Friday, January 30, 2009

Jeez Louise

It looks like Hell exploded in my garage. But that's what progress looks like sometimes. I got a lot done. I decided I'll never be able to get everything out of the garage and store it someplace while I'm doing all that I want to do in there, so I'm doing it in halvesies. I'm going to get one side completely cleaned out and get it set up the way I want and then move stuff around and work on the other half. Today I demolished a useless cabinet and gained about twelve square feet of floor space. I consolidated several boxes and I now have a huge pile of stuff for Second Time Around. I also found a lot of tools.

I'm very dirty.

I'm getting all giddy about setting up my workshop area. It's going to make such a huge difference. Every time I try to do something around here I always spend way too much time trying to find the right tools and supplies. Often I get discouraged and give up. It's going to be great to be able to go out there and go straight to whatever I need. Such joy! How shall I bear it?

Gracie and Lady were driving me nuts out there. Gracie always wants to lay right where you're working. She was always like that (we called her Gracie underfoot) but now she's old and can barely walk and she's half blind and mostly deaf so once she's down it's hard to get her to move. And Lady makes me want to beat the shit out of her so she'll want to stay away from me. That is the most annoying dog in the world. Every time I turn my back she's nosing me in the leg. EVERY TIME! If I'm carrying something heavy she gets right in front of me and stops. She is also deaf so you can't yell at her to move. I'm always waving my arms at her to get her away from me. You can't kick her, she's too quick. You know how on those documentaries about Africa they always show the hyenas bugging the shit out of some poor animal that keeps trying to defend itself until it's completely worn out and just lays down and allows itself to be ripped apart? THAT'S what it's like to be working in the garage with Lady nearby. That's how it is anytime I'm trying to do work in the back yard. Paige and I hate her. I hope everyone won't think I'm the worst person in the world if I decide to take her to the pound. Because, I'm pretty sure that day is coming. She's also aggressive towards Lio and Charlie and even Gracie sometimes. She's just a big source of stress. Oh well.

Heh! Boz was the one who had the most sense today. He found a shady spot and took a snooze.

Ok, I have half an hour to goof off before show rehearsal.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Prepare to be smacked... the cuteness.

Here's our Charlie.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bounced back a little

I went to see Dad after I got off work. I got there just as they were lifting him out of bed to take him to dinner. He was yelling because he was in pain but he wasn't angry. As soon as he saw me he smiled and relaxed a little. I talked to him and rubbed his shoulders while they finished getting him into the lift. The used the lounge chair on wheels. He was in a good mood and pretty chatty. When they wheeled him out he saw one of his caregivers and yelled, "Hey, there's my girlfriend!" So, even though he's not as good as he was a few weeks ago he's still there and he's still Stan. It was nice to see him looking so good.

It took them a while to bring out his tray. While we were waiting I pulled out the uke and sang some songs. The longer we waited, the more subdued Dad became. He wasn't just dozing, he was slipping back into the fog. When his tray came it was hard to rouse him enough to feed him. His food is total mush now and they're giving him thickened liquids. I didn't have the heart to try to give him the thickened milk. At least the juice is kind of like runny jello. He refused to eat the meat mush but he was ok with the mashed potatoes. I don't know what the green stuff was. Probably peas. The whole time his face was screwed up into a disgusted grimace. He ate and drank very little. And most of the time he was really out of it.

After I gave up trying to feed him I sang him some songs without the ukulele. I was trying to come up with any song that he used to sing around the house. I kept trying to encourage him to sing with me. When I sang When I Grow Too Old To Dream he did hum along. Just barely, though. Even so, it was nice that he could hum along and I think he was happy that he could do it. It was hard to keep from choking up. After a while he was pretty unresponsive, so I left.

So, it's hard to say how much longer he'll be with us. When I saw him last week he truly looked like he was at death's door. Today he was much better but only for a little while. When they tested his blood sugar it was 219. Maybe the insulin shot caused him to zone out.

Anyway, we're still in this thing. After Dede's email I went through some emotional stuff. I could see I really wasn't ready for Dad to go, but now I think I am. It was such a struggle for him to eat. It looked like it hurt him to swallow. Even if he does have some good moments in his day the rest of it is spent in suffering. They take such good care of him there but in a way it seems cruel.

Oh well, we'll see.

Blogging from work

Hoo boy, things are dead around here. I've surfed the political blogs, bought a couple things on eBay and spent a little time on Chordie. I've taken two walks around the building. I've answered the phone three times. It's DEAD HERE.

So, I can sit here and think about what I want to do with my house. I've been working on window treatments for my kitchen and dining room. I bought three capiz shell curtains at Cost Plus and cut them apart. I also got some extras on eBay. I'm re-stringing them over the windows. I know it's hard to picture. The shells are brown, turquoise blue, sage green, periwinkle purple, deep red, and white and they come in three sizes. I'm stringing them on black crochet thread. So far I really like how they look. I'll top them off with a cornice covered with brown fabric and embellish with cowrie shells and black beads. Trust me, it's cute.

This will help me figure out what color I want to paint the kitchen. I bought some chalk board paint at Home Depot the other day. I'm going to make a big, black chalkboard in my hallway. One thing I've been missing in my house is a central message area. I think it'll be fun to have a huge one in the hall between the kitchen and office. I have a feeling it will be mostly used as a drawing surface, but maybe there will be some room left for phone messages and shopping lists.

I also want to finally get going on removing the rest of the wallpaper remnants from the walls. Ivy thinks it's great fun to jump up and claw the wallpaper in the kitchen. She doesn't know that she's actually helping the removal process. The wallpaper in three areas has been shredded. If I really wanted to keep it I'd be pissed. I don't think she'll want to scratch the walls once they're painted.

I brought home color chips for the other bathroom. I think I have that color picked out. Gotta remove the wallpaper in there, too. Too bad the tub and sink are in such bad shape. Painting the walls won't make the cruddy porcelain look better. Gotta repair the wall where the heater was removed and patched with a piece of cheap wood paneling. Come on, couldn't they have sprung for a pice of sheetrock?

That ought to do it for now. Oh yeah, the yards. They've gotten a bit out of control. I'm going to call Hector and have him just take care of it. Money well spent.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Nice day for an inauguration

Finally! The nightmare is over. I don't know what kind of president Obama will be. I think he might be a great one. But today I'm not worrying about that. I'm just so happy that we're through with that miserable failure of a human being we had to call President for the last eight years. What a glorious day.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Two years

Hard to believe. The whole thing still boggles my mind sometimes but it's getting better. It's funny, but my most vivid memories of Jim are of him as a teenager. His young, fresh face, his bushy hair, the blue brightness of his eyes. Man, we sure had fun back then.

Tuesday was the hardest day for me this week. I kept thinking two years ago today was the last day of my normal life. I remember so much of what I did that day. I met Stacey at the park where Audra was having softball practice. We went for a walk. I talked to Linda about painting a mural in her kitchen. Jim had a gig in the mountains that night but I didn't go because I didn't want to stay up that late. I figured I'd go to the next one.

The next day he told me what a great time he'd had. The band played really well and they had a great audience. He was having a happy day. He played some music, he puttered around and he gave me a nice massage because I was having some back trouble that day. After that he went out and sat at the computer and that's when he had his stroke.

The rest of this week was a series of distractions. I kept thinking about what I was doing at the hospital, about the support of all our friends, about the girls and Kyle and about Dad and how difficult he was to deal with. I thought about all of us in the room when we let Jim go. It felt so wrong because Jim didn't look sick, just asleep.

So yeah, it was a weird week. On Friday Jeff and Bill came over and we played music. That was great. We hadn't gotten together in a couple months and it felt really good to play with those guys again. On Saturday I went to Ken's. Jessica and Greg were there so I finally got to see little Gregory. Man, he's so tiny. It was nice to hold that little baby and sniff the top of his head. I had brought some marinated tri-tip and Ken grilled it up along with some chicken and squash. It was all so good. Afterward Ken and I played and sang in the living room. A very pleasant scene. Got a little weepy, too.

Today I went to First Congregational for a show rehearsal. Then I met Jeff and his mom at Community Care where our former pastor's wife is staying. She had a leg amputated a few months ago and she hasn't been doing very well. We went for a visit and to play and sing for them. It was a good visit and I think they appreciated the music.

On Saturday before I went to Ken's I went to see Dad. He looked pretty much the same as he did the last time I saw him. There's just not much of him left. His eyes were half open in a vacant stare, his mouth was hanging open with his upper lip curled back. He moved around a little but didn't give much indication that he knew I was there. I sang him a few songs. His nurse came in to test his blood sugar. She said she missed his humor. I asked her if he was like that because of the meds or is this the way he is now. She said this is it. This is what he is now.

Dede sent an email to all of us detailing what Dad's nurses have told them. We're looking at the end here. They'll do what they can to make him comfortable but now all we can do is wait. So much to think about. Feelings are all over the place. Oh man, here we go again.

Whew! It looks like we're gearing up for another marathon. When we get this behind us I hope we Lang sibs can do something awesome together. A river trip at least!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Late night fun at the emergency vet

Last night Charlie was running around the house like she usually does. You have to stop what you're doing to check up on her every few minutes. She had been at my feet while I was at the computer and then she ran into the tv room. Almost instantly I heard her gagging. I ran in there just as she was coming out, running and acting very distressed. She threw up a couple times and then settled down. Paige came home right then and we both gave her a going over. She seemed mostly fine except she would gag every once in a while and then sit and blink her eyes. That was a strange behavior. Paige thought it was her way of wincing.

We took her to the emergency vet. That's always an exercise in extreme waiting. Paige and Gabe and I sat for a long time in the waiting room and then in the examining room before the vet came in. We couldn't let Charlie down because her shots aren't complete yet. We had to hold her the whole time. Unhappy puppy! Her ears kept getting lower and lower.

When the vet came in and checked her over she couldn't find anything. She took Charlie to the back so she could sedate her and check her throat. Within a few minutes the vet tech came out and showed us what Charlie had swallowed. A threaded needle! Oy! We waited a bit longer for Charlie to wake up, paid the $200 vet bill and came home. Charlie gets to choke down some antibiotics for a few days.

I had already started on getting the floor cleaned up and now we're going to step up the effort. The vacuum cleaner has just been fixed (after getting its cord chewed by rabbits). Gracie swallowed a threaded needle a few years ago. That one worked it's way through her body and started to come out her side. Charlie wants to eat everything she sees so we need to get things picked up.

So glad it's the weekend.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Happy Birthday, Stacey!

I love you! Don't worry, I won't tell everyone how old you are.

Ah, the mid-week, non-milestone birthday. How do you celebrate? Stay home from work? Go out to dinner? B-b-boring.

Happy Boring Birthday. I hope your day is better than average. No, no, no, I hope it's wonderful! I'll be thinking about you as I'm cleaning my house.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Personalized plate

I wanted to get CURIOSO but it's taken. I tried to order CUR1OSO but they wouldn't let me have it because it's too close to curioso. I thought maybe I'd use the hand symbol and incorporate it into curioso like CURI(hand)S(hand) but it didn't look right. So, I'm messing around with the CA license plate website. The symbols are a heart, hand, star, and a plus sign. So far I have:

L(hand)RMIND- Left hand, right mind
RFT LFT- Right foot, left foot
(plus sign)TUDE- Positive attitude

We came up with some good ones the other night on our way to LA but they don't really apply to the specialness that is me. I'm open to suggestions. The limit is seven characters.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Bad memories

Last night I went to visit Dad. Usually he's in the dining room when I get there but he's been having some trouble lately so they had him in his room on an IV. He was really out of it, barely conscious. Right after I got there they brought him his dinner. I told the nurse that I would feed him. She said she hoped I'd have better luck getting some food into him than she did.

Pretty much all he did during dinner was stare at me blankly. I had to tell him to open his mouth, tell him to chew, tell him to swallow. Instead of sucking on the straw, he'd bite it. The only way I could get him to drink was to spoon it in. I found that that was the best way to stimulate him to swallow. He had only eaten a very little bit before he indicated he was through. I asked him if he wanted to hear some music. Barely a response there.

I got out the uke and sang him a couple of songs. Every once in a while he'd grimace like he was in pain. At one point his face froze, forehead tight, mouth wide open. I put down the uke and tried to get him to relax, hoping that would help ease the pain. I stroked his hair and his forehead. I rubbed his legs. I asked him what was hurting but he couldn't answer me. Then I noticed that his knee was pressed up against the rail of his bed. I felt myself starting to get very upset. Hold it together, Donita. Do your crying in the parking lot.

We're coming up on the second anniversary of Jim's death. I've been feeling antsy about it and I'll be glad to get past it. On the day he had his stroke I held it together. Like a champ. I held it together when the paramedics took him away. I held it together in the ER. I held it together when they showed Ken and me the scan of Jim's head that showed the huge area of bleed in his brain. And I held i together when they kept saying, "Not a good outcome." I held it together when Jim's brain started to swell and he went into distress and they had to sedate him.

And then I noticed that the skin on his leg had a dent in it from being pressed up against the rail of the gurney. Jim was a big guy. There was no extra room for him to spread out even a little. I went all over that ER looking for anything that could cushion his arms and legs. It was busy that night and I had a hard time getting anyone to slow down enough to help me. I'm sure their workdays are filled with dealing with worried and demanding family members, so they are expert at ignoring and rushing by. I understood that. But damn it, I needed pillows. I finally found someone who showed me where they kept them. I want back to Jim's room and tried to lift his legs so I could stuff the pillows in. And that's when I couldn't hold it together any longer. All I wanted to do was make him comfortable and I was having a hard time doing it. He was already sedated and was certainly in no pain, but I couldn't stand to have him pressed up against those rails. It was a desperate moment for me. I just had to stuff those pillows in.

So last night when I saw Dad's knee pressed against the rail it all came rushing back. His leg could have been that way for hours. He could have been laying there with his face frozen in pain FOR HOURS. I got the pillow from the empty bed next to him and tried to lift his leg to stuff it in. But Dad is so stiff now. Moving his limbs hurts him. I couldn't left his leg high enough before he started to gasp. I found a folded up hospital gown and put that under his knee. He relaxed pretty much right away. I talked to him a little more before he drifted off to sleep. I gathered up my things and left. On my way out I stopped by the nurses station and told them to please make sure he didn't have his arms or legs jammed against the rails of his bed. I asked the nurse to please tell anyone that attends him to make sure he's cushioned and comfortable before they leave him. The nurse nodded and looked at me blankly and said she'd pass it along. Maybe she will. I'm sure her day is also filled with demanding people. My tears started as soon as I turned away from the nurses desk.

During the drive home it was all I could think about. I hope Dad dies soon. Seeing his face last night, the blank stare, the look of pain. Really, he just needs to go. This is no life.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Did ja feel it?

Listed at first as a 5.0, later downgraded to a 4.5. Yeah, ok, still big enough to get my heart pounding. And just now there was a 3.3 aftershock. Man, I love USGS. You can get instant info on earthquakes.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Hoo boy

Today I was informed that I'll bump up against my part-time hours limit sometime in April. That means once I hit 950 hours I can't work until July 1st. I can try to stretch it out but however I choose to do it I'll be bringing in less money. My already meager paycheck is about to get meagerer. I need to figure out how I want to manage this.

I could cut my hours back and take an extra class this spring. I could try to get a second job. That might be hard in this economy but it's worth a try. I've been putting off getting some eBay sales going. If I get that rolling it would be a double plus. I'd make some money and get some crap cleared out of my house, garage and yard. I can take some time off and work on my house. I'm already planning a trip to Texas in March. I have enough credit card points to buy a plane ticket.

Bleah. I can't allow myself to get too stressed over this. It will mean I'll have to dip into the retirement fund again sooner than planned. I hate doing that. Anyway, who knows? I might be able to land one of those full-time positions that occasionally open up at RCC.

So, just keep going. Right foot, left foot, etc.

Lio got chomped yesterday and I'm pretty sure it was Bozzie who did the chomping. I didn't see Lio after I got home from work and it took a while to find him. When I picked him up he cried out in pain. He's been gorging himself on anything he can find to eat so I was afraid he had pulled a Marty. When Marty was fairly young he gorged himself on dog food and got his intestines good and blocked. That was a BIG vet bill. After some fussing I got Lio into the house. I gently prodded his belly but it didn't seem to bother him. Then I saw two spots on his rear end that looked like dried blood. When I touched it he cringed and whimpered. He wouldn't let me do much exploring but it didn't look serious. The bite is on a fleshy (fat) part of his leg. I brought litter box back in and kept him inside last night. I checked on him several times and today he seems fine.

He's been getting pretty comfortable with the dogs lately. Boz has turned into a real jerk. Well, more of a jerk than he always was. I'm pretty sure Lio was being friendly and Boz decided to get grumpy and lash out. I've seen him do it before. Hopefully, Lio will heed the warning and stay out of the back yard.

Sheesh. Boz is my youngest and healthiest dog so he's the one I'll be stuck with after Gracie and Lady are gone. Think his behavior will improve when he has no more dog competition? Yeah, I didn't think so either.

The good news is Ivy and Lio seem to have figured out how to use the cat door.

Well, I'm off to weight loss class. Did I lose 40 pounds?

Update: 38 pounds. Dinner was a little salty last night. That has to be it.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Oh my God, I got an A in History

Un-freakin'-believable. I couldn't have done that well on the final. This teacher is GENEROUS.

I'm floored.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Vacation over

Back to work tomorrow. I was off almost two weeks.

I didn't get as much done as I wanted, but I'm satisfied that the purge has officially begun in earnest. I'm beginning to see progress. This weekend all of Lindsay's stuff will be moved out. Well, not all of her stuff. I'll be storing some of it for her. But at least I'll get the living room back. And I'll be able to use her bedroom for storage.

The kittens are learning how to be outdoor cats. Ivy doesn't like it one little bit. Lio has made friends with Zoey and Marty. He's doing very well but he doesn't like using the cat door. I have two litter boxes outside. So far, I haven't found any accidents in the house.

I went to Kaiser tonight so I could weigh myself and find out how I did over the holidays. After all my indulging and slacking off I still managed to lose half a pound. I'll bet I can take off some more by Wednesday's weigh-in. I went up Mt. Rubidoux this afternoon and I zoomed. I'm going again tomorrow with Jeff.

So, things are moving towards the positive right now. If I had a bit more money it would all be just about perfect.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Boom, boom, boom

It's still sounding off. Happy New Year, everyone.

Charlie and Lio went with me out to the front yard. Charlie was a little concerned about the noise but she was more interested in chasing Lio. Lio acted like he was annoyed but he kept coming back for more. I had a pleasant few minutes outside with a couple of animal buddies. I got a little wistful and teary thinking about what has been and what may be coming. Good stuff this year, ok?


1. Pull this house together. The garage, too.
2. Related to that- Purge! Get rid of stuff. I took a load to Second Time Around today and it felt gooood.
3. Keep losing weight and improving my health.
4. Do a better job of handling my life.
5. Write some more songs.

That's all I can think of right now.