Sunday, August 31, 2008

Holiday Weekend Lazy Sunday

I was thinking to do a holiday-themed Lazy Sunday, but then random pictures would catch my eye begging to be included. So there are some holiday leaning pictures and some others that are just there.

This morning we're meeting Denny's sister and cousin for breakfast and then we'll do some work on the house (surprise, surprise!). I did manage to get a urine sample from Patches to have tested and that's not the problem. Since she climbed so easily into the empty litter box that we had used with her when she was a kitten, I switched to that one and for the moment she's using it quite well. It's actually too small for her though, so I'm going to get a bigger one. We're thinking the older box (which we had used with our previous cat years ago) just had soaked in too many smells and had become obnoxious to the cat. *Crossing my fingers here.*

For those working stiffs out there; enjoy the three day weekend. For those of us who are retired, it's just another series of days. But that's okay with us!

The Wenatchee River near Leavenworth, Washington is one of the prettiest rivers we've seen. Doesn't it look like it would be fun to white-water raft on this one?

This particular Lego-like statue of a "naked lady" is located at the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada which is a neat little place not too far from Death Valley, California.

The Lettuce Festival in Yuma, Arizona is a great place to get a bowl of salad instead of the usual deep-fried junk.

I've been talking about all the work Denny and I are doing at the house, but Denny's sister Connie is the real worker, because she's doing all the wall and floor scrubbing first. Here's Denny and Connie at one of the family reunions in a much more relaxed moment.

We're going back a few years here. This is our old neighborhood in Beavercreek, Ohio. I don't remember if this was a 4th of July celebration or a Labor Day celebration but the kids were having a ball. Steve is in the middle in the maroon outfit and Darby is on the end of the rope on the right side of the picture in the bathing suit. Obviously, this was well over twenty years ago since the "boys" are 36 and 31 respectively.

These panthers reside in one of my favorites places, Brookgreen Gardens south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Acres and acres of sculptures and artwork set in gardens beautifully created and maintained. This is one of the places we return to again and again.

Another favorite spot is Gatlinburg, Tennessee; not the shopping/touristy part, but the streams and trees and mountain vistas. Here I caught Darb just as he was ready to chase the geese, although I'm sure he'll tell you he was just trying to watch them. Again, remember the child is now 31 years old.

Is this child not adorable? This is Adam, our little neighbor Wookie (I've probably got that wrong, not having memorized the Star Wars movies unlike some younger member of the family). "Little Adam" is probably in his mid-twenties by now, but he was our favorite of all the neighbors' kids.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


How sad is it when the highlight of your day is the fact that the cat peed into a totally empty litter box so you could gather a urine sample for testing? Sigh. Still having issues with inappropriate litter habits; perhaps I should just leave the empty box there without any litter in it at all since she climbed in to use it that way.

Yesterday we took a break from the house painting chores to run up to Kettering for a dental appointment for me and a chiropractic adjustment for Denny. We spent the remainder of the afternoon with my mother so I could see how she's doing. She's gone back to having her afternoon "cocktail" so I'm assuming she'll be starting that slow downward spiral again, preferring cigarettes and booze to eating properly. As my sister-in-law says: "it will be what it will be". And we will deal with it.

Today we should be able to get all the finishing touches in the dining room done so that we can start to work on painting the main hallway. We've decided on the wood tone for the Pergo flooring (walnut), another carpet installer is coming Monday (on Labor Day no less) for a cost estimate on carpet since it seems the berber we chose is now outdated and California berber (a short shag, shudder!) is in. Plush it is!

I think Denny and I have pretty much decided that we need and deserve a month at Myrtle Beach when this is all over and one of our favorite campgrounds now has a discounted monthly price in November so that's what we're aiming for. Friends Don and Vicki will be down there for a couple of weeks and I can't think of a better way to relax than being at the beach with old friends. And at the beach, it's ALWAYS 5 o'clock!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ups and Downs

This month we've lost two friends/former co-workers and my mother has been in and out of the hospital. Her mental processes remain fuzzy although her physical wellbeing is much better.

On the plus side, we've met with a pair of realtors who seem anxious to work with us on getting Denny's dad's house sold and we're reaching the halfway mark on getting the rooms painted upstairs. The decision to install Pergo on the kitchen floor means more work for Denny but in a way it would be a change of pace from all the painting he has been doing so he doesn't mind it too much.

Patches is being a bit of a problem: three times this month she's opened a window and jumped out, once staying out all night. She has also developed litter box issues and Denny's patience with that is running short. Hopefully I can get that worked out before I have to give up the cat, but it's just not something I have a lot of time to deal with while we're working on the house (which may be part of the problem).

I think we'll be glad to be done with the month of August.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Day Is Done*

Day is done,

gone the sun,

from the hills,

from the lake,

from the sky.

All is well,

safely rest,

God is nigh.

*From the song "Taps"

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Welcome Home

Yesterday morning I was treated to a blush of a sunrise as a welcome home gift. It felt great to be back in front of my own computer watching the first eager hummingbird of the morning drinking deeply from the feeder on the back window against a backdrop of deep peachy-pink sky.

Work continues apace on the house; Connie worked on washing the dining room walls to prep them for painting, I re-grouted the joints of the shower stall in the main bathroom, painted the medicine cabinet and worked on putting the living room back together since Denny finished painting it while I was gone. He really worked hard all week while I was up in Kettering and it shows. We are taking most of the day off today to do some work at my mom's house and then join friends for a cookout so Denny will finally get a bit of a break from the house, although not from doing maintenance. Plus, since I volunteered to make a coconut cream pie for the cookout, he has to make the crust for me. That's what happens when you become renowned for your pie crusts!

This afternoon a friend of my mother is taking her out to lunch so I'll be able to get an independent opinion on the level of improvement she's made since she's been in the hospital. Mom made some weirdly disconnected statements right before I was due to return to Cinci on Wednesday which concerned me so things still aren't right but that may be a new separate issue. Sigh.

And the beat goes on....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bad News/Good News

The bad news is that the pilot light of the water heater at my mother's house has gone out three times in as many weeks. I had a plumber come out yesterday to change the thermocoupler and to see if the water heater needed a new thermostat. The bad news; Mom needs a new water heater as it is leaking carbon monoxide as well as not working properly. The good news? I was here to notice and to call to get it fixed before I left today to go back to Cinci (finally!).

Thus the wait for the plumber begins as we were given the standard "we'll be here between 10 and 2" routine. We have to be at the doctor's office at 2PM, plus the physical therapist is coming to work with my mom on some strengthening exercises for her hip and leg muscles. Mom is still a little confused and shaky (and no wonder with the low sodium and leaking carbon monoxide on top of that) but she has been eating a lot better and she's taken control of her medication and managed to wash the dishes a couple of times. So I'm fairly comfortable with the idea of going home today. Denny and I will stop back on Friday to install a grab bar next to the bathtub but after that Mom will be on her own until next Friday. She'll have a visiting nurse twice a week next week as well as the physical therapist and they have my number if they feel she shouldn't be on her own yet. At that point, I'll have to work something out because I really need to help Denny get his father's house painted so we can get it on the market before the sales season quits for the holidays and cold weather.

The ducks are starting to align in neat little rows for the moment. Yay!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

No Lazy Sunday Pix Today

I'm at my mother's house still and I neglected to bring the laptop when I rushed up here so I have no computer full of scenic wonders to share. The only photographs my mother has in HER computer are those things she has sold on eBay--I need to clean a lot of those out since they have sold.

Today was spent allowing my mother to heat her own lunch and dinner to see how see manages, and taking her to the store to buy a pair of shoes to watch how she negotiated the self-checkout line. She's better, less shaky and a little more clear mentally, but she's not my mother yet; that active, vibrant, fast-walking, able-to-Indian-squat woman who could go from 6AM to 10PM without pause. I'm afraid that woman is long gone because she neglected her self-care far too long and the lack of oxygen to her brain from the emphysema and the abuse of alcohol have caused changes that can't be repaired. So now I wander the house thinking "she needs a handrail for the front and back steps, we need to move the extra twin bed from the bedroom because she hasn't the strength to reach around the bed to change the sheets, the bath tub is dangerous without a grab bar at the edge of the tub, a smaller laundry basket would make it easier to go downstairs to the washer," etc. Our parent/child relationship is changing and I'm not comfortable with that yet. I'm not ready to be the parent to the woman who stood by me when I locked horns with my father over my choices of who to befriend and how to behave and what to think, the mother who accepted my craziness and understood that it was acting out, feeling my oats, finding my way. I think that woman is gone and I hate it.

I hate it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Home From The Hospital

I was able to bring my mother home from the hospital, to the relief of both of us. Of course, the first thing she did was grab a cigarette, contrary to doctor's orders, but she did do without the evening cocktail which is now also verboten. Mom was hungry enough to eat a good-sized (for her) portion of spaghetti with meat sauce and then she went to bed for a few hours and actually slept.

This morning we went over her new pill routine, writing it all down because I've noticed there's still a slight fog over her brain. After breakfast the drill sergeant (me) made the poor little old lady (Mom) do her balance exercises as recommended by the physical therapist and now she's resting on the couch. I'm such a meanie. I think Mom will be glad when I return to my own home. However, with upcoming doctors' appointments that won't be until Wednesday and by then we'll both be glad to be shut of each other. (It's a colloquialism, Coll). In the meantime, Denny is stuck with doing all the painting at his father's house and I'm feeling guilty about that.

For right now, the goal is to get Mom back in shape to live independently for her own benefit and because Myrtle Beach is calling my name. Working on it.....

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Once More into the Fray

I received a phone calls from the neurologist's office yesterday: "Mrs. Braun, your mother's blood work shows she is dangerously low in sodium and you need to take her to the emergency room right away." Or as right away as you can get if you happen to be living 50 miles away, I guess. So that's what I did.

Right now, she's in there for at least three days (and she hates it) and she's having a lot of tests run. One doctor saw nodules on her chest x-ray that no one else has mentioned, another told me that Mom's emphysema is a lot more advanced than her personal physician implied. Apparently alcohol depletes the body of sodium and yes, she's a drinker. And no, she doesn't drink much water and no she doesn't salt her food. Sigh.

So they are working on her and she's grumpy and more than a little confused by all this fuss. That's a new problem too, the mental confusion, although I understand that the low sodium can cause that also. I guess it can cause a lot of problems actually.

For the time being, I'm up in Kettering and Denny is stuck working on his father's house on his own, not that he's complaining. There will be decisions to be made over Mom's immediate and future care, although a lot of it depends on whether or not she is willing to take better care of herself and give up the drinking and smoking. Which is probably not an option in her opinion. Heh. We'll deal with it, because that's what you do, right?

The good news? Frustration makes me feel like doing housework, so I'll get some of the things Mom has been neglecting done. Then it will be time to go back and watch her get poked and prodded some more--they are taking her blood every four hours, poor thing. Boy is she going to be grumpy when I get there.....

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Late in the Day Lazy Sunday

Our day started early with breakfast at the Red Squirrel with Denny's sister Connie. After we dropped her off at her house, Denny and I got to work on his dad's house, Denny power-washing the sidewalks and porches while I tackled scrubbing down the kitchen cabinets. I was pretty impressed by the job done by the power washer and by my own muscle power after rubbing in a coat of furniture oil on the cabinetry. For a break away from harsh cleansers I sprayed painted the decorative molding around the main bathroom vanity as years of use by Dad and his wife had worn off all the paint in one area. I was pleased with the results of that and decided to quit while I was ahead. One of these days Denny and I really are going to take a break and either play golf or catch a funny movie just to get away from this place and worrying about my mother.

Another great way to get away is to go back and look through the pictures from our travels. So in no particular order and with no particular theme we have simply pictures that make me smile and bring back many a fond memory.

The Spotted Dog Restaurant sits next to the World's Largest Kaleidoscope in Mt. Tremper, New York. We didn't eat at the restaurant but appreciated the humor of the building's architect.

This is the stained glass ceiling of one of the main bathhouses at the Hot Springs National Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Touring the town was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon and visiting the museum lodged in the Fordyce Bathhouse transported us back to the days of the early 1900s when "taking the waters" was the rage.

This picture stumped me. Many of our early photographs were left in Darby's care and he has been scanning the prints onto CDs for me, but unfortunately he doesn't label the pictures with whatever I wrote and dated on the back of the photographs. I believe this is a natural arch located in the area of Fairfield Bay Resort in Arkansas, where we spent a week for our vacation when the boys were much younger. If it was, I'm surprised that the shot doesn't include the two boys standing on TOP of the natural arch. Not that I would have allowed that.

This is the second set of falls at Pattison State Park in Wisconsin. These are the little Manitou Falls and if you are lucky enough to discover this little park with its two sets of falls and sandy beach on the lake you'll enjoy a wonderful afternoon of sunlight, water and clean air.

Ah, the 16 day old Clydesdale foal at Grant's Farm in St. Louis, MO. If there was a way I could have smuggled him out I would have. I love these massive, gentle creatures and have several pictures of Denny and the Clydesdales both at Grant's Farm and at the Anheuser Busch brewery where they maintain a stable of these lovely animals.

Lacey Point at the Painted Desert in Arizona. Arid, windy, beautiful.

Words cannot describe the deep rust red of the rock surrounding the area of Sedona, Arizona. One doesn't need to Photoshop any pictures you take out there--the color and grandeur of the rock formations are awesome on their own.

It's shots like this one that make me miss camping the most. This shot was taken at one of our membership campgrounds near Gunnison, Colorado. We were there at the end of the season in September and it was a lovely time to be in the area. We WILL go back someday.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Playing Catch Up Yet Again

Wow! A week has come and gone since my last post, not counting this morning's post. Denny, his sister Connie and I have jumped into working on their father's house with a vengeance. Denny has been painting while Connie and I have been washing everything left by their step-mother who was admittedly a lousy housekeeper. This woman didn't have dust bunnies under the beds, she had Abominable Snowmen under there. I was going to wash, tag and price everything and have the estate sale, but the Realtor wants furniture and "stuff" in the house while it is up for sale so I'm having to hold off on that. Which means I'll start helping Denny paint the upstairs and then we'll tackle the storage room and garage after that, since we promised the Realtor that we'd have the house ready to list and show in a month, optimists that we are. We're finding more and more things in need of repair or replacement as we move from room to room, but the only thing that will have to be handled by professionals is replacing the carpeting. Everything else Denny and I can do, fortunately, since the two of us are kinda handy.

Again, all this fixing-up work just reinforces our commitment to a foot-loose and fancy-free existence in our wonderful tin can on wheels. I don't know just when we'll be back on the road, but we will be back on the road.

A Rolling Trailer Stone....

...gathers no bird's nest moss.
This is what happens when you stay in one place too long. A pair of wrens decided our storage bin where all our cables connect to our rig would be the perfect, snug little place to build a AUGUST! Sigh. Unfortunately for the wrens, we had to remove the nest but it's not like there's not FOUR ACRES OF WOODS TWELVE FEET AWAY FROM THE TRAILER. Hello, birds??? Trees instead of trailers???????

Friday, August 01, 2008

Men vs. Women

Black Beauty has been in the shop this week--last week while up at my mother's house she started clunking when put into reverse and her forward gears had no "oomph" when she was cold. The second morning we received a phone call from the service tech explaining that a TSB (technical service bulletin, he oh-so-carefully explained to the ignorant female who has been researching TSBs on all her vehicles for years) said some 2008 Ford F450s had a tendency to clunk changing gears, yada, yada, yada and so the way the truck was behaving was normal.

Watch my blood pressure rise when dealing with smug, supercilious males who think they are talking with an idiot female. Suppressing my first instinct to go haughty/angry (read p*ssed) on the young man-who-doesn't-know-who-he's-dealing-with, I carefully explained that my lovely truck had run exceedingly well for 6500 miles (that's right, we've put on 6,500 miles in 4 months) and there was never a clunk to be heard UNTIL LAST WEEK AND THEREFORE SOMETHING WAS WRONG!!!!!! (Deep breath, Linda)

The resultant long pause in the conversation was rather pleasing to my ears and then the service tech said he'd do more checking and get back to us. Two more days and the next phone calls explains that oh my, we believe there's a transmission leak but we can't find it so we've put dye in the transmission and either you (the RV Vagabonds) can drive the truck for two weeks and return to the shop so they can look for the source of the leak or they (the shop) can keep the truck and drive it around for a few days to find the source. Snort. We picked up the truck.

Maybe the service tech learned something this week about assumptions and taking the easy way out. Probably not.
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