Sunday, December 22, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

snaps on saturday

MyFavoriteKid is buried in the back there somewhere... 

At the "Be A Blue Devil For A Day" workshop. Auditions on the 5th!

Friday, December 20, 2013

every night

Every night.
It's my very own personal bedtime story.
Dog battles.
In my bed.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


I honestly don't remember the last time I have been this sick.  It's just a terrible head cold, thank goodness...but man, am I wiped out.  I wake up every morning hoping to feel improved (because I am doing all the right things to get well), but instead I wake feeling just as bad as the day before.  I've passed on several things are important to me, including missing improvisational Circle Dancing with the dance troupe tonight.  I'm taking a pass on the Friday knitting group as well. I have to get over this! I have elfing to do!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


My neighbors (YeOldHaus) are a constant source of entertainment. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

a little nuts

I'm tired. I'm still sick with a cold. And I still did a little bit too much today when I probably should have tried resting.

That's not keeping me from staying up too late searching for hand embroidery patterns for tea towels.

Because, ya' know. I need a knew hobby or something. 
Just before midnight.

Like I said. A little nuts!

Monday, December 16, 2013


I get a little (a little?!?) whiny when I'm sick, and guess what. I AM SICK.  *sigh*

I started feeling the tickle Friday night.  Saturday I knew I should try to get ahead of it by laying low, but I had a focus group to go and I had already paid in advance for tickets to take MyFavoriteKid and a couple of his buddies to see the new Hobbit movie. By Saturday night I felt even crappier (despite vitamins and zinc and all the rest of the homeopathic whatnot I have in my little apothecary).

By Sunday morning I felt like I'd been punched in the face, plus my throat was hurting a bit, too.  I laid low (finally) pulled some homemade soup I had stashed in the freezer for an emergency just like this one, and by the afternoon I felt improved and did a few tasks. A few too many tasks.  Was wiped again by Sunday evening and now here it is Monday, and I'm still a wreck.

I'm off to bed now (a little too late) after a day full of not getting a whole lot of anything done, and can only hope tomorrow will be better!  I've got things to do, man!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

snaps on sunday

Should have been a snap on Saturday, I know....but I've got a nasty head cold, and was down for the count a bit early last night. Fell asleep before posting!

So tonight I bring you....

....the Princess and The Pea.

Friday, December 13, 2013

date night in napa

Thursday, December 12, 2013


A lilltle wiped out. Tonight was TheMostImportantGuy's company holiday party and that meant many hours if travel by car and train, us everything in the party part! 

I have no photographic evidence of the evening 
Thank goodness. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

scenes from last weekend

On Sunday, TheMostImportantGuy was Chicago bound on a business trip and MyFavoriteKid was at a drum corps audition. I had the day to myself to decorate for the holidays.  Being alone meant I could enjoy an eggnog and listen to all the Holiday tunes I wanted to! 

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

high school winter concert

MyFavoriteKid's first time performing with the Jazz Ensemble :-)

And then first time doing percussion for the Wind Ensemble (rather than playing clarinet like before)....

 ...which means now I only get "top of head" shots!

Monday, December 09, 2013

testing testing

Posting using my phone using a new (to me) app.  
Here we go. Crossing fingers! I really need this to work for me!

Photo taken yesterday at an Open Studio event. I spotted it on an artist's inspiration board in her workspace!

i'm not sure exactly what is going on here

Long time no blog, eh?

I'm not sure exactly what is going on with me.  At first I thought I was just frustrated with technological issues and the lack of ease of posting. Then I thought I had things to say but was just too busy to say them.  Then I thought I had nothing to say at all. Then I thought I did have something to say, but it sounded rather depressing or whiny. Then I ended up being too depressed to post at all.  THEN I finally realized that maybe part of my feeling depressed was because I stopped posting in the first place.

Well, however I got to this spot, here I am.

If you were to look at me from the outside, there's not a whole lot going on with me. Pretty much the same ol', same ol'.   But it feels like my internal life is exactly the opposite of that. Way too many thoughts and feelings about all sorts of stuff. Sometimes when there is that much going on in my crazy inner world I start looking like a deer in the headlights.  I freeze in my tracks.

At the forefront of my crazy-brain:

~ I have some anniversaries happening, and contemplating marking them creates an overly sentimental me.  TheMostImportantGuy and I just celebrated 10 years together last month.  That was a good one. The best, actually :-)  And February marks 20 years of dancing, also good (except see the next item on this list, and you'll maybe understand why it's a little emotional), March it will be 10 years since the car accident. I'm not sure exactly where that fits in to the scheme of things (ie my mood), but it has me thinking about it more than usual, so it must be doing something to my mood.

~ I am planning on taking a break from teaching dance (in its present form) in the spring.  For a couple of years I have felt like I need to let it go and make room for something else, and I keep waiting for that something else to appear first so that I'll know when it's time to quit teaching.  I've been waiting so long for that thing to appear though, that I think I might the order reversed. I think I need to let go and make space first so something else can come in.  You know, when one door closes, another opens, and all that.  It's like I'm trying to wait for the next door to open before I close this one, but that usually isn't how it works for me. Usually the door has to shut, and there is time spent in the corridor waiting for the next door to open.  I've always been keen to point out that, "the hallways can be such a bitch."  But they don't need to be. So I'm working myself up to be HappyInTheHallway for ahwile.  Sometimes "Not Knowing" is a really clean place to be.
~ I'm watching MyFavoriteKid grow into his own very awesome young man. I am in awe of him, to be honest with you. I know I'm his mom and all and we all think most highly of our own kids, but I swear to you, if I wasn't his mom and I met him somewhere randomly, he'd impress me.  So what's happening now is that I'm dealing with that thing I guess almost every mother has to deal with at some point: that happy-sad thing as you let them go. It's a beautiful and awesome feeling. And at the same time it hits me in the chest in a way that makes me want to sing achy-breaky country songs. LOL  I know y'all know what I'm trying to say here. 

~ I'm worried about James (the guy at the convalescent hospital that I volunteer visit), and my responsibility for his care has shifted, and I'm really muddling my way through it all, to be honest.

~ I've been in therapy for a few months now, both solo, and in couple's counseling with TheMIG. All is well between us.  Really. It is. Fear not.  We are doing great. We're just getting some help learning how to understand where each other is coming from, 'cuz lemme tell ya'...we come from entirely different backgrounds and we grew up with some extremely different family cultural norms, and it's like we speak different languages sometimes. It's been a real gift to have someone (our therapist) translate for us, and even better, teach us how to do it ourselves so we're aren't dependent on the guy. Love it.  In my own personal therapy, I am learning how some behaviors that I learned (or perhaps was taught) very early in life pretty much pop up in every. single. place. in my life. that I look.  I'd really like to write about it, but because it involves my family (who are readers), I'm not sure I can.  I've been deeply considering another blog about it all elsewhere and being a ghost-writer or assuming some crazy pen-name (like there is anything crazier than AmpuTeeHee..??)

~ I am seriously struggling with what it is taking me to manage two households (TheNewDiggs and YeOldeHaus).  It's going to take me a much a longer post to dive into that, but I will eventually because quite frankly, I'm probably going to need advice.  But for now, I'll just say that it's weighing on me far more than it probably should be. I'm probably making things more complicated than they need to be.

So. That's where I'm at.
A whole lot of mulling things over, basically. Not a bad thing really, except you pair all the thinking and feeling with the cold snap we're having, and I'm just quite happy huddling up in my cozy little hidey-hole over here, and that's why you haven't seen much of me!

Now that I've broken my own ice, let's see if that puts me back on track again.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

can't win

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

the clink

I am tempted to do a search on my own blog and see how many times "Poor Riley" shows up, but quite frankly...I don't wanna know.

When Riley woke up this morning he had a limp, and by an hour later he was hopping around like a 3-legged dog.  I called the vet first thing and lined up a noon-thirty appointment. 

The little hole on his "thigh" had closed over pretty well (I had trimmed the hair away and doused him with a medicinal spray given to us for Teeny's last adventure).  But there was another little pin-prick of a hole on his "ankle", and the whole ankle was swollen.  The vet said the puncture wound was deep and it went right into the joint. If it was from a wild or feral animal (which I am sure it was), they carry crazy bacteria in their mouths.  She shave his leg and found more little holes on the other side of his ankle bone.  Where I thought it was the poke of a claw, it was more likely a bite.


More shaving, some drainage arrangements, and while he was out, I had them clean his teeth (might as well spare him another vet visit was overdue).  The doc said they were moving his leg around while he was knocked out and his heart rate went up indicating much pain.  When I pick him up tomorrow morning, he'll come home with "a party hat"....a broad spectrum antibiotic that will be switched to a more specific antibiotic once the cultures they took show results...a few types of pain meds...and the need for hot compresses.

Do you have any idea how many times we've been through stuff like this?  Not just for Riley, but "times four" once you count how many times I've done this for the other animals that live here? I am so over it. I LOVE MY PETS. They are my family.  But this is getting a little crazy.

Riley's in TheClink tonight.  I'll spring him tomorrow.


Monday, November 18, 2013

curse you, blogger! and you too, cat!!

That's it. I am going to need to find a better solution to remote posting. I have to. Because bouncing back and forth between two houses with a 17" laptop just aint gonna happen. I have to be able to blog with my phone, or I have to give up my post-a-day habit.

On Friday night, I made a post about MyFavoriteKid performing. It didn't go live until Saturday, thereby causing me to miss Friday altogether.  Then, I made a photo heavy SnapsOnSaturday post on Saturday proper, and it bounced due to the file being too huge!!  arrrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!  Sunday I had content, and created a post with a photo, but just left it stuck in note format. Defeated. I am defeated.

I'm not sure yet what I am going to do about all this.

And meanwhile, while I was sitting here typing this up and working on re-posting all the back stuff....
I let Riley out back for his final whizz of the evening, and he was attacked by some animal hiding in the bushes!!  We have had skunks and racoons lately, but I think this might have been that damn feral cat.  I saw him across the street earlier.

Anyhow...I heard Riley yelping and some other animal making some crazy noises and then Riley came running back with his tail between his legs when I opened the door.  I have now found several puncture wounds on his legs, so I have to go do some snipping of hair and dabbing wounds.  I'm hoping this isn't another vet bill from hell.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

you know you're old when... go to a pub on a Friday night to see a rock band....

...and the drummer is your kid!!

(Sent via iPhone, cross yer fingers this even works LOL)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

off the wagon

I'm not even off track. I'm entirely off the wagon, aren't I.

Well, the best I can do for either of us right now is to share with you this video of MyFavoriteKid's performance at their final drumline competition this weekend.  It's sort of a big deal because while they placed 2nd out of the 3 bands in their division, the Percussion section (yes, capital "P") took FIRST PLACE OVERALL.  That means that Percussion (and MyFK is on snare) took 1st Place out of 15 bands, and several of the bands they overtook are bands that are two categories higher than then in terms of proficiency during the winter drumline season. BIG DEAL.

If you want to spare yourself the full performance, I suggest clicking forward to the 6:10 minute mark where you can see an isolated percussion-only section.  Oh, and if you wait for the 7:15 minute mark...? The kid making that freakin' awesome catch on the rifle??? He's part of the Hands In Motion Club that I facilitate at the high school, the group where the kids make things by hand and donate then to charity. In other words, he's a knitter ;-) 

Saturday, November 09, 2013

error message

Something isn't working between me and blogger and trying to upload post with photos using my phone. 

I'm fine. And I love it that some of you check on me to see if I am dead or not when I miss a day :-)

I haven't had much actual computer/laptop access is all, but I have posts in que that I'll upload by the end of the weekend, so join me for a cuppa something and a game of catch up Monday!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013


This picture isn't current, and I'd probably posted it way back when, when I took it.

I'm just in a wonky mood (nothing like an hour in therapy discovering you have yet more issues to work on), and so here I am, looking through old photos trying to unwind so I can get some sleep.

Here's another.

Happy bunny in the garden.


Ducks in dumpsters, maybe?

Yah. Okay, that worked. 

Nothing like a good chuckle for a nightcap ;-)

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Monday, November 04, 2013

boxes on the brain

Planter boxes, that is.

Now that we are done remodeling the interior of TheNewDiggs, our attention is turning to the yard.  We're going to start by fixing up the front yard, the border beds, really....and trying to figure out how to hide (but leave accessible) the city back-flow thingy that is an ugly eyesore right there on the front lawn.

But I'm also starting to more seriously ponder vegetable gardening in TheBack40, as we call it.  It's a huge space to garden in. Over the past 2 years while we've worked on the interior, I've been watching the sun and the water, to see where everything lands naturally. We've taken some gardening classes, started to compost (sort of...we need to ramp it up, though).

I'm not ready to install a full vegetable garden until I am living there full time (another year and a half away), but it's not too early to start the design process.  It's not to early to start researching surfaces that are wheelchair friendly, beds that are narrow and easy to reach across from a seated position, raised beds that have a edge on them that can be sat on.

I made the mistake at YeOldHouse of putting in some raised bed that I can't get a wheelchair out to. Stupid!  I have the perfect spot to grow stuff, and I can't get out there to prattle around in the garden.  I wont make that mistake twice!

So that's what I'm doing. Planning, planning, researching, researching....saving up for pathway materials and someone to help install them. Daydreaming, really.  But hopefully with a tangible end in sight!

Sunday, November 03, 2013


....I am at a loss for words.


Saturday, November 02, 2013

snaps on saturday

Local (very local) Open Mic Night....

...featuring one very little girl singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (and a couple of other songs, all made up, and all to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) :-)

Today MyFavoriteKid had an all day rehearsal/competition day, and I sat it out!  I went to a "Crafternoon" hosted by a local artist's group in town called TheHub, where I was steered to a divey (and most excellent) Indian Food Restaurant that we'd never discovered because it was hidden in a strip mall we never pull into.

Good Day. Got ahead on my knitting, as I also knit at the open mic night!

Friday, November 01, 2013

happiness is....

Rolling in late to the Friday morning knitting group, only to find the a birthday party is in full swing....

...complete with fancy cheeses and olives and pastries....
mimosas and handmade liquers.

Then heading straight from there over to the Interweave KnitLab to do a little shopping with a few of the girls...

Good times.
Good company.
And a little bit of good yarn came home with me too! :-)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

happy halloween!

Another delayed post hung up between my cell phone and the blogger app. 
I must be doing something wrong. 
I'll investigate....

Poor Riley. All dressed up with no place to go. Not even a kid to bark at!!

It was 8:15pm and  even with all of our awesome Halloween decorations in place at TheNewDiggs, not a single trick-or-treater!  I was starting to tap into that "I throw awesome parties, but nobody comes" feeling, so I decided to distract myself in the kitchen (this also kept me from dipping into the cauldron full of Halloween candy).

Thanks Bon Appetit magazine for the my new favorite fall cocktail recipe:
The New England Express  
(choo choo!!!) 
thyme flavored simple syrup, dark rum, angostura bitters, apple cider, lime juice and fizzy water

I watched people outside for a bit, and realized that people were driving by, slowing down seeing our decorations, and almost pulling over to get out....but we were pretty stand-alone in terms of other houses handing out candy, it folks would just keep driving by since we weren't a "cluster" of homes "in the spirit".   We didn't  have a ton of actual foot traffic because a) there isn't a sidewalk on our side of the street!!, and b) our house is on a busier street, and there are quieter residential streets directly behind us (hmm! maybe next year we hand out candy from the back entrance?!)

We finally got several waves of kids around 8:45.  Got rid of most, but not all, of the candy.  The little kids across the street sat for a long time on their front stoop just watching the shadow display in the window loop 'round and 'round, which tickled me to no end.

All in all, a good time. But I'd like a little more excitement! I think we need to become a "destination" address :-)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

as I often say: shop, drop!

I don't know about y'all, but I am feeling SO exhausted lately!  This getting up in the morning in the dark is for the birds! (well, actually...even the birds aren't up as early as I am!!) 
I'm seriously looking forward to the time change.

Today was nice.  I had some free time to myself in the morning, and I used it to go through a few stacks and piles that have built up over the last few weeks.  Liberating. 

In the afternoon MyFavoriteKid needed some shuttling around, but since he has his learner's permit and needs to get more hours under his belt, I let him do the driving.  He's doing great, but I'm still white knuckling it a little bit.  I wonder if I'll ever get comfortable enough where I can knit in the car while he drives.
Ha! That'll be the day!

I wonder if I WAS knitting....would I be white knuckling less....??
Can any of you out there chime in on that??

This evening I went to a little party that involved clothes shopping. I went to one of these parties last year, and I was very skeptical.  Basically, it's a clothing designer that retails her line sort of like a Tupperware party (anyone remember those?!).  A person agrees to be a hostess and invites a bunch of her friends.  The representative shows up with a ton of samples, does a presentation, and then you get try on the goods (because this is clothing and not tupperware, it looks like a lot of women ripping off their clothes and drinking wine though...much more fun!)
You pick out what you want, you fill out an order form, and your order gets sent to you the following week or so. The hostess gets a bonus gift or credit or something based on how her friends buy.

Like I said, I was skeptical last year.  The prices seemed a little steep, and some of the things I really wanted to try on weren't sampled in my size (ie big), so I just had to hope it would all work out.  It turned out that once my shipment arrived, there was only one blouse I didn't care for, and they had no problem accepting a return.  Everything else I ordered I kept. I have been amazed to find that the fabrics are totally what you are paying for. Nothing has faded or pilled, nothing looks worn. The fabrics have totally held their shape, and the look and feel like quality.  There was one item I ordered and kept last year that I haven't worn much, but only because it's a little on the fancier side, and honestly, I just dont get out that much!  But I do love it, and it fits and looks great!! 

This year I learned from that and spent my money on a few things that are more on the casual side. I know that they will get worn to death. 

Alrighty. Tired. Early wake up again tomorrow (5:30am...gah!) and then probably up late tomorrow with Halloween!  So I'm hitting the hay.  xo!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013


Sunday, October 27, 2013

our spooky window!

I loooove Halloween.
Every year I add one (ok ok, sometimes two) new decorations to the collection. 
Last year, it was Helsa

This year I picked up some jumbo spiders with a 3-foot leg span to crawl over the side of the house (whee!).....and thennnnnnn....since TheMostImportantGuy now has a good quality projector, I bought a spooky DVD that you aim towards your window: 


thanks to TheMIG for the upload!

TheMIG's video was shot to show how it looks in relation to the house, but you can get a clearer shot of the actual video, click here.  I bought our copy by way of Grandin Road, where I also bought Helsa last year!

We already had a little audience (the neighbor kids from across the street) sitting outside and watching and squealing....and then I spotted another adult neighbor getting into it, too.  This is by far my favorite decoration ever. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

snaps on saturday

oops! I just discovered that this post got hung up in the system as a draft! 
day late, dollah short ;-)

Dinner at South Park Cafe in San Francisco....

Local Tomato Salad with Shallots....for me the Skirt Steak, for TheMostImportantGuy a Braised Vegetable CousCous, some beet puree and roasted brussel sprouts.  There was a delicious dessert, too....but I uhhh...
ate it. LOL

Then we met up with MizzCraftini and her hubby to see Dorado Schmitt & the Django All-Stars at the new SF Jazz Center.

SUPER great music. This is the stuff I listen to around the house most weekends. I have Hot Club of Paris CD's, but usually just plug "Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli" into Pandora, and of I go. Hours of Happy.

That really should have been a complete enough evening, but MyFavoriteKid was spending the night at a friend's, the dogs were at the pet sitter's, and TheMIG and I had the itch to keep going, so we stopped at a local dive bar on the way home.....

....where we saw a highly entertaining band that sang songs about things I can't mention here (because I don't want hits to the blog from people that are searching for lewd terms for male body parts LOL) 
A real hoot, though.  And there is nothing like a rock band that also has a trumpet.
We liked them A LOT :-D

I think we got to bed around 2am, which 15 years ago used to be early for both of us, but now is ridiculously late.  


Friday, October 25, 2013

last hurrah

Final regular season football game, which means final half time show for the marching band this fall season. Two off-campus competitions left to go....

But let's not pretend.
Then Winter Percussion Season begins, including auditions in December for next summer's Drum Corp stuff.

So I guess it aint a last hurrah at all!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

while we're at it, one more

my great grandparents ;-)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

present and vintage family

Great day with the cousin. We got up early and took a little driving/sightseeing tour of the town, and then we dropped Teeny off at my parents for some dog-sitting (she's still on meds and supposed to be resting).  Then my cousin and I took his 8 month old standard poodle Manou and my other dog Riley for to what we refer to as the CrazyCrazyDogPark.  

We had brunch at the dog park at the "Sit & Stay Cafe", and then we let the dogs go bananas running around like crazies.  Meanwhile, we talked a whole lot....and we caught each other up on ....well, our whole lives, basically!

We came back home, looked through some of the things my Grammy had left after she passed that he was so graciously delivering (he's an angel for taking that on). A bit later my folks came over and we all had a lovely dinner.

Oh, but before dinner was drinks and an appetizer while we waited for TheMostImportantGuy to make it home from work.  While we sipped and noshed, all sorts of awesome old photos were being whipped out.  My favorite of them all was this one:

That's my Great Grandparents (my dad's mother's parents), 
Nathan and Rosa

This picture tickles me to no end. 
That being said, every picture of Bubbie & Zadie tickles me to no end ;-)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

cousin time!

I'm busy being the hostess with the mostess!! 

Monday, October 21, 2013

good day, bad day

Well, good thing yesterday was good.
Not so good.

Poor Teeny.  At the vet today.  In her special blankie. Racking up another $500+ vet bill. 

I am not kidding. Over the past two years, this dog has proven herself to be the most expensive pet I have ever had, and she is the tiniest. I guess you don't pay by the pound when it comes to dogs, do ya'.

It's her back. She has a couple of slightly flattened discs in her thoracic vertebrae (the lowest ones that are still attached to the ribs, sort of the middle of back for her).  The discs might be the problem, or she may have just really pulled something (doing something stupid like jumping off high furniture chasing after Riley when he goes nuts because there is some wildlife in the yard).  Only time will tell if its the muscles or the discs.  Meanwhile, I'm supposed to make sure she's not jumping up and down or making any sudden movements (yah. right.) for a few weeks.

Just when I got home from the vet and got her all settled in, I got a call from the convalescent facility telling me that James is being transported back to the hospital-hospital due to some really low numbers with his kidneys.  Odd, because I'd seen him only a few hours earlier!  When Teeny was at the vet and they said they'd have to keep her for a couple of hours to do x-rays and check her kidneys, I used that time to make a visit to James. He looked great! 

After I got off the phone with the convalescent hospital I just stood in my kitchen and yelled. At no one in particular. Well, maybe I was yelling at the universe.  MyFavoriteKid came out of his room because he thought I was yelling at him for forgetting to do something.  
I was just yelling. 

Felt good.

And then I heated up some of that soup.

Which felt good, too.

I don't always remember to take care of myself when I'm busy taking care of others, so soup is progress.  Actually, my therapist suggested that perhaps I might start "collecting soups".... hahaha!  She said I didn;t have to make them. Just pick up some good once from restaurants or a deli or gourmet market or something.  
I can see it now.   "Hello! My name is AmpuTeeHee, I am 46 years old, a single mom, and my hobbies include dancing, and knitting, and soup collecting."  hahahahaha

Can you tell I am getting tired and goofy?!  *sigh*

Well, I expect the next few days to be rather interesting.  Dopey medicated doggy on restriction, a trip or two the hospital, my cousin visiting for a couple of days, and a family dinner to host on Wednesday. 

Wait! I know! SOUP FOR EVERYONE!!! hahahaha

Sunday, October 20, 2013

a good sunday

Wow, after that long day yesterday accompanying the kids on their competition, I "slept in" (and that's in quotes, because sleeping in only meant sleeping until 8:30am, but that's late for me!) and I woke up feeling like I had a hangover. But I didn't even drink yesterday!  I felt trashed most of the day, and I wasn't even the one competing yesterday!  I can't imagine how the kids must feel.

After a late breakfast, MyFavoriteKid headed off with his dad for their band practice together (rock band, with their first gig with MyFK as dummer set for mid-November).  TheMostImportantGuy and I went up to Napa and stocked up on groceries because my cousin is coming to visit this week.

We took a break in the middle of our shopping excursion for some lunch.

So great was the fake hangover feeling that I couldn't even consider pairing my lunch with a cerveza or margarita.

This place had some wacky-chic Mexicano decor.

My crappy cell phone pic doesn't show well that framed the Giants baseball jersey actually says "Gigantes"...hahaha! Awesome :-)

After shopping we came back home to YeOlHaus, I did some much neglected housework and laundry, and I also made two big pots of soup for us to dig into for the next few days.  A banged out a really delicious veggie lentil soup, and then I experimented with a mushroom miso soup that turned out so great it just about knocked my sock(s) off. I love fall!! Soup season!!

This week will be a bit busy, but fun. The cousin visiting is actually my dad's first cousin.  He just moved to Portland, and he was gracious enough to go up to Washington the week after Grammy passed to pick up several items that she left for family members.  This week he is taking a little tour of California delivering items to my family, and then he is headed down to Southern California to make more deliveries to his sister and one of my first cousins.  He might even stop and stay with us on his return trip back home.  I don't know him nearly as well as I would like to, and I plan to remedy that this week!

Alrighty, it's time for me to pack up the soups now that they have cooled, and catch some more much needed zzz's.....

Saturday, October 19, 2013

snaps on saturday

Ahhhh, the first Fall Season Marching Band Competition....

....and look at all those hungry hardworking kids in line for dinner (I think we have 117 total!).

Super long day.  I was up with MyFavoriteKid at 8am helping him get ready and he started practice at 10am. TheMostImportantGuy and I ran errands, got our portion of the group food together, and then we met up with the other band parents around 1pm. I am posting this remotely using my phone from the event site, and after we pack up and drive home, we probably wont get there until about 1am! Ouch!

 MyFK's band was 1 of 7 in their category.  The band and color guard took 5th place overall....but the percussion section???  They took the trophy for "High Percussion" in their category!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(if you are wondering why there are so many exclamation points, it's because MyFK plays snare drum in the percussion ensemble! woohoo!)

I am so proud of them. They battery section meets separately for extra rehearsals, and their extra effort and dedication have really paid off.

Two more big competitions to go....

Friday, October 18, 2013

catbird seat

Thursday, October 17, 2013

a significant change of status

Hang around here long enough, and you'll finally get some content, right?  LOL

I know there have been a lot of fluffy "filler-ish" type posts here lately, and I'm sorry for that, but behind the scenes, I am really busy working through A TON of stuff.  Some of it's logistical and has had me a in a time-sucking vacuum, but a lot of it has been emotional, and I have been left feeling quite drained.

Grab a Cup o' Joe. It's a long one.
A little rambly, too. Sorry.

For those who are new here, I am a volunteer with an organization that matches you up to do one-on-one visits with people in convalescent hospitals that don't get visitors.  I started volunteering when I was 23 or 24 (?) and I'm now 46 (gah. nearly half my life!!). Over the years, most of my matches have been short term (the longest was 1 year).  This latest match has been different, though. I have been visiting James for 9 years.  You can pick up the tone of our relationship in posts like this one, or this one, or this one (that last one is oddly related to this post, actually)....and there are probably a few other posts I have made over the years that I cant put my finger on right now. I swear that somewhere I have posted a photo of James, but I just can't spot it.  Feel free to have yourself a little scavenger hunt ;-)  Sort of a Where's Waldo, I guess.

Here's the poop.

Last Thursday, James went back into the "hospital-hospital" (as we call it, to differentiate from the "convalescent hospital", where he is a permanent resident).  I never got a call when he went into the ICU because I am not family. I had to find out from James himself once he was able to use the phone.  He called to let me know as soon as he got out of the ICU and was moved to a regular room.  He told me he was sent to the hospital, "because he was having trouble breathing due to all the fluid in his tummy, and they drained 5 liters off, and it wasn't all gone, but he was feeling much better."

That call with James took place Friday evening. I called him Saturday and he sounded like he was feeling better and in good spirits. Of course, I can't ask the nurse for a medical update. Well, I can ask. But they wont tell me anything. Because I am not family.

Well, it was Sunday afternoon when I got a phone call from his doctor saying that even though I wasn't family or legally listed as able to speak for him, James had asked the doctor to call me and explain what was happening because he didn't understand, and he knew that I would help him make sense of it all.

Much of what I was heard was new to me. I was told by the doctor that James has End Stage Congestive Heart Failure, and this was being accelerated by kidney failure. The general gist is that his heart is pumping around 50%, his kidneys are now around 50% as well, he has a persistent infection in his foot (complicated by diabetes) that has resulted in having two different surgeries over the past year or so to remove parts of his foot (and he'd already lost a leg 10 years ago).  He's filling up with fluid that his kidneys can't precess, and it's leaking everywhere. It's in is abdomen, lungs, and basically just all of his organs and tissues like a sponge. They can't get any more off surgically, and they can't it off with medication because nothing is circulating well. The heart is not pumping the blood enough to get the meds distributed throughout his body (especially to his extremities), and his kidneys aren't doing their job to filter the blood, either. And he's not really a good candidate for dialysis given everything else that is going on.  

It's sort of a perfect storm.  A very sucky, very complicated storm.

And James can't make sense out of what the doctors are saying because there are so many specialists coming and going, and he's exhausted from being woken up every time he dozes off by a nurse or a doctor, and the information being given is so great that he can't absorb it all. So the doctor asks if I could please come in and support him on Monday and Tuesday, because he is going to have a meeting with a Palliative Care Team and it might be overwhelming for him.

Well, of course I was there for those meetings.  I've been at the hospital every day this week, actually.  Sometimes more than once each day. Not only have I been in even more meetings than I was warned about, I've also had a few conference calls with James' sister on the line as well. 

And so. Here it is. Thursday.  And I am now the Durable Power Attorney for Health Care for James.

(I know some of you are yelling "finally" at the screen, but please don't let me hear you. I had to be quite ready within myself to take this on.  I's....ummm...kinda huge.... and I have a whole host of responsibilities of my  own already, and it's usually you same "finally people" out there that are the first to nag at me to cut back on commitments so I can take care of myself better, so just shut yer traps!  LOLOL)

I'm not taking on James' financial stuff (I am only signing on to manage the health care). His sister is still going to need to deal with his finances.  James' sister is 17 years younger than him. She loves him, but she also barely knows him. She remembers him going off into the military when she was a very little girl, and then she remembers that when he came back, he married someone that their mother and her father (James' stepdad) didn't approve of, so after that he basically kept a distance.  James' sister cares about him, but she's 300+ miles away, and she cant look into his eyes and see what he needs, nor does she feel she knows him as well as I do, and James is the first to agree.  He's been asking me to speak for him for a couple of years, and I just wasn't ready.

I have to be honest. On some level, I feel like I had to accept this responsibility. When it all comes down to it....if I do not step in and help James with the medical piece, he is going to be flying blind. It is not in my nature to leave someone I care about in that state. Heck, it's really not even in my nature to leave someone I DO NOT care about in that state! (you hear that, InvisibleSister??! Oh, and happy belated birthday! Sheesh.)  And I don't have it in me to know that James will be alone in his last hours because I might not be allowed to be with him, and he might not be able to talk at that point and ask for what he needs.

*sigh* this is all so hard

Ok. So.
This week, James started asking me if I would please speak on his behalf once he couldn't do so any longer. That's when I pretty much realized I don't know him all that well...I might not eve know him any better than his sister!  I mean, I do know some things. I know that I can "read" him pretty easily, and I can tell when he is upset even when he is trying not to say so.  I know what questions to ask to get to the root of what is bothering him or to figure out what his needs are.  But never in our 9 together years have we ever talked about feeding tubes, "do not resuscitate" instructions, whether or not he believes in organ donation for himself, cremation versus burial, etc.  That's just not what we do with our time together! I visit him to cheer him up, man!  We talk about what movies he watched on Netflix that week, or about what he's reading. He asks me about what I'm knitting, he follows along with stories about my family (most of whom he has met over the years, including my late grandmother), and he asks about how the house and the remodeling are going.  We have light conversation. We chit-chat. We don't talk about death. Who in this (crazy upside down) society talks about death??! (we are so weird).

This week our visits have been nothing like light chit chat, let me tell you.  This week has been the crap-ton of meetings I described a few paragraphs ago, followed by two hard days of "getting to know you" discussions on a whoooole new level, so I could help him fill out his Advance Health Care Directives forms. Then I needed to deal with getting his ID in my hot little hands (which of course was not with him at the hospital-hospital, and I wasn't authorized yet to go into his convalescent hospital room and take something)....but I needed him to have his ID so I could bring in a mobile notary to notarize the documents we were filling out. Bah.  I got 'er done, but it was epic.

I'm exhausted. Partially from all the driving back and forth (he's 30-45 minutes away), but mostly from the energy it takes me to "hold space" for a person who is hearing that they probably only have 6 months to a year to live and that they aren't going to get any better and that they really should try to "take care of a few things" (no matter how hard it is) and before they can no longer think clearly.  Joyous. Right?  *sigh*

It was a whole lot of tough conversations for James and I, but I am so glad we got it done. 

You know, I am fully capable of speaking on James' behalf.  And I'm fully capable of honoring his wishes.  But up until a few days ago, I also had no friggin' idea about what his wishes are, and as we dipped our toes into the waters of these difficult topics, it became clear to me immediately that what I would want for myself, or even what I might wish for him, are not at all the same things.  He has a whole different set of cultural beliefs about dying than I do, that's for sure. I'm sort of in the "fling my ashes anywhere" category, and if you are a good listener, I'll send you messages from the other side ;-) I'm in the camp that says, "don't keep me alive on machines for an extended period if I am completely gone."  James is more in the "I need my ashes near my family's ashes" category, and he believes that since we can't prove what happens after death, it must just be that we go in the ground. He's also camped out in the keep me alive no matter what, category...because they might figure out some way to fix me. (this has changed since the meetings with the docs...he is now opting to be let go once his heart stops...and that was a very hard thing for him to come to)

Neither thinking is right or wrong, neither is good or bad, but holy cow, are they different positions! And so my job in all of this is to know him and his desires, inside and out, so that I can make sure his needs and desires are met, whether I agree with them or not.

It's been a bit of work for me to do that.  Not only getting to know him better, but widening my own belief system to not just accept his beliefs, but to be willing to accept them to the point of being willing to move into action and honor things I don't exactly believe in.  It's sort of wild.  He's choosing for himself some things that I think may increase his suffering. And I am going to need to honor that. 

After 3 days of meetings and paperwork and very hard conversations and a few tears and some hugs and hand holding....I know I can do it.  I know what he wants, and I know I have it in me to stand by him as he works his way through his choices.  And I know how to be there for him and see if he's changing his mind as he goes along about anything.   

Again, it's wild. And I actually can't wait to watch me in action. I think I'll be a super-star, but it's something I've never done before, so it's really going to be a trip and a half.

I have more to say on the topic, volumes, I am sure....but I'm beat.
And more new things to say about all of this will come up over the next few months, as his health shifts, too. 

I think it's safe to assume you'll be hearing more about this over the next few month, so stay tuned. 


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

i know i'm supposed to focus on the message, but....'s really hard sometimes to do that while I'm laughing my ass off.

And yes.
I know.
I'm on the fastrack to hell.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

lonely hearts club

Filched from my own Facebook page, so pardon if you've seen it already (because after two Redd's Apple Ales I cant come up with anything more creative!).

Lonely Hearts Club. That's what we call it when you are the only one to show up at Knit Night. Which is at a sports bar. So at least I'm knitting and having a cold one with CardboardCowboy!

 It's not so bad being the President of The Lonely Hearts Club after all.  A) I'm actually getting some knitting done  B) We're a small knitting group and we've all had a term as President, it's only fair  C) Not Only amd I with CardboardCowboy, but I'm also wtih FlatCheerleader and SmallScaleNascarChic!


In the end, it wasn't lonely at all.  TheMostImportantGuy showed up for a beer and a veggie burger, and he shared his fries ;-)

Monday, October 14, 2013

daily ritual

Every morning the chihuahua is the last one out of bed.

Is she sticking her tongue out at me, or what?!?!