Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

May all my friends be blessed with good fortune and just enough trouble to make life interesting.

This rose was just opening this evening.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Beginnings and Endings

An online friend from India sent me this New Year's wish. I'd like to share it with you and extend it to all who read:

May you have: "1 year of happiness, 12 months of prosperity, 52 weeks of success, 365 days of good luck, 8760 hours of gladness , 5,25,600 mins of goodness, Every second of enjoyment........ HAPPY NEW YEAR !!"

As a gardener and as a teacher, I think the biggest lesson I've ever learned was that things never really end. There is always a progression towards another state of being, whether that be from seed to flower to seed, or leaf to nutrient to leaf, or first day of school to last day of school-- to first day again.

My dad has a new great-grandchild. Little Miss Belle was born just 3 days ago, and got to come home yesterday. Her mother is doing just fine, up and about, tired but pleased with herself. As she should be. Miss Belle is a pretty baby.

My dad and mom were very glad to see her.

Dad is still in the nursing home. He's getting physical theraphy and is being fed through a tube. He has a little trouble swallowing more than water. The good care he's been recieving has made him stronger, and it's helped my mom too. She doesn't have the sheer physical work of caring for him, and is able to stay with him all day and late into the night. It's hard for her to leave at night. They've not really spent many nights apart from one another since my dad got out of the navy.

He was strong enough yesterday to hold Miss Belle and take a good look at her. He seemed very pleased with what he saw, and she...........well.... she did what most all of his little babies, grandbabies and great-grandbabies do when he holds them. She relaxed and fell asleep, quiet and peaceful. My dad's always been good at getting a child peaceful and relaxed. It always felt safe when he held you close.

As you can see, she was a hit with my mom as well. Looks like Miss Belle is going to have dark curly hair. Too early to tell what color her eyes will be. Her daddy has blue-green eyes, and her momma is brown-eyed. If she ever opens her eyes in my presence, I might have a better idea. Oh well, getting born is hard work, and she's only a few days old. We'll let her rest up a bit.

One of my other nieces has been busy being creative herself. She's been taking painting and drawing lessons from an art teacher in the little town where my parents live. She lives with my parents, and has been a great help to both of my parents. She's a happy and good person, differently abled, and an interesting mixture of child and adult. At 20+ years of age, she still has trouble counting money, but is able to play a pretty good hand of canasta.

This year, she gave us all one of her works of art. I like the one she gave us. It's her first lesson, an attempt at a still life. She's quick to point out it's flaws, but gave it to us. She knew we'd love it. She was right. Pup want's her to make us some more.

I really liked the one she did for her grandfather, my dad. I not only like the colors, I think it shows a very nice composition too. It was one of her later lesson assignments and it shows a good progress. Don't you agree?

Pup likes going down there and teaching her new things. He's been working with her on learning to spot and spell three, four and five letter words, and is always finding new things to teach her. The latest was factoring numbers. He showed her how to break numbers down into their "parts" using pictures and some handy walnuts. She likes it when he tries to teach her. Too often, the rest of us in the family tended to overlook how capable she is, remembering only the areas she has trouble understanding. 'Pup tends to concentrate on what she's ABLE to do, and then expands it. The man should have been a teacher, though I'm not sure he'd have been happy in a public school setting. In another time, perhaps he'd have been a tutor. If he'd stayed in the airforce, he might have ended up as an instructor.

He tries teaching me how not to get lost. In five years, I've gotten better. Really. When I call him now from my car, when I'm........unsure of my relative position in the city and unclear on the next turn...(okay!!!! LOST)........I'm usually able to follow his simpler instructions and able to find my way to my next destination.

Now, lest you worry about me as I get into my car to go somewhere? I am always able to find my way home.

I've got 'Pup on voice dial.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

New Years

It's coming to the end of this year, and I'm glad. I'm hoping 2006 will be a better year. 2005 had it's moments, but all in all... not one of my all time best years. No, really! I've had better.

We just got back from the hemotologist. 'Pup's numbers are not totally out of bounds, most are well within norms, there's just one or two clotting values that are a little off. The doctor thinks it's probably because 'Pup's been on coumadin for almost 10 years, and on a lot more than most people take ever. And, some people just don't fall within the norms on all values. Like body temperatures, what's "normal" can vary between people.

We go back in about 10 days to test again. 'Pup will be off the coumadin for all that time. However, since he really NEEDS a blood thinner to insure no bad clots floating around his body, he'll be on an injectable form of blood thinner. The nurse at the doctor's office showed us how by giving half of the dose in a preloaded syringe. 'Pup had thought he'd be giving his own self the shots, but didn't look too thrilled about doing it after the first one. I volunteered. The nurse said I did just fine, and 'Pup hardly jumped at all. My mom-the-retired-nurse and my sister-the nurse would be proud.

It was another very pretty day today. I leave you with two pictures. One was taken in my front yard, and shows a newly denuded tree (the wind was strong yesterday) and one was taken as we came close to downtown Houston.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Getting Ready

Living where I do, I have really enjoyed seeing the seasons through other blogger's eyes. It's winter in Australia and South Africa, and it's snowing in Ohio and Minnesota.

Meanwhile, here in Houston? Fall has arrived.

Last week I took some pictures of the trees. We'd had a few cold "snaps", and the leaves actually turned colors this year.

Now, comes the "fall" part. The leaves are leaving the trees rapidly. They really aren't so much "falling", as being blown off. We're gusting winds up to 20/25 mph today. That tends to undress a tree rather quickly.

The upside is that it is currently about 70 degrees. It's supposed to get up to almost 80 degrees today. That's a little warmer than usual even for us, but it's not bad. I like warm winters.

To illustrate the variability of Texas weather, consider this; last year, it was snowing. I wish I could post a picture or two, but this time last year, I was just recovering from the surgery and I wasn't getting around too well.

I'm going to be putting up my bird feeder again. I'd stored it away when Rita came to visit, but as hurricane season seems to (FINALLY!!) be over, I think I'll dig it out of the garage and see what winter visitors I can attract. I've been noticing a few mocking birds, and just now, I saw a cardinal sitting on the fence. There are bound to be a few kinds of finches, sparrows and a few red winged blackbirds around as well, if I go by what I remember visiting me last year.

Oh, and I checked my rose bush yesterday! It's putting on buds, and one should be opening in a day or two. I hope I have one open on New Year's Day. That would be a nice way to start the year. Don't you agree?

Y'all keep warm, or cool, as the case may be!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Official Number 300

According to Blogspot this is my 300th post. Errr...not really 300th though, as there were some days during the very beginning of this blog that I only posted through the picture route.

Still, it's a nice number and I thought I'd make note of it.

It wasn't a bad day. 'Pup and I did some yard work (not much but it's a start). I cleaned out a little of the refridgerator, did some laundry, cooked some meat that needed to be cooked, finished off the last of the scarves (fringe, baby, fringe!) and watched a lot of TV. All in all, the most relaxing Christmas I've EVER had, and the first 'Pup and I have gotten to spend alone.

Wouldn't have minded some turkey, but it's hard to face cooking such a big bird for just two. I think tomorrow I'm going to buy some cornish game hens and cook those for a late Christmas dinner.

Tuesday we'll be going to see my family.

We got a surprise today. One of my family members...last year... was in the news. I'm not going to say more than that about it, but today, that family member got to come home. My father was very glad of it, as this family member is a favorite of his, and he had missed this family member more than he could say, even when he could talk. My mom refered to the return as a Christmas Miracle. And miracle it is.

I hope your Christmas Day was full of the blessings so many pray for, and One was born to give us.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas Eve and Happy ODTAA* to you.

I'm not where I thought I would be. Yesterday, 'Pup and I were to have gone to my parent's home, so as to be at the beck and call of my mother and sister. I was assigned the night shift by my father's beside. He was placed into a nursing home for a little while until my mom can arrange for someone strong enough, gentle enough and affordable enough to come help her nurse him at home.

Instead, 'Pup and I are at our own home.

Last night, we went out at midnight (the only sane time a sane person without insane children would dare go to the dreaded W**mart) to find some last minute toys for the littlest members of my extended family. 'Pup's extended family understands, and isn't looking for us this Christmas.
As we drove, we noticed that the temperature in the engine was bouncing around like a fumbled football. We alternated between using the heater and the airconditioner to keep the engine below boil over.

In the morning (later that morning!) 'Pup took the van to the mechanic. Bad news. It wasn't going anywhere until at LEAST Monday afternoon. Okay, Plan B. We'd take my 10 year old Saturn (which I would have to drive, 'cause 'Pup is a big guy and doesn't fit anywhere except the passenger seat, laid way back. I remember the time my dad tried to drive the Saturn. He had to fold up his 5 foot 10 inch frame into the driver's seat and said he felt as if he were driving a go-cart. Funny... I fit into the car just fine. 'Course, I'm only 5 foot nuttin' tall.

A mini-car for a mini-me. (okay!! a SHORT me... ain't nuttin' else mini)

I put in a load of laundry and had the dishwasher going, in preparation of leaving the house for a few days. Suddenly we heard an ominous "golp, glugggup, gleerrrrrk.................splash"

Our toilets were running over. And the bathtubs were filling up. And no, it wasn't raining.

The last time this happened, we weren't at home and hadn't caught the disaster in time. This time, we were able to beat back the flood with towels, running (hobbling) to the kitchen and turning off the dishwasher and into the garage to turn off the washing machine.

We knew what was the matter. We've a large ash tree growing right over the sewer main. A large VIGOROUS ash tree, happily growing over a sewer main. We average about 6 months between visits of the plumbers to roto out the tree roots. After counting back, I realized it had been about 9 months. Oops.

We made one call to a plumbing service we've used before. They couldn't send anyone until after 6 pm. Not much help, as the service person would have had to work in the dark.

We called another, they could send someone sometime between noon and 4 pm. Better. But that meant we weren't going anywhere that day.

I called my family and told them the problems. They seemed rather unmoved by the dilemmas I faced. I was told that I could leave 'Pup at home (vehicle-less OVER CHRISTMAS!) and that he could take care of the house.

I could go down there and leave 'Pup?? He's got bronchitis, by the way. And again, he'd have no vehicle!!

I could bring down everyone's Christmas presents????? (and get none myself--I know my sister's family and my mom's not had time to go buy anything) Last year, my present from my sister S was a small (!!!) bag of toiletries. Not the nice fancy type I've gotten from my students either. They were a small travel sized can of shaving cream, some plastic disposable razors, a travel sized shampoo and conditioner, some bandaids and some Q-tips. Merry Christmas. I think there might have been a bar of soap there too. Dial deodorant soap. The brand my mom buys for the house.

And let me point out again, my job would have been to sit up all night by my father (assuming the nursing home staff allowed it) and care for him. By myself. While everyone else was sleeping. There was no mention of anyplace I'd have to sleep during the day either. I expect I'd have been expected to try to get some sleep on a couch. With kids playing around me.

So, when the plumbing overflowed and the van went into the shop, and I was being pressured by phone to get down (the 100 miles) to my parent's house... That's when the whole thing just got too much for me to handle and I broke down and cried and cried. I bawled, and tears streamed unchecked down my face.

In case I've not mentioned it, 'Pup hates to see me cry. He tries very hard to make it not necessary for me to have to cry. He doesn't tell me to stop, as he thinks if I need to cry, it's best to get it all out, but he tries to make it so I don't need to cry.

The plumber that came was a very good man named Joe. He noticed that I was walking around with tears streaming down my face (at times---I'd get it under control every now and again). He listened sympathetically as I gave an abbreviated list of disasters that have plagued us. He even prayed with us.

He couldn't find anything in the sewer pipe at first, and we had to ask the neighbors if they were having any blockage problems. When we found they weren't he attached the bigger, badder router head to the snake and had at it again. This time, he felt the blockage at right about where we figgured it to be.... right under that happy tree. This router head cut through the roots and suddenly, the water went down and started gurgling away.

The van will cost about 800 dollars. The plumbing difficulty cost about 200 dollars.

Merry Christmas.

*ODTAA is my own set of letters standing for : One Dang Thing After Another. It is pronounced: Oh'd-taahh with whatever emphasis you desire.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Ho, Ho.....Ho

My level of Christmas Spirit is kinda low. It seems to have leaked out somewhere between Thanksgiving and last week.

Still.......that Spirit seems to sneak up on you. The Ghost of Christmas Present seems a hearty and stout fellow. I think he's using the kids at the tutoring center to get to me.

I got gifts!! Or, as my co workers and boss lady say: "I've been raking in the loot." Me, I credit the fact that I teach the youngest of the students, so have a better chance of getting a present.

I present (so to speak) the evidence:

A nice doggy smile with three pockets for pens/pencils and other office needs and some bath salts and a set of holistic body lotions/creams and unguents. (unguents: now, there's a word you almost never get to use!)

Some yummy ginger smelling lotion, shower gel and a scrubbing sponge.

Some very posh soaps from a very upscale Korean brand. The boss lady exclaimed over how good a brand that it was. I shared a bar of the soap with her. I could have been more generous. But yeee GADS!! these soaps smell SO dang good. They are "bamboo" soaps, smelling rather like ginger and jasmine to me.

I got some brownie mix and pretty towels from the boss lady, and a beautiful dragonfly pin from a student.

Some of the nicest gifts I got were the hugs and well wishes from the students, my fellow tutors and the boss. Then, she gave me the nicest compliment. She said that I had brought back the enjoyment to her center. That, until I came, she was considering closing. She said that before, the atmosphere had been contentious between some of the tutors, and one tutor in particular.

She said that when I started (and, I may point out the same time the other two dynamite and oh so wonderful and competent ladies started!) the center was more positive and it began to be more fun to be there. I don't know if it was all me, I really think its more the combination of people we have there now. We are all respectful of each other and are realistic about what we are each best at for teaching. It's good to work with two other people who are so confident in themselves and thier own competency, that they are not threatened by someone else's competency.

Often, if a new student starts, one or the other of us will work with the student and decide that the student really needs the other tutor to best bring out or address that student's needs. I've recommended several older students to one or the other of the tutors, and they have done the same with students who are younger, or perhaps newer to the country.

I am best for the "littles" and the younger students having some difficulties at school. I am also the best one for most student who may have difficulties being distracted, as my "spot" in the center is in a quieter room.

The other two ladies include a young woman who is a professional journalist. She is adept at using real life experience to help the older students fine tune and expand their writing. The other lady tutor is about my age, a very good writer with a very strong grasp of what college level writing requires. She went through college as an older student, and I'd be willing to bet she never got less than an A on any paper she ever wrote. She is also adept at bringing out the best in the older and more fluent writers. Both ladies are also super at vocabulary building, and very creative in the assignments they use to illustrate and give practice at a specific writing skill.

I have to admit, they are much better suited than I to help those very GOOD writers become even better. The skills they use and are adept at are some that I really haven't used much in recent years except for my own personal writing, and I'd be hard pressed to so easily and competently explain WHY and HOW and WHEN and WHAT rules to use to turn an "okay" paper to a "dynamic" paper.

On the other hand, I can bring some of the 20 years of classroom management and "tricks of the trade" to help handle the less adept students. I can also draw out the more reluctant readers and writers. As I said, it's a real team, and our different experiences really lend themselves to making it possible to really help the whole POINT of the center: The Kids.

Ironically, the tutor causing the trouble was a teacher that had retired from the same school system I used to teach for, before my surgery. I think she could have been a very nice lady, but something about that school system (sorry She and SuZan) seems to encourage many teachers to develop a contentious and negative and competitive attitude. It was one of the reasons I had such trouble the almost 5 years I was there. Not all of the teachers succumb to the environment, but I have seen even the most positive and upbeat of people become... quieter... and more inward dwelling. I thought at first it was only the school I was at, but as I attended more and more district training sessions, it became clear to me that I just wasn't fitting in to the culture of the school district.

'Nuff about that.

I finally took some pictures of the stuff I've been crocheting. Nothing spectacular... just scarves and a couple of afghans. Okay.. The afghans are almost the size of a twin blanket.....well the smaller one is. The larger one is more the size of a regular sized bed blanket. And they sure are warm!

This is the larger one. I like the colors I chose. I used 2 skeins of each color and just crocheted from each skein till it ran out. That meant that some of the colors were a little "wider" than the others, but I liked the effect, especially after the stitches relaxed a little.

This is the smaller afghan. It's more a country colors mix. I originally thought I was doing it for my mom, but she kinda let it slip that she had plenty of blankets/afghans ect....and besides. I liked it.

Here's some of the scarves I've done, not all are finished.. but they're close.

And I've a few more ready to start. Good thing, as I may be sitting up all night with my dad tomorrow.

Speaking of my dad. The news isn't good. He's being discharged from the hospital, but my mom hasn't been able to set up things at home for his care. He's going to need full time 24 hour care from now on. He's lost control of his whole right side, and can no longer even help us much with moving him from the bed to a bedside toilet. Instead, he's got the bedpan and urinal.....and a feeding tube down his nose pumping in nourishment (I won't call it food). He hates it. I don't know how long he will be able to stay with us this way, and I don't want him to stay this way any longer than he can bear it.

He never wanted to ever be a burden on anyone. Ever.

I hope he realizes that we don't think he's a burden. It's hard to care for his body this way, but we will miss him so much if he leaves us. How can we let him go? I'm not sure my mom can. She was able to help her brother in his last hours, holding his hand as he left, and then two years later, she held her mother's hands as she left this world. I hope she has the strength to hold my dad's hand.

And then, choose to stay with us for a while. She's 68.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

In and Out

Mom got out of the hospital yesterday. She got home just in time to see that yes, just as my sister and I had been trying to tell her (she started hyperventilating and we stopped pressing the issue), my father is no longer able to stay even a moment alone, nor is he able to help with his care. He was also congested (a change since I'd left), and running a fever. After a couple of hours home, she had my sisters call the ambulance and they took him to the Emergency Room.

He was admitted and is now in the exact same room my mom had vacated earlier that day.

Mom is staying with him tonight, after going home last night and sleeping about 2 hours between 4:30 am and 6:30 am this morning. She's not eating, unless stood over. The nurses that were taking care of her are now taking care of my dad. They're also keeping an eye on her. She worked at that hospital as a nurse and an administrator for over 20 years. The medical community in that little town is small and tight. I think they'll keep an eye on her as well.

My dad is getting IV antibiotics, magnesium and pottasium. His temperature is down to 99 degrees, but he's pretty much out of it mentally. He's just aware enough to make it clear that he doesn't like the suction treatments (to clear out his lungs), nor does he like the bed.

Last year, when I had my surgery, my dad told me he wished that I hadn't had to go through all the pain, and that he could have taken all of it and done it for me. He'd never spent a single day in a hospital except as a visitor, or to take care of my mom during one of her stays. He was always involved in every golf tournament in the county (and a couple in surrounding counties), either as a player, or running the tournament. It was not unusual for him to play 18 holes in a day, and even more than that if a friend came by and needed a partner.

It's hard to see him, so thin and pale. He's always had such a dark tan on his face and arms.

He just turned 71.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

There are Moments, and then there are Other Moments

A lot has been going on since I last posted. Most of it not so good. I hate whining, and don't want my life to sound like a soap opera. It's just that... it's kinda beginning to feel like one. A rather badly written one.

However, I think I could safely (and understatedly) say that this year has not been a stellar one for me or my family.

A happy moment:
Saturday, December 10 was my dad's birthday. It is traditionally been the day he and my mom decorate for Christmas. Knowing that this year was likely to be my dad's last, and that my mom wouldn't be able to decorate by herself, 'Pup and I headed down there after I finished work. We took the dog with us.

As per my mom's request, I stopped at a W---mrt and looked for one of those big pillows with arms that you can use to sit up in bed and watch TV. Usually, there are lots of them. Usually. Not so much now. Plenty of kid sized ones though. I got two big body pillows instead. She wanted the pillow to help my dad sit up in bed. He's not getting up much anymore, and needs to sit up to eat and drink at least.

On the way there, we stopped to walk the dog. We live about 100 miles from my parents. It's a long trip for a dog. We stopped near a store in a small town. There was a resale shop there. In front of it, was a big blue reclining chair on wheels. It looked kinda familiar, as if I'd seen one like it before (I had as it turns out.. it was a chair they use in dialysis units and in clinical areas for giving chemotherapy)

It looked to be in good condition, and I had the bright idea that it might be useful for my parents. My dad could sit in it, be wheeled around if need be, and eat in a supported, reclining position. After calling my mom, she agreed. The chair was in good mechanical shape. The plastic upholstery needs a little repair, but not a lot.

After a lot of rearranging of the back of the van, and with the assistance of the lady running the resale shop, we got it loaded. The dog was a little constrained, but he only minded the fact that the chair had to be loaded in such a way that he could no longer sit/stand in the seat behind the driver and bark at oncoming cars and trucks. Luckily, he likes cozy.

When we finally got to my parent's house, we had to wait for my nephew to come and unload it. It really didn't look that big in front of the resale shop. It looked real big in the van. It looked kinda large in the living room too.

We got my dad in the chair, and proceeded with the decorating of the tree. This is the first year my youngest great-niece and my great-nephew can really remember Christmas. The oldest great niece is almost 5, so she knows what's going on, but has never been really old enough to decorate the tree. So, the three of them had the assignment to decorate the tree. I've got pictures!!

Just so you know. The boy in the pictures is just THREE years old. He weighs 41 pounds. His older sister, at almost five, weighs in at just over 31 pounds. They nicknamed that boy "Bubba". Can you tell why? The littlest girl is just over 2 years old.

Aren't they a set? It gets cuter.


This is their grandmother, my YOUNGER sister. Sigh. I'm old enough to be a grandma, and she's proof. However, as I often remind her--she IS a Granny. heehehhe

Okay, a youngish looking one. But a granny gal nonetheless!

Let the decorating begin! Somehow, I got both the job of taking pictures of this AND supervising the lovely tots. And I was complimented several times for the patience I showed. HA! I know what they were really complimenting was their own ablility to sit back, relax and giggle.. errr I mean, give advice. The rats.

Look, a puppet!

No, well, it's kinda like a puppet.

The tree was very well decorated. From three foot and down. I did rearrange a few ornaments, and placed a few for the more vertically challenged.

Then, it came time to place the angel on the tree. The oldest great-grandchild got the priviledge.

Then they decided that the angel had gotten broken in storage, so a back up star was called into duty. So I took the obligatory "cute kids under the tree" pictures. I'm told the tree has been redecorated several times (3 foot and down) by the three kids. No presents under the tree yet, and it's just as well, as they'd probably need rewrapping.

The pretty, young adult lady in the picture is my oldest niece. She's not the mom of any of the kids, but she's a very special darlin'.

A picture of my mom, dad and the three "greats". And the big blue chair.

Sunday, 'Pup and I finished all the grocery shops that we had to assess. It was easy to do all five, as they were rather close together. Afterwards, I was even able to enter all the data I needed to enter, tho the KFC shops were still not accepting the photos they asked for... very annoying.

Monday, 'Pup had a stress test. My mom had told him he'd hate it. I had told him he'd hate it. He did.

That evening, as I was talking to two friends via Yahoo IM (one in Ohio, one in California), I got a call from my granny-lady sister. My mom and she were at the local hospital's emergency room, where my mom was being admitted. As it turns out, for pneumonia. She's been trying to take care of my dad by herself, with only my niece to help her. That's a lot of physical labor for a lady to be taking on, especially one with diabetes, and a heart condition. We've been trying to get her to accept help from Home Health Care, and a local Hospice service, but she's been adamantly saying NO. My mom can be very adamant.

'Pup and I threw some clothes in a bag, I called my tutoring boss lady, telling her I'd be missing at least one more day of work (I'd missed Monday due to the stress test) and we went away down to my mom and dad's house. 'Pup drove. I didn't really think about it 'til later, but that was kinda nice of him, considering what he'd been through earlier that day.

I was able to stay with my dad till Wed afternoon, but I couldn't miss anymore work. I've got some students who see only me, as I can specialize in younger students, and students who aren't reading yet. The other tutors can handle any other student (and excell at the older students who I've really less experience with), but the "littles" are all mine.

My dad wasn't doing even as well as he had just 2 days before, at his birthday. His birthday cake, made by my mom, was still sitting on the stovetop, uncut and undecorated except for the icing. No one had really wanted any Saturday, and it seemed forgotten.

Today, 'Pup had an appointment with a hematologist. His gastric bypass surgery had been scheduled for Monday, but there was an anomoly in one of the clotting factors in his blood test. The doctor, seemed relieved to find no bruising, easy bleeding or unexplained fatigue in 'Pup. I kinda know what he might have suspected, but when I asked him point blank, he denied it, saying he saw no signs of anything terrible so far, but he wants more tests to be certain.

I hate doctors to do that. It's patronizing, and demeaning, but I understand why. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news, and unless he's completely certain, he shouldn't tell us anything.

Now, we wait.

Nine more days till Christmas.

Y'all be happy. I need y'all to be happy. One day, maybe in a couple of years, I'll join you in joy.

Friday, December 09, 2005

I Gotta Get a New Hobby

Okay, well....not really. I don't need a new hobby. I still like gardening and the crocheting is coming along. I've got several scarves done and have bought some beads to embellish a few. Hey.. I'm a "baby" crochet-er and as my stitches are simple, the yarn is inexpensive and the patterns aren't fancy... I figure I'll try to "bling'm" up a little.

No, the new "hobby" I need to replace is the mystery shops. I picked up 5 more of the grocery store shops, as a back up shopper (they pay $14 a piece) and am in the process of doing 8 fast food joints that require me to take pictures of the chain's stores. Twelve pictures of each store, inside and outside.

This is the group of shops that had been postponed last weekend (thank goodness). We'd been awaiting for the company to make a final decision and to send out a letter/email to all the managers of all the stores I'd be taking pictures of. If the four stores I did today are representative, not all the managers either open their mail (e and snail), nor do all of them share those vital things they are supposed to share with their employees and shift managers. I only did four today because I had to wait so long at every restaurant for the shift managers to contact owners and managers and finally decide to take my copy of the email they'd been sent as an okay for me to take the pictures. Taking the pictures also took a little more walking (around the outside of the restaurants) than I'd thought about, and that made it difficult for me physically.

The frosting (or is that icing?) on the cake is that now, as I'm supposed to be uploading all those photos to the marketing site? There is a server problem. And it's not my server's problem. And they'd closed before I could call and ask about the problem. (6:45 my time, 4:45 Pacific time). Joy joy joy.

I'm not going back to do those shops again.

I've still got four more to go during the next week. I can finish them next Friday.

On the 18th, I have another 6 grocery stores to do. Fortunately, they're fairly close together.

On the 19th, 'Pup has his gastric bypass surgery.

The surgeon's office called this morning to tell 'Pup that his blood seemed a little thin. Well, DUH! He takes rather a lot of blood thinner, as he's had Deep Vein Thrombosis in both legs, and is under a threat for developing other clots. It's one of the things that made his insurance company agree to pay for the surgery. The surgeon's office wanted him to stop taking his blood thinner FOR THE NEXT ELEVEN DAYS. Not good. The longest that his doctor's allowed him to be off his blood thinner has been four days, before his knee surgery. 'Pup had his doctor call the surgeon's office and fight it out.

He's to take the blood thinner up until four days before the surgery.

I keep wondering if the Obesity Clinic really understands all the medical ramifications of doing surgery on 'Pup. We is gonna do us some talkin' next week.

Two nice things did happen today. One was that Richie took me to eat at a BBQ restaurant, and I had a very nice stuffed potato.

The second happened as we were on our way to the fifth restaurant for the "photo shop". It was getting dim, after 4:30 on a cloudy day, and I was fuming at the amount of time it had taken me to talk to the shift manager, restaurant manager, and restaurant OWNER on TELEPHONE before I could get permission to take the pictures I needed to take. Oh, and it's been cold today. Not as cold as most of y'all are putting up with, but I don't do cold weather well...

Breathe, just breathe......calmness is returning.

As we were on our way, and let me tell you I was fuming and fussing and even cussing (rare for me)... we passed this:

If any of you read Drew's blog,
  • Crochet Dude, then you may have read about this shop.

  • As I went "HEY! LOOK! IT'S THAT YARN SHOP I'VE BEEN TELLING YOU ABOUT!!", the obvious change in my mood must not have escaped my dear hubby. He is a smart 'Pup. We turned around and went back.

    I got to go into my first real LYS. Until now, I've pretty much just been making do with Hobby Lobby and such for my inexpensive but fluffy and utilitarian yarns. I knew I'd been missing something. Now I know.

    As I wandered around, fingering yarns and wishing I could afford about a third of the ones I fingered, 'Pup found a seat in the back of the store, held my coat (and my wallet--I told you, he's a smart 'Pup) and flirted with one of the other customers. His momma told me once he's been a flirt since before he could talk. He's good at it.

    I didn't get all the yarn I wanted, that would have required a new mortgage on our house. I did find a little token, just some yarn on clearance, but I think I'll make myself a nice scarf, unless, of course I give in to guilt and give it to my mom or something. I'm going to try to be strong.

    I got two of these.

    I'm also on the mailing list now, and I'm going to go back for a real lesson in crocheting in January. I may even drag 'Pup down there with me, as he's actually expressed interest in learning this too!

    Life may not be perfect, but it has it's moments.

    Monday, December 05, 2005


    I am POOPED!!

    Good news: the glass door got fixed.. it cost: (get ready to clutch your heart here) $273.90!!!

    I've a feeling the kid next door is going to be doing a lot of extra jobs at my house and HIS till he pays his dad back. OUCH

    Some lessons are expensive.

    Now, why am I so tired? Well........this is a copy of the list of shops I had to do between Dec. 1 and Dec. 4. Got all but one of them completed and 'Pup will do the last one this evening while I'm at work. It's got a time limit on it, has to be done during the hours I have to work! Good thing 'Pup is willing to do this.

    Yes, I know it's out of focus. That's on purpose. They call it MYSTERY shopping for a reason.

    Thursday night, before the Friday I was supposed to be shopping by myself while 'Pup was getting those tests done? Well, both of us were laying there in bed and suddenly one of those moments of ESP that happens between people who know each other and are thinking of the same thing. I thought about the fact that he was going to a cardiologist and then thought about the fact that they might want to do a stress test on him and then realized that if they did a chemically induced stress test, as they'd have to do...he'd not be in shape to drive home afterwards. 'Pup was thinking along the same lines.

    "Uhmmm dear?", says I.
    "Uhmmmm bodacious one?" says 'Pup. (He is a smart 'Pup and knows that compliments get everywhere with me)

    After we discussed the testing for a while it was decided that I'd better go with him for the testing, and then... we'd just have to figure out how to do the shops afterwards.
    'Pup ended up having an abdominal ultra sound, and a cardiac ultra sound as they'd detected a heart murmur!! The heart valve turned out to be pretty much okay. They said he'd probably been born with a slight deformity on that valve, and it had calcified a little. He has a very mild heart murmur. The cardiologist isn't worried about it, and it shouldn't affect his surgery.

    His blood work was a WILD thing! They filled up 14 vials. Yes, that's 10 + 4 = 14!

    And he's a "hard stick". It's not easy getting blood out of him. Poor 'Pup. The Vampire...errr I mean Nice Nurse Lady had to try four times before she could get a really good draw.

    The purple mass of yarn is what I did while waiting in the 3 doctor's waiting rooms. It' is most of a scarf. It needs a little more yarn, as I made it a little wide. And it nees fringe. I'm thinking of putting some pretty, shiny beads on the fringe, as the scarf's destined for a young lady in my family. I swear this scarf was possessed. I had to frog it 5 times and recrochet it. I kept adding or dropping a stitch. 'Pup couldn't understand why I'd be so upset about the dropped stitch here and there. HAH. I may remind him of that attitude next time he's trying to write a program.

    Okay. I started this entry yesterday, but ran out of time and blogger was being slow to post pictures and then I couldn't get into the blog at ALL last night!!

    Y'all have fun.

    I'm going to sleep a little extra. Weather man says we're going to be cold, wet and rainy tomorrow and the next few days.

    Just a pretty picture to remind us all of warm days. The lantana in my back yard decided to have a second spring bloom with all the 80 degree temps lately. The bloom wasn't nearly as full as a real spring fling, but it was pretty nonetheless.

    Y'all stay warm.

    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    Sweet Mystery

    Well. That was a very short week, really!

    First, I'll start this post with a few pretty pictures and then bore you to tears with words. 'Cause like I've told a couple of kids this week, I'm evil. I taught school for 20 years and it just comes natural like you see...

    First, the cannas are blooming again. They like a little water and warmth, and until the last couple of days we were having highs in the 80's. And this plant is getting really happy under the ash tree... which still has quite a few green leaves on it. They're going fast now though. The last couple of cold fronts is blowing more and more brown and greenish brown leaves down.

    Brain Dog, 'cause he's purty. Purty Goofy.

    The young man next door is pulling weeds and planting plants. I just love free labor! Especially when it comes in a smiling package. 'Pup's been supervising, since I leave for tutoring work about the same time the young man gets home from High School. Turns out he and 'Pup have been talking and they're getting along pretty well.

    We finally!!! got the glasiers out to give an estimate on the glass. Since 'Pup wasn't home this afternoon, they called my cell phone (with my dad in the condition he is, I leave it on all the time) and they gave me the number. I just about dropped my teeth. It is going to cost over 200 dollars for that piece of glass. OUCH. I'm thankful the neighbor is going to pay for it, but OUCH just the same.

    'Pup and I had already decided to start to pay our young neighbor a little every time he comes over after a while. He doesn't want to take it, but this way, he can earn some of the money back to pay his father... and we get a nice reliable person to watch our house, and cut the grass. For us, it's worth it. With Christmas coming up, I don't want a piece of glass to be responsible for making it hard for this good family.

    I think I've mentioned before that I've been doing some mystery shopping for some extra cash. Well.. to make any money out of it, you have to be willing to do a lot of shops and be very organized about it. So far, I've made a couple of hundred dollars and am due to be paid another hundred twenty or so in a week or so. To do that tho, I've had to do a LOT of shops and a fair amount of driving between shops.

    Since 'Pup's been off, it's been easier on me as he's been doing the driving. He knows Houston better than most cab drivers and can get me to places faster than I can get there. 'Cause I don't know Houston as well......and.....well......I'm kinda directionally challenged. As in: 'Pup saying "Look dear, a deer on your right.. NO your OTHER RIGHT!"

    My defense is that I've spent 20 years trying to teach kids which hand was their right hand versus their left hand. I've had to do this by actually holding up my LEFT hand for "raise your right hand" and my RIGHT hand for "raise your left hand". A few years of that, you get a little confused in your mind. Really.

    So, this weekend I'd scheduled a bunch of shops to do. No problem doing them, I knew 'Pup would be there to help me and figure the most effective routes. Then...I checked the site again and found some MORE shops to sign up for, and thought, "Oh, good, more shops for the rest of December." And I signed up for them. A LOT of them.

    Then I checked the dates that these shops needed to be done. OH. HOLY. FERTILIZER! I'D JUST SIGNED UP FOR MORE SHOPS THAT HAD TO BE DONE ON THE SAME WEEKEND.

    I almost hyperventilated. There are just so many hours in a day and so many shops that can be done in an hour and Houston is 900 square miles big people. Really. And even with me having limited the shops that I signed up for within a 20 mile radius... 'scuse me.. I need to grab that paper bag again...

    I got lucky. One whole group of the shops that had had to be done were postponed due to a change in what the company wanted done. Phew.

    Still....that left way too many to do in too short a time. But we plotted and planned and 'Pup figured out which could be done near each other and made a really nice spreadsheet. He made me help him find where each shop was, with a Key Map. Said it would teach me a lesson about where things were in the area and about where NOT to accept shops. What it taught me was what I already knew... Do Not Sign Up For Shops Without Checking Due Dates.

    So, today we started. We got out of the house by 8:30 AM and were off like bunnies. It went pretty well, and I got all the shops done we'd planned on doing today except for one. And really, it fit better with the Saturday shops because of where it is. It's also the only store where I'll actually be doing two "shops" at once. I wish more were like that!

    The only fly in the ointment is actually good news. 'Pup won't be able to be driving me tomorrow because he is going in to have his lab work/blood tests done for some surgery. He's scheduled to have gastric bypass surgery on December 19. The odd thing is? It's almost a year to the day from when I had my spinal surgery last year. He's looking forward to it. I'm a little anxious, but I'm looking forward to the day he's healthier and thinner and more likely to live longer than he would without the surgery and weight loss.

    That leaves me to do my own driving tomorrow. 'Pup's plotted out my route and I think I know where I'm going. (Wait, why do I suddenly have a shiver going up my spine?) (Oh. Okay. Window closed now.)

    Think good thoughts for me guys. 'Cause a lot of these shops are on my RIGHT. (Oh yeee gads. I'm toast.)

    Uhmm ... if anyone in Houston notices a short, round, redhead driving a green Saturn going once too many times through the Texas Whoop'around under I45... stop and remind me which one is my right hand. And don't tell 'Pup.