Monday, March 31, 2008

Mindset and 13

Since I've been home so very, very, VERY much lately, I have spent more time with Kev, Sammy, and Joycie when she's here... because whenever they're home, I'M AT HOME, TOO. Spending more time with them has been the silver lining during my cloudy days.

Lately, I've noticed that I tend to take for granted that Sammy knows about things that I know about, only he doesn't... Such as recently when I mentioned a dimestore... and about five minutes later, Sammy asked what a dimestore was. I believe when he heard me say "dimestore" that he didn't relate it to money, but instead was trying to figure out what kind of stuff would be sold there. So I explained it was kind of like my generation's version of the Dollar Store.

Sometimes, Sam's questions crack me up. Yesterday he saw a sign advertising cantaloupe. We were in the car, and he turned to me and asked, "what kind of animal is a cantaloupe?" Huh? What?!... It took me a second, but I figured it out... Sam's Aunt Janet and Uncle Bob are going on a trip to Africa this year, and he's confused antelope with cantaloupe. I explained that a cantaloupe is a wonderful, orange melon and an antelope is an animal from Africa that's similar to our whitetail deer, only smaller and faster. After about 5 minutes and another mile or so down the road, he turned to me and said, "they shouldn't make the names so similar, it's too confusing." I got a good laugh out of that one. (Which I'm seriously hoping was his intent.)

Sam is 13 years old, and that's an interesting age. He's smart, gets straight A's and truly seems more mature for his age than some of his peers. He's also physically more advanced that some of his peers, being one of the bigger boys. He's tall and strong... he loves pointing out now that he's taller than me, and Kevin loves getting his help with woodcutting. Watching Sammy grow and grow up is wonderful for both Kev and I, and for Joycie, too. Some of the things that come out of his mouth, and some of the things he does.... from one end of the scale to the other!

For example, in February, in a haze, I paid our Verizon bill (online, as usual), and I noticed it was way more than it should have been, but I paid it and moved on. I suppose that's what I did, my recollection is dim. But the other day, being a great deal more alert, I freaked when I saw the bill. Turns out Sammy's friend, Morgan, does not have Verizon service, and it turns out Sammy thought the evenings (as in "free evenings and weekends" calling) with Verizon started at 7pm. They don't, they start at 9pm. With my being home and sometimes receiving and making so many calls during the day, usually using my cell phone because I'd be paying long distance charges on the land line or because the number was conveniently coded into my cell, or whatever... and then with Sammy's many, many conversations on his cell with Morgan, we went way over our 1,400 "anytime" minutes. Way over. Texting to Morgan was a hit, too.

We've been with Verizon for years and years, so I called 'em... long story, short, they rock. I did have to upgrade to a new plan for a few more bucks per month, but they credited me practically all the overage charges for the past 2 months. Whew. Bonus... all 4 of our phones now have unlimited texting, that includes pics & vids!

I've been having fun texting my kids. It'll be especially handy with Joycie on the road to Florida. I'm looking forward to the pics!

Last night, while Kev and I were watching "Ax Men" on the History channel (awesome show, by the way), Kev paused the TV, turned to me and said, "You know, you were right. Now that Sam has a TV in his bedroom, we're never gonna see him." Since I was the only one in our family opposed to the TV's in bedrooms idea, I dearly wanted to say back to him, "No shit, Sherlock!" But I didn't. Instead I texted Sammy. I told Sam don't even think about asking for a mini-fridge.

Sammy texted me back with a great message. A very mature message that made my heart heat up with pride. Earlier that evening, Morgan broke up with Sammy over AIM. Well, since they were never officially going out, I guess she couldn't officially break up with him. Anyway, Sam came downstairs and told me about it. I couldn't tell how he felt, whether he was upset or not, and then he mentioned they hadn't been getting along that great recently. During their phone conversations. Because that was really all the relationship could consist of... phone calls, texting and IMing. Because Morgan's mother had forbidden her to have a boyfriend. Then Sam didn't really want to talk about it; he wanted to go upstairs to his bedroom. Where he talked about it with his friends on his cell & AIM, and texts.

It has bothered me a great deal this whole time he was "going out" with her, and I explained to him that what Morgan was doing was flat out lying to her mother. And I told him that Morgan was making Sammy a liar, too... I had decided not to forbid Sammy to "go out" with Morgan because, officially, he couldn't "go out" with her. I let him know, though, that Morgan's duplicity with her mother was something I felt was just plain lousy, and Wrong.

I'd prefer if Sammy and his friends would all just lay off the going out thing, but you can't stop it. Nowadays, the "going out" starts in 5th grade... 5th grade! By my reckoning, though, "going out" is more of a communication thing, as in whoever you're going out with, that's the person you probably text the most.

So anyway, Sammy's text back to me was about how he was super ok with breaking off with Morgan, because he was sick and tired of the lying thing and of having a girlfriend he couldn't really see outside of school, couldn't do anything with... Not that my 13-year-old son would go on an actual "date," but it was more that everyone knew Morgan's mom wasn't letting her have a boyfriend, so Sammy was like a pseudo boyfriend. I'm happy and proud to report that it bothered him; he told me I was right. Going out with her behind her mother's back was wrong, and he didn't like it.

Then later, when Sammy came downstairs hungry, and I was making him fried eggs for a toasted fried egg sandwich, Sammy asked if he could have a mini-fridge for his bedroom. Ha!

Sometimes it is strange to think of the context in which Sammy has been raised versus my childhood. Like my family's once-per-week trip to town (oh, boy!) for groceries. Having 3 or 4 TV stations. Telephones all had cords, and we had a party line. Everyone once in a while, like with the dimestore question, I realize how much I take for granted.

I enjoy those lists that Beloit College puts out and everyone e-mails to everyone, at least all us old farts do... The Beloit College Mindset List that lists the things incoming freshman have always known or not known. The lists are a major slap of reality!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Today is my Dad's 78th birthday. I took this photo of Dad and my nephew, James, yesterday, when they were hamming it up for the camera for me...

James, Sr. and James, III. Cuties, both.

And here's James, Jr... Jim and Sue holding a jug of maple syrup they've made. They brought some up for all of us, and it's good!!!

Joycie and Mike made it safely to the Detroit airport this afternoon, and then early this evening, they landed safely in Florida. Mike's grampa and gramma have probably already picked them up at the airport there. I've asked Joycie to send me pic messages from her cell phone each day, and today she sent sent me one while they were driving down to Detroit... she's wearing one of Mike's hats that she's taking down for when they go fishing...

My gorgeous gal!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sunny climes

Or, as Sammy would no doubt call it, where everybody but me is going... South.

This is Spring Break for Sammy, and also for Mike... but not for Joycie. We are staying home, of course, for this Spring Break. Kev had briefly contemplated maybe he and Sammy going somewhere, but you know... money, money. More precisely, the lack thereof. I'm remembering the four hundred bucks we just spent on 28 pills. (I just can't get over that!)

Mike, though, got an invitation, and then he invited Joycie... so even though she has classes all next week, my organized and intelligent girl devised a way to join Mike for a week in Florida, visiting his paternal grandparents. They live somewhere near Sarasota, which I only just now discovered is on the Gulf side, so I hope they see some gorgeous sunsets. Possibly even some romantic ones, even if it is at Gramma and Grampa's house.

I'm sure they'll love being in the sun, at the beach, walking in the hot sand, walking the shore, looking for shells and hopefully sea glass (because I'd like some brought home to me!), and most of all, spending the whole week together. Mike mentioned fishing, too. Sounds like he really loves visiting his grandparents in Florida, and I could tell he is looking forward to sharing the experience with Joycie.

And getting some sun...


Sometimes, trying to find information on the Internet leads one into a mind-boggling jumble of and an overwhelming feeling of WTF?!!...

Meet my new, little friend, Zyvox. Linezolid, aka Zyvox, is a relatively new drug made by Pfizer (well, really, I think I read somewhere in my 'net travels that it's made by Pharmacia & Upjohn... but that's owned by Pfizer). This pill is what has recently replaced Vancomycin for me. You see, over the past few weeks, each dose I took of vanco made me feel increasingly more ill. The next dose would pick up where the last dose left off, and I wouldn't know if the sick-feeling jump would be a baby step or big leap... that is, sometimes I would feel just as sick as the previous dose, other times, it'd be like a punch in the face. I spent quite of bit of time laying on the sofa, and I'm sorry to admit, bawling. That shit really started doing a number on me. I had to take vanco twice each day, and there were some moments when the dose was due, that I'd sit there at our dining room table staring at the little end of the tubing that I had to screw into my PICC line to start the vanco... I'm proud to say that I did not ever skip a dose, but there were moments where I felt like I would rather go through labor and delivery again than screw that tubing into my PICC line. I think it would have been easier to have someone else do it, but that's not how it works. Then when I think about cancer patients, and others, who have chemo treatments over and over, knowing what it will do to them, how sick they'll get, I would feel foolish over my little vanco pity party. *sigh*

I had appointments with both my doctors this past Thursday afternoon. First I saw Dr. Abter, the Infectious Diseases specialist. Dr. Abter is from India or Pakistan or somewhere like that, and he has a strong accent. He's very tall and has a very dignified bearing, yet when I talk with him, I feel strongly that he cares about me and curing me. As soon as I started to tell him about the progressive sick feeling with each dose of vanco, he interrupted me and asked how good was my medical insurance. Long story short, the remaining 12 days or so of vanco that I had to take would continue to make me ill, likely very ill. I don't think I could handle vanco another 12 days. Dr. Abter told me to stop the vanco, and he prescribed Zyvox, an antibiotic to finish the job the vanco started, and I take 2 pills each day, 12 hours apart. There were a great many phone calls about my prescription for this... turns out, it is a very expensive drug. I have good insurance, and my share of the cost of 28 pills was $388.38. I believe my insurance paid about $2,000. For 28 pills. Oy.

I still have my PICC line because I still must take my evening dose of Invanse via IV. Officially, my last day of taking these drugs is April 8th. If all goes well (blood test results), I will be able to get the PICC line removed around April 15th.

I took my first Zyvox pill Thursday evening. I had read the information provided by Wal-Greens with the prescription Thursday evening. Unfortunately, Kevin and I read that after we had our dinner, which included aged cheese. I also took the pill and did the dose of Invanse at the same time... I'm not sure if it was just the cheese or also the timing with the Invanse or something else I ate that day, but Thursday evening, I was really sick. And worried that I had just spent almost four hundred bucks on 28 pills that I wasn't going to be able to handle. Not a fun night.

This morning I took my 4th Zyvox. Within a short time I began to feel ill. So I decided to follow Kevin's advice, given several times yesterday, and look it up on the World Wide Web. I immediately learned that with Zyvox, one should avoid eating foods containing tyramine. Thus began my gallimaufry of Internet research today.

I learned that eating foods with tyramine while taking Zyvox can increase one's blood pressure to dangerous levels. It's not only the tyramine, but one should avoid those foods and beverages that naturally increase blood pressure, like coffee and Mt. Dew. Since I have hypertension, and I've been taking medication for it for a few years, I am, of course, concerned about how Zyvox and my food and beverage intake can affect my blood pressure.

I discovered that tyramine is a natural substance formed from the breakdown of protein as food ages. The chemical tyramine appears naturally in a variety of foods, especially those that are aged and those containing a large amount of yeast.

I found many sites listing foods and food types to avoid (one site even contained rancid meat in the list of foods not to eat... !). I did find helpful information on various sites, but the info I found was like this:

Foods that are riper or have been longer standing tend to have higher tyramine content than fresh or freshly-prepared foods. Thus a piece of fruit that is fresh and firm may be well tolerated, but a ripe or especially over-ripe piece of the same food may provoke a serious reaction. Furthermore, bacterial action on protein sources such as meat and soy products can cause an increase in the food's tyramine levels. In summary, the caution regarding foods high in tyramine is that firm and fresh is more likely to be safe than over-ripe or over-exposed to potential bacterial overgrowth.

or this:

Avoid eating or drinking large amounts of foods and beverages containing tyramine while taking linezolid. These foods and beverages include alcoholic beverages, especially beer, Chianti, and other red wines; alcohol-free beer; cheeses (especially strong, aged, or processed varieties); sauerkraut; yogurt; raisins; bananas; sour cream; pickled herring; liver (especially chicken liver); dry sausage (including hard salami and pepperoni); canned figs; avocados; soy sauce; turkey; yeast extracts; papaya products (including certain meat tenderizers); fava beans; and broad bean pods.

Good to know... but... please, just give me a damn list of foods not to eat when taking Zyvox, Internet!

Then I found this site. Sometimes when you talk to the Internet, it hears you.

So... this morning Kevin and I together drank almost 2 pots of coffee, and then we each had a nice, big bowl of Raisin Bran Crunch. Also sitting on the end table near my recliner are a couple of left-over Valentine's Day heart-shaped Lindor chocolate truffles, and I ate one of those with my last cup of coffee.

Then I took my morning pill of Zyvox. Not too long after, I began to feel unwell. I went to the "TeleHealth" machine that is provided by the home nursing company which is used to send my vitals each morning to them, and I checked my BP... 158/97. Yes, indeed, I felt like crap. Today I will prepare a list of foods I like and have in my fridge, freezer & pantry that I can eat.

My appointment with Dr. Adams, the neurosurgeon, went very well, also. I can discontinue use of the collar... not only can, but should. I can drive my car. I can work from home as much as I am able. I can now lift up to 10 pounds. Still many things I cannot do and must be careful about, but things look good. No signs of fluid pockets. The incision is looking ok, a couple of places to watch, but so far so good. Here is a link to today's photo of my incision for those interested. It's healing well, and my hair is really growing back.

I am still home-bound for the duration of the antibiotics, and basically until the PICC line is out. Dr. Adams wants me to limit my ventures out into the general public until my next appointment with him, which is May 5th. I'll have blood tests and x-rays on that day, and then he said he would discuss with me my return to work date. I told him I thought I could perhaps begin going into the office once my PICC line was out, but he won't approve it. After all this, and after all the stories I've been reading this morning on the 'net about fighting infections, I'm following his advice To The Letter. These antibiotics are pretty major, and I'm going to do everything I can to not cause a relapse. I want my life back.

Oh, by the way, I finally did discover the exact infection I got; it's staphylococcus epidermidis. Again, mind-boggling 'net research, but I did find this web page on the CDC web site that I found interesting and almost understandable.

It's so crazy that when I went in for surgery on January 18th, I thought I'd be back at work in the office at the latest by March 1st. Here it is almost April. This has been definitely one of life's curve balls for me. But I also realize how lucky I've been.

So now my hopes are pinned on May 5th. Celebratory plans are already being made. Not to jinx it or anything, but my sister, Kathy, told Kev when it's all over, we're taking a night out and living it up. Doubt we'll paint the town red, but definitely I'm going to be eating some cheese and drinking some alcohol!!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Good-bye to the Rodeo

One of the decisions we made during our discussion about Joycie moving back home (as soon as her apartment lease is up) was to sell the adorable, yet major gas-guzzling Isuzu Rodeo for a more gas-conscious car. Since Mike knows tons about vehicles, he and Joycie jumped right on it, and they began looking. We wanted a nice used car with hopefully less than 80,000 miles on it, something not too small so I would feel better about all her M-20 and highway driving. Mike's dad, Mickey, told us about a good used car at Roger McIntosh Chevrolet way over in Linwood... from our house, that's about an hour drive. As I'm an the sole owner of the Rodeo (only my name is on the title), I had to go to the dealership also. (Which is ok as far as my "home-bound" requirement goes... because I talked with the nurse about having to go to the Secretary of State's office to get my new driver's license that's due this year, and she said if I have to go out to sign legal documents or stuff like that, it's ok.) Anyway, Mickey was right, they had a beautiful 2005 Impala in great condition. One owner, a single mom, who put a lot of highway miles on it taking her son to his moto-cross (?) meets. It has about 70,000 miles on it. It also has a hitch, because she had a small trailer for the bike. The Impala is a V-6, and Mike said it could easily handle a trailer. The woman took great care of the car, and it shows. The interior is really clean and looks almost new... in fact, the back seat looks brand new, coz I don't think they ever used it. The dealership put new tires and brakes on it, and they detailed it, also.

It's beautiful! It's that "Laser Blue Metallic" color that changes from dark blue to purple, depending on the light. It's bright. At the dealership, Kev was talking about our vehicles now that we own, and he determined that Joycie should drive my 2002 LeSabre while I should get the nicer, newer 2005 Impala. Joycie has never done well hiding her emotions, and you should've seen the look on her face! Though it does seem strange that my 19-year-old daughter is driving a much nicer, more valuable car than what I drive, I have no desire to give up my LeSabre. Or to drive a brilliantly colored car that screams, "look at me! look at me!" Joycie was super relieved and hugged me Big Time.

As I signed all the many, many documents for transferring titles and plates, my Vicodin started to wear off. We still made time to stop at "Judy's Famous Pies" which was just down the road. We did this on Mike's suggestion, and if he hadn't went on and on about how wonderful Judy's pies were, we wouldn't have stopped... from the outside, it doesn't look much like a place that would have food I'd want to eat. But the inside was very nice and smelled heavenly. And oh! the pies! I have no words to do the pies justice, and I didn't have my camera. If you are ever near Linwood, go there; 11 South Huron Road. Don't go to Rosie's Pies & Bakery, which is further down Huron Road, go to Judy's. That's Mike's advice. (Apparently Rosie and Judy are sisters and used to work together, but had some falling out, so Rosie opened up her own pie shop.) We went home with one of Judy's coconut cream pies, and it had to be 7 or 8 inches high in the middle... I'm not kidding. It was The Best coconut cream pie I have ever had in my life. I am so very, very glad that Judy's Famous Pies is an hour's drive from my house. We will be going back there, just not real soon. Seriously, if you like pie at all, even only slightly, go to Judy's... you will LOVE her pies.

Our Family's Centenarian, Gramma T.

This past February 21st, Kevin's grandmother (his dad's mother), who everyone calls Gramma T., or Great-Gramma T., had her 100th birthday.

Gramma T. has been in a nursing home for so many years now that I can't remember how long it's been... she's not healthy and her mind is very rarely in the present, and I don't think she knows who she is most of the time... but she made it to 100 years of age. I remember once talking with her about how she wanted a party if she made it that long. Sharron, my mother-in-law, told me she thought Gramma T. knew what was happening, that she knew (at least for a moment) that she'd turned 100.

The 4 of us all missed the party... I was at Covenant hospital having my 2nd "emergency" surgery that evening, Kev was with me, and Joycie was at home with Sammy. I was sorry to have missed that party. I'm not sure, but I think Kev was a little relieved not to go (not that he would want me to have surgery as an excuse). Kev prefers to remember Gramma T. the way she was, and not as this tiny, 80-pound little mound of bones and flesh in a wheelchair who can do nothing for herself and would not know him at all. The last time he saw her, she kept calling him by her dead brother's name, and it was disturbing to Kevin. I understand. Gramma T.'s children all visit her and take care of her, and some of the grandchildren, too. But Kevin won't. This is how he thinks of her... this is a photo I took of Gramma T. and Joycie when Joycie was about 5 years old, so close to 15 years ago.

That photo has been on our fridge ever since I took it, before the age of digital cameras. I took it down this morning to scan it in for this post, and then I put it back where it was. And that's where it'll stay.

Return to Snow

Kathy and Michelle (my sister and niece, aka Chelle-Belle) spent Chelle's college spring break week together at a condo on Amelia Island in Florida, near the Georgia border. Chelle is blogging about it, so check out her link below. They had a wonderful time together. It makes me want to go on a trip with just Joycie and I... before time and the changes it brings makes it unlikely we'll be able to do a trip like that together, just the 2 of us. I got to see their photos yesterday, and they are beautiful. The sand, sky and ocean... nice! I also got to see the shells they collected, and Kathy let me choose one. I liked the ones that have been broken and so it is just the inside part, smoothed by the sand and water... as soon as I got home with it, I stuck it into my cacti dish...

I like how the shell and the cacti are mismatched, but beautiful together. Right this moment, I'm looking at the dish and the window behind it is all white because it's snowing heavily.

Proud of Our Michael

I had previously mentioned that my nephew, Michael, won a Centralis Gold scholarship.

Our high school actually had 2 seniors that won a Gold, which is outstanding. We're not that big of a high school, and so to have 2 seniors win... well, kudos to The Creek! They put an announcement on the school web site, though I have removed reference to the other winner because I don't know how that family would feel about being on my blog...

We are all so very proud of Michael. I know he worked very hard to earn that scholarship, and I decided I wanted to get him something to commemorate it. This is the thing I've been trying to find, and then win, on eBay for a while now. I gave him a Waterman fountain pen...

He was happy with it. It's not exactly like my Waterman fountain pen, but it's close.

I told Michael that he has some great things to say, and now he can write them with grandeur. I feel like there is something a bit special about using a nice quality fountain pen; it's makes even a mundane grocery list seem special. Kathy told me that Michael had a form he had to fill out for CMU about the Centralis scholarship (she thinks it has to do with an announcement about it or something like that), and he used his fountain pen on the form. Cool.

Oh, and also, that thing Michael is sitting on is Kathy & Bob's new, beautiful sofa.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

This and that, and of course the usual complaining

As a mom, I had read and heard, often and in a variety of formats, that babies and children Like And Need Routine. Establish a routine for your child, and your child will be happy, expecting the usual events at the usual times. As an adult who is now under a forced routine, I'm not so sure... I believe routine is excellent for babies, but older children, those that start to demonstrate frustration and rebellion toward the established routine... well, I see their point now. A fixed routine is not necessarily a good thing for every 2-year-old, and so on. After almost six weeks of "home-bound" and with two more weeks to go, I can state with certainty that I hate this routine. I am so very tired of these antibiotic IV treatments. When I am done with this, if I never have to open another small, square packet of an alcohol wipe again, it will A-OK with me. I'm pretty sure I'll not want to use the wipes at Buffalo Wild Wings either since they will be too reminiscent of the alcohol wipes.

I am about 60% through my morning dose of vanco... thus the bitching (yet again!). I'm starting to feel sleepy and yukky from it already, so I'm typing this post to hopefully just work my way through it. Trying to ignore the sofa that's calling me to lay down on it's lovely softness.

I have way too much to do today, including working from home for my job, paperwork from home (we haven't got our papers over to our tax guy yet!), and I'm expecting the cable guy sometime... I also have to find the title to Joycie's Rodeo, and something else Kevin requested that I can't remember right now...

As you can see, my day is full.

The sun is shining outside towards the east and the birds are flitting back and forth from shrubs to feeder. Normally, this would make me feel cheerful. But today... today I am focused more upon the gray skies to the west. I see not the beautiful tall oak casting a long shadow, but instead, the huge unattached branch hung up in the top of the tree. I am unhappy with my Routine, and I am crabby.

A cable guy is coming out today because after the cable guy was here for a few hours yesterday, our nice, new 42" HP LCD MediaSmart Plasma HDTV was stuck on some "attention" 587 screen... basically, it would not get any TV channels. The guy installed a new receiver so we can get the HDTV (Kev had to buy a special cable for it, too... 80 bucks for the cable! jeez). When the cable guy called into Dish Network to register the new receiver, he couldn't do it because Dish Network had some huge computer issue... like a part of their entire network went down. The guy was real nice, and left me instructions on how to call into Dish and what numbers to give them, and he even left me his cell phone number for Kev to call him to get the TV settings pristine for HDTV... but after a few phone calls, cumulatively about 2 hours, on the phone with Dish Network yesterday evening, Kev kind of gave up... I talked to the guy on the phone, too, because by this time Kev had the phone on speaker... the end result is that the new receiver must be defective so Dish would send us another one and we'd get it in about 2 days. Sweet, happy joy, as you can imagine. Us Tyrrell's, we like our TV. So Kev called the guy on his cell phone, and now there is someone coming out this morning to fix it all. Kev finally gets his big plasma TV, and it's one big hassle. We love technology.

One thing not to bitch about is that Pam, the nurse who came yesterday to change my PICC line dressing, used a foam thingy this time and now the part of the PICC line that enters my skin into my vein is a little more protected. I've banged it so much that it is so sore, and the foamy bit helps. Also, Pam, who is an older, long-time nurse, wife of a pastor, mother of 3 older children, loud-talking (her talking voice volume is louder than a typical speaking voice), no-nonsense woman, is so nice. She exudes nursing competence, so she makes me feel comfortable. On her first visit to see me, I discovered that she likes sweet flavored coffee, so now each Wednesday, I have prepared for the both us my home version of a White Rabbit cappuccino. Pam always says, "What a treat!" Next Wednesday, however, I will see a different nurse because Pam and her husband will be in Sunny California visiting one of their daughters.

I am also happy about another thing... I finally found, and won, on eBay a gift for my nephew. It was shipped USPS Priority Mail, but it took over a week to get here, so I was nervous... it finally arrived yesterday. I am looking forward to giving it to him, and then I realized I needed something else, too... which I can't tell you because that would ruin the surprise. With too much time on my hands but with too little energy to do much, I've been perusing eBay more than I should, and I've bid on some things that I truly don't need, but would be interested in having. I've also found some things that I would love to own, but cannot justify the cost... like this beautiful fountain pen...

Did I say beautiful?... I meant gorgeous...

Too pricey, though. And anyway, I have a very nice Waterman fountain pen already... oh! and I found some ink cartridge refills at a great price on eBay! Yay.

And now, I give in... a quickie with my sofa has become a must... just a short nap... I'll even set the timer... coz the cable guy won't be here until at least 11am...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Beach glass

My sister, Kathy, and my niece, Michelle, just returned from a "mom-and-daughter" vacation in Florida, where it was mostly warm and sunny and beautiful. They did a lot of beach walking, and I asked Kathy if they found any beach glass. That's my big interest when I walk the beaches... I don't care much about the shells... I like the beach glass, and also the perfectly round or oval stones. Since I don't live near any beach, and lately haven't traveled near any beach, my collection of beach glass is pretty slim.

Somewhere I once heard that beach glass is called "mermaid tears"... and doesn't that sound lovely? But then I did a little bit of 'net research and discovered that mermaid tears are also known as nurdles, and they are actually small pieces of plastic pollution on beaches.

Anyway, I like the term, "beach glass" because that's how I've always known it. Here's a link to an article on it in Wikipedia. I was looking at some beach glass jewelry recently on, and I wondered about if my rock tumbler could make a good replica of beach glass... apparently fake beach glass abounds for tourists to buy at beachside shops.

I've always thought of looking for beach glass along the ocean shorelines, but then I found this store on Etsy, Lake Erie Beach Glass. And if you think about it, of course Lake Erie would have all kinds of beach glass... it used to be so polluted, there could be an unending supply of beach glass from that lake. One thing I had not thought of is old pottery pieces worn smooth like beach glass. Some of the pieces this Etsy shop uses for jewelry are beautiful, like these blue and white pottery pieces.

I think that set is so pretty, old-fashioned pottery made into something unique and interesting and new. I also like this brown pottery piece made into a pendant... though I think I'd like it better without the curly silver at the top. I like the color.

You'll just have to check out this Etsy shop; there are a lot of beautiful pieces there... bracelets, rings, and even miniature art. I do like the traditional beach glass jewelry pieces the best, like this one, too...

There are other sellers on Etsy from the Great Lakes doing some beautiful things, like this driftwood and beach glass photo frame, and this shop.

Makes me want to plan a few weekends this summer along the lake shores. That's one thing about living in the "middle of the mitten," Lake Michigan and Lake Huron aren't too far away. Lake Superior is definitely more of a stretch, and Lake Erie is, in my experience, very crowded. I was talking with Joycie's boyfriend, Mike, about beach glass, and he said that the state park beach near Bay City (where he lives) has been being cleaned up a lot, and they have found beach glass there.

Things to look forward to this spring and summer, when I'm no longer under "house arrest" (as I fondly refer to this medical home-bound requirement) and I can look down while I walk!

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Ah, for the good ol' days.

So... this past Thursday evening, during the middle of a movie, "The Brave One" with Jodie Foster, great movie, btw... our DVD player decided to poop out on us. If you've seen that movie, then you know some parts of it are quite suspenseful, and it was at one of those tense moments that the DVD player quit. It would turn itself off almost immediately after being turned on. And so then, of course, we couldn't get it to spit out the DVD. I got my trusty tools out and took the machine apart, finally freeing the DVD from it's crappy electronics prison. Sammy and I were able to finish the movie on the downstairs TV & DVD player.

Yesterday morning, Kev and Joycie took Sammy into the oral surgeon's office where Sammy got all 4 of his wisdom teeth removed. We had stocked up on rented DVD's and a Wii game in anticipation of keeping Sammy quiet this weekend so he would heal well. Bummer that the upstairs DVD player broke.

So this morning, Sammy was doing real well (pain pills work for him, too), and I had about $60 in Best Buy money (love that Best Buy Rewards Zone Master Card)... so Kev and Sammy went into town to buy a new DVD player.

They came home with a new 42" HP LCD MediaSmart Plasma HDTV, a DVD player for it and then a cheaper DVD player so Sammy can use that on the TV we're moving from the basement up to his bedroom.

Oh! The Changes. Direct quote from Kevin just now, "See, that's what I hate about this f***ing shit. It's so complicated, and I don't know what the hell I'm doing."

Amen, brother.

Thankfully, Joycie & Mike were here, so Mike helped with the moving around. We moved the big Toshiba TV from upstairs to downstairs, and then the smaller Panasonic TV up to the 2nd floor to Sammy's bedroom, while the new Hewlett-Packard got set up in our living room. But then there are all the hook-ups for the DVD players, the satellite boxes and the VCR's. Oy! Makes my head hurt. I'm usually the person who has to do that kind of hooking up stuff around here... but this evening, I struck a napping pose in the recliner, and I stayed there. Mike and Joyce helped Kev a lot, and basically, they got as far as they could, coz we need new satellite receivers or something like that because of the HD bit. While those 3 frustrated themselves with that mess, Sammy kept himself busy setting everything up in his bedroom, moving the Wii stuff up there, all the games, the guitar, etc. He got it all set.

Kev's been wanting a new, huge TV for years, and he found such a great deal on this one at Best Buy, that he just went & bought it on the spot. He & I had just discussed (again) this morning buying a new plasma TV, and I told him that it really just wasn't good timing right now for us from a financial standpoint (as I open bill after bill after bill from various medical outfits, etc.). Sammy told me that Kev thought I was gonna be way pissed off, but... really I wasn't at all. He did get a helluva deal on it... and anyway, I adore that man so much that he can get away with just about anything... Also, he just got his annual bonus at work; the man deserves to buy his TV.

(I also got my annual bonus, but I promptly paid off my Home Depot credit card... from when we bought our new LG washer and dryer last year by opening up that Home Depot credit card and getting zero percent interest for one year. Felt great to pay that card off knowing we didn't pay a penny in interest. Sweet.)

I am very happy that Kev got a TV he wanted, even though our house was utter chaos since the moment he and Sammy arrived home. You can't just plug the thing in and watch TV, those days are long gone... the user guide, English language part only, for that TV is 110 pages long. Holy cow. The "start here" guide is 24 pages, and the warranty and support guide is 16 pages.

Sammy is very happy to finally have a TV in his room. I've had this long-standing rule, more of a philosophy really, that my children would not have a TV in their bedroom. I feel that it isolates them, keeps them from participating in the fold of the family, the part that takes place outside of their bedrooms...

But eh, that's bunk. I'm the only one that thought that way, and so that nonsense didn't fly.

Also... Joycie will have her TV in her bedroom, so I suppose it's only fair that Sammy gets a TV in his.

Yes, I just said that about Joycie... she will have her TV in her bedroom!

She, Mike and I had a long conversation today (while the boys were shopping at Best Buy), and Joyce has decided to live at home beginning with the next college semester this fall. The lease on her apartment goes through the summer, and she wants to see what it'd take to get out of it so she can move back home sooner. With her living at home, we'll save a lot of money. Also, she's going to be working, and she'll be able to keep all her money for herself instead of helping pay for apartment life. Another decision we made is to sell her Isuzu Rodeo and buy her a cheap, non-gas-guzzling vehicle. We're spending so much money on gas for the Rodeo, and so even if we lose money selling the darn thing, it'll still be worth it in the long run.

I am so happy that she'll be living back at home. Her bedroom will be like her own apartment, and she'll have the same level of freedom. I wouldn't expect her to behave otherwise, and her dad and I will have to respect that. I know we won't have any problems with it, and I am just so looking forward to having her living back here with us... even if I don't see her that much, just knowing she'll be back here with us makes me feel good inside.

She'll also be living that much closer to Mike, so that was a Big Plus for the 2 of them. Those 2 are so adorable together. Also, we'll hopefully get to see more of Mike, too. That'd be great.

Life's funny... funny good. The way things are tonight, what's happened today and now the plans for the future... didn't see that coming at all this morning! It's a happy funny.

Not like this clown...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Time for tea

Yesterday afternoon's walk outside with Kevin ended up making my lungs feel wonderfully full of fresh, lovely clean, crisp air, but all the jerky walking on the uneven crunchy snow and muddy trails and semi-melted icy patches was a royal pain in the neck. And y'all know I mean that literally. I had a rough night, and a rough morning today.

Shortly before Kevin had to leave the house for work this afternoon, he and I went down into our basement and did a bit of furniture rearranging. That is, I pointed and he lifted, pushed and pulled. We positioned our treadmill so it faces the television, and for the near future, until better weather & better walking conditions, that's where I'll be spending my strolling time. It kinda works out well, too, because I have a bunch of TV programs recorded onto our DVR that are taking up a ton of space on it and I want to record them onto DVD's, so I'll do that while I walk. I've been told by Dr. Adams, 2 physical therapists and numerous nurses that walking is the key to a good recovery with the neck surgery I had done. Walking is good for pretty much all that ails ya. (Except this darn infection, I think. I'm really getting tired of how yukky the antibiotics make me feel.) Before the surgery, whenever I looked down, it made my left shoulder and arm go painfully twangy numb... so walking outside now, being able to look down, is wonderful. Or will be wonderful as soon as the weather gets nice. Kudos to Dr. Adams... heartfelt kudos.

While Kev and I were downstairs, I remembered something, and I found it while Kev was moving one of the sofas. It's a box containing my "antique tea set."

This is a tea set that I saw at an antique shop and wanted, but couldn't afford it myself. My Mom and Dad bought it and gave it to me for my high school graduation gift. It was a lot of money to us, way back in 1978, though I can't remember the exact amount, and neither can my Mom and Dad. I'm sure it was something like $50 or $60, certainly not over $100. I displayed it for a long time in this set of wood shelves that Kev made for me when we lived in the pole barn, though I've never had a formal, glass fronted china cabinet. I'm not really a china cabinet type of gal. When we moved into our house, I had it out for a short time, but it wasn't well protected, so I finally boxed it up. I've not forgotten it, and from time to time I will get the box down and look at it. It's a lovely Chintz china pattern from Royal Winton Grimwades in England. My research leads me to believe this set was made in the 1930's or so. Royal Winton still makes, or rather is once again making, chintz china patterns today. The pattern I have is called "Royalty" and it looks to me like rose pink dianthus chrysanthemums and blue bachelor's buttons, 2 of my favorite garden flowers.

The set I have includes the teapot, sugar, creamer, 4 teacups and saucers, 4 luncheon plates, and then 2 larger plates which were serving plates, I thought, though now I believe one, the square one, is simply a dinner plate, and the other is a rectangular plate. Here are some of the pieces.

The lip of the teapot is in perfect condition, and for old teapots, that's often one of the first things to get chipped.

There is a chip on the bottom, unfortunately (there when purchased), and you can see it in this photo... along with the marks. The chintz pattern is "Royalty" but I think the teapot pattern is "Ascot" which is still available on the Royal Winton web site.

The inside of the teapot lid has a patent number indicated, which I am certain is a Great Britain Design Patent, that's No. 301262 (my first look identified the first digit as a 3, then I thought maybe it's an 8, but now I'm convinced it's a 3... the bottom of the 3 seems to have a definite stop there, like the letter J, it doesn't appear to keep curving up to form an 8). I found this web site that had a handy explanation, and also a listing of design patent numbers with relative timeframes... so if this is GB Design Patent No. 301262, then it was registered in the year 1897. Royal Winton Grimwades was apparently the first to introduce and perfect the chintz pattern on china, and they did a lot of exporting to the US around the 1930's... which is why I believe these pieces are from the 30's. Maybe the 40's.

These photos below show some more of the bottom marks, and also the crazing that is on pretty much each piece.

I don't really know that much about old china, but I think crazing is acceptable because it's expected due to the age. (Good ol' "Antiques Roadshow" for that bit of info!)

Clearly, this tea set was not used much, though it is definitely not in new, excellent condition (I don't think... like I said, I don't know much about this). But it's so pretty, and when it's all set out together, it's a lovely grouping. I had all the pieces on the table early this evening when Joycie arrived home. She didn't remember them (though I had them out on display on a shelf when she was little), and she became very inquisitive about the set. Then she noticed my computer had a web site up, an eBay store, I think, and she practically snapped at me, "Are you going to sell this?" Whoa, Nelly. I explained I was just doing some research because I was curious about it. The last time I had tried to research this tea set, I had to do it at the library... back before the days of the Internet. So I happily showed her a little bit of what I found out. She asked if I was going to keep it out, and I explained that I didn't want to, because I don't want any of it broken. It has significant emotional value to me, and now I also know, it's worth quite a bit of money, also... so back in the box it goes.

Where it will remain until Joycie has a home with a china cabinet for it, because she fell instantly in love with it tonight, like I did when I saw it in that antique store almost 30 years ago... and so I have promised it to her.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Two by two on the carcass

We've gotten some more interesting photos from the game camera Kev set up on the deer carcasses out back.

This photo surprised us... we were like, whoa, what's that?...

Two hawks! Awesome.

Then it seemed like everything started to appear in pairs, like these crows again...

And these raccoons...

So we were hoping for it... and yes! a pair of coyotes...

That is the only photo we have out of a few hundred that shows 2 coyotes; all other coyote photos show only 1 of them. So... there is more than one out there. I mean, you have to figure where there is one coyote, there's another... I read recently that they usually hunt in pairs. We hear them frequently, and there sure are a lot more than a couple of them out there calling to each other, howling and yipping.

It was also pretty cool that we finally got a non-blurry shot of a coyote's face and head. Not that you can see it in any great detail, but you can see the face...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I've been de-stitched. Finally got to see Dr. Adams Thursday afternoon last week, where he pronounced my progress as very good, and then instructed his surgical RN to remove my stitches. You may remember what they looked like, here's a link to that last photo, if not.

I was to have my stitches out 3 days prior to that at an appointment that was scheduled for Monday morning, but Dr. Adams had an emergency surgery. My second surgery took place on Thursday evening, Feb. 21st, so Monday, March 3rd, would have been 11 days from surgery... I believe it's most common to have the stitches removed within 7 to 10 days from surgery. So March 6th was 14 days from surgery... and since I heal more quickly than people typically heal, the stitches were well healed into my skin. Removing them apparently also required the removal of a good bit of flesh that was holding them in... the pain was pretty intense. And for a couple of silly reasons, I forgot to take pain meds when we left the house and didn't take any with me. So the whole ripping out the stitches thing was done without the helpful, numbing effect of pain killers. Shit.

The RN put butterfly stitches on, but they lasted about a day and a half. The thing is, my incision is like a crevice. I believe there's still some swelling in the area, it feels like it anyway. But the incision definitely is like a long indentation... like a butt crack. Sweet, huh. Back to the butt crack on my neck. I don't know if it's like this because the 2nd surgery incision was directly over the 1st incision or what. Anyway, here's what it looks like now, sans stitches. And since that photo doesn't show the crevice effect very well, here's a side view. It's itching like crazy still. The good news is, though, that I don't have to wear a dressing or bandage over it now. Relief! But isn't that big hole there at the bottom just lovely? I think I'll be ending up with some strange scars.

And speaking of scars, I expect I'll have some on my left arm from this adventure, as well... the PICC line and tubes and bandages are really doing a number on me.

Isn't that a pretty site?... The PICC line dressing gets changed once each week, and it's due for a change tomorrow, so this photo shows it at its worst. Part of the cleaning and sanitizing process of the dressing change is using that stuff that turns your skin yellow. Usually that fades, but it's still showing under the PICC dressing. And do you see around the PICC dressing the red lines where other dressings were? My skin there is so sore. Also, right where the PICC line goes into my skin/vein, there's no protection, and I keep bumping it... a slight bump on a pillow makes it hurt, so it's kind of red and bruised. And the parts of the line where everything gets hinged or hooked in, right near the bend of my elbow, gets pushed into my skin so much that it's like one big sore spot. The extension, which is the tubing that I've got attached to my arm with bandaids, is necessary so that I can hold the end of it to screw in the various IVs. I try to keep the bandaid spots varied so I'm not always bandaging the same spots... because they get raw after a while. I can't use paper tape or clear tape now, because so much of it was used on me earlier in January that I developed an allergy to it, and it makes my skin red & raw and itches like holy heck. The bandaids were such a blessing of relief.

My blood pressure has been so high the past few days that the home nursing company called and almost sent a nurse out today to check on me. I've had the flu on top on of all of this... and since it hit me late Saturday, I'm pretty sure I got it while we were out and about to Dr. Adams' office Thursday. Hit me like a ton of bricks by Sunday and I don't remember much of anything of Monday. That's what made my BP go up. That and pain. I still felt pretty awful this morning, but Kev helped...

Thank goodness for Kevin. I do not know what I would do without that man. He got me up and into the shower today and then helped me with the morning vanco, made me toast for breakfast and vanilla Activia with some of our frozen blueberries in it. We watched the 2-hour finale of October Road, and then he got my butt outside for some fresh air and a nice walk. I felt the best I have felt in days and days.

I've also made a change today in my antibiotics. I take the vancomycin twice per day, usually 7:30am and 7:30pm or so. I take the meropenem, or Invanse, once a day, and I've been taking that directly following my morning vanco. The thing is, though, that I get so sleepy afterwards, that I can't keep my eyes open and usually end up sleeping until almost noon. Shoots the whole morning. Kev and I talked about it today, and without consulting anyone, I took Kev's advice and I switched to taking the Invanse after my evening dose of vanco. I'm very sleepy as I finish this post... so it's working. Off to bed for me... I'm hoping this will be one of the last updates I post on this surgery & infection adventure of mine. I also hope I won't be such a whiny-ass... but this home-bound thing is making me crabby. Three and a half more weeks to go.

So to make up for the whining and the crabbing, here's a photo of our beautiful Reilly...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Red Wing

Often during the nice weather months, my family will get together and have a campfire at one or another's houses. We used to do it more often when our kids were little, but life gets more hectic the older the kids get so it seems we have fewer campfires nowadays.

But we still enjoy these campfires, even though less frequently now. And what goes better with a campfire than singing around it?... Yep, we do that, too. I remember one song that my Daddy sings every once in a while... it didn't take me long to find it tonight on the 'net, thanks to this web site...

     (words Thurland Chattaway,
     music Kerry Mills)

     There once was an Indian maid,
     A shy little prairie maid,
     Who sang a lay, a love song gay,
     As on the plain she'd while away the day;

     She loved a warrior bold,
     This shy little maid of old,
     But brave and gay, he rode one day
     To battle far away.

     Now, the moon shines tonight
          on pretty Red Wing
     The breeze is sighing, the night bird's crying,
     For afar 'neath his star her brave is sleeping,
     While Red Wing's weeping her heart away.

     She watched for him day and night,
     She kept all the campfires bright,
     And under the sky, each night she would lie,
     And dream about his coming by and by;

     But when all the braves returned,
     The heart of Red Wing yearned,
     For far, far away, her warrior gay,
     Fell bravely in the fray.

I even found 2 versions of this old folk song on YouTube... I admit to being amazed, but then, Red Wing was a pretty popular song in its day.
This one is instrumental, and this one is vocal.

I love hearing my Dad sing this old folk song, sitting around the fire, everyone tired but too content to end the evening. Especially nice when the night sky is clear and you can see no end of stars. Sometimes, our campfires are at my folks', down by the river, and it's dark enough that you can't really see the river, but you can hear it. Sometimes, we can get Mom to do some yodeling, and I'm not talking Alps style yodel, I'm talking hillbilly yodeling. I have some great memories of trying to yodel like my Mom when I was a little kid, when we'd all sing in the car together.

A lot of times, around the campfire, my elder brother-in-law, Bob, will have some good jokes to tell us. Bob excels at joke telling. The long jokes. Those long ones that I so want to remember to tell to my friends at work the next Monday, but they're so long, I can't. Bob is also good at telling stories, so is my brother, Jim. Stories about goofy things that have happened to them or their coworkers, friends, neighbors or hunting or fishing buddies. Great times.

Which reminds me, the nurse, Pam, who came to our house today to change my PICC line dressing and draw some more of my blood, told me a good joke. Though, she didn't do that great of a job at delivery. Pam's husband is a minister, by the way. And I found the joke she told me on the 'net...

A minister was asked to dinner by one of his church members. He knew she was a bad housekeeper but agreed. When he sat down at the table, he noticed that the dishes were the dirtiest that he had ever seen in his life. "Were these dishes ever washed?" he asked his hostess, running his fingers over the grit and grime. She replied, "They're as clean as soap and water could get them." He felt a bit uncomfortable, but blessed the food anyway and started eating. It was really delicious and he said so, despite the dirty dishes. When dinner was over, the hostess took the dishes outside and yelled for her dogs, "Here Soap! Here Water!"

Might as well walk

My stitches are driving me crazy! I had an appointment Monday morning with Dr. Adams, but he was called into an emergency brain surgery... so when I arrived at his Midland office, the 2 young women working there rescheduled my appointment to later this week. They were very apologetic about not calling me, and though a phone call could have saved us a half-hour drive into town, I was rather happy they neglected to call. Because I got out of the house! Since I am home-bound again, this time through six weeks of antibiotic treatments, getting out of the house is a rare treat. One week down, five to go. Hopefully stitches will come out this week. For those still interested, here is what the incision is looking like now.

I haven't been into the office where I work or driven a car in almost 7 weeks. Seems like longer. Much longer. And in those 7 weeks, I've been away from home 6 times; 4 of those times were going back into the hospital and going home from the hospital stays.

Kev took the dogs to the vet recently to get them updated on their rabies vaccinations, and the vet confirmed it... Barney is totally blind. Poor old Barn. Kev and I took a walk outside the other day, and of course, took all 3 dogs with us. Barney stays right by Kev's side. So Kev is like his seeing-eye human.

Kevin had a birthday on March 1st, and now the old fart is 47 years old! We're now the same age. Happy Birthday, Honey.

My mother-in-law, Sharron, called me the other day and asked what we were doing on Saturday, and told me that she'd like to bring us out dinner. Heck, yeah! (She's a great cook!). Didn't even dawn on me that it was Kev's birthday. So it was super nice when Kev's Dad and Sharron arrived with corned beef and cabbage stew (cabbage cooked separately), a loaf of home-made bread and a gorgeous made-from-scratch German Chocolate Cake. The dinner was excellent and the cake was sublime. And the company was wonderful. A nice, relaxed but festive birthday for Kev.

Sammy has been home from school the past 2 days, sick with an awful cold. Lots and lots of coughing. The hacking and coughing of major proportions kind of cold. Kevin and I have both been trying to comfort him... from a good distance. Neither one of us wants that nasty bug. Poor Sam.

Joycie is on her spring break this week. She spent yesterday going down to Ann Arbor with Mike and his mom, Izzy. Mike had a check-up appointment for the surgery he had recently. Joycie said it went well. He's one tough young man. He is still having some problems eating, and he has to be careful (swallowing is different now for him), but that will improve with time.

Joycie started her spring break by going shopping for a prom dress. Mike's senior prom is coming up soon. Joyce found a beautiful kelly green prom dress. It's very, very green, but it doesn't overtake her or eclipse her... she looks stunning in it.

If you've noticed, I'm doing this post in the wee hours of the morning (it's almost 4:00am). It's like I have no set bedtime any more... I sleep when I sleep, whatever time that occurs. Mostly because the antibiotics I'm taking make me sleepy. In the mornings, I start my dose of vanco about 7:30am, and when that's done, I do the Invanse, which is the once per day antibiotic. These 2 usually take until around 10:00am... and then I have to sleep for at least a little while, because I can barely keep my eyelids open after the Invanse. And then that's how my day goes, I'm up and around until I have to lay my head down. I woke up at 1:00am to take a couple of pain pills, and then I woke up at 2:00am for no reason... wide awake. So I brushed Reilly for a while, cleaned up the hair mess for a while and here I am finally doing a blog post. This "no-set-schedule" schedule is likely not a good thing... so I have five weeks to get my inner clock straightened out. Although, I think that I will sleep much better once these stabbing stitches are removed.