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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A River View

Miss Diva and I went for a stroll along this lovely little river last weekend.  The water is high this year, with more current that we normally see.  Someone has been gardening on our side of the water.  You can see a bit of the hosta patch in the foreground.  This spot must not be popular with the local deer, as they generally seem to regard hosta as a salad bar planted just for their enjoyment.

To view other Watery Wednesday posts, click here

Monday, August 29, 2011

Turn, Turn, Turn.....

Just in time for the kids to head back to school tomorrow, the first touches of red appeared in my neighbor's maple tree.  I always loved back to school time as a kid.  So exciting!  And the fall colors here in the midwest are stunning.

For more Ruby Tuesday posts, click here

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Afternoon in the Park

I took advantage of my new found free time to enjoy an afternoon at the park.  Walker, Diva, and I had a wonderful time checking out the sand sculpture contest, eating hot dogs, and taking advantage of the free golf and archery lessons.  Check out the local talent:


Turns out Diva has a real talent for shooting arrows.  She hit the target five out of six times, and pretty near the center, too. Who knew?  After the park we found a cafe with outdoor seating and enjoyed some cold sweet tea and quiet time with a river view.  All in all, a fabulous afternoon!
Diva takes aim

Saturday, August 27, 2011

An Anniversary

One year ago today, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Four months later I was declared cancer free.  In between I had good days and bad days, scary days, quiet days, fun days, and anxious days.  Mostly, it was about waiting:  waiting for test results, waiting for the next appointment, waiting for surgery, waiting for healing, waiting to see if the treatments worked. 

Sometimes I feel like I got away with something; like my fight was not hard enough.  I am well aware that some of the women I went through treatment with have not yet gotten the "all clear".  Some are still fighting.  Some have lost the fight.  I know I am one of the lucky ones.

The hardest part of the whole thing was telling  my mom.  She's a tough lady but nobody should have to hear their daughter announce her breast cancer.  I hope, someday soon, someone will find a way to prevent this damn disease.  In the meantime, those of us who survive it have a responsibility to appreciate and enjoy this gift we have been given.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Swinging Without a Net

A couple years ago, during a routine exam, my doctor discovered a large, benign tumor in my uterus.  What happened next is kind of a long story but the short version is,  I went to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota to try a new treatment that was not available locally.  My insurance company gave their blessing but after the consultation and two surgical procedures that were supposed to shrink the tumor the insurance company decided not to pay.   I appealed several times but lost each round.  A year later, when it was determined that I was Mayo Clinics first failure with this treatment, I had surgery to remove the then melon sized tumor.  That surgery didnt go too well, either, and my doctor had no choice but to perform a hysterectomy.  I was in the hospital longer than expected, and I went home with a catheter that required expensive follow up care.
Three years later, Im still paying on those bills, and Im only half way done.

When I found out Mayo had accepted me into their program, I found an online job that I could do part time to help defer the cost of my outpatient expenses.  I figured Id keep the job for a few months after my surgeries to earn some extra cash so that when I was finally feeling better Walker and I could take a little get away.   I liked it because I could decide when, and how much, I wanted to work.  Of course, the more I work the more I earn.   I still have that job, and its more or less full time now. 

A while back  I took a couple days off from both my jobs to hang out with Miss Diva before she heads back to school.  It was wonderful to have full, long days to do whatever we wanted.  I realized that this time is just too short; pretty soon my little girl will be too grown to want to hang out with her old auntie.  The boys, too.  Already Cubby has stared to shun hugs.  I knew I had to find a way to scale back on my work hours before it was too late to enjoy these last years of childhood before Im faced with a pack of moody teenagers.  Then, this week, I got the estimate from the roofer to fix the hail damage from the big storm we had this spring.  The estimate is way more than the insurance company gave me.  And I officially surrendered the battle. 

Twenty odd years ago, I started a savings account that  I called my safety net. I didnt have much money but I put a little something in it, every single month, for fifteen years.  I have never made a withdrawal.  I have another savings account that I use to save up for specific “things, like home improvements or unexpected expenses.  I have a third  that Walker and I use just for vacations.  But the safety net is different.  It was myIf I lose my job and cant make the house payment security blanket.  The emergency fund that all financial gurus insist you have.  The thing is, they never really tell you what constitutes an emergency.  Well, Ill tell you: in my house, its realizing that you will be working two full time jobs for the next three or four years, at least, while your borrowed children grow up in another room.  Its realizing that you havent been to a movie with your sweetie in over two years because you are both always working.  Its trying to decide just how much more money to put into repairs for your twelve year old car.   Its hoping your ancient furnace holds out, just a few more winters.   Its opening an estimate from the roofer and feeling like you might, literally, be sick. 
I know to some people, our circumstances are far from a true emergency,.  We are not having trouble paying our bills; we've never even been late.  Of course, therein lies the problem: in meeting our financial obligations we are losing sight of what really matters:  each other.  That's why, this morning, I went online and requested a transfer from the safety net to my checking account.  It was a difficult decision but once I made it, I felt like a weight lifted from my shoulders.  For me, for my family, it was the right thing to do.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Checking In.....

Not much new to report, but I wanted to give a shout-out anyway.  Happy Wednesday!  We are now halfway to the weekend.  Wahoo!  Walker and I are both working this weekend, but I'm antsy for it anyway.  The mood is very laid back in my office on weekends.  There will be just a couple of us there. 

Despite our extra shifts, Walker and I are planning an outing to a local festival this weekend.  It's nice to have something to look forward to.  Most of the events we're planning to attend are free admission, which makes it nice.  Guilt free socializing, and if we discover there isn't much to hold our interest at any particular venue, we don't feel the need to hang out to "get our money's worth".  It's all good.

I realized that I am just about at the half way point between my last doctor's appointment and my next one.  I've been pretty good at choking down the nasty fish oil capsules, but it is driving me crazy that there is no home test for triglycerides.  I can't check my progress at all.  I would even try one with a dodgy accuracy rate, just to see if I'm doing myself any good.  I'll be honest:  I have a feeling my next appointment will not go well.  I should be exercising more, and saying no to Walker's fabulous grilled rib eye.  Ah, well.  I'm not going to give up the fight.  Maybe I'll surprise myself.  I still have several weeks to go.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Winding Down

Today was the last day for the community swimming pool.  Despite cloudy skies and temps in the mid 70's, I set the alarm to get up early so I could take Diva for one last dip.  The water was surprisingly warm. Since the pool was mostly empty, the lifeguards opened up the diving board area for open swimming.  I remember that from when I was a kid.  It was pretty exciting stuff back then. Judging by the reaction of the kids today, it still is.

I can't believe summer is winding down.  What happened to all my plans, LOL?  You may have noticed the lack of activity on the little yoga girl at the top of my blog.  Not exactly sure what happened there. I was planning to lose about thirty pounds but I got to about eight and stalled out.  I do know that part of it was the little voice in my head, stressing that maybe something was wrong with me, maybe the cancer was back, this was too easy.  Yada yada yada.  I *know* I'm fine, and I *know* the weight loss is a good thing, a healthy goal, but I think I'm going to have to take baby steps so I can work through it.  The good news is, I haven't gained back what I lost after I stalled out so when I begin again, I'll be that much closer to my goal.

The kids head back to school in about a week.  I'd like to do some sort of end-of-summer thing but I don't think that will happen.  The nephews weren't here this weekend, and next weekend I have to work.  Walker has been working seven days a week, too. Bro's vehicle broke down last week so we're swapping cars these days.  I guess we're lucky that we all work different shifts.  Last week was a tough one;  this week will probably be more of the same. I guess you need these times, so you know when you've got it good. 

Beverly & Me

We were 16 when this was taken, headed out for a night on our own. We look like we think we're grown, LOL

Back in 1980, my family lived in another state.  We moved from the midwest to the south, and lets just say, I did not fit in with the local girls.  It could have been a pretty miserable time, but it was not, thanks to Beverly.   We were neighbors who became best friends, and even though it wasn't long until my family moved back to the midwest, Beverly and I are still friends.  We haven't actually been in the same room since the summer we were sixteen, but it doesn't matter.  She is there for me, as I am for her, and no matter how much time has passed since we last talked, we can pick up right where we left off. 

Today, the mailman brought me a beautiful, "just because" card from Beverly.  It was a touching surprise, at a time when it was just what I needed.  How does she always know?  I am lucky, and grateful, to have Beverly in my life.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Wee Bit o' Culture in My Big Back Yard

Walker and I have been working a lot. Maybe a bit too much. We mostly seem to work, sleep, take care of other people's kids, and work some more.  So when we had the opportunity to soak up some Irish cheer, we took it. Off we went to the Irish Culture Fair.

We had a perfect day for bumming around: blue skies, gentle breeze, not too hot.  As it turned out, the weather was the best part of the day.  I know we don't get out much, but I was pretty surprised to see a $10 price tag on the tickets to this event.  Ten bucks each to get in the door and five dollars to park.  I know it's common in the city but I hate to pay for parking in this little town of ours.  We found a spot on the street a couple blocks away and walked down to the fair.

Honestly, for us, there wasn't a whole lot to get excited about.  They had a beer tent with live music, but we had to go to work that night, so the beer was out. The music was good, though.  They had a pretty nice kids' area, but we didn't bring any kids with us.  They had a tea garden where you could get a ham sandwich or some Irish mussels.  We did enjoy wandering through the vendor booths, and we watched part of the harpist competition.  To be fair, I think there is more going on in the evening at events like this.  Too bad we both work nights. I'm glad we went, but I don't think we'll be marking our calendar for next year.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Think It's Going to Be One of Those Weeks

We're short people at work again.  Which means overtime.  While the extra money is nice, it gets old at times.  Just work, sleep, and take care of Ernie. We've had a lot of that lately.

Ernie is acting weird again.  I've given up trying to figure out if she's acting weird because she's old and senile or if something is really wrong.  How do you ever know?  She's taken to sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor, something she's never done before.  But it's the sitting itself that's weird, kind of a squat, really.  I can't imagine that's comfortable.  She's getting very vocal when I give her the fluid injections, too.  Weird because, one, I'm getting pretty good at it so it shouldn't be painful for her and two, she is generally a pretty quiet kitty.  I'm not going to haul her in to the vet, though.  She eats, she sleeps, she poos.  What more could I ask for from a twenty two year old kitty?

Walker seems to be, generally, pretty stressed out.  I think the extra people in the house are wearing on him a bit.  He's more strict than Bro, so of course he gets irritated at some of the stuff the kids do.  I was thinking about taking a mini break, maybe checking into a hotel with a nice restaurant and a warm pool, but then I realized we'd have to bring Ernie with us.  She needs fluid every twelve hours, and her meds three times a day, and fiber in her food four times a day.  Too much to ask of a kitty sitter, I think.  Especially the fluid part.  She's my baby and it took a full week before I could bring myself to stab her in the neck with the needle.  Walker had to do it before that. I can't ask someone else to do that.  As Ernie doesn't travel well, the mini break idea is on hold. 

Until we can manage an actual get away, I've planned some day trips around the area, visiting local orchards, and festivals, and flea markets, and cultural events.  There's something just about every weekend.  We really need to get out more.  Starting now, we will be.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Girls' Weekend

Diva and I have been busy!  Yesterday we went out to lunch, then we made cookies that we dropped off at my office.  They were well received by some hard working people.  After that we went to a nearby car lot to get a better look at a car I saw the other night, but it was already sold. So we moved on to the mall, where Diva picked up some Justin Beiber nail polish and a sequined hat.  When we were all shopped out we stopped home long enough to change into swim suits before picking up Grandma and heading to the swimming pool  We don't often go swimming in the evening, but last night they were passing out free root beer floats so we didn't want to miss that.  Diva entered a belly flop contest and did pretty well, too, especially considering that she is a string bean.  She was one of only four kids who was able to get the lifeguard wet.  Unfortunately, only the top three got prizes. She'll get 'em next time.

I treated myself to a little pressie, too, a small makeup set from Sephora.  I know the brand, Tarte, makes some good stuff so even though there was nothing I actually needed, I decided to bring it home.   Unfortunately for me, it will be going back pretty darn quick.  Despite the fact that the box looked perfect, when I opened it I found one of the powder compacts was completely shattered.  It must have been damaged before the box was packed, since the other pieces were fine.  I kinda wish there had been some tell tale sign of the damage, cause if there had been, maybe my carpet would not look like this:

Right now, I can't even clean up the mess cause everyone is sleeping.  I have to wait until morning to get the vacuum out.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Twenty Five Years

Me & my daddy, 1986
My Facebook page has gone nuts.  Apparently my 25th high school reunion is this weekend and someone added my name to the "Class of '86" Facebook page.  Which is fine, but all of the sudden I'm getting friend requests from people I haven't talked to in 25 years. The names I know, I accept.  The ones I don't I'll leave for another day, when I have time to investigate just who these folks are.

I don't spend much time on Facebook.  I started a page because my nephews asked me to, so they could send me cool requests.  To be honest, I don't get the appeal.  I don't understand why some people post every move on their status.  Do we really need to know who is at the grocery store and who is in the shower at any given moment?  But I do like the idea of reconnecting with some old friends.  It's so easy to lose touch.

I don't attend my reunions.  I finished school early and just came back for the actual graduation ceremony so my mom could watch me walk across the stage to collect my diploma.  My decision to finish school early had nothing to do with my classmates; I had some wonderful friends in high school.  But I was anxious to get out on my own, to work full time, to move out of my mother's house.  So I did.

I had a very 80's senior picture:  me with pouffy blonde hair, the collar of my shirt "popped".  The background of the photo had bright pink stripes.  So rad, LOL.  I was planning to post one when I realized those photos were among the group lost in the Great Basement Flood of 2011.  Sigh. I still have not sorted all that stuff out.  I put the dozen or so boxes I still need to sort "up" on top of empty boxes, so if another flood happens I have some extra time.  Yet another project I still need to get to.....

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mini Break!

I have the rest of this week off from work. At least, from my office job. The work-at-home job is pretty much up to me. I might sneak some work in, but only if I get my playing done first. Diva and I will be spending the next couple days together. She hasn't been with us as much as usual, since her room in our house is now occupied by - YIKES! - boys. She gets along pretty well with her boy cousins, but we had to put an end to the sleepovers in Walker's man-cave in the basement after Diva woke up sniffling and coughing not once, but twice after sleeping down there. We are both looking forward to the next couple days.

Our first plan was to road trip to the nearest zoo for an afternoon, but Walker's time off has been cancelled due to an emergency with one of his co-workers, and his van is in the shop. My car is okay for roadtripping, but the van is better now that the kids are getting bigger. My little convertible has a pretty narrow back seat. Throw in a cooler and a camera bag and the kid starts getting crowded. So I think the zoo will have to wait. I'm working on some alternatives, but the final decision will be up to Miss Diva. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cool Down

The heat has finally broken.  It is a delicious 57* outside right now.  The AC is off, the windows are open, and a lovely chilly breeze is wafting through the window.  I cannot wait to go to bed and snuggle under a real blanket. I bet I will sleep like a rock.

Which would be a nice change, as my Tamoxifen has been causing me to turn into a thermal nuclear heat generator again.  Walker has been sleeping in his recliner in the living room because of it.  Even with the AC turned up and the ceiling fan on, I would get so uncomfortably warm I wasn't able to sleep.  If I didn't have herds of people wandering through my house all day, I would probably have spent my non working hours in the buff.

Maybe not.

At any rate, the cooler weather is a welcome change.  I'm sure I'll be longing for heat soon enough, but right now it's just about perfect outside. And inside.  I don't know how long this spell is supposed to last.  I intend to take full advantage while I can.  G'night!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Bits

Last week I read "The Peach Keeper" by Sarah Addison Allen.  This was the second book by this author that I read and enjoyed, but I have to say, the books are different.  Very fanciful.  I'm not sure they would be right for everyone, but I liked them.  At any rate, there's a passage in the book where one character comments to another that his home is very large for one person, and the response was something to the effect that you have to leave space in your life, so good things can enter. I like that idea. Makes me feel less wasteful about having a three bedroom house for just Walker and me.  We're leaving space for blessings. =)

Walker, Bro, and Diva pitched in on my chore list on Saturday afternoon, and we finished in record time.  I usually clean on Sundays, but this week was my mom's birthday and we were expecting company for her cake & ice cream segment of the celebration.  I wanted to have everything ready early.  So with all the extra help I ended up with most of Saturday afternoon and a big part of Sunday to myself.  It was WONDERFUL!  I took Diva to the pool, and I went for a bike ride, and I worked in the garden for a bit.  The flower garden is pretty much hassle free:  I use Preen and wood chips so I don't have to pull weeds, and I skip planting stuff that needs constant attention, like pansies.  Every now and again I need to dead head the spent blossoms but that's about it.  I had it spruced up in no time.  Diva's little rosebush loves its new home.  No flowers yet, but it's got lots of new leaves.

I took a couple days off at the end of this week, so Diva and I could have some girl time before she heads back to school.  I can't believe how fast the summer has gone.  The kids start school in three weeks.  The pool closes in two.  The older I get the faster time seems to fly by.  Right now, we're planning a road trip for our Girl's Day but it is dependent on the weather, so we're formulating a Plan B, too.  Can't wait!

Friday, August 5, 2011

California Dreamin'

The heat just does not let up.  Driving home from work at 3am it was still nearly 90*, with so much humidity in the air it looked like I was driving through clouds.  When I can't stand it another minute, I close my eyes and remember this:

What I wouldn't give to take a dip in that ocean right about now!  Of course, it was way too cold to swim when we were there in November 2009.  Still, staring at this photo is a nice escape.  Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Minimalist in Training

I find myself longing for empty spaces.  Closets with hangers two finger widths apart.  Empty shelves, clear surfaces, the absence of "stuff".  I'm not sure what brought this on, but lately I daydream about taking a week off work, cleaning every closet, dresser, and cupboard in the house, and hauling all the cast offs to Goodwill.  Seriously.  Maybe I've been watching too many episodes of "Hoarders".

Walker and I have been looking into the possibility of downsizing our home.  When we moved here, we did so anticipating a family.  Now that we know for certain there will be no kids, the house just feels too big.  Of course, with Bro and the boys here, we won't be doing anything in the immediate future, but at some point they will settle into their own place and we'll make a decision.

I hate moving.

We came here from a house that was less than 800 square feet.  I never thought we would fill this space, more than twice what we had before.  Um, yeah.  We've been here six years next month and guess what?  The basement storage room?  It's full.  The garage cupboards?  Yep, they're full.  The closet in under the stairs?  Uh huh.  How does this happen?  And so fast!  These rooms that seemed so big feel cozy now. 

I'm not sure what we'll end up doing, but we're looking at all the options.  It's been kinda fun, actually.  We've done some house hunting, and if this dang heat would ever let up, we'll do some more.  In the meantime, there are always closets to clean.