Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Down for the Count

Vern had his nephrostomy tube removed today. It was painful for him and horrible to watch.

This, unfortunately, is what happened to him.

Family and friends pretty much know that all you have to do is say the word "blood" to Vern, and he starts to turn pale and get a little queasy.

I, on the other hand, have a stomach of steel and am pretty familiar with medical procedures. I also find entertainment in blood and gore.

However, this was me today.

It was quite the scene. Both of us on the floor with our head between our (own) knees at the doctor's office. I think the doctor freaked a little and had to hand it over to a nurse.

They are giving Vern until April 10 to recover and then we are starting the process all over again. I think we are going to go to a different hospital out of town because the doctor doesn't feel that the local hospital that is covered by our insurance has the staff and equipment to handle this medical issue.

I can't say I'm a fan of the doctor's bedside manner. Unless you like your doctor to throw a wet towel at you and run screaming down the hall like a little girl looking for a nurse. Then I have the perfect doctor for you.

Monday, March 24, 2008

It's Not ALL Illness Around Here

Sometimes I knit.

This hat (and the scarf) is based on a Banana Republic hat. I wasn't satisfied with the grey and plum versions, but I was really happy with how the teal version came out.

However, my 23 year old daughter liked them all.

Oh well, I don't look good in hats anyway (and she looks spectacular in them).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

How We Spent Our Easter

Us and everyone else within a 50 mile radius. Who knew that the emergency room would be a popular place to spend the Easter holiday. It was standing room only at the emergency room today. There was even one family who apparently picked the ER waiting room to have a family reunion.

The trick is that if you go in dripping blood, they will move you to the front of the line. I believe their exact words were "we don't want you to get blood on our new chairs."

Apparently they have their priorities in the ER. . . and new furniture is right at the top.

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?

After Vern's surgery, we had to get some prescriptions filled. Our local grocery store/drug store just built a fancy new store with a drive thru pharmacy.

We used it for the first time, and this is what we found.

Now really. Who thought this was a good idea? Most people who are using the drive thru at the pharmacy are either too sick to go into the store themselves or have someone in their family who is too sick to go into the store.

Is a phone handset that is used by every single person, sick or not, really the best idea for a drive thru pharmacy? I'm not even a germaphobe, and it made me queasy to touch it.

I can just hear the marketing pitch for this one.

"So, what's a way to not only retain our current customers, but also ensure that we get NEW customers. . . "

Saturday, March 22, 2008

There's a Light at the End of the Tunnel

Too bad it was a train.

That's what it felt like yesterday when the doctors told me that even though Vern had virtually gone through the entire surgical procedure, they weren't able to actually make any progress at all. They weren't even able to get a guidewire or their instruments into his kidney because the stone is so large that it completely fills the entire kidney. There was absolutely no room. The doctor said it was as if someone had poured concrete into his kidney.

They sent him home, in a lot of pain and still with drainage tubes in his back. He had a rough night and a rough day so far today. They will remove the drainage tubes on Tuesday and then we will talk about other options to remove this stone. Unfortunately, it gets more complicated from here and will involve more surgery and definitely more time off of work to recover than originally anticipated.

You would think that with a stone this big, at least they would let us name it and bring it home.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Excuse Me Ma'am, There's a Goat in Your Yard

The installers for the soapstone were here today. "Ma'am? There's a goat in your yard" was not exactly what I expected to hear them say. I'm pretty sure it wasn't what they expected either seeing as how they are from the Chicago area and I'm certain that most of their customers don't have goats in their yard.

But today was just one of those kinds of days. Fortunately, they aren't our goats. They belong down the street. But today our yard must have been interesting.
Also, fortunately, they like to play follow the leader, and Vern was able to get them back home without any trouble.

Except for the part where we got charged by a goose, rammed by a goat, and stepped in goat poop.

Oh, and we got our soapstone counters too.

So I guess the day wasn't all bad.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

23 Years Ago

I became a mom.

Happy Birthday Nichole.

(and let's please ignore the fact that I not only look like I'm 12 in these photos, but also the fact that I look like Scott Baio. I was actually 22 and NOT Scott Baio.)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Stitch (Marker) in Time

My current decluttering project is our master bedroom. In my top dresser drawer is a box of jewelry items that I always end up throwing back into the drawer. Things my mom left me, things that I never wear but that hold some sort of a sentimental value, and things that I've just outgrown from a jewelry standpoint. How much do I really honor these memories by throwing them in a box in the back of my drawer?

One of those pieces of jewelry was a silver charm bracelet from when I was a pre-teen. I got a lot of charms for different events in my life or different places we visited. However, I honestly can't remember ever wearing the charm bracelet and, in fact, several charms hadn't even been put on to the bracelet.

Rather than toss the charm bracelet back into the drawer, I disassembled the bracelet and made stitch markers for knitting out of them. I also made markers out of a few pendants from necklaces that I no longer wear but that were special in some way.

Now with every knitting project, I am not only knitting my love and time into the project, but I am also reflecting on treasured memories of my past.

Today I will take some time to knit and use a charm to remind me of my mom who passed away 11 years ago today.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Little Bit of This and A Whole Lot of That

We had the first little bit of warm weather this week, so we christened our deck by cooking on the grill for the first time! It was a welcome change from cooking in the garage. Especially since Vern takes charge of cooking on the grill. (The white garage in the distance is Vern's shop, and that's my cute little red Jeep.)

Some further progress was made on the kitchen this week. We found out that we needed more structural support for the 12" overhang that will go around our island. The soapstone is very heavy, so we needed something substantial. We decided on some Mission style corbels. It was a mad scramble for them because we wanted to find something that matched the style of our kitchen, but that also was affordable. Affordable being the key because structural corbels in the size that we need are pretty darn expensive. Some of them cost as much as - - - are you sitting down? - - - $1,000 each! Yikes. that was definitely not in the budget.

We were able to find these from Rockler and have them overnighted to us so that we could get them stained and installed before our counters are ready.

Speaking of the soapstone, the great news is that it is being installed on Wednesday! The bad news is that we still won't have a working kitchen for a month or two due to the work that we have left to do and Vern's surgery.

We almost have the beadboard installed around the island. Here's a little peek at it as well as a look at the baseboard we are using around the island.

There will be a small inset bookcase in the area where the clamps are. The soapstone will extend about 12" most of the way around the island.

Here's another view that gives a little more perspective.

This is the view from the former living room/now dining room. There will be a small office in the area where the saw is sitting so that it is easy access from the kitchen but yet separate. You can also see the new door to the deck that we installed this fall. The walls are going to be a neutral tan color, so we're trying to decide on the color for the door. I'm thinking about red to give the room a little punch.

Finally, my "Mission Organization Project of the Day" was actually two projects. I'm working on our family room right now.

Here's a good example of "just because something is neat and tidy and you have room for it, doesn't mean you should keep it."

What the heck was I thinking keeping all of these maps? We had maps for almost every state, several large cities, and many areas of Canada. Do I really think I am going to be driving to Alaska anytime soon? Can I even remember the last time I used a map? And if I did need a map, wouldn't I want a more current map than 2003? Isn't that why we are members of AAA Motor Club? We can get all the free maps we want at any time. For that matter, we have two GPS units - why do I even need a map?

And these . . . .

Do we even have a VCR anymore? I guess we do, but I don't even know where it is, and I'm certain it is not plugged in. Heck, even when we did have one, I couldn't operate the darn thing. We have a DVD recorder and TIVO. I can't imagine I'm ever going to need a VCR tape again in my life.
So it was a pretty easy answer to the question "WWPD?" (What Would Peter Do?) Peter would say pitch them. And so I did.

Welcome to the 21st century.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Is There an AA for Magazines?

Hi, my name is Carla, and I'm a magazinaholic.

There. I've put it out there for the world to see. I have a problem with magazines. I practically stalk the mail carrier each day to see what magazines she has in store for me. I never get to wait in line long enough at the grocery store to look at all the pretty magazines in the aisle. And a hot night out must include a trip to Barnes and Noble so I can fondle the magazine rack.

To be fair, I've cut back. Way back. I used to get about 30 magazines monthly. Yes, you read that right. Thirty. Three-O. Practically one for every day of the month. Lately I've been letting many of my subscriptions expire without renewing. I guess the first step is admitting you have a problem.

Right now, my "problem" is that my house is still overflowing with unread magazines.

I've been reading It's All Too Much. Living A Richer Life with Less Stuff by Peter Walsh. I've read a lot of books on organization (yes, that's another vice of mine, but we'll have to deal with that some other time) but I can honestly say that this is one of the best that I've read. Not only does he get behind the psychology of why we have a hard time parting with certain things, but he gives very clear guidelines about how much to keep and how to determine what is right for you. It's not simply a book about how to organize, but digs much deeper and requires you to focus on the reality of your life and your living space.

Anyway - back to the magazines. His suggestion is to limit your subscriptions to three magazines and to keep no more than two current issues of each. It seems simple enough really, but seeing it in black and white and having the words "you'll never get around to reading those back issues; what are you hoping to find in them; it will be outdated before you ever get around to them" really seemed to drive home the fact that I really never DO get around to reading the old issues. I really don't know what I'm looking for in most of them and that information would be widely available elsewhere anyway. And I really don't want to read about selecting the perfect Christmas tree in May.

Armed with determination, I gathered up all the magazines I could find, and I have to be honest and say that it took me to every room in the house. And the garage. And the car.

Sorting them out was a pretty easy task. I simply sorted them into piles, discarded all but the most recent two issues of each one, and then put the rest in a basket for easy reading.

From now on, all magazines will be contained in this basket. Period. When a new one comes in, the old one goes out, even if it is unread. If I haven't read it in two months, I'm not going to. I won't be tempted to get a larger basket. And I won't be tempted to scatter them through the house so that it just looks like I have them under control.

But I also won't be cutting my subscriptions down to just three magazines either. Let's not get crazy about this. Baby steps, Peter. Baby steps.

Monday, March 10, 2008

We Have Progress!

There's nothing like that last minute panic to help move things along a little faster. Vern is using the last few days before his surgery to get things in order. It won't mean a working kitchen yet, but it does mean that some work can continue while he recovers.

The appliances were delivered.

Most of the cabinets have been installed and our soapstone contractor was able to come out and make templates for the stone.

They were here for close to four hours making templates with every little detail for the stone.

They even brought our soapstone sink. If you aren't familiar with soapstone, it is a natural stone and mined like granite and marble. It has a soft feel, but quality, countertop grade soapstone is very hard. It is nonporous and would not even be affected by spilling acid on it (that is why science lab counters are made from soapstone). It is also not damaged by heat (in fact it holds heat so well that fireplaces can be lined with soapstone).
Soapstone does not need to be sealed, but its natural beauty is brought out with a simple coating of mineral oil.

We have a few more days to put some closure to some projects and then we will just take a "relax and wait" approach until Vern is on his feet again.

Until then, I'll probably be doing some organizing and cleaning, so prepare to be thrilled to death with those projects. I might even get some down time to play with yarn and needles.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Yes. That is definitely the sound of God laughing. You know the sound. The one where when you try to make plans, life happens.

Vern has a kidney stone. Not just any kidney stone, but a world record setting kidney stone. A kidney stone that is at least the size of a ping pong ball.

There's not going to be any passing this one. This is going to require surgery, a significant hospital stay, and a few weeks at home recovering.

Which, of course, means that all work on the house comes to a screeching halt.

I guess it really is true - - - life is what happens when you make other plans.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Pouting Has Already Started

I knew it was coming. And I knew it would be Jackson, our Chocolate Lab instead of Lincoln, our Black Lab.

But I really thought he would at least wait until the food got moved back into the kitchen.