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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of my dear friends here on the blog. My world is a bigger, better place because you all are a part of it. Thank you!

I wish for each and every one of you the blessings of love, warmth, comfort, and joy.

Peace. xx

Sunday, December 22, 2013

It's almost here (and almost over!)

We're in the home stretch now...Christmas is a mere 3 days away! I can't wait to see it come and go. This has been an incredibly hectic holiday season. In addition to the normal woes of working in retail (long hours, crowds, etc.) we've also had our share of extra stress this year.

 Money is tight thanks to a big car repair, Husband had the flu two weeks ago and is still recovering, and I woke up yesterday morning with the beginning of a bad cold. In addition to all that, we've adopted a new dog. The timing of the adoption was bad, but George was on the "put to sleep" list, so we didn't have the option of waiting until after the holidays. We love him already--he's lovable and playful and sweet--but he's also very young, bursting with energy, and in need of training. I've been working hard teaching him to walk properly on a leash, and we've had to take extra walks every single day, not just for training but to burn off some of his excess energy.  Getting another dog has been a lot of work so far, during an already hectic month. I'm looking forward to January when I can spend more time with both of the dogs, as well as having some down time for myself.

Sweet George

Ginger and George share a bed now.

Today is my last day off before Christmas, so I'm baking cookies. This cold has made me feel lousy, and I really don't feel like doing anything--but I'm soldiering on. The holiday is coming, ready or not!

Ho ho ho.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

George


This handsome boy is the newest member of our family. We named him George, after the awesome little terrier in the movie Bringing Up Baby. George came from a nearby shelter and was on the euthanasia list last week. I've been thinking of rescuing and adopting a second dog for months now, and when I found him on the shelter's website somehow I just knew he was the one. He's about a year old, but he still acts very much like a puppy. He is very, very sweet and playful. We brought him home on Friday the 13th, just in time for Christmas!

So far Ginger is accepting her new little brother with more good grace than I would have thought possible. I'm so proud of her! They've been playing together in the back yard in between naps, and Ginger has even been willing to share her big doggie bed with him. There have been only minor skirmishes and jockeying for position since George's arrival, for which I'm profoundly grateful. I think they're going to be good friends.

Ginger and George
 
What a happy Christmas it's going to be for George and our family. Anyone who says you can't buy love has never paid an animal adoption fee!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

We survived!

Last week was rough, folks. Rough. Husband caught the flu, I had an emergency trip to the dentist, there was an expensive car repair, and Christmas is steadily approaching without regard for our woe or lack of preparation. I had to have a root canal yesterday, which I was dreading. Dreading. Husband has been miserable and feverish, the laundry stack rose higher and higher and our house was devolving into a total pig-pen mess. I was about ready to run away from home!

I am happy to report, that as of today, Tuesday, things seem to be improving. My root canal didn't hurt much at all. I was taking lots of pain pills, and before the dentist started he numbed me up really, really well. The procedure went quickly and smoothly. This morning I only have some mild soreness in my jaw. What a relief! And Husband is feeling a little bit better, not 100% yet but improving slowly. I got some laundry done last night, then had a good night's sleep, and this morning I cleaned and mopped the kitchen and bathroom. Things are looking up!

Time to get a move on with the Christmas decorating and planning. Here's hoping the rest of the month goes more smoothly than the first week!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

And now, this.

A toothache yesterday led to a trip to the dentist today. Now I'm scheduled for a root canal first thing Monday morning. I don't mind saying I'm scared. I definitely shouldn't have googled what the procedure involved.

At least I have a bottle of good pain pills in the meantime.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fa la la la....F*ck!!

With Christmas only 3 weeks away, there's been lots of planning going on around here for meals, small gifts, gathering with friends, and other festive seasonal things. Until today.

Husband's work truck broke down yesterday and we had to have it towed to a shop. We got the call today. Major repairs are apparently necessary that are going to cost us anywhere from $600-$900. F*ck!

I will admit, compared to the bad luck we normally have this time of year (I have a superstitious dread of December) this isn't the end of the world. We may be eating a lot of beans this month, and a functional vehicle might be our only gift to each other this year, but it could be (and has been) much, much worse.

But still. Talk about putting a damper on my holiday spirit! I had planned to dig out the decorations and begin sorting them today. One phone call from the mechanic and all of my plans and Christmas cheer dissolved like a balloon with a pin in it.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving for two

Thanksgiving was quiet and very, very nice this year. Husband and I stayed home and spent a lazy day together. We wore our pjs most of the day, watched movies, and then in the early evening we had a small feast. (I did most of the cooking the night before, so I didn't have to spend all day in the kitchen).

Pretty autumn table for two.
 
 
The star of the show. It was the smallest whole turkey
I could find. We'll be eating leftovers all weekend.
 
Broccoli salad with broccoli, shredded carrots,
red onions, walnuts, and dried cranberries mixed with a
 creamy, slightly sweet coleslaw dressing.


This picture of the baked macaroni and cheese I made doesn't do it justice. This is a sinful recipe. There are literally pounds of cheese, butter, whole milk, eggs, and pasta all baked to a rich, golden, bubbling mass of decadent lusciousness. I call it a heart attack in a pan. We only eat this once or twice a year for that reason.

Husband's favorite: deviled eggs.
 Required at all holiday meals. And homemade
cranberry sauce is mandatory when there's turkey!


Isn't that pretty? Those are two dessert dishes of Watergate salad. It's a light side dish/dessert that consists of pistachio pudding, crushed pineapple, mini marshmallows, Cool Whip, and pecans. It may sound strange, but it's actually delicious and a vintage holiday recipe in the South. I also made a pecan pie and a chocolate pudding pie.

It was a great meal, and a fun and relaxing way to spend Thankgiving. Late in the evening we took Ginger for a cold, starlit walk (which we needed after all that food!) and then I cracked open a bottle of champagne. It was a perfect day.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Friends, near and far

Yesterday was such a great day for me. My dear friend Meg was in the area visiting for the first time in almost 2 years. She moved to Texas at the beginning of 2012 because her husband got a job offer there, and I've missed her so much. Chatting and sharing pictures on Facebook just isn't the same. Her little girl, who was a 1 year old baby when they left is now a spunky 3 year old. This past June, a baby brother joined the family. I was so excited to see both of the kids, and their lovely mama, too!

They were in Greenville, SC visiting Meg's in laws for the Thanksgiving holiday. Another member of our circle of friends, Marla, went with me to see everyone. Round trip it was about a 5 hour drive, but totally worth it. We had so much fun catching up with Meg, playing with her little girl (who of course didn't remember us at all and was very shy at first) and meeting the baby boy. I admit I was a bit of a baby hog all day, but the chubby little fellow was so cheerful and sweet that I hated giving him up! We got to go to lunch with Meg, and then we spent a few hours back at the house just hanging out. It was a wonderful day.

I have tomorrow and the next day (Thanksgiving) off. Gregg and I decided to cook at home for the holiday this year. Tomorrow will be spent straightening the house and shopping for the meal. Tomorrow night, I will be making some dishes ahead of time, and Marla is coming over for drinks and to hang out while I cook. (We got tipsy together last year while I cooked on the night before Thanksgiving, and we decided to make it a tradition, it was so much fun!) Then Thanksgiving Day will be very quiet and private, dinner for two and a cozy day spent at home.

Sometimes I can feel a bit melancholy this time of year. Gregg's and my combined family is small and (sadly) not very close, and during the holidays when everyone is having big family dinners and gatherings it can feel kind of lonely to be just two people. Last week I was feeling down, and the thought of the impending holiday season just made me depressed. Spending time this week with my friends was just what I needed to give my spirits a lift!

So today, as Thanksgiving approaches, I am feeling thankful for the good friends I have to share my life with. Good friends near and far.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

An actual conversation at my house

I love my crazy life with my furry and feathered kids. Here is the conversation I had with my parrot, Marco, yesterday morning before I left for work:

Marco: Ginger! Ginger!
Me: Ginger's outside, Marco. She's a good girl.
Marco: Ginger's a bird!
Me: No, you crazy bird. Ginger's a doggie. Marco's a bird!
Marco: He's a little man.

There's never a dull moment in this house!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuesday Round Up

Today has been slow and easy, just the thing after a busy weekend at work.

Dear husband's birthday was very nice, even if we were both busy all weekend. There were presents (mostly new clothes) and a nice steak dinner. There was a sinfully delicious Italian Crème birthday cake purchased at the bakery down the road. On the birthday evening, it finally got cold enough to light the fireplace for the first time this year, which is always a treat. And as promised, here are some pictures of the hat I knit for the birthday dude. It's just a plain-Jane, no-pattern hat, made of good wool in a silvery grey color that this photo doesn't capture at all. I apologize for the picture quality here, it really doesn't do the hat justice:




Today has been a lazy day. I'm still sleeping at lot. I suppose it's the shorter days, but all I want to do lately is burrow under the covers of my warm, cosy bed and sleep whenever I have a day off! Once I dragged myself out of bed today, I took Ginger for a walk to our neighborhood park. It was a beautiful afternoon. Here are a couple of photos I snapped while out.


It's hard to get a photo of anything but Ginger's backside when
she's on the leash. This is the road in front of our house.

 



The entrance to our little park.
 
 


Headed home.

 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Shaking it off, and birthday prep

I'm finally beginning to feel normal again after the ER trauma the other day. For some reason I've slept an incredible amount since then (possibly from all the drugs they gave me). I'm just beginning to feel like I'm shaking it all off, and just in time, too.

Tomorrow is my husband's birthday, and I've been too distracted to do anything yet, so this afternoon will be spent shopping for a couple of small gifts and the ingredients for a special birthday dinner. The dinner will take place tonight, since I have to work until late tomorrow. Grilled steaks and rosemary-garlic new potatoes are standard birthday fare around here, but I haven't had the time (or felt well enough) to plan anything more creative this year.  And instead of the homemade cake/pie/dessert I had hoped to make, I will be picking up something from the local bakery. There will be one special gift for my honey: I've almost finished knitting him a new wool hat! It's still on the needles, but should be ready by tomorrow morning. The pattern is nothing fancy, just a super-simple stretchy ribbed band, followed by a plain stockinette body. The wool is a soft silvery grey, and it's going to be subtly pretty. I'm grateful I didn't attempt a complicated pattern when I started it last week. I would never have finished in time if I had, what with getting sick and all. I'll post pictures of it after it's been given to the birthday boy.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Just one more...

I'm trying hard not to complain, since I've instituted no-complaining November, but I need to vent about one more tiny thing. It didn't feel so tiny at the time!

The day before yesterday was awful. I was sitting in a manager's meeting at work, and out of the blue my stomach started hurting. I mean hurting, like grip the chair until your knuckles turn white hurting. After a few minutes, I excused myself and went to the restroom, where I paced around and around, trying to get some relief. The pain was situated in the middle of my abdomen, under my ribs, and it radiated all the way through to my back. I've never felt anything like it before.

After a few minutes when it became apparent that I was in real trouble, I went back to the meeting, and whispered in my boss' ear that I was sick and needed to leave. I struggled to drive home. Nothing has ever, ever hurt me so much. A smarter woman would have called her husband to come get her, but I was determined to make it on my own. It was a dumb thing to do. I almost wrecked my car, the pain was so bad. As soon as I got home, I called my family doctor. It was too late in the day for them to see me; they suggested the emergency room if I really, really couldn't take it, and scheduled me for an appointment the next morning.

Then, all of a sudden, like a light being switched off, the pain just stopped. Poof! It was like someone flipped a switch. I was much relieved that I could pass on the ER and just wait to see my doctor. I ate a small dinner (soup) watched some tv, and planned to head to bed. But then, about 10pm, the pain returned just as suddenly as it had stopped. Oh. My. God. I have never, ever hurt so much in my life.

Gregg drove me to the emergency room right away. I had NO dignity at all; I was begging the admissions people to give me painkillers (they didn't care). The nurses on duty made me give them a urine sample, then they took a lot of blood for testing, and left an IV line in place for later. I begged again for something for the pain. They refused on the grounds that they didn't know what was going on with me yet. Which was reasonable, I guess, but severe pain makes one desperate. Then I had to wait another hour to get a bed and to be seen by the doctor on duty. It was a most painful, awful wait.

What blessed relief, when I finally got a room, and a real nurse, and a shot of Demorol in my IV line. I could have kissed her for the Demorol. They also gave me Zofran so the narcotic wouldn't make me sick. The doctor who finally showed up is yet another friend of my husband's (only rich doctors can afford nice salt water aquariums, which is how he's gotten to know so many of them over the years). Gregg was immediately like, "Thomas! Man, am I glad to see you tonight!" And the doc was all, "Gregg, my man! What are you doing up here in the middle of the night?"  I knew then I would get a little extra personal attention, and I did. Little things like the nurse seeing I was cold and bringing a heated blanket for me, and the doctor chatting with us like an old friend, really helped make me feel better. It's an emotional, traumatic event to be in so much pain, and the ER admissions people had displayed very little compassion or empathy up to that point.

The doctor was really cool and told me he suspected gallstones. He wanted to do a CT scan of my abdomen just to make sure it wasn't anything else. Unfortunately, the CT scan involved getting an injection of some sort of contrast dye, which made me sick. That's when I discovered that the ER has a handy-dandy stash of barf bags in every room! I had to use one as I was being wheeled back to the treatment room. I didn't even care at that point. I wasn't hurting thanks to the previous injection of Demorol, so a little puking didn't even faze me. The nurse gave me another injection of an anti-naseau medicine after I got back to the room, which made me nod off to sleep. Finally around 4am the doctor showed back up to tell us that all of my tests (every blood panel you can think of, the urinalysis, and the scan) came back normal. The next step, he says, is to see my family doctor to have some follow up tests: an ultrasound of my gallbladder for a closer look than the CT scan could show, and some sort of tests to determine if I have ulcers. He thinks it's almost certainly one of those two things, and ruled out anything more serious, thank goodness.

So I finally got to go home, with no real answers except that I'm probably not dying, and I probably do have either gallstones or ulcers. The doc said he was initially almost certain it was gallstones, but since they did get a look at my gallbladder and it appeared normal he's now leaning towards ulcers. Only more tests will tell. I have to get some scheduled. I never want to hurt like that again! I was given a prescription for pain pills to help me through any potential attacks between now and having the tests run.

So the complaining thing? Yeah, I did some the last few days. Hard not to when you're hurting so bad you think you might die!! Anyone reading ever had ulcers or gallstones? I still can't believe how much pain I was in!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

No-complaining November

I've made a tiny resolution for the month of November--I'm going to try to stop myself when I hear useless bitching/whining/complaining coming out of my mouth. It doesn't help anything, after all. For instance, I can sit here all day and stew over the many reasons I hate my job, but in the end I still have to get up and go there every day. I can bitch about certain family members that really, really need to get their act together, but they will still be acting like selfish, self centered jerks. Complaining only makes situations that are out of my control that much more stressful for me. I need to stop. I'm sure it's going to be a daily uphill battle. I'm going to try to focus on the bright spots instead of being negative all the time.

So for starters, instead of sitting here thinking about the 2 hour holiday work meeting I will be forced to attend tonight (after a regular 8 hour workday) I will spend my last little bit of time at home today knitting. And enjoying my pretty pansies blooming on the patio:


 
 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Greetings



I wanted to pop in and wish everyone out there a fun, magical, and happy Halloween!
 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A trip the North Carolina Museum of Natural History

Last week a friend and I spent an afternoon at the North Carolina Museum of Natural History in Raleigh, NC. I've visited this museum several times over the years and I enjoyed taking a friend along this time. I could spend days lingering over the exhibits and learning about the natural history of the Carolinas.

I took photos of the highlights of the visit to share with the blog. Enjoy!



Behold, the Carolina Parakeet. They were once the most northern ranging New World parrot species, and were plentiful up through Florida and Georgia and into South Carolina. Sadly, these beautiful birds went extinct in the early 20th century. I can't imagine how wonderful it would have been to have had flocks of native parrots living outside my back door. What a terrible shame it is when a species becomes extinct.

Some other animals that call North and South Carolina home:

 
 
The iconic, majestic Bald Eagle.


 
White tail deer beside dogwood tree.


There were also real animals on display. Like these charmers:

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Crotalus adamanteus
 
Carolina Pygmy Rattlesnakes
Sistrurus miliarius miliarius
 
Eastern Hognose snake
Heterodon platirhinos
Copperhead Snake
Agkistrodon contortrix
 

Ok, this last guy is kinda cute.

I can do without the snakes though. Especially poisonous snakes like these (with the exception of the Eastern Hognose).

By far, my favorite part of the museum is the dinosaurs!



I like that the bones of these next two are arranged beside pine trees and magnolias. The magnolia is a tree as ancient as the dinosaurs themselves.



Look at the size of this monster!
 
 Uh oh! Here comes Acrocanthosaurus!!!

 
 

 
A foot that size could crush a little kid.

 
 
 
 
 

 Speaking of ancient history......
 


As you may be able to read in the top photograph, this was a meteorite that landed in a farmer's field in North Carolina in 1936. It's age--roughly 4.5 billion years old--boggles the mind.

 There is a beautiful walkway in the museum that crosses a main intersection in downtown Raleigh. It leads to an awesome discovery center with interactive displays and working labs. I love the view from the walkway.






When my friend and I left for the day, I stopped on the sidewalk to snap a picture of the little church across the street...

 
 
 

...and the trolley pub rounded the corner, and a dozen or so intoxicated people waved and cheered to us as they passed! Downtown Raleigh is a fun place to hang out. And the museum is a real treasure.