Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Joplin, MIssouri - Our Country, Our Citizens

And this posting is why I try to catch up on the blog postings that I miss.

Be sure to page down to the story called:

45 Seconds: Memoirs of an ER Doctor from May 22, 2011

This is the first hand experience of an ER doctor who was present in the hospital that took a direct hit from the tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri.

Please take the time to read it. The story is riveting.

Monday, May 30, 2011

3 Dog - 2 Cat Weekend - Day 3

Now you might have noticed that the cats seem to be absent. They weren't. You just have to know where to look.

Max and Wally have a favorite place. It is our bathroom, which is located as far as you can get from the living room where the dogs hang out.

This spot is a favorite for several reasons: it is quiet there, it is far from the dogs, it is the space where Max gets his fluid treatments for his degenerative kidney disease (behind him is a medical sharps container for his needles) - which means many many treats are despensed here, and it is where they can hang out together. They also have a litter box here and you might notice a white mug on the counter. That is their bathroom water bowl. They like their water out of a mug! :-)

But they aren't always hidden away. In the morning, they enjoy sitting in the kitchen watching the birds on the balcony. Max found a special place where he could hang out in the kitchen, but still be above the fray.

He enjoys sitting on one of the kitchen chairs. Here he is hanging out with Grimace nearby.

All is cool.

We can relax, stretch out our neck, be superior!

He also enjoys sitting there with Meathead nearby.

Yes, these mutts are OK, reasonable, companionable!

And here is Max with ... oh, guess not.

A shot of Milo's ears.

These weekends now are pretty tame compared to last year when Milo was an uncontrolled baby. Last year there was much chasing around and nipping and cat hissing and dog barking. This year those behaviors are much reduced. He knows the rules and follows them about 70% of the time. Huge improvement, really.

Now he is pretty much just one of the pack. Enjoys eating his meals with his cousins, taking long morning walks with Grimace and Grandma and afternoon naps with everyone.

He is a dear little soul.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

3 Dog - 2 Cat Weekend - Day 2

So the weekend starts with a nice calm walk with Grandma - Meaty and Grimace, enjoying their senior stroll to check all the various pee spots in the neighborhood since their last visit.

Then there is the meeting between Meaty and Milo. It starts out as play, and evolves to overheated fatigue for Meaty and frustration that Meaty has pooped out for Milo. Meathead is an old guys and Milo is a young teen, so it is an admirable effort on his part to humor Milo.

Night time typically looks like this - blow up mattresses across the living room floor for my daughter and I with each dog settling where they are most comfortable. Getting settled for sleep takes time due to shuffling of sleeping positions. In the early morning (3:00 am seems like a good time) Meaty decides he needs to step outside for a short visit to empty his bladder. It becomes a group visit with all 5 of us going outside. As we stand in the quiet of the neighborhood when most normal people and animals (wild and domestic) are tucked into dream-land and the street sounds have totally disappeared, we wait for 3 pooches to do their business.

Day time typically looks like this - napping all around! After all, we need to rest up for the nights!!

And there are the walks to the "necessary".

And occasional visits with the neighbors.

Milo (right) with Cleo, one of the neighbors

"Wow, girl, what happened to your legs?"

Meathead making a point.

"I don't know about you, grandma, but I am done here!"

Saturday, May 28, 2011

3 Dog - 2 Cat Weekend - Day 1 - Meet the Cast

There are 5 family pets: the 3 dogs belong to my kids and the 2 cats belong to me and my husband. These 5 lords of the manor spend weekends with me during the spring, summer and fall.

Now the mix of personalities are interesting.

Meathead (full name is Meathead Augustus) is the senior statesman English Bull Dog, first dog in the family, and he prefers to sit quietly on the couch perched on my daughter's lap. Not a big walker, Meaty goes out to pee and poop and the whole process (from leaving the couch and returning) takes about 5 minutes - less if there is rain. The cats ignore him. He ignores the cats. He gets along with Grimace. He tolerates Milo. His only troublesome eccentricity is that he will eat the cats' food if he can get to it, and he loves the "special cat cookies" he finds hidden in the "cat cookie boxes" - the boxes with the sand. We try not to think about this when he kisses us. He is not a barker. He enjoys is naps which involve maybe 22 hours out of ever 24. He likes to get everyone up between 3 and 4 in the morning for night time walks. He uses the excuse that he is a senior canine with a weak bladder.

Grimace (full name is Grimace Roberto Geronimo) is the second senior statesman Pug, second dog in the family, and he prefers to sit right by his grandmother (me) on the couch or go for long walks outside with his grandmother. He also ignores the cats, but Wally loves Grimace - in a kind of a questionable way. Always rubbing up against him, wrapping his paws around him ... and freaking out Grimace.

Grimace love Meaty, but avoids Milo and the cats.

Grimace has two troublesome qualities: he barks EVERY SINGLE TIME he hears dog bark or door bell ring on the TV - you can't imagine just how frequently that occurs until you have a canine pointing it out to you - loudly and sharply. And he can't seems to figure out that it is a make believe sound. It can put you off TV.

He also makes "social statements" in the house, for which he wears "pooch pants". My son calls them camp trousers.

Pugs like to wear "clothes" so this isn't a problem for him.

Milo (full name is Milo, the Stud) is the "baby" at one year old, and the third dog to the family. He loves and plays everyone - to excess. Often he is isolated in the kitchen because he can't cool his jets on the playing. His favorite playmate is Meathead and any other dog that he can bully into playing with him. He barks alot at real and imagined things through the window. Milo loves the cats and has permanently destroyed his relationship with them because he hasn't learned the fine finesse of getting along with cats. Milo also loves the couch especially when his mom has Meathead on her lap. He is the most cuddly of the 3 dogs. He has excellent bladder control in the morning and would prefer to sleep in than go for a walk (an excellent quality if you want to sleep-in) ... I should have such bladder control! At other times he can be alittle leaky - wearing his own version of pooch pants.

Wally and Max, our cats (you can call them "Sir"), are acclimated to the dogs, sort of. Dogs have been part of their lives since they were kittens. But when faced with Milo's brand of "friendly", they say the most interesting cat swear words. I don't know where they learned to talk like that.

They don't seem to mind Meaty and Grimace.

They are fully "armed" and have yet to put their paw down with wayward Milo.

It's just a matter of time.

So that is the cast of characters this weekend and for many weekends into the future. They are all different beings with their own personalities and requirements! They are always "mixing it up." It makes for interesting weekends. ("Interesting" translates to sleepless, unexpected, farty, snorty, and noisy.)

I love these weekends.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Milo Thursday - Road Trip

Eager to take back another piece of my life, I arranged to pick up Milo, my dear grand-dog, yesterday. This regular event happens most Thursdays - unless I am juggling a mom illness like I was during the last 4 weeks.

The trip to Bethesda, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC, takes about 40 minutes from my house. It is a pretty direct route - route 95 south to the Washington Beltway for several miles and then a few more miles into Bethesda.

Yesterday was not a normal day.

It started out fine - great actually. I left the house at 2:00 and got to Milo's abode at 2:30. At that point it fell apart.

We weren't on the road 10 minutes, when Milo threw up! A large yellowy bile kind of vomit with grass. I managed to stay on the road, fold over the blanket to hide the offending ick and kept on. Dogs eat grass, they throw up, no big deal. Three minutes later, he was doing an encore! But this time a piece of wood came up! Yikes. I pulled over and called my daughter. After confirming he has been a bit of a chewer recently, I got back on the road. My poor baby had the saddest face, but at least he seemed to be settled down.

(Silly boy, stop eating random stuff!!)

I got onto the Beltway for the quick trip home. Most locals know the Beltway is a parking lot during rush hour. This wasn't rush hour - maybe it was 3:00. The traffic slowed to a crawl. Maybe 5 miles an hour with stop and go episodes. I figured there was an accident.

Never saw an accident. Just lots of cars.

I saw some vehicles on the side of the road that had overheated, or had a flat tire, and a police car - but no accident.

(Glad that cop isn't looking into my car like that. Hands on the hips say alot. I suppose he would have pulled me over too if he saw me looking through a camera instead of the road.) :-)

We crawled along. I would have made better time walking, but it was 96 degrees outside. (And 30-45 miles is alot to walk even without a sick dog.)

Finally the traffic began to break up as we got onto route 95 north. I was happy - now we were moving. And then we weren't. Darn!! I began reading the ads on business vans.

This guy "Mallick" is a plumber. In the lower right corner is the word "Lick" with a number. I would not have used the word "lick" on a plumber's truck. Lick and plumbing are not words you put together anywhere.


Another plumber truck. What do you think a "certified back flow technician" is?

At least he is getting paid for sitting on this road.

(Right about here I began thinking that I needed to get more of a life.)

Do these large trucks have to be so big? Or so close? Or so noisy? Or so many?

Don't all these people have someplace else they could be?

They are probably saying the same thing about me!

Grandma, are we there yet?

I finally took an early exit off route 95 - country roads - yeah!!

And finally, my street!

And my home!!!

Finally, at 5:00 pm, we arrived.

Yes, the trip took me 30 minutes in one direction and 2 1/2 hours going back.

And you know you have been on the road too long when you start reading the truck ads!

That was yesterday! Today is the beginning of a 3-dog weekend: Milo, Meathead and Grimace. And my daughter! It should be fun!

Hope you all have a fun holiday weekend.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Blogging Problem

I cannot seem to submit comments on other blogs that I am following.

It looks like this:
  • I use "Google Account".
  • I can write the comment, but when I try to publish I get an error reading or I get the message that I am posting Anonymously - so I add my contact information to the message.
  • This morning I am blocked now from posting Anonymously as well.
So I am visiting on other blogs but not commenting. If anyone knows what is happening and how to correct it, please let me know.


The End of A to Z - except for ...

Wow, that was more intense than I thought it would be. Especially when you find you are juggling some family emergencies and you have to stop for 3 weeks or so. But I finished. I really didn't get a chance to participate in the "after discussion", but I did want to finish my final task of highlighting 5 blog posts that I thought were note-worthy. It was hard. There were so many. The links are below.

And just how far off is April 1, 2012?? Yes, I am ready to go again. Even while this challenge was going on I would get ideas for letters that had passed and I thought ... better write this down so you remember when you do this again.

It was great fun.

Thank you for all my new followers and those who regularly visited, and most of all, those who left comments. I am really lucky to have been found by such a great group of bloggers.

Individual posts that I thought were just too good to be missed!

I decided to not include anything that appeared to be a writing exercise or interviews. I also did not consider anything with videos or pictures only. There were some great things out there in that genre, but I wanted to focus on postings that helped us learn more about the blogger.

Also the first links are those posted only in April. They were part of the challenge, but I included one at the end that was posted in March because it was so interesting. The topic was the Washington Corrections Center for Women and it is a 4 part series.

Finally ... Done for this year!!

Note: there is a chance that some links were removed by the bloggers. I didn't check, but maybe one or two of my selections fit that category. If so, sorry.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Only a smidge of growth ...

Well I have successfully skimmed the 912 backlog of blog posts I missed from the end of April.

Yes, I said I would just skip them all, that I would experience a "growth moment" ... but I kept skipping back and checking on various blogs and then I decided I might as well just see if I could get through all them. No, I didn't read them all. I didn't comment on them all. But I did touch down on them all and check what the topic was and if I wanted to read on. It was more of a smidge of growth! (Type A personalities just can't be trusted to take the simple road ... )

So now I am current. I am really glad I did skip them entirely. There were a number of posts I really enjoyed - even if I didn't comment.

Now, if we can just keep out of the hospitals and the rehabs ... just stay well, I will be happy.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Maryland Sheep and Wool

There was a rousing chorus of voices to show my Sheep and Wool purchases!!

So the truth about the "rousing chorus" is that it was one voice, DebD,. For me, it doesn't take more than one voice. I visited her blog, Deb On The Run. You should too. Very nice. Thanks Deb. I am thrilled you asked.

So here is the story and pictures.

I plan all year for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I make sure I keep the day free, I save my money (my birthday is in April so that works out well), and I have a list of what I am looking for. I usually attend with my cousins and my sister. This year I was going with my one cousin. I am happy to go by myself, but it is extra special to share it with others who love this event as much as I do.

Of course, all my plans changed quickly when my Mom got sick in April, was admitted to the hospital, and then a rehab stay. Mom was discharged from rehab the morning of the Fair. But luckily everything fell into place easily. I scheduled mom's discharge for 8:30 am. The ambulance arrived early (that was a surprise), and mom was home in her new living room chair by 9:15 am. It went like clock work.

My daughter was there to keep mom company while we went to the Fair. We still had to make a trip to the pharmacy on her behalf, but we were on the road by about 10:30 am. There were no backups on the roads - usually typical on Fair morning. We pulled into the large grassy field filled with cars as far as you could see. I took a quick turn to the right hoping for an early departer - and I was gifted exactly that. Someone pulled out and I pulled in. We were not far from the entrance. As we walked towards the gate, I was thankful that everything fell into place, including the beautiful weather, on this one day of the year I look forward to all year long.

I didn't have my camera with me (as I originally planned to do) nor a shopping list, but here are the snap shots of the things I got.

The first thing I purchased was one of the Fair's bags. It is a nice roomy canvas bag with their logo. In the back it had a nice outside pocket. I also purchased 2 Fair T shirts with the same logo.

Turns out this bag is pretty handy for my second purchase - my Rigid Hettle loom (that you can see peeking out of it).

I settled on a Kromski Harp Weaving loom. Here is a picture of it folded up. And sitting on its side, it fits pretty well in my new bag.

I love Kromski products. I also have a Kromski spinning wheel. This loom has nice features that make it pretty to look at compared to other looms. This is pretty typical of Kromski products. They take time to build some style into their products.

Here is the loom opened up and ready to weave. In fact you can see my first efforts.

My cousin spent time putting the loom together, getting it warped up and then instructing me on weaving. Everyone should have a cousin like her. Without her guiding hand, this would have taken me forever to put together and warp. The weaving was easier than I thought.

I have been using my free time to finish mom's shawl from my hand loom, and to complete my own scarf and matching hat from the left over yarns. Soon I will be working on my Kromski loom again.

I thought it might make sense to purchase some sort of instructional material for the loom. My cousin doesn't live close enough to "pop over" to help me when I get stuck.

I haven't had a chance to watch it, but I will. I did the same thing with my spinning wheel - got a DVD.

I find that I can absorb only so much in one sitting. I am sure I will re-discover a number of helpful hints when I watch this DVD ... probably stuff my cousin told me and it went right over my head.

Another fun purchase was a Yarn Bowl.

I am not actually sure that is what they call it. But it functions alot like a basket, but it is ceramic. It holds a ball of yarn and the yarn is fed through a slot as you need it. The advantage is that the yarn ball doesn't roll away as you are working with it. I have seen these bowls before, but never one so beautiful.

This maker not only put effort into surface decorations, she added another feature to the back.

She included a small place where you can hold knitting notions.

It took us quite a while to pick out one from all the many beautiful choices provided.

I also got 8 ounces of BFL and Silk for spinning. This picture doesn't do this justice. It is just beautiful. And, it is very soft to the touch.

I think I will hold on to this for awhile until I am a better spinner.

I also visited my favorite yarn vendor: Brooks Farm out of Lancaster, Texas. I purchase something from them every year.

This year they had a new product called Willow. It is composed of 70% Super Wash wool and 30% Bamboo in a worsted weight. I picked a brick red color that is variegated to a brownish dark red. Very nice. It isn't at all scratchy and has a very light feel to it. I had a picture, but my computer filed it away and I can't find it. I also purchase a few patterns from them.

Finally I purchased 2 hand crafted mugs from different vendors. I will show off these mugs in a different postings. And I got some bees wax skin cream for my daughter. It had a citrusy scent.
I think that pretty much sums up my purchases this year.

I want to thank my daughter again for staying with her grandmother while I attended the fair. I knew mom was in good hands with her. And it made my day pretty care free.

All in all, the day was perfect. The weather was just beautiful, my cousin was with me, I had mom home - in time for Mother's Day the next day, my mom was in my daughter's capable hands, and I got some really fun stuff at my favorite fair. It doesn't get much better than that.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mom and her shawl (Hazel Rose Looms)

The pictures of my mom and her shawl turned out so well, that I had to share. The shawl was made from a hand loom by Hazel Rose. It is a 12" loom. I have several others and they are beautifully made, fun to work with, and make a beautiful fabric. Be sure to check out their web site.

Mom is especially pleased with her shawl. She watched me make it and frequently commented on how pretty the fabric was that I was creating. She never asked who it was for. I think you will agree that the colors are perfect for her. She also looks happy - happy to be home and getting better.

The sweater underneath the shawl I knitted for her several years ago. Turns out it is a pretty good match for the shawl.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Growth Moment ...

You will be witness to a
HUGE personal growth moment
in this posting!!

I mean really really BIG!!

You see, May 2, after the dust began to settle on my mother's hospitalization and rehab, I discovered I had 682 backlog postings to catch up on.

I was aghast!

But I firmly believed that I could catch up on my reading over a few days. I know a few of you posted "words of blogging wisdom" advising me to just start with the current day and go forward, skipping the older blog postings.

Of course, being a type A personality, I felt differently, had committed to visiting at my blog friends' sites and seeing what I had missed. Using Google I ordered by backlog to show the oldest posting first so I could work forward in order as I caught up.

(You may roll your eyes now!)

Over the last week ... between medications, weight checks, blood pressure and oxygen checks, exercise sessions, visiting nurses, physical and occupational therapies ... and between vacuuming 'cause with that many people in the house, I wanted them to know I was a good housekeeper (go figure!) ... between all that stuff, I probably visited about 100 postings. Yes, most were quick visits, a few rare comments left, some were skipped if the topic didn't appeal, but I touched down about 100 times.

And then today I decided to check and see how many were still outstanding. Maybe 500-ish, or if I was real lucky 400 something. Not even close!


And so, with great flourish and renewed blog wisdom, I am going to stop counting the back log and reorder my blog list to show the current postings first. I will do my best to ignore the old stuff.

You will notice that there is no promise to ignore the old stuff, just that I will do my best.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Life returning ... new normal

Life is returning to a new normal.

Being back at home has been such a blessing for both mom and I. I know deep in my heart that we will need to step outside of these 4 walls and into an emergency room once again, but I am hoping for a few months of grace to recharge my batteries and give mom a few months of peace while getting better.

Meanwhile, "back at the ranch", our lives are back to a new normal, just like mom's health status. We sleep in our own beds, eat meals at our dinner table, watch Dancing With the Stars every Monday and Tuesday night.

But our new normal has a few layers on it. Our house has frequent home care visitors. I vacuum the house alot now :-). The medication schedule is different. No missing even one pill - I have missed a few of my own but she gets all of hers. Every morning mom has her weight and blood pressure electronically transmitted to Johns Hopkins Home Care. Think about that one - having your weight taken every single day and then announced! Yikes! And she has to exercise. Of course, right now her exercise routine is minimal, but it must be done. My exercise routine? A total bust.

And other normal things are beginning to filter back into our lives. I started walking on Monday. It felt like total freedom to step outside the house and just walk anywhere I want. And even just 2 walks makes a difference in how I feel. Next hurtle is to return to Curves. I'll be starting over on the simple circuit, but that is OK.

The grand-dogs are starting to make appearances in my life again. Saturday my son brought Meathead and Grimace over for a day-long visit. I took them out for a walk - and Meathead - a couch potato dog - decided that we needed to check out ALL our walking paths. I guess three weeks of missed dog walks with grandma had taken its toll on him. Even Grimace - who usually is the walker - was ready to come back in before Meathead. It was too funny!

I finished mom's woven shawl. It was supposed to be finished for Mother's Day, but my days were filled with other stuff. :-) Other more important mom stuff was happening. She was so excited and pleased to find out the shawl I had been working on for months (and she admired regularly) was for her. I had enough woven yarn left over for a scarf for me and a hat. We will be twins!! The yarn is beautiful and I want to use it all up.

I am also clawing my way back to fiber pursuits and reading. I attended the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival (thank you my dear dear daughter for grandma-sitting that day). I purchased a loom that my very special cousin helped me set up. I purchased other stuff as well, but I will spare my non-fiber obsessed readers the list of what I got. Working on fiber projects takes focus and when I am stressed - like the last month - I can't focus on them.

And finally I am back to blogging. It helps me to write my thoughts out, to focus on the good things in my life, to visit other blogs (I am way behind on that - but I'll get there.), and to "hear" the voices of my distant blog friends through comments on my blog. I am not sure why this works so well, but it does. Thank you for sticking with me during this absence.

So I am grabbing back the pieces of my life one day at a time.

It is a new normal for mom's health, and a new normal for my life - but it is normal. And I am grateful for it.

My glass is half-full!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Still Standing

Are you a reflective person?

Do you look back at the course your life, and more specifically, a difficult time, and ponder how you got to this point? And do you reflect on how well things are going, how happy or sad you are, how things will play out in the future? I've done a little of that kind of reflection this week.

It has been a tough 6 months.
  • My mom had 4 separate hospitalizations - all sudden events, and all by way of ambulance and ER. (I really hate the ER.)
  • She had 2 sub acute rehabilitation experiences totaling 3 weeks.
  • She had 4 home care experiences - the last of which we are doing now.
  • I lost a close life long relationship - a relationship that on the surface looks the same unless it is examined closely. Trust has disappeared.
What I have learned:
  • I am tired often, discouraged sometimes and disappointed frequently. But I am not broken.
  • Trusting my gut - based on experience - has been the correct move time and time again.
  • I am strong enough to demand action and accountability when it is lacking - especially in regards to my mother's care.
  • I love being home. Spend 3 weeks away in medical facilities, sleeping in your street clothes, on couches or on rubber recliners, eating food from hospital cafeterias, and you too, will develop a love of your home. I am happy to be here - to just be!
  • Those who say something can't be done, should get out of the way of those who are doing it.
  • Despite everything, I am still a happy and optimist person. My life is successful because of that attitude. I choose optimism!
What I am grateful for:
  • The right people have been in the right place when I needed them most.
  • All but one voice has confirmed my actions and supported my choices with regards to my mother. Those voices run the gamete of family, friends and medical professionals. Those folks know who they are.
  • My mother is still alive and living with me. So many times in the last weeks, I have heard folks say how lucky I am to still have my mother and to be able to support her during this time. I, too, have felt that way, but it is nice to know that this value is shared by others.
  • I am grateful for my 13 years in the medical field. It gave me the knowledge and judgement as well as the understanding of reasonable expectations for medical care. It also gave me many personal connections in my local community to high quality physicians and services. I have benefited greatly from that experience. So has my mother.
What I accept:
  • No matter what you do, the slow decline of elderly marches towards its inevitable conclusion.
  • My mother's needs will continue to grow due to rapidly declining health.
  • Only one person in her family can handle this daily responsibility - that falls to me.
  • My choices are not the choices of others. It doesn't make me wrong ...
  • One day I may be forced to move my mom to another more appropriate place. It will be hard - gut wrenching, actually. But when her care requires such a move, I will do it.
And in the end ... I will still be standing!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Behind, behind, behind.

So I started to read the posts I am behind on today. And before I did that, I decided to see just how many I am behind.

I figured 200 or maybe 300.

Official post count on May 2nd?



Maybe getting the exact number wasn't a good idea! LOL

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pant! Pant! ... A to Z Epilogue

I may have finished this challenge one day short of the goal, but I finished!

Today I was focused on catching up - posting the last 5 days and completing the challenge.

Tomorrow I will be focused on reading, and reading, and reading - 5 days worth of 58 blogs ... I am actually looking forward to that.

And then in a few days I will post my 5 or 6 postings that I thought were just outstanding. Really, there were probably 20 or 30 that were sensational, but I need to put a reality check on my enthusiasms.

My sincere thanks to all of you for tagging along with me this last 30 days. I am thrilled to have made so many new blog friends. I received so many notes of encouragement, concern, and caring especially during the last week. It is remarkable and most appreciated.

Now to read and read and read ... and catch up.

You guys are the best!!