost the same angle. I only wish I had taken a picture before we removed the wallpaper and vanity. Mark has replaced moldy drywall, replaced the 4"x6" tile with 12"x12" tiles, and is ready to paint the walls, seal the floor grout, paint and cut new baseboards, install new toilet, vanity, sink, mirror and lights. This should all be finished by Saturday aftenoon. Later, Mark plans to have the bathtub resurfaced with white enamel and then he will re-tile the walls with the same as the floors, but at an angle. After I took this picture, I decided to paint the wall behind the toilet. Mark will install the toilet tonight, and so later we won't have to work so hard to get that part painted in such a small space.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Robert Moved Home

It was a big Sunday...Rented a small U-Haul truck, and my cleaning lady, her boyfriend, Robert, and I worked hard organizing and packing up. Mark stayed home to work on tiling the second bathroom and David didn't want to help. Being one-handed, I couldn't do too much, but my wallet sure was emptied! I did work hard cleaning the stove and fridge, plus I had to pick through Robert's kitchen stuff for things David may need when/if he moves out. Both boys start school in August, so it will probably be another year before David finishes computer tech school, and two and a half years for Robert to become an attorney.

So far, so good with the boys. At 21 and 24, they get along well. Every night Robert has moved a bunch of stuff from the huge pile of his belongings that temporarily occupies my family room into his bedroom. One day things will be back to normal. Robert is now tidy and even makes his bed, fills the dishwasher, etc. Things have changed alot since he moved out at age 17. I have been noticing tht David has become neater as he grows older too.

1 Week Post-Op

Today my friend Cathy took me to the hand
surgeon for my one-week check up. It is still pretty swollen from the surgery and not healed enough for suture removal, that will instead be on Friday, but I did get this pretty blue splint. I have to wear it all the time, except when bathing. We had lunch on
the way home in historic old Winter Garden.
I had a sandwich and fries, yummy.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Day 3 - Driving

Here I am with the big cast. It looks like a club. My two fingers keep twitching involuntarily. It doesn't hurt at all, in fact the last pain pill I took was last night. My hand surgeon wants to have a look, so I will drive myself. It's an hour each way and nobody else is available to take me.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Surgery Day Rain

Riding home from the surgical center yesterday, Mark and I noticed rain pouring from distant dark clouds. Through the fog of anesthesia only a couple of hours before, I was able to get this shot from my Blackberry cell phone. In the foreground are fields and fields of citrus trees. There were three seperate rain clouds like this, all in different directions, but no rain to relieve this draught-stricken area. I was a little groggy, but my hand was still pretty numb from an anesthesia pain block.

Monday, June 2, 2008

DC, Cocoa Beach, Home

That itchy throat turned into a full-fledged cold, just in time for a week of tour-guiding in Washington, DC. I coughed and hacked and sniffed my way through the museums and on the final day of the trip, I felt much better. The group was nice and the hotel was so pretty. Once home, I had the two appointments in Daytona Beach on Thursday morning. First I had a MUGA scan, where they irradiate some of my blood, put it back in me and then perform a scan of my heart to see how the blood pumps through. All this because I have a heart murmur, mitral valve prolapse. After that appointment, I had the final bloodwork and exam from the arthritis medicine trial that I was a part of. The appointments were over at 1PM and I hurried to south of Orlando for an appointment in Celebration with my hand surgeon. He decided to fuse only my long finger and thumb, not the ring finger. This all happens tomorrow morning. I'm fine with it all, but the thought of the incredible pain I'll be in makes me a little queazy.
I worked for seven hours today at the travel agency. Lots to do to prepare them for a group cruise in Alaska. I got home, flushed the toilet and the tube that brings water from the wall to the tank broke, spewing water all over the place. I turned the water off at the wall and Mark will have to fix this tomorrow after I get back from the hospital.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Preparation

Robert's room is finished. Green walls and the white trim and door are dry, a new doorknob that locks, a new bed. My desk stays in the room, and he'll add some bedroom furnishings. He has most of his stuff advertised for sale on Craigslist. Moving day will be in a couple of weeks. He still has a lot of stuff...guitars, amplifier, all his stuff he's collected over the last six years away from home. The furniture is all sold, and he's saving kitchen stuff for when David moves out.

David is using our bathroom for a while. His bathroom is the same, no vanity or sink, and lots of work ahead. Mark plans to pull up the old tile today or tomorrow night. He's busy...beach week starts this Saturday and I won't be home to organize packing for a week at the beach. I have a list. I return from Washington late on Tuesday, then Wednesday morning I have my final doctor's appointment and MUGA heart scan at 9:30 AM in Daytona Beach (an hour north of Apopka) for the medical research thing I did for rheumatoid arthritis. After that appointment, I have to turn around and drive to south Orlando to my hand doctor's office at 2:00 PM in Celebration, FL(1 1/2 hours south of Daytona) for a pre-op appointment. I can't believe I'll have my fingers fixed in a couple of weeks! After that, I drive to Cocoa Beach (an hour east of Orlando) and hope to arrive there by dinner for relaxation until Sunday.

Today I have to work for my friend Bonnie at her travel agency. She has a group going to Alaska and I do all the final details. Then I have to drive to south Orlando to pick up my package of stuff for the tour group I will meet on Saturday morning. They're a performing high school band from Missouri. I leave tomorrow morning for Washington, DC. I wish I was leaving later in the day, but that's what my office booked me for. It will be a lonely day, but maybe this is what I need after such a hectic week. Did I mention that Mark has a cold? My throat is scratchy...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Home Renovations


Mark and I have been to Home Depot and Lowe's alot lately. We are renovating the boys' bathroom from the floor up. The wall tile around the tub, tub, sink and toilet are all a creamy beige color, very popular 20 years ago. The floor tile is old and ugly and we will replace the small floor tiles with 12"x12" Texas Beige tiles. David peeled off the ancient blue striped and lighthouses wall paper in anticipation of painting the walls, probably creamy beige to match the wall tiles around the tub. We hope to have the bathtub refinished in white to match the new toilet. We decided to get a white vanity. We like this one a lot, but we don't have to make a final decision until the floor is tiled. Not sure yet about what sort of vanity top and sink will go in. I think I'll take off the glass shower enclosure and hang up a shower curtain instead. I may make one with a window valance to match. So far we have the walls nearly ready to paint, the old vanity removed, and tiles to lay, and the rest are all plans we need to complete. We might get paint and paint tonight, then tile tomorrow night. The picture shows boxes sitting where the vanity used to be. They contain what used to be held in the vanity.

Friday, May 16, 2008

iGoogle, do you?

Do you have iGoogle? I like having it as my homepage when I open Explorer. In my iGoogle I have the weather for my city as well as some cities where family lives, a To Do list, a clock and calendar, and just for the fun of it, something called Today's Reason To Drink. I am totally in love with Google Talk, where I can talk to my sons, their girlfriends, and occasionally my mother. I wish the rest of the family would join in. You can add a wide variety of stuff to your page, but my most favorite part of my iGoogle page is the weekly New York Times Crossword Puzzle. I just love how it offers the hint by just clicking in the spot where the word will go, and I really like the check your answer feature. I have completed and cleared the puzzle daily and am waiting for Monday, when the new puzzle will appear. Monday seems like a million puzzles away! I wish for a new puzzle each day.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hand Surgery


I saw my hand surgeon a few weeks ago and the outlook is grim. Because of rheumatoid arthritis, I have had six artificial joints in my hands, along with a handful (haha) of other finger and hand operations. Dr. Rubin will fix my right hand first, on June 3rd to be exact. Currently I have an artificial joint in the second joint of both my long finger and my ring finger. Those will be removed and instead, my fingers will be fused (not together). The bones in those two fingers are too fragile to handle another artificial joint. The second joint in my thumb will also be fused. Thumbs don't hold artificial joints well. There are three great things about this surgery, 1) God blessed me with really long fingers, so if they are shortened a little, it won't be too strange looking, 2) fused joints don't require occupational therapy afterwards as there are no joints to bend, and 3) I won't have pain after they're healed.


Probably at the end of summer, once I'm recovered from the right hand surgery and I'm out of splints and capable, I will schedule left hand surgery. Pinkie fusion in the tip and middle joints, and my thumb's second joint. Like thumbs, the smallest finger doesn't hold an artificial joint well. The two original artificial joints at the base of my pointer and longest fingers are both aged and ruptured, so they will be replaced with new ones, as well as the same joint in my ring finger. I've never had surgery on that finger, and I'm a little sad to see this happen, but x-rays show it clearly, my cartilage is completely gone and the bone is disintegrating. No wonder it hurts! After this surgery, I'll have weeks and weeks of occupational therapy, and this is the part I dislike the most.


Both surgeries will be done in Dr. Rubin's new outpatient clinic, just upstairs from his office located next door to the hospital in Celebration, FL. Have you ever seen the way-too-perfect neighborhood in Celebration? Something about this strikes me as really creepy, like the Stepford Wives will appear with a platter of cookies from around each corner. Disney built as a planned idyllic community and to me it seems as plastic and fake as The Truman Show. BUT the doctors and hospital are great there, and that's what's important.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New Clothesline



It is a warm, breezy day and our backyard is so nice, I look for things to wash, just so I can enjoy time outdoors. Squirrels barked at me the whole time I was outside, but they couldn't outchatter the birds! I washed the quilt I made for Mark's birthday in 2005. After a few baby quilts, this was the first big quilt I made and he loves it. When it is not drying on our new clothesline, it hangs from the back of Mark's favorite chair. This quilt is appropriately named Picnic In The Recliner.