Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I don't know why. I had to go to the grocery on Monday because I was out of cereal. As I sat at my desk in the office and pondered what cereal sounded good, Cap'n Crunch burst into my subconscious. I don't remember the last time I had a bowl of CC, let alone had a box in the house.

The "good" angel on the one shoulder reminded me that there is nothing really redeeming about this. While Quaker Oats has tried to minimize the "sweet" aspect of this cereal and play up the corn and oats, let's face it, you don't buy CC if you're seriously watching caloric intake.

I've had Special K, Product 19, Crispix and Grape Nuts on the shelf lately. I thought a box of Wheat Chex would be good. I thought I had myself convinced that was to be the choice. As I walked down the cereal aisle, Cap'n Crunch was $2.99 for the giant box. Wheat Chex was $4.29 for the only size they had. The "bad" angel on the other shoulder snickered and said, "Well, if you're out to save money..."

Sometimes, giving in to a craving when you know you won't do it again is the right thing to do. I had my first bowl in ages this morning. Yeah, it was as good as I remembered.

Beverage:  Orange Juice


Wedding Number 2

Mr. and Mrs. Blake Kjoes. 

This is my eldest niece, Christina and her husband, Blake, leaving the church after their wedding on June 11. Christina had a big wedding. There were 6 bridesmaids and 6 groomsmen. Her colors were burgundy and lemon yellow which, when you first think about it, don't strike you as going together. But, as the decorations on the table show, they worked very well together. 

Blake and Christina have been together for 5 years now. They have three kids, Makayla, Wyatt and Kalub. The wedding was kind of the icing on the cake of their relationship. They have had their ups and downs but they obviously love each other and this event showed everyone how much love they have.

I think the best part was seeing my youngest brother in a tux. Yes, we teased him about how nicely he cleans up. That's my other brother, Steve. My sister, Sharyn, is in the Outer Banks of North Carolina working for the National Audubon Society counting birds so getting back was an impossibility for her. The outfit for Carole's wedding made appearance number 2 here.

It was also nice to see my niece, Amber, who is expecting her first child any second now, as I type this. Here we all are, with Steve's wife, Diane and my mother.

As part of the whole event, all the women in the bridal party went to a local cosmetology school to have their hair done by the students. You do have to sign a waiver that you know these are supervised students and you understand the risks associated with having students do your hair. But there is a tremendous cost savings. As all the attendants had long hair, there were curls all over the place. There was one oops. I mention it because it was striking to me.

My mother has lovely salt and pepper hair. It's more salt than pepper now, but it's curled and she takes a curling iron to it and it looks very nice. She looked lovely at Carole's wedding.

She was having her hair done by a gal at the school. It had been spritzed and sprayed and the gal started in with the curling iron and it changed color. My mom became a strawberry blonde. I'm told it was a little more strawberry than blonde but they were able to tone down the red.

I picked up Steve and Diane and drove them to the wedding. When we walked into the church, I wasn't quite sure where mom was. Then I spotted her husband Dale and the woman sitting next to him stood up. "That's my mother?" I thought. "What happened to her hair?" Now, it's not obnoxious, in fact, it's quite elegant. They did a wonderful job of styling it and making it frame her face perfectly. She does, however, look very much like her mother. Gram's hair was strawberry blonde to the day she died. It was quite interesting to see Gram. When I pointed it out, my mom agreed. In a way, it was nice to think that Gram was with us at this very special event.

After the mid-afternoon wedding, Christina and Blake drove around to various bars. There is a custom where if a bride walks into a bar, people supposedly buy the party a round of drinks. I'm not familiar with that "custom", but they were off to frequent some spots in Cedar Rapids as well as have more photos taken.

The meal was buffet-style followed by dancing. We had our choice of chocolate or vanilla cake. Christina and Blake danced their first dance to Frank Sinatra and "The Way You Look Tonight". I'm finding a number of "kids" chose that song as their first dance. Frank does a great job with it but you really need to rent the movie Top Hat and watch Fred sing it to Ginger. Her dress was light blue in the movie.

One of the amusing things in the dancing was the selection of 1970's-era music to dance to. Yes, I do know all the words to all these songs. It was like walking into my senior prom or attending the weddings of my high school friends. Perhaps it's a reflection of the kind of music produced today. There's nothing that's really danceable. You have to go backwards, back to a time that often gets derided for the quality of music, to find love songs and danceable songs.

It was a fun event. It was nice to be with family and to celebrate a milestone.

Beverage:  Huckleberry Tea


Sunday, June 26, 2011


$33 dollars later, I have enough supplements for the next couple of months.

According to the label, the Glucosamine is two tablets twice a day. 120 would be a month's supply. Dr. Burandt didn't tell me how much to take so I started with one a day. In doing some reading and in talking to my friend Megan, I have decided to take two a day and let's see how this works. I read where supplements are better taken at the end of the day, with dinner. 

Although I have the bottles in plain view on top of the microwave, I wouldn't always take my calcium or my multi-vitamin. Adding 2 more means I'm taking 5 pills at night because I take the Melixocam in the evening also, I'll be remembering to take the vitamins and the calcium because I want to get through this period of pain. If I don't get better, I can't go to Ohio at the end of July to the renaissance faire with April and Perry. 

One question remains, if the vitamins shown above are "mature", does that mean others are "immature"? 

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


You Never Know Who's Reading

A couple weeks ago, I got an envelope in the mail. This one had no return address but was postmarked "Wheaton". It was a light yellow in color and looked like either a thank you or an invitation. I assumed it was the latter as I didn't think I had done anything for anyone to merit formal written appreciation.

Inside were two coupons, each good for a free sandwich from Chick-Fil-A. There was a post-it affixed on which was written, "Saw your blog about the banana shake. I felt it deserved some freebies. Enjoy." Other than the postmark, there was nothing else to pinpoint who sent these.

Was it a friend or just someone who stumbled upon this little corner of cyberspace? Not to put a certain person on the spot, but I know someone who would do this for me. I know she also reads the blog and my saying, "Thank you for the unexpected surprise", will be enough. We will never speak of it when we next have lunch.

As Chick-Fil-A is not on my regular route home, these will be used when I find myself in that section of Wheaton. I did go to Whole Foods after work on Friday to get more bottles of supplements in addition to the Glucosamine Chondroitin I'm supposed to start taking. Chick-Fil-A is near Whole Foods.

I came home from my trip with chicken nuggets, waffle fries and a Dr Pepper. I was working through the SPELL newsletters from the stack of magazines so the best way to eat this is to put it on a plate.

I had some difficulty getting the barbecue sauce open. I don't know if the package was sealed a bit too much or this problem with my fingers just made it more difficult but I dropped the container twice before the top peeled back. It's good barbecue sauce but I did come close to taking a knife to the top to get it open.

The nuggets were okay. I would wish them about 10% bigger. Maybe they have done tests that show this is the right size for the price, but when I compare them to what I can get other places, these seem small. KFC has popcorn chicken, which is comparable in size but you get a lot more for the price.

On my first visit to Wheaton's Chick-Fil-A, I was underwhelmed by the waffle fries. I thought them kind of bland. I think it matters when you get them. I believe these were fresh from the fryer as it was 4:30 in the afternoon, not a heavy time for diners. They had to cook everything specifically for me. The fries were very good, crisp with a crunchy soft texture and good flavor. All-in-all, it was a good meal for a Friday night when I probably wouldn't have eaten much and whatever I did eat may not have been the most healthy.

I have one more coupon to use up. I'm going to save it for the next time I have to get vitamins. I should try a chicken sandwich. In the mail, I received a coupon for a free peach shake but I'm not a "peach" person. They do have a cookies and cream shake that merits trying, as well as the standard chocolate and vanilla. I'm sure these shakes are not like other fast food shakes, fantastically lampooned in The Simpsons as "Krusty-brand partially gelatinated non-dairy gum-based beverage".

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Random Thoughts from the Wedding

So THAT'S where that pair of socks was. I really need to make sure I clean out the suitcase thoroughly when I get home. The last time I used the biggest suitcase was when I went to Carole and David's in November. I left the suitcase on the settee on Wednesday, after mom headed back to Iowa. I felt it would reassure the girls that I wasn't going anywhere. Plus, Pilchard lay down on the top and I don't disturb a sleeping cat. When she moved, I would retrieve my toiletries. I pulled this pair of socks out of the suitcase and didn't remember packing them. I have another pair close in color and design and they were in the sock drawer. So this pair had been in the suitcase since November. I'm glad I didn't lose them.

I discovered, in looking at the wedding photos, I look like I'm scowling or angry. I'm really not, but it's rare to see me look happy. Maybe that's a reflection on the difficulties of the past almost 2 years. It's more a reflection of the fact that I don't have good teeth and smiling is something of an embarrassment. But, I don't have to look like I disapprove of everything either. I need to work on looking content. You never know who is taking your picture.

I will probably always overestimate how much of something to buy. I came back with 3 jars of chocolate sauce. Carole and David have the one which was opened but only a third was used. Plus, I got 5 containers of whipping cream when 3 would have been plenty. I was going to take most of the containers when we left but I didn't realize we didn't have them until we were well away from Warrenton on Sunday. I hope Kitty and David have a use for it.

I'm just never sure how much of something to buy when I'm feeding more than a family of 6. It's always been a problem. The whole "suggested serving size" is absolutely no help in figuring this out. A "suggested serving size" of fudge sauce is going to be different between me and you as well as what is the sauce going over. Plain vanilla ice cream requires more sauce than chocolate chocolate chip with bananas, walnuts and maraschino cherries. Because these are well sealed, the sauce will last longer. As June heads into July, I should order some Oberweise ice cream this coming Thursday. July 4th and ice cream with chocolate sauce. Yes, I can celebrate independence in that fashion.

I wonder what happened to the extra Blue Moon ice cream. If there had been a way to take some home with me, I would have.

If there was a way to subsidize Perry's mead making, I would do it...in a heartbeat...no questions asked. I want to open one of these because I know how good the mead will be, but then, drinking it means I'm closer to being out of it. Dilemmas. Dilemmas.

Why is it that we go some place new and say, "This reminds me of the area around Strawberry Point" or some other place? I guess it's our mind's way of connecting us to a place. Virginia is like that. In places, I was reminded of Iowa. When mom and I headed the wrong way out of Warrenton on Friday, we drove by some beautiful farms on a small two-lane road. It reminded me of the many roads in southwestern Wisconsin. But, we turned a corner and a Civil War plaque stood next to a stone wall. You don't see those in southwestern Wisconsin.

We were reminded that this portion of the country has an American history that predates anything from Iowa. At times, that was jarring. But most of the time, it made me wish I could just drop everything and travel to places for a week at a time to experience the history of the place. There are so many corners of this country I have never been.

The words of the day for the weekend of the wedding.

Lastly, no matter how warm the welcome, how soft the beds, how smooth the drive, how fun the event, waking up on Wednesday with a purring cat next to me defines happiness. It's good to travel but it's also good to be home.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


The Final Day

After a late breakfast at Bob Evans and under heavy gray skies, we waved goodbye to April and Perry and headed back to Interstate 80. West of Cleveland, we found the sunshine.

This continued all the way back to my house. 

Ohio, when you are wanting to get home, is a very long state to drive through. Add the random lane closures and that increases the perception that it's taking a longer amount of time to go east to west than it did to go west to east. I don't think we lost that much time with the random lane closures, but it sure felt like it. 

We saw a couple of cars on the route. This one was quite distinctive for its color, never mind that it's a restored auto.

The next one was on a trailer and I didn't get a good shot of it. 

I don't really know car models so what kind these are is unknown to me. They were neat.

At 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, May 24th, we pulled into my driveway. Mom still had another 4 hours ahead of her on Wednesday, but we were done.

A month later, I look back at this trip. When Carole announced a destination wedding and that destination was Virginia, I knew I would be driving. As gas creeped up to $4.55 per gallon, I honestly felt I was being priced out of the trip. To take the Jeep was to add an extra stop and extra fill-up per day of travel. That would be an extra $240 for 4 days of travel and I hadn't saved that much. I felt defeated.

But we were meant to be there. Using mom's husband, Dale's, car cut down on our expenses. It was comfortable for both of us. She would not have been able to fly. She would have had to do that on her own. My mother is incredibly resourceful but flying alone would have been overwhelming. Driving allowed her to be at the wedding, something that meant a great deal to both Carole and my mom, and gave her a trip she is not likely to take again.

It was a perfect wedding, perfectly reflecting Carole and David. The little oopses; a melting cake, red wine on the dress; add character to the event. We might not remember all the people who were there, but we'll remember the line dancing and the Blue Moon ice cream.

Now, we move on to the next stage of life. It was a wonderful demarcation of change.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Back to April and Perry's

Monday, May 23rd dawned cloudy in Morgantown, West Virginia. We were under no real time constraints to get anywhere. Indeed, we had to linger because of doctor's appointments. Free breakfast at the hotel ended at 9 a.m. so that's what we had to worry about.

I woke up at 7:30 and showered. I woke mom up at 8:15 and we wandered down the hall for breakfast. The Comfort Inn had a better free breakfast than the Fairmont Inn, but maybe our lateness didn't allow us to see all that was offered. As we were collecting our food to head back to our room, there was a Monday morning pep rally by housekeeping and other employees. The start of the rally provoked looks of "What the...?" It must be effective, however, for they had enthusiasm.

We took our time getting going. It was nice not to be expected here at this time, particularly when we weren't exactly sure how to get to here from where we were.

At the West Virginia Pennsylvania border, we drove into rain. It was a drizzle at first but changed into a steady rain. Documenting this section of the trip wasn't going to happen. We drove out of the rain as we neared Pittsburgh. We met more people as would be expected on a Monday in a major city and Pittsburgh put out the welcome mat by closing a lane of Interstate so traffic came to a halt. I'm used to this. I sometimes think the Interstates surrounding Chicago were built, not to assist people in getting semi-swiftly to destinations because, quite often, you just sit, but to provide a steady source of jobs. They are always under repair in some fashion.

Once through the construction, we sailed towards Youngstown meeting more rain at the Ohio Pennsylvania border. It cleared as we approached Youngstown. April and Perry's house was a very welcome sight as we drove down Oakridge.

It was attempting to get out of the car that made me realize things were not right with my knees. We collected our stuff, I swung my legs out and went to stand. My legs refused. I had to scoot to the edge of the driver's seat, grab onto the side of the car and more or less hoist myself to a standing position, my knees protesting all the while. I knew this wasn't right and I had one more day to get through.

We got some lunch, after unloading the few things we would need for our overnight. Then mom took a nap while I learned to play Munchkin and we played another game of Carcassonne. We tidied up just in time for Joe and Bea to arrive.

Joe is a member of my World of Warcraft guild. Bea is his wife. Joe has known April and Perry "for-ever" and is one of the crew who gets together on Monday nights to play games. If I didn't live so far from them, I'd play once or twice a month. We ordered Italian food and then set about to playing games. You can read about our game night here.

Heavy storms pounded the area while we were gaming. A tornado warning was issued for near Joe and Bea's hometown. Joe, the iPhone surfer, kept watch on the weather while being beaten in "Killer Bunnies" by his wife.

When we were all done, I asked for a photo. (Me, April, Perry and Joe, left to right.) One thing, an online role playing game, brought us together. We stay together outside of the game because we have discovered we share interests; music, games, history, literature, laughter, senses of humor. My life is so much more enriched with these people as friends and I never would have met them had we not been manipulating pixels in a fake world.

Beverage:  Cranberry Pomegranate Juice


Getting Caught Up

There will be a raft of posts today. (A bunch? A herd? A coven? A pod? A flock?) This month, with all the things shoehorned into it, has produced so much to be blogged about. I possibly could take half of next month off and still make the "Blog Post A Day" goal I have mentally committed to. But that wouldn't be like me not to comment on things.

So, expect a lot of posts, as my day has progressed quite prosperously and this is next on the agenda.

Beverage:  Cranberry Pomegranate Juice


Friday, June 24, 2011

The Smell of Comfort

I decided to make rolls last night. I've had frozen roll dough since Easter and I thought rolls sounded nice. Is there anything more comforting than the smell of baking bread? I don't think so, even if you didn't mix the flour, salt, milk and yeast yourself.

When they came out of the oven, I brushed melted butter over the top. My knee may hurt, a lot, but this smell in the house eased it just a bit.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest Tea


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Little Arthur Itis

X-Rays have been reviewed. I gave 5 vials of blood yesterday and those have been screened and processed. I'm sure reams of paper have been printed. What is the verdict? Well, going into today I rather felt they would find nothing that would illuminate the cause of the severe pain. You know, I hate being right some times.

"You have a bit of arthritis in your right knee, but nothing that would cause the pain you mention," Dr. Burandt's nurse said. Of course not, that would be too simple, too neat for it to work.

I am to continue with the Melixocam for another two weeks but I'm to add Glucosamine and Chondroitin to my stable of pills. I already take a multi-vitamin and a calcium supplement since too much dairy gives me, well, just don't stand downwind. If this doesn't make me feel better, I'll be back to see the orthopedic doctor I saw the first week in April.

I feel 127 years old. Actually, I hope, when I'm 127, that I don't feel like this. I just want to be able to, without pain, get up when the phone rings, climb the stairs from the basement with a basket of wash and not wonder if my hand will hold the basket, stand up and not take 5 minutes to walk across the hall to ask Jon a question. I know there are people with much worse problems than me. I can walk. Some people can't.

Tomorrow's task is to find these vitamins and add them to my daily intake. Whole Foods, here I come.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Hi Mom! This is Great!

I will have to watch as I'm reading. The shortest distance to the top of the love seat is floor, lap, climb torso, shoulder, seat back. I now anticipate wearing beverages and losing places in books.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


This is Why I Drove

After saying, "Goodbye" to my WOW guild mates in Warrenton, mom and I headed north and then made a left to head west towards Ohio. She was the navigator. We picked up Interstate 70 and then 68 and drove through the "handle" of Maryland. As I hoped, we had wonderful views of the mountains.

We take this Interstate system for granted and we gripe when there's construction on it. I know I did. The drive from Youngstown, Ohio west across Ohio on Tuesday was filled with sections of one-lane highway. "Oh geeze. Another section where there won't be anyone working but the road is down to one lane." But, it's an engineering marvel. Here the road snakes down the mountains and through a valley, eventually going back up the mountains on the other side. In Northeast Iowa, where I grew up, there are an abundance of 2 lane roads that seem to defy gravity as they wind through the forests and along the bluffs of the Mississippi River. The shortest distance from home A to fishing point B was usually along these. No shoulder and sometimes with a drop off.

Our Interstate system allowed our economy to thrive in the 1960's. Goods could be moved extraordinarily fast. So could people. We passed over many of these 2 lane roads that snake up and around and over these mountains, true mountains, nothing like the bluffs I know. I cannot imagine how slowly goods would move without these highways.

They make driving so much easier. I put on cruise control and pretty much just steered. I remembered driving west to take Carole to Reno. Interstate 80 crosses the Great Salt Desert west of Salt Lake City, Utah. The drive is straight, the land is flat and white. You can see mountains in the distance but space is relative here. Once you enter the desert, you really don't have a concept for how big it is. You drive and drive and drive. I tried to imagine how those first settlers felt when they decided to cross this and spent days or weeks slowly working their way across it.

I'm given to understand that most roads were built along the paths of animals or the first settlers, Native Americans. There was still a great deal of hacking and slashing through underbrush but the road generally followed a trail carved out of the side of a mountain or stretched flat across a plain.

As we approached a rather impressive rock cut in western Maryland, I wondered if this area had been chosen because it was easier to blast this cut or if this had been the location of an earlier road. There is a visitor center here and a hiking trail that leads to the top of the hill for what the signs said was an "astounding view". Later research reveals this is "Sideling Hill Cut". I-68 is called the "National Freeway" because it parallels a National Road built in the 1800's. Maybe some day I'll come back and actually climb this to judge whether there really is an "astounding view".

The road ended in Morgantown, West Virginia and this is where we stopped for the night. As it turned out, we were about 3 hours from April and Perry's and, had we given them some idea we were that close, might have pressed on. But we said we weren't going to be there until Monday so we stopped. There was a Cracker Barrel restaurant next to the hotel. Mom had never eaten there so that was supper. The view from the restaurant parking lot was impressive.

It's things like this that make me happy to drive places instead of fly. You can see some of the country from the air. It's a great way to see the Rockies, for instance. Looking down on them, you think how few people have been to the top of that peak or walked around the small lake you can see. But the flavor of the land, the hills, the colors, are missing when you're not down on the ground, even driving through at 70 mph.

Mom probably won't get to see these kinds of sights again so I'm glad I made the decision to change our route and drive the routes we did. She got to see and experience the Appalachian Mountains, something she'll always remember.

Beverage:  water


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Sometimes Wish I Had a Clothesline.

I am a bit behind in the wash. It's tough to go up and down the basement stairs so I've kind of put off doing wash. Plus, all this rain means it seeps into the basement. If we get upwards of an inch, I know I'll have seepage. That means any clothes hanging up to dry, since I don't own a dryer, won't get air dried very quickly with all the moisture in the air. This usually doesn't present a problem unless I've been neglectful in doing wash. It was just too painful this weekend and I thought I had enough pants in the drawer to last through the week. Um...nope.

I had washed 5 pair but they were still quite damp last night when I checked. As I needed pants for today and it was 88 at 4, when I got home, I decided the best place to put them was on the deck.
I did have to bring them in when the wind picked up and the evening's thunderstorms started to form and roll through the area. But, I just draped them over the shower curtain rod and, by the time I went to bed, they were dry.

I used to have a clothesline. It was great. In the spring, summer and fall, everything went on the line. There is nothing sweeter than the smell of sheets roasted dry on a hot August day. I know people who hang their wash out all year 'round. But doesn't it freeze in the winter? Well, duh, they say. Then you bring it inside and, as it thaws out, it dries. I think that's a bit strange.

I used to be able to do 2-3 loads a day in the summer because those hot days would dry the first load in an hour or 2. I often left bedding on the line overnight. I'd still, if I had help to clear an area and install it, put up one of those square clothesline things. That would be enough for me because I rarely do more than a couple loads a week. I just don't have to anymore.

I'll check the pants downstairs tonight and, if they aren't dry, a couple more will be draped across the deck rails to dry. I need to do more wash so this stuff has to dry out.

Beverage: English Breakfast tea


They Do Like Each Other

I have wondered, on these "pages", if the girls would ever start to get along. It will be 2 years in September and it seemed that the hissing, spitting, growling and occasional fights would never cease. It's not all the time, mind you, but it's enough that I wonder how they lived peacefully with Val before they came to live with me.

Yesterday, that all changed. I came into the living room and there they were, happy as clams.

 Maybe it's the love seat, that it's more comfortable for sleeping in than the settee. Whatever it is, I'm glad. The next step is to let me sit in between them while they are still on the seat. Mija gets up and leaves. Pilchard stays when I sit down.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


There Seems to be a Problem.

For some reason, Blogger is not letting me post photos today. I have a lot of things to blog about but I want to attach photos. It may be tomorrow before this gets fixed.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Goodbye and Hello

Sunday, May 22nd, we gathered in Kitty and David's kitchen/dining room to watch Carole and David open presents. Coffeecake, coffee and juice was served. Carole did the opening and David typed the name and the gift into the computer list. Taking stock this way meant no tags were lost so when they get back to Connecticut they don't say, "Who gave us the widget?" Here, she holds up the potato masher a friend of mine gave her.

When this was all done, people took their leave. The wedding was officially over. Mom and I waited until the very end. We actually had another engagement so being last to leave wasn't a bad thing for us.

This is what you work toward when you have children. You hope that you've raised them to be competent humans, self-sufficient, and that they will find someone who compliments them. Hugging my daughter goodbye was the one time I started tearing up. I'll always be "mom" but it's not in the fashion it was before. This is a good thing. One phase of life has ended and another has started.

Mom and I headed off to the Borders in Warrenton. I didn't want to go back the way we had come so I bought a road atlas and planned a different journey back to April and Perry's, one that would take us through some mountains and, hopefully, some scenery. Before we set out, however, there were friends to meet.

Two of my World of Warcraft guild mates live in the Washington DC area. We arranged to meet them at Red, Hot and Blue in Warrenton. Javier, Doo and I talked WOW and life and all sorts of things for about 90 minutes before parting.

This is what I love about the people in my guild in this fake world. We have the chance to meet each other, face-to-face and we took it. You can put a face now to the pixels running around on the screen. Javier and Doo are great guys and I am so pleased to have gotten to know them through an online game and to call them friends. I had met Doo before when he came to Chicago and it was nice to see him again. This was the first time I'd met Javier.

With hugs and "take care of yourself", mom and I were off on the next to last leg of our journey.

Beverage:  Scottish Blend tea


Step One - Glow In The Dark

"It's the getting up and down that really hurts," I told Dr. Burandt. "And why is the middle finger on my left hand painful but the others are not?"

He bent the knees and bent my hands. "It's time for x-rays," he said. He mentioned arthritis. I thought that was a gradual onset thing but he said it can be triggered by trauma and falling on the floor is traumatic to a body.

So, I had both knees and both hands x-rayed. I went through a whole bunch of different poses. The technician came out with one of the hand x-rays and showed me how the different poses show different aspects of the hand. It was interesting. The x-rays will be read and results should be ready by Thursday.

I'm not interested in a quick fix here. I just want to be able to sit and stand without this pain.

Beverage:  Scottish Breakfast tea


Monday, June 20, 2011

Another $10

I forgot to post this the day it ran. Another Breakfast Topic of mine that WOWInsider purchased. They actually bought 2 of my ideas but the second one hasn't shown up yet.

Breakfast Topic: Guild achievements and you

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

We are now a good 6 months into guild achievements. As a guild leader, I think the concept, as executed, is great. Although we're casual and we run all content, trying to get certain achievements has provided us with incentives to level toons, level professions and to work together.

Every week, I post to the guild web site, a tally of what we're working on and how far along we are in finishing an achievement. Doing all the Burning Crusade heroic 5-mans made people run the regulars to get enough honor to get their keys. People went into instances they didn't know existed. Attendance at our retro raid nights spiked when we announced that we needed this run for the guild achievement. We're small so the 25-man achievements will probably elude us, but people take a look at what still needs to be done and they help make it happen.

I'm very proud of how we have worked together. My little guild has more achievement points than larger guilds at higher levels than us. We downed Algalon. We cleared ToGC. We're three reputations from United Nations. All of those are sources of pride.

But, the achievement we are most proud of is Crittergeddon. That's right. Standing around in the Ironforge tram killing rats and watching the counter tick has become the stuff of guild legends. We spread out at all the spawn points and just went at it. We ran two guild events just to systematically clear sections of Azeroth of their critters. Almost everyone tracked the totals. One of my mages would pour herself a drink and spend an hour 2 or 3 times a week just kiling rats in the Ironforge tram. For that final push, we had toons of all levels and when the achievement came up, we were all cheering. So, while I am proud of our dungeon and raid achievements, our gathering and cooking achievements and all the others we have done, I am most proud of how much fun we had, the jokes, the laughter that killing rats for a silly achievement provided.

What guild achievement are you most proud of? Is it downing that one final raid boss who had eluded you for weeks before? Is it getting all the professions to the achievement levels? Is it killing 100,000 of the other faction? Which one do you look at and feel very proud to have accomplished?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Not Working as Intended

When was the last time you took stock in your body as you go through a day? Lately, that's been on my mind, a lot.

I fell April 14th. My foot got caught in computer cables and I tripped. I hit the carpeted concrete floor knees, elbows, hands. I was holding papers in my hands at the time so my hands were closed. The initial damage was a couple of skinned elbows. Man, I had forgotten how much it hurts when you take just the top layer of skin cells off. Within a day, I had crescent-shaped bruises on the inside of my knees. My hands hurt too, kind of akin to those feelings when you "jam" something playing volleyball in school. My wounded shoulder actually didn't feel bad but my whole body ached. This was a jar, to be sure.

I also figured it would take some time to correct. A month later and I was still in pain and having problems. My right thumb will "stick" and then pop when it finally releases. My left wrist hurt to do pretty much anything. And just existing, with all the ways we bend our knees caused pain. In the morning, I had difficulty grasping things. I found myself compensating for feeling very worried I wouldn't be able to hold onto the milk when pulled from the fridge for my cereal. I found myself sitting on the edge of the bed for more than a few minutes, uncertain that I would be able to stand. Hand writing in the morning was difficult. Getting dressed was difficult. But, by about 10:30, although I wasn't "fine", I could perform tasks as normal.

Carole's wedding came and went. When my mother and I pulled up to April and Perry's on Monday afternoon, May 23rd, getting out of the car was a major exercise. We were tired, to be sure, but standing just caused pain. Now that Carole's wedding was over, I could see the doctor about this.

He believes I did soft-tissue damage to the tendons and muscles at the joints. He gave me Melixicam, which is the generic of Mobic, and told me to take it for a month. Then I'm to call back with a progress report.

The wrist pain is gone for 95% of the time. If I turn it funny, I feel it. My right thumb and hand are no longer swollen and, although the thumb still "catches", I don't have any pain with it. On occasion, my little fingers will ache but I still have pain in my middle fingers, particularly the left one. It seems odd they would hurt but they do. I have to remember to rest my right hand. A full day of using the mouse can make it ache, but we all would do well to let go during the day.

The bruises left as they should, turning a lovely dark blue, purple and then green. I did look up bruise colors to make sure nothing weird was happening. The skinned elbows scabbed over and healed properly. But my knees...that's where the worry comes. My knees aren't better and I would say are worse.

Think of all the ways you use your knees. If I'm sitting, I'm fine, no pain. But then I have to stand up and the pain occurs. It's on the inside of the knee in the area where the bruises were. This has caused me to think, very much, about what I do during a day. A friend played at a coffee house last night. I have been looking forward to this for 2 weeks. I couldn't go. Just the thought of driving my stick-shift over to the coffee house, sitting and then standing to go home and driving home deterred me.

Right now, my office chair is at the perfect height. I don't really stand "up" so much as stand "over" if that makes any sense. The burden on my knees to lift me is not that great. Yes, it hurts to stand up but not as badly as it does to get up from other chairs. The new love seat is a good 2 inches taller than the settee. That makes a huge difference.

When I get up, I walk like a very old woman. I go nowhere fast. If I have to be on my feet, say for my job, I can do it. The times in late April and early May when I had to be on my feet for work were not bad. It was as if I needed to warm up and then things would work fine.

But I can't do things that I want to do. I want to weed. I don't seem to have much of a grip anymore and it hurts to clench my hands around weeds to pull them. Any cleaning, say of the tub, that involves kneeling, I can't do. I can't imagine the pain from being on my knees and then getting up. There are other things I want to do but I can't because I know the pain will be bad. It did not affect my stitching.

I wanted to be more active this summer. I have been invited to attend a Renaissance Faire in Ohio with April and Perry. I want to go but the thought of the drive and then spending a lot of time walking and sitting and walking and sitting, right now, scares me. I have that non-refundable ticket to the Wheaton Ale Fest. I'm looking forward to that, but again, walking, sitting, walking, sitting.

Yes, I'm calling my doctor tomorrow. It's not quite a month but this is worse, not better. I was not in great pain when we moved the love seat into the house. As I said, by the end of the day, I'm not feeling that badly. When I went to see Dr. Burandt at the end of May he said I was too young to feel this way. I am not the kind of person who runs off to see him with every ache and pain. I want to be mobile again, to take care of things that need doing, not sit down and decide that I'm not moving again because it hurts.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


A New Place to Sleep

She discovered she could get up here this morning. It's got to be close to heaven because it's the same size as her so she fits very nicely on the back. Plus, it's higher than the floor. I did drape the crocheted lap blanket Laurie made for me over the back after she got down. Not sure how that will affect her jumping up there. It's mainly aimed to keep the fur off the fabric. I'm going to wash the rest of the throws that were on the settee and then decide which one, if any, I'll put on the seat.

This is one happy cat.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Reading

The morning started with the sounds of birds. When I was lucid enough to move, Mija landed on me after jumping from her perch in the south window of the bedroom. Motor going, she snuggled down for an ear and chin scratching before getting up and jumping off the bed. She stood in the doorway and meowed that meow that says, "Hey sleepy head. The dish is empty. Get up." (Of course I speak cat. I'm as fluent in "cat" as I am in "German" and "French", which means I have a vague idea of the words but I'm guessing at the meaning.)

I rolled out of bed, refilled the food dishes and took stock of the kitchen. I desperately need to wash dishes. I've got them stacked here and there. But, I really don't want to do that now. I am close to finishing this book. I poured myself a bowl of strawberry Frosted Mini-Wheats, took that to my new recliner, reclined and started reading. An hour and a half later, I was done. Now it's time for a review.

Simon Winchester wrote a well-received book called "The Professor and the Madman" about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. It's been on my TBR (To Be Read) list since coming out. When I bought this book, many years ago, I didn't buy it because of the author's reputation. I bought it because of the subject matter.

"Krakatoa" has come to be synonymous with "major catastrophe". If you are a student or even have a passing interest in world history, the story of this volcano blowing itself apart is compelling. I don't know that I had an expectations for the book other than to learn about the volcano and how its eruption affected the people in Java and Sumatra. It met those expectations.

The criticism I have is that there is a lot of "stuff" in this book, stuff that I don't feel helped tell the story. It's 335 pages, of which, as far as I'm concerned, a good 150 could have been excised and the story not diminished. Politics of the region were not changed by the volcano's eruption, as a for instance. There's 8 pages I didn't need to slog through. In trying to paint a complete picture of the volcano and the area of the world it inhabits, the author's attempt at thoroughness overshot the need to just tell what happened and its repercussions. Not enough was given over to what the area is like now and too much was told about ancient human history.

The volcano doesn't erupt until page 232. I have to say that from roughly page 185 onward, the narrative is compelling. You know he's leading up to the eruption. Once it does explode, the next 50 pages which tell what happened and how the eruption was felt all around the world, are intense reading. Krakatoa had the distinction of being the first natural disaster transmitted with almost immediacy thanks to transoceanic cables. People in London knew it was happening as close to it happening as possible. This would be the 19th century equivalent of the Japanese tsunami.

It's an okay read. If you are interested in scientific developments of the late 19th century, this is a good book to pick up. It did make me wonder what kinds of studies are on-going and what the volcano looks like today. (Thank you, search engine for photos.)

I picked up the magazines off the floor and organized them into piles. Scottish magazines and half-size magazines are at the back right. Left are old Discovery and Cooking Light magazines as well as the newsletters from The Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature. In the front right are nature and pet magazines. I moved the 4 books that were here to the bedroom. This is only going to be magazines until I get all of these read.

I know, why save something that's a few years old? I always learn something. It's important to me to read through them even if what that will amount to is a cursory glance.

I also made a stack of Mac/Life magazines. The shelf life on computer magazines is less than the computer they cover, plus they are much faster to "read" since I don't own an iPhone or an iPad. I feel those of us using desktop or laptop computers are being left behind in the race for portability. I can easily page through these magazines and toss them because there aren't articles about utilizing your desktop machine to its fullest. I thought I had been on top of this subscription but, you can see, the top magazine touts the benefits of the iPhone G3, long since eclipsed by the G4. I did find current issues in this  pile and there was an article comparing programs for writing books. That was interesting. But, for the most part, I could be done with one of these in 10 minutes. I won't miss this when it ceases to come to the door.

I'm not sure what I will be reading next. I like to put my next book on the dresser by the bed, but nothing leaped out at me from the stack and said, "Read me next!" I think I shall work on the newsletter, cooking, Discover pile. That's not very big and it will be a keen sense of accomplishment when that stack is gone.

Beverage:  Belhaven Scottish ale


A Wee Bit Behind

I've mentioned the stack of magazines. I don't know how many are in the stack but they go back several years.

In preparing for the arrival of the love seat, I shoved the side table with the stack of magazines to the side as far as it would go. I know the stack is leaning against the wall and I didn't want it to topple.

It fell over as we pushed the love seat into place. Half of the stack wound up on the floor...

while the other half stayed on the table. 

Some of these, I probably can just skim and toss. I have not renewed any of my Scottish magazines. When I've got a couple years worth of a monthly and a bi-monthly in the stack, I honestly don't need to renew my subscription. I think the books I have sitting here will go the bedroom and that stack so the only thing on the side table are my magazines. 

Knocking them onto the floor forces me to deal with them. As I am done with cross-stitch samplers for a time, I can spend the rest of the month reducing this pile. Sounds like a plan.

Beverage:  7UP


New Furniture

I got a new love seat last night. Pam and Don, dear friends, are getting new furniture for their family room. Pam asked if I might be interested in taking one of her love seats. I realized that the wicker settee is, easily, 10 years old, maybe close to 11. I don't remember if I bought it in the spring of 2000 or 2001. There's no way I'm going to afford new furniture now and the love seat they were offering was in exceptionally good condition.

Now to get it to my house. Fortunately, the back comes off.  I need to mention, these are recliners. Yes. Both sides recline. It's very solidly built, on a steel frame, and I wondered how we'd get it in the front door. No way were we taking it around back, lifting it over the kitchen sink and table, making the turn and finally putting it against the wall in the living room. When Pam showed me that the backs come off, well, getting it in the front door would be a piece of cake, other than we're all a bit older than we were before with bum legs and knees and backs. 

My settee has been a great addition to the house. I know we didn't tie it to the top of the Jeep so we must have used the station wagon Carole had for awhile to get it. I think it was from Pier 1. Seven different cats have slept on it. It's been sturdy enough to handle three high school kids. The original seat cushion suffered an accident and had to be tossed. My friend, Laurie, made the crochet blanket unaware that the colors she chose would match the living room perfectly. I had three lap throws folded and acting as a minor cushion. 

I moved it and swept. All the rugs and the ottoman were pushed over by the TV and I moved the settee to the basement. It might be nice on the deck but would it survive summer and winter, even if I covered it? Right now, I'm unsure what I will do with it. It's still got quite a bit of life in it. Had Pam and Don not decided to get new furniture (from JC Penney, no less), I'd be quite happy with this. 

As soon as I got the space cleared, it was claimed. 
Moving the love seat wasn't as problematic as it could have been. After taking off the backs, we put the seat on a canvas painter's cloth and dragged/shoved it to the garage door. Then we stood it on end and gently "walked" it to the back of Pam and Don's van. We tipped it onto a blanket and then lifted, dragged and shoved it into the back of the van. 

Once we got to my house, it was pulled from the van onto a dolly. That was pulled up to the front steps and we lifted it up the four steps to the top. That was the hardest part. Pam and I are not working with the best of knees. It was a bit heavy. 

At the top of the steps, it was put back onto the blanket, lifted over the threshold and dragged into the proper place in the house. Mija and Pilchard know Pam's voice. She walked over to Pilchard, who was sitting on her usual container in the living room and said, "Hello." Pilchard responded back at her. Mija watched from the hallway not quite sure why both of us were in the house at the same time. When we dragged the love seat into the living room, Pilchard took off. Pam was a bit worried that one of them was out but Pilchard was in the office and Mija was in the closet in my bedroom. 

It fits nicely in the spot formerly occupied by the settee. The color compliments my living room decor very nicely. Yes, I have used it and reclined to finish reading the book I was working on. I'll probably find that's it's also a good place for a nap. 

Pilchard agrees. She claimed it about 2 hours after getting used to it being here. Pam and Don have a dog and although Kasey isn't allowed on the furniture, her scent has to be somewhere on the settee. It is, however, now a part of our life.


Notice the black fur on the seat. I need to decide what throw I'm going to put over this to sort of contain the fur. This is a stamp of approval. 

Beverage:  7UP



I carried a bag with me to the wedding that was filled with earrings, bracelets and lipstick. I couldn't decide in my house what would go with the outfit. I grabbed the bag when we went to the farm in the morning and made my decisions in the bathroom after I had gotten dressed. I should have been more organized but I really couldn't make up my mind. It took the knowledge that I had about 15 minutes and we had to go to get me to make a decision.

All that prep and worry and, by the time formal photos were taken, the lipstick had worn off. I should have reapplied it but I wasn't thinking about that. The new shoes had caused blisters on the back of my heels, even though I'd worn them around the house to break them in. I just wanted to get back to the farm and put on a different pair of shoes. I wound up not wearing shoes at all because of the blisters.

Oh well. It's not every day you can attend a wedding reception barefoot.

Beverage:  7UP



The reception started when Carole and David got back to the farm. Carole changed her shoes and, to Niles' "I am proud to introduce Mr and Mrs David Buckwalter", they came out of the house and under the arch. I wasn't thinking or I'd have gone to get my own photos. The photographer did just fine.

You can see the clear sky was now speckled with white puffy clouds. Rain had been predicted all week, sporadic showers. We'd had a lovely rain while we were inside the church rehearsing. These weren't, however, rain clouds. The temperature hovered around 80 and there was a gentle breeze. It couldn't have been a better afternoon to celebrate a marriage.

Once Carole and David arrived, we could eat. As it's been almost a month, I'm sure I'll forget something or think there was something they had that they didn't have. This company, whose name escapes me, was chosen because of their meatballs. Indeed, Phil loaded his plate with meatballs. We we had chicken and beef and mashed potatoes and green beans (?), and raw veggies. There was plenty for everyone. Friends of Kitty and David own a winery and their wine, in red and white varieties, was served. It was very good wine.

We had a minor scramble once the kids arrived. In placing the cake table, the angle of the sun wasn't factored into the location. By the time we got to the reception portion of the festivities, the cake had started to list, away from me in this photo. We scrambled to get a dish of ice to solidify the icing but we had to tell the kids to cut the cake, "NOW!", before they sat down to eat.

Once that was accomplished, the caterer did a fantastic job of preserving the top layer. If I have any readers in the Washington DC area, I can heartily recommend this company, if I can only remember their name. 

After dinner came dancing. The first dance song was "At Last" by Etta James. You can see the photographer honing in for those special close-up shots. Carole was 95% dressed when he started taking photos. If you've looked through the link in the post below you'll see some of the preparation photos. Carole quipped, "When you're a bride, you have no personal space."

Her reception shoes. All the bridesmaids changed to either flip-flops or to more comfortable clothes for the reception. I stayed in my outfit although I did jettison the jacket towards the end of the afternoon.

After the first dance was the parents' dance. Kitty danced with David and Carole danced with her dad. I don't know the name of that song. It was something Kitty requested, a "country" tune and I don't listen to that genre.

When that was done, it was time for everyone to dance. I have to hand it to the guys who built the dance floor. It was sturdy and worked just perfectly for the reception. Plus, I believe it was constructed to be reused. I thought I heard "cabinets" in the ongoing renovation of the house.

There were line dances, slow dances, fast dances. I was dragged up onto the dance floor by Michelle and Anita, bridesmaids. Carole and David had picked all the music, set up a laptop with a folder containing everything in the order they wanted, and it played all day. No DJ really was needed for this. Niles would, occasionally look at how the computer was doing and they would, occasionally skip a song, but I think they had in the neighborhood of 5 hours of music picked. Most I knew but some I did not.

At 8:00 p.m., with the sun beginning to set in the west, the party started to break up. That's when the big oops came. I don't remember the name of the last song. David and Carole slowly danced around the floor and stopped. We clapped and they walked over to their table. David accidentally bumped the table and his partially filled wine glass tipped over, spilling red wine down the front of Carole's dress. There were gasps and then, about 5 of us, over the age of 50, started yelling, "Get it off! Get it off!" We raced Carole into the house, peeled the dress off her and then I held the dress in the shower while Kitty gently squeezed the wine out.

Our quick thinking prevented the wine from staining the satin under the lace. Kitty was able to get about 90% of the wine out of the lace overlay. The dress was hung up in the shower to dry and we felt a good cleaner would get the rest of the wine out. It sounds worse than it really looked.

We cleaned everything up, put everything away so the only things left were the dance floor, the tent and the tables and chairs.

Perfect day. Perfect wedding. It was time now for a good night's sleep.

Beverage:  7UP