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Sunday, June 26, 2011

I Just Wanted Some Snapple.....

There's a grocery store pretty close to my office, but I hardly ever go there.  They have the best prices in town, too.  So why don't I go there?  The place is HUGE.  Seriously.  I feel like I need a map, a liter of water, my best walking shoes, and a bedroll. You know, in case I need a nap.  It's that big. 

Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration.  But the place is huge and the last thing I feel like doing after working all night is tromping around that store for an hour, cause that's how long it takes me to find about three things.  After that, I usually give up and go home.

Last night, though, I was only scheduled for about a three hour shift.  I don't usually work weekends, but I've been volunteering for project work, as this is my year of fiscal reform.  Project work pays way better than my normal job.  So anyway:  I told the boys I would be stopping at the store after work, since I wanted some Snapple and the ginormous grocery store had it on sale.  Snapple is not a fiscally responsible grocery item, but I pick up a six pack when I can find it for under five bucks.  The boys asked me to add a couple things to my list.

How is it that I can go into a store with six items on my list and come out with four full bags and three cardboard carriers of Snapple?  What makes a frozen burrito so much more appealing under the fluorescent lights of the freezer case than it will ever be in my home?  Walker will eat them, of course, but why did I buy six of those littler buggers when, honestly, I don't much care for frozen burritos?  Oh, yeah, cause they were three for a buck. I bought generic Fruity Pebbles for the kids, even though I usually end up eating them myself and there is no way I can count the "Fruity" part as actual, diet friendly fruit.  I got some of those pretzel sticks that come with a little container of cheese spread, to take to the pool.  The fact that it was fifty some degrees outside at the time did not deter me:  we will make it back to the pool at some point.  And when we do, we will need snacks. 

Of course we will.

I read something once that said the average shopper buys six impulse items every time they shop.  With that in mind, I used to do my shopping just once every three or four weeks.  I reasoned that even if I picked up all six impulse items, at least I was done for a month.  It worked, too.  But with three extra people in the house, shopping once a month just isn't practical.  I think the next time I head to the big ginormous grocery store, I'll take along a guide.  Someone who actually knows their way around in there so I don't have to wander so long.  Or better yet:  next time I'll send the boys.

Friday, June 24, 2011


It occurred to me a couple days ago that here we are, mid June, and I have yet to take a morning bike ride.  Or an any-time-of-day bike ride, for that matter.  The morning ones just happen to be my favorite, when I unwind from a long night at work and the rest of the world has yet to wake. So, even though my bike was buried in the back of the garage behind all the still-set-up tables from our neighborhood garage sales, I managed to wrestle it out and go riding just before sunrise after the shortest night of the year.

A couple of years ago my mom and I were privileged to be in Alaska during Summer Solstice. We didn't partake in any festivities, but I was completely enchanted by the idea of celebrating the solstice.  I had not, to that point, heard of that custom.  I love the idea of it.  I hope to be there again someday, and I intend to be prepared to celebrate fully.

This year, however, I was content to ride the paved trails near my home watching the sun come up.  I've been spending a lot of time inside my own head, so to speak, and I think the ride did me good. Blew out the cobwebs, as they say.  I'm not sure why I've gotten so introspective.  Watching Bro navigate his divorce is part of it, I think.  Seeing my mom getting older, and all that entails.  Standing by, healthy, my cancer in the rear view mirror while our wonderful Aunt Dee enters year number four of her own unending battle with breast cancer, no end in sight.  The kids are getting older, too, and as they make strides toward their own independence, I can't help but wonder where the babies went, and where we go from here.

I didn't come home with any profound answers, but I did come home feeling more relaxed than I have in a long, long time.  One thing is clear:  I need to just let be.  Stressing and worrying is not going to solve anything.  It's not even going to help.  I have to just let go of it all.  Whatever is supposed to happen will happen.  In the meantime, I see a lot more morning rides in my future. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Stormy Night

Ernie and I are listening to a summer storm rage outside.  I haven't given her a fluid injection yet today, because yesterday's caused her foot to swell up worse than last time.  A full day later, it's still puffy, but going down now.  Ernie doesn't mind the storms, but they make me jumpy.  This one right now has been crashing overhead for half an hour.  I probably shouldn't be sitting here, in front of the window wall. 

I placed my first ad on Craig's List today.  My mom thinned a bunch of perennials and was hoping to sell the excess.  She potted them all up and brought them over during our neighborhood rummage sale.  But it rained buckets, and, while we went ahead with the sale, the turnout was not what we'd hoped for.  Now we have a table full of potted perennials to get rid of.  So I decided to try Craig's List.  I'll let ya know how it goes.

Monday, June 20, 2011

House Hunting

Walker and I went house shopping on Sunday.  Are we moving? Probably not, though we have to consider it.  Right now, I think we'd stay put just because our household is complicated, but later, after Bro moves on and his kids are settled into whatever routine they develop, Walker and I might decide to move.  I love this neighborhood, and the home we've created here.  My mom is a three minute walk away.  But we bought this house anticipating kids, and when it's just the two of us again, this house feels too big for us.  We don't use the dining room, or Bro's room, or the family room.  Ernie has a bathroom all to herself.  Yet we pay to heat and cool these empty rooms, and I still have to clean them.  Taking care of this house takes a lot of my free time.  And there isn't much free time to begin with.

So I did an internet search of available properties, and we went to see a couple of them today.  One of them had bad damage from the tornado, with part of the roof falling in.  Some of them are currently rental properties, and the lack of ownership shows in the form of weedy lawns, peeling paint, and neglected landscaping.  We weren't looking at the top of our price range, but still I expected more.  The only property I actually could see myself living in was a twin home, and there is no way I would buy one of those.  Had I known to begin with that it was a twin home we wouldn't have had it on the list.

When we came home I did some laundry and put another coat of paint on my window wall.  It looks fabulous, by the way.  If it looks as good in the morning sun as it does right now, I can call it done. I wish I had thought to take "before" photos.  It's amazing how different it looks with just the fresh paint.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Miss Lucy, this One's for You

One of my blogger friends has a mystery plant growing in a whiskey barrel in her yard.  She posted a photo of it to see if anyone knew what it was.  Well, I'm not sure, but to me it looked like the balloon flower I had coming up in my own garden.  So here's my balloon flower, Lucy.  See what you think.

To me, they look similar but not exactly the same.  My plant has more jaggy edges on the leaves than Lucy's does.  She also said hers is a bulb.  I'm not sure what my root system looks like, but I bought it as a potted plant, not a bulb.  Doesn't mean there isn't a bulb in there, just that I haven't seen it.  This plant blooms with pretty blue flowers, but I used to have one that bloomed a pale pink.  Here's what it looks like when it blooms:

Tackling the ToDo List

I have a house full of sleeping boys.  Walker scored four free tickets to a water park, about a two hour drive from here.  So early Saturday morning, Walker and Bro picked up the nephews and off they went.  Diva was disappointed to be left at home, but I told her it was important for the boys to have time with their daddy on Father's Day weekend, and Walker went along to help out.  I also promised her a back to school shopping trip to the Mall of America, which I was planning to do with her anyway.  I was hoping to be at my goal weight by then, but the diet has been a struggle this time around.  I think I need to work on my head as well as the rest of me. But that's a story for another day.

Anyway, I decided to make the most of a full day without boys, and I started two projects that I have had on my list since I bought this house nearly six years ago.  First up, I patched a hole in the living room ceiling where we had moved a light fixture.  The hole itself had been patched, but it needed to be textured to match the rest of the ceiling, then primed and painted.  I got the texture part done, but with the high humidity it didn't dry in time for me to paint it.  No worries:  I have more painting in my future anyway.  I can easily add that one-foot-square project to the list.

The other project was bigger.  We have a "window wall" in the living room that sorely needed to be scraped, sanded, and painted. There are six panes of glass, and together they make a window that goes just about floor to ceiling and nearly the entire length of the wall.  Each pane has TEN surfaces to paint on each side.  Yep, forty surfaces per window.  See why I put it off?  But every other wall, every ceiling, and every bit of trim that isn't varnished has been painted, except this window.  We have crisp white trim all over the house, except this window, which was done in antique white that was going to yellow after all these years. 

The window was painted with oil based paint that had started peeling.  We had to sand off the old paint, prime the wood, and paint it fresh.  I started the project after work on Saturday morning, early, but realized pretty fast that I would never finish if I didn't have some help.  So, at 5am I was in the hardware department at Walmart buying a Dremel and a palm sander. Holy crow,  I am so, so glad I did.  Diva scraped the peely stuff while I sanded, then we vacuumed up the chunks and wiped all the dust off.  One coat of primer, and we were off to the community pool while it dried.  After swimming we did a second coat of primer, then we cleaned up the living room and watched a Project Runway marathon until the boys came home.  I still have to paint, but that should go fairly quickly since everything is taped off already.  Even with just the primer coat, it looks a thousand percent better.

The boys came home exhausted and all of them - even the big boys - went to bed shortly after they got home.  Diva is spending the night with Grandma, so it's just me and Ernie hanging out together now.  Around midnight a storm rolled in, complete with thunder, lightning, and pouring rain.  I was walking past the open front door when I noticed the rain coming down like a sheet over the roof, and I knew that meant the gutters were full.  The linden tree is blooming, and shedding petals, so I should have realized the gutters needed to be looked at, but I didn't think about it until I saw the front yard flooding with runoff from the roof. The last thing I wanted to deal with was more water in the basement, so.....yep, I cleaned the gutters.  In the rain, at 1am.  Yep, I know how dumb that was.  But the lightning had stopped, and I certainly won't melt.  It didn't take too long, as the gutters always clog in the same two spots.  As soon as I cleared them, the water poured out of the downspout away from the house and all was well again.  Really, the way the yard was filling with standing water I have no doubt we would have had seepage in the basement if I had left the gutters alone. I did cut my hand reaching up there, but I had a tetanus shot before my last surgery so I'm not too concerned. And hey -  Walker won't be asked to clean the gutters on Father's Day.  It's a win-win!

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I'm back to my old schedule at work, which I was really looking forward to before it happened.  But my first night back on the old schedule, we had some computer issues and I ended up with a couple unscheduled hours of over time.  I don't mind the overtime, in and of itself, but on this schedule I start a couple hours later and stay a couple hours later.  Then add a couple more hours for the overtime.  And there you have it.  It was morning by the time I headed for home.  Then, too, it was visitation day for Bro and his boys. And it was raining.  Yep, two little boys trapped in the house, and me trying to sleep in.  Bro ended up taking the boys, and Diva, too, on a library outing, so I stayed in bed later than I would normally, but I didn't sleep too well.  After all that, I'm still dragging.  I remind myself that Dr C said it would be at least a year, and as long as two years, until I got my energy back after radiation.  Still, it's hard.  Energy or no, I still have to go to work, take care of the house, keep up with Ernie's treatments, work on the garden......

Driving home this morning, I was grateful for the big, bright moon shining down.  It helped a bit, to keep me alert.  We've had rain all day, and the clouds were beautiful against a deep blue sky with the edges lit up by the moon.  Even though I really wanted to just go to bed, I decided to take a couple minuted and try once again to get a photo.  I think, had I a tripod, these shots could have been really cool.  Unfortunately, they are mostly just blurry.  Even so, I think I've made some improvement since the last lunar attempt.  Am I the only one who thinks this looks like a photo of the sun, during autumn, rather than the moon, in summer? 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Just a Few Random Bits

Ernie had her follow up at the vet.  Walker had to take her, as I'm still on the wonky schedule at the office.  He called me as soon as they got home, and he sounded....shaken.  Ernie must be feeling better, because he said she was not very well behaved this trip.  The vet, a very diplomatic gentleman, told Walker that Ernie gave him a urine sample he didn't ask for.  Walker said she was making noises he had never heard from a cat before, and she spit on him several times on the drive home.  I bet next time he puts her crate in the back seat. 

The vet said Ernie is responding well to treatment, but he also warned that we need to be realistic.  She is well over twenty-two years old.  If we give her the special diet and daily fluid injections, she could live up to a year.  If we stop the injections, she would live maybe a month before her kidneys shut down.  She's much less tolerant of the fluid injections, but we do give her some "juice" every day.  She's figured out this move where she bobs her head down really fast, which will dislodge the needle if I'm not holding it in.  So I hold it in, even though the extra pressure slows down the fluid drip and the process takes twice as long.  She hasn't fussed to the point where  I feel like we should stop the injections.  At least not so far.  We're taking it one day at a time.

By the end of this week, I should be back to my normal work schedule.  Which means I go in later in the afternoon, but I have to stay later, too.  This time of year I love my schedule, as I have lots of time with Diva during the day.  It's also starting to get light out when I get home, so I sometimes take my bike for a trail ride after work.  Most of the year I can't do that ~ too dark.  I love summer.

I haven't done a weigh in for a couple days, mostly because I haven't been great about sticking to my plan.  A while back a neighbor's mailbox was run over in the middle of the night, so Walker and Bro went over and put in a new one for him.  He thanked them with a packet of tickets to a fund raiser breakfast at the VFW.  Holy cow, that breakfast was good!  The food was pretty well salted, though, and I generally try to avoid salt.  So I knew I'd be holding water weight for a couple days.  Then Bro made lasagna for dinner - not exactly lean or green as my diet recommends. But ~ today at the office my coworker told me I look skinny, then when I put my keys in my pocket my pants slid down to my hips.  While mooning the office staff is really bad for them, it was pretty good for me.  I think it signals progress. I've also learned the hard way that if I need to pick something off the floor, I need to squat, not bend over, or I'll be flashing whoever is nearby.  My tops are loose, too.  With all the parts of me that should be covered falling out of my clothes, I think some shopping may be in order.  But not too much - I have a ways to go yet.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Celebrating Life

Y'all may remember my vow that this is my year of fiscal responsibility.  To that end, I've been signing up for as much over time as my boss offers, which isn't all that much, to be honest.  In this economic climate, my company has been very conservative.  Which may be why we are doing so well, despite the economy.  But anyway - by Wednesday I had put in almost ten hours of overtime for the week.  So when I got the invitation to our local cancer survivors picnic, I almost took a pass.  If I don't physically work 40 hours a week, I don't get time and a half for my overtime.  With my schedule, I had to take the night off if I wanted to attend the picnic, so I would lose the extra pay for eight of those hours.  I hesitated only briefly over the invitation, though. In the end, there is more to life than work.  As a cancer survivor, I need to remember that.  Some of my fellow warriors are still battling the disease, and too many have lost the fight. 

I went to the picnic.  My family came with me. And we had a good time. There was dinner, of course, and a live band. There were clowns, a caricature artist, and face painting for the kids.  My doctors served beverages.  My mom flirted with a local icon.  My sister ran into some friends, women who she did not know had beat breast cancer.  I won a door prize.  Wahoo!
The survivors were given buttons with the year of their diagnosis written on them.  It was very moving to see all the dates, some of them thirty years and more past.  There was also booklet with a little blurb about remembering those who have lost the fight.  I had to read than later.  It hits me, sometimes, just how lucky I was.

How lucky I am. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Common Sense will Cost You Extra

So I was folding towels yesterday and  - wahoo! - my swimsuit bottoms turned up.  The temps were in the 90's before noon, and I was jonesing to get to the pool.  We hadn't been there long when the lifeguards started changing stations.  Walker pointed to the top of the water slide, twenty five feet up.  There was a young lifeguard, going down the slide standing up.  Of course the kids thought it was SO COOL!  Um, yeah.  Not so much.

I attempted to explain to the kid that he was a role model for the little swimmers, and that he needed to follow the rules to set a good example.  He totally blew me off.  Which is too bad, really, because there is just no way that I can let that behavior go. Had he apologized, or seemed the least little bit concerned, I would have.  He didn't, though, so I didn't either.  I feel bad, but I would feel worse if some kid tried that and got hurt.  Or worse, if Mr Lifeguard did it again and fell twenty five feet onto the concrete.  Think of all the kids who would be scarred for life at the sight of Mr Lifeguard in eighty seven pieces. 

I turned him in.

I hope he doesn't get fired. 

Clearly, this kid, who has taken a job that involves providing public safety, has no regard for his own.  But he is just a kid.  Who didn't have bonehead moments as a kid?  I know I did.  Hopefully he won't get worse than a "Don't do that again" speech.  Hopefully it will sink in.  And hopefully, the next time we go to the pool, our membership card still works!

Sunday, June 5, 2011


 I woke up this morning with the fight Walker and I had still on my mind.  I know I need to let it go but today, instead of feeling hurt, I was good and mad.  Honestly, I don't think that's a bad thing.  Sometimes you have to let yourself get mad, so you can work it all out inside.  I think that holding it all in is what causes Walker to blow up when he does.  Or maybe I just watch too much Dr Phil.

So what did I do with my quiet time?  I'd like to say I sat on the patio with a good book, but no.  I did what I always do on my day off: I cleaned the house.  Got a lot done, too, before the boys came home. Squeak caught his first fish today, and Cubbie caught the biggest one of the day.  They were pretty excited when they got home.

I made the kids some Rice Crispy Treats type bars except I used Fruity Pebbles for the cereal.  We had some of those little colored marshmallows and I wanted to use them up.  I realized that I had never made Rice Crispy Treats before.  How is that possible?  Isn't that one of the first things a kid learns to make?  Apparently not, LOL.  I actually had to look up the recipe. 

It's hot again today, and I would love to go back to the pool.  Unfortunately for me, Walker brought the swimming stuff in from the line and my swimsuit bottoms were not in the pile.  I have no idea where they are.  I checked the yard and no dice.  So, unless I want to swim in my skivvies, I'm out of commission until they turn up or I hit the mall for new ones. I did spend a few minutes outside before the heat kicked in.  I was surprised to see the rose bush was budding out, and the peonies were in full bloom.  I just love the flower scent in my yard right now.

Splash Down!

The city pool opened today.  Walker and I took Diva, Bro brought his boys, and we made an afternoon of playing in the water and the hot, hot sun.  It was fabulous. We came home feeling tired and refreshed at once.  Walker made hot dogs on the grill while I heated up chili sauce and sliced watermelon.  The kids ate chili cheese dogs for an early dinner and spent the evening running through the sprinklers.  Overnight, it's summer. In the morning all the boys are going fishing.  Early, so I'll have the house to myself when I get up.

Which is great, because I could use a break.  Walker's been crabby lately, and today before everyone got here he blew up at me over the clutter in the house.  I have never been a spotless housekeeper, and honestly, I don't aim to be.  The house is vacuumed and dusted weekly.  The dishes are done and the trash is taken out every day.  I keep the bathrooms cleaned, usually twice a week.  I do about six loads of laundry a week, and Bro does the laundry for himself and his boys.  To me, that's fine.  I know some people vacuum and mop and clean the bathrooms every day.  I do not, and I don't intend to start.  I have a full plate already.  Walker was off work all day yesterday, but he went golfing instead of doing housework.  So, it is what it is.  I am not the only one living in this house, but most days, I'm the only one cleaning it.  I refuse to be bullied into doing more.

That said, I felt pretty much like crap for most of the day.  Despite the fact that I stood up for myself, and despite his own admission that he could be doing more to pitch in, Walker tends to say things that he later regrets. Things that cut deep.  He's not great at apologizing, not that it helps much when he does.  I feel like I work damn hard at the office and at home, and I don't appreciate being told that my efforts are inadequate.

Walker had blown off all his steam before everyone got here, and I reminded myself that he's put up with a lot having another adult and two kids in the house for the last few months.  I really wish he'd talk about things before he goes off the deep end like he did, but this is his pattern.  He won't have another screaming fit for about six months.  He was fine by the time we left for the pool.  He played with the kids, making a game out of creating a splash big enough to soak the lifeguards.  For a guy who isn't particularly large, he's a champion splash maker. And later, after everyone was off doing their various projects, he did the dishes and vacuumed.  A peace offering.

Right now, I need to go to bed.  I want to make sure I don't sleep through the whole morning, when I have the entire house to myself.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Maybe Tights Would Help......

Walker picked up Culver's for lunch ( I has a salad with grilled chicken) and now everyone is asleep.  Walker is snoring in his recliner, Bro is snoozing on the sofa, even Ernie is fast asleep.  Unfortunately for me, I have to leave for work in less than an hour.  No nap for me.

I decided over the weekend that I need to do little pamper-y things for myself once in a while.  I focus too much on work and taking care of everyone else.  One of the things I decided to try was some self tanner, since I now have to stay out of the sun.  I didn't know what kind of self tanner worked the best, so I bought a couple different ones to try.

I now have orange feet.

You know, you can't detract from orange feet by painting your toenails navy.  Just in case you were about to suggest that.  Good idea, though.  Ahem.

It appears that if you use a spray version of self tanner, it tends to drift down to your feet when you spray the rest of you.  It would probably be helpful if manufacturers would note this in the instructions, but then you might get the idea that the product is difficult to apply and - HELLO - gives you orange feet.  Not so good for business, I guess.

It doesn't help that the color takes three hours to develop.  By the time you know you have a problem, it's too late to do anything about it.  On the plus side....oh, hell, there is no plus side.  I have orange feet and they will stay orange for about a week.  The pool opens on Saturday, and I promised to take Diva.  Me and my orange feet have nowhere to hide.