Monday, February 28, 2011

February Dripping Into March

It's wet.  The streets of our little town are flooding (even with the NEW improved $$$ sewers).  Riley goes out only when absolutely necessary.  He doesn't like to get wet in the rain, but dives into puddles, ponds or water filled drainage ditches.  My porches need a good shoveling before all the slush freezes.

I have been handsewing (thus the pincushion at my elbow).  My 12 by 12 has been worked on pretty much all day today and part of several days before.  It still has "needs".  Meaning it still doesn't look good.  Better, but I have a blue sitting on another blue and no contrast, so that needs work.  Can you see the blue, green and brown threads on needles stuffed into the cushion?  It is all so dunkel (dark) with no focal point.  Anyone looking at it would say "what is this supposed to be?"  I'm not feeling the love.

G has EOM and I have eaten the remainder of the Garden Chowder for lunch.  And the dark chocolate with nuts from my See's candy box.  G stopped and checked out a new Elizabeth George from the library for me to read.  Reading usually keeps me away for the fridge and candy box.  I ate so much yesterday that I FINALLY am not constipated anymore.  What a joyous relief.  This is what happens when I change over from shredded wheat to oatmeal.  Things don't travel as well as they should.

The PBS Any Human Heart was truly, deeply, awful.  But not as awful as I am hearing the Oscars were. And I missed the Charlie Sheen interview on the morning shows.  Hear that was entertaining.  Now they are mentioning bipolar disease and mental illness.  Miss one interview and you are so far behind on these Hollywood things.  I learned yesterday the show was cancelled.  Good news.  Once the little boy was older than 10 they should have stopped.  Or was Charlie the half man????  Half wit?

I am going to have a cup of tea, take a shower, then read my book.  Only one week left of unemployment.  I have to enjoy it.  Rest up.  The next two months at work are cold, dirty and tiring.  Perennials coming into the cold annual house, foliage and flowers into the greenhouse and I have Agapanthus to divide.  Huge plants.  I am going to be bone tired, cold, covered in dirt and so happy to stand in the hot shower until the water goes cold.  Then fall asleep standing up.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Eye See

Why do we make the things we make?  Why do we buy and cherish the things we buy and cherish?  What makes me, me and you, you?  And does it matter so much?  I think it has more to do with pleasing others than pleasing ourselves.  True artists are only interested in pleasing themselves.  In my little world, if I am happy I seem to have the ability to make others happy.  If I am spiteful and crabby, not such a happy crowd all around me.  I have been more content with my art work since I decided I was the only judge worth listening to.  This doesn't mean I am doing "great works of art", but merely that I am making art.  And the art I am making is making me happy.  Likewise with the food I am cooking.  The seeds I am planting.

My neighbor across the street came by to give G chocolate for shoveling her mailbox out.  I asked her to come in for coffee (even thought the house was a mess).  She has a new job.  That made G and I happy.  Not as good a job as she wanted but a job, with health insurance.  She also mentioned falling down one evening while walking her dog and not being able to get up.  Crawling back to her house.  That made us both feel terrible.  She needs to carry her phone.

G is blowing snow off the driveway and then he is going to walk Riley.  I have laundry to finish and bed sheets to wash.  Bed to make. Floors to vacuum.  Table to clean off.  Our breakfast biscuits were delicious. The same recipe as always but with soy milk and it seems to make them extra tender.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Black & White

The snow.  The ice hanging from the roof.  The cold.  It's all coming to an end as March enters in full Winter Roar.  We have 8 to 10 new, wet inches of snow and tonight another 4 to 6.  Then rain.  Probably freezing rain.  In between storms, bright blue skies and sunshine.

My employer asked me to come in to work today to discuss "things".  We have a number of classes offered in March and I thought we would be discussing that.  Instead, he told me I would be returning to work on March 7th (and teaching two classes). My Winter Furlough is coming to an end.  Much sooner than anticipated.  I'm not sure how I feel about this yet.  The winter greenhouse was nice and warm this morning. It smelled of dirt, damp and mystery.  The little flowers seemed so bright and cheerful.  Streptocarpus in pretty blue.  Primula in golden yellow, red, pink and white.  Cyclamen.  Orchids.  I have missed the bright light and warmth of the greenhouse.  I mixed potting soil with water to make a damp, perfect soil to divide and repot African Violets for a customer.  Since I was there, they asked if I would to do it.  They weren't sure how.  How could I say no?  And did I know if we had sprout seeds? And when to plant spinach?  How large a pot for the lime tree? Could I make the coffee for the class snack?  Welcome back.

So, I have one week and one day to straighten out my life here at home and get ready to return to work.

Last night, before I knew what today would bring, I ordered a new Pilates machine from QVC.  The "new improved" model on "special" and not the expensive pro model.  It will arrive by Friday, March 4th. I was happy with the less professional model before and I hope to be happy with this new model, now.  If not, it goes back in 30 days, no questions asked.  I want to feel the way I felt while doing the exercises.  Calm, meditative.  Remember how well I slept?  The dreams?  Good dreams.  I miss all that and want it back in my life. G wants to use the machine, also.

Riley is sleeping on his pile of dog toys.  He had a good walk with Sam today.  In the woods (with leash) and then digging holes into snowbanks.  Sam knows how to make snow a fascinating adventure for a dog (or small child). I remember when Reny was a 2 month old pup.  She rolled tiny snowballs down the driveway for him to chase.  The next winter she was rolling large snowballs down the same driveway for a new puppy, Riley, to attack and destroy.  I'm not very good at thinking of interesting dog games.

G reheated leftovers tonight.  He did a fantastic job of it.  Delicious dinner.  It's a wonderful thing to go take a shower and come back to find a hot meal waiting for you to eat.  Didn't even have to do the dishes. After dinner, I took the time to write in my journal, finish my book and eat a few pieces of my Christmas chocolates from See's Candies.  The Nuts&Chewies Collection.  I plan to eat most of them this weekend and be done with them. Last week I ate the $1 bag of orange slices I got at Walmart.  I ate three one day and then a few days later, ate the rest of them.  I couldn't stand knowing they were in the house.  Now that they are gone--I don't care about getting more or eating more.

I think I will go to bed now.  I'm tired. And if I go to bed I can stop eating candy.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Winter Redux

Almost March and Winter refuses to let go here in Maine.  We were just beginning to notice brown along the sidewalks and garden edges.  Beginning to think of crocus and daffodils. Cruel to snow again! At least, the ravaged, yellow/brown snow is now covered in a clean layer of white.  Fresh.  But I have had enough.  Of white. Of snow. Of winter.  Bring on the rain.  The mud.

Here it is 5 pm and the street plows have closed the bottom of the driveways with 36 inches of heavy wet snow.  My cross the street neighbor is reading her newspaper, in the car, waiting, I presume for her hired plow person to arrive to clear her drive so she can go into her house.  I can't offer her my living room.  My driveway is blocked as well.  G has left work and would like his dinner before starting to clear snow.  The pot roast is tender and dark brown, the potatoes are boiling away and instead of carrots we have peas.  I made gravy with a mix of soft butter and flour (very French) and it looks good.  I hope it has a decent taste as well.  Reading Elizabeth George.  Feeling British.  Ha!

G and I read our books rather than watch television last evening.  It was nice.  I have been staying awake later and later and waking earlier than usual.  I am tired.  The browned hunk of beef is in the oven (not the slow cooker) turning itself into pot roast.  Later, I will peel potatoes and fry carrots (yes, I fry carrots!) to serve alongside the beef.  Plenty left over for tomorrow when I will be too tired to cook.

I have decided what I want to try on the 12 by 12.  I made the background yesterday and enjoyed the stitching, the pressing of seams, the running of hands over the pressed seams (this is what I love about fabric and quilting -the seams; and I despise piecing), and now I have a glimmer of an idea for the foreground.  I am feeling the need for handsewing.  Applique or embroidery.

G toasted the sandwich bread for his breakfast, again, this morning but there is a slice or two left for a cheese sandwich for my lunch.  Telling him anything is such a waste of time.  I have to stick notes on every item on the counter.  It's like his head is empty.  And he has fooled around with my computer screen and I hate what he has added.  Can't figure out how to remove it.  I have argued with him over this same thing so many times and he keeps doing it--like it's "new" to him every time. It's MY computer.  He can add s**t to his own screen.  G enjoys "more". I like "less".

Riley has been in/out several times this morning.  Yesterday G took him on his first off leash walk in the woods since the "leg pain".  Riley was asleep for the rest of the day.  Now he is hoping for another romp in the woods without his leash.  Don't we all?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Getting Back To Business

I have, perhaps, three more weeks of unemployment/furlough and I have not crossed off any of the items I wrote down on my Winter Furlough list.  I started work on a few, but G's mysterious muscle pain, the new Pilates exercises (now a thing of the past) and the daily dog walks have limited the amount of time I have to actually get something done.  Fabric is piled on the stairs going up and the floor and in the upstairs room. My old workspace looks like the inside of a dumpster.  Hardly conducive to contemplative fabric collage.

I did manage, in the beginning, to get some much needed cleaning done here at home.  It needs doing again.  My slipcovers have still not been taken to the Suds&Fold to be washed in one of the big washers with bleach and hot water ($5).  I could do that today.  Read my book while they Tumble&Slosh.

I purchased sewing machine needles (all of mine had broken -the tips snapping off, still threaded) for some well intentioned mindless zigzaging of wabi sabi placemats.  I even found newer and better fabrics for the blue placemat while moving and sorting fabric.  My upstairs fabric closet looks neat and not over filled, but standing next to the closet are three towers of storage containers.  Containers that need little stick on labels.  Containers filled with "projects".  And the newest 12 by 12 is due on Tuesday.  I haven't even started.  I haven't even found fabric in the blue, sage, brown colors.

My new list:
12 by 12 for Tuesday morning
Easter Bunny House.  Construction/Painting/Decoration  Need fake grass.
Sam's Ohio Accounts
Vegetable Seeds
Zigzag Placemats
Wash White Slipcovers

I have it all written down on the March desk calendar.  In orange Sharpie.  Can't miss seeing the list each morning.  I'll try to have a list update for you during the month.  House construction will most likely be posted in pictures.

I am making a pot roast tomorrow.   I am washing darks right now and whites right after.  Changing the bed sheets and dusting the four poster rails.  G will vacuum after physical therapy.  The windows need washing.  And I am eating my oatmeal as I type.  The dog needs walking.  And I would love a shower.

What a terrible list.  No wonder nothing gets done.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Never Again

If ever a Deep Cleaning of Tooth Roots is suggested I will "just say no".  My two back molars were cleaned to a depth of 8 centimeters with the additional pain of a full quadrant numbing.  The hygienist tried with just a gum injection but I stopped her after 30 seconds and told her "no".  So my dentist appears and asks for the "long needle".  Everything from then on was not the least bit comfortable.  My jaw ached.  Large grains of what looked like cement were removed from the lower depths of my molars. The surface is now smooth and ready for the gums to re-attach themselves.  Live happily ever after.

I was fine until the sedative wore off; library, grocery and walked the dog.  And then I was stunned at how my teeth, jaw and head hurt. I curled up in the chair G spent most of the two weeks of his misery in with the heating pad on my jaw.  Riley was miserable and worried.  Mommy can't be sad.  I am still not able to chew any food other than oatmeal and bananas and I think I will be taking another pain pill in a few minutes.  All my liquids, including coffee, are to be warm not hot. I have a special soft toothbrush.  Pink.  My teeth feel loose.

On a more pleasant thread, I am thinking about the seed starting for my vegetable garden.  Big Spanish red peppers to roast, fennel for pizza, artichokes (I have three germinated seedlings in tiny pots), peas, broccoli rabe, kale.  I want parsley, dill and cilantro.  I intend to try again to grow beets, radishes and carrots.  I want turnips.  Perhaps a cabbage or two. Green beans. Some escarole for soup. I finally broke down and purchased a heating mat to encourage my seeds to germinate at 70 degrees.  All I need is some seed starting soil and a quick visit to the garage to look for the trays and little sectioned pots.  If I had wanted to be more thrifty, I could have saved all the tiny yogurt cups from G's daily yogurt.  Punched holes in the bottoms for drainage and used them for my seed starting and seedlings.  365 cups.  I did save my cereal boxes to cut into strips for collars to keep cutworms away from my baby plants in the garden. But that is later.  Not now.  Now is Seed Time.

I had to send in my Work Diary and the Signed Statement of Truth Telling to the Unemployment Board as it has been 6 weeks.  I have a new Work Diary for the next 6 weeks.  In answer to the question : Is there any possibility of returning to work for a previous employer?  I replied, yes, just as I returned in 2009 and 2010, I will be returning to work at the end of March in time for the Spring Open House on March 28 (when I will be teaching the Vegetable Gardening Class).  Because, you dimwits, I am STILL EMPLOYED by my previous employer.  I am just on winter furlough.  Oh, never mind.

Riley has figured out how to get my attention when he feels I have left him outside too long.  He comes over to the window and barks.  Never has done that before.  And he knows which window.

I'm going to have another cup of warm coffee, read my book for a little while and then get dressed and take Riley for a walk.  30 something degrees and sunshine.  A good day to walk.

Survivor tonight.  Secret Federal Agent Philip.  In the hot pink underpants.  Redemption Island. Boston Rob.  My thought is that if Russell or Boston Rob get voted off and sent to the Island, they will beat off any competitor, come back at the end and probably win a million dollars.  So, these teams shouldn't vote them off if they know what's good for them.  Just saying, is all.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Deep Tooth Cleaning Today

I reserve the right to ask them to stop the work.  One tooth.  I have suffered from Dental Phobia for most of my life due to the propensity of the "Family Dentist" to forgo any pain relief, or at best, refuse to wait long enough for it to take hold.  These are nightmares from my childhood, before the age of 12.  Later, in high school, I visited, on my own, a dentist who would let me sit for however long it took for the novacaine to work.  A long time.  My present dental group is long past the tension and anxiety of my first visits when the normal tooth cleaning had to be done over a 2 or 3 month time span.  Now, they are so cavalier as to schedule deep cleaning and expect it to go smoothly.  I am checking for escape routes.

The light powdery snow of yesterday was the perfect accident waiting to happen.  I didn't go out to walk the dog because one careless step on the smooth slippery snow covered ice and I would have fallen.  The YakTrax DO NOT work on smooth, slick ice.  Riley was disappointed.  I read my book and he snored peacefully on his sun soaked dog bed. I am hoping that by the time I return home after my dental visit, the sun will have melted more snow I will be able to tell where the safest path lies.

I made the Garden Chowder for dinner, using up the broccoli in the fridge, a few carrots, a potato, onion and some canned corn and tomatoes.  I don't think it's G's favorite as it has "vegetables" so I will be eating the remains even with the cream and grated cheese I added to make it seem less vegetable to G. I'll make chicken for him tonight.  That man could happily eat chicken every night of the week.

I have a new item to add to my "To Do" list.  Checking the dates on canned items in the pantry cupboard.  I have a very small cupboard of canned goods and try and use them up and then replace the items.  Now I see a few cans that have been repeatedly shoved to the back.  That happened once before in the deep dark recesses of the top shelf in this cupboard.  To canned cherries.  The cans had actually been there long enough to leak.  What a mess.  I may move the canned goods to the vacuum closet.  Cooler, darker and smaller so I can't accumulate too many canned goods.  Usually, only bean varieties, corn and tomatoes.  I did notice some artichokes and one can of pineapple chunks.

 I am not a survivalist with cartons of canned goods stuffed under the beds.  I would prefer to stockpile rice, dried beans, sugar, salt and some grains with which to make bread or dumplings (and my box of vegetable seeds for a garden).  Live like cowboys on the range.  Beans and biscuits.  Or like the Mexican immigrants; beans and tortillas in times of no money or no job.  I wonder what the Chinese poverty meal is?  Or the African? The British? Any ideas?  I think the Egyptians fall back on lentils and rice with deeply fried onions on top if available.  My grandmother would have served vegetables from the garden in a stew over dumplings made from flour and potatoes.  Which is why I am pear shaped.  Or dumpling shaped.

Time for breakfast followed by tooth brushing and flossing.  11.30 appointment.  Ugh!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Morning Snow

I woke up very early today.  It snowed overnight and the sun hasn't made an appearance (hopefully) yet so the skylights are covered and my usually bright room is overcast and dark.  As is my mood.  Riley is over by the window softly "ruffing" (G admonished him for barking yesterday) because he has seen something outside that I can't see.  Deer, fox, crows or the ever popular squirrels.  Rodents under the snow are gaining in popularity around here, due to the warming temps.

The snow cover, with ice underneath, will invigorate the walk today.  I am not enchanted by the possibility of a slip and fall.  I may suggest to Riley that we walk down the middle of the street today and forgo walking on the tippy top of the snowbanks with the ice covered road edges.  I will wait as long as possible before going. Sit quietly and read my Elizabeth George mystery and hope the dog finds amusement elsewhere.  He is busy carrying all his toys out into the living room.  I must participate by calling out the name of each toy animal as it goes past my computer chair.

I went to the grocery store yesterday.  I hadn't really shopped since G had his "episode" and finally, the fridge shelves were bare.  $130. I purchased breakfast items (orange juice, yogurt, jam, oatmeal, soy milk), vegetables (carrots, eggplant, lettuce), sandwich items for Sunday lunch (turkey, cheese, hummus, bread, chips) and items I needed for Cheesy Garden Chowder and Pizza.  Two jugs of Tide because they had original scent and it was good to use in an old fashioned washer.  I purchased no meat.  No prepared foods.  In fact, nothing which looked like "groceries".  I had to go look at the receipt as I was certain I had been overcharged. Everything was noticeably higher priced than the last time (10 days ago) that I shopped.  I did not purchase any more shredded wheat.  Oatmeal from now on.  Five pounds of sugar was $3.65.  I didn't need any but figured it would be more expensive next time when I would need it.  For the same reason I bought two large packages of oatmeal instead of the one I needed.  I looked at the sale meats, but wasn't feeling the "love".  We'll have chowder and pizza and with leftovers that's four dinners.  I have chicken in the freezer and mushrooms for Chicken Marsala for G and I still have kale to steam for my own dinner.  We have enough possibilities stocked in the freezer and pantry.  I wonder what families with less money will do?

I can see a huge turnout for our gardening classes in the coming months.

The pear at the top of this post was drawn yesterday.  I managed to do laundry and iron all G's shirts yesterday.  Not a very productive day.  I had a nagging sinus headache all day and finally, at 7 pm, looked in the drug cabinet for something and found a sample packet of Advil for sinus congestion.  It worked.  Watched Masterpiece Classics and wonder that this was even produced.  And Mr Darcy is not aging well.  The actor was in my favorite Pride & Prejudice with Keira.  It actually took me quite awhile to figure out where I "knew" him from.  G was also perplexed, "what happened to him?"  I would give an Emmy to whomever is doing the makeup and hair.  I almost didn't recognize Mr Collins (also from P&P) playing the Duke of Windsor.  Darcy and Collins played golf in last night's episode and it was very amusing. To me.  Was the Duke really that much of an ass?  Wallace is played by the gal from the X Files. Everyone is looking good but has nothing of any value to say.

I wish I could say I was looking good.  I can admit to not having anything of value to say.  Tomorrow two of my teeth are getting a "deep cleaning".  Oh, bother as Pooh would say.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

No Picture Saturday

I had a good day. Walked the dog.  Nice shower.  Some snow dusted the streets when I went out this morning and the wind was quite "blustery".

Tried my new Jillian Whey Protein Mix for lunch.  I mixed one scoop with water and 12 frozen Walmart strawberries and it was pretty thin, sour and not very nice.  I added a spoon of sugar and a splash of soy milk.  Better but no creamy strawberry shake taste.  It was better than eating crackers or chips. I will try it with soy milk tomorrow and I have bananas so I can add one of those to see if that helps.  All the additions add calories. But not as many as half a box of Wheat Thins.

QVC sent a letter stating that they had credited my card with a refund.  They had no Pilates machines (like mine) in stock even though they had told me they had plenty when I returned the defective one.  I am feeling very sad about this turn of events.  Machines at the manufacturer's site cost $400 more than the one I bought and are the same machine.  At least the picture looks just the same.

G came home  from work an hour early because he was "just plain tired" which is a good thing.  He usually doesn't notice that he has over extended himself and just tries to keep going.  Knowing when you have done enough and are really tired is a positive sign.  He and Riley are asleep on the dog bed.

We had Chinese take out yesterday.  I ate half of my Sesame Chicken and decided I don't like Chinese Food anymore.  Could have been that it was "chicken".  Or is something happening to food?  I am buying my regular products and they all taste odd. Even my Kraft Mac and Cheese didn't make my tastebuds happy.  I'm not taking any medication.  Food just tastes odd.  And I crave SALT.

I am going to reheat the Sesame Chicken for G and add some fresh steamed broccoli.  Then serve him rhubarb pie and coffee.  I don't know what I will make--perhaps a nice salad if the lettuce is still edible. I always like a nice salad with feta, olives and ranch dressing.  Salty.

Early to bed for all three of us I think.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Research, Reading & Riley

I have managed 65 pages in my new Icelandic mystery.  Made, yet another, trip to Wally World for drugs and while there I purchased a whey protein shake mix and a very large bag of frozen strawberries so I can make a mid afternoon strawberry protein shake instead of snacking on various items which don't fill me up and even make me hungrier.  I had purchased a vanilla shake mix from a company called Delta or some such, and made the shakes in 1989/90 when I still was in control of my weight.  The packet, ice and frozen strawberries (perhaps milk) blended into a very thick shake that took a long time to finish.  And filled me up. And were delicious.  This whey powder is not meant to be a diet meal.  It says so on the container. But a friend says it is what she has for breakfast.  A scoop of protein powder, a banana, juice or milk and into the blender.  Keeps her going until early afternoon and her visit to 7/11 for a BigGulp.  My friend is not someone you should go to for health tips.

G has finished taking his medicine and has now started taking "my" medicine.  And is doing much better on the magical big orange pills that I take for pain.  Non-narcotic.

I am doing research on a Windowsill Gardening class.  It covers so many topics.  Herb gardens, seed starting, container gardening, houseplants, even vegetables grown on sunny windowsills.  Too much stuff to cover.  It gets confusing for the people who come to the class.  But if I talk about herbs, I also have to talk about starting them from seed.  No way around it.  And the windowsill may be all some of the older members of the class have in which to enjoy live plants.  We don't all have yards or patios or decks.  And if we do, sometimes they aren't in the sunshine.

It is also time to send in my first (6 weeks) work diary for unemployment and fill out and sign my "Truth and Nothing But the Truth" statement.  Or go to prison.

I am having my cereal now, a second cup of coffee and then I will read for an hour.  I should have a clearer idea of how I want to spend the remainder of the day after that.  Cabin Fever has set in and I am ready to be done with cold and ice.  Other than the dog walks, I haven't even been to the grocery store this week.  Just Wally World yesterday and that's more of a punishment than a real "go somewhere".  I think it is past time to start working on stuff I had on my Winter List.  And there's always the IRS.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Next Twelve by Twelve Challange

The colors are blue, beige and sage green.  Colors that occur in the paint in and on my house.  Originally, I had a faded sage green house with linen white trim.  In the New England tradition, I started painting the ceilings of my porches sky blue.  The actual color of the sky over my backyard.  I held color swatches up to the sky, trying to match the intense "blueness" of a Maine sky.  I only managed the sunroom (porch) ceiling as it involved over painting to cover the knots in the beaded ceiling, then the first coat of blue and then the second coat.  I was exhausted and less enthused about the four or five times larger front porch ceiling.  We had the house repainted in one of the Martha Stewart "Prison" collection colors--shortbread. While the painters were covering the sage with shortbread, I asked them to paint the porch ceiling blue and they were not enthusiastic.  So, it's a bright white now as is all the house trim.  The shutters are painted the exact color of fresh rhododendron leaves (we had to paint them this color as the painters didn't think that was a good choice of color- in fact the owner of the painting company was here to fix something and he averted his eyes from the shutters).  I had intended to add a fourth color--that mottled brown in one of the center dots.  I was going for a modern Majolica palette.  I still am wanting to have the house body color stained a less yellowish color (shortbread is buttery) and more of a sourdough color.  The cost and general lack of enthusiasm by the painting company has slowed the progress of this plan.  They are extremely good painters.  And, so far, their balking has more to do with taste than work ethic.

I also painted my main bathroom sage green and added a hooked carpet of sage green, cream and rosy pink.  I am tired of all this "home spun" look and want to remove it all and start over with a cleaner and more modern look.  Which means getting rid of a great deal of knick knacks.  Lots of little jars with cherries painted on and other 1930's stuff.  That was me in 1991 and a few years after.  Antique shows, quilts and hooked rugs.  I'd really like new toilets and sinks.  New, modern toilets are very nice indeed.

I finished one book and started another.  I planned to read last evening but Top Chef had the Muppets on and Cookie Monster and Elmo were just too damned CUTE and I had to watch.  Watching Cookie Monster shout "COOKIE" about a thousand different ways was so funny.  And Elmo doing a critique of Dale's cookie was unbelievably sweet.  Richard being blown away by actually being "with" Elmo, his young daughter's FAVORITE was good, he was speechless with joy.  I hope they took pictures of them together for the daughter to treasure.  Daddy & Elmo.  Doesn't get better than that, does it for a 2 or 3 year old?

No Pilates machine.  I have to walk the dog.  G is reading and napping.  That's how he intends to spend his day off.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What I Enjoy Most For Dinner

The table. When I walk into a beautifully decorated (simple) restaurant and am seated at a table that is also beautifully arranged; you could serve me anything and it would be amazing.  Perfect.  I eat with my eyes. I love the wrinkled linen table cloth in this magazine picture, the woven seated chairs, the leopard print plates, the earthenware tumblers, and the huge, linen napkins.  I would order a seasonal salad with a simple vinaigrette, crusty fresh baked bread, perhaps a cup of soup, a grilled piece of meat or seafood.

My own table has the possibility of all this.  When I serve food to company, the table is the star.  A great deal of time and effort, on my part, is spent selecting linens, plates, glasses.  I even add bowls of salt with tiny spoons, glass pitchers of ice, water and lemons and small candles in crystal tumblers.  I have enough Bonne Maman jars now to cover the length of the table (8 feet) with candles in jars.

Perhaps this is why the cluttered jumble of daily debris on my table is such an irritation for me.  Clearing this table off is often on the very top of my "cleaning to-do lists"  And it takes such a long time as there are so many diverse items on the table; returning them to their origins takes time and when I get there, I am often confronted with additional clutter.  This morning I threw away empty pill bottles.

G's "toilet phone" stopped working again.  He went to ATT to get a new one.  He wanted the $49 iPhone deal.  No.  He wanted a replacement with the same contract.  No.  Anything he asked for. No.  Finally, he asked to speak to a manager or supervisor.  He explained that he had been an ATT customer for over 15 years and had only gotten three new phones in all that time.  This was the first time he had damaged a phone in 15 years.  The others had just worn out.  All he wanted was to replace the damaged phone.  No new service contract.  No cancellation of the current contract.  No fines.  No additional charges.  He wanted to buy a phone just like the one that was no longer working.  Eventually, the manager said yes.  The original sales person refused to do it. The manager said "yes, you will.". Can you believe this?  This is what ATT thinks is "customer service" with Verizon practically giving away iPhones just to get ATT customers to move.  I may have to sell my ATT stock and buy Verizon stock.

Food prices are going up again.  China doesn't have enough food, fuel or cotton to keep their economic machine running but they have plenty of cash to buy stuff at high prices.  So, we all suffer.  I plan to shop around the outside perimeter of the grocery store and try not to go down more that a few inside aisles.  I will need canned tomatoes, dry beans, oatmeal, rice and pasta which are in the aisles.  But around the perimeter I will buy the sale specials on fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy. I did the same in 2008/09.  Filling the freezer with whatever was marked down for that week.  No prepared meals or mixtures.  No boxes of cereal.  No packaged breads. And I will start seeds for my vegetable garden.

The Furnace Report: I have all new thermostats (complimentary) and the furnace is cycling in a normal fashion.  Still noisy but I am getting used to the warmth, loving the hot water and finding comfort in the little "click, click" that signals that the zone has asked for heat.  Walking the dog today and hoping that today is the day the replacement Pilates arrives and hoping the welds are smooth, the wheels don't squeak and I can get back to my routine of exercise, dog walks and hot showers.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pear Two

If you stopped by earlier this morning, you saw a different, whinier, post.  That has now been deleted.  And I worked a bit more on the Morning Drawing.  Adding collage papers and a stamp.  A cricket fiddling in the snow.

The furnace tech is here again.  And he has a broken filling (which hurts) from a bag of mixed nuts he got from his Valentine.  The furnace is cycling on and off.  Too quickly.  Too often.  We are going to try thermostats. New ones.  I don't know what to think.

The sun is shining and the room I am sitting in is VERY warm.  I am not used to this.  I had a luxuriously hot shower (after the service guy finally arrived) and cereal and toast for breakfast.  My face feels warm and dry from the lack of moisture in the air.  Warm air is so much drier than cold air.

Riley started barking at around 6.30 this morning and hasn't stopped.  He also has been going in and out all morning. Some branches got blown down during the windy morning and he has collected and chewed them into small bits.  Yesterday he chewed off all the budded branches of the pink Rhododendron out front and utterly destroyed the shrub, or the part not covered by snow.  I was busy chipping ice off the driveway wearing no coat or gloves.  It was 49 degrees.  Today it's 17.

The G update: work was okay for the first day back.  The doctor's nurse called to report they found arthritis in G's back and side Xrays.  Now he will be going for "physical therapy".  G has always had back pain.  This was LEG pain.  But I'm not a doctor.

The rhubarb custard pie was good as was the mushroom pasta.  G was happy with his Valentine dinner.  I was happy he was happy.

I have a medium box of video tapes to dispose of and turns out they are a petroleum based product (90%) and can't be recycled with paper and plastic things.  They have to go to special video tape locations.  Or I can make craft items out of them--little coin purses as an example.  Or tie up my tomato plants with unwound tape.  I think not.  We used the tapes to record programs so they aren't "movies" which a library sale might want.  And I don't think sending them to a landfill with garbage is a good thing to do.  Being environmentally conscious can sometimes be a trial.  Especially if you are trying to declutter.  Any ideas?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Saint Valentine's Day

I spent more time on my morning drawing today.  My Valentine for you.  While drawing and coloring this in I was remembering my childhood Valentine's Days.  Any of you old enough to remember making Valentine Boxes to decorate your desks at school?  And being both hopeful and fearful about the number of Valentine envelopes you would find in your box at the end of the day?  This was before it was required to deposit an envelope in each box.  I witnessed near empty boxes on fellow student's desks.  My own box was never full but I had a handful to open and try an guess who had sent them.  Sometimes I even got a real greeting card in the box (from a boy). This was also before teachers required full names on the cards.  And the cards were cute and funny.

When my daughter was "sending" her first grade cards (from several packages), we worked from a class list.  She picked a card for each person (giving careful thought) and then had to print her name.  S A M A N T H A on each card.  This process took many afternoons of patient mothering as she carefully printed her name.  I wished many times that I had named her A N N.  At school she was working on her decorated Valentine "mailbox" as I had done so many years before.  Two years later, my son, with an equally long name, worked his way through his class cards.

I never had a "boyfriend" during the 12 years I was at school (or even the four away at college).  I blame it on my dysfunctional family life and my seriously antisocial responses to overtures of friendship.  I have no fond memories of Valentines.  Until, I had children.  And their joy and happiness in the box full of Valentines drifted into my heart.  I think that is why I was sad yesterday.  I hadn't remembered to make and send my cards in time.  To my children and to my friends.  It means a great deal to receive a sweet little Valentine, to be remembered, to be loved.

The furnace techs are here to fine tune and clean up the crawlspace.  The sales rep visited.  He says "call every time something doesn't seem right; we want you to be happy with your purchase."  I mentioned to everyone that the new furnace was louder than the old one.  I had thought it would be quiet.  I wish it was quieter.  I had trouble falling asleep last night with it going on and off so often.  They are checking on that today.  Electricity and water.  Always a trial for G and I.

G was gone to work at 4.30 am when the restaurant called to find him.  His first day back at work.  First day on his feet for 8 or 9 hours.  His leg muscle will be aching and he will be exhausted when he gets home.  I am baking a rhubarb custard pie for my Valentine.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

There Are Days When You Wonder Why You Got Out Of Bed

Today is one of those days.  As you can see, my morning drawing didn't turn out very well.  I had to tear up some of the worst areas and glue magazine text to the back and boost the contrast in iPhoto to get it to this degree of gruesome.  But not every day is a good day to make art.

We had to make another emergency call for the furnace last night at 9pm.  Lucky for us, the technician answering the call was one of our installers.  She and G were down in the crawlspace trying to figure out why we had no hot water for the house.  It got down to red/white wires and green/white wires and a simple mistake made at the end of a 13 hour work day.  All is well.  Meanwhile, the dishwasher managed to heat it's own water so the dishes got washed in the dishwasher for the first time in 2 weeks.

Riley and I had a pleasant walk yesterday, late in the afternoon (I resented having to walk him yesterday) and I had my scarf and gloves off because it was relatively warm.  The streets we travel in the first part of the walk are heavily iced.  The next street over has no ice on their streets.  This pisses me off every winter.  I actually pay higher taxes than the households on the next street over, but the plows actually plow over there.  They sit and eat lunch or take breaks at the dead end part of my street.  And then drive off, plow blade up.

My icy driveway is my own fault.  In the good old days, before we had a dog, I was always out there at 11 in the morning, sun shining, chipping away at any ice on the driveway.  But now that I HAVE to walk the dog, I am less inclined to go out and chip ice on the driveway while the dog stares at me or barks.  He only wants what HE wants.  If I am wearing my coat, we should be walking. I like the freedom to choose what I want to do.

Yesterday I wanted the freedom to sit on my couch and read my book.  Just that.  Simple enough. But no. I had an obligation to walk the dog for a full hour. I kept putting it off. By the time we got back (5 pm), it was time to get things going for dinner.  I had started the chicken soup for G before walking the dog, so I had noodles to make and the soup to strain etc.  Then we had our dinner.  Then G attempted to wash the pots and pans.  Then it was time to call the furnace people (9 pm).  Then it was bedtime (11pm).  I never got to read one single word in my book.  While the furnace was being worked on the dog was pacing, barking and wanting to go outside, come back inside, pace, bark, go out, come in, pace, bark etc.

My back hurts. My diet is going nowhere.  My life seems to belong to everyone else and there doesn't seem to be any room in their lives for me to be me.  And tomorrow is Valentine's Day.  I wanted to make and send Valentines.  I didn't.  I forgot.  I didn't have time.  All sorts of excuses.  This makes me sad.  I really wanted to send Valentines.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Beautifully Warm Saturday

I did not envy the two furnace installers their jobs.  Two full days, the second lasting 13 hours, in a very cold and short crawlspace.  They were on their knees or bent over for all those hours, fitting pipe and soldering connections only to have, in the last few hours, when the electricity and water was connected to their work, and they were past tired, to set to work on any "mistakes".  We had a bad switch.  Thermostats wired white/green instead of white/ red which meant the upstairs and the controller couldn't communicate. And, thankfully, only one leaking connection.  They left us at 8 pm with the new furnace cycling on and off.  Hitting the high limit shut off repeatedly as it tried to heat water in the tank and listen to the calls for heat from the 5 zones.  The hot water for showers has priority over all the zones.  As it should. A really rough start for a new furnace, I think. But that's the way they all get started. Life isn't easy for a boiler/burner.

G went down to check on everything before we went to bed as the installers had asked us to do.  To see if water was leaking or oil spraying or electricity sparking.  Everything looked fine.  The new boiler/burner doesn't "rumble" like the old one.  And the rooms, even set on lower temps, seem much warmer.  I learned that this "great room" we use all day (and which is never warm unless the sun is shining) isn't going to be warm because the thermostat was installed too high up on the wall.  By the time it senses the need for heat, we are near freezing.  So it is now set on 68 or 70 and the room is a nice 65.  The foyer is warm also so it must be connected to this thermostat.  Who knew?

G and I left around noon yesterday (the house was cold) to drive down to Portland.  We spent sometime at the bookstore and then had a nice lunch at Longhorn.  I had a BLT salad with some deliciously grilled sirloin.  And I ate G's French Fries.  I am arranging these "lunchtime" outings to get him used to walking and standing so when he goes to work on Monday he will have half a chance to make it through lunch.  He managed to find parking close to the places we visited.  I had wanted to visit Whole Foods but I was tired and just wanted to go home.  So, the little grocery shopping I had to do, was done locally.

Yesterday morning I had to eat my cereal with 1% milk.  I had used up all my soy milk.  I was surprised to find I didn't care for the taste of milk.  Amazing how you can change a lifetime of drinking regular milk in just a year. If the soy yogurt wasn't so expensive and hard to find, I would switch there as well.

I purchased a trashy romance and the newest Nigella Kitchen cookbook yesterday. Nigella makes some interesting Indian food and I have wanted to try making more Indian style dishes this year. For myself.

That's about all I have to say.  I have laundry to do, sheets on the bed to change, shirts to iron and when all that is done, floors to vacuum and wash.  The furnace people were in and out all afternoon and I have salt crusted bootprints everywhere.  When all is back in order, I plan to sit still and read my romance for the remainder of the day.  Mushroom pasta for dinner.  G's favorite pasta.  Oh, and a very hot shower before the book reading.  Riley has just reminded me to fit in a dog walk.  Before the shower.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Easing Into Normal

The steroids have done their work on G's muscle pain.  The CK blood work is now normal, the pain has become a dull ache, and G is not going from pain  pill to pain pill in a sleepy haze.  He returns to work on Monday.  Thank you for all the good, kind thoughts sent our way in the 10 days we have struggled with this scary "whatever it was".  I know all that positive energy helped.  I could feel it helping.

The hot water in the shower last night was amazing.  Usually, with lukewarm being 12 o'clock on the shower knob, we were down around 8 or 9  trying to keep ourselves warm while quickly shampooing and soaping up.  Yesterday, I had the knob between 12 and just above 11 and it was hot. The entire time I was in the shower and since I hadn't had a shower since Saturday, I stayed a LONG time.  It stayed HOT. G stayed at 12 and was delighted.  I can't wait till March when I come home from work, cold, dirty and damp.  I am going to race into the house and down the hall to the shower.  Heaven.

Today the  energy guy and his helper (a woman) are down there taking apart the old boiler/burner and installing the new one.  No heat or hot water today.  G wants to "go do something".  I told you he was feeling better!!! So we just might drive into Portland and look around.  Bookstore.  Art Supply.  Lunch.  Whole Foods.  Trader Joe.  Any number of things to do and see.  Riley has gone to day care (too much noise here (thumping, banging, scraping, drilling) and he was already barking at every sound coming from the basement before they got started.

I am hoping that eventually I can start drawing more complex things and have a better grasp of the light and shadow that describe volume.  But right now, I don't have the inclination to spend an hour on a drawing.  It will come back to me, I hope.  I just need to take the time, to relearn the muscle gestures, to learn the language of the pen and pencil again.

Today, I am just relieved to be moving toward normal.  This glimpse of "what could be" was a wake up call to enjoy the good things, good health, we have right this minute, because it could vanish in a blink of the eye. It happens just that fast.  Again, thank you for your well wishes.  Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for being here with me during my good and bad times.  I will do the same for you!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bad News- Good News

The bad news is that our new furnace had a bent bolt and needed to be sent back.  A new one is being brought ASAP but not enough time to be installed today.  So, we are going with "Plan B" and installing the new domestic hot water unit today (shower tonight!!!!) and tomorrow will be a very long, hard day for the crew, getting the old boiler out and the new one installed.  Best laid plans of mice and men etc. Riley gets a second day of day care.  He could have stayed home today.  Oh, well.

G was feeling better yesterday but woke up feeling "not so good".  I think he felt so good last night, he thought all his travail was in the past and he was going to be good as new this morning. That's the way he thinks. Didn't happen. So he has sunken back into his depressed state.  I am hoping the second Prednesone tablet does it's magic on his pain while he is having his crown installed at the dentist.  He should be home in the next half hour and we'll see.

I drew my little still life (remember when I took a photograph of this same subject?) and it's in the center of the journal page. I think it turned out quite charming in a wonky way. I will write on both sides.  Left side today and right side tomorrow.  I haven't found any magazine pictures to glue to the opposing page (left) as yet.  That's what I did in the previous journal.  A glued in magazine page or collage on the left (which covered the bleed thru from the Sharpie pens I use on the right side) and words and drawing on the right side.  I'm not feeling the "love" for that idea so I have to wait a bit to see what I "feel" like doing.  I want to do something entirely different in this journal.  Because I want to re-invent myself this year. De-clutter myself.

I miss my Pilates workout.  It centered me for the day.  And the abdominal exercises worked to control my appetite.  I felt "full" even when I hadn't eaten much.  I was enjoying the straighter spine and tucked in tummy muscles.  I try to "push back and pull in" here in my chair.  My new $2.50 DVD is good but still difficult to follow as they go too fast and if you get the positions wrong, there is no purpose in doing the exercise.  A few of them look familiar to the machine exercises.

I need to wash the dog blankets and Febreze the dog beds so when Riley gets home everything will smell doggie fresh to go along with his bath.  Riley enjoys a bath as long as they are few and far between.  He had one before Christmas so this is pretty close.  I don't think labs need baths, usually.

It's pretty quiet downstairs in the crawlspace.  Wonder what they are doing?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Why Doesn't This Work?

 My journal entry with "nice line drawing" ended up torn from the journal and crumpled up in a large wad.  I opened it a bit to get some interest for you.  It was Mickey Mouse and then the tv remote and then a wad.  I may try the remote again someday as it was rather easy to draw.  My skills are iffy.  Somedays it works and I get a good-ish drawing and then for a few days I get nothing but crap.

Update:  The cell phone that G dropped in the toilet responded to 24 hours on the radiator.  It is accepting a charge and made a call (to me) from the dining room to the sink.  And, best of all the steroid G is now taking seems to be working.  The Percoset is a total ripoff.  A Good Day!!!

My second drawing was of what I see the most, these days.  Pill bottles.  I'm either dispensing, purchasing, remembering, getting water for, or just keeping track of when they were last ingested. I once joked that the "Golden Years" of old age was only the glow of the sun coming through the pill bottles on the kitchen window sill.  Not so funny now.

What was also not funny was me trying to get the FULL dishwasher to wash the dishes last night.  The domestic hot water is off.  Not going to happen. So, I had to get large pots of water on the stove to heat, rig up a dish pan, unload the dishwasher and start hand washing all the dishes.  Then dry them and put them away.  All the while I was marveling at my utter stupidity in thinking that tucking the dirty dishes in the dishwasher since Saturday night was a "good idea".

The brand new energy efficient furnace and water tank will be arriving on Thursday morning.  Tomorrow.  Which means tomorrow will be a cold day in the house.  So, Riley is going to Doggie Daycare where it is nice and warm and getting the Spa Treatment.  Bath, nails, ears as a Valentine Special.  He's going to smell extra nice when he gets home.  Oh, I wish they had a Valentine Special for me.  Hot shower, shampoo. I think we should have domestic hot water on Friday.  They can't do both in one day.  So, heat first and then hot water the next day.

With Riley off to the the dog spa and G off to the dentist for two hours tomorrow morning and then a doctor's appointment at 2.45, I will have some quiet time to myself here at home (with the furnace people banging away in the crawl space).

UPS picked up the returned Pilates machine; I found a beginner Pilates floor exercise DVD at Walmart for $2.50 and will be watching it for exercise tips;  I have exercises to do and the dog to walk.  I also need to pick up a few items at the grocery store (yogurt, soy milk, mushrooms).  I'm making chicken soup for G.  He isn't eating very well so why bother cooking.  I, myself, have leftovers from Sunday to eat.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Getting Better

G got up this morning, dressed and prepared his breakfast and drove himself to the dentist's office.  But I had gotten the appointment wrong and it wasn't 8:30 THIS morning.  He is now resting (sleeping) but feeling a bit more "normal" for having re-entered (if only temporarily) the routine of any other morning.  His blood work showed no improvement so now he will do a trial of steroids to see if that changes anything.

Another trip to Walmart to pick up the steroids.  I think that is the worst part of this.  Sitting in the pharmacy section of Walmart and watching the parade of people coming and going. People I NEVER see anywhere else, ever.  I asked my daughter, on Saturday, where they come from.  Where do they live?  Does the construction of a Walmart engender a new, sub culture to appear in the area around the Walmart?  I have never seen the employees of the Walmart anywhere else, either.  It is so strange.  Like living in a "string theory" sort of relativity.  Two separate groups, side by side, but unaware of the existence of the other--- except when they visit Walmart.  Perhaps we should have registered our prescriptions at Target.

In answer to Gema, American hospitals are for the extremely ill patient.  Everything and everyone else, is treated out of their primary care doctor's offices.  Even emergency room patients are sent home after being treated.  If you can't go home (live alone) then you are sent to a rehab unit (unless all rehab units are filled).  After surgery, and as soon as you can walk to the bathroom, you are also sent home or to rehab with all your dangling tubes, bandages etc. I know someone who is trying to take care of an older family member with a feeding tube until a space opens in a rehab unit.

The UPS man came yesterday and we weren't home so he left a note saying he will return today between 10 and 3.  And I signed my furnace contract and delivered it to the energy company yesterday and they called to say they will arrive Thursday morning to begin the installation.  We should be able to take hot showers on Friday.  Life is improving.

I began my new journal this morning with a drawing of a rabbit.  Year of the Rabbit.  A "wonderful, gentle time to heal, transform, be kind and pure with each other."  Also a good time to declutter and CLEAN everything.  Learn to live a pared down minimal life (metal rabbit year), get by with less.  The Dragon is coming in 2012.  So, my new journal will be pared down to simple line drawings and more of a zen feel.  Clean.  And my house will get the same treatment.  Less.  Even less.

I don't think I will ever get to the one chair, one table, one bed, one spoon, one bowl sort of Zen but I often dream of starting over in a new place with nothing.  Adding one or two things as needed and being able to just walk away when the time is right to walk away.  Carrying nothing.  Until then I will enjoy my dozen or more pairs of undies, the linen sheets and down comforter.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Teeth Cleaning

The only appointment on my calendar today.  And now, an additional appointment for "deep cleaning" on one tooth.  In two weeks.  They assure me it won't be painful. (Oh!)  G had another very bad episode of pain yesterday evening and wasn't able to go into work this morning to do the paperwork.  He also dropped his cell phone in the toilet.  All his numbers are on the phone. Were on the phone.  Words he says "I can't live like this" echo in my head.  And heart.

This (above) is the final page of my journal.  I can begin a new book (always a very auspicious time) and I think I will try to include line drawings with a bit of colored pencil more often.  Each journal has it's own personality and style.  The one I am just finishing had more color, more new techniques, more art supply trials and more usage of Sharpies, especially the colors, than ever before.  There were even black gesso spreads which look amazing.  I can try a black gesso page with a fine white pencil drawing in the new book.

The shoveling of the driveway yesterday was hard on my back.  Heavy wet ice and slush.  Today is another bright and sunny day in the high 30's.  My heart wishes it were Spring and my head realizes it is only the midwinter thaw; Winter's little joke. I need to be out scraping yet another inch or so of slushy ice off the surface of the driveway.  I am resisting that need.

Because I wash clothes in cold water, and have no hot water, I can still do laundry.  I even sorted, folded and cleaned out G's underwear drawer and threw all 100 of his white cotton handkerchieves in the white wash.  To bleach.  I have a cashmere sweater to hand wash.  I have about a dozen of G's work shirts to iron in case he can ever return to work.  This seems less possible each passing day.

Each evening we seem to shift ever closer to a new, painful, reality.  In my 64 years, I have been, somehow, sheltered from close contact with this type of reality.  I have watched from the sidelines wishing the participants best wishes and hopes for recovery.  This is so much more. Hand to hand combat with fate.  I know that I never truly understood what my friends were going through. You want things to get better, with your whole heart and being, but it doesn't make a bit of difference in the way Fate will play out.

The handkerchieves will be bleached white, ironed and in a neat stack.  Breakfast will be served, chicken soup made and served with extra noodles, the floors vacuumed and mopped, the bed made and every comfort available.  And the dog will be comforted, walked and hugged because he just doesn't understand but knows things are very wrong here at home, with his man.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

You've Been Patient

And not much has happened.  The pain is still there.  G still can't stand or walk for more than a few minutes.  He has another appointment with his doctors tomorrow afternoon.  Our biggest concern right now is his job.  He is the manager of a restaurant and has not been managing it for four scheduled work days now.  It's a small company and everyone has their own work to do.

On the home front: Sam, with G's guidance, packed up the Pilates machine.  I was going to help her carry the machine downstairs (sans box) but she gave it a test lift, decided it was "light enough" and picked it up herself and carried it downstairs.  Wow!  In the box, it weighs over 72#'s of dead weight but that box is heavy all by itself.  I carried the box downstairs.  So we (Sam and I) carried the packed box out to her car, drove into town, parked in the bank lot and carried the box from the parking lot to the UPS store only to discover after going on line, calling etc that the box needs to be "Picked Up" at my house.  On Tuesday.  Thank goodness the UPS employees were fantastic.  The guy lent us his phone, lifted the box onto a trolley and carried it over to our car and put the box in the car.  Great service!!!  Then we went to Goodwill to look at stuff and Wally World to get more pain pills.

I got home in time to dress warmly and take Riley for his one hour walk.  It started snowing and by the time we got home I looked like a snow man.  Riley had done a lot of "snow swimming" in deep snow banks and he was exhausted. Today it's 40 degrees.  I need to shovel the driveway.

We were all ready for bed at around 11 when I heard water running.  I followed the sound all over the house, checking toilets and sinks, and couldn't find the source.  Finally, it dawned on me to check the downstairs crawlspace and what to my wondering eyes did I behold but water running out of the auxillary domestic water tank.  Heated water.  I called the emergency number and while I waited to hear from the $140 an hour guy, G was woken up by the dog and dragged to the hallway (that Riley is a very interesting dog).  G insisted on putting on boots and going down into the 4 foot high crawlspace and finding the shut off valves and shutting off the water.  No running water now but also NO HOT WATER.  We have heat but no hot water.  Good thing we had both taken showers yesterday afternoon.  I guess, finally, I have to sign the contract for the new furnace and water tank.

There is no end to the number of things that can terrify, irritate and confound the residents of this household.  But the sun is shining, we have heat, and food in the cupboards and freezer.  We will survive.  I am going to get dressed and shovel the driveway, walk the dog and try and find some Pilates floor exercises on line.  Tomorrow, doctor appointments.  Also, a call to the energy company to order a new furnace.  We just have to keep moving forward and hope for better days.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Recent Work

I have been painting this particular still life for  more than a year (possibly two) and this is the latest covering of paint.  The pear still needs work.  Well, everything needs work but it's a pleasant, if mindless, occupation these days.

I have the latest New York Times vegetarian casserole in the oven at 250 degrees.  The baked beans and kale.  It smells really good.  I am really hungry.  Four hours of baking, so not a "quick" dish. In between drives to the hospital (doctor visit, lab visits) I had a chance to chop the vegetables and assemble and then just tuck the cast iron casserole in the oven and leave the house while it baked.  I thought I would post rather than snack on corn chips which is what I really, really, really want to do. Emotional stress = salt intake.

G is sleeping.  I am having a "quiet moment" after walking the dog.  I have the Pilates box downstairs and tomorrow my daughter will help carry the machine down the stairs and G will supervise packing it into the box.  Then we will take it to UPS.  I am sad about it's departure but a replacement will be arriving eventually.  I started reading my book while G was having a lab test and I think I will go back and read some more.  Riley is chewing a bone.  Quiet.  Which is okay with me.


Not a blood clot.  Not a torn tendon.  No broken bones.  Lots of pain.  Can't walk or stand for more than a few moments.  Blood test was better than yesterday's but still not normal.  Pains meds are working.  Ultrasound at 1.


Thursday, February 03, 2011

Worried Sick

G woke me this morning at 4am.  He couldn't dress himself and needed me to help.  I mumbled, if you can't dress yourself, you aren't going to work.  He said, "not work, emergency room".

G came home from work yesterday with a specific, sharp pain in his thigh.  He had taken a new medication for three days (for his cough) and one of the side effects was tendon/muscle damage (and should never have been prescribed) or Mysositis.  G tried to sleep but the pain got to be too much for him.  So, the emergency room.  And those pills were the $250 ones.

I packed a plastic bag with all his medications.  Just like the bag I recommended my 86 year old father take with him to the ER.  And I actually had to dress him while he writhed in pain.  Then, in true stubborn man fashion, he drove himself to the ER.  He is now home.  In a Percocet induced slumber.  I have been in contact with his primary care doctor.  G has an appointment and blood test (CK) tomorrow morning.

We can only wait and see what happens next.  I may be missing here for a few days.  I think whatever I have to say is better written in the paper journal.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Baking Bread

This was one of the things I had on my "perfect life" to do list.  Baking bread.  Now, this bread, is the No Knead easy bread, not the time intensive ciabatta I will try next.  I like to knead bread dough and this dough only wanted a few little presses and pats.  Now it is to double in size (the house is cold) so I will wait and then heat the cast iron casserole to 500 and bake my bread until it is brown and the crust crackles with delicious crispness.  It is snowing (a blizzard) and I am eating as many whole grain carbs as I can find.

I called QVC and have the proper okays to send my Pilates machine back.  Then I must wait for it to arrive before they will send another, replacement, machine.  A whole week or more of no exercise.  I am beyond sad.  I could keep it and never try to do the leg stretches ever again.  But I think, as I progress, the platform bumping over that weld will be increasingly annoying and I won't have the 30 day return policy to help me send it back.

I tried calling the manufacturer.  They are having a "snow day". I shoveled the back porch at 11 just so I could get the door open to let the dog out.  About 8 inches.  Now it's 1pm  and the dog wanted out and all the 8 inches are back.  The door was pushing into the snow and will block it if I don't go out and shovel again.  My backyard looks like a giant soft serve vanilla ice cream sundae.  

The plows are driving by. The oil company has delivered $350 worth of oil (112 gallons) which is 3 weeks worth of heat.  Next month it will cost over $400.  Go, Egypt, Go!  250,000 are demonstrating in a country of 80 million and the ports are closed, no oil is being pumped etc.  Can anyone tell me how this is possible?  I think the loss of the internet and computer access is causing more shutdowns than the demonstrations.  Mubarik should have left the internet up and had the country continue doing business.  Everyone but Mubarik himself already knew he was a dictator.  He's never going to leave.  He's 82.

I am going upstairs to exercise, then sort more fabric.  By then my bread should be ready to bake.  We have lasagna leftovers to eat with steamed broccoli after G clears the driveway, again.  But at least we aren't shoveling.  The snow is powdery and light.  Blowing all over the place and still coming down. I should make a pot of tomato kale soup.  Yes.  I will do that.  And perhaps waste some oil and heat the bedroom wing (where my old sewing room is located) so I can finish some wabi sabi placemats.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Gema Requests A Picture

A picture of my Pilates machine.  The seat or platform slides to the back (or left in this picture).  When I do my exercises my feet are on the bar at the bottom right.  The hand (and feet) straps are on the shoulder mounts (which is hard to see in this picture) and can be slipped off and used for the exercises.  The little orange notebook has my list of exercises.  I flip thru the book as I do my workout.  Most of my exercises are the Beginner ones.  Just the Core. I still have my packing box as there is a free 30 day money back guarantee.  My machine may be going back as the weld on the frame has caused me to skip the whole section of exercises for the legs;  the platform hesitates and bumps, causing me back pain.  I need to call QVC and talk with them about this.  The other complaint that I saw on the website was for squeaky wheels.  Mine didn't squeak so I was pretty happy.  Now, it does.  People as tall as 6 foot 4 can use this machine and up to 300 pounds.

Another comment suggests taking a few classes and I intend to do just that.  When it stops snowing.

My "progress" so far  according to my husband "you don't look as dumpy". Isn't he the silver tongued devil? While I don't see a significant change in my waistline (pants fitting better, etc.) I can easily see my feet over my poochy belly fat now.  And my face looks thinner.  I think that's the 1200 calories and the dog walking.  And I can easily sit cross legged on the platform and I don't have to keep stopping during the exercises to catch my breath and getting down on the floor is pretty fast now which was a real project the first few days.  Those are the high points.  I watch the DVD's to get style pointers.  The way to hold my hands, point my toes etc.  And the exercise can be done as slowly as you would like.

I did try that floor exercise (way advanced) and I can see exactly how far I have to go.  But I have months and years to get there.  No hurry.  Pilates is just as good without a machine.

It is snowing (4 to 8 inches) and tomorrow more snow with a wind chill of 1.  No dog walk tomorrow. G and I had lunch/dinner at a local spot (we were the only customers) and I feel like I ate too much.  But I won't be having anything else today.  G enjoys going out for a meal on his day off.  A simple request which makes him happy.  His new prescription has stopped the constant coughing.  It cost $250 for 10 pills.  With insurance $55. Crazy.

I have been running and doing since I woke up at 9.30 and don't have a thing to show for it.  I am going to read my book while G is out snowblowing the driveway.  He went to buy gas for the generator in case of a power outage.  Be prepared.