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blueshoefarm at gmail dot com.... and that would be how to reach me

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Books and Authors

I have been to a bunch of book readings over the years.  I would get all excited when it was someone I would really like... but one thing I noticed is that frequently they were NOTHING LIKE their book personality.  Based on how they write I would assume they would be a certain way --since I enjoyed the tone of their books.  Ha.  Nope. I actually stopped going to readings because it would ruin the books for me.  Remember Robert Fulghum?  Everything I Needed to Know I Learned In Kindergarten?  It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It?  There was one story of his that had me snorting coffee out of my nose, so inspired by his humor I went to a reading. You know what he did?  He looked up from his book signing and had a conversation with my chest.  Eyes on the front of my shirt. (It should be noted I don't particularly wear tight or low clothing, and there was nothing written on my chest.) You know this man was a church leader of some sort?  That simple gesture on his part ruined his stories for me, which is so stupid, because he is the same person who wrote the stories.  I guess I just didn't think a 60+ man who writes funny stories would be such a dog.  That is my unrealistic expectations coming up against reality.  And I am sure he is a very nice grandfather... just with a bit of traditional sexism thrown in. 

Or when I went to a lecture by author Sue Hubbell.  A Country Year: this was my favorite book for many years.  Turns out she was a bit of a pretentious look-down-your- nose academic. The stories I thought were charming, were actually her barely tolerating the characters in her community, usually the ones with less, either money or education.  I described her as 'east coast", but I mean no offense to my east coast readers, it is just that she had an internalized class system which she talked as if she was above most other community members by sheer virtue of education.  This was when I was younger, and I thought the whole U.S. was like the Pacific NW... egalitarian, fiercely independent, book lovin' (that could have something to do with my mom being a librarian, I think I got a bit skewed in my perception.)   Excruciatingly naive on my part, I know. 
I have always been susceptible to moral judgements on people.  Good, bad, right, wrong. Major character flaw on my part.   There is music I won't listen to because a band member was accused of rape, or walked out on a wife and kids.
For the record, there has also been authors that impressed me way beyond their books.  Ursula K. LeGuin  filled a giant music hall with people, and she was worth it. Sherman Alexie is astounding. Quick witted, hilarious, bluntly direct.
This whole rant is leading somewhere.
1.  I have been cleaning out my books and clothes.  My aunt just sent me Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich.  It is a quick read, light entertainment, and ready for a new home.  Send me an email  that you want it and it is yours.  This is not a contest, basically the first person I hear from gets it. Even though I just ranted my head off about him, I also have two Robert Fulghum's.  He is gently funny... they are books representing a time. Send an email, I will drop one in the mail to you.
2. I always remember the above lessons about authors when reading blogs.  We blog writers may be totally different in person than represented by the written word.  My naval-gazing, every-little-thing, little view of the world is not something I talk about when you meet me. I have met a local blogger that is pretty widely read and she is nothing like her perky effervescent blog.  Blogs for some are marketing devices to make money, and they are marketing themselves.  For the record, I am so obviously not in it for the money.  You have to have non-offensive, non-opinionated, perky postings for that.  Some days I am just too damn cranky.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Easy Surgery

Friday I went in and out of the hospital for my tumor killin' event.  I was giddy before the procedure and giddy after, although the after was probably affected by all the drugs they were shooting in my IV.
The doctors said the after effects of my gamma ray treatment would be exhaustion, and my experience with exhaustion after a brain trauma is of course, the way I felt after the stroke.  Dang tired. Bone numbing exhaustion.  So I thought this would be like that without the body idiosyncracies, balance issues, and weakness. This is nothing like that-- I feel pretty normal with no exhaustion.  The only residual effect is a botox looking forhead from the local anaesthesia they used to attached the pins in my cranium.  The grossest part according to my friend who took me and actually watched.
I am now in a suite hotel with three tv's and a kitchen, king size bed, watching cable tv (a big deal since we don't have tv at my house, we watch everything on hulu) getting spoiled by friends.

In a year with a stroke and tumor, I feel very, very lucky.  That I seem to be coming out of these physical traumas relatively unscathed.  Sometimes you look for a explanations, reasons, a cause,  to understand.  But I am realizing sometimes there are none, this is just the way our lives can roll.  You can reach toward faith, family, religion to try to make you feel in control, like there is a reason or a master plan why funky stuff happens.  Whatever works for a person and makes them able to handle their fears and anxiety is a wonderful road to head down.  I headed down many avenues to find answers and I can't say there was any one solution for me.  But I learned a lot.

Funny during the season of family and friends I am bluntly reminded about what is important. I know this will make me a better friend, since I am seeing the best side of my loved ones.  I hope I never have to reciprocate what they have done, but at least now I know how to do it with grace and selflessness.  Maybe my blog is aptly named.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Buick - The new non-white car in our yard

Picture: Nighttime shot of the new old car.  Technically a pretty crappy shot, but you get the idea.
So after weeks of sporadic searching, I found my car.  Let's revisit my car goals.  I wanted a car as good as my minivan, with less than it's 150K. The parameters were pretty open for a variety of cars to fit.  Oh, and cheap.  I was looking at Mercedes (didn't like the repair costs and that it is recommended to take it to a german oriented repair shop which was an hour away from my house), Lexus, Honda and Toyota (in the NW, I don't know about where you live, but people love these cars and still charge alot for a car with 100K) and lastly, Buicks.  I ended up with a decked out Buick with 44K for $7500. I have bells and whistles on this car that seem a little over the top for a mid-level car (heated seats, seat memory, two tone leather, on and on).  My intent was to get a good transportation car with better gas mileage than the minivan, with money left over for a big trip with the kids.  It does not blend with the white truck, minivan, and horse trailer, but I can deal.
I got it!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wilder's room - before and after

  OK so technically I am not totally done in this room as is evidenced by the tools still laying about... and the holes in the floor on the right (not by me, courtesy of the previous owners thorough need to drill holes through the walls and floor preferably in the middle of the room).  I am including before and after shots-- these simple things are richly satisfying to complete.  I have been working on the bathroom at the same time with help from the my amazing handyman Javier.  Photos to come... 
Before - You can see the vibrant green around the edges that used to be. There is a mystery cut-out to the left, and crawl  space access to the right.  The floor in this room was the original unfinished fir, which had always been covered.  I ended up painting it due to the condition and that it is my only layer of flooring for the upstairs.  I didn't want to sand and diminish it anymore than it already was.

Before - No base molding, unfinished wood.  This is when I was trying to figure out what color to paint... I am not such a decisive colorist!  I probably had seven colors on this wall to confuse me. 

Wilder's favorite color is green, and yes, it is a small room.  The desk on the left is to come out, I just need serious muscle to do it, so am waiting for all my friends menfolk to be around at the same time!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas happenings

So it has been a whirlwind of activity around here. I am having gamma knife surgery to "kill" the tumor on the 16th of December, consequently feel the need to get everything done for Christmas before then. Plus, possibly buy that new (used) car I am looking for, and have Javier finish the upstairs bathroom, and take just about my whole closet of clothes to consignment or give away to friends, and finish Wilder's new room (so close!) and... remain calm.
Things I have learned and general updates:
1. How to knit. Technically, I knew this when I was a kid from my mom but Geri and I thought it would help my dexterity to do it again. She does amazing socks, that is my goal.
2. That my Ace hardware rocks. I was looking at tarps to cover my ever expanding manure piles (horses are full of poop) at Ace. They were $40 each. Yipes. One of the regulars stopped and ask what project I was working on (they all know my endless parade of house to-dos) and I told him I needed to cover my manure. He told me about his lumber tarps for FREE in the back and I was welcome to them. Deal of the century.
3. Did I tell you all three of my garage doors quit at the same time? Broken. One was gone when I bought the place, but really all three gone? Add to the to-do!
3. I moved all my stroke/tumor life over to a new blog A Year of Living in my Head.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fall on the farm

And to think I was going to chop this glowing red tree down... it gets a reprieve due to its brilliant fall color. When it gets to size, it is going to be similar to the monster looming over my house on the opposite side.
Do you love fall, too? The light gets that long angle that filters things differently... sometimes I just have to stop somewhere and look at the loveliness - it is only here for a short time before cold descends.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Meet only person who has ever hollered YAY about a head tumor

A week ago Rose had her first debate competition. I was a judge. It was crammed full of high schoolers from Washington, noisy, action-packed. I was there 12 hours and after two hours could not be in the building without sunglasses. It is as if my brain was screaming, and when I put sunglasses on it quieted down. Other judges non-stop conversations put me on edge also.
I went out to the car, and silence, a couple times to maintain. Sunday, I got bouts of vertigo. That was one of the symptoms of my pre-stroke so I was concerned. My usual behavior (pre-stroke) was to push onward, but on Sunday night I knew to take symptoms seriously and go to the hospital. I waited until I dropped off the kids at school on Monday and hopped on a ferry to my neurologists hospital. (Sidebar: If there was a true emergency, I would call 911. But not without alot of reservations. Last time I called was for a different stroke symptom (my low low bloodpressure skyrocketed to 200/120), they did an EKG in my driveway, the first thing they said to me was "Have I been drinking" and the fellow ACTUALLY BLUSHED when he had to put on the sticky heart things when I lifted my shirt. I think your medical professionals should have enough experience to know they are there to do a job, not get a date. They also said that the hospital would not do anything... I've been there, and agree.) Back to my Seattle hospital...
At my docs hospital I was whizzed through blood tests, x-rays and MRI in less than an hour. My neurologist was immediately contacted.
After a while, the emergency room doctor came in and said "I think we know why you are dizzy, you have a brain tumor." I kid you not, I yelled YAY! Because a tumor I (think) I can deal with. It is finite, there is a beginning and an end to it, and protocol of how to handle it. The stroke already has me dealing with updating my will and the unpredictability of life. I have no fear left for the tumor... I think it's been all used up on the stroke.
The tumor gives a valid reason I am having these stroke-like symptoms. It also shows the doctors I am not making this shit up. I don't know how patients can deal... with PT's, doctors, that hear symptom after symptom which is repetitive for them and normal... but first timer patients are traumatized . I have been on tenterhooks since having a stroke in July. Since this is the first time in my life my bevy of doctors did not look me in the eye and say "You will be fine," I take that to mean (note my usual exaggeration) "You are one step away from the grave." At no time in my zero to age 46 medical visits has a doctor not said I will be fine, now they cannot, because they don't know. The stroke has put a wrinkle in my long term lifespan, my projected end date has just moved closer according to insurance statistics. I don't like that, but as every single solitary person on this planet will face the same thing at some point, it is not something I can argue with. I am learning to look at things differently... a paradigm shift of sorts.
For the record, it is not in my brain, but in my head.... a common tumor, slow growing, usually benign, not the type to move into the lymphatic system. I will have to do something, either take it out or gamma knife it. I was somewhat overwhelmed with stroke knowledge... since I know nothing about them, now I am in a whole new territory. Ah well, at least I like learning new things.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Picture sharing...

The problem with me not finding my camera for a while is that then I share a mish-mash of unrelated photos with you. But then again, I am not sure I always relate the photos to what I am jabbering about.
It was Halloween, remember? The first Halloween I have not carved a pumpkin. I still have next year. We went to a corn maze in Snohomish... acres and acres in the shape of Washington (our state) with the walkways being all the highways and byways. Here is a aerial pic of it. I did not do it this year, but sat and people watched while the kids blazed through it. This pic shows the NW corner of our "state" that funny white thing in the background is the Peace Arch connecting us to Canada. The real one is more substantial, but not necessary bigger. I have a tale from this maze here. BTW,I don't know any of these people hanging around with the scarecrow, even if they kinda look like they are posing.
Below are not my cats. But they could be....
Every year at this maze they have a petting farm. Which includes the most popular farm creature, kittens. You can sign up to adopt them at the end of their 'season of loving'. I bet they are great cats because they are soooo socialized.
Lastly, here is the reason I want to learn to knit. This is a scarf a friend gave me inspired by a book. She got a how-to book that has you knit creations that are each based on a work of fiction. A genius idea. I can't remember why it is related to the book something about there are 29 steps in the book and on the scarf -- it is amazing due to her incredibly even knitting and its gently curling shape when you wear it. I love knowing knitters, because they are always knitting and giving away their results. Socks, scarves, gloves, bags, a sweater. Love it.
I have been quiet on the stroke-front. I have had some changes and some news, but honestly want to ignore I had a stroke (HA) and just be my normal awkward responsible quirky tall kind judgemental perfectionistic cranky laid-back open-minded self. I am tired of such a heightened awareness of the possibility of loss. And the fact that part of my brain is dead and liquifying as this blog is typed. (Sorry, I get macabre)
On the bright side, (there always is one, always, always) I think my blog is even more aptly named. Because as my doctors tell me in very serious voices, I am lucky. It is a lucky day. Or at least it was on July 27th. Technically, not having a stroke on July 27th would have been luckier, but we can't pick and choose our graces. Blessed Be and God Bless.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Painting project - Wilder's room

Our house has three rooms and a forced bathroom upstairs. I say forced because it was definitely added late... like in the 90's late.... and a creative mess of plumbed octopus arms supply water and drainage. Next to the bathroom at the very top of the stairs is a room that we have never used. The night I took possession of the house we yanked all the carpets and threw them out the window. There was so much wicked stuff in those carpets it sent my daughter into one whopping asthma attack and was our first foray into Kitsap emergency services and their strengths, or more apparent, weaknesses. But, as usual, I digress.
So this room. It had the carpet pulled, and then it sat. For three years. It became a dumping zone for all things extra. Or, if I had clutter about the house and people coming over I just put it in a bag, opened the room door, set the bag down and closed the door. (Should I be telling this story showcasing my ineptness at project completion or clutter control?) Wilder's current room is next to Rose's, but you have to walk through his to get to hers. I figured he needed his own privacy, so began to tackle the nightmare I made in the room at the top of the stairs.
How To Finish A Room:
1. Luckily, I have friends with mad organization skills and first we cleaned it out.
2. The floor was the original unfinished wood, which I am painting. (After much soul searching about refinishing vs. painting. The rest of the rooms upstairs are painted wood flooring so I might as well be consistent.)
3. As usual, the previously done finish work is uneven and haphazard... like there is base molding ON THE CEILING but none on the floor. I am going to put molding where it normally goes. Radical, I know.
4. My other friend Tina told me I needed to paint it. I argued, which is my way, it was a somewhat retroish teal green- very sixties farmhouse. She worked me hard, and I ended up repainting it. I am so glad she argued back. It took a week to pick the color, a radical manly yellowish green... which once it was on the wall immediately turned a bland neutral "off-white." I have mini (really really mini) photos on a blog page I will link to. To see the vibrant green the room used to be click here...
5. To do the finish molding.. I bought a new toy, which somewhat terrifies me. And got a 30 minute tutorial from Dan at Lowe's. It has been so long since I haven't been helped by a kid 25 years my junior at those stores that I really appreciated his words of "how not to lose a finger." I don't even know what it is called, but it will cut things quickly at an angle. I included a photo. I am a tool chicken. (But not afraid to learn! Ok, technically I am scared, but not enough to stop me from cranking that big puppy on and slicing me some base moulding...)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Some eating projects...

Rat cookies, calamari and one delectable strawberry thingie, these are some of the goodies my kids have been eating. Okay, the calamari freaked them out a bit. The last pic is me and Rose... me with my new haircut that chopped between 6-12"" off my hair. Tomorrow: some updates on home projects. (I finally found my camera again!)

Monday, October 24, 2011

The crazy thing I have been doing

I drive a minivan. A white, bland, reliable workhorse of a car that can carry bales of hay, bathroom vanities, saddles, kids, dogs and one day a cat that sneaked in. I bought it with 13k miles on it and was hoping to see it through to 200,000. I am at 147K and it is making a funny noises, which I already paid $1400 to the repair shop to fix. And it's going through oil a bit faster than it should.
So somehow I got to looking at used cars for sale online. I don't want to spend alot of money on this so am looking at older vehicles. Us Northwesterns have a penchant for the Subaru/Honda/Toyotas... so consequently they are hard to find a good deal on. Here is where you come in. I need your help. These cars are all the same price(or I can get them down to the same price)... which would you get?

2005 Honda Accord, 100K miles, one owner all the maintenance records.

1999 Mercedes, 40K miles, one owner. Literally owned by a little old lady, she and her sister drove around with me. Lila can't drive it anymore, she has the beginning of dementia. Super sweet ladies, the cleanest car ever, but Mercedes are $$$ to repair if things go wrong.

2002 Buick LeSabre, 50K, one owner. Cushy. Reliable.
Something I notice a bit hinky is all the cars are silver. Hmmmm. One thing I should add is a friend said I would have to dye my hair blond and get a bob cut if I bought the mercedes... she thinks I would be snobby. I told her... HAVE YOU SEEN MY CARS? I think to live with me the mercedes would be "well-loved" and have the fresh scent of dirt and dog. Just driving on my property puts mud in the car, so we can't put on too many airs. Hey just because it is a mercedes, doesn't mean it won't be hauling hay! I like the Buick because it is nondescript and reliable.
And yes, I am still working on Wilder's room and the upstairs bathroom....

Thursday, October 13, 2011

An Unorganized Mind

This may be one of those things I try to blame on the stroke, but truly, I have always been this way. I have things to do. They swirl around in my mind in no particular order of importance... picking up storage shelving and toilet paper is right next to come up with a study plan for Wilder for French and visit colleges with Rose and replace my leaking house window and trimming my fingernails. When I was younger I think I loaded up with coffee and rapidly spooled through the list and got things done. I cannot operate like that anymore. Is it a blessing or a curse that all my friends have a organization gene I am missing? I have started making some beautiful lists. It is the only way I can operate. I think my house is a great assistance to healing. As in, "I can't keel over dead from a stroke, I still haven't attached the front door spring and no one knows where it is" or "the locks for the horse trailer stalls are downstairs in the paint bucket, no one would find that". Ah yes, the little details that keep me going. I am queuing up finishing the upstairs bathroom and Wilder's room... that is definitely keeping me lively. I still negotiate daily with fear (an uncommon feeling for me) anxiety (the uncontrollable consequence of facing mortality) and resigning myself to a life with drugs (statins, blood pressure, aspirin) I am not a person that is fond of pharmaceutical solutions. But I guess if it helps keep me clot-free, I will resign myself and participate.
OH, and if any of you need a soaking tub, I am giving it away for free on Craigslist!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Updating the to-do list 2011

I dug out my old to-do list, which "dug out" is relative considering it is located on my computer in Microsoft One-note. Looking it over I am always surprised about what I get done. See, I think us old house owners don't remember all the stuff we DO do, since there are always new projects in front of us clamoring for attention. Like my house siding is all of a sudden looking very sad. Like literally it is popping and cracking where just three months ago it was fine.
So on the 2012 to-do list it goes.
This is a moment to recognize that which has been accomplished.
1. Rebuilt complete horse fencing. Hired labor for post digging and fence pulling.
2. Finished downstairs bathroom. Hired, fired, hired labor for plumbing and electrical. (I really need to put pics up of the bathroom, it took me two years)
3. Built raised garden beds. My regular garden is too far away (the end of my property) so I built beds from composite wood next to my kitchen.
4. Painted one side of the barn. I paint one side a year, don't ask.
5 Demossed roof. Hired men who dressed in mountain climbing apparatus and scaled my steep roof to get the goo off.
6. Completed a major trim of wayward bushes. Laurel, snowball bush, quince, apple trees, they were all getting crazy and out of control. Hired someone to trim the 100 year old trees, I did the bushes standing in the bed of my truck (for height) with electric trimmers.
7. Planted several gardens - flower, vegetable and bee.
8. Dreamed about building a porch.
9. Dreamed about finishing the loft and one car area of my three car garage.
10. Bought the kids dad a car, his money my skills. (I love negotiating for cars , so friends and family have me buy their cars.)
11. Cleaned horse trailer. Alot harder than it sounds.
12. Bought pressure cooker. Canned jam. Processed 20 pounds of tomatoes.
13. Pulled carpet out of Wilder's soon to be room and painted floor.
14. Painted various rooms.
15. Repaired barn from bully horses and laid yards and yards of gravel on my road and in outside the horse barn to hinder the mud.
16. Since moving in three years ago I have replaced the stove, furnace, kitchen sink, one bathroom and in process on the second, fencing, some windows, and tore out all the wall to wall carpeting.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Wonders of Craigslist - House History Found

Pictures: Top, the Blue Shoe Farm's property at the turn of the 20th century. Mid: Bernice thought this was my home... I am not so sure. Bottom: Property today. The drippy tree is an old old birch.

The last couple weeks I have been craigslisting my extra apples. Hundreds of apples from two hundred year old trees. I had Guy and his 80+ mom Bernice come over for some apples, told me what kind they were (Kings and Transparents) and Bernice asked if I lived in the Paulson house. I affirmed I did, and she said she has lived in the brothers 1903 house since 1930 and that our two properties were (originally) next to each other. Now there is a gravel pit, highway, housing development and industrial area between us. My property stayed fairly intact due to another family buying it and running a dairy, until large scale farming left our county in the 1980's. The dairy had a hard time when zoning changes came in, and when they sold a developer bought it and chopped up the land. I love these random unexpected stories about my house! Another craigslist genius moment.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Having a Stroke Part 2 - To the hospital

A teenager with standard issue smalltown eye makeup, a mom with no makeup and a 11-year old with a big smile!
At this point none of us are calling this a stroke. We are driving down the road, and Wilder starts calling people. Some of these memories are loosely running around in my head and I don't have the tightest grip on them. Like where did he get the wherewithall to call friends and family? Once he dialed my friend Lisa, and she determined he was not kidding she told him to hang up and dial 9-1-1. 9-1-1 had Rose pull the car over to the side of the freeway while the operator kept Wilder talking. I was awake and alert enough to worry when the aid car and firetruck pulled up... the firetruck blocking the right lane of traffic around a bend in the freeway... that it was not parked in the safest spot. We left the car, and the kids and I got in the aid car. I don't know if it was good or bad but my kids being there kept me from being drawn into the quiet of my brain. There was something powerful wanting me to tune out --no anxiety, no fear. But strongly present was what my kids were seeing, and feeling, and their fear. That is why I stayed present, to allay their concern, to show that mom was okay. On to the hospital emergency where they laid me out, asked me my name, birthday, where I was. The stroke symptoms were coming and going, I lost left side function five or six times that morning. Various medical personnel threw out opinions why I was having them from the aid car personnel to nurses, and all suggested stroke like symptoms due to.... ready? Oh yes my favorite : perimenopause. I was taken downstairs for an MRI. I remember it was a sad room in need of paint, and a portly man sat in a windowless room watching. I had to take off my jewelry, and it took FOREVER to get off earrings and a pendant. My hand was not able to negotiate the clasp or earring backs, it was present and working, but would not navigate the job. I only knew this because I could not take them off, my brain was under the impression that my hand was doing just fine. This is one of the strangest cognitive changes... my mind thinks everything is operating as it should when it is not. Also, why the hell didn't I have help? The orderly who rolled me down to MRI was gone.
Into the machine, which was a trip in my current state. I actually thought the different noises were a type of music so it would not be boring for the patient. When I had another MRI a week later I realized the loud blasts of sound were definitely not music. Just shows that the brain has an amazing ability to compensate, cope and justify. The MRI was done, I was wheeled back upstairs and Lisa and her kids had arrived from Seattle. Our sons are the same age so they went off to get food. The kids dad arrived soon after from a different ferry. My mom was notified in Michigan, and she got the nurse on the phone to make sure they knew that I "drank alot of coffee." We got several days of humor out of that one, thanks Ma! A doctor came in the room and had me spell world backwards. This was a favorite game of Rose and mine when she was in elementary school - "backwards spelling bee." Infinity, Mississippi, Precocious, pick any big word and spell it backwards. He said world, and I thought SIMPLE! But I could not do it. I couldn't see the word in my head. I couldn't see the letters. I couldn't group the sounds. I also had sporadic bouts of not talking. And zoning out, not really sleeping, but off in la la land. Every hour they came in and did neurological tests, and every time they asked me to spell world backwards. I think by this time Rose and Wilder had been through my whole contact list and notified everyone. My blood pressure was elevated due to the stroke so they gave me something to lower it, then I was wheeled upstairs into a shared room. The same doctor that intimated that I could just be having some hormonal issues then came in and said very seriously... "well, you have had a stroke." And they would keep me for 24 hours and watch me since "any damage will occur during the next 24 hours" he then asked if I had any questions and left. My memory is not highly accurate from this era of strokehood, but I do remember being dumbfounded. And that he could't answer any questions that we posed. Rose's best friend and mother came by. The staff took me for a scan of my arteries and heart. Rose recognized a staffperson who worked in the hospital as being "the wasted funny woman at the 4th of July!" -- that is small town living for you! She said she was sorry to see me under these circumstances. To digress as I always do, that 4th of July was a great education for Rose on being drunk. Since everyone there but us was plowed and exhibiting all the classic types of drunk : from the I love you, man, to sad, to dangerous (carrying a open fire pit with a blazing fire on the back of a truck) to crazy, beligerant, and foul mouthed. It was nothing I could have taught her by telling her the intricacies of alcohol, she got to see it in all its stupid glory.
Anyway, back to stroke. Basically they were admitting me to the hospital for observation and stabilization. After a few hours everyone went home, that is when it got rough. What kept me together was a nurse named Sarah. Or I think her name was Sarah. My friend Lisa had drawn a picture of me on a horse on a whiteboard behind my bed. When Sarah was in folding my discarded clothes she commented on my pants and said she had a pair and loved them. I said they were great for riding because my childbirth pooch doesn't hang over the top, they are high enough. She laughed and agreed, turns out she had a horse too. I don't remember what we talked about regarding the stroke, but I remember her hug was deep and warm, and it felt like everything might be okay. I told her I felt like a sitting duck just waiting for brain damage to occur as the doctor said, and the fear I had for my children. Somehow she calmed me and listened. She also normalized things by bringing in her phone with pics of her horse and told me how she got it. Again, that the world did not just end, there are still stories being made, horses being ridden. It is wonderful to be pulled out of my own space into the bigger world. The nurse the next day told me Sarah used to be a bartender, so has finely honed listening skills. It was perfect for me, and the only manageable moment I remember from the hospital. That and my friend Evelyn's visit the next day, where she advocated for me and told me stories. My night nurse was brought over from another department, and not the brightest bulb. It is sad that me having had a stroke noticed the diminished mental capacities of someone taking care of me. Like when I told her in the wee hours of the morning that my blood pressure was too low... she didn't know that. But I survived the hospital and its parade of hush voiced PT's, OT's, and doctors.

Having A Stroke - Part 1

I get asked alot about my stroke -- if I knew I was having a stroke, what it was like, how it happened. Looking back on it I see now that there were episodes leading up to it that were red flags. Slightly elevated blood pressure for about three years. Pounding heart and uneven beats for about two years. Four visual migraines the week before. The visual migraines - losing sight with no pain- started after the birth of our son around age 35, and I only have one every two to three years.
The migraines and extreme sudden dizziness that happened two days before were the big flags, but with most things got brushed off. Called my doctor. Heart palpitations? The medicine I was on for my blood pressure. The migraines? Menopause or allergies. In fact, many symptoms were explained away by perimenopause.
After the first dizzy spell on a Monday, where the world suddenly reeled, spun and then stopped, I knew something was different. It felt like being on sudafed... kinda like there is a big fuzz over my brain. That evening, I had a dinner to attend, and I remember it was all I could do to pay attention to what was being said. I was very tired, and things became "simple". I had that feeling many times pre and post stroke, the world becomes compartmentalized, and simpler. I realize now after reading about it that is because the brain has to pay attention to everything -- the part of cognition that is automatic and running in the background, i.e. The tv is on, someone is doing the dishes, the telephone rings, the dog is hovering 'cause she's hungry, someone is talking to you.... is altered. Whereas before all those things could be occurring at the same time and you isolate the conversation, my brain couldn't isolate anymore, and all of life's happenings came in at the same importance level. It was simple, because basically I could only focus on one thing at a time.
On Wednesday morning, I woke up and had my regular cup of coffee. After about five minutes it did not taste good anymore so I set it aside. I felt dizzy in the bathroom so went outside to feed the chickens and horses and it lightened and went away. Wilder had a doctor's appointment and so we were getting ready to go. I walked to the front door, knowing something was not right, but forged on. Wilder came outside with me to get in the car and asked if I was alright. I had been speaking to him with a slur, and was having left side failure. My brain was sending the words out correctly, but my mouth could not navigate creation of the sounds. I have not forgotten the look of fear on my son's face when he looked at me and said something's wrong. That's when I told him to get his sister to drive me to the hospital. She ran downstairs in her pajamas. (She didn't change out of them until the evening when her dad took her home) I decided I should go to the bathroom first. That is when I had major left side failure. I started standing up from the toilet and sliding to the left toward the wall and floor. I remember thinking that something was not working right and being somewhat surprised... like What?! Oh no you didn't... you are getting your butt up. I still remember the will it took to get my body upright -- my leg shaking and my brain solely focused on being upright -- but I was not going to traumatize the kids further. And really, what would be more traumatic than a mumbly mom on the floor of the bathroom with her pants down? The stroke at this point was coming and going, I was having intermittent left side failure. This is also possibly due to an embolic ischemic stroke, a clot that comes from the heart, and then dissipates into many little clots. Reminds me of the Angry Birds bird that starts out as a single, but breaks into several smaller bombs. (This stroke cause is a possibility, not a definite. They still don't know why I had a stroke, but are narrowing the options.) Next up: To the hospital.
Pictures: Prestroke. Put me in front of a camera and I cannot be straight. The one of me maniacally laughing was actually supposed to be my author bio photo. It was not chosen since I look insane.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Heaven in a House Organizer

Being that I have lately been occupied otherwise, I am ashamed to say housecleaning has not been high on my priority list. Bills, paperwork, kid school papers, books, clean laundry and dustbunnies seem to be breeding and laying themselves about the house. So I found Victoria. Blessed, blessed Victoria. Through Craigslist, there was a listing for housecleaner and professional organizer. What?? Those sounded like mad skills that I needed to borrow so I gave her a call. A petite, energetic, professional woman came to talk with me about what I needed done and leave me references. I hired her the next day. OMIGOD my house is lovely. She blazed through My Whole House upstairs and down in three days. Cupboards, kid rooms, kitchen I swear it has not looked like this since we moved in. We are tackling my basement and garage next. NEVER have I been this excited to clean. Rose said Victoria should start a religion and be a god so people could openly worship her.... I said if she were a man I would fall in love. And I adore my house again. Which I already did, but I love it MORE.
Stroke news, PT and OT are a blast. Some first diagnosis are my brain has lost the ability to allow communication between my left hip and torso making me walk uneven, and "one of the many doors" of language processing has died. I have very high function things gone, so it is not obvious I had a stroke. Like that lame-o sentence "high function things" I can't think what PT Megan called it but hopefully you get the gist. Example: I can call out car colors when they drive by... but if Megan and I are on a trampoline, and she is jumping, and I am also playing a Bop-It then I try to call out the colors of cars... HA! Gone, empty, a void. My brain can't do it with all the other things. Being a lover of information, I find all this fascinating. I am sure it is also "fun" because everyone says I will make a full recovery. My minor deficiencies are so exhausting to work on, and my brain actually tells me it doesn't have to do it when it gets too hard (I ignore it and push on.) When it gets hard is when my brain is relearning and making new paths. I cannot fathom the great strength it takes if one has major debilitation. I shall send them a prayer, since I received many from people I have not met.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Some Notes about Having A Stroke

When I turned on the radio for the first time since I had the stroke and heard the piano themed music for Garrison Keillor's Writers Almanac, I teared up. Not that I love poetry, or Keillor. But that the world is still running along as usual and even though I feel like my world flipped 180 degrees really didn't. The world is rolling along at the same pace, it is my perception of it that has become so keen.

If you have a stroke, DO NOT go on the internet. Reading that your chance of having another have just exponentially increased, that debilitating disability is very common, that you are more prone to neurological disorders and dementia, on and on can scare the shit out of you.

When they let me out of the hospital with no information and a few illustrated stroke pamphlets that looked like they were designed in the 1970's that weren't really targeted to my age bracket... I was a basketcase. The hospital had no specific information so I felt like there was a big clot just ready to make a move and paralyze me permanentally. Later someone who knew strokes told me the clot that caused the stroke is long gone, broken down by my body. That would have been helpful to hear right off the bat.
I am much better now. Every day is improvement, I lost 17 pounds (it is not that noticeable when one is 6' tall) tons of farm muscle (weakling!) that will come back as I start doing things. I am going to Physical Therapy tomorrow, should be interesting. It seems I am walking different, we shall see if it is true.
Keep your friends around you that make you laugh. When you stroke out, you have limited energy for experience -hearing, seeing, moving -- and things become very simple. People turn into energy... as in they either leave you with what little energy you have or they drain it. In the normal world, they would weave in and out of my life and I didn't notice, but right after the stroke I had limited reserves. I would literally close my eyes to stop the information coming in.
The issue of mortality comes right to the front. As in, wow, that could have so gone another way... paralysis, brain fog, loss of vision or the ability to speak. My body which has carried me along just fine, with strength, grace, and alot of coffee... all of a sudden became an unreliable vessel for carrying my life. But being that I cannot just go out and get another newer model, I have had to mentally adjust to "this body can fail" dramatically even though I have dependent children, hungry horses and an old farmhouse. It does not matter what I am, or who I am, or what I do... it is not my decision.
The hardest thing is my children. Wilder asked his father this weekend if he thought I was having a stroke while they were not with me. I know it is always on his mind as he searches my face for signs of "stroke drop." When I get tired and the stroke effects become more apparent, he will get very worried and ask me to rest. He is 12. His sister Rose is 16 and can hide her worry and fears with teenage nonchalance, but it is there in her tears. And, I can't just say everything will be fine, I will never leave you (as a child.) That sucks the big puppy. If it was only sheer force of will that could keep me alive, I would win. But, it seems, there is a certain amount of random unpredictability within our lives.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Look what the cat dragged in....

Bella the cat brought in another gift to us... a baby bunny IN MY ROOM. At least this one is unharmed and as soon as I get the cat in the house I can return it from whence it came. At least its better than the pregnant mouse that spontaneously aborted IN MY ROOM or the bird that I had to wrestle from her IN MY ROOM.
And now she won't come inside because I yelled at her. In her world, she is bringing me quite a trophy, and I should commend her lavishly.
I tolerate the rat parts she scene-ically lays out on the front porch and gently thank her, I even managed to squeeze out a "good cat" when she left me a rat face looking up at me one morning not wanting to discourage her rodent hunting. But bunnies make me do the girl thing "aaaaawwwwwwwwww, sooo cuuuute" in a high girlie voice. I can't help it.
My cat is immune to cuteness. I just yell loud and flail my arms when I don't agree with her choice of prey, and I also know that I am not even remotely speaking her language and she could give a rip.
Photo: I only took one of the rabbit with a flash since it was terrified. Hence the cut-off pic.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Normal Weekend

A gal pal and her three boys took Wilder and I up to Graysmarsh Farms in Sequim for some berry picking.
Raspberries, seedless blackberries, blueberries and about 4 loganberries were what we picked. I made jam yesterday, with pies today. Yay! I also picked up a pressure cooker yesterday in Port Townsend. A Mirro 8 quart... which was a hard decision between Mirro, Kuhn Ricon, Fagor, Presto, All American, but dang the Mirro is easy to use. And if you have a glass topped stove Mirro says it won't work. But my stove has a burner made specifically for it, so you can use a glass top regardless of what they put in their guide.
Oh and if you are a serious pressure cooker person (and have money) the All-American and Kuhn Ricon are flippin' fantastic.($200-400) But, for me, for once a year canning, at sea level (literally 100 feet above...) a Mirro with weighted pressure gauge is dandy. ($70 on sale!) And a note about the boys.... no complaining, they just are hungry alot.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I haven't found my camera that I loved for many years, it could not take a bad picture. So I went looking for a new one. The first was a Nikon Coolpix 3100. It had some cool features like five different color modes (sepia, B&W, hi color, regular, blue) and a great video feature in HD, but it didn't always figure out lighting correctly and would wash out images. I got it at Target, and they said no problem returning it if I didn't like it, so I did just that. My old camera spoiled me.
I then bought a Canon Elph 3500IS. I love it! Other than it is small and I will probably drop it several times, or that the touch screen will reluctantly drag my rear-end into the modern age (I still have my constuction grade old school flip cell phone from three years ago) the pics are (maybe) as good as my old monster digital camera. Now I can start working on my house again, since I am able to take pics. (Ha, like that was what was stopping me-)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Clam Cannery in Port Townsend

The Clam Cannery Waterfront Hotel & Spa by turnherelocal">
My aunt and uncle came out last week from Michigan to check on me. They thought I needed to get away... so took me to Port Townsend. We stayed at the recently restored Clam Cannery Inn. It was lovely being right over the water in a fully stocked suite. It was also a test to see how long I could be upright and alert.... which a week ago was about 2 hours. Yesterday I was up for nine hours. Every day is an improvement, some things are repairing rapidly, like my typing speed and ability to stay awake and there are also slow repairs -- like the ability to touch my nose with my eyes closed (I am about an inch off with my wayward left hand). Yeah, I know, how often do you have to do that in a regular day?? But it reminds me that there are still some mysteries as to how my brain is damaged.
I was joking with my daughter Rose yesterday that I can blame SO MANY THINGS on the stroke where as before I had no excuse. Ditsy moment? Stroke. Potty mouth? Stroke. Drive too fast? Stroke. Floors not swept? Stroke. I get alot of humor mileage out of this which is good, because technically the whole thing does not fall in the realm of the comedic.
Also a quick note to friends. And my ma. I am a only child. That makes me somewhat (very) independent with an "I can do it myself" attitude. The first couple weeks I could not "do it myself" and people came out the woodwork to visit, offer help, make me laugh, feed the horses, take care of the chickens. My horseshoer came over and caught the horses and did their hooves. My neighbor got my mail and took the garbage out. The kids dad took off work which he does not do and continuously keeps things going. My mom kept the kitchen stocked, and everyone fed and driven where they needed to go. A friend brought food from her garden and wood for my firepit. Another took Wilder a couple days to be with her sons to take his mind off of me and let him be a kid again. But most of all everyone just continually checked in and gave me hugs, put me on prayer lists, and acted like it was all going to be okay and normal. And that was the best. Pics: I added a link to the Clam Cannery if you are interested, a photo of our room, & Ischemic Attack (stroke) victim (me) yesterday in Edmonds. Lookin' at me, you wouldn't know I had a stroke, other than when I get tired my left side gets a little droopy.

My Big Box Temp Job

I wrote this post a while back about my temp job. I am not sure I am going back to it, at this point I have gotten picky what I spend my time doing. Plus, I am still waiting for my stamina to come back!
The beginning of July when we were on the ferry going to Seattle I got a call from an unknown phone number. I answered it -- turns out it was a pre-screening call for an interview at a big-box store that I shop at All The Time. A couple months ago they had a sign in the window they were hiring, and temporary work at this time is very appealing, so I went online and applied.
I answered their textbook questions : " Tell me about your cash handling experience" "Tell me about a time you gave excellent customer service" and got a call to come in for an interview with the store operations manager. When I passed muster I was set up to meet the store manager to sign off on hiring me. Then there was a background and DRUG test. If you have never had a drug test... it is a strange thing. You cannot wash your hands. You cannot flush the toilet. You cannot bring anything in the room with you like a purse. When you do get to wash your hands, you are watched.
All for a temp job, at a third of my previous payrate. After almost 15 hours of online training, including warnings verbally and in video about unions (this store chain does not have a union) I was on the salesfloor this past weekend. Result?
1. I love working.
2. I am not a very good turn-off-the-brain follow policies to the end of the earth type person.
3. It is an eye-opener kind of job. Positions like this are how people can be working more than fulltime and still need assistance like food stamps... this is not a liveable wage. If they are a family this income would meet the poverty threshold. Plus, how could they hire quality childcare if the going rate is 2/3 their monthly income?
I tried not to sound snarky when a gal my age came up next to me and asked if I had worked anywhere before this. I don't tell my coworkers what I do, I just say I have lots-o-cashiering experience. Working in a store with 150 other employees, there are funky little power and favoritism issues that I already notice one week in. BUT I love working in this store... I will get to learn about all sorts of things I am clueless about, and we all know how much I love learning new stuff!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Blame it on the left hand

Things I think are funny:
1. Today I tossed a cup of miso soup in my hair and down the back of my neck. Why? Because I was carrying it in my left hand. I was feeding the horses and carrying a cup of miso... and had to go under the clothes line. (Always the multi-tasker) The flake of hay was in my right hand, so I used my left which had the cup in it to lift the line. The part that my sneaky strokebrain contributed was that between me picking up the cup, and me lifting the clothesline I became unaware that I had a cup in my hand. I believe this little trick of stroke-hood in medical terms is called neglect. I call it crazy.
2. Another example. As I have done for years, and I am pretty sure everyone else does, I use both hands when doing things. The difference is my left hand is only reliable until it forgets its supposed to be doing something. I put a glass in my left hand and filled it with water. As I put the water container down, my left hand let the glass drop, breaking it unceremoniously on my stove and floor. When this happens it is always a shock, like, how on earth did that happen??
3. Wilder and I were in the grocery, and he got a piece of pizza. He went off to wash his hands in the restroom as I held his pizza for him. Next thing I knew it went splat on the floor facedown. Left hand. He came back right as I was following the "two second rule" and asked incredulously if I just dropped his pizza. As I was dobbing the top with a napkin I said look at how clean I am getting this!

I decided I am going to try to keep an eye on that hand. Like literally watch it when I give it a task to see if that will keep my brain in the loop. The good thing is that the frustration of body parts not doing what they are supposed to is also turned off... so it doesn't bother me. (Other than hot miso in my hair and cleaning up broken things... ) It is not like I am trying to hold the cup and fail, it is that after a few seconds every memory of that hand is gone. If strokes weren't so damn terrifying this might be fun.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Always the house

Three days after my stroke my handyman Javier came over. (With his cousin, Javier). I heard the kids dad talking in low tones to him, probably about me being sick, and sending him home to Seattle....when I moved out of the prone position and told him to come on in! I wasn't going to pass up work hours for a stroke!
That day they finished trimwork in the living room and bathroom, and wainscoting in the other bathroom. I am sure they did other stuff, but I forget.
That same weekend a predator broke into the chicken coop and killed two birds. It is always the nice friendly fat birds they get. I have not lost a buff orpington to natural causes yet.
In the chicken coop, amiable and gentle gets the short end of the stick.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Weather Analogies

So far there is no reason they have discovered for the stroke. I have had two of every test, a light put down my throat to look at my heart, my arteries scrutinized for signs of plaque and blockage, MRI's and heart monitors. I have a clean bill of health. A good heart and arteries. My neurologist called my stroke "a lightening strike" my GP called it a "perfect storm".
My recovery is interesting. Every day is better, but there are still times when brain strength reaches sensory overload and just shuts down. As in, I need closed-eye time, not to sleep, just to reset. A sleep specialist said it best when describing my uneven nighttime sleep : since the brain had a major trauma, at night it repairs. And that is not a restful process.
At least I can type again, although slow. It was funny to see my typing right after the stroke... my left hand was waaaay slower than my right and so it would come out as typed gobbledeegook but my brain did not register that my hand was not behaving accordingly. Same with balance... I was stepping over a fence and caught my left foot which my brain did not recognize as caught. I know I have a left side, I can see it and feel it. I am just not aware of the space it occupies.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Stroke Update

Hello, I'm Andrea's daughter and I am just updating on her condition. She had a stroke that took place in the right side of her brain resulting in weakness in the left side of her body. She is getting a lot of tests done to see what the cause of the stroke was. She is getting better, but the recovery proccess is gradual. If you didn't know her, you might not notice anything wrong with her. She cant quite type right because her left side can't keep up with the right and that causes difficulties.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Left turn.

This is a little out of the ordinary. On Wednesday I had a stroke. It is Friday, and I am home, but I am not sure how frequently I will post for the next couple weeks. I will however, be reading all of your blogs to keep me entertained!

Monday, July 25, 2011

I can't blog without my camera.

Image: The birthday boy during his nerf war party, in May.
I cannot find my camera. That means I don't blog. I can't show you pics of my half-torn out bathroom nor my new tile nor the new chicks being batty nor the cauliflower, rabe, basil growing (since we are finally having 3 days of sunshine and above 70 weather). I think I "put it away" when cleaning. Not really sure where that "put away" spot would be. I hear short term memory is the first thing to go.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Abandoned Farmhouse - NW Finn Hill and Urdahl Rd Poulsbo

While my son was brushing up on his batting for Little League this spring at a giant sports complex built in the middle of farmland, I walked across the road to acreage for sale. Set back on the property was this farmhouse... obviously abandoned and a little on the creepy side with the weather torn curtains and kicked-open door.
I have some sort of a weird obsession with old houses. They have stories in them that I want to know. There is something particularly disturbing to me when they are abandoned.
When I was walking through the weeds I thought : if my old house was in a more public place... in an area of development, it would have ended up like this. Once development starts on farmland, there is not alot of room for farming any longer. Some folks get cranky when they have to drive past cow smells, and no one likes the sound of roosters, especially the nutball type that sporadically crow 20 hours a day (which, honestly, seems to be the only kind I have ever had.) This vandalized building was once a loved home. There are chintz curtains moving against the broken glass, bright paint in the kitchen and still great condition furniture in the living room. Once an efficient working farmstead surrounded by level agriculture fields, it is now ready for the bulldozer and another big box store. This property is a stones throw from the Home Depot-Walmart-Starbucks-PetSmart-Office Max complex so I am sure the value is in development. And that is the rub. If I owned this, and it was worth 1.2 million as retail property and 440K as a farm... what would I do? What would you? I always like to think I would consider the longterm good of a rural community (which to me is more land, more agriculture - otherwise I would live in a city...) but self interest is a strong motivator.
For the record, I am not saying no to big box stores or to development, (stay tuned for my post of where I got a temp job) but am seriously questioning our need for a monster complex of them every 6.5 miles. I don't remember seeing "shopping" in Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Old House Histories

Photo: Lemolo Schoolhouse, 2011. I realize it is not really a 'looker' in this image... I will post more interesting photos when I find my elusive camera. One of the more interesting tasks of my previous museum job was helping visitors and researchers document building histories. Since moving to my old house, I have sporadically been searching for information on my property since a 1904 house in Washington state probably has some sort of provenance. I realize this is nothin' to folks on the East Coast or across the ponds toward Europe and Asia, but in our wet Northwest clime, 107 years is a bit of age. Things have a tendency to be torn down around here.... progress you know. Or, just molder away in the wet moist environment. Last week we visited a gal that just bought an old community schoolhouse located in Lemolo. I got a bit giddy with finding out information on her building... since old public one room buildings in Kitsap are torn down without a second thought - Grange halls, schoolhouses, churches have been bulldozed more often than not. And she actually likes her building - yay! To find material about her school and my home I made my first venture to the Poulsbo Historical Society and was pleasantly surprised by their knowledge and friendliness. They not only had citations of all available references from the local newspaper for the last several decades but also gave me names of oldtimers that live in the community and can share what they know. The other major resource is the Kitsap Historical Society which I only dealt with by phone or email after my first in person visit. They are still working on finding early schoolhouse pictures, but the stunner is that the director is the granddaughter of the man who built my house, if my house is really the Paulson home. Unfortunately, she has no pictures, but she does have tales. There is a part of me that does not want to find out the details of my previous house residents... since if there is something wacked I don't really want to think of it going on within these walls. BUT then again, this house has no bad vibes, even when it is really dark, and I am really tired, and the kids are with their dad. The only thing I have a question about is why every door has a lock on it upstairs, but am going to attribute that to this being (previously) a hundred+ acre farm that probably had farm hands and maybe boarders during the Depression and after. I did find out that there were extensive gardens, a dairy, giant chicken barn, and they sold produce to Port Gamble residents when Port Gamble was a monster lumber mill and community. I am going to search for the foundation of another smaller house somewhere on the property that the wife moved to when the husband died. Why didn't she stay in the "big" house?

Maybe she was like me, and hates cleaning floors. I often think of moving to a one room condominium with no animals and all white furniture when I become slower and longer in the tooth. I think it keeps me motivated and somewhat sane... to think there is an out to the endless maintenance I do. As far as I can see, the chickens are the only creatures earning their keep around here by supplying me with eggs. I was trying to talk Amanda dog into weedeating yesterday since my arm was sore. She just gazed at me with dog admiration, I told her that only goes so far, that unconditional love thing. She needs to start helping around here, and that does not include her yippy barking. I know when my neighbors drive by since I see them...I don't need her barking-yipping-noisy narration. Dogs.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The 4th and fireworks

Pic: The fearless fireworks watching cat Bella. (Can you tell we got her during a Twilight saga?)

Last night, Rose and I sat outside in our driveway watching the neighbors shoot off WAY LARGE fireworks, not the little "cones of sparks" or "happy pagoda house" that we used to do. The kind that shoot in the sky and force out an "ooooh" or "aaah" from your body. The bonus of living near a reservation (well, depending on if you like loud noises).... is all our neighbors spend oodles to buy big fireworks for the 4th, and then we get to watch them. Our chicken dog Amanda sat under our legs trying to bury her head anywhere. Our cat Belly sat in front of us and the horses stood next to us, watching the sky. Afterwards, Rose found the big dipper and then we spent a good ten minutes using the big dipper to find the north star and little dipper. We are not so quick in these constellation searches. As soon as we found the little dipper, a shooting star fell across our line of sight. We both laughed, Rose said it was the stars telling us 'good job' after our lame long search for the small dipper.
Yesterday was also the culmination of four BBQ's in three days. I am a little tapped out on burgers right now. I think I could eat the strawberry shortcake again, however.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Horses, Boys and Salons

Yesterday we took Strider into the vet to get a laceration three stitches. I thought once I fixed the dilapidated fence that the horses would float on a cloud of safety. Nope. Went out a couple days ago and Strider had a one inch cut under his eye. I cleaned it with betadine, put some antiseptic ointment on it and it looked good for about 36 hours until it started healing in the wrong way (the skin was aligning unevenly). I had previously scheduled a salon appointment at 4:15, and normally a 2:30 vet appointment would be fine since they are all in a five mile radius from my home. It would have worked until..... the vet was an hour behind schedule and the laceration took three stitches instead of one and Strider needed a tetanus update. When we left, instead of dropping the horse off, I drove the horse trailer and Wilder and his friend to the salon. We parked in a bank parking lot that was big enough for the trailer and horse and I gave Wilder my debit card to get cash out of the bank and while I ran over to the salon where I was 10 minutes late.When I was done and paying the gal behind the counter told me how mature the boys were and how they regaled her with horse stories and getting cash for the first time out of a cash machine at the drive through window. As we left the salon, Wilder's friend told me he "was not really a salon type man." When I looked at the magazines in the waiting area I could see why. Probably not so keen on the fancy hats of the royal wedding, how to keep their man satisfied and getting ready for bikini season. They are good sports.
My vet visit cost $229. Anyone considering horse ownership because it is "fun" and "you have always wanted to have a horse" needs to realize how dang expensive their upkeep is. And you can't scrimp, they are big creatures that take alot of maintenance and if defered can cause your horse to be good for nothing but the glue factory. Hooves, teeth, worms, vaccines... monthly, quarterly, annually. Dollars, dollars, dollars. Sorry this got a bit rant-y. My horseshoer just was out telling me horse ownership horror stories --he sees alot of them, and some are hard to hear.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Upstairs bathroom door

Pics: Top to bottom. Door lock with layered paint that needs to be removed. Interior of lock. Same lock with my specialized paint removal tool, a free plastic dinner fork.

I am beginning to tackle the upstairs bathroom remodel. I should probably call it a readjustment or finishing rather than a remodel, I am not gutting anything like I did downstairs.

First job is to paint the door. When I bought this home, most of the interior of my house was farmhouse white. Which is nice, bright and clean. Until kids or dogs or cats are involved. (Who am I kidding, me too.) I am liking more and more that trendy beige-y taupe paint color, I bet it hides everything. Nothing can hide on my white walls. Have a kid that doesn't wash his hands? Just look on the door edge. Have a cat that smooshes her nose on the edge of the kitchen door while waiting for her food or a dog that pushes open the bathroom door when you are 'busy'? Well, glory be, white lets you see all those lovely nuanced moments of everyday life. In two plus years the upstairs bathroom door is disgustin'. It does not help that everything white is painted in a flat chalky white that rubs off on you, and gets a smudge on it if you walk by. I used to think that they painted the house in a primer. Now, I just think they bought the dang cheapest paint they could find. If MacDonald's had paint available on their 99 cent menu I swear my house would be painted in it. Thank you MacDonalds for sticking to food products.

Back to door. Took off the hardware to strip the layers of old paint off. It looks like there are only three coats of paint on these, not including the black paint on steel that was the original color.

My handy trick for removing a million (or three) coats of paint off of metal is simple hot water. Hot water that you keep replacing to keep it hot and something to scrape the paint off. Here I am using a plastic dinner fork, but I have used a paint scraper, pottery tool (for detail) or a brass brush. I was smarter this time, and took a pick of the lock innards. I am not always so mechanically skilled to put things together correctly, the downside is I love taking things apart. I think those two are a lethal combination for having things work correctly, so pictures save my butt.

To see the downstairs bathroom door hardware finished product click here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Betty MacDonald's Egg and I

A friend and I were up in Port Townsend walking through the shops. We went into William James, Bookseller (best bookstore ever) and both bought used copies of The Egg and I. Having never read this Northwest classic we thought it was high time to read it.
End result... it is a pre-Depression tale of : newlyweds move from the big city Seattle to the country and a chicken farm and meet stereotypical country neighbors and various wildlife all under the snowy flanks of the Olympic Mountains. It is definitely dated, has some things that made me cringe in my 2011 sensibilities, but she is a good writer and it was a quick read.
After it's 1945 publication, The Egg and I was such a huge hit that Hollywood bought the rights and made a movie. The road where they lived for four years - which gave her the fodder for her story - is now the Egg and I Rd. in Chimacum, Wa. I drive by it on my way to Port Townsend, and for twenty years just thought someone was a nutty fan of author Betty MacDonald and named the road for her book. Little did I know this was the road she lived on! Their little place is long gone, but I swear there are a couple old homesteads that fit the era and descriptions from her book --she did not have nice things to say about her neighbors. Funny, it is a road that looks and drives like a kajillion other roads around here, but now feels different because of those tales created 80 years ago.

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