Monday, March 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Today is my Dad's 79th birthday. Happy Birthday, Daddy!!! 79. Crazy, ain't it? Where does the time go?....

Since my Dad was 30 years old when I was born, this means I am soon to be 49. Which is really just 50, as I think I've mentioned already... 49 is really 50. And I'm the "baby" of the family. Youngest of 5 kids.

Hey, Dad, 79 is really 80!

In spite of all the frustration and worry us 5 kids managed to put our parents through during the years, Dad and Mom are both pretty young-acting for their respective ages, and they're strong. You would've think some of our stunts would've aged them more considerably. Guess that's why we're all made pretty tough, coz our folks are tough. We were kids raised in the country with parents who expected us to work hard, do our share of the chores, think for ourselves, do the right thing and speak with good grammar.

We had all kinds of fun growing up. Summers were, of course, the best. When I was real young, we had horses and some ponies, too. I remember one pony that was a biter. I hated that one. Got me in the fleshy side part of my back once. Mean old thing. We had chickens out there near the horses, too. I remember being afraid of the rooster who would chase me, until I chased him back. I think my brother showed me how to do that.

I remember us kids making a tree house in the big White Oak tree out in the front field. I also remember that my brother accidentally buried the claw of the hammer into his head while we were making it.

I remember jumping off the back deck of the house. Our house was built into the side of a hill, so from the front of the house, coming up our long driveway, it looks like a single story typical ranch style home. But over the hill was the downstairs. Can't really call it a basement, so much of it is open. There was a deck off the kitchen/dining room on the top floor, running all along the back side of the house, kinda like a back porch with an 8' or 9' drop, so jumping off it was irresistible. Kids! Jump and roll.

After a while, Mom and Dad sold the horses, being sick of hearing us kids complain about having to take care of them and whose turn it was to do what with them. Then one day, our Mom bought us some motorcycles. She surprised my dad with a 250cc Kawasaki, I think it was, and then we got like a 175cc or 125cc and then a smaller 100cc or 90cc or something like that. I remember part of one summer where we had to clear some land, cutting and hauling brush, and we'd take turns riding the smaller motorcycle. The rest of us would have to clear brush while one of us got a turn on the bike. That was fun. The motorcycle part, while everyone else had to work.

We always grew a huge vegetable garden, and us kids had to work in it, hoeing and weeding in the summer. Usually hated it, as most kids do. We'd have to work for a while, then get to cool off and swim in the pond for a while, then maybe have to work some more. We got a ton of food out of that garden, and really, my Mom and Dad worked harder at that than us kids did, all combined. Didn't appreciate it much then. Sure do now. Loved the frozen corn we always had. And good potatoes. Getting potatoes out of the cellar in the winter. And Mom's canned tomatoes, and peaches, pickles... all that stuff. We sure gave our folks a lot of grief getting us to work in that garden. But we always ate a lot!

Once my sister, Kathy, and I were riding the motorcycles in one of the front forty fields, and I believe I was on the 90cc, and there was a small, very small, hill in the field. We'd jump it with the motorcycles. Get some air, too. Problem was one time was I took it in the wrong direction... the side with no slope. Stopped the bike cold and I went flying over the handlebars. Hurt like H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks and tore my shirt off me. I remember the shirt was blue with white buttons, and I was really bummed coz I loved that shirt. Too torn and blood stained to fix. Kinda screwed up the bike a bit, too.

My Mom sewed a lot. Back then, you could buy fabric for a shirt for less money than a shirt. Not so nowadays. Back then, with 5 kids to clothe, my Mom did a LOT of sewing. She was awesome at it, and still is. All the many, many, many clothes she sewed for us. Jeans to look like the popular painter paints, with triple seams and everything. My Mom could sew anything you wanted. Anything.

When we had horses, at various times we had quite a few, like 6 or 10 or so. Once we had a new stallion. I believe his name was Buck. Or maybe Blaze. Been a lot of years now, so I'm not positive... Anyway, Kathy and I decided to take a ride, and we took out a couple of mares. As it turned out, mares in heat. Buck was very interested in following us, and he broke through the fence and chased us. The mares took off like bats outta hell. Kathy and I were pretty scared. Buck was gaining on us, so we decided the safest thing to do was to get off the mares. How do you get off a galloping mare over which you have no control? Jump. I seem to remember the unfortunate coincidence of my decision to jump being right near the big briar patch. How accurate all these memories are is surely up for debate. But I recall briar patch related pain. And then we had to catch those darn horses. But first Kathy and I had to walk back home, all dirty and dusty and covered with scratches and blood.

I also remember one day when my folks were gone and my brother decided to hollow out a big old tree like the kid in the book, "My Side of the Mountain." Only that kid did it to a live tree. Jimmy had picked out a dead tree. And he tried to hollow it out like the kid in the book... using fire. Caught the tree on fire. I remember we called Uncle Don over to help. Lucky on that one, no forest fire ensued. I remember Uncle Don saying something about, "You know what happens to kids who play with matches? They wet the bed." I never did get that. We did play with matches a lot. Can't believe we never did any major damage.

Jimmy did a lot of things. He was a fearless boy growing up. And tough. I remember one time Dad had the trailer hooked up to the tractor and somehow Jimmy got his hand caught and pinched on the hitch. He screamed in pain. Dad stopped the tractor and jumped down quick. But Jimmy took off running, holding his hand, and Dad couldn't catch him. Jim did a heck of a number on his hand.

We gave our parents lots of opportunities for trips to the ER. I remember stepping on a board with a rusty nail... went right through my left foot. I still have a big scar there. ER - tetanus shot.

Once Jimmy and I were riding a horse, both of us on one horse, no saddle. Us kids always rode bareback. We were never supposed to ride down the road, but we did (of course). And I ended up falling off the back of the horse, slid right down his rump. He was a big horse, too. Fell on my left arm. Jimmy told me to get back up on the horse, but I told him I couldn't. I had to walk home. Boy, was Jim mad at me, coz he knew we were gonna get it. And I walked home and had to tell my Mom and Dad I broke my arm. And of course, they found out we had the horse out on the road. Boy, we sure did get in trouble for that. ER - broken humerus. Clean break, though. Too high up for a cast, so I had a sling. Started 3rd grade wearing a sling to school. And that stunk.

Once, Kathy and I took Dad's 250cc Kawasaki for a ride. Kathy had to drive, I was too small to handle it. I was wearing an old Lee coat that was my Dad's. It was way too big for me, but I loved that jacket. It was white denim with big pockets. We were ready to go, but Kathy had to run inside for something or other. Can't remember exactly. But I had to hold the bike up, but it weighed more than me and it started to fall. Which wouldn't have been good, but worse, a handle or something caught the sleeve of my coat and flipped me a good one when the bike fell. ER - broken collar bone. Compound fracture that one. Had to wear some kind of brace. That sucked. Shoulder tells me when it rains now. Coz I'm OLD.

Us kids used to fight with each other a lot, too. Like all kids. Chase each other around the table, pulling chairs out behind us so it'd trip up the one chasing. And we would get some speed going, too. We were tough. We'd wrestle for fun. And like wrestling fun with kids sometimes does, it'd turn ugly. Coz someone would get mad, and then we'd wrestle in earnest! We were very tough country kids. But let any other kid pick on one of us, and watch out, coz you'd have all of us kids to deal with. We always stuck up for each other. Dad and Mom taught us that, too.

We didn't have any close neighbors, so each other was all we had most of the summer days. We had tons of fun, though, always. Swimming in the pond (now filled in and no longer in existence), swimming in the river, climbing trees, making forts in the woods, playing inside the lilac bush, catching fish in the river and frogs in the ditch, running around summer evenings catching fireflies. Playing all kinds of games in the yard, our own versions of tag, football, baseball, Red Rover, especially fun when friends and family kids were over. Spying on our parents and their friends or aunts and uncles when they were over, coz we could look through the windows after it got dark and they couldn't see us. We thought that was so fun!

We used to walk along the road and try to find those brown beer bottles to turn in at the little store, I think we'd get 5 cents for them. Which was a lot of cash to us kids. I don't think kids today would bend over and pick up a nickel in the mall parking lot. With a nickel, we could buy 10 pieces of candy at the little store. We'd walk to the store on rare occasions, and since the store was a mile down one road and then a half mile down M-20 and our folks would NOT let us walk along M-20, we would walk to the store through this old oil well trail through the woods. That trail is still there, but I think it's private property now. Heck, it may have been back then, too, but the owner was never there. That was fun going to the the little store and picking out penny candy, getting it in a little brown paper bag... Two-for-a-penny candy, really, rootbeer barrels, chewy nutty squirrels, hot cinnamon fireballs, caramels, jawbreakers, sweetarts, bit o'honey, tootsie rolls, or suckers, all different kinds. Sometimes we'd get orange sherbet push-ups. Or a pop. Or a fudgesickle. Great on a hot summer day.

Us kids were pretty typical kids.... trying to find clever ways to get out of a bath or brushing our teeth. Or trying to get out of work. I somehow have the reputation of always having to "go to the bathroom" when it was time to clear the dinner table. I have no recollection of those events whatsoever.

Also, the usual fighting in the back seat of the car until we got yelled at. Breaking stuff and blaming it on each other. Hitting, getting caught, "but she/he started it!" Good times.

Actually, the thing I remember most about riding in the car as a family is that we would sing. All of us. Dad, too. I learned a lot of old songs that way. Like "Your Cheatin' Heart" (Hank Williams) and "(Put Another Nickel In) Music! Music! Music!" (Teresa Brewer, baby!) and "It Comes and Goes" (Eddie Arnold) and so many more. We'd also sing a lot of the good old hymns, and also some of the "new" songs, like "Proud Mary" and "Burning Bridges"... And yodeling!! My Mom can really yodel! Not that Swiss crap, I'm talking hillbilly yodeling. I loved that as a kid, listening to my Mom yodel in the car. I love hearing her yodel now! I yodel like my Mom, though not nearly as well (coz no one can yodel like my Mom!), and my kids groan at me. Eh.

We'd sing at home, too. My Mom can play the piano, she's awesome. Mom never had lessons, she played "by ear," and Dad would ask her to play a song, and Mom would play it and we'd sing.

Breakfasts. Feeding a family of 7 ain't no small thing. We had hot cereals for breakfast every morning before school, and often on weekends, too. Oatmeal, Malt-O-Meal, Ralston, Cream of Rice, Cream of Wheat... We all had to sit down together for breakfasts and for dinners. And dinners. Meat and potatoes. My Mom could fry chicken... yum. Meatloaf and baked beans on Sundays, come home from church starving and the house would smell sooooo good. Roast beef and gravy. My Mom's gravy was the best. Hamburger and beans, with bread and butter. Yummy. And home-baked cookies every weekend for school lunches. And Mom's jello cream cheese whipped cream lovely bowls of heaven. Chocolate cookie sheet cakes. Mmm... New potatoes out of the garden. Corn on the cob, dripping with butter. Enough for everyone to have too many pieces! We ate like kings. And we went through gallon after gallon of milk every week. I remember Dad would buy it 4 gallons at a time, using one of those plastic carrying things for milk.

Takes a lot of food to feed that many people. We were never supposed to just go into the kitchen and open the fridge and help ourselves to food. All the food in the house was for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Not for snacking. Though, of course, us kids would snack. I remember sneaking a big spoonful of peanut butter and eating it while I would read a book.

And books! Trips to the library all the time. Checking out tons of books. And then Janet's boyfriend, Bob's (now husband) mom worked at Kresge's, and when the paperbacks were discontinued, the store was supposed to toss them. (Did any store ever really do that???) So she would give us grocery sacks (the brown paper ones, coz there were no plastic grocery bags back then) full of Harlequin romance novels and other paperbacks, all with the covers torn off. We devoured those books. Well, not Jimmy.

Sunday evenings watching the Wonderful World of Disney TV show, with Tinkerbell and her little sparkling wand. And Mutal of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. Playing the games in the front of the first huge book of the World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary, a 2-volume dictionary, each volume weighing about 50 pounds!

All in all, the 5 of us kids were basically good kids, but we also gave my Mom and Dad plenty of unpleasant and worrisome moments. And here we all are, all grown and getting old, and we're all still close. Still totally a part of each other's lives. With Mom and Dad at the center of it all. They raised us right.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The mighty oak falls

Out back near the dogs' run and the pole barn is one large oak that was part of a twin. One of the twins fell a couple of years ago, causing no damage. Though, years ago, back in 1991 when our house was in construction, we had a big wind storm that summer, and a huge branch of that tree fell off... and on its way to the ground, the branch swept down the side/corner of our pole barn. Did some major damage to the pole barn. And that was just a branch of the tree! A branch the size of a small tree.

The remaining, still-standing twin has become less stable. This is always the case when a pair of twin oaks loses one. This is the third set of huge oak twins where one came down in a storm and Kev has had to take the other one down. All 3 have been near our house, so also near our outbuildings and everything, too. Felling a tree that big is a risky venture, and you gotta know what you're doing. Thankfully, Kev has tons of experience cutting down trees, and he was taught by the master... my Dad. Dad and Kev have felled many a huge tree together.

So this tree has been leaning toward a couple of pine trees we have over there, pines we would like to keep... Kev decided yesterday was the day to take that tree down before it came down on our pines, or worse. We have very few pine trees on our property, and those we have are because we've planted them ourselves.

The wind yesterday was quite strong and blowing to the west, which would be helpful in taking this oak down in the right direction. My job was to keep the 3 dogs out of the way. Betty was easy, she just laid down, poor old girl...

Barney, now totally blind, was a bit more of a challenge. He had found an old tennis ball and was walking around with it possessively in his mouth. I got him to lay down, but he always just starts rolling around on the grass, coz it feels so goooooooood...

Reilly minded me and sat still. He also kept an eye on Betty and Barney, and when Barney would wander, Reilly desperately wanted to herd him back to me, but I made Reilly stay put...

This is Kev beginning to work on the tree. Big tree, huh...

The other big, single oak is staying... at least for now. It's standing tall and straight, well, mostly straight... so far, so good. Though, when a single oak has grown up so near other trees that have come down, it affects that tree. That oak has been used to the other 2 big trees all its life. With those twins gone, the single tree will have to adjust, such as how the wind and sun change against it, the roots at the bottom. That single tree should be fine, but through the years ahead, the twins being gone may adversely affect its life expectancy.

Kev starts on the tree by making a cut on the side he wants the tree to fall toward, first one cut...

Then another cut...

Cutting a wedge out of the tree, making the weak spot to convince the tree to fall that way, hopefully avoiding the nearby pine trees as much as possible...

Here's the video I took of the tree falling. Not very good videography skills; I'm not used to Joycie's little Sony at all yet. There is also a lot of wind noise in the video... it was a windy day! And there's a loud shout by me when I screamed for Barney because I thought Kev was telling me he was in danger. Scared the crap outta me! Poor old blind Barney.

Kev got the tree down keeping the pine tree intact... whoo hoo, Kev! That's my man!!!

It was pretty exciting. Scary, too. Big tree. Kev is 6' tall, so this photo gives you an idea of how much work he has ahead of him getting the tree cut, split and stacked and the stumps taken care of...

Of course, the first thing Barney did was find one of the wedges Kev used and had it in his mouth, which made Reilly instantly want it.

Kev got Barney to drop the little wedge and tried to get him to carry around the big wedge... eh, made us laugh anyway!... poor old blind Barney, guess we shouldn't be making fun of him...

Barney is such a huge dog, though. Guess we thought that wedge was more his style. Reilly only cared that it gave him the opportunity to get what Barney had...

I also took a sweet photo of N.C. also... can't you just feel that stretch?

And then later, Joycie and Mike got home, with groceries! Joycie started cooking right away. She cooked for about an hour, and the house smelled so wonderful. Usually Mike helps her cook because they like to do that together, but he had homework to work on. Joyce made taco beef, homemade tortillas, fried up some homemade tortilla chips and made a big bowl of guacamole. Oh. My. Heck! That was some good Mexican food. Izzy, Mike's momma, has done a great job teaching our Joycie how to cook the good stuff! It was so delicious.

You can see our beautiful girl had been slaving over the hot stove... looks at those pretty red cheeks! The four of us had a nice dinner together. Sammy wasn't home; he was at a friend's house. As usual... our little social butterfly, that boy.

And now, just for kicks, here's a crazy photo I made of our crazy old, blind Barney...

Freaky, eh.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sleeping Beauty

Photo credit to Mike, with his cell phone. He and Joycie took a nap on Sunday afternoon... but Mike woke up first. I love how Joycie's lip is smooshed against her pillow, just like when she was little...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Happy times on the bed

Yesterday afternoon, I was laying down watching the wind blow on the pond and trying to settle my mind down. I've found that, lately, working on Excel spreadsheets tends to drive me a bit nutty after a while, vertigo-wise.

I got my boy to come in a give me hugs to make me feel better. I was playing around with Joycie's little Sony camera, and so I took a bunch of photos of us. We had us some fun!...

My boy has gorgeous eyes. And great hugs.

I got Mike to come and visit with me for a while, too. And when Mike's here with us, where Mike goes, there goes Reilly. That dog loves Mike. I mean, that Reilly loves our Mikey...

I'm getting used to Joycie's little Sony camera. My Sony has really bit the dust, and it's not so fun using it anymore. Joycie bought herself a fantastic Nikon last fall, so her Sony has just been sitting there collecting dust. It's one of those little ones that fits in your pocket. Only a 3x zoom, which is pretty much nothing. I miss the 12x. But my old Sony was about 5 megapixels, while this one is over 7. Best part, it fits in my purse and I can take it with me easily everywhere I go. I did take my old Sony just about everywhere, but it's definitely not pocket size.

I am planning to replace the old Sony with something nicer, like Joyce's Nikon. But right now, I cannot afford it. I was hoping to choose a digital camera from the selection of 30-year service award gifts from the company where I work (yes! 30 freakin' years... I tells ya... times flies when you're having fun old!). The service award gifts you can choose from get nicer and nicer as your service years progress. They're given out in 5-year increments. Usually. But... one of the cost-savings measures our company has instituted recently has been to put the service award gifts on hold. Everything we can do, as a company, to save cash and ride out this economic storm is being done. So, I can't really bitch about not getting my 30-year giftie. But I admit, I am quite, quite sad. I was so very much looking forward to a nice, new digital camera. A free, nice, new digital camera.

But playing with Joycie's little Sony is kinda fun. She is retaining ownership; I am only borrowing it... she's made sure I Understand This Completely. Resting in bed yesterday afternoon (with the vertigo thing, sometimes I just have to get horizontal...), I took about 120 photos. I know, crazy. I think that's about 10 more than Joycie has ever taken with it! She always forgets to grab her camera. She and Mike worked all through their spring break week, so they decided to head to Chicago for a couple of days on the weekend (which was a week ago)... and she forgot her nice, new camera! Mike took a couple of photos with his phone... I will share those with you soon. He has the same phone as Sam, the Voyager Titanium I think it is... and it takes a nice photo. But I've made Joycie promise to just grab her camera and take it with her everywhere she goes. She has a good eye, and I love to see the photos she takes.

And as for laying in bed and having company... eh, that's pretty common around here anymore. Our family is close. We keep pretty much nothing from each other, we share all. No topic is taboo, no worries too small, no fart too loud, no burp unnoticed, no sore shoulder not massaged, no itch not helped to scratch, no burden we can't share, no joy we don't celebrate... all together. Everywhere and anywhere. Well, it is not limitless, but ya get the drift. We communicate. We respect each other. We want to and we must... for one thing, no door inside our house has a lock on it, not even the bathrooms.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Analogies & words of wisdom

This past week, while in the middle of an activity at home, a mild activity, I had to stop, drop to my knees and put my head on the floor. Vertigo is such a fun thing.

After I few minutes, upright and onwards again. Answering the question, "are you alright?" several times, yes, yes, yes... So I tried to explain...

A vertigo attack is like when playing an album, yes on a record player, the old vinyl... and if there is a scratch or a bad spot on the album, the record player's needle will react... it will skip or play the same part of the album over and over... it will not just smoothly keep playing music. If you pick up the arm and move it forward a little bit, away from the bad patch, voilĂ !, smooth sailing and sweet music again. [In my book, mixing of metaphors in an analogy is totally ok.]

But... going through the bad patch on the album does affect the needle. So the needle is no longer perfect, and to a keen ear, that will affect how the needle plays the rest of the album's music.

That's kind of like a vertigo attack. Depending on the severity, that is... and lately this past week and half, my vertigo attacks have been primarily quite mild (in comparison to those I had last autumn). Once the episode is over, I'm back to normal... pretty much. May take a bit to get my needle all sharp and pretty again, but still... One could say that my being at less than 100% capacity, say at 98%, is not a good thing. But I could say that my 98% is arguably better performance than some folks' 100% performance. And yes, of course, the reverse is true... my 100% performance is not, I'm sure, as good as, for example, "Mrs. B's" 80% on one of her bad days. (There is always somebody better!) But still... ya get my drift, eh.

And that's what dealing with vertigo is like. Like most (all) life experiences... I believe that a person who has never experienced a vertigo attack is truly unable to completely empathize. Recently, Kev had that mild experience with vertigo due to his inner ear infections, and since then he has been so much more understanding and sympathetic with me. And he was understanding and sympathetic before his experience! (I love that man!)

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

My sister, aka O Wiser Sister, and I had a conversation recently, and as is often the case, she had words of wisdom to share. I was quite moved by her analogy, and will share it with you, though I'm sure I will botch it somewhat...

On dating and relationships...

When you meet a person in whom you are interested in dating, you show them your interest. So you date, and you like the person. Date some more, and then without any truly deep analysis, you jump in. You jump in emotionally and physically, and get into a relationship with that person. This is a common scenario. The common scenario.

But what if you Stop And Think...

Think. Value yourself. Think, for example, that you are made of all these wonderful pieces of gold. The finest gold that exists. When you jump into a relationship, you are giving that person some of you... some of your valuable pieces of gold that make up who you are. You are investing in that person. You're investing pieces of yourself. If the relationship fails, you invested pieces of yourself that you won't ever get back. You've given away some of your pieces of gold.

I love this analogy. The point is to stop and think. Can you ever know from the moment of meeting someone that your investment is going to be worthwhile? Of course not. Well, not usually... I do believe in Love at First Sight... Kev and I are living proof of that. And our 26th wedding anniversary is coming up soon. (Did I mention I love that man?!)

Stopping to take the time to think can be a difficult thing to do, because sometimes when you meet someone, your feelings are running high, hot and heavy. Not exactly the formula for analytical thinking, or caution.

But if you decide to make a conscious effort to take things slowly, you are more likely to make a wise investment. What you get for your investment may simply be a learning experience, an education to apply to future investment choices. What you may & should also get for your (slower) investment is increased self-respect. Pride in yourself for being so dang smart with your pieces of gold, for your investment savvy.

Everything seems to go so fast nowadays. And if that statement doesn't make me sound like an old fart, I don't know what would! But it's true. Warp speed. Friending people on Facebook and myspace, etc. Hooking up. Zoom, zoom, zoom.

Taking the time to stop and think doesn't mean you should absent yourself from opportunities. It just means realize the value of your precious pieces of gold. Value yourself.

And this is true in not just romantic endeavors, but also in simple friendships. The older I get, the less time I seem to have. It's true... ask any older person you know, and they will confirm that the older you get, the faster the days fly by. Life's too short to spend it on people who don't value your pieces of gold.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

End of wisdom. Off on tangent...

What is it lately with the return of the record album? I'm seeing and hearing references to albums everywhere lately.

Back last summer, when we painted our basement, Joycie found our boxes of albums. She and Mike looked through them and were impressed with our choices in music. The old farts were not always so uncool.

For Valentine's Day, Joycie got Mike this really cool portable record player... so they could listen to all our old albums. Though it was pretty funny, because the first thing they did was forget to lock the arm in place, so the poor needle was jumping all over the place inside the case. Kids! But they forgot; they have little experience with turntables.

The other day, Kev and I were watching an episode of "Without a Trace" where the main guy's daughter returned to live with him, and she found his old albums. She also determined he must have been pretty cool in his younger years, and in the show, she went out and bought a turntable so she could listen to her dad's old albums. She also made a comment that his albums could make some serious cash.

There were also some references to albums and turntables on some HGTV shows I've watched lately... album references abound!

Last week, Kev set up his old stereo system, including the turntable out in the pole barn. So now he's listening to his old albums out there. Rock on, baby!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

How to annoy me

Me and Zack are going downtown later.

Your welcome.

That's how its done.

Yes, the dog made it's way home.

Yous guys wanna go with?

I could care less what you think.

I don't have no more dimes.

Who was our first President? I dunno, whaz his name?... Thomas Washington or somethin'...?

What's the capitol of New Mexico? I dunno, Arizona?

We can't be out of Ranch!

Are we seriously out of ketchup?

What time is it? It's around 5:17.

Time we should leave: 6:45am.
6:47am: Mom, I need this 8-page form filled out to turn in today at school. No, it has to be in today.

DVR set up to record Every Single Episode of some damn sports talk show. No one knows how it happened.

Watch movie/show on DVR; discover that recording magically stopped & is missing last 15 minutes.

The green "power on" light on the sound machine is so bright, it lights up our bedroom, making our expensive room-darkening window blinds utterly useless against its power.

Obama bumper sticker on a Lexus. Seriously. Seriously?

Keep selling me losing Lottery tickets.

And, of course...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Really big shew

This has been a heck of a week... I had mentioned that I had a bad reaction to the most recent antibiotic I was taking, and that I had gotten yet more meds to help that situation.

The meds to get over those other meds caused problems, too, so I've had to take... yep, more meds. [Insert scream here.]

Basically, I've been dealing with feelings of vertigo in varying degrees of intensity for the past 9, 10 or 12 days or so. And it sucks. To help calm down those awful feelings, I've had to take Antivert and Valium, as well as more Vicodin than usual.

Some young folks out there might be saying to themselves, "Whoo hoo! Party on!" To them I say, "Youth is wasted on the young."


I just wanna feel normal again.

And the dreams. Oy! I've had some really strange dreams...

Remember the Ed Sullivan Show?

When I was little, I remember watching that TV show a lot. I remember once there was a guy who came on the show, and he kept plates spinning, plates that were placed on top of long poles.

The guy would rush, rush, rush from one spinning plate to the next, giving them a spin to keep them going. That plate spinning thing was kind of popular way back then...

I remember being quite fascinated with the plate spinning. And these plates were china plates, none of those plastic plates like they have nowadays. What crap! Cheaters.

The plate spinning has been embedded in my brain forever. On days when I feel particularly hurried or stressed, with too many irons in the fire, my mind goes to spinning plates. This, of course, always occurs at work. With the week I've had, which required I work from home, since the meds I've been taking this week aren't recommended for driving (duh), I guess I've been feeling a bit stressed out. I woke this morning to a very vivid dream that included spinning plates. I kept trying to keep them going, but they kept breaking. And when they broke, they would somehow end up in my lap, not on the floor. But they must have broke on the floor, because I remember the noise they made falling and breaking. So, anyway, I had my lap full of all these broken plates, but I still had to keep the plates not yet broken spinning and spinning so they wouldn't break, but somehow not lose the pieces in my lap. And the broken plates in my lap were really heavy, and they hurt. I had dark bluejeans on, so I knew the blood wouldn't show that much, and I was so relieved that the blood wouldn't show.

And then I woke up. My heart was racing. And of course, yes, the first thing I did was check for bleeding wounds. And then I was like, "What? Huh?"

And then, "Whew!" And then, "Ah, noooooooo......." [Insert vertigo here.]

Yeah, and I don't think ya hafta be Sigmund Freud to figure this one out.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kitty kisses

Sammy took this photo with his cell phone yesterday afternoon. These are our cats, N.C. and Frankie. N.C. is the orange cat, and he's about 5 years old or so. Frankie, the gray cat, is very old... she's got to be at least 15 or so. N.C. and Frankie are usually pretty affectionate with each other. They would spat on occasion, but lately with Frankie getting, and acting, so old, it seems like they are both more mellow to each other. And, of course... spring is in the air!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

YTD '09 in photos...

Sandy and I are on the same wavelength lately, kind of.... neither one of us got our Christmas packages mailed out on time. But Sandy sent us a huge box in January (and I have yet to mail our box to them! *sigh*). It was so much fun to open that box, as are all boxes from Sandy... my friend is very creative.

Christmas this past year was not typical. Everyone was so sick that some family get-togethers had to be cancelled. We got together with my in-laws in January, which happened to be at the time we got the huge box from Sandy. One of the many gifts Sandy sent was this...

How cool is that?! And it was perfect timing, because we had a festive Christmas dinner that evening in January...

My family had discussed getting together in February, but so far we're still trying to find a weekend when we're all mostly healthy and not contagious. Oy!

A few of us did manage to gather at Kathy and Bob's and celebrate my beautiful niece, Michelle's, 22nd birthday...

Chelle-Belle was thrilled to get outfitted for snowboarding for her birthday...

There is the most gorgeous snowboarder on the hill, folks! I know she and her brother had a blast snowboarding one day. The very idea of snowboarding makes me feel nervous... and old. Ah, to be young and graceful and flying down a snow-covered hill at a kazillion miles per hour on a piece of board. Um... no thanks.

I also got a very pretty photo of Michelle with her Gramma at her birthday party...

And a nice photo of my Mom and Dad, with Dad's fancy new hat that Joie gave to him, and I think he looks very dashing...

I also got this so very cute photo of Janet and Bob, with camera in hand, that's my sis...

This is a photo of the devine coconut cake that Sammy made...

All the photos I took of Sammy and this first coconut cake he made, from scratch!, turned out slightly to very blurry. Sammy made it on Valentine's Day, which happened to also be the time when Janet and Bob received their zebra rug from Africa. They brought the rug over to show us, and they had a piece of Sammy's awesome cake with us... a cake so awesome, that was all Kev wanted for his birthday!

Reilly was not very happy with the rug, and to his credit, it did still smell quite strongly... from being boxed up and shipped all that distance. It's gorgeous, though...

It's also very large. So beautiful. I tried to convince Bob and Janet they should just leave it here at our house, but they declined....

Monday, March 09, 2009

I could use a hand

This past Thursday afternoon, I noticed that the palms of my hands were itching just a little bit. A little bit more on Friday, and then Saturday morning, on my way to the pottery studio, they were really itchy. So just in case, I stopped on the way and bought a Lottery ticket. (Waste of money, as usual.)

If you are taking Augmentin (Amoxicillin), and you begin to itch anywhere, STOP TAKING IT IMMEDIATELY.

I wish I had connected the dots. By Saturday afternoon, I was itchy, itchy, ITCHY. My hands, my ears, especially my ear lobes (weird, huh), my scalp, neck & shoulders. I called my doctor's office and spoke the doc on call who told me to stop taking the Augmentin. I had already taken some Benadryl, and that helped. But my hands were driving me nuts. I could feel little bumps all over my head, neck and shoulders...

My hands were starting to swell a little and turning red...

I used Benadryl cream on my hands, but the doc said to try a steroid cream such as Cortaid. I was able to get my rings off my fingers, but by 4am Sunday morning, my hands were swollen to twice their size and bright red. I couldn't bend my fingers, and it was very painful. My hands hurt so much that I wasn't really paying much attention to the rest of the itchy pains. When I looked in the mirror, I noticed my ear lobes had swollen and turned red, too... I looked so strange. Like I had 2 small flesh balloons on each side of my head. Like I had grown a pair of testicles off my ears! I remember staring in the mirror, mesmerized... I don't know for how long, but then Holy Crap! I realized my ears hurt. And itched like crazy. But my hands hurt too much to use them to itch my ears. I washed my hands because I thought maybe it was all the creams I had used that evening, because it looked like I had burned my hands. So I washed and washed with Dove soap and cool water. That felt really good.

But the itching was crazy. I tried to find our tube of Vitamin A&D ointment, but couldn't. I found a really old tube of Desitin and put some of that on. Big mistake. Wash and wash and wash again. Then a brain flash. I went to my aloe vera plant and broke off a stem and opened it and rubbed it all over my hands. I also took some more Benadryl and went back to bed, rubbing the aloe vera every so often.

Kev has been really sick, too, and he has gotten inner ear infections going now also. Saturday afternoon, he blew his runny nose and one ear painfully popped and then he had a vertigo episode. He was out in the pole barn at the time, and it took him a while, but finally he made it into the house to the sofa. It hit him hard, and he was really sick. I got him an antivert tablet and a Valium (while humming "Welcome to My World" inside my head), and he moved into the bedroom to the rocking chair. He was too sick to lay down (I know that feeling!). I shut all the blinds and got the room nice and dark, and he stayed in there, finally falling asleep, for about 4 hours. He's one tough guy, that's for sure. That would have put me out for the whole rest of the day. And all day Sunday.

But since he was sleeping so soundly, I didn't want to wake him up at 5am Sunday morning... so by the time we got up around 7:30am or so (sleeping in for us!), I was feeling a little bit better. The aloe vera plant really helped. I found a bottle of aloe vera gel that we had bought for sunburns and started using that, rubbing some into my hands about every 3 minutes. But the itching and swelling continued. Then I noticed my bottom lip, on the left side, started to swell. It quickly went from feeling funny to feeling like a big lump on my face. Weird. Then my voice changed, and I noticed my throat was really sore. This was probably about 11am. I turned to Kevin and croaked, "I think maybe something is really wrong." I started feeling like my throat was tightening, and it was a very strange feeling. We headed into the ER, and by the time we got there, I was having trouble breathing. They took me right back in and put in an IV and started pumping drugs into me.

Whew. They also gave me a shot of Epinephrine, not in the IV, but just under the skin. It's adrenaline. And, oh yes, it made my heart race. Not in a good way.

I also got a couple of prescriptions to fill and take for the next 3 days.

More drugs.

Oy! I feel shaky and sick and just plain yukky. But the itching is very much calmed down, and my hands are hardly swollen at all now. They're still itchy and very painful, though. The doctor at the ER said my hands will be the last to heal from the allergic reaction, and it will probably take 4 days before my hands feel better. I didn't go into the office today, instead I worked from home. I didn't feel like driving because I felt so shaky. But I had so much to do, and my hands are aching from all the typing today... which is why, of course, I'm typing up this blog post. Duh. Actually, Kev is sitting near me on the sofa, watching a hunting show on the tube, so I decided to look at the photos on my camera... and I saw the photos I had taken on Saturday. The doc on call that I talked to told me to take photos of my neck and scalp and my hands to take into my doctor on Monday. I actually had forgotten we took those photos.

I didn't see my doctor today - he was booked solid. He always is. The nurse said he could fit me in, but I may have to wait a couple of hours. No thanks. I already have an appointment scheduled with the PA tomorrow, and since my symptoms are better, I'm just going to that appointment.

What a freaky weekend. It is one thing after another with me. I deeply regret making up the saying, with Sammy last year, that "everything'll be fine in '09"... *sigh* That was either a major jinx or I did something really bad in a previous life. (Just kidding, Mom!)

At least it's staying Lighter Longer! Springtime's a-comin'.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Odds and Ends

I’ve been sick with a flu or cold or whatever the heck it is for so long, and with the Seriously Quite Majestic Cough I’ve had, I have been staying home from the office and working from home. For some reason, instead of sitting at my computer desk, I’ve been settling myself quite comfortably in the much-loved recliner with my trusty wood desk and my laptop with a 50’ cable attaching to the router (cable is faster than wireless at my house, and yeah, my cable speed wouldn’t blow you away). I find I have been working on and off pretty much morning, noon and night. The downside... after 4 weeks of this, I have discovered this comfortable position supports my neck perhaps too much. I worked in the office all day this past Thursday, and sitting upright with no neck support whatsoever just about did me in. I am still recovering and my neck is hurting. And I’m sitting in the recliner as I type this... Oy!

For some reason, I have been using “Oy!” a lot. Probably too much. But I am trying to clean up my language. 2008 found me cussing much, much more than I usually do, and I was fond of cuss words prior to 2008, so... Oy!

The other evening while I was working on my laptop, sitting in the recliner, and Kev had the TV on watching football stuff... the college boys’ Combine 24-7, then lately all the free agent stuff... It’s all a blur to me. But I did see one guy, a free agent named Albert Hainsworth, talking about his deal with the Redskins for a hundred mil. The money I’ve been hearing has been making me gag. Whatever. And then during Hainsworth’s talk about the deal, Kev said, “Yeah, and let’s not forget he’s the guy that stomped on a guy’s head.” WTF?!! says I. I mean, What the Oy!... So I Googled him. He did stomp on a guy’s head, an opposing team player who did not have his helmet on at the time. Actually, Hainsworth stomped once and missed Cowboy’s Andre Gurode’s head, so he stomped a second time and connected with the man’s face... Andre had to have something like 30 stitches and had blurry vision from the stomp. Lucky that was all. Hainsworth is 6’6” and weighs well over 300 pounds. This happened in 2006, so Hainsworth was maybe 24 years old. I don’t care how much he apologized, how much “anger management” or counseling he got afterwards or how he made amends... If you’re 6’6” and weigh about 320 pounds, you know damn well how powerfully strong you are. In my opinion, Hainsworth should have been kicked out of pro football never to return. I bet Gurode’s family and friends would agree with me. If Andre were my son, for example, I would be angered beyond belief to hear about this one hundred mil deal. Hainsworth should be forced to give half of it to medical research or medical facilities for head injuries.

Speaking of injuries, my Mom had knee replacement surgery this past Wednesday. The surgery went well, and Mom came home from the hospital yesterday. She is so strong. She’s the strongest 72 year old woman I know. Heck, she’s stronger than a lot of people I know who are 20 years younger. I know my Mom has dealt with pain most of her adult life, having had back surgery way back years & years ago. She’s done so much with pain that would put many people down. The way she’s handled this surgery is amazing, and the hip replacement surgery she had last year. My Mom is amazing! I wanna be like my Mom!

Kev is finally my age again. He turned 48 on March 1st. Sammy made him a coconut cake, from scratch, recipe from the Barefoot Contessa. I was sick, and couldn’t really taste how wonderfully yummy the cake was, but Kevin enjoyed it very much. Joycie & Mike drove into town and got wings from Buffalo Wild Wings, so dinner was nice, too... Kev likes those wings. Now Kev and I are the same age for about a month, until I turn 49. I think 49 is like 39; it’s just not real. When you’re 49, eh, you’re 50. Just admit it.

I recently had a conversation at work about payroll and handling some things, and a person said something like, “...especially when we’re dealing with bargained-for employees...”. I hear this kind of comment pretty often working in a payroll setting. For some reason, there are a lot of folks who are anti-Union. For payroll, yes, Union employees are more work. But so are the other end of the spectrum, the special circumstances in a payroll system for the highly compensated employees also cause extra work. So why the negative feelings toward Union employees? I don’t get it. My husband is a Union member, so I am very pro-Union. I know Unions are not perfect. Is there politics? Is there corruption? Is there narcissism? Yes. Where there are humans involved in a group setting, those things exist. Become active in your local Little League board, and you’ll see all that. You can’t pin those negative characteristics on something as unique solely to Unions. Kev worked in a building where the building manager was a total asshole named Mark Wanus. If it hadn’t been for the Union, that jerk would have accomplished his goal of getting Kev fired. Wanus talked to the Union employees like they were trash, with total disrespect. If my boss talked to me the way Wanus talked to the Union employees, men and women, in that building, my boss’ ass would in the ringer with HR. So, yes, I am pro-Union.

It’s staying lighter longer. Lighter longer. Lighter longer. I love saying that. Spring is coming. I can’t wait. I go around humming sing-song “lighter longer” repetitively to myself, and it feels so good.

Reilly got a good brushing from Sammy yesterday, and it looks like he lost weight. The Furminator works so well. It’s funny, that dog adores Kev so much, and when Kev gets home from work, Reilly is beside himself with joy. But then, when Mike arrives, Reilly is overjoyed. Then Reilly follows Mike around like a shadow. He’s next to him or watching him constantly. He always sleeps with Sammy on Sammy’s bed... except when Mike’s here, then he sleeps near Mike. Reilly is totally in love with Mike. Just like Joycie.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

speaking of last summer...

Our friends have kind of a tradition going... friends that live in Texas, Jay & Sue, and their kids, fly into town when the Tigers are playing the Cardinals. They are big Cardinals fans, well, Jay especially, since he grew up in Cardinals territory. We usually have a cookout at John and Canice's, friends that live in a nearby town here in Michigan, and then we have a big group go to the ballgame.

This past summer, we passed on the ballgame because I couldn't make the drive down to Comerica Park or sit through the game with all the problems with my neck and all... and Kev and the kids didn't want to go without me. It was yet another bummer that was much of the bummer that was last year... And I can't remember exactly why, but we missed the game in 2007, too... I hope we can get plans together for this summer, coz the 2006 game was a blast.

Though we couldn't make the game, we did make it to John and Canice's house for the pre-game cookout and margarita fest!

It was a gorgeous June evening. Beautiful. Everyone brought their kids, and all the younger kids, and some of the older ones, spent quite a bit of time in the pool and on the trampoline in the backyard.

This year, Jay and Sue had a special surprise for John and Canice. Jay had arranged for Brian Vander Ark to come on over to John and Canice's and play his guitar and sing for us all. When Brian arrived, it took a second or two for John and Canice to realize who he was... and then when they did, it was pretty awesome!

The last time I saw Brian Vander Ark, he was with The Verve Pipe. I went with a group of friends, including Jay, Sue, John & Canice, but without Kev (he was working, I believe) to a concert they did over at CMU. This was way back when their song, "The Freshmen," was a #1 hit, or shortly thereafter... 1996 or 1997 or so...

Jay found out about Brian's "Lawn Chairs and Living Rooms Tour '07" and how he was doing it again in 2008, and once the Tiger/Cardinals game plans were made, Jay booked Brian for a backyard concert at John & Canice's. How awesome is that!

Brian Vander Ark has been doing a heck of a lot since 1996. Check out his web site.

So Brian showed up, met everyone, and then settled on the deck, very casual, while we all got comfortable in our lawn chairs, and he played & sang for us and talked with us for over an hour. The kids and dogs were running around playing, swimming, jumping on the trampoline, and hollering and laughing. The grown-ups and older kids were all relaxed and comfortable, taking care of the kids, getting drink refills and the like. All the while listening to Brian sing and play song after song... we all enjoyed it so very much. It was easily the highlight of 2008 for me.

Brian welcomed photos, and recordings. He signed CD's and stuff for us afterwards, and posed for photos. I asked him if I could post a recording of him singing on YouTube and he said something like, "Oh, heck yeah, please do!" A very talented man and a very likable man.

Now for the photos, and I took so many that evening, it was difficult to narrow them down to these few... here is Brian getting settled for the backyard concert...

Most of our crowd... couldn't fit everyone into the photo...

Jay and Sue and their kids, Kelsey, Drew and Brooke...

Canice and John...

Notice Kev in the background, on the deck, getting a margarita refill... I was D.D. since I couldn't drink much back last summer with all I had going on, including the lovely pain pills that don't mix well with liquor...

Kevin and Sammy enjoying the concert...

Joycie and Mike, too... Joycie especially enjoyed watching Brian play that guitar...

John and Canice's son, Noah, by their pool...

Afterwards, I tried to take a photo of Brian, Jay, Sue, John & Canice, but the photos I took all came out rather out of focus, this is the best one...

But another friend, Tami, got a good pic of the 5 of them....

Here is one of the recordings I made that evening... Brian singing "The Freshmen"...

And last, but not least, John and Canice's dog, Abe...

Abe is a Labradoodle and one of the smartest, sweetest dogs ever. Abe had a blast with all the little kids running around, and I think they tired him right out....