Friday, February 28, 2014

in the blender of life

This was one of those weeks where I felt like I was whirling in a blender every day. Every day felt full which is a wonderful thing. It means I didn't fill my life with work...there were other things.

Wednesday we worked at AARP, Thursday night we went out to eat for Elliot's birthday, today Alex came to play and was joined by his dad and sister for pizza. I don't know what else we did...but it must have been a lot.

We were outside tonight at 7 o'clock moving snow which is a task because we are running out of places to put it. We need a giant truck to haul some of it away. It was a beautiful evening, fairly warm, not windy, four inches of new sparkly snow. I will post a photo of the bunny tomorrow as he has almost disappeared under his snowy cloak.

We are all snuggled up now. Woodrow in the big bed, Gus on the rug, us in our chairs. The little fireplace is keeping us toasty. We are having tea to warm us before bed. There are things to do and things to worry about but we have set them aside for tonight.

I am anxious to finish the book Stillwater tonight. I am working on an organization project in the office that will keep me busy tomorrow. We are supposed to get more snow.


Just a reminder. Keep doing the cha cha. Spring will come.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

not complaining about the weather

I am not going to complain about the weather even though, historically, this is when I start. I talked to the UPS driver and the letter carrier yesterday and they both said this is the coldest (worst) winter they remember. I have a bad memory so I can't say that but I know it's unusual to have below zero temps so often at the end of February. Ah, well. We choose to live here.

It's been a beautiful winter even with the brutal cold. I love the sun dogs, the northern lights, the new powdery snow that falls every week, the patterns of drifting snow, the little ice and snow chunks clinging to tree branches from our last storm.

Deb and I went for a walk yesterday even though it was very cold. We had many layers on, boots and YakTrax, and we waddled over the ice and snow like penguins. It makes the hips hurt a little to walk like that but we made it almost three miles. Real adventurers, we are.


These are YakTrax. Very effective on ice and snow. You just cannot be too concerned about fashion in weather like this. You still have to be careful but they offer some reassurance that you won't end up on your ass on main street.

We've had an interesting week as far as things crapping out on us. The snow blower refused to run after the last storm. Regis fears it may be fatal. It's down at the shop now and we should get the verdict today. Two printers quit...one had a singe mark on the mother board (whatever that is) and the other has a bad print head. Our basement drain is overflowing. It happens from time to time and we have to call the Roto-Rooter man. Ironic it would happen this week. In the last few weeks, we have also broken two coffee mugs, a toothpick holder, and a wine glass. That's life.

We watched a movie last night...Enough Said with Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and James Gandolfini. I liked it. A perfect movie for me: no robots, no explosions, no mayhem, no murder. Just a pleasant story about real people.

We have a busy day planned. Regis has a DOT physical for his potential new part-time job, he has an appointment in Mankato when I will hang out at the bagel shop and stare out the window, then I have a DEXA scan at Eastridge. I have my class at the YMCA tonight. Our agenda is packed.

I don't think I mentioned this before but it's worth mentioning it again. This article is powerful and contains such easy things to do to increase your sense of well-being. You’ll need pen, paper, and a silencer for cynicism. Check it out here.

Be sure to put something fun on your list of things to do.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Regis and Teresa's Big Adventure

In true Regis/Teresa fashion, we started our vacation season slowly as we don't like to travel too far or be gone very long when we leave home. An extreme vacation for us is a trip to Iowa or western Minnesota. This trip was less than a half mile round trip.

We packed some crab cakes and mango salsa, a cheese plate, and a bottle of wine. We drove down the street two blocks to drop Gus off at Reggie's house for the night. Then we drove two blocks west and spent the night at the Americinn here in St. Peter. We watched some television, hung out in the lobby, and were home by 8 o'clock this morning. We had a fine time.




My favorite snow drift!


Beautiful!


Today, we continued our vacation by taking a tour of the countryside to see the big snow drifts. We stopped for coffee, found a few closed roads, saw many skiers and snow mobiles, and wandered back home in time to go to Alex's birthday party, then a reading at the Arts Center.



Tomorrow, I'm going with my friend Deb to see the show Hair at Gustavus. It's been a culture-filled weekend!


More tomorrow...

Friday, February 21, 2014

blizzard

We were skeptical yesterday when the snow hadn't even started by noon, that this would be the Armageddon the weather folks predicted. Apparently, they were correct. Regis thinks we got about 8 inches of snow and the first inch or so came as rain. Roads are closed all over south central Minnesota, schools are closed, many events have been cancelled. Our snow blower seems to be frozen because it won't start. Treacherous, but beautiful.









I was supposed to sub today but of course, a day off instead! My plan for the day is to clean up the kitchen, make a nice cheese and meat tray for dinner, bake some cookies, and go outside to make some snow angels. Happy winter!



Thursday, February 20, 2014

snow, medical update, and a cat story

Yesterday was 35 degrees and not only were the natives out in shorts and sandals (not really) but the bunny's head was exposed! He could see for the first time in a week! Today, unfortunately, the snow is coming down at a furious pace and it looks like he will go under for a while longer.


So many things have been cancelled that we have nothing to do the remainder of the day. I got in the obligatory ten games of Scrabble and a long nap. Ah, bliss. Tomorrow isn't looking so good either. I am scheduled to sub at the high school which only means that, once again, I get to experience the tension and exuberance of an impending snow day. You just never get over that.

I had my oncology check-up this morning. All is well. I talked to my research nurse and my oncologist about my desire to lop off all parts of my body that increase my risk of relapse. I had copies of my medical records with many questions. Judy said this is not at all unusual as the initial experience is overwhelming and it's hard to take in all the information.

The upshot is that she suggested I stop focusing on the numbers (stage, grade, percent of relapse...) because I am not a number. I left feeling encouraged and relieved.

I remember at one point after my WLS, my doctor telling me to stop worrying about the numbers, to put the binders away and start just living my life. Same thing, I guess.

This is my daily Woodrow chuckle. Anytime a bag or box is left open in our house, Woodrow is fixated on climbing in to investigate. Sometimes he will drag a piece of paper out...or a sandwich bag...but generally he just likes to check around. I've learned a lot about his personality since he came to live with us. I don't know if all cats are like this, but this is what I know about this cat.


  • He likes dogs. He likes to torment dogs. When Ava was here, he loved to lie under the couch and poke his paw out at her. He liked to sit back on his haunches and box at her. He liked to play with her tail when she tried to sleep.
  • He wakes up at 4 am and expects the same of us. He has a variety of tricks to accomplish this: he bites at any jewelry you have on, he sticks his paw in your ear, he nibbles on your hair or beard, and he meows loudly, demanding to be fed.
  • He loves treats as much as Gus and will sit up on his haunches when I ask if he wants a treat.
  • He loves to be brushed and purrs loudly and rolls on his back so I can brush his tummy.
  • He loves to go on the back porch to look out the windows. It's like his daily excursion...out the door and up on the back of the sofa to look out the window.
  • Gus has a tub of supplies on the back porch and Woodrow loves to get in there and root around. He brings in his favorite find of the day...a plastic bootie, a poop bag (empty), a forgotten toy or bone.
  • We don't spend money on cat toys because he much prefers boxes, bags, paper clips, balls of paper, feathers, dried leaves, and other stuff such finds.
That's enough cat observations.

My friend, Joanne, told me the other day that she learned about Google chat. I said I didn't know anything about that but would ask Regis. He told me I do it all the time. What??? He told me when those little bubbles pop up with a picture (he hears the noise), that is Google chat. I said I didn't know that and always drag the bubble to the trash. Hahaha! What the hell. So, if you have tried to google chat with me and got no response, this is the reason.

I read this on Longform this week: This Old Man by Roger Angell. It's long but a very worthy read. Roger is in his nineties and he talks about aging, loss of spouses and friends, maintaining a love of life (and a love life), his dogs, and love, always love. I highly recommend it. I enjoyed his writing so much that I'm going to check out his other writing even though he writes mostly about sports.

Regis and I went to dinner at a place with televisions last night and inadvertently watched part of a curling match. I liked it because it was slow moving. Those Canadian curlers were certainly muscle bound and very athletic looking.

The oncology folks are so much fun to see. The Mayo philosophy is that pleasant surroundings and friendly care-givers help your healing and it certainly seems true. I lingered in the hallway between my lab work and my oncology appointments to look at Anders Bjorling's photos. I love the one of St. Peter from the air balloon. 

Get this. Regis and I are registered for three "races" through the YMCA RunSTRONG program. There is a 5K in March, an 8K in May, and another 5K in July. We will be walking but it should be fun as long as the snow is off the ground by the end of March. My oncologist's eyes lit up when I told him I was participating in the YMCA Livestrong program. He liked my idea of functional fitness. I told him some day when I am very old, if I have to go to a nursing home, I don't want any hot male nurse to have to help me off the john. I want strong thighs so I can do that myself.

Regis and I went out for a drive to check out the weather which is what we do here in Minnesota. We drove by the bars to see the crowds that gather there on snowy nights. I think that must be a reptile brain thing from cave man days. Bad weather...get together in one place. I stopped and bought a bottle of Menage a Trois wine. Red wine in a blizzard. It's a rule.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tuesday


Regis spent a lot of time blowing snow yesterday. He moved it all, then the snow plow came by and closed up the sidewalks and driveways again. He is tired of it and plowed this path to the grill as a sign to the snow gods. I remember hearing stories of snow plow drivers in Chicago during a bad year, going crazy and smashing cars with their plows. That's how I remember it...doesn't mean it's accurate.

We have a lot of snow. Except for the trips to Mankato, usually along 169, we don't venture out of town. I keep saying I'd like to drive out in the country just to see how it looks but we don't do it. I must be content in my warm little house.

I spent a very lazy day yesterday, napping, drinking coffee, playing Scrabble, reading. It was so peaceful and just what I needed. Mary called about noon and wondered if I could come at 1 pm and I said yes. I had been thinking about talking to her. We had a lovely visit and I left feeling comforted and encouraged.

Regis took Gus to the dog park while I was at my appointment. Since it was a holiday, the park was full of folks and dogs. Gus loves to run with other dogs so he had a great time and came home snow-covered and tired.

This is a busy week again...subbing today, YMCA tonight, AARP taxes tomorrow, cancer appointments on Thursday, YMCA Thursday night, subbing Friday. I am not planning anything next week.

I finished the book The Call: A Novel. I really enjoyed it. Here's what the back cover said:
The daily rhythm of a veterinarian’s family in rural New England is shaken when a hunting accident leaves their eldest son in a coma. With the lives of his loved ones unhinged, the veterinarian struggles to maintain stability while searching for the man responsible. But in the midst of their great trial an unexpected visitor arrives, requesting a favor that will have profound consequences—testing a loving father’s patience, humor, and resolve and forcing husband and wife to come to terms with what “family” truly means. 
The Call is a gift from one of the most talented and extraordinary voices in contemporary fiction—a unique and heartfelt portrait of a family, poignant and rich in humor and imagination.
I have one more Longform essay to read (written by a 93-year old man) and then I'm going to start Stillwater by Nicole Helget. She is coming to St. Peter soon...must mark the date and time on the calendar.

I see the post Oh, Betty has 88 page views this morning. I am always curious about who is reading a particular post and how they stumbled upon it. And what they think after reading about my funny friend who spells out buns with rocks so she will remember where she put her keys.

Off to school.

Monday, February 17, 2014

stat update

My blog stats today indicate that I have had 99,608 page views. Oh, Betty is the most popular post of the month with 170 readers, followed not too closely by chicken erotica with 63. Goes to show you just can't predict the taste of your public.

an ever-deepening spiral

http://www.jesuitwriters.com/life-from-dawn-to-dusk-by-sch-vishwas-joy-misquith-sj

I have been enjoying the Facebook posts and blogs of some inspirational folks lately. Oriah Mountain Dreamer (great story about her name on her blog.), Leo Babatua, Toni Bernhard. I print their articles, read them, highlight and make notes on them and save them in a binder.
This is of course a process, and like most things in human beings it does not happen in a once-and-for-all straight line, but in more of an ever-deepening spiral. But gradually we can dissolve much of the need for habits of distraction and dissociation so we can feel and live the joy in our lives more fully. [http://www.oriah.org/]
Binders like the ones I kept for my college degrees and licenses and all that folderol. I am a binder organizer. Always have been. Recipes in binders, articles in binders, weight loss and exercise records in binders. This one is my favorite, though. It's where I tuck all my spiritual readings. Poems, articles, even some pictures.

I love this quote about how our "process" does not happen in a once-and-for-all straight line...which is sort of what you expect as you grow up...that you get to a point where you are done, like a loaf of bread. Ain't necessarily so, my friends. At least not for me. To think about it as an ever deepening spiral is a thrill and a comfort. I told Mary it feels like I trudge to the top of one hill to find an open door, only to find there is more beyond.

There is nothing on my agenda today that I absolutely have to do. There are a couple things I would do if the weather were more cooperative but when I stuck my head out as I let Gus in the yard, the snow was icy and blowing and very cold. Who needs that? I have a good book, my favorite tea, some things to cook, and a cozy fire.

I have a busy week planned but Sunday I decided it was too much so I started crossing things off the list. I just need some time to sit and be.

This morning I am writing for mental exercise so you can quit reading now if you're looking for excitement. I've been playing Scrabble against the computer which is a hoot. I started at the beginner level and now have moved on to the intermediate level. I can win consistently (with the use of play best word four times) but don't think I'm ready for advanced. That looks like a different language.

Regis and I are going to register for a National Weather Service Sky Warn class. He has always loved weather and I thought he would enjoy this. I am curious but don't want to be out in the yard, and especially not away from home in threatening weather. I said I would go to the class if they had no expectations of me calling in a tornado sighting unless I could see it out the basement window.


The yard livestock has had a time of it this winter. So much snow and such cold temperatures that I don't know how they survive. We put corn and peanuts out for the squirrels the other day. They learned how to open the cage that contains the suet cakes so I had to use a zip tie to close it. Little buggers are smart. Or maybe just very motivated by food.

I had a frozen pizza last night. I have no idea why I was hungry for that...it's in a food class by itself. Not really pizza but interesting. Regis bought it at the grocery store for a dollar. At that price, I figured if I ate half and threw the rest away, it wouldn't be a big loss. How can they make a pizza and sell it for a dollar? I don't even want to think about that. The last pizza I had before this was at Chankaska and it had Italian sausage and banana peppers. Oh, my. Lick your fingers good.


I may have written about this bird before but I couldn't find it in October's or November's posts. Deb and I were walking one windy day in late October (I think) and we came upon a bird that had been squashed beyond recognition by a car. Some of the feathers had blown along the street and I grabbed a few because they were so unusual. I came home and searched my bird book and the internet. This is what I believe it is: Varied Thrush. 

It's a little bigger than a robin and nests in the northwestern US and along the coast to Alaska. Some of them travel to the Midwest in the winter, especially along major rivers. I sent an email to a fellow in Ely who follows birds and has seen some of these at his feeders. The feather is a brilliant orange/yellow with a bright orange shaft and black tip. Too bad the poor fellow traveled all this way only to be squashed by a car. The bird I mean, not the guy in Ely.

I had three feathers but Woodrow became obsessed with them and I was only able to save one which is hidden under my computer keyboard.

Well, off to a mostly lazy Monday. Regis is still sleeping which bodes well for my continued lethargy. If he were up prowling around and drinking coffee, it would be more likely that there would be an agenda of some import created. Not me. My mind is a blank slate today.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

sunday in pictures mid-march


This is the chair I ordered from Nicaragua on Etsy. I know it's wild colors but I looked and looked and just couldn't bring myself to order it in a neutral color. I am going to hire a professional to hang it from the ceiling. It doesn't come with the pillows which is fine with me. It's a chair that hugs you.


We are dog sitting this puppy this weekend. Ava is a Fox Red Lab and she was born with a spinal deformity so she hops a little bit in her back legs. She is a doll and gets along famously with Woodrow and Gus. Woody likes to tease her by playing with her tail, boxing at her through the bars of her crate, and hiding under the couch.


Gus and Ava were wild for about the first 24 hours, then they settled down. Regis has taken them to the park every day and they run and play and chase balls. Then they curl up for a nap.


Mom sent these beautiful tulips the other day. They are truly the color of spring. I keep them in the kitchen so I can see them every time I walk through the room.


We had a full moon this week and Regis got this wonderful and mysterious photo through the clouds and tree branches. I love to look at the moon. I think I will start staying up later in the summer so I can watch the stars. Or maybe I will start looking for them when I get up early in the morning.


If you are a regular reader here, you know that I have been drawing runes. This is the final rune of the transformation series. Ironically, this rune is akin to the moon, the intuitive part of our nature. The completion of beginnings is what Inguz requires. It marks the time of joyous deliverance, a new life, a new path. I think I am done with tattoos but I did order this as a pendant for my talisman necklace.


Ava's in jail! I think actually, Woodrow is on the other side of the gate boxing at her. I love her furrowed brow. Amber and John are coming back today so it will be quiet at our house when she goes. We are not tempted to have another pet, however.


I went out the other day in my Guinness pajama pants and my red slippers to fill the bird feeder and take a picture of the garden rabbit. I thought it was quite the fashion look in the new snow.


Regis is out blowing snow again. Many people are complaining about the weather but I have refrained so far. If we are going to have winter and I assume we will because we continue to live here...I like this kind of winter. Blue skies, new snow every week...so much better than those brown and gray winters. I'm not fond of 30 below temps but you take what you get.

I have spent a lazy afternoon. I was highly motivated this morning, then ran out of steam about one o'clock when I realized it would probably be snowing in the morning so I could finish my projects then. I made a quick pass through the paperwork, isolated the recipes and the medical notes, found the things that need to go on the calendar, and have a basket full of books. That's enough for one day.

I played some Scrabble on my iPad, read my book The Call, ate some popcorn, and took a short nap. A lovely day.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

tulips

Woodrow likes to crawl around the computer in the morning. He is a very needy cat, mostly between 5 am and 8 am. After that, not so much. Rene came to visit yesterday and he rolled on his back and looked at her with his big green eyes, then he did some yoga (down dog and warrior one), and then draped himself over the side of the cabinet like a big cat. He thinks he is a jaguar.


The doorbell rang yesterday and the Fed Ex man left me these beautiful tulips. I was so glad I was home because they suffered a little in the sub-zero temps. I trimmed them, put them in room temperature water with the magic potion that came with them, and this morning they are much perkier. Such beautiful summery colors!



It's warmer today. Regis and I are going to the AARP tax center this morning. I am going to wear my walking shoes so I can stroll around the building between clients. I am subbing the next two days and we are going to a comedy show on Friday night. I wonder how we had time to work. There are six things on our calendar for Thursday. I hate that...but I am grateful that we are able to do it all.

Well, I have to get moving so I am ready to go when the car leaves the driveway. Ha!

Monday, February 10, 2014

monday in pictures


Fifty years since the Beatles first appeared in America. How can that be?


Hey, Joanne...butterfly wings for Halloween!


This is so I remember to take a recipe to class tomorrow night.


I love this picture. I love my little house and my bird feeders.


I love this tiny house. You can tow it with a car, not that I ever go anywhere.


Woodrow drags his bed to the edge of the cabinet and rides it to the floor like a bobsled.


He's some cat.


He doesn't sit still for long, but when he does he enjoys it.


Regis and Gus clowning.


Gus claims the bed for the morning.


Gus and Woodrow both peered over my shoulder as I cleaned the litter box, then followed me into the bathroom and peered at me as I took a bath. I must be fascinating.

Here's the weather forecast...in case you are thinking of vacationing here.

MONDAY: Lung burning cold continues. High: 2. Feels Like: -30F early. Wind: WNW 5.

MONDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear, cold and quiet. Low: -13F. Feels Like: -25F.

TUESDAY: Raw start. Increasing clouds with light PM snow. High: 12.

WEDNESDAY: Lingering AM flurries. Another clipper arrives late with snow possible in northern MN late. Wake-up: 11. High: 25.

THURSDAY: Clearing and a bit colder. Wake-up: 16. High: 19.

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, still brisk. Wake-up: 3. High: 15.

SATURDAY: Not as bone chilling. Few flakes. Wake-up: 6. High: 20.

SUNDAY: Warmer. Peeks of sun.Wake-up: 14. High: 26.


Stay warm, my friends!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

hammock chair and everything's gonna be alright



I have spent a most lazy day. I took a long nap, spent a lot of time reading Patron Saint of Liars, sat in my chair staring into the distance, shopped for a hammock chair, and now I am having a glass of wine and enjoying the dusk.

I don't really like the transition from day to night in the winter. It's lonely and bleak and maudlin. I try to avoid looking at it if I can.

I have spent most of the day (when I wasn't sleeping) shopping for a hammock chair. I have a swing for summer but right now, I feel a need to be hugged and rocked and I think a hammock chair would do it. Regis hugs me several times a day, pats my back, and says it's going to be alright. I listen to Bob Marley's music which has a frequent refrain that everything is going to be alright. It calms me.

I have two goals this week...buy a hammock chair and get another tattoo. Oh...one more...which I can't recall right now. More tomorrow.