Sunday, April 28, 2019

Well, damn.

Gregg's appointment with the kidney doctor on Friday didn't yield much new information. He basically repeated what we had already heard: yes, a renal blood clot is rare; the most important thing is to figure out why it happened; blood thinners are the main treatment. They've scheduled him for some heart tests starting May 3rd to see if there's an underlying condition there, and then he goes back to the nephrologist in four months for a checkup, barring anything else happening to his kidney in the meantime.

The only good news was that the affected kidney may not necessarily have permanent damage after all this is over. When Gregg asked why it's still hurting so much, the doctor said, "Think about a heart attack. This is basically the same thing, but in your kidney. Yes, it's very painful." Gregg then told him that he was almost out of pain medicine, the guy told him to see his regular doctor, since pharmacies will "flag" pain prescriptions from more than one doctor. Okay, fine, Gregg said, and then went by our family doctor's office right afterwards to ask for a refill. And guess what? The doctors at her practice take half days off on Fridays, and there was no one there to give him the refill. He asked the nurses: "So what the hell am I supposed to do this weekend? Go back to the ER and spend another $10,000 if the pain gets bad and I run out?" to which they replied "Probably."

Can you believe that? It all makes me so mad!

And then, of course, the pain has been getting bad again. He's down to his last couple of pain pills and they probably won't last until tomorrow when (hopefully) his doctor will be back in her office. In fact, the pain was so bad this morning that he seriously thought about going to the ER again anyway.

This seems beyond ridiculous that he's still hurting so much and no one seems to have any sense of urgency about helping him. Maybe we got spoiled when he was going through cancer always have access to your doctors and to pain management drugs when you have cancer!

He plans to have a serious talk with his doctor tomorrow about his medical needs and whether or not she's going to be taking them seriously enough to continue to serve as his GP. I realize she's not a specialist,but after the serious health issues he's had, he deserves better care than this and when he has a problem it needs to be given more urgent attention than this. I hope she apologizes and tries a little harder. Finding a new GP is another headache we don't need right now.

This morning Gregg apologized for "ruining your spring break" which made me feel terrible. I don't care about spring break, there will be more. I just wish he could start to feel better. It scares me when he's in pain and I'm feeling a constant low level anxiety that I'm doing my best to keep under control.

Not a great way to end the vacation, though. Wish me luck that we don't end up in the ER tonight.

Friday, April 26, 2019


I hit on an idea for blocking Crazy Neighbor's camera just by chance this morning while messing around in the garage.

My big, tall, plastic jack o lantern has been called into service this morning--during the month of April, no less! He's currently grinning directly at the camera while blocking most of the view.

Take that, creeper!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

An interesting week

Even though I've barely left the house this week, things have been....interesting....around here.

The good stuff first:

It's been a banner week for birdwatching. About three days ago a Facebook friend posted about a rare sighting of a Rose Breasted Grosbeak at one of his feeders here in Florence. I told my husband about it that afternoon while we were sitting on the porch watching our feeders, and not an hour later one showed up! This was a first for me.

And if that wasn't exciting enough, we had another feathered visitor a few minutes later that was even rarer in this part of the state: a Painted Bunting!

I've seen Painted Bunting before, but only a couple of times at Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet, SC. They tend to stay close to the coast. My dad, who grew up in Murrells Inlet, talks about seeing them there as a boy. I've never even considered seeing them 50 or 60 miles inland. What a treat!

Unfortunately, the Rose Breasted Grosbeak and the Painted Bunting only hung out at our feeders for a few minutes, and then they both disappeared. We sat outside all afternoon yesterday hoping they might stop back by, but no luck. They must have been passing through on Monday and it was just sheer luck that we were sitting outside and got to see them.

Speaking of birds:

Somebody kept trying to sneak up on the dyed eggs to see what they were all about! I had to stop him twice or he would have broken into them. I finally just took them away. Brat!

I also got a much-needed haircut:

In January and February I started losing an alarming amount of hair. Every time I took a shower there would be gobs of hair around the mesh drain covering. Of course I googled it (thanks Doctor Google!) and discovered that stress can make that happen. Apparently you're supposed to think back two or three months before the hair loss started to see what was going on in your life. Well, we bought a house and moved in November. So there you go. I'm beyond thankful that the loss seems to have gone back to a normal amount, even though now I have tons of 1-2 inch new hairs that stick out all over. Hey, at least it's growing back, right?! I hadn't had a haircut in several months and my hair was looking bad. Limp and tired, thin, with dead ends. I usually go to our local Great Clips to get my hair cut, but that's always a crapshoot. I've had some of the best and some of the worst cuts of my life there. I went yesterday hoping to get someone good, and as luck would have it a woman named Wendy who has hair very similar to mine in texture and color was assigned to me. She listened sympathetically to my tale of hair woe, assured me that she's seen lots of people lose a bunch of hair when they're stress and that it always grows back, and then talked to me about  the best method of cutting fine hair like mine. I was very, very pleased with the results. The cut is good (hard to see that in these two pictures) and now my hair looks much healthier and shinier again. Wendy was a godsend! I feel so much better about how I look right now.

Finally.....the weirdest thing that happened this week. I've been looking at the fence line in our back yard, planning how we need to get back there and do some weeding. On Tuesday afternoon I went out there again while scooping up dog poop and this had appeared, hidden in the bushes just behind the crazy old man neighbor's property line:

What does that look like to you? The crazy old asshole has set up a surveillance camera! It's pointed at our back yard and porch, although when you're sitting on the porch the angle of our garage blocks it from view. It's hidden in thick bushes about 6 inches behind his property line, and it definitely wasn't there the day before. There is absolutely NOTHING on his own property that he could be filming. Not his yard, not an entrance, nothing at all except our yard and house. What a creep!

I texted the sheriff's deputy that works at our school. He said he didn't think anything could legally be done, since the camera is outside and on his property. He said he would put up something to block the view of the camera, and see if it moved. He thought it was hilarious. I was furious at first, but now I think it's kinda funny, too. There's nothing for him to see, and our dogs rarely bark anymore (not to mention they spend over half their time in the house these days) so I can't imagine what he gets out of it. I've gotten close, leaned over the fence, and flipped off the camera a couple of times but now I'm trying to think of something funny to put right there his view. A sign of some kind, maybe? I would LOVE any suggestions you all might have!

So that's been my week so far. Today I'm planting a few tomato seedlings around the back porch (I'm sure Crazy Neighbor will be watching from inside his house) and then going to lunch with a friend. Spring break is going by a super light speed, but once we go back to school we only have a little over a month and then summer vacation will be here! Then I can spend three months thinking of ways to get revenge on the nutty neighbor! Hahaha.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Back in business

I'm finally able to blog again (comfortably) because I bought a new computer! Yay! The old one bit the dust last week, and when we purchased a new one, we discovered that the old monitor was dead, too. I had to go out today and buy a new one of those. But finally, after a week of commenting on blogs and writing posts on my phone, I have a real computer to work with again!

I wanted to buy a nice laptop instead of another desktop, but the price for decent ones was out of our current budget. We should get a few years out of this new machine and hopefully by the time it dies, we'll own a couple of laptops. We just can't afford one (let alone two) right now.

How's your week going? Mine is pretty good. Despite being worried about my husband it's been nice to be off work for spring break. Gregg has an appointment with a nephrologist on Friday so maybe we'll get some answers about the blood clot on his kidney. Meanwhile, he's taking blood thinners and the occasional pain pill as needed. He's also scheduled for some heart function tests next month, to see if an underlying heart condition is the origin of the clot. For now he's feeling okay and that's the main thing.

This is just a hurried post; I have a few things I need to accomplish this afternoon. I'll blog later tonight or tomorrow about some things going on this week that might be of a little more interest than computer problems and blood clots.

It's good to be back!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Happy Easter

I decided to go ahead and dye a few eggs tonight, and I'm glad I did. The bright colors are cheerful and they look nice on the table.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Good Friday

It's the first day of spring break and I don't know what to do with myself. Everything has been so odd around here for the past week that it doesn't feel like the beginning of a vacation. Until yesterday there were plans to have a wine drinking/Easter egg dyeing party with Marla and Martina tonight, but I decided to cancel. Gregg is still having pain and feeling pretty miserable, and neither one of us feels like having company. It will be next week after the holiday before he can see a cardiologist and a kidney specialist, so in the meantime they have him on blood thinners and pain pills (to be taken as needed). At this point, we don't know how this will all play out. The doctor said he could work and continue normal activity as long as he feels up to it. Which for my husband means working long days to catch up on his missed aquarium jobs. He refuses to stay at home and rest and it's driving me crazy! I wish the doctor hadn't been so casual about him working, but under the circumstances most people would take it easy on themselves. Although to be fair, Gregg's trying hard to catch up because he has three days off with me scheduled (Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday) and he's determined to have his little mini vacation that we've been planning for a month now. I'm disappointed that he's having it turn out like this though --pain and worry over a health problem.

Another reason I was upset that he went out to work today is that he's driving an hour to service two nursing home aquariums, and terrible storms are going to be rolling in before he can get back home. There's going to be strong winds, flooding rain, and the possibility of hail, tornadoes, and dangerous lightning. I'm worried about him driving in such conditions, but he was stubborn and determined to go. At least he wouldn't take pain meds this morning, fearing being impaired behind the wheel on top of everything else. But he'll be out working with pain in his side.  It's a no-win situation.

That man of mine frustrates the hell out of me sometimes! He's too obstinate to be argued with, though. I've had to learn over the years to just let it go.

So as not to end this post on a sour note, and to show you that it's not all gloom around here, let me share three good things from yesterday with you all:

First up, my smiling Georgie:

 Next, my new shoes. Look closely at the's called "Woof Pack".

And finally, a gift I got at work yesterday from one of the special needs classes. Next week, while we're on break, Administrative Professionals Day is coming up. Ms. Goodale and her sweet students made this for me.

If you look closely at the top of the card, you'll see that it was signed by Jesus. I guess that's appropriate for Good Friday!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Not-so-good news

Gregg has a blood clot on his kidney. That's why he's had so much pain. I'm really worried. They said that it could involve something with his heart, too, which I don't understand. More tests tomorrow, and he has to see a kidney specialist. They said that it will have to be addressed immediately, but we don't know if he'll be in the hospital or not.

More info tomorrow. Scary day.

Tuesday stuff

I'm taking a sick leave day off from work today. Gregg is still having pain and nausea, and when he finally saw his regular doctor yesterday she ordered more scans to be done to try to figure out what's going on. She also prescribed stronger pain and nausea medicines, which he shouldn't take and drive. Hence the day off I took; when I mentioned all this at work yesterday the office staff insisted I take the whole day to look after my  husband. This morning the principal texted me to wish us luck and to say he hoped Gregg felt better soon. It's still amazing to me to work at a place where they will emphatically say "family comes first" and mean it. I can't tell you what a relief it is to not have to worry about covering shifts/asking coworkers to trade schedules/getting attitude for being out....which is the way the retail world works. It was especially so at my last retail job. I remember when I was out for a week because my husband was having his left lung removed and was in the cardiac ICU for 5 days, and not a single coworker called, texted, or messaged me. Not once. And when I got back to work very few people even asked how he was doing.

Boy, was I glad to leave that awful place behind when I got this job.

Anyway, enough of that. The doctor wants to have a closer look to see if there's something the ER doctor missed. Today's CT scan will be "with contrast" as opposed to without, so they should be able to get a much more detailed look at everything going on in his abdomen. ....................................................................................

That was the point where my computer made a funny noise and died. I'm finishing up this post while waiting for Gregg to have his scan. Lucky us....looks like we may have to buy a new computer on top of everything else. Argh!!

Happy Tuesday.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Hodgepodge post

It's been a rainy, windy, mild weekend.  I love opening the windows and letting the house air out. The rain on all the fresh new leaves outside smells heavenly.

Gregg came home early from work yesterday, and I wouldn't be surprised if he did the same today. He's had some more pain in his side, as well as some mild nausea and a headache. He shouldn't have gone in at all today but he hates missing work. It annoys me that he's so hard on himself and won't rest properly, but he's always going to be that way.

Yesterday I went to the Food Lion just down the road to buy groceries, and out front I saw the first tiny tomato plants of the season for sale:

Have I mentioned before that the spicy green scent of tomato foliage is one of my very favorite smells on this earth? Well, it is. Which is why I was the weirdo fondling the plant leaves outside the Food Lion yesterday afternoon. The smell on my hands afterward? Bliss.

Speaking of seasonal firsts, I stopped by the strawberry farm after leaving the grocery store. They were selling  baskets of strawberries faster than the field hands could pick them. A testy crowd of senior citizens were standing around, waiting, and when a few more buckets of berries were brought up I thought there was about to be a riot. When the dust finally settled, there were exactly two boxes of berries left, one for me and one for the remaining older lady. When I reached for the one closest to me, she nearly bit my head off: "THOSE ARE MINE!" she snapped, as she snatched the one she had apparently picked out from in front of me. Bless her heart.

I did get nice berries, though.

Tonight is the premier of the last season of Game of Thrones. I hate to admit it, but I'm really looking forward to it!

And tomorrow is the start of a 4 day work week....spring break is almost here!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The class

First of all, thank you to everyone who commented on my last post and showed such concern and support after our little emergency room trip yesterday morning. Gregg still feels a bit of a pinching pain in his side, but he's much better today. He went to work this morning (at the pet store) with a large bottle of ice water and promises to come home early if he needs to. Kidney stones are no joke!

I thought I'd write about my Spanish class today. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I leave work at 4:30 (my normal time) and go straight to my class, which is across town and starts at 5pm. If the traffic isn't too bad and I have time I swing through a Dunkin' Donuts drive thru for a cup of coffee to bring. I need the pick-me-up after a long day at work followed by a two hour class!

As some of you here may remember, I've been playing around with some Spanish language lesson CDs for a while now and trying to communicate in Spanish to native speakers I meet. If I'm being perfectly honest, most of my effort towards learning Spanish up until this point has been pretty half-assed. I'm ready to move up a level in fluency now, though. I have several casual friends/workmates/acquaintances who speak it, not to mention almost daily contact with Hispanic parents in the school office, many of whom don't speak English very well. Plus, I think it's a beautiful language! To my ears, it's much prettier than English, both the sound of the words and the way the sentences are put together.

Back to my class. It's a conversational Spanish class, and since we only have a total of 32 hours together, la maestra covers a lot of material each time. It's an informal group of around 8 adults, with varying levels of Spanish. One lady, a pretty middle aged black woman, speaks Spanish so well I keep wondering what the heck she's even doing there, while this one young white guy who introduced himself as "Pastor Brian" has struggled with the most basic phrases and concepts. I usually sit next to a big, affable, likeable guy named Ben who's a city police officer, as it turns out. I was surprised by that. He's taking the class to be able to serve the Spanish speakers in our community better, which I admire him for. Another middle aged lady (who teaches high school English) wears a headscarf and so I wonder if she's Muslim.  It's a diverse little group, as you can see! Everyone is supportive of each other, which is a good thing, because we have to do a lot of group practicing and exercises.

The teacher is a pretty, slender, fifty-something lady from Mexico who carries a large black lace fan that she often uses to point to the board or to the student she's calling on. She's a bit quirky and I like that! She uses as little English as possible and forces us to follow suit. If we're stuck trying to understand something she'll act it out as if we're playing charades. It's fun. She also explains concepts about culture to us; the very first class she explained the double last name thing and how the mother's and father's names get passed along to the next generation.

Already I can tell I'm benefiting from listening to spoken Spanish. That's my biggest weakness, understanding what I hear. I'm much better at translating the written word. And I often refrain from trying to speak it out of embarrassment, but the class is helping me get over that too. As la maestra says, emphatically and often, "Try. Try..."

On Wednesday of this past week, the mother and grandmother of a sweet Mexican student named Luis came to the front office to sign him out of school. I've known Luis and these two ladies for almost 2 years now and we're very friendly. In fact, whenever I see the grandmother, I say, "Abuela!!!" and she always gives me a hug and a kiss on both cheeks. Anyway, when I saw them I started speaking in Spanish, as I always try to do, and they both said, "Wow, you are getting better!" I told them I was taking a class, and they said they could tell. The truth is, though, that their English is improving by leaps and bounds while my Spanish progresses by baby steps at a snail's pace! It made me feel good that they claimed to notice a difference, though.

I'm glad I signed up for the class.

Friday, April 12, 2019

ER trip

Well, this is quite the way to spend a Friday morning. I had to rush Gregg to the emergency room at 7am because he woke up with intense pain in his right side. It was so bad he kept throwing up and dry heaving and could barely walk. We're hoping it's *just* a kidney stone. The doctor thinks that's the most likely thing but they're trying to rule out the appendix.

They've done a scan and we're waiting on the results. He's so quirky when it comes to medication; the shot of morphine they gave him didn't help at all so now they've tried a shot of Dilaudid.  He seems to be resting a little easier now thank goodness. They also had to try a second nausea med, since the first one didn't work either.

I wish they could give ME a shot. I have a pounding headache, probably from being scared half to death first thing this morning. Waiting in the ER also brings back many unpleasant memories of the time when he was undergoing cancer treatment. Hopefully this is just something relatively minor and everything will be okay.

What a day so far!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Another Sunday afternoon

Lately I find myself spending every Sunday scrambling to both finish household chores I want accomplished before the work week recommences and enjoying my last few hours of time off. Today has been typical.

I slept as late as I could. That's not saying much considering that we have a loud parrot in the house who is nothing if not a creature of habit. Marco expects to have fresh water, food, and a few minutes out of his cage within an hour or two of when we normally get up on work days. Then the dogs want to go out to pee, and then they want their breakfast, and after all that you may as well get up for good yourself and start the coffee! I was lucky enough to sleep until 9am today.

We stayed up late last night. Gregg sold one of our 120 gallon tanks and all the fish in it to some fish customer/friend of his. I was grateful that I just had to stay out of the way; Gregg drained the tank, put the fish (large African cichlids) in heavy duty, large plastic bags and Styrofoam boxes, scooped out all the wet substrate, disconnected the filters/heater/lights, and got everything ready. The guy came over with a friend and a big truck to load it all. I stayed in the spare bedroom with the dogs while all the heavy lifting was taking place, reading a book. We were a little sad to see the fish go, but we've been overextended in the aquarium department for a while now and the guy who bought them will enjoy them a lot more than we were. And now that one of the big tanks is gone, we've gained some much needed space in the bedroom we use as an office. We were able to move Marco's big cage to the opposite wall where there's much more room for it, plus he gets a view out of the window now. With the money Gregg made from the sale of the tank we'll be able to buy something for the house: either a new desk for the office (which we desperately need) or a set of barstools for the den (which we really want to "finish" that room). Decisions, decisions!

Today I've already run out to the grocery store for a few items I missed yesterday, washed a load of whites and a load of sheets, and made a brine which a large roasting chicken is now covered with and sitting in the refrigerator. I plan to roast the chicken for our Sunday night supper along with some tiny new potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms. I have a busy week coming up and the leftovers will come in handy. I've done a little bit of tidying up like loading/unloading the dishwasher and sweeping the kitchen, but that's been about it. I feel guilty that I haven't accomplished more today, but it's getting on for 4pm and want I really want to do now is go sit on the porch with a glass (or two) of wine until it's time to come in and start dinner. And I think that's exactly what I'm headed outside to do!

Have a good one, everyone!

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My Happy Place

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Spring break (still waiting!)

I can't wait for spring break, it seems to be taking forever to get here. I can't help but laugh at myself a little when I'm tempted to complain about how late it is this year. At this time two years ago I was working in a retail job I hated with no time off except the two or three weeks' paid vacation I got which had to last the whole year. And I had to work there over 5 years to qualify for that much time off! Now I have a week and a half at Easter, the whole summer, almost a week at Thanksgiving, and two weeks over the winter holidays off. I'm trying to always remember what a luxury that is.

It does seem to be taking a long time for our spring break to get here, though. Our local school district ties it to the Easter holiday, and Easter falls late this year. We're out of school from Good Friday, April 19th, until Monday April 29. Once we get back to school there's only 4 or 5 weeks left until we dismiss for the summer.

Gregg is taking an extra day or two off with me over the holiday. He gets very little time off so I kind of insisted he take some time to spend with me and to relax! After he goes back to work I'm considering going to visit my father in law and sister in law for a day or two. I've been meaning to get up to Raleigh for a visit since my mother in law passed away, but we've been so busy with buying a house and then the holidays that it's been on the back burner. I'd like to see Lou, and I'm also thinking about asking for some divisions and cuttings of plants that Edythe loved from their yard.

Spring has already fully sprung here in South Carolina. Our new little neighborhood, being adjacent to a small creek and nature trail, has lots of old dogwoods in full bloom, wisteria running riot, and even some trees draped in Spanish moss. Not to mention a thousand shades of green. We've never seen so many birds and such a variety at our feeders. There are scores of Northern Cardinals, House Finches, Song Sparrows, Mourning Doves, Tufted Titmice, Carolina Chickadees, Carolina wrens, and lesser numbers of Red Bellied woodpeckers, Red Breasted nuthatches, White Breasted nuthatches, Common grackles, and the occasional Blue jay. Best of all, we have our very own pair of Barred owls that live here! We hear their calls almost every afternoon when they first wake up ( a soft "who cooks for you, who cooks for you all") and then occasionally throughout the night. They're often hanging out close to our house (I fear they may have some interest in our well populated feeders, but so far we've never seen an attack). One of them landed in the tree over our driveway the other evening at dusk, and we got a good look at him/her. It was pretty amazing! Sometimes when the weather is mild and I'm sleeping with the window open, I wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of the pair calling softly to each other in the dark. It's a lovely, reassuring sound.

How is the season coming along where you live?