Friday, December 31, 2010

Hot Steaming 2010 Succotash

This morning as I was trolling through the hundreds of blogs that I follow (and I am loyal fan to each and every one, especially whatshisface and that girl with that thing), I noticed that apparently I am supposed to do some kind of special year end post.

Some bloggers are doing a year in review type thing where they recap the highlights of their year.  Others are listing their top posts for the year, and a few bloggers are rambling on about their goals for the coming year.

I think I'm going to just mix all that together and serve up a steaming hot dish of 2010 Succotash.  Really I just like the word succotash but I never get to use it because seriously, who eats that stuff??

There are lots of different tools that bloggers can use to track their blog statistics.  Depending on which tool you choose, you can learn things like what city your visitors live in, which operating system and browser they're using, how they found your site, where they went when they left your site, and which flavor of creamer was in their coffee when they read your latest post.  It's fascinating stuff.

A few that I've used are Google Analytics, Feedburner, and Feedjit.  They're all pretty good in their own way although I must say that Google Analytics is detailed almost to the creepy point.  Still, I find myself most often turning to the little stats tool that Blogger provides on the dashboard.  It's not too detailed but still manages to fulfill my voyeuristic tendencies. 

Since I haven't even been blogging (regularly) for a full year yet and I don't go out and promote my blog so that I can get a bagillion followers like some bloggers do, my stats are sort of pathetic.   But they're mine, dang it, and I'm proud of them.

These are my top posts of 2010 as determined by their number of page views.  I'll give a short summary of each post so that you won't actually have to go read it.  God forbid.  Each one is just a small segment of my very soul.

18 Hours as a Fugitive
This is where I describe what happened when I received a Notice of Arraignment in the mail, only to discover that the date I was to have appeared in court had come and gone and now there was a warrant out for my arrest.  Dog the Bounty Hunter came to haul me off to the pokey where a very large prostitute decided I needed to be her girlfriend but that was okay because the week before I'd had a vaginal ultrasound done on my girlie goodies so that pretty much made me a lesbian.  I might have imagined some of that.

Burger King and the Cleavage Queen
This is the post where I described our plans for an Alice in Wonderland themed Halloween and showed the costumes that Jayson, Taylor and I would be wearing.  This is a really boring post that only got traffic because I posted a link to it on another blog that was doing a Halloween costume contest thing.  Either that or pixelated middle aged cleavage is in higher demand than I thought.

The Most Bestest Church Staff Ever
Here is where I posted very unflattering pictures of the people I work with and made up stories about them.  Everybody loves that.

Mini Mountains, Strip Karaoke, and Serge the Bathi...
Oh I love this one.  This post was part our Arkansas Adventure over the summer.  The highlight of our trip was our bathhouse experience where Jayson was loofahed by Serge the bathing attendant and he hasn't been right since then.  There's always a good chance something hilarious will happen when people are naked.

Insert Inappropriate Title Here
Another personal favorite, this post was inspired by the Axe Dirty Balls commercial and fueled by my fascination with all things anatomical and inappropriate.  Nuff said.

Another blog tool feature I really like is the one that shows you what word or phrase people Googled that led them to your site.  Here are some of my favorites in no particular order:

"night in jail" cuffs jumpsuit
buckstaff bath house infections
annual exam paper gown
"my arrest" handcuffs
is it legal to dig through construction dumpsters

Yes, those are the things my audience is interested in.  I'm so proud.

And finally, where do my readers live?  Which operating systems and browsers do they use?  Why do I even need to know this?  I'm not sure but it's there so apparently I need to know.  These are all in order by page views.

Operating Systems
Countries represented:

United States

I have to mention that Windows is leading Mac in the operating system category by only 2%, but Safari is beating Internet Explorer by 3% (which is good) and Firefox by 5% (which I don't understand since Safari basically sucks).

And finally, I would just like to give a personal shout out to my friends in Eastern Europe who obviously know how to represent.  Canada could learn a few things from them since they're getting beat by countries who don't even speak my language.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It puts the chemicals on its floor

The Houston House is now clean and cootie free.  It took 6 women almost 7 hours to clean the house.  Suddenly apartments aren't looking so bad after all.  Of course this was one of those detailed cleanings that most normal people don't do more than once a year...if ever. 

I have to admit they did a pretty good job once I let them know what I was expecting.  They cleaned behind every potty, on top of every door jamb, and that baseboard under the kitchen cabinets. 

The lady cleaning the tile floors was frustrated at the condition of the grout so I let her use my brand new grout brush that I had just picked up at The Container Store.  She was on her hands and knees with a gallon of bleach and some Comet and I knew we were best friends.

While looking for a cleaning service I found several advertising that they only use green cleaning products that are healthy and safe for the environment.  I like green stuff, I like stuff being safe and good for the environment.  But when it comes to cleaning, I want chemicals.  I want bleach and ammonia and stuff that if you accidentally mix the two together and breathe it, you will grow a third nipple.  The floor lady had to open the front doors for some air.  That's what I'm talking about.  She fell in love with my grout brush and I fell in love with her so I gave it to her.

The cleaning ladies cleaned the insides of all the windows and now the window crew is here cleaning the outsides.  They're taking off the screens and washing them too.  It's pouring down rain right now and I'm a little concerned about them climbing ladders in the lightening, but they seem to have a rhythm going that I would hate to disturb.

My plan for today was to let the window washers inside to clean the one window in the foyer that the cleaning ladies couldn't reach, then Taylor and I would pack up and head back to Louisiana.  The guys showed up an hour before they were supposed to and I literally had to drag myself out of bed to let them in.  That means I haven't showered.  If you'll notice my shower and its proximity to a very large window with no blind, I don't see a shower happening any time soon.  In fact, I don't see peeing happening any time soon either.  

One of the guys asked if I could open the garage door so he could do the inside of that window since the cleaning ladies didn't get to it yesterday.  I had no idea there was a window in the garage.  That makes our window count 42 which is great if you want a lot of light but not so great if you're the one who has to clean them.

Since I felt like a mouse trapped in a glass box with people peering in at me from all sides, I distracted myself by finishing up the shelf paper in the kitchen and installing this handy dandy pull down spice rack.  It makes me happy.

Besides the windows, another good thing/bad thing about the new house is the stairs.  Having two stories is nice since it gives us extra space and separates our living areas from the bedrooms, but the stairs have quickly become the proverbial bummer.  This could be due in part to my proverbial fat ass.  When I'm upstairs, whatever I need will be downstairs and when I'm downstairs, whatever I need will be upstairs. 

The way I look at it there are 2 possible solutions for this problem.  One is to get off my lazy butt and get some exercise so the stairs won't seem like such a chore.  The other solution would be to buy two of everything and keep one upstairs and one down.  Obviously I am on the lookout for buy one get one free sales.

The other day I was whining to Taylor about the stair situation and she pretended to be sympathetic but since she weighs 4 pounds she can't possibly relate to what I'm going through.  I told her I thought we needed some kind of pulley system for conveniently transporting things from one level to the other.  She suggested a dumbwaiter but since we're renting that really isn't an option.  I told her I was thinking of something more along the lines of a basket with ropes that we could easily raise and lower.

Taylor just stared at me with that glassy eyed gaze of hers that usually means she has no idea what I'm talking about.  I continued to try to explain it to her but she interrupted and said in a creepy monotone voice, "It puts the lotion on its skin."

Yes!  Yes, that's exactly what I'm talking about!  A basket like the killer lowered into the pit on The Silence of The Lambs!  I love it when we connect on such a personal level like that.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Ninja Toast and The Phantom of The Trash Can

I've got tons to say and no time to say it. How sad is that?

I guess I should start with Christmas. We spent it in Houston which was nice but weird. It's always been weird the few times we've spent Christmas away from our extended family.  I don't particularly like it.

Late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve we decided we could no longer live without wifi so Taylor and I grabbed the Garmin and headed for the nearest Best Buy. We got there 5 minutes before it closed but fortunately we are geeky enough to know what kind of router we needed so we grabbed it and left just in time for it to start pouring down rain. I was afraid it might rain on Christmas Day and I didn't much like the idea of the three of us staring at our laptops all day so we found a really nice Barnes & Noble and ran in to get a couple of board games.

On the way home I heard a loud popping sound and saw flashes of light in my peripheral vision. As I slammed on the brakes and began checking Taylor and myself for the holes I was certain the drive-by shooter gave us, I noticed the transformer on a nearby light pole was still sparking and the whole block lost power. Glad to be alive, we headed back to the house and played games all night. 

Christmas Ninja Toast
We had a nice breakfast on Christmas morning where Jayson accidentally turned his bagel into a ninja star. The rest of the day was quiet, we played more board games, then went to see Little Fockers at the Studio Movie Grill. It's one of those theaters where they serve you dinner while you watch the movie. The food wasn't bad and the experience was kinda fun. Jayson sat next to a woman who was obviously there for the first time and very excited about it. She ordered one of everything on the menu and talked to Jayson through the whole movie. The gal next to me was apparently on her first date with the guy she was with. Listening to their awkward getting-to-know-each-other conversation was almost as entertaining as the movie.

There's several of these kinds of theaters in the area but I picked this one because 1) the menu looked good and 2) they have regular screenings for kids with special needs. During these screenings, they show a family movie where the children get in free, the lights are turned up a little brighter and the volume is turned down some. The families can relax because it's okay for the kids to be themselves and no one gets upset if they get a little disruptive. YAY Studio Movie Grill!!
My good slippers

Jayson did a little yard work yesterday, trimming some of the bushes along the front of the house. I was allowed to trim only the 3 azalea bushes by the front door. My hedge trimming must be carefully monitored because I turn everything I touch into a tiny little bonsai which is cute, but then it ceases to be shrubbery. Since I really hadn't planned to work in the yard on this trip, I was wearing my regular clothes and just happened to have my slippers on. Taylor was mortified by the thought of someone seeing me wearing them. Just for that, I think I'll wear them on my next trip to Kroger.

Yesterday afternoon we went to a furniture store called The Dump to look for some area rugs.  They're a big warehouse type store that buys overstock and discontinued stuff and sells it at a discount. Their prices were good and they had some really nice stuff. They were having a sale and we got a great deal on 2 huge rugs.
Archie Bunker

Jayson spotted a recliner that he thought he had to have. We've been going round and round about this for the past 22 years. A recliner is the one piece of furniture that he really wants and it's the one piece of furniture that I really can't stand. I've never met a recliner that I liked. I keep telling him that we will have recliners some day but we shouldn't rush it. A day will come when we can no longer climb the stairs to the bedroom. We will fall asleep in our matching recliners while watching Wheel of Fortune and our grandchildren will laugh at us as our false teeth lose their grip and start to fall out with each progressively louder snore. As special as that moment sounds, I'm in no hurry for it.

I had several errands to run today, including my continuing quest for the perfect shelf liner. Thanks to a friend's recommendation, I ended up using a paintable wallpaper in a pressed tin ceiling tile design. I think it goes very well with my urban shabby cottage modern vintage chic decor.

Since my Garmin has never heard of The Container Store, she treated me to a scenic tour of the Cypress area. I ended up in the parking lot of some little strip mall thingie and saw Shannon's Street Waves, which I think is some kind of skateboarding store. The detour wasn't a complete waste of time since my skateboarding store happens to be right next to the Lifeway Christian Store which I do sometimes have a need to visit when I need some Christian stuff. That reminds me...the mall by my house is called Willowbrook Mall but I'm having a hard time remembering the name. Every time I think about it I call it Willow Creek Mall because of Willow Creek church. When my brain thinks "willow" it automatically wants to add "creek" instead of "brook" which really sort of makes sense because they're practically the same thing. Plus, Willowbrook Mall is about the same size as Willow Creek Church and you can buy stuff at both places so I think they're practically interchangeable.

Tomorrow should be an adventure because we have a cleaning crew coming in to clean the house from top to bottom. I'm okay wallowing in my own yuck, but I can't stand coming into contact with other people's yuck. It's gotta go. We hired a service to do a detailed cleaning of every square inch of the house...including windows, inside and out. I'm hoping they'll get the kitchen cabinets scrubbed out first so that I can work on the shelf paper while they're doing other stuff. Otherwise I'll be awkwardly trying to find a place to plant myself that's out of their way but close enough to let them know when they've missed a spot.

I also need to work on finding a place to put the kitchen trash can. It shouldn't be a big issue, right? Wrong. Right now it is next to the island in the middle of the kitchen which is a good central location but it isn't working out. I bought one of those touchless automatic ones where it senses when your hand is near it and it opens the lid for you. Then when you move away from it, the lid automatically closes. It's actually pretty cool but there is one minor flaw in the concept: it will open for more than just your hand.

For instance, I was standing at the kitchen sink while loading the dishwasher and I dropped the dish brush on the floor. When I bent over to pick up the brush, I heard the familiar whoosh sound and turned around to see that my ample caboose had opened the trash can. Jayson was walking through the kitchen and opened the can with an unruly elbow gesture. Taylor, bless her heart, could throw her whole little body over the sensor and roll around on it while waving her arms wildly and it still wouldn't be able to detect her tinyness if it wasn't for one thing. Her hair. One flick of her head and she can open the can from a yard away. As cool as it is I may have to trade it in for a step can, especially if the dog figures out that she's been opening it with her tail.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Gifts for me, furniture from heaven, and pelvic rest

The Christmas season is finally here!  Yes, I know it's been here for a while for most of you, but for me it doesn't officially feel like Christmas until I gift myself with a brand new Moleskine planner.

I'm all about using my computer and my phone for most stuff but when it comes to scheduling, notes and lists, I like a good old fashioned planner that I can write in, scribble on, and cram full of receipts and little pieces of paper that seemed important at the time.
I also need to gift myself with a new one of these but I'm trying to hold off for a while since I've heard rumors of a MacBook Pro upgrade happening in early 2011.

My current laptop belongs to my employer and my job will be coming to an end in the middle of  January so that I can get my house on the market and get us officially moved to Houston.  We're not gonna talk about that leaving the job thing because it could cause me to emote and I am morally opposed to that.

I think the last time I mentioned the Houston house, I had resigned myself to go with the shabby chic urban cottage look.  My version of it will have clean, modern lines...with pink flowers.  We'll see how that goes.  We got off to a good start last weekend by picking up a few necessary furniture items that Jayson needs to live comfortably until our real furniture gets moved.  Fortunately, these are things that needed to be replaced anyway so that worked out well.

As we shopped for furniture, Jayson and I came to the conclusion that after we move we will buy a 17' UHaul truck to use as our everyday family car.  Okay, so you sacrifice a little convenience and a lot of miles per gallon, BUT...people will get out of your way, merging onto the freeway is a breeze and no one ever cuts you off.  It made for quite a pleasant traffic experience.

I can't tell you how many hours I've spent trolling Craig's List for the best prices on the best appliances that we need.  It was tedious but worth it.  We scored a nice fridge and washer/dryer set that are all about a year old and for all of it we paid less than what the washer by itself would cost new.

We bought the washer and dryer from a guy who manufactures silicone wristbands and silly bands.  I was more fascinated with his warehouse than with his appliances.

The fridge came from this adorable gay couple in North Houston.  We made the deal with one guy and while he and Jayson got the fridge loaded into the truck and secured, I visited with the other guy about cleaning tips, recipes and the awesomeness of Williams Sonoma.  We were best friends within about 10 minutes.

The rest of our purchases came from IKEA.  I have come to look upon a shopping trip to IKEA as sort of like getting into heaven.  The journey is long and winding and your feet will be made to ache by unforgiving concrete floors.  You must stay on the path, lest you be tempted by kitchen gadgets you really don't need.  At the end of the journey you will be rewarded with many efficiently packed cardboard boxes that you got for not a lot of money.  Then, the words from your spouse that made the whole journey worthwhile: Well done good and faithful shopper.  Amen.

During our exhausting 4 hour journey (the real journey to heaven is usually slightly longer) we got a king size bed, a mattress, a dresser, 2 night stands, a kitchen table, 4 chairs, 2 Poang chairs with footstools, a set of dishes, a set of pots and pans, a set of silverware, a set of glasses,  and some other assorted kitchen utensils all for about the price of one good king sized mattress at a mattress store.
I really thought that assembling all the stuff would be a week in purgatory because I know that years ago all the assembly instructions were written in Swedish or whatever language they speak in the country of IKEA.  But now, there are no written instructions at all.  It's just pictures.  There's not a single word on any of the instruction sheets.  This worked out well for Jayson and Taylor since they are both visual thinkers.  Everything was assembled within 2 days, there were no missing screws, and we now have a lovely set of allen wrenches.

Well, okay, I guess there was one little problem.  The very last item Jayson assembled was the dresser and when he pulled the dresser top out of the box, there was a long crack in the wood.  I've heard all the horror stories about trying to get replacement parts at IKEA so I instantly developed a headache and couldn't go with him to exchange it.

As it turns out, it was a simple process.  He took in the defective piece along with the receipt and the instructions and they ripped open a new box and gave him the piece he needed.  It helped that he told them the part was in box 2 and if you turn it this way and open it from that end, the piece would be on top.  The customer service people were very appreciative for that information since it made the process quick and simple.

I'm really excited about our new bed because we've never actually had a bed before.  We have a mattress and frame, of course, but we've never had a headboard.  Ignore the ratty bedspread I pulled out of the back of the linen closet, it's temporary.

The furniture isn't arranged in its proper place yet because we still have Taylor's blow up bed in our room for when we're there on the weekends.  Her room is just down the hall but she says it's creepy to be in there by herself and really I don't blame her.

The breakfast nook.
We have our first kitchen table here as well.  We have formal dining room furniture that we've always used as our kitchen table (when we're not eating on the couch) but we've never had a separate kitchen table...or breakfast table or whatever you call it.  Now that we have a breakfast nook, does that mean I have to start making breakfast?  Or eating breakfast??  There may be some implications I need to be aware of.

I'm still marveling at all the space this house has and how we're going to fill it.  Our bedroom has our king size bed, night stands, dresser, Taylor's queen size blow up bed and a Poang chair and there's still room for us all to do cartwheels.  We'll just have to make do with what we have for the time being.

The living room.
The family room (keeping room).
We have one whole chair in the family room that I'm trying to get everyone to call the keeping room.  Hopefully we'll find some things to add to that since it's probably the room where we'll spend the most time.  It's next to the kitchen and it has that little cubby for the TV.

I've also included a picture of our formal living room furniture.  It's one folding chair.  When we move, I have a desk I can add to that.  I'm open for suggestions as to what to do with this space since I have absolutely no use for a formal anything.  I was think of maybe using it as a reading area with book shelves, comfy chairs and lamps.  Other than that, I dunno.  I'm not buying formal furniture that we'll never use.

Master bathroom doors.
This is the bathroom door that we shut when we want some privacy.  I'm talking about the stepping out of the shower kind of privacy.  There's a separate little potty room inside the bathroom that has a real door you can shut.  In order to keep distractions to a minimum, I thought I'd try to find some nice fabric and make a little curtain for the doors.  Then I remembered this fabric that I bought on clearance at Hobby Lobby years ago.  This picture is bad because Jayson has the good camera with him, but the fabric has muted blues and a wheat color that scream urban cottage.  I have 2 full bolts that I bought intending to make something fabulous that never got made.  Now I know why.  It's perfect for the new house.  I love it when stuff like that happens.

This is Jayson's fancy dressing room furniture.  I'm hoping this will encourage him to put his shoes on (and most importantly, take them off) in the closet.  Seeing shoes strung out all over the house makes me unreasonably violent.

We now have cable and internet hooked up which greatly reduces Jayson's chances of going insane while waiting for Taylor and I to join him.  We have a little work to do on the house before we sell it so it will be a couple more months at least.

We'll be spending Christmas in Houston this weekend and I'm thinking about leaving the dog there this time.  Jayson sent me a text yesterday saying he was lonely and wanted to go buy a dog.  I have already declared that we are through with pets.  They have a nasty habit of dying which tears me up and I can't take it anymore. We've never had any plants in the house because my cat (God rest his soul) would pee in them.  I'm thinking about switching from animals to plants.  I know, plants still die, but I don't think I could get as emotionally attached to a ficus tree as I have to a certain big, furry, brown-eyed foot warmer.  Snappy...not Jayson.  He has green eyes and hates when my cold feet touch him.

Today I'm heading back to the doctor for my post surgical check-up which should be good.  This was by far the easiest surgery I've ever had.  Part of my post-surgical instructions included 2 weeks of "pelvic rest".  The nurse had to explain to me what that meant.  Okay, I could pretty much guess what it meant, I just wanted to make her tell me the embarrassing details, which she recited with all the emotion of a turnip.  Things have been going so well that I'm sure my pelvis will be able to resume its normal activities. 

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

You know you're from Lafayette if...

My husband sent this to me and I thought it was pretty entertaining.  You probably have to be a Cajun to get it.

You know you're from Lafayette if...

You don't think it's unusual to take 50 years to plan and build a bridge.

You or someone in your family has a camp at Cypremort Point, Butte Larose or Toledo Bend.

You hope you have a long wait before being seated for dinner at La Fonda.

You remember you went to eat at La Fonda last night, but that's all you remember.

You spread out your beach towel on the Destin sand and look around to see your neighbors on both sides of you.

You regard any food labeled as "Cajun" outside of Acadiana with automatic suspicion.

You enter a debate on whether Pizza Village or Deano's serves the best pizza. Despite your better judgment, you still order the Cajun Executioner.

You think Holly Beach is a real beach.

You can identify people not from here by the way they pronounce "Lafayette".

You still crave hamburgers from Burger Tyme and Mr. Cook.

You leave your home near Kaliste Saloom Road at 8 a.m. and hit I -10 at 10:50 a.m.

You know how to spell and pronounce Kaliste Saloom, Feu Follet, Atchafalaya , Authement, Caillier, Verot, Breaux, DeRouen and Hebert.

While having lunch with friends, the main topic of conversation is what everyone ate for dinner last night and what they will be eating for dinner tonight.

At least three of your friends have nicknames and a funny story to explain why.

You respect a man who can two-step and cook a gumbo.

You think "ayeee" is French for: 1) hey y'all, watch this! 2) food ... hot! hot! 3) Roddy Romero is on stage.

You ever entered a casino and asked for directions to the Bourré table.

You call every brand of hot sauce Tabasco.

You think Catholic churches work like Blockbuster; there's one for every 10-minute drive.

You remember that the Randol's dancing show came on after Soul Train on KADN.

You put your potato salad in your gumbo and think everyone around the world has a crawfish boil on Good Friday.

You are disappointed by the scarcity of beautiful women when visiting other parts of the country.

You know The Basin is more than just a sink.

You use the turning lane on Johnston Street as your own personal express lane.

When it comes to Judice Inn, you order a fried egg on your hamburger; you know that on Saturdays you can't order the fried egg; and you know not to ever ask for french fries.

Your idea of eating healthy is to skip the round steak but not the rice and gravy.

Your idea of working late on Friday means that you actually return to the office after lunch.

Your idea of adding onto your house is to wall-in your carport.

You feel sorry for people who live in Baton Rouge and Lake Charles .

You think anyone from north of Ville Platte or I-10 is a Yankee.

You can't imagine a kitchen without a rice cooker.

Sacrificing during Lent means eating a huge seafood platter or 10 pounds of crawfish on Fridays.

You say French words that you aren't really sure are actual French words.

You end sentences with "yeah."

You think people from other places talk funny.

You know the days of the week by what plate lunch you are eating.

You remember family vacations to AstroWorld.

You've ever driven down a street that dead ends then re-appears somewhere else. 

You see nothing wrong with stuffing a pork chop with pork stuffing.

You know that when you order rice and gravy you actually get some meat with it.

You know you can go on a beer run without ever getting out of the car.

You eat boudin and eggs for breakfast.

When introduced to someone your first question is, "Who's your daddy?"

Decorating the dressy pantry

I can't believe what I'm about to say.  I'm going shabby chic...but it's not by choice.  I have nothing against shabby chic/country/cottage style, it's just not really me and not something I ever thought of using in my own house.

In a bizarre twist of fate, I now find myself with almost 3000 square feet of pastel pink, blue and green flowers to deal with.  Fortunately, the colors and the flowers are confined to the kitchen and two bathrooms, but since the house has an open floor plan, I need to make sure everything flows.

I could deal with the pastel colors a lot easier than the floral wallpaper but I've got both to contend with so I'm trying to make peace with them.  My own style is very eclectic but leans more toward Contemporary Asian or Mediterranean with bold colors and geometric shapes.  I mean it would lean more toward that way if I ever actually bothered to decorate my house.  Which I don't.  I just talk about it a lot.  Now I'm going to talk about my new style which I think I will call Eclectic Contemporary Cottage.

You can see my style reflected in some of my doodles.  I like thick, bold lines and strong color.  There are no tiny little pink roses on a white background.  That's because I don't like tiny little pink roses on a white background.  Now I have a house full of them and it's a rental so I can't change them.'s a rental that we might want to buy later on so I need to work with what I've got for the time being.  I can do this.  I can flex.  This doesn't mean I have to have a house full of ducks and quilts, right?  Right??!!??

Since I've been housebound while recovering from surgery, I've been using my time to search the internet for some decorating ideas on how I can work with my new color palette and style without gagging.  From what I've seen, all I need to do is paint everything white.  I can do that.  Then I can throw in some chocolate brown to offset the pastels.  That'll work, right?  It took some digging, but I think I've found a few ideas I can live with.

Check out this mason jar chandelier from The Stories From A To Z.  I like that.  I can live with that. Anthropologie has used mason jars in some of their displays so that makes mason jars cool.

Then I ran across this pantry makeover at House of Smiths.  Decorating the pantry is not real high on my list of priorities, but I couldn't get over how much time and effort she put into hers.  Don't get me wrong, it looks great, but what I want to know is...where in the heck is all her food???  You can't tell me that everything in the before picture is also in the after picture.  I read her post a little more carefully and found that she has a separate pantry for all her bulk items and food they don't use every week.  So this is just the show pantry.  The dressy pantry, as opposed to the casual pantry.  I know...I'm making fun of her because I'm jealous.  I wish I had a ginormous canister of vanilla whey, too.

This living room is actually pretty tolerable.  The pastels are kept to a minimum and there's plenty of white but the textured rug gives the room warmth.  I could sit in there.

I could NOT sit in this dining room, not for very long anyway.  It is the perfect example of what I want to avoid.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with it, it's just too...sweet.  I am not sweet.  My family is not sweet.  We are sarcastic and we require a dining room that reflects that.  You could probably get a delicious pineapple upside down cake in this dining room.  In my dining it's a fight to the death to see who gets the last row of Oreos in the package.
This bedroom from Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic isn't too bad.  I'm not crazy about the tufted headboard but overall it's okay.  Most of the other pictures on her website caused me to go snow blind, however I did run across these colorful vases that I actually love.

Brandywine Boutique has an entire shabby chic studio full of shabby chic stuff.  Even though it isn't a style that I like, I can certainly appreciate how well done this is.

I can get all over mismatched bookcases like these I spotted over at Apartment Therapy.

So that's the plan.  If anyone has any old furniture that I can paint white, just let me know.  I might take it off your hands.  I haven't told Jayson yet but I'm going to paint our dining room furniture white.  This is a picture of our china hutch.  It has a matching table with 2 leaves, 6 chairs, and a matching grandfather clock.  They all have beautiful burl wood detailing and very traditional styling.  And I hate every piece of it.  Not that I'm not grateful for it, I am.  The whole set was given to us by my Dad's old girlfriend who didn't want it anymore because it reminded her of her ex-husband.  I didn't want her to be traumatized by her furniture so I offered to take it off her hands as a favor to her.  I'm just self-sacrificing that way.

I think it would look great if I painted the table white and maybe paint the hutch a pale blue and put an antique glaze on it.  I might just have to sell the grandfather clock since I don't think it would be a very good idea to paint it and if my clock repair guy knew I was even considering it, he would hurt me...psychologically, not physically.  Very few people intimidate me but he is one of them.  When I took my watch in to be repaired he told me that it was a dressy watch and I shouldn't be wearing it every day because that's why it quit working.  The humidity got inside and rusted some of the parts which required the whole thing to be cleaned. 

That's the second time in 25 years I've had to have that watch cleaned.  It needs a new battery once a year but other than that, I've had very few problems with it.  Mr. Clock Man acted like I was the most irresponsible watch owner he'd ever seen and I should be forbidden from even owning a watch since I obviously don't know how to take care of one.

I just don't see why I would need buy a casual watch when I have a perfectly good dressy one that I can wear every day.  That's almost as stupid has having a dressy pantry and a casual pantry. 

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Ghosts of Surgeries Past

My surgery manicure held up nicely
This is just a test to see if Demerol blogging is any different from my normal blogging.  If anything, it might make more sense.

My little surgery is over and everything went well.  In fact, this is probably the least unpleasant surgery I've ever had.  I almost always have some kind of post-surgical problem but so far this one has been a breeze.  Now that I've said that, the next time I get up to go to the bathroom my new squeaky clean uterus will probably fall out and hit the floor.

The last surgery I had was of an orthopedic nature, or as I like to call it, a Black & Decker surgery.  For several yearss I suffered off and on with wrist pain from what I thought was carpel tunnel syndrome.  I was told to manage it as best I could and when it got to the point where it was no longer manageable we'd do surgery. 

Of course, the pain became intolerable shortly before Christmas about 15 years ago.  As I mentioned in a previous post, it is a Green family tradition to have surgery at Christmas time.  My neurologist did an EMG in his office which showed that I did indeed have some nerve damage going on. If you've never had the pleasure of an EMG I'll give you a brief description.  The doctor sticks a bunch of fine little needles into whatever part of your body is in pain, then he sends an electric current through the needles.  Then he moves the needles around and does it again.  He continues to slowly electrocute you until you confess to everything from cheating on your taxes to masterminding the most recent bombing in the Middle East.

The neurologist sent me to an orthopedic surgeon who took some x-rays of my right wrist and said I did not have carpel tunnel syndrome.  I had a birth defect.  Who knew?  It was clear to see on the x-rays that my radius was noticeably longer than my ulna and I guess in normal people those bones are supposed to be the same length.  Or they should at least meet up evenly at the wrist.  Mine did not.

Dr. Black & Decker was not about to be out-tested by a geeky neurologist, so he set me up for an arthrogram on my wrist.  This one was even more fun than the EMG.  They injected dye into my already painful wrist and took a video x-ray of it traveling around.  The lidocaine shot had worn off by the third dye injection and I probably would have flown out of my chair had I not been weighted down with a lovely lead apron.  By the time they were finished, my wrist was so full of dye it was the size of an orange.

Of course I whined and complained about it but it was a good thing I had the test done since it showed that my radius and ulna had chewed through a ligament in my wrist and the bones were grinding against each other.  Which is painful.  The test also showed that I have Guyon's canal syndrome, which is similar to carpel tunnel but affects the ulnar nerve instead of the median nerve, which explained why the pain shot up the back of my arm and into my elbow.

Dr. Black & Decker told me that he needed to go in there and remove the chewed up ligament and also shorten my radius so that it would be the same length as my ulna and wouldn't cause any more trouble.  I agreed on one condition.  I insisted that we do it outpatient.  I hate hospitals because I almost always leave there with some kind of infection that I didn't have when I got there.

So...I had myself a little outpatient orthopedic surgery which is probably just about the stupidest thing I've ever done.  You know how in recovery they ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10?  Mine was at about 30.  After I'd had enough morphine to kill an elephant, the nurse made the mistake of telling me that if we couldn't get the pain under control, I would have to be transferred to a regular hospital.  Miraculously, my pain level dropped to a 4 and I went home.

Yes, I lied.  All I could think about was getting out of there before the staph infection found me.  I was too late.  The day after I got home, I developed the second worst sore throat I'd ever had in my entire life.  This wasn't just the scratchy throat you get from that breathing tube thing, it was extremely painful and was turning some lovely shades of yellow and white.  Since I was also running fever and my pain level was still hovering at about 20, I felt like a visit to the emergency room was in order.

The ER nurses unwrapped my bandaged arm to make sure there was no infection there.  It looked good even though air made it hurt worse.  They swabbed my throat and found that I had, of all things, a yeast infection there.  I'm not sure how one gets a yeast infection during surgery and quite honestly, I prefer not to think about it too much.  They gave me medicine, I took it, it cleared up, and that's all I need to know.

A ninja star got me once.  Once.
It was while I was recovering from this surgery that I realized just how much of a caretaker my husband is not.  He was very helpful when it came to taping plastic bags around my arm so that I could shower but not quite so helpful for other things.  The first day after the surgery I was pretty out of it but started coming around in the middle of the night.  I needed help getting out of bed and to the bathroom but Jayson was nowhere to be found.  I called out for him but he's half deaf so naturally he didn't hear me.  When I asked him about it the next day, he said he slept on the couch because he was afraid he might bump my arm in the night and hurt me.  Okay, I guess he had good intentions but I did let him know that he need not repeat those good intentions again.

The next day I heard him talking on the phone to his mother and I could tell by his end of the conversation that she was asking him if I was eating.  Jayson said, "Well, I put some food out for her," as if I was a dog or something.  I started to ask him to refill my water bowl but fortunately the pain meds knocked me out before I could get too snarky.

After several weeks of healing I had to do physical therapy for a couple of months which could have been a real bummer if not for the hot wax treatments.  We started off every session by dipping my right arm in a vat of hot wax up to my elbow 10 times, or enough to create a freaky House of Wax looking shell on my arm.  After the wax shell was peeled off, my arm muscles were all relaxed and pliable and my skin was incredibly soft.  The therapist showed me the wax building process a couple of times and after that she just left me in the wax room alone to relax and do it myself.  By my fourth session, I was dipping both arms into the hot wax up to my shoulders and trying to figure out how to get my feet in there with them.

I now have a limited range of motion in my wrist because of those missing torn ligaments, but it's pain free so it's all good.  As a bonus, I have a wicked scar and a titanium plate with 6 screws still in my arm.  I was extremely disappointed to discover that my plate does not set off the metal detectors at the airport but I haven't flown since TSA got x-ray glasses so that might be fun.

Just a couple of years before the wrist surgery, I had surgery on my nose to remove about six extra inches correct a deviated septum.  Actually, there was a little more to it than that.  I had a uvulopalatoplasty, septoplasty and a rhinosplasty.  I had been seeing an ear, nose and throat doctor and on our last visit before the surgery he was explaining the procedures and drawing little pictures on a note pad to show me what was going to be done.  My soft palate and my uvula were going to be removed and my septum, which was almost lying on its side, would be straightened.  I'll never forget the way he said, "Now Mrs. Green, while we're in there is there....anything'd like to have done?" as he circled his pen in front of my nose as if it was a magic wand.

When I asked him if he could maybe shave a little bit off the sides of my nose his whole face lit up and he excitedly explained to me how he could give me my nose, only better.  When I told him it all sounded great but I didn't think I could afford it since I knew my insurance wouldn't pay for that part of the surgery, he started wheeling and dealing until we came to an agreement on what was essentially a buy two get one free situation.

Once the haggling was done, he went back to explaining the details of my surgery package.  He said the rhinoplasty would likely give me two black eyes for a couple of weeks and I'd have to wear a little brace across the bridge of nose for a while.  For the septoplasty, my nose would be packed for 24 hours and I'd have to come to his office the next day to have the packing removed.  He said I would experience some "discomfort" from the uvulopalatoplasty similar to the sore throat you get when you have your tonsils removed.  This should last about 2 weeks.

This ENT is the same doctor who removed my tonsils when I was 14 and I loved him up until this point.  Now, if I ever see that man again, I will punch that lying masochist right in his perfect nose.

First of all, everything that he said would last 2 weeks actually lasted 2 months.  The black eyes went from black to purple to blue in about 2 weeks, then settled on a sickening greenish/yellow color for the next couple of months.  Taylor was around 4 years old at the time and she stayed with my sister while I had the surgery.  When I got out of surgery and got settled at home, my sister told Taylor what I would look like so it wouldn't upset her and she brought her to the house to see me.  Taylor walked into the bedroom, took one look at me and huge tears welled up in her big brown eyes.  She said, "Mommy...I don't think you're gonna make it."  At that point I thought she was right.

When I went to see Dr. ENT at his office the day after surgery to have my nose packing removed, he failed to tell me that this was going to be a painful version of a magician's scarf trick.  He started pulling on the packing and he kept pulling and pulling and it just kept coming out and he braced one foot on the chair and pulled some more and I'm pretty sure the nose packing got wrapped around my brain because I could feel it tugging on the backs of my eyeballs as he continued to pull my brain out through my nose.

Let me tell you about that throat "discomfort" I was supposed to have.  Dr. ENT told me it would be similar to a tonsillectomy and I might have trouble eating for several days, but I could have all the jello and ice cream I wanted.  Jello and ice cream??  I couldn't swallow my own spit!!  This is the sore throat that trumped the yeast infection throat.  It was bad.  It took about a month for the surface pain to subside, but even after that got better, the muscle pain was still really bad.  It's hard to explain, but every time I swallowed there was pain that shot from my throat up into my ears.  Not fun.  But my nose is cute.

My sister called yesterday to see how I was doing and to update me on everything that's going on back home.  My mother cut herself shaving while she was in the shower and evidently she nicked some major artery.  She takes aspirin every day so she called my sister in a panic, convinced she was going to bleed to death.  My sister told her to apply pressure with a cloth really hard and it would eventually stop bleeding.  Mom called back and told her it wasn't working and she was pretty sure she was starting to float toward the light.  My sister asked her what kind of cloth she was using and Mom told her it was just a wash cloth.  A WET wash cloth.  Evidently those 2 weeks Mom spent in nursing school didn't take.

My dad has taken up a new hobby of collecting flattened aluminum cans and selling them at the recycling plant.  This could be a good thing since he's recycling and earning a little extra cash.  The only problem is that Dad is operating on what's left of his brain after a major stroke several years ago.  He actually manages pretty well and most of the time it seems that the only area of his brain that was damaged is the one that has all the common sense.  He will only collect pre-flattened aluminum cans and most pre-flattened aluminum cans are found in and around areas where cars have run over them.  When Dad is out driving around and spots a flat can, he just stops his car and gets out to pick up the can, even if it's in the middle of a busy highway during rush hour.  The man is risking life and limb for flat cans.  But it makes him happy.

My sister is in the throes of yet another medical disaster.  She has Crohn's disease and the most aggressive treatment they have for it isn't working for her anymore.  Her doctor told her there are some medical trials going on that she could be a part of if she'd like to try it out.  Somehow, someone discovered that hook worms may be able to cure Crohn's disease.  Apparently there's almost no Crohn's disease in Africa or Asia or some country like that where they typically eat more worms than we do.  For the medical trial all she has to do is drink a cup full of microscopic hook worms.  Then her body will attack the hook worms instead of its own colon and she might be able to poo without bleeding to death.

I told her I couldn't do it.  I don't care how microscopic they were, just the thought of drinking a cup of worms is enough to make me wretch.  She pointed out the hypocrisy of that statement by saying she intended to hide them in a shot of Mezcal like we did in the old days.  She just hopes the Mezcal doesn't kill them.

I miss my family.  They make me look so normal.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Adventures in Anesthesia

It's that time of year again! Time for the Green Family's annual Christmas surgery!  Any time one of us needs surgery, which is more frequently than it should be if you ask me, it always ends up being around Christmas time.  This is due in part to the fact that we want to squeeze every dollar we can out of our insurance deductible before it starts over on January 1.  It's just the sensible thing to do.

I have a fantastic doctor who has explained the procedure to me better than any other doctor has ever explained any other procedure.  In fact, I could probably do it myself if I had to.  It's all about having the right tools.  Being the visual person that I am, I have a very clear mental image of how this thing is going to go down and I thought you might like to see it too.  Don't worry, there are no gross pictures, I can't go there.  But I do make up for it with gross words.

Some Klingons have taken up residency in my uterus and my left ovary and are causing me to slowly bleed to death.  Obviously, they must be evicted.  This will take place on Friday when I'm scheduled to have a D & C with a hysteroscopy and a laparoscopy.  It's a common procedure for those of us with lady parts. 

D and C stands for dilation and curettage.  "Dilation" is obvious, they have to get in there somehow.  "Curettage" is for the curette tool they use to scrape out the uterus.  On the left side of the page I've included a picture of a curette to help you cringe appropriately.  On the right side of the page I've included a picture of a cantaloupe being scraped out with a melon baller...which is how I view this whole procedure.  Somehow that seems more pleasant to me.  In fact, it's almost refreshing.

For the next procedure they begin by inflating my abdomen with air so that they can see what they're doing and move stuff out of the way.  We all know how that's done...a little needle adaptor and a hand pump, right?  Then they will start the hysteroscopy part of the procedure where they make a little incision in my belly button, which is an inny in case you were wondering.  Then they poke around in my lower abdomen with a little camera on a stick to see what's going on with that left ovary.  There is definitely a small foreign body attached to it but it's impossible to tell from the ultrasound if the attachment is on the outside or buried inside.

Once the doctor gets a good view of the ovary, it's time for the laparoscopy part.  She makes 3 more little incisions on my for the little probe that she uses to move stuff around, one for a clamp to hold on to the ovary when she finds it, and one for the little knife or scissors or whatever it is that will whack off the offending growth.  I picture that tool as looking like the tiny little scissors on a Swiss army knife.  Ideally, she will cut open the ovary, remove the foreign body, zip it back up and we're done.  If the little thing is embedded too deep in the tissue, then she has my permission to pull a Morticia Addams and just snip that sucker off.  I've been done with my ovaries for quite some time so if it has to be sacrificed for the greater good, I'm okay with that.  I will squeeze all the hormones I can out of the remaining ovary to hold off the chest hair for as long as possible.

Since this isn't my first, I'm not the least bit worried or concerned about the surgery.  I've never had any problems with them in the past.  But the recovery...that's another story.  I have never had a surgery where I didn't have some kind of complication during the recovery process.  It's never anything major, just an infection or an allergic reaction of some kind.  But it sure can make an unpleasant process even more miserable.  I'm coping with this by staying focused on the positive, which is the promise of some excellent pain pills in my future.


NaNoWriMo has come to an end (or it will at midnight) and I ended up with a word count of 20022.  That is far short of the 50K word goal, but that was never my goal anyway.  I'm very pleased with my word count since I thought I would never be able to top 10K.  But I did.  Yay me.

Our little local NaNoWriMo group is still grinding it out right now at the library but I have chosen not to join them since I'm still sick and possibly infectious.  I could continue to add to my word count here at home but one thing I discovered during this process is that I can't write at home.  Well, I can't write stuff that I have to think about at home.  I can write a blog post cuz we all know I don't put much thought into those.

I even stopped my novel mid-sentence, which is strange for me and triggers my OCD tendencies if I think about it too much.  But those same tendencies tell me that if I go in and finish that sentence my word count will change and I will lose the lovely number 20022.  It's not exactly symmetrical, but there's a certain roundness to it...a visually pleasing makes sense.  I'm keeping it.

From the beginning I ditched the official NaNoWriMo goal of 50K words in 30 days and made up my own goals.  I thought this would be a win/win situation because even if I didn't "win" by reaching 50K, I could still win by reaching my own goals.

I never considered the fact that I might not reach my own goals.  And I didn't.  Which made the whole thing a fail/fail situation.  Which is par for my course so I'm good with that.

One of my goals for this past month was to see if I could write fiction.  I know I can write non-fiction, essays, stream of consciousness type stuff but I've never even tried to write fiction.  I discovered that it's not as easy as I thought it would be.  I thought that all I would need is a story with a beginning, a middle and an end.  Once I had that in my head, I could start writing and the details would just flesh themselves out.

Yeah, not so much.  It's those dang details that had me wanting to gouge my eyes out.  They were necessary details, not just filler, but I got bored with them.  Having to build a character and describe a scene was like trying to cut down an oak tree with dental instruments.  I already knew how the story would end and I just wanted to get to there. 

At about 10K words I thought about giving up because I was bored to death with the story and really wanted to just kill off all of my characters to put them out of my misery.  Instead, I turned the hero into the bad guy, but of course my main character did not realize that her hero had gone bad and it was a little exciting to know something that she didn't.

Eventually even that got boring until I discovered the secret to keeping myself from losing interest.  Every time the story got dull, someone had to have sex.  That little literary tool worked like a charm for the next 10K words.

My other goal for this past month was to see if I could write consistently.  I knew that writing 1667 words every single day was not going to happen.  I had hoped that I would write at least something every day, even if it was just a paragraph, but that didn't happen either.  A few times I had reasonable, understandable excuses for not writing.  There were several times that I just plain forgot.  But on most of the days I didn't write it was because I just didn't want to.  I wasn't in the mood so I didn't do it.  I'm really spoiled and selfish that way.

To my surprise, I discovered that I like writing in a group.  This is a little strange since writing isn't exactly a group activity plus I really don't like people...not individual people, just people in general.  You know.  Humanity. When given the choice between hanging out with friends and spending time alone, I always prefer to be alone.  That's just how I roll.  Even so, I really like our motley little writing group and I hope to stay in touch with them.

Overall, I liked my NaNoWriMo experience and I will do it again even though I have never in my life invested so much time in creating something so awful.  But...this was about the process for me, not about the product.  Will I finish my novel or edit it or maybe submit it for publication?  Yes I will.  Just as soon as polka dotted pigs fly out of my butt. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

IKEA is the new Disney World

Jayson, Taylor and I went on a little outing to IKEA today.  It was almost as much fun as Disney World.  This was not a shopping trip but more of a reconnaissance mission.  If we get this house that we applied for this weekend (and I'm assuming we will), we are going to have a lot of space to fill and I want to fill it cheap and cute.

Parking and entering the store was surprisingly easy as was navigating once inside.  It helps that they have maps showing you where to go as well as arrows on the floor and big arrows on the wall.  We felt a little like cattle being herded to the slaughter but the scenery was nice along the way.  

Since it was close to lunch time when we got there, we decided to start with a visit the IKEA restaurant.  The three of us ate for $20 and it really wasn't bad.  Taylor and I split a chocolate cake for dessert and it was actually pretty darn good.

Once our bellies were full, we joined the rest of the herd on their journey to the bowels of IKEA.  I don't know exactly how big the store is, but we kept moving pretty steadily with very few stops of any length and it took us 3 hours to get through both levels.  I can see that there will be no "I just want to run in to IKEA for a sec."

We found several things we like, including this sofa/bed from the Tylosand series.  There are lots of mixy-matchy-modular pieces we can choose from.

Since the downstairs of our house-to-be is ceramic tile we're going to need several area rugs to keep it from feeling like a tomb.  I picked out 2 rugs, one that Jayson liked and one that he didn't.  Taylor mentioned something about not living in the same house as one of the rugs which just might be the key to getting her out and on her own.

We will also have to have at least one Poang chair because they are surprisingly comfortable.  So much so in fact that Jayson said he'd like a chair and ottoman instead of the Lazy Boy recliner he's been nagging me about.  Thank you, Jesus.  I have yet to see a recliner that didn't look like Archie Bunker should be sitting in it.

I like this dining table but I prefer the black/brown color and maybe some different chairs. 

I have no idea where I would even put this pendant light, but it has to go somewhere by gosh.  It's too fabulous not to.  And this sink looks like it could adequately handle all of your cooking AND embalming needs.

I have vowed not to buy any kind of table (other than dining) that does not also include some storage space and I especially like this one.  Again, I have no idea where I would put it but that's irrelevant. 

Jayson surprised me by choosing the Malm series for bedroom furniture.  It's a little too minimalist for my taste but that's something I can work around.  I'm also a little concerned about the low profile of this bed and our aching knees and backs.  Maybe the bed will just be for show and we'll actually sleep in our matching mechanical lift chairs.

At the end of our exhausting 3 hour tour, I was really tempted to jump into this huge pile of plushie stuffed animals but I figured that with my luck I'd hit the edge of one of the metal bins and injure myself.  I'd never be fortunate enough to injure myself badly enough to be compensated with a kitchen makeover.  I would just end up bleeding on a stuffed shark which they would force me to buy since I damaged it.