Thursday, December 31, 2009

what a year

I spent several hours this morning reading my blog posts from the first half of this year and several hours tonight reading the posts from the second half of this year.

My, oh my, what a year.

There were many lists, of course. Of note:

1. Even though I eventually put away my candy thermometer early this year, I got it out in time to produce my best-ever caramels by the end of the year.

2. Stu was listed for a liver transplant early this year, received a healthy liver way sooner than we thought possible, and despite a bump here and there, is recovering remarkably well. (If you don't count the cold/flu/whatever the heck it is he has now.)

3. The gardens were glorious again.

4. I am blessed with good friends.

5. Jack and I are good together, including Our efforts (Jack's and mine) with the trainer that resulted in a loss of 50 lbs between the two of us--35 for him and 15 for me. Okay that was from May to Thanksgiving. We took a di-atus, if you will, for the month of December and have done our very best to rid the gardens of all yummy treats before we get back on the path to fitness tomorrow morning. I consider that month of eating whatever we wanted and ignoring the exercise equipment as part of our plan on the path to fitness. A little gift we gave each other for the holidays. Besides, he had a bum thumb to heal. And it is. Healing.

6. Sadly, my mom called yesterday to tell me my cousin, Steve, died from complications of diabetes. Such a mean, nasty illness. Such a good, fun-loving man. He will always have a place in my heart.

7. The lovely baby Ellie joined us in July. Such a sweet, cuddly, happy baby.

8. I spent many, but never enough hours with my family. For example, today my mom, Shilo, Audrey, Jessie, Breanne, and I went to McDonald's for lunch and then headed downtown for the final show of 2009's Nutcracker ballet. The girlies wore their new matching dresses and were the highlight for everyone in attendance. As I pointed out to all, yes, the dresses were cute, but the girls were adorable. And who isn't grateful when her daughter purchases a minivan so we can all ride together to the theater? Well, except for maybe the daughter driving the minivan who was given nonstop driving directions from everyone over the age of four. Or was that over the age of 74? Anyway. We made it there and back and it seemed we all enjoyed ourselves.

~~side note: We dropped off Shi and Audrey, and my mom, and then Jessie and Breanne came in to visit for an hour before heading home. Within, oh, maybe 12 minutes, my doorbell rang, and then immediately rang again before I could get to the door, which told me clearly it was my mom. Bingo! Breanne followed me to the door and as my mom entered, said, "Hey, we jus' took you to you house." And now I have a sack full of tablecloths and napkins that my parents received as wedding gifts almost 58 years ago. Thanks, mom.

9. My next post may include photographic proof of the progress being made on the pet bff project and maybe even a photographic progress report on the basement remodel.

Happy 2010 to each of you, dear readers.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

seemingly very random

This morning, JoJo and I ate pancakes by the fire while we watched the tiny bits of snow fall on the gardens out back.

I have decided to hang the wooden sign Shilo found for me for Christmas over the entryway closet door so that all who enter our home will see its greeting: Welcome to my garden.

Last night, I spent several hours reading this blog: If you are up to feeling overwhelmed by a painful tragedy, go there and read. It is a powerful ongoing life story of despair and hope and forgiveness and healing and love. I wept as I read. And I was, if you will, inspired by her acceptance of things she cannot change.

Last night, before reading NieNie, Jack and I went to a local playhouse--The Desert Star--where "Nutcracker, Men in Tights" was playing. I gave him two tickets for the show for Christmas. If you like slapstick, melodramatic, over-the-top, hammy fast-paced with some local insider jokes comedy, and I do, you will laugh off your head. And I did. Jack had to put it back on my neck. Several times. The guy sitting next to Jack commented during intermission that I seemed to really enjoy the show. I don't know if the clue was my nearly nonstop Betty Rubble laughter or Jack locating and reattaching my head. (Two of the many of my favorite parts of the show were when the trailer-trash villainess tried out for a part in the trailer-trash small town play in the show and performed "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off." The chorus, as sung by her, was: "You say tomayta, I say tomayta; You say potayta, I say potayta; tomayta, tomayta, potayta, potayta; Let's call the whole thing off..." Hilarious. My other favorite was the elf act in the Ho-lio--the post show Olio. It was totally corny, but so funny when the elf did karate kicks accompanied by the drummer after each joke.)

I hesitate to write these next few words, but here goes. Yesterday morning we had some workermen in the basement and I figured that JoJo would keep dropping her tennis ball at their feet for them to throw if I let her run free in the house, so I got the bright idea to take her with me to wash my car. Afterall, I didn't want to leave her outside barking, right? So we got in the car, headed to the carwash, and I got out to begin scrubbing down my dirty, little car. JoJo seemed to be feeling fine as I soaped up the car, she followed me around as I rinsed the car, and she greeted me as I opened the door and slid onto my seat to head home.

As I drew in my first breath in the car, I immediately knew something very wrong had happened in the car. I asked JoJo if she had been farting, noticed her look of embarrassment, and then began frantically turning around and searching for the cause of the stench. It took me less than five seconds to realize and locate the poop--yes, poop--on my seat, under my bum! AAARRGHGHGHGH!

I suspect that if you are still reading this post, you'd probably appreciate it if I skipped the rest of the details of that story, but let's just note that I am glad Jo did not have diarrhea and wow can I move fast when poop is involved. The car, my carseats, my pants were all poopfree as quickly as I could get the poop into a trashcan, speed home, find the spray bottle of cleaner/disinfectant, and toss my clothes into the washer.

The point of that story is that after I was back into clean jeans and settled down, I realized how pointless it is for me to change to appease my neighbor. I can't change him or his attempts at helping me become a better pet owner. I can't keep Jo from pooping when she gets nervous or excited. I can't change a lot of things.

Reading NieNie last night helped me realize that whether it is something about yourself or someone else, accepting things that you can't change is possible and reasonable and healthy.

I think I have found a resolution for 2010.

Monday, December 28, 2009

the hardest resolution yet

I've been thinking about resolutions already. I know, who would have thought?

I've come up with two:

1. Figure out and work on that boundary thing.

2. No more lists.

crap, i think i just broke resolution #2...uh, wait, it isn't the new year yet. it's all good still.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


All of the lists and the checking of lists and the rechecking and checking off of the lists.

And then it's here.

And then it's done.

And then it's over.

Amazingly, once again, the baking and candy-making and shopping and wrapping and partying and visiting are done. For some reason that I can't yet explain, even though I got an earlier start, this year was considerably more hectic and even, may I say, stressful. Probably related to the holidays while remodeling. Or, I don't know, maybe, thinking it was reasonable to paint the dining room on the morning of Christmas Eve? I'll have photos of the basement remodel in the next few days and all will stand (or read) in awe of the amazing transformation and excellent family space it has become.

To recap, fudge didn't turn out so great (read: googled 'why is my fudge runny?' clearly, Jr and I did all of the incorrect steps unless you are trying for grainy, runny, fudge, aka, pudding-like topping for your ice cream sundae).

Somehow, I misplaced my recipe for roll out, cut out, and frost cookies. Could not find it anywhere, even though the girls all showed up on Christmas Eve afternoon to help with the cutting out and frosting and sprinkling. So I did what any resourceful gramma would do after searching and frowning and wondering--I recreated the recipe. I know. Amazing, right? And surprisingly, I think the recipe I created was exactly right, or at least, the girls ate them and Audrey enjoyed sprinkling them with her mom.

Bummer, but I was unsuccessful at finding fuzzy, fleecey tights for the girls and had to settle for regular ole' tights. For now. I will remain on the lookout.

Sorry to those who haven't received their Christmas cards yet. I realized that several of them slipped between the seats of the truck, unnoticed until our return trip from the Home Depot tonight. If you haven't received your card yet, it's, uh, in the mail. Doh!

And then, the final straw arrived on Christmas morning when Jack opened the front door and found a package, apparently a gift from a neighbor. It had a typed note on bright neon green cardstock attached to it that began with "Happy Holidays!" I don't know why anyone would begin a note like this one with those words, because after that greeting, it said that obviously we were poor dog owners, did not take good care of our dog, and allowed her to bark all day. Further, it pointed out that if she were to get out of the back yard, she would undoubtedly attack the neighbor kids, because she doesn't know who the leader of her pack is. The author of the note indicated that he/she was speaking for all of the neighborhood and we would be doing everyone--ourselves, our dog, and our neighborhood (perhaps even the world?)--a big favor if we would simply open the attached package, read the three short books, watch the video (because it's easier to learn by seeing than by reading), and then listen to the four cassette tapes. And quit annoying everyone.

I was stunned and hurt and shocked and then really, really angry. Who the hell writes crap like that, anonymously, and drops it on a neighbor's doorstep in the night? And begins with Happy Holidays?

If the girls hadn't been so thrilled with their pink princess couches and their treasure chests full of princess and fairy costumes, I suspect I'd have totally lost it. But we visited with all of the family, stopped at all of the usual places, and enjoyed the Christmas ham, potatoes au gratin, and vanilla wafer pudding for desert.

Still though, all through the day, I was haunted by the words of that neighbor gift. It stared at me from the desk and every time I saw it, laying there so innocently on the desk, the hair on the back of my neck would stand up and my lip would curl. I think I may have even growled at it a couple of times. I stewed over it today while I rolled on the final coat of paint in the dining room.

Finally, late this afternoon, I decided how I would respond to it. I had a good hunch about who might do such a thing. So I put together a plate of goodies for that neighbor and headed to his front door. I rang the bell and waited. I noticed there were two doorbells, so I rang the other bell. Still no answer. As I started back towards the sidewalk, the door opened and the neighbor came out. I went back and handed the plate of treats to him, saying that I had been slower than usual this year, but I hoped they had had a good Christmas. He reached for the treats and then I looked him in the eye and asked if he had a problem with my dog. He said, "Why do you ask?" I held up the "gift" and said that someone had left it on my doorstep and when we found it, it had completely spoiled Christmas for me. I told him that I was amazed that if someone had an issue with me--whether it was my dog or my kids or a tree hanging over the property line--that they wouldn't come to me directly rather than leave something on my doorstep in the middle of the night, especially something with such a mean-spirited note attached that implied that everyone in the neighborhood was upset and even frightened by my lack of dog knowledge.

He asked me if I had opened it--didn't I think there might be even one thing I could learn from reading/watching/listening to it?

The conversation continued for about two more minutes, long enough for me to feel certain that a) the gift was from him, and b) he pays way too much attention to the comings and goings at my house. Creepily too much time.

I walked back into my yard, sensing he was standing there watching me as I threw the gift into the trash. How would I ever get along without all of these helpful souls in my world?

Yes, this has been on my mind the last couple of days, but I'm pretty much done with wasting anymore time on it.

And don't think for a second that he will ever see anymore treats from me on Christmas. Or the day after.

Did I mention that my kids got me a sweet set of dvds about my favorite dead sports team? And my mom gave me some mint green fuzzy socks. And Jr gave me a coupon for a pedicure? And Jack gave me a delightful antique vase, an umbrella stand complete with umbrella, and my own sets of tinkertoys and lincoln logs. I gave Jack a new harmonica, two tickets to a local dinner theater, and a new comfy nightgown for me. And JoJo got massive quantities of tennis balls. And there was more, including great cookies and perfect caramels and toffee. And time with my kids, my grandkids, and Jack. And JoJo, annoying little sweetheart that she is.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

so close--literally and figuratively


1. Wrote notes in and addressed cards.
2. Wrapped ALL of the presents.
3. Put bows on 48 of the presents.
4. Cut up and put away toffee.
5. Ate little bits and sweet morsels of toffee that were far too small to save or offer to others and to avoid the shame of wasting any of the yumminess.
6. Received the Nutcracker tickets in the mail.


1. Buy more bags of bows.
2. Cut up and wrap up caramels.
3. Do not lick fingers until after caramels are all safely wrapped and stored.
4. Buy stamps and mail cards.
5. Stop wishing we'd had family pictures taken before Christmas to include in the cards.
6. Buy tags and that plastic wrap that sticks to the treat plates for the neighbors.
7. Put together treat plates and see if Jr will deliver them.
8. Buy tights for the girls.
9. Buy gifts for Jack's family party gift exchange.
10. Remember the happiness of my friend whose son will be home after two years away.
11. Remember the pain of my other friend whose son will leave after Christmas to go away for two years.
12. Do not mask or paint the dining room unless I breath in an abundance of energy floating around me. A big abundance. Although new paint in the dining room for Christmas would be pretty sweet. Pretty and sweet.

Monday, December 21, 2009

cross another thing off the list

Cookies: Spritz, Russian teacakes
Candy: Pecan toffee, Caramels, Fudge with/without nuts

Sweetmaking is finished. (Except for the frosted sugar cookies that will be rolled out, cut into holiday shapes, baked, frosted, and sprinkled on Christmas Eve for the family party that night.)

I so enjoy the almond-flavored cookies and nutty, buttery, chocolatey candies that are traditions from my youth. Since I have never been able to get the divinity to turn out right, I so hope my mom makes some for me again. Please keep your not-worked-to-the-bone-fingers crossed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

random list

Tis the season for the making of lists, contemplating, making of more lists.

1. You may call me supershopper. Yesterday was "40% off the entire purchase" day at Ann Taylor, so I checked out the sales pages online, selected three pairs of pants that were all on sale for about half price, then deducted the 40%, chose the 3-day shipping option, which was free, subtracted the $40 in coupons I've accumulated from Ann for prior purchases, and paid a total of $80.

2. Supershopper example 2. Yesterday was "30% off the entire purchase" day at Kohl's, so I checked out the sales in the store, finished all but about the last 3% of my shopping, all items were on sale, then deducted the 30%, subtracted the $80 in Kohl's cash I had from my online shopping last weekend, and paid a total of $140.

3. I am on a quest to find either soft, thick, fuzzy tights in sizes 12-24 months and 2T-4T and/or soft, thick knee-high socks for 7-14 year-old-girls. When Jessie was little, she had some really soft, fleecelike white tights and her chubby little girl legs were adorable in those tights. I'm looking for the same thing to go with the green velvet with white fur trim dresses I found for all four girls. I need soft, thick knee-high socks in colorful stripes or prints because Jessie knows how to make them into leg warmers for babies and toddlers so their legs stay warm and are protected from scrapes and dirty floors, diaper changes and/or using the potty are easier, and they are adorable.

4. About six weeks ago, I cleaned and organized the garage so Jack and I could park both vehicles inside. Less than a week later, The Home Depot delivered half a garage of stuff for the basement remodel, so the vehicles were back outside. Two weeks ago, I got tired of scraping ice off the window of my car, so I moved stuff around enough so my tiny little car fit in the garage. Today, I organized, tossed out, and tidied up the garage enough that both vehicles can once again be parked in the garage.

5. Is tomorrow part of the weekend because my list of stuff to get done this weekend included finishing the shopping and wrapping, sending out cards, making pecan toffee and caramels (some plain, some with pecans and/or chocolate), baking spritz and Russian tea cakes, making cheeseballs, cleaning the garage, painting the dining room, and the usual weekend assortment of grocery shopping, laundry, and tidying. I'm going to need tomorrow and perhaps the next day or two to be part of the weekend if I'm going to get more of this list finished by the end of the weekend.

6. BFF project. I've spent considerable time analyzing this project and have determined the following:
a. JoJo wants almost more than anything to be friends with the cats;
b. JoJo defines friends as somebody you can tower over, slap around in jest, play ball and tug-of-war with.
c. The cats have agreed to be friends with JoJo when she is unconscious; not simply asleep but totally drug-induced out. Coma-like. Anything less is too risky. Hiss.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

a couple of things i forgot

1. Last night, while comparing the I Spy puzzle to the pages of our I Spy board book, every time Audrey found an item in the book and matched it to the same item on the puzzle, she would say, "Check!"

2. What is the correct response when your mom (who has, once again, dropped in, unannounced, uninvited, bearing gifts this time for the dog) looks into your bedroom and says, "Don't you ever make your bed?"
a. Yes, except when Jack is still in it when I leave for work.
b. Yes, nearly every day.
c. Yes.
d. Not usually.
e. Why do you ask?
f. Hell no, that's Jack's chore.
g. [please insert correct response here. or in the comments section of this blog.]

Friday, December 18, 2009

only a week? seriously?

Because I haven't posted a list for, oh, what, a day(?), today, I will give you, dear reader, a list with massive word quantities.

1. BFF project--possible progress this morning, but maybe not, you be the judge. This morning when I turned on the bathroom light, all three cats were in the bathroom. Not hiding out in the basement. Not becoming feral cats from lack of human contact. In my bathroom.

Millie was sitting next to the door on the cat condo (my mom dropped it off at the house a few months ago. She was out shopping--gasp! shocking I know--and she saw it and just knew my cats would love it. It has come in handy to help Little Weez jump onto the bathroom counter which is the only place I can keep the cat food dishes so that JoJo can't reach them and eat the food or chew up the dishes.)


Millie was sitting on the condo. Oscar was sitting on the counter, near the edge, guarding Weezie. And Weez was posing in the corner near the mirror, sitting upright with her tail wrapped tightly around her, eyes squeezed tightly shut, because when Weez closes her eyes, no one can see her.

Because JoJo has to be by my side at nearly all times, she was right behind me when I turned on the bathroom light. All five of us blinked rapidly while our eyes adjusted to the bright bathroom light, which gave me a couple of seconds to block JoJo and soothe the cats. Oscar started his usual nonstop morning chatting (he's part-siamese and is quite the conversationalist). Millie noticed Jo and began her usual growly warning, which always forces JoJo to lower her front legs, put her butt up in the air, wag her tail furiously, and stretch out her neck, while snapping her jaws in some sort of air biting motion directed towards Oscar, who, in the couple of seconds that have passed, has jumped to the floor and is in the direct line of fire of JoJo's monstrously strong, yet extremely clumsy, front paws. JoJo stretches one way, then the other, back and forth, just begging Oscar to take a swipe at her so she can feel justified by swiping back at him, all the while snapping, snapping, snapping, yet still smiling and wagging.

In the less than 15 seconds that has passed, Millie begins hissing and growling, which is yet another clue to JoJo that it is game on, with no refs, no time outs, no sissies.

It is at this point that I do my best imitation of some kind of graceful, amazingly sleek panther-like animal by slipping gracefully between JoJo and Oscar, using my powerful legs to move her back out of the bathroom, deftly closing the door behind her. The growling and hissing ceases, Oscar leaps back up on the counter, and Weez magically appears when she opens her eyes.

I put a scoop of food in each bowl, and Oscar, always the one with the right words for every moment, begins his loud, deep, rich purr.

2. The Christmas Project--I'd like to report that since Christmas is just a week away, massive quantities, huge amounts, amazing heaps of Christmas effort have occurred, but, well, that would be a total lie. However, I can report three things. First, I got another email from and all but five of the 40 items on my order will be delivered by December 22. We can all breathe again. Second, all of the presents in my house have been wrapped and placed under the tree--did I already report that? Still. It is done. And third, I have a list. Stop laughing. This is a serious, concise list of all things to be accomplished this weekend, and by golly, it is demanding that it be taken seriously or perhaps I am demanding that someone take it seriously. Or something. It's a serious list. It will not be ignored. Seriously.

3. Last item of note--Audrey came by tonight. Okay, I picked her up on the way home from work and we spent several hours together.

She delighted in throwing a tennis ball for JoJo, who has learned to wait for the ball to leave Audrey's hand before snatching it out of the air. Audrey tossed the ball onto my bed, into the bathtub, directly into JoJo's mouth and then squealed and screamed as she ran, maniacally, full speed, back to my arms, somehow avoiding the door jamb, the toys on the floor, and JoJo.

Audrey eventually decided she wanted to be in the tub with the Little Mermaid princess doll and Flounder, the fish, and said as much as she began pulling off her clothes. So we turned on the water and she hopped in. Of course, that is about the time the doorbell rang, signalling a visit from my mom who had been shopping for JoJo for Christmas. Mom had bought two new chewtoys that both had squeakers in them, which JoJo immediately removed. Mom opened the bathroom door to tell Audrey goodbye, which is when JoJo entered the room and dropped her new toys into the tub, causing Audrey to let out another squeal. Mom suggested to Audrey, who was pouring water from a measuring cup into the tub, that maybe she should pour some water on JoJo's nose. Audrey waited until I walked my mom to the front door to attempt to pour water onto JoJo, but apparently forgot all about Jo when she realized how much more fun it is to watch the water run over the edge of the tub onto the tile floor.

After sopping up the water with three of those big towel sheets, I suggested to Audrey that she pour the water onto the soap dish that's mounted on the inside shower wall. As I lugged the three towels to the laundry room, I heard Audrey holler that she needed to twinkle, Twinkle, TWINKLE, TWINK-KLE. I got back to the tub just in time to lift her out, wrap her in a towel, sit her on the toilet, and praise her gloriously for using Gramma's potty.

After the bath and the potty and the lotioning and jammie dressing, we decided to go downstairs to the playroom and that's when Audrey found first one puzzle, then another puzzle, and finally a third puzzle that we solved together.

The third puzzle was an I Spy puzzle that has the same pictures as one of our little I Spy board books, and can I just boast that I spent the evening with one of the brightest, most entertaining, fun-loving little girls ever born?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

should i be worried?

If the email I got from regarding shipment of my order of 40 items shows that one item has shipped but the other 39 have not?

Or, have I nothing to fear because:

a. My order will arrive in time for wrapping and placement under the tree, and
b. I bought all of the important stuff (i.e., toys for the girlies) locally, in person, and such stuff is waiting patiently for me to wrap it and place it under the tree?

Monday, December 14, 2009

progress is happenin'

1. basement remodel:
  • lights are up
  • suspended ceiling is leveled
  • stairway walls are washed and ready for paint
  • theater system is in the house ready for installation (and mailing of the $400 rebate request)
2. christmas prep:
  • survived, enjoyed my family party
  • began the wrapping (is it my imagination or do those cheap bows decompose while in storage with last year's christmas wrap?)
  • discovered that if i begin the shopping two weeks before christmas, i have time to come up with numerous ideas for remaining gifts to be purchased
  • printed out my $80 (yes i said eighty dollars) of kohl's cash (in case you aren't familiar with the whole kohl's shopping deal, everything i bought was on sale, i got an additional 20% with my coupon, and the $80 in kohl's cash i have to spend on the remaining items equals another 20% discount)
3. bff project:
  • introduced bff concept to jojo--she's all over it (and the cats)
  • introduced bff concept to cats--they are still discussing whether or not they want to participate
  • trimmed cats' razor-sharp barbed ends of claws--as much for my safety as for jojo's

Saturday, December 12, 2009

the girl power is strong over here tonight

After finishing my anatomy class this morning, I stopped by the Walmart and boy howdy did I hit the princess+pink+sparkles=cuteness jackpot. My house is oozing pink. It may snow pink flakes tonight. Or maybe pink fairy dust sparkles.

I was feeling so high after my trip to the Walmart that I thought I'd make a run to Kohl's because as everyone knows, Kohl's is my shopping safety net. One trip, two days before Christmas has been my planned excursion into the shoposphere for the past few years. Yet, here we are, still 13 days from Christmas and I was stoked and full of ready-to-shop. But then Jack asked if I'd stick around for a few minutes in case he needed help installing the basement lights (yes! lights in the basement! more!remodel!progress!) so, while I waited to leave, I browsed the Kohl's web site and before I knew it, I'd found adorable jammies and socks and clothes for the girlies and very much acceptable and even intriguing gifts for a few others in the family.


it felt so good. and while i would expect to be exhausted after such a successful day, i am anything but exhausted.

i am pleased. warm, fuzzy satisfied pleased.

i am ahead of schedule.

i am, apparently, even in the pink.

Friday, December 11, 2009

a few more things for the list

1. Give up the idea of shopping for toys for the girls online.
1a. Because today, I bought all of the things (and by things I mean pink princess couches all around) on my list for them!
2. Don't forget the cheeseballs.
3. Definitely making caramels and toffee this year.
4. Help JoJo and the cats become bffs.
5. Family party #1 this weekend.
5a. Hang on for this ride (and by ride, I mean another non-stress producing eventful get-together).
6. Rethink shopping online for the rest of the gifts.
6a. It could work.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

not to be mean spirited


1. I have not made any progress on the Christmas project but I did complete three economics assignments and four anatomy assignments.


2. Can I just say that I'm very happy that Sarah Pallin did not visit my Costco.

and one more.

3. What was she thinking going to a Costco to sign books when someone had just tossed a tomato at her? Doesn't she realize that Costco is the headquarters of unripe fruit? Somebody could lose an eye if somebody else decided to throw a kiwi or avocado...or even a Costco tomato...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

is it december?

Here we are--December again, already. Three Christmas cards have already arrived. We are so blessed to have Jr around to put up the tree and the lights.

Today Stu called to tell me that he had his three-month checkup. He is doing so well that the docs are reducing his medications and he should be off the prednisone in a month or so. And if he continues doing as well as he is, they'll take him off all but one medication, and they even lowered the dose of that medication today. We are so blessed to have Stu and his family around and doing so well.

The drummer is doing well, progressing in his education. Jessie and family are well. We are so blessed for all of them.

And, here I am, back to December 8th. How can this be? I've had this idea that I'd do all of my Christmas shopping online, but wonder if I've waited too long? Will I have time to send out cards? What about baking cookies and candy-making? Would the girls like to go to the ballet to see the Nutcracker? What treats will I put together for the neighbors this year? Gifts for friends? Gag gifts for the party at work? Gifts for extended family?

Uh. Holy Cow I'm getting the Overwhelmed Feeling!

I just keep thinking about all of the things going on in life around me--my brother's recent divorce, my daughter's in-law's upcoming relocation, my still-healing son, and other family issues, not to mention the two assignments for my anatomy class and the three assignments for my environmental economics class and the nearly-finished basement project that is, as all projects do, gradually morphing into the dining room project...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

i must be dreaming again

Tonight, we came home to a house that was decorated with softly glowing Christmas lights, a fully decorated Christmas tree (complete with colored lights and the all-Santa-all-the-time-ornaments). We could smell the tasty aroma of roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy and veggies. Not only that, but the table was set complete with a new tablecloth and napkins and my favorite stoneware dishes, and when I got out the beaters to mash the potatoes, Jr said, "Oh no you don't--you're not helping with dinner tonight," and took the beaters from me, insisting that I just go sit down because dinner would be ready in a couple of minutes. And it was. And it was delicious. And I didn't cook, or clean up, or wash the dishes--not even the pans. That kid is alright.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

two things

1. Happy Birthday yesterday, Stu.

2. I had another one of those repeating dreams the other night. The one where I'm in town on my bike and I need to ride it the ten miles home so I start riding, looking for streets that are downhill. I find a downhill road but then I realize it is too far east and I'm going to have to backtrack or go on a road that is a really steep uphill. So I start pedaling hard and that's when I realize my tires are flat and it is so. hard. to. pedal. But I keep pedaling and looking for a downhill street. That's when I start riding my bike through people's houses and down stairs and through basements. Some of the houses' owners are not home, but I get in any way and ride through their living rooms and kitchens and bedrooms. Sometimes they are home, but they either don't notice me and my bike or they just ignore us. That's when my feet start to hurt from all of the pedaling and pedaling with the flat tires. I finally get on a main street again and it's downhill and I'm getting up some speed and then I come to an intersection and I just know I'm going to have to stop for the light and it will be

This time a new element was added to the dream. Well, actually two elements were added. First, there was this nonstop nagging worry about an email I'd sent that got me and my boss in all kinds of trouble with the court and we were going to lose some litigation we've been working on and both he and I were going to get fired. And the other new element was that Jack showed up with JoJo and he let her out of the truck without her leash and then he drove off without putting my bike and its flat tires in the back of the truck or me and my sore feet in the front of the truck. So I called out to JoJo to wait for me but she took off and there I was--sore feet, flat tires, still miles from home, about to get fired, and my dog was lost.

I am so, so, so tired of this dream.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

giving thanks

Yes I know today is not the Thanksgiving Day. For some reason, even though I felt thankful for many things on that day, it's taken me this long to be able to put that thanks into words. So, here goes.

1. I am thankful to be alive and I am thankful for the lives of those I love.
2. I am thankful for every bit of time I am given with those I love.
3. I am thankful for the beauty of the world that I see every time I look for it and sometimes even when I'm not looking for it.
4. I am thankful for good food, clean water, and warm shelter from the cold.
5. I am thankful for the miracles of science and technology that improve my life everyday.
6. I am thankful for my body--my muscles and bones and nerves and organs and senses, and my amazing mind.
7. I am thankful to learn and relearn always.
8. I am thankful to feel joy and happiness again.
9. I am thankful for sleep, sweet, deep sleep and the incredible restorative powers of sleep.
10. I am thankful for wee toes and fingers, inquisitive minds, the pure sweet scent of freshly washed bodies, curly hair, freckles, chubby arms and legs, wide-open eyes, little button noses, and the delightful sounds of coos, giggles, and "Gwamma, you here!" I will forever be grateful for these blessings. Lest my children think I love them less than their offspring, let me clarify. I love my children more than anything else. I love their children because they are an amazing extension of my children. It is as if I get to relive that blessed time in my life all over again but with newly re-awakened eyes, a tad more concern, and a bit more wisdom.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

and then today

Not giardia.

Not sure why not.

Not sure why it would have been.

Not sure exactly what it is.

Not feeling worse, but feeling significantly better.

Not changing his course of treatment.

Not staying another night.

Not anybody's favorite place to get a couple of good night's of sleep.

Not much longer before pietime.

Not missing another holiday with the kids.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

my how time changes the perspective

Just two days ago, my blog almost started with these words:

Stu has the flu. How can four tiny words, just twelve letters hold such significance?

And yesterday, my blog almost started with these words:

Why is it that when my kids were little and they got a scraped knee or bumped elbow, I could ask them if it would be better in a while and they always tearfully nodded yes and my amazing mom skills were always correct and they were better sooner rather than later. Do mom skills take longer to work as kids get older? So instead of a few minutes of healing time, it takes months or years to heal?

But today, my blog is starting with these words:

Stu has been at the hospital for a day now and will likely go home tomorrow. His temperature went up to almost 102 a couple of days ago and he had nearly nonstop poopers, which is the surest recipe for dehydration ever invented. Sunday morning, he went to the ER where they tested and checked and rehydrated him for nearly 12 hours before sending him home. And Monday morning, he went back and checked in for more testing and fluids. I could not help but think sad thoughts, wondering if this was his life--something more like that to be expected by someone far older than even I am, but certainly not someone under 30.

But then today, Stu called and I could tell from the sound of his voice that he felt better. I mean really better. Physically and emotionally better. BETTER! And the words he said made me understand why he felt better.

"The doctor says I have giardia. I don't know how or where I got it, but I have giardia."

Maybe you have to be here to understand the huge relief it is to hear that your kid has giardia. Something that anybody can get, something that is not related to his new liver or the fact that he has no colon. True, his body will probably always have more intense reactions to viruses or infections or giardia, but this diagnosis, this giardia is something that requires a bit of medicine and he can go home tomorrow in time for Thanksgiving with his family. It is a parasite that would lay a perfectly healthy person low, let alone somebody who is 2 1/2 months post-transplant.

Giardia. Who would have guessed.

Giardia. What a relief.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

i want this


The Word of the Day for November 22, 2009 is:

mollycoddle • \MAH-lee-kah-dul\• verb
: to treat with an excessive or absurd degree of indulgence or attention

Friday, November 20, 2009

it's already friday?

I cannot believe I haven't posted since Sunday. Where has this week gone?

let's see...working, homework, basement remodel, virus...

yes, it's the virus that has definitely caused me to lose track of this week. I have that deep voice, which is alternately kinda hot or very scary...

The last two days of resting and masking and painting and resting some more have been very--well, very restful. And colorful.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

a bit of snow--so much joy

It snowed a few inches yesterday. JoJo--the dog who will only go out to pee if I stand on the deck outside while she races to the grass, keeps her eyes totally focused on me, and if I make a move towards the door, if I even look towards the door, stops peeing and bolts for inside--that dog, LOVES the snow. Especially LOVES the snow when she has a ball to toss and catch and bury in the snow, pretend she can't remember where she dropped it, run figure eights around it, and eventually snatch it from the snow, racing into the house, panting and nearly giggling.

Friday, November 13, 2009

perhaps i do need a vacation...

This morning, while Jack and I were driving to work, I was checking my email on my crackberry, trying to get caught up before I dropped him off and then headed north to drop off some documents and pick up some documents and then scan the documents and do some other work and then return the documents to their owner and then drive back to pick up Jack.

So there were a lot of things swirling through my brain all at once. That's when Stu called to see if Audrey was coming for a visit tonight, at the same time that Jack noticed the durango in the lane next to us was for sale for $2,500, and since the drummer's explorer's transmission has stopped shifting and his engine temp light is indicating an overheating problem it looked like too good a deal to believe, but he couldn't read the phone number on the for sale sign, so I unlocked my door, hopped out while we waited at a long red light, noted the phone number, hopped back in the truck and continued the conversation with Stu.

But then I realized I had been checking my email on my phone before I got out to get the phone number and I couldn't find my phone. I started wondering if I'd dropped it when I got out to check the phone number on the durango and after a few seconds of searching frantically I started to talk to myself out loud, muttering about whether I'd dropped it or put it in my purse and that's when I said to Stu, "I can't find my phone, I'm think I may have dropped it when I got out of the truck back there."

And that's when Stu started laughing and said, "Uh, mom, you're looking for your phone while you're talking to me on your phone?"

And I said, "Hm, what have I done with my glasses--oh, here they are, on my face."

And Stu said, "Sorry mom. Much funnier that you're asking me where your phone is while you're talking to me on your phone than when you can't find your glasses because you're wearing them."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

remodel update

So last night Jack and Jr and I were downstairs, doing remodeling, of course. Jr was looking for a tool (one that I have never seen before, Jr) and was looking everywhere, including under the sofa cushions on the sofas that were moved down there for the big Halloween eve bash a few days ago.

As he lifted one of the cushions, we both, at the same time, saw something move deeper into the couch, immediately out of sight. I looked at him and he looked at me and he said, "Spider?" and I said, "No, lizard."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

i am not the sun

I am not the sun--

But I warm those who are near to me.
Occasionally, I burn those who get too close
But not because that is my intent.
Everyone has boundaries.

I am not the sun--

But I am surrounded by beings, planets perhaps
or stars that are drawn to me, circle me,
need my warmth and light, would be
lost in the dark as surely as I without them.

I am not the sun--

But I am made of the stuff of stars
as is the sun, at least, according to Carl Sagan,
who, I believe knows. Or knew.
Or perhaps knows more surely now.

We are all a sun--

A light, a warmth, a sure force of gravity
That keeps someone, somewhere, safe
in an orbit connected with the orbit of another
and another and another.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

month two

It has now been two months since Stu received a healthy liver. He has gained ten pounds, which may be related to the prednisone he still takes, but is gradually stopping, or it may be that his body requires fewer of the calories he takes in for healing and is using more for growing new muscle and other tissue. Either way, he looks better. His color is healthy, his cheeks are more full, and he has greater endurance, as in, he can come over for dinner and not look exhausted after two hours away from his home.

His incision is all scar tissue except for one little bit on his side that is still a bit of scab. But if my eyes were seeing clearly tonight, when I asked him to show me his belly, (which, by the way, I haven't said to him since he was a toddler) he lifted his shirt and he wasn't wearing his binder, yet another indication that he is healing and gaining strength.

He did say that he's noticed that he has no feeling below his horizontal scar, which was probably caused by the surgeons cutting through the nerves in the area. They may grow back and regain feeling, or they may not. He is not complaining about the loss of feeling in the skin on part of his belly.

In fact, I don't remember the last time he complained about anything. I know, I'm not married to him and I don't live with him all of the time anymore, but considering everything, he seems more than a little content.

The other day at work, a coworker asked about Stu and as I told him about the surgery, he asked about Stu's age and whether he was married or not, had children or not. I told him about the major events in Stu's life over the past ten years (amazingly, I'm getting pretty good at telling that story briefly--I know, who would have thought?). I finished by saying that Stu has a good employer that has been very accommodating through all of this. My coworker paused for a moment and said that while the past few months seem almost miraculous considering the way that everything has fallen into place, that none of it could have happened unless Stu was the person he is. My coworker pointed out that good things often--not always, but often--happen to people who do their part of the work. I had to agree when he said that Stu went to college, earned two bachelor's degrees--one in computer science and one in math--married a great girl, kept going to school even when he was very ill, interviewed well and got a good job with good benefits, bought a home they could afford and felt comfortable living in, and are raising two sweet girls, that it wasn't really all just luck. He's done his part of the work.

I'm very proud of that boy.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

i forgot to mention

1. In the class I attended this week, there was a girl who looked like that actress who plays Ugly Betty, another girl who looked like Tina Fey/Sarah Palin, and a woman who looked like what I imagine the wicked witch of the west would look like if she got a decent haircut, some new clothes, didn't have green skin, wore a bit of makeup and glasses, and smiled instead of cackled.

2. Flight to Florida: middle seat on exit row between two skinny guys. The one on the left kept himself in his own seat; the one on the right kept his elbow on my side of the armrest even after I tried to slide my elbow under his to gradually edge him back to his own side of the armrest. Could not get him to get out of my space. For the whole four hours and fifty-eight minutes.

3. Flight from Florida: window seat in the back part of the plane. As I approach my row, a really, really large man rises from the aisle seat, steps out and moves back so I can take my seat by the window. Then he settles himself back in the aisle seat and tells me he can promise that no one will be sitting in the middle seat because he has purchased two seats. He makes sure the flight attendant gives me an entire can of diet coke, offers me his emptied lunch sack to put my sandwich wrapper in, and tells me to feel free to put my things on the seat between us.

4. When I left for Florida, my trees and shrubbery were still heavy with leaves. When I returned, the leaves were all on the ground. Even the leaves on the neighbor's grape vine had dropped, exposing the remaining clumps of grapes, so that today, Janey and JoJo shared the last few bunches.

5. We have scheduled installation of carpet for two weeks from today. The Saturday before Thanksgiving the basement will be finished. Cannot believe we are so close to finishing this project.

Friday, November 6, 2009

i'm home

where the dog is delighted to see me, progress has been made on the basement remodel, jack and jr have many new and improved ideas for the basement, i am more than ready to sleep in my own bed, can't wait to see the grandgirlies (and their parents of course), and their are no more lizards.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

about florida

Things I like:

1. Beautiful weather
2. Lizards that do not fly
3. Lizards that do not hiss
4. Lizards that eat bugs
5. Beautiful weather
6. Lizards. They're no JoJo and they're not cats, but they're not mice or grasshoppers either.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

weird dream time

I was late for class this morning. (Before I go any further, two completely random things. First, doesn't Derek Jeter seem like a pretty good, non-steroidal guy? Two, there has been no decrease, none at all, in the number of little lizards here in Florida and everybody but me seems to have no problem with them, in fact the constant response to my statement that there are a lot of little lizards out there is, "you must not be from Florida." Please, if you have a good response to that comment, give it to me. Thank you.)

So, I was late to class this morning because, well because I got a late start. Last night was way more than the usual number of hours long, or at least it seemed that way. I dreamed that the guy who was my boss several decades ago, Tosh, was going to be my boss again. (note: I hadn't seen him for decades, but last year when Jack was sick in the hospital, I thought I saw Tosh at the hospital. I wasn't sure, and really wasn't in any state to talk to anybody, so I didn't speak to him, but a few months later, my mom told me she'd read an obituary for Tosh's wife. I think it probably was him at the hospital with her.)

So back to the dream. Tosh was going to be my boss again. And the office was my old house. Sort of. And my friend at work, Eileen, was in the dream too. She called my phone for Tosh and he got on the phone and said it was time for me to get back to work and I needed to start getting there on time. I agreed that it had been long enough for me to be away from my job and said I'd get there on time.

Then I noticed that he'd moved his own bed (king-size with a white bedspread that was covered with yellow and white daisies) into Jack's and my bedroom at our old house.

And the alarm on my cell phone kept going off. And going off. And going off. I couldn't find it to shut it off. And when I did finally locate the phone, I couldn't get it to stop making that damn alarm sound. I even tried to get the drummer to take the phone apart to make it stop doing that alarm sound, and he ran it through the wringer on an old fashioned wash tub (because we must have had one at the office/house?) but even that wouldn't make it stop ringing.

That cell phone alarm ringer was really bugging me by then, enough that I wondered if I was stable enough to even go to work, but I did, and when I got there, Eileen said I needed to clean off my desk because it was a mess. And the phone alarm started to bug her too.

And, you've probably guessed by now that the alarm I was dreaming about was my cell phone alarm, trying its very best to wake me up this morning so I wouldn't be late to class.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

problem solved

I've taken care of the lizard fear.

Today, I didn't wear my glasses while walking to and from the conference location.

Voila! Didn't see a single lizard!

All that rustling in the bushes and grass? Probably leaves falling from the trees.

I am so smart!

Monday, November 2, 2009

you will not believe what i just saw

I don't think I mentioned that I'm in Florida this week for another government contracts law class. I know a week in Florida sounds great, what with the temperature in the 80's and the humidity in the 90%s or higher. Yeh, sure, the whole room to myself, remote control in my control, eating wherever I feel like eating and sleeping whenever I feel like sleeping thing is great.

But. I am not on vacation. It's a government contracts class. Taught by a defense attorney. Who has a loud voice. And knows his stuff.

So okay, that part is probably good. But this is the second in a series of three classes and the last class was eight hours a day with homework each night and I had this crazy idea that I wouldn't have any time to sightsee, so why get a rental car that would just sit in the parking lot of my hotel.

What was I thinking?

Besides that it would do me some good to walk the half mile each way to my class every morning and afternoon.

I must admit that the walk is nice, but man do I miss my bike.

Did anybody tell me there are critters scurrying around in Florida? During the day? All along the sidewalk from my hotel to the class location? Critters you say? Yes I did say critters.

The first one was in a parking lot that I crossed and I noticed it and remembered having seen little lizards somewhere, sometime, but I couldn't remember where or when. By the time I got to my hotel, I had seen at least 25 of the little guys and one chipmunk. And I heard much scurrying about in the shrubbery.

I did my best to stay calm as they ran in front of and behind me and alongside me, but once I let out a little "eek!" when one of them ran from the lawn on the right side of me to the lawn on the left side of me and I nearly stepped on him. And the biggest one I saw gave me the creeps when he refused to move and stared me down as I waited to cross a very busy road near my hotel.

Yes, I know they're little, they're harmless, they eat bugs, which, Lord knows Florida has a lot of, but really, they are creepy enough during the day, let alone at night. What if they go in at night and that's when the alligators come out? My cabbie assured me there are alligators everywhere here.

Think rapters in Jurassic Park. Just try to convince me you wouldn't rather be riding on a bike with your feet up on the pedals when a bunch of these guys are tearing around on the's like this place is a jungle or something.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

about halloween

Try as I might, I cannot remember one single Halloween costume I've worn in my life. Unless you count the shirt I wore this year that is covered with black skulls with crossbones and little red hearts (comment at the Halloween Eve party: Mama Wilde, that shirt is so cool. It's like poison...but you've gotta love it. such clever kids!)

So, as I was saying. I don't remember any costumes except for the year that my older brother who was probably around 10 was a mummy. My mom wrapped him in strips of white sheet and pinned it all together with safety pins. It was a fine costume until he had to use the bathroom.

The only other thing I remember about Halloween from my childhood is the timewhen I was maybe six and my younger brother was probably 3 or so. The day after Halloween, I got this great idea that since we'd had such fun trick or treating the night before, why not do it again? I pretended to be the mom and dressed up my brother as a little girl. I don't remember exactly what I clothed him in except for my flowered mint green and ivory apron that I tied around his waist. I also tied a scarf around his head so you couldn't tell he had a buzz haircut.

We went to the next door neighbor's house, which is when I realized we didn't have a pillowcase to hold our stash. But quick thinker that I was, we decided we'd just eat the candy before we went to the next house.

We knocked on the door and when the neighbor answered, we hollered, "TRICK OR TREAT!" The neighbor lady, Lila, smiled and commented on the cute little girl I was with, and then, glory be, she gave us each a piece of candy. We said thank you and wished her a happy Halloween and skipped off the porch and down the driveway.

Before we went any farther, we (and by we, I mean I) decided we needed a container to hold our treats, so we headed back to our house where I located a little cloth bag with a drawstring that I kept my doll clothes in. We dumped out the doll clothes and headed back out of the house.

We walked down the sidewalk to the next house, knocked on the door and greeted the neighbor kids who lived there with a loud TRICK OR TREAT! The girl, Leslie, who was three years older than I, stared at us and said, "It isn't Halloween today." And then she shut the door.

We were stunned, but not enough to slow us down. We went to the next house. That neighbor lady said she thought her candy was all gone, but she told us to wait a minute and she came back with two boxes of raisins.

The next neighbor gave us candy. As did the next and the next and the next. We went all the way down the street and rounded the corner, not stopping at the corner house because those people had a big, black dog named Tarzan who lived inside of their fenced front yard. Tarzan loved to chase kids all the way along the fenceline of their yard and we'd heard he had rabies, so there was no way we were going in that yard. We also skipped the next house and then crossed the street to my Gramma's house.

Baum Baum (my dad's mom) was a sweet, sweet little lady who had many, many grandchildren and great grandchildren and every one of us thought we were her favorite. When we knocked on her front door and hollered TRICK OR TREAT, she opened the door and seeing us, exclaimed, "Why look at that cute little girl and her big sister!" Then she invited us in and gave us both a handful of candy for our bag.

We told Baum Baum that we couldn't stay long and she said she understood, and then we headed back to our street to hit the houses on the other side of our street. I don't think we even got to the first house before our mom came tearing up the street. I suspect that Baum Baum ratted us out. Even though I was only six, I quickly realized somebody had done something very bad. I don't remember exactly what she said, but the message was clear--Trick or treating was a once a year deal, what we had done was almost like stealing, and we were now going to take back everything we'd hauled in--just like the day she made me take back the orange slice candy I took from Sharp's grocery store before I understood that just because candy was on a shelf you could reach did not mean you could simply take what you wanted without paying for it.

Talk about a kill joy. Let me say that it was no where near as much fun returning the candy as it was getting the candy. Several of the neighbors tried to get us to keep the candy, but we knew that would never fly. We insisted we could not keep it and we apologized for taking it in the first place.

It had seemed like such a good idea. And while some part of me seemed to realize there was almost certainly a flaw in my plan--I mean, seriously, how often do people just give you candy because you show up on the doorstep in a costume--my brother did make a cute girl.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

oh the halloween we've had

This year's Halloween included:

1. Two adorable little girl tigers
2. One beautiful Cinderella
3. One sassy flapper (but if you asked her, she was a princess. 'course.)
4. One Halloween Eve party, costumes required, (vampires, werewolves, or zombies only), no one under 18 allowed, friends, co-workers, fellow band and school chums, with pizza galore, numerous snacks and sodas, held in the partially-finished, lit by colored and black lights only basement. With a band.
5. Band for said party included the drummer who sang but didn't drum because he can't drum and sing at the same time (but he can seriously sing those Modest Mouse songs), a replacement drummer, because the original drummer (who was replacing the drummer) got a job at the gas station of the local Smith's and couldn't get off work, one of the usual quirky cast of characters around here on electric bass, one of the former basement dwellers on lead guitar, and the drummer on backup chords on guitar. It was a whole lotta great. And while no werewolves showed up, there were many dracleas, many more Edwards, and an adorable zombie. Jr had some amazingly realistic vampire teeth. And the drummer made a pretty convincing punk rocker in his boots and leather pants.
6. Did I mention that the drummer's last four or five girlfriends all attended? How does he pull that off? Very well, thank you. Maybe it's because he's the drummer/lead singer in the band?

And while he doesn't read my blog (horrors, I know!) I still want to wish the drummer a happy birthday tomorrow. The band gig was a great birthday present from him to me. I love to see my kids doing things they do well and enjoy so much.

Friday, October 30, 2009

this may sound pathetic

But where are you all? No comments for days...I'm in withdrawal.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

i work with rocket scientists

read this or go here to watch a cool video.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

it's happened

Our little girl is growing up and she is stuck in the middle of teenagerville. You know that time when a kid goes from affectionate and cuddly to hyperactive and I'm bored? JoJo is there. Waffling between point A and point B not realizing that point C is really the place to get to?

Example 1: JoJo discovered snow this morning and it was the perfect vehicle to express her boredom with her hyperactivity. Fits of sniffing, running, scooting, sliding, interspersed with bucking bronco leaps back onto the deck followed by high speed running in the form of figure eights, and mad dashes back onto the deck, slip-sliding across the wood, and ending up back inside the house. Nonstop. All day. Please let me out, no please, please, please let me in. No out. Oh geez, in. Out. Then, what's this round white ball-shaped thing you've tossed my way? A ball? A snow ball? Holy cow, it's cold in my mouth but if I'drop it and stomp it, it disappears? Whoa. Make me another, please. Oh that's cold. Stomp. Wha? Where'd it go?

Example 2: About a month ago, I discovered a chunk of fabric had been chewed off of the front part of my gramma's couch. Not something I expected to find, since there had been no real indication that we had a couch shredder in the house. Perhaps I should have researched on the google because I might have realized that if someone is a box springs cover shredder around the age of six months, she might become a couch shredder by the time she's ten months old.

Example 3: Remember when I posted about someone shredding the edge of the rug we used to have in the front room? But we don't have that rug any more because somebody had to, simply had to remove the fringe from the edge of that rug? Turns out that after fringe removal, the next step is carpet removal, which, had I googled I would have known, begins simply enough around the edges of a carpet where it meets up with a tiled surface, but can then progress to chewing out pieces of carpet as big as say a pancake from IHOP, which is what happens when you go out to breakfast and kindly leave the pup in the house instead of outside in the freshly falling snow, and while you may have been doing her a favor by not letting her freeze to death, she was possibly doing you a favor by beginning the removal of that carpet in the diningroom that you've had for five years that could possibly use an upgrade.

It just occurred to me that someone may have been watching movies with the dog--maybe something like Marlie & Me? And now, JoJo, sharp as a tack JoJo, quick as a cat JoJo, sly as a fox JoJo, realizes she has work to do. No more laying around, looking adorable, chasing the ball as often as someone will toss it for her, chewing on her rawhide chewsticks. No, no, she has new stuff to cover or uncover as in the case of the furniture frame and the diningroom floor under the old carpet. She has cats to chase and remodeling to participate in and tennis balls to locate and hide. And of course, there will be more snow.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

sisters at gramma's house on a rainy day

Janey and Breanne came to visit yesterday and even though it was a bit brisk and a bit rainy, we had to play out back because it was time for Breanne to demonstrate her newly discovered princess scooter riding ability.

and if you ask nicely...

she might just show you her muscles...

Yesterday was also the day that Breanne and Janey discovered that JoJo likes to run fast, really, really close to little kids, but she understands that she can't run directly into little kids. However, she does occasionally come close enough to give little kids a couple of kisses right on the lips or cheeks or ears...

While Breanne was practicing her scooter skills, Janey was checking out the wind chimes...

and the play kitchen...

and dishes...

and because it wasn't really raining all that hard, they played with the drinking fountain...

and made it rain on JoJo...

Friday, October 23, 2009

conversations with audrey or a girl and her uncle's horse

(Upon entering the back of my car and seeing part of the back seat folded down)
Uh oh--sumpin's not right here.

Audrey, do you like to eat cereal?
No Gramma Jill, I like snacks.
Do you like to eat corndogs?
No Gramma Jill, I like snacks.
Do you like to eat spaghetti?
No Gramma Jill, I like snacks.
Audrey, do you like to eat snacks?
Yes, Gramma Jill, they yummy.

Audrey, does Baby Ellie have hair?
Yes, Gramma Jill, Baby Ellie has hair. Baby Ellie has little hair.
Little hair, Audrey?
Yes, Gramma Jill, little hair.
Audrey, do you have little hair?
No, Gramma Jill, I have big hair.

Shhh, Audrey, play quiet so Grampa can sleep, okay?
(in a whisper after looking at Grampa asleep in his recliner)
Gramma Jill, Grampa sleeps loud.

Gramma Jill?
Yes Audrey--
You play cards on your puter.
Yes, Audrey. Does Daddy play cards on his computer?
No, Daddy no play cards, Daddy play warcrap.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

an odd premise

I had a dream last night that made a lot of sense if you can get past the odd premise.

I dreamed I was hanging out with Kerry, Bill, and Gina from Radio from Hell on X96, KXRK, Provo.

That's the odd part. The rest of it made total sense.

The dream started out at Bill's house in the Avenues, and I have to say, he has a nice back yard with some of the best grass I've ever seen. We decided to walk to my house, through the University campus, in buildings I'd never seen before. At some point, Kerry said something that made me feel a bit sorry for him, so I gave him a hug and a little momkiss on the cheek and after that, I thought he seemed friendlier than I'd thought before. Bill was his usual self--passionate about the stuff he was talking about, which is one of the things I like the most about him and Radio from Hell. Gina had troubles keeping up, not because we were walking but because she kept getting distracted by stuff she saw.

It took a long time, but eventually we got to my house, at least it was the house that is my house lately in my dreams. It isn't a house I've ever seen real life, but it's always familiar in my dreams so I know it's my house when I see it.

When I woke up, I was kind of excited to realize I was driving up north today and I'd be listening to those kids.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

jojo again

Yes, she loves her tennis balls, but she also loves a good squeaky toy like this stout rubber ball I found at Petco. It is the ideal squeaky toy because it has no parts that stick out for her to chew off, but it is without a doubt the loudest squeaky toy I've ever heard. Maddeningly, annoyingly, dog-lovingly loud. When we throw it for her, if she makes an especially impressive catch, she wags her tail in circles and squeaks it with glee--

And speaking of loud, have I mentioned that JoJo is a singer? Yes, she is, an adorable singer. Just try to convince me that this isn't the cutest dog singer you've ever seen.

Precious? I think so. Did you know dogs howl as a form of communication? It's a way to join in the conversation at a dog party or family sing-a-long. (seriously, I read that on the internet.)

Here she is, collecting grapes from the neighbor's vine, all the while keeping an eye on her squeaky ball--

And in case you weren't already aware of her astoundingly quick moves, here's one more.

Monday, October 19, 2009

a couple of thoughts

1. Jack underwent surgery on his thumb this morning. The doctor showed me the x-rays that clearly demonstrated the extra movement in the joint that was injured. Jack now has a teeny metal bracket holding his ligament in place until it heals--a week in the splint and five weeks in the cast and he'll be back to his old thumb self.

2. I think I've mentioned before that I like to do some of the word puzzles on the Merriam-Webster website--usually I do four puzzles each day that take up about 5-10 minutes total. I especially like it when I solve the Word Roundup and it responds with "Nice Ropin!"

3. And from Merriam-Webster today, The Universal Cryptogram: The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.

4. If I could invent anything in the world right now (besides world peace, an end to hunger, good health for all, and well, all of those other heavy, important things) I would invent a sparkly dust that could be sprinkled on people who choose to always see things from the negative point of view that would help neutralize their negativity and occasionally help them see the positive point of view. I know, I know, there has to be negative to appreciate the positive, but seriously folks, some people need to give others an occasional break, cut 'em some slack, or just not say anything if they can't say something nice. Sheesh.

Too short, too short, too short, life is to spend it irritated with people who are, I think, most of the time, doing the best they can do. And if they aren't, isn't that punishment enough for them, to know they are performing below their own personal par?

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Sometimes there is nothing quite as satisfying as a simple, "excuse me?"

For the past few months, I've had the opportunity to interact with a guy at work who regularly shoots out little zingers. You know those snide remarks that people say that leave you wondering, "hey-what was that?" Comments, in particular, about the field I work in--legal--and about those in the same job as my boss--an attorney.

I know that, contrary to popular opinion, there are many different types of lawyers. And when I say different types, I don't mean lawyers who practice family law and criminal law and contracts law or corporate law. I mean there are good lawyers and bad lawyers--and you can break that down into bad lawyers who don't know how to practice law effectively as well as bad lawyers who are sleezeballs and dopes and also some who don't know their clients because they are only practicing law to make as much money as they can. The ones who will seemingly say or do anything for a buck.

But there are also good lawyers. There are many attorneys who know the law, understand how to represent a client, and still can sleep at night because they are decent, honest people. They know the area of law that they practice in because they have learned it in school and have spent years working in that area. They stay abreast of changes in the law in their area. They understand the importance of civility and professionalism and courtesy and compromise.

So, back to the guy at work. For several months now, he's been poking me when I'm not looking. He's the guy who sends an email to everybody up and down his chain of command and mine when he needs something from me (that I've already provided) or when he needs to cover his backside because he's let something slip so he cleverly directs the blame my way when he and I both know what he's up to. And instead of replying to everybody when I respond, I have simply replied to him, re-supplying whatever it was that he needed, ignoring his little jab.

But this week was different. A couple of days ago, he sent me some information that was in conflict with directions his boss had given me. It wasn't a big deal, but his boss was waiting for me to send him a document and I didn't know what to do with the information the guy had sent. So I sent his boss the information as the boss had requested and said that the guy had requested that I change it in this different way, again, not a big deal kind of thing, but would the boss please let me know how to proceed with it. The change in direction was something related to how my lawyer boss wanted something done versus how the guy's area lawyer wanted something done and the big boss wanted the two lawyers to figure out how to resolve things so they were both doing this thing the same way.

I didn't hear back from the guy's boss, but a few hours later, I did get copied on an email the guy sent to his team saying that they needed to stand down until the lawyers worked out their issues. I responded to his next email by answering a different question and also mentioned that I had forwarded his earlier request to his boss for direction.

A bit later I was copied on another email from the guy to his team where he said,

"Hold off for now. We need to wait until the elephants (legal) finish their dance."

Yes, that is a direct quote from his email including legal in parentheses.

I sat for a few moments, stunned that he referred to legal (and by legal, I mean not just my boss and the guy's area attorney, but me, hello, I'm in legal too) as ELEPHANTS.

My immediate thought was that he was referring to us as elephants because

a) we are big and slow moving (which is not even true, we are catlike and quick), or
b) we are elephants as in the 800-lb elephant in the room that no one wants to deal with (or is that an 800-lb gorilla?)

No matter how I tried, I couldn't see any possible way that being referred to as an elephant in this situation was a good thing. So I did the only thing I could think of.

I replied to his email and said, "Excuse me?" "Elephant?"

He immediately replied by saying, "Oh, not you. I meant John and Bob." (note: names changed to protect my job.)

I did not respond.

I received another email from him that said, "When I referred to legal as elephants, I only meant that elephants are the top of the food chain like lions and I was referring to legal as elephants and the vice presidents would be the lions. That is all I meant. Period."

I did not respond.

Towards the end of the work day, I responded to another email from him regarding another question related to the original topic. And then I went home for the night.

Early, early, early this morning, the office door opens and in walks Mr Animal Namer Man.

He cheerfully greets our assistant (who was aware of the earlier email and graciously greeted him while still remaining a bit distant).

Next he pokes his head into the Big Elephant's office and says good morning to my boss. (I wish I'd told my boss about the email so he could have trumpeted out a greeting.)

Finally Mr ANM enters my office and stammers out some nonissue question about the document I'd been working for him.

He asks how my son is feeling. (He became aware of Stu's liver transplant after complaining [to me and copying everyone up and down the chain] that I was not responding quickly enough to his emails during the first few days after the transplant when I was not in the office but was checking email. I had apologized for not getting back to him immediately because I couldn't use my laptop in the ICU. Oh, and it was Labor Day weekend for heck's sake!)

And then, as he rises to leave, he asks me if I'm okay, I understand about the elephants, right? He didn't mean anything derogatory, okay? And I say, sure.

And he points through the wall towards my boss's office and conspiratorily whispers, "Bob. Bob is the elephant."

And instead of telling him to explain that to me--because I thought he told me being an elephant was a good thing because it's the top of the food chain but now he's telling me that only Bob is an elephant so doesn't that mean I'm no longer the top of the food chain, so what does that make me?--but instead of asking him to explain this, I let him off the hook.

And he slides, snakelike, under the door.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

what? you need a list from me?

1. Jack is scheduled for thumb ligament reattachment surgery on Monday. Then five weeks in a cast.
2. The drummer accepted a job offer as the bass drumline tech for the Madison Scouts, a drum corps in Drum Corps International, and was so excited to learn he'd be working with his hero of the drum world, the guy who runs the drum program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the school he wants to attend after he graduates from the U, that he couldn't sleep. I think he would have paid to work there, but instead they will cover the cost of flying him to Wisconsin once a month between now and next May when they head out on the road, riding the buses, sleeping in the gyms, performing all over the midwest and south and east coast.
3. Jessie and family are visiting New Hampshire while she grows sweet girlie number three. She is in that part of pregnancy when the morning sickness ceases, you can feel the amazing movements of the life within, and you are still comfortable moving about.
4. Stu's last blood tests were all normal. NORMAL. normal.
5. As much as Jr likes to complain about the drama that is his life, he seems very content, attending the U, working at the credit union for pay, learning new skills and using new tools while working on the basement remodel.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

jack, jack, jack

Last night, the perfectly delightful Audrey came to gramma's to play on my park (swingset), and play with my pincesses and their house, and have a bath and put on jammies, and go to the eat house (McDonald's). A whole lotta fun for Audrey and me.

Jack and Jr were downstairs working on the basement remodel, nailing up stuff and drilling holes through floor joists for pipes and wires to fit through (so they would all be up inside of the suspended ceiling, instead of hanging down crisscrossing all over the place).

Audrey and I were preparing to head to the eat house and then to her house because she had had enough of the 'scary noises' (pounding and drilling) coming from the basement. Perhaps I should have known right then. I mean, if a two-year-old recognizes a scary noise, shouldn't I?

But I didn't recognize the noises for what they were. Even when they stopped. Quite suddenly. It wasn't until Audrey and I entered the kitchen to pick up her bag and blanket and saw Jack that I realized those scary noises had been telling us something.

Turns out that even though Jack is a big, strong, manly man, a construction guy, a man of all trades, capable of and regularly performing repairs and redos of all kinds, even he is no match for a corded drill with a hole saw attachment. Well, he might be a match for that drill and hole saw, but his thumb wasn't.

Just 30 seconds after he warned Jr of the dangers associated with power drills that are plugged in (as opposed to the battery operated type, which means seriously increased power to the drill), his hand lost control of the power drill for just a split second (really, not even a second), and that drill got all high and mighty and decided to be king of the basement remodel world and Jack's right thumb. Um, I think it's called 'torque'? The drill bit (in this case a hole saw that makes big holes in wood) dug its teeth into said wood, but not enough to chew through said wood, only enough to cause the rest of the drill to try to spin, taking Jack's thumb with it in said spinning motion, putting Jack into a really, really bad place. Because by then, it wasn't just his thumb that was overtaken by that dirty rotten drill and its hole saw bit, it was pretty much all of Jack.

That's how it is. Everything's going great one split second and then--BAM--things go very bad and your thumb may be facing the correct direction after the BAM, but for some period of time there, it was not facing in the usual anatomically correct position and suddenly your hand hurts like heck. (I said heck there because Jack doesn't like it when I cuss in writing. But he did say he may have cussed out loud when the drill tried to spin his thumb off.)

When I entered the kitchen and saw his face, I knew something was very wrong. More wrong than two days before when I saw the look on his face after the piece of sheetrock that covers the opening into the attic broke into two pieces and fell, folded edge down, directly onto his right wrist that was holding onto the ladder he was standing on. He told me then he thought he might have broken his arm, but after holding an ice pack on it for a while, he decided it would be okay. And maybe it was okay, but it does have a nasty mark on it that looks like a burn that removed the hair on that spot of skin and will probably become a bruise before it's all healed up.

Last night, when I saw his face, I knew something was more wrong than the arm injury. I asked, he answered, we both looked, I took Audrey home, and then we headed to the emergency room. As we parked the car at the hospital, Jack asked me if I thought the insurance company would give us a hard time for going to the ER for a broken thumb. I think I told him they should just try it and see what happened.

Believe it or not, we were at the ER for less than two hours. It may have even been around an hour. However long it was, I think it was a world record for shortest ER visit ever. We walked in, they admitted Jack, we hardly waited in the waiting room, they called him back, the doctor came in while Jack was in the restroom, the doc asked if it hurt to touch his pinkie with his thumb (those ER docs are soooo sneaky, I think he knew it would hurt and it did, caused all kinds of new wincing on Jack's face), x-ray guy took him to radiology for x-rays, chatted about his own construction work injuries, nurse came in and gave Jack a tetnus shot and some percoset for the pain (pausing for just a second when she saw the dosage, but Jack's a big guy who was in big pain), came back and splinted his wrist and hand, doc said there didn't appear to be any breaks but likely he had torn the ligament that stabilizes his thumb, gave us a prescription for more of the pain medication and the phone number of an excellent hand specialist (who happens to be the son of the guy who repaired Jack's knees, ankles, and shoulders after various sports-related injuries over the years), and sent us out the door. In less than two hours.

So there you go, you can get excellent hospital care even if you are at the ER and not the transplant floor.

And now Jack's got a big ole fat splinted bandage on his right hand to immobilize it, and according to the internet, he's headed to surgery to repair it. And he has to put up with not only the injury to his thumb but also his pride when all the maintenance guys he works with see his big splinted hand and harrass him about it. And I'm thinking that the basement remodel has been the biggest pain in the butt remodel we've ever attempted. It's hard to tell yourself that it will all be worth it when the power tools take over.