Friday, January 30, 2009

So Many Smart People Out There

Sometimes at night I just "Stumble" around the 'net, looking at whatever Stumble throws my way. I've discovered Photoshop tutorials that astound me, recipe pages that make my mouth water and things that just make me go "huh, how cool is that?"

I love the helpful pages; the ones where people found or created easy ways to do things and put it out there so I don't have to discover it for myself (heh). So here is what I've found recently:

11 Great Hidden Things that Google Can Do Who knew?

Online converter Yup, some of this can be done on Google (see above) but I like the fact you can break down units in so many ways. And where else can you translate text into Morse code?

Basic Photoshop tutorials. I don't have PhotoShop, but I have downloaded the free open source Gimp which apparently is much the same. I haven't used it yet, but it's on my "to do" list. And websites that would give me a leg up are great.

Honing a kitchen knife. I've been doing it wrong for years. Who knew?

Word nerds. I'm not the only one who cringes at mispronunciations and mis-used words.

How to reduce camera shake. As a neophyte photog I'm always on the lookout for tips.

I could go on and on. What are some of yours?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Brunt is Yet to Come

A "winter event" of up to 12 inches of ice and snow is expected today. "O, frabjous day, Callooh, Callay." (Thanks to Lewis Carroll.) The picture above is the layer of ice that arrived last night, soon to be covered by several inches of snow. Needless to say, yesterday I made sure we were well stocked with basic grocery items and I picked up a couple of movies at the library so the three of us can just veg out today.

Actually, the plans today are to start carrying out the old bedroom set from the master bedroom in my mother's house so we can put in the twin bed set Mom has been using in a smaller bedroom. We're going to eventually make the small bedroom into a laundry room for her, as Denny has decided we can do that ourselves rather than hiring a handyman. Because Denny himself is quite the handyman and I'm a pretty good go-fer. We'll wait more towards summer for that, because I'm still not convinced Mom will be able to manage on her own if Denny and I choose to go back on the road this fall. To be honest, I'm not sure if she cares if she lives or dies at this point.

In the meantime, Denny and I will start the slow process of clearing out junk, moving items to the garage for a sale this summer and preparing the house to be sold at some point. I have a feeling that will happen sooner rather than later.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Nuttin', Honey

I was hoping that the new camera would have arrived by now so I could post some experimental pictures today. No such luck--apparently it hasn't even shipped yet. Sigh.

Denny and I were invited last night to a private Chinese New Year meal by a friend who manages our favorite Chinese restaurant. Thus we were introduced to the hot pot meal, which is basically a make your own soup/fondue kind of meal; you start with a broth, add cabbage, vegetables and a variety of thinly sliced meats, shrimp, fish cakes and all sorts of things I didn't recognize. And I ate it all! Denny, not so adventurous, did give a lot of things a try and we had a wonderful evening with friends celebrating the upcoming year of the ox.

No pictures of all this--too busy eating. Happy New Year!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

Over the past two weeks I tossed out a few living arrangement options to my mother; moving into independent living housing, moving with us to a house in Arizona, buying a small RV and traveling with us while I do the driving, moving into a small apartment or staying in her current home. Mom wants to be warm when it's winter, but all of her family (other than Denny and I) are here in the general Dayton area so she's torn by the idea of leaving them. Wednesday she finally told me that she always assumed that she would die in this house and that's what she wanted. I told her that I could live with that, as long as she accepted hiring someone to come in to do housework and laundry and to have "Meals on Wheels" stop by. I also told her that she would need to get involved at the local senior center because part of her depression stems from isolation and that she needs to interact with people over the dreary winter months. Mom agreed (in theory) so Denny and I are making a list (lists! love lists!) of what needs to be done to make independent living in her home more easy for Mom. Such as having a contractor put in lines for a washer and dryer in one of the bedrooms so Mom doesn't have to walk up and down the basement stairs to do her laundry, putting in a wall safe so she can put her jewelry away when strangers come to the house, arranging the kitchen cabinets so that everyday food items, storage containers and eating utensils are within reach (raising her arms above shoulder level now makes Mom dizzy), putting sliding shelves in the pots and pans cabinet so Mom doesn't have to get down on her knees to get a pan out to cook her dinner and other fix-it jobs like that. Whew! There's a lot to think about when you are trying to think like a quasi-handicapped person.

Being busy is good, because then you don't have to think. Because thinking means remembering when you had the youngest, prettiest, most active mom in the whole neighborhood, one that all the other kids envied. Thinking means knowing that my mother is killing that woman, knowingly and willingly. And that's why I'd prefer not to think too much right now.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Little Sunshine

Okay, for the moment I'm over that bit of drama from a couple days ago. I think the past year just caught up with me a bit, but it's onward and upward from this point.

The physical therapist stopped by today and made Mom do all her leg exercises plus walk around the hallway (I ratted Mom out, telling the PT that she had been slacking off since the PT's last visit). The home care nurse who also stopped by notice edema in Mom's ankles and recommended she get a recliner to make sure her legs were elevated high enough to allow the edema to recede. The little foot stool Mom uses now with her rocking chair is only about six inches tall so it's not getting the job done. So we hit the La*Boy store and picked out a nice chair to be delivered Thursday. After that, Denny and I dragged Mom to one of our favorite local fast food places, so she got more exercise in one day than she has in the past three months so right now at 7PM she's in bed, out for the night or at least until 2AM when she'll be up having a screwdriver. Ah well, one step at a time.

And me? I assuaged my feelings by ordering a new Panasonic Lumix DHC-FZ28S because my old Lumix DHC-FZ7 suddenly and totally died the day after we arrived in Ohio. To send it off for repair would have cost a minimum of $161.00 with the possibility of it costing much more to repair depending on what was actually wrong with it, so I bit the bullet and went for a new one. With an extended warranty, which means simply that nothing will EVER go wrong with this camera. Denny got a new Casio Atomic Solar Powered watch (love the solar power and how convenient for time zone crossing travelers to have the atomic clock capability) since he's been putting up with Mom AND me this week. And that's saying a LOT!

Shopping certainly soothes the savage beast in me. *grin*

Monday, January 19, 2009

Am I Allowed to Be Angry?

Is that "legal" when you are caring for an alcoholic?

I cried last night when I went to bed. I cried because my mother had just gotten up from one of her "naps" and it was 11PM and the first thing she did was fix a screwdriver and light a cigarette. Am I allowed to be mad that my mother is killing herself and doesn't care? Can I be mad that I'm trying so hard to make her healthy again and she just doesn't give a sh*t?

I think it's time I called Al-Anon. I'm the child of an alcoholic and I need help.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot

I took a mental health break yesterday to meet with a group of old friends. The ladies above all met through our husbands' involvement with a Knights of Columbus group and we shared a lot of years of activities there. I lost touch with the group when I divorced my first husband but most of them have maintained a tenuous relationship over the years.

Heidi suggested that we each tell about our lives over the intervening years so there were tales of travel, divorce, loss of spouses and loss of children, going back to school and re-marriages. We shared pictures of children and grandchildren and weddings and there was a lot of laughter and more than a few margaritas drunk. Two of the group were missing; Sue was busy dealing with frozen water pipes at her florist shop and Vicki is down in Texas enjoying the warm weather, so I called Vicki and tried putting her on the speaker phone, but it was too noisy for us to talk to her. She's just going to have to come home sometime this summer, because we're going to try to meet on a monthly basis or so to stay in touch. If the restaurant doesn't lock the doors when they see us coming the next time--heh.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Too Cold to Move

At least that's what Black Beauty thinks--she died on the way to the Ford service department to get an engine block heater installed. I guess the diesel fuel gelled up despite putting in additives to keep the diesel fuel fluid. The truck had to be left for a tow truck (at -10 degrees it was too cold to wait for the tow truck driver) Wind chills were -24 degrees. And people in North Dakota had -42 degrees--how do they stand it?

One more trip out to the chiropractor and then we're done for the day. At least the sun is out so it's warmed up to an almost balmy 3 degrees. So Vicki, no snow angel pictures as promised because it's just too darned cold!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


The new weather forecast says wind chills will be at -24 degrees tomorrow. Am I ever glad that we decided to move the trailer south for the winter! There is no way we could have lived in it with temperatures like that!

Still concerned about Mom's thought processes. She's again suffering from diarrhea and it didn't occur to her at all to take Imodium or anything for relief from the symptoms. It appears assisted living would be the best idea for her but I'm not sure she wouldn't outlive her financial resources. I think the stimulation of being around a lot of other people would lift Mom's depression, so we'll have to start crunching numbers.

To all our RVing friends--appreciate the warm weather--I'm thinking of y'all!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's Going to Get HOW Cold?

Wind chills of -10 to -15. A new truck with no engine block heater and our appointment to have one installed isn't until Friday morning. At least the doctors' visits are over for the week. Results? No need for a colonoscopy for Mom as all tests were negative or clear. Basically the reason she was in the hospital is that she fell into a blue funk and drank the days away while not eating any solid foods. So I'm easing into conversations about good eating and sleeping habits, trying to get her to stay up until 8 or 9 PM instead of going to bed at 5:30 PM (like tonight) and talking about living situation choices. The cataract surgery on her eye has healed well so she can get new glasses now, although Mom admits that she's not really capable of driving yet, physically and mentally. *grateful sigh*

So far this week a home health care nurse and a physical therapist have stopped by and tomorrow will be the social worker and an aide who will do the physical therapy. Mom has already turned down a visit from the personal care aide and I think there's an occupational therapist or some such still to come. All of that was arranged at the hospital while my sister was with Mom, so I'm not quite sure who all we have coming over the next couple of weeks. Mom of course hates all of it and will probably "fire" them sometime next week, just as she did this past summer after she was hospitalized with a similar problem. "After all," she says, "Linda's here to take care of me." Hmm, I'm thinking I'm here to get you back on your feet so you can take care of yourself. *snort*

Patches has been curled up on my lap several times today, something she using only does on cold mornings in the trailer. I don't think she likes the cold weather, the snow, or the nicotine-scented, cigarette smoke-filled house here. Quite frankly, neither do Denny or I, but at least we can understand the reason we're here. Patches keeps looking out the window hoping for a different view than the one she saw last night and it just isn't changing for her like it does in the trailer. We plan to return to Alabama in April to haul the trailer back up to Ohio and I think the cat is going to be happy to be back in her traveling house for once. Even if the house won't be moving again until fall.

In the meantime, there will be many more discussions about lifestyle options, choices, and changes. A different sort of journey for us....

Monday, January 12, 2009

Let It Snow, Indeed

OMG, we discovered the hard way that 4-wheel drive is wonderful in snow and ice. The twelfth hour into our trip we were 60 miles from home when the snow started near the top of the worst hill heading out of Kentucky across the Ohio River into Ohio. Watching semi-trailers sliding sideways downhill does not bode well for the trip downhill ourselves and we started our own slide but Denny managed to get Beauty under control so that's when the 4-wheel drive went on. Even luckier was the fact that no one else lost control near us (there were several accidents on the highway according to the GPS system) so we eventually made it to my mother's house where we unloaded the truck, threw the cooler's worth of food into the freezer and refrigerator, talked briefly to my mother to see how she was feeling and then collapsed into bed.

I've made several follow-up appointments with various specialists for my mom, only to hear on the news that three new storm fronts are coming in over the next four days. Really? Does this have to happen this week? Do the weather gods know how long it's been since I've driven in snow? And isn't this why we decided to travel full time? To follow the sun and only see snow in pictures on other peoples' blogs? Sigh and double sigh. Bah and humbug.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lazy Sunday on a Saturday

This morning Denny and I are driving to Summerdale, Alabama where we'll park the rig to store it for the winter. Tomorrow we'll be driving up to Ohio in a one-day driving marathon (about 12 hours) unless the predicted 3-5 inches of snow and bad weather delays us. But the point is, the computer will be packed up so I'm doing the Lazy Sunday post today.

Thursday was our day trip to N'awlins with Don and Vicki. Parking by the mighty, muddy Mississippi we came upon a line of cannons manned by the modern military who appeared to be getting ready to fire off the cannons. I asked them when/if they were going to fire the cannons and they said they would be doing a 21 gun salute at noon to commemorate the Battle of New Orleans. The four of us wandered over to the park across the street from Jackson Square where we watched the preparations for the ceremony, which included a color guard and military band, as well as costumed militia and city dignitaries.

Upon closer inspection of one of my zoom shots, I discovered this young soldier-to-be watching the proceedings intently. (Anonymous, leave me alone)

The loudspeakers for the ceremony for the commemoration of the Battle of New Orleans didn't carry across the street, but there was enough pomp and circumstance to keep us entertained for the half-hour program.

The statue of Joan of Arc on Center Street.

A mime of sorts--this was one of the better ones as he took great care to have every inch of himself and his costume covered in silver.

Vicki and I couldn't resist the charms of the gold man who called the two of us "classy and sassy"--he knew us! Heh.

There are still many signs of the damage done by the hurricane.

A juxtaposition of the old and the new on the Mississippi River.

Looking down a corridor at Pat O'Brien's restaurant.

And of course, the obligatory tourist shot of us with our Hurricanes at Pat O'Brien's. It was a good day.

Sigh and Sigh Again

I just finished reading the weather forecast for the Dayton, Ohio area; a winter storm warning is out with a prediction of 3 to 5 inches of snow for today. And the nighttime temperatures will be in the single digits all next week. Of course it will, because we just discovered that our new Ford truck did NOT come with an engine block heater installed (something necessary to keep the diesel fuel from gelling), apparently because we purchased it in Florida and Florida doesn't get that cold. *Sigh*

Nice welcome home.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

We Almost Made It

Our plans were to spend the winter in Texas, which we haven't done since the winter of 2001. However, that's not to be. Last night my brother called me to say that our mother had not eaten all day and was too weak to sit up so I told him to take her to the emergency room at the local hospital. Once again, her sodium levels are down, although not dangerously so this time, and physically she's a mess so she was admitted for the night.

It's obvious to me now that Mom cannot live on her own so Denny and I are going to store our rig here in the South so we don't have to pull it through the mountains in wintry weather. We'll return to Ohio, buy some heavy duty air cleaners to try to keep the nicotine and tar levels from Mom's smoking to a minimum and see if having us there with her full time gets her back on an even keel. If not, then we'll have to investigate other living arrangements for her.

Denny and I are going to finish out our week here with Don and Vicki and then pack it all up to head north. We're girding our loins for facing the cold weather, and I'm starting to make lists like mad to make sure we take everything we need from the trailer since it will be parked 770 miles away from us. That makes it a little hard to run out to the trailer to pick up something we forgot, no?

Once again into the fray....

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Poor Patches on a Lazy Sunday

On a normal day, Denny washes dishes because I've fixed the meal. On moving day, I wash dishes because Denny has a lot of outside chores to do; emptying the holding tanks, putting away the two satellites dishes, unhooking the sewer, water and power cords, etc. So I do the dishes and Patches has come to learn that means kitty has to ride in the big truck and so she hides behind the couch in the trailer.

Today, since there was a truck stop/restaurant just down the street from our campground, Denny and I decided to pack up, pull out and have breakfast at the truck stop before we hit the road for Louisiana. Patches was happily sleeping in her "cube" when I snatched her up and handed her out the door to Denny, cube and all. She was not a happy camper.

Later we were forgiven, especially when Patches was taken out for a walk but then she got tossed back in the trailer because it was time for happy hour with Don and Vicki who bet us to the campground by about 45 minutes and ended up being across the driveway from us. Since it was obviously 5 o'clock somewhere in the world, Don broke out the frozen margarita making machine and the b-s session began.

Because you are not interested in pictures of slightly tipsy old people, we'll go for whatever my wandering eye culls from the collection today.

Denny and I spent one entire summer driving the roads on the perimeter of the lower part of Michigan. This is a cove near Holland, Michigan. The natives try very hard to keep the tourists from finding these wonderful beaches (kidding) as the roads leading to the beaches sometimes are marked simply as dead end roads.

The tiny Malad Gorge State Park in Hagerman, Idaho is one of those hidden gems that we had almost to ourselves for most of an afternoon. Places like this make some of our favorite memories.

Our stay in Alabama was very damp to say the least. To prove it, there were several interesting mushrooms growing in the campground. You already saw the blue ones, this orange one never grew beyond this shape and size.

Visiting Yellowstone on a cold late September day is great to get away from the normal crowds of tourists, but the steam created by the hot bubbling pools hides a lot of the pools. But it didn't obscure the snow-capped mountains in the distance.

There is no way I'd be in Oregon in late September, because driving in snow with 17,000 pounds of trailer behind us does not make for comfortable driving conditions. But summer in Oregon is lovely as is Mt. Bachelor peeking above the trees and this unnamed lake. The grayish-black rock is actually obsidian, which is glass formed from lava.

Zion; massive colorful rock formations, miles of hiking trails, a Japanese pied piper to entertain us at a weeping wall of rock. You might not come away with the same memories, but you'll leave impressed by the beauty that forced its way from the bowels of the earth so many eons ago.

There have been a surprising number of times when Denny and I have ended up at places where we were the only ones in the campground. Such was the case at The Narrows in Idaho. Out in the middle of nowhere, there were spectacular sunsets, a wonderful nature preserve, a round barn with a grove of trees that hid nesting great blue herons and baby quail feeding around our campsite.

Another shot taken at Zion National Park.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

How They Do It In Mobile

In a city where the krewes throw Moon Pies instead of beads during the Mardi Gras parade, without further ado:

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