Sunday, December 31, 2006

Goodbye 2006

Farewell 2006! I took this photo from my deck a few minutes ago. As you can see, it's a rainy New Year's Eve here, but quite warm. The temperature is currently 55 and comfortable. The two bright streaks you see in the parking lot are caused by a vehicle which came through just as I was taking the photo. (I was using a long exposure to get as much light as I could.) Near the left of the photo you can see (between the two buildings) that some of the folks in the neighborhood still have their Christmas lights up.

I took mine down the day after Christmas (which I usually try to do). I've had a busy week, but it's been just wonderful. I've managed to get some closets straightened a bit and do some reorganizing. I've been awake early each morning (usually by 5:30), but have enjoyed the luxury of lazing in bed and watching movies and reading until the hour is decent to start making a bit of noise doing household drudgery. (My attempt at being kind to my neighbors...*G*)

Mom and I went to visit Aunt Orph (actually Daddy's aunt) for a little while Friday. She's 96 now, and it's just a joy to spend time with her. She was crocheting when we arrived. Not only does she enjoy crocheting, she's really wonderful at it. She can just look at a piece of crocheted work and know immediately how to duplicate it. It just amazes me.....I can barely crochet an afghan with a PATTERN.

Today I cooked a pot of black eyed peas (have to have some tomorrow for luck). I had some walnuts left over from holiday cooking, so I made spiced nuts with those. I'll post the recipe at the end of this post. Now the apartment smells like cinnamon and cloves. *YUM*

Tonight Mom and Dad have gone to a New Year's Eve get-together that Daddy's cousin is having. I was invited, but I've never liked to be out on New Year's Eve. There are so many people out driving with perhaps one too many celebratory drinks in their system. I just feel safer being home.

I usually feel a pang of nostalgia seeing the old year out. Oddly enough, this year I feel only a sense of anticipation for a great 2007.

Happy New Year, all!!

Recipe for Glazed Nuts:

1 egg white
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 pound walnut halves (use walnuts, pecans, almonds or a mix)

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, beat egg white until foamy. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and vanilla. Add nuts, and stir to coat. Spread evenly onto prepared pan.
3. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until well toasted and golden brown. Remove from oven, and cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, December 25, 2006

What a Great Holiday!

It's been a really great Christmas. Saturday night I talked to Kris and El (Sunday morning their time). I would have loved for them to have been able to be here for Christmas, but at least I get to talk to them. *hugging Skype*

Sunday evening Mom and Dad came to my apartment for Christmas Eve. We had some goodies (cranberry meatballs, ham ball, veggies and dip, ribbon salad, pumpkin muffins) and exchanged gifts. I had hoped to be able to have a fire in the fireplace for Christmas Eve, but it was too warm for that. I'd have hated to have a fire and run the air conditioning at the same time!

I went to Mom and Dad's for Christmas dinner. We were joined by friends and had a wonderful day. Too much food, but after all, it was CHRISTMAS! *LOL* We had roast chicken, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, potato salad, cole slaw, cranberry relish, green beans, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, and rolls. Desserts included red velvet cake and carrot cake. I'll be paying for that for days, no doubt!

When I got home, it was obvious that MeggieDog had slept all afternoon. She was very happy to have me home, though. :-)

One of the Christmas gifts I received was a kit to grow an amaryllis. I thought it would be interesting (since I have a notorious failure rate with living plants) to post a blog with the progress. You can find "The Amaryllis Project" by clicking here.

Well, I'm full of holiday food and Meg's wanting to hit the hay, so I think I'll put my jammies on and watch TV in bed for awhile. What a wonderful Christmas this has been!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Three More Days....

Just three working days until *drumroll please* CHRISTMAS BREAK! And, boy am I ready for it!

I had an awful time at work yesterday getting people to do what they should have done already without being asked. Which slowed up my getting what I needed to do finished. I'd hoped to wrap up the last of the keyed transactions yesterday, but couldn't get enough source information to finish. Dang it.

That means I won't get to finish keying until today. Drat. Drat. DRAT.

*taking a deep breath* *holding it* *releasing it slowly*

So, off to work. With a BIG thermos of coffee. *LOL*

Monday, December 18, 2006

Monday, Monday

I had an appointment with my endocrinologist Friday (Type II diabetic, y'know) and got good news/notasgood news. Good news: I'd lost another 11 pounds. Without really trying. Hopefully when I start actually TRYING it'll be more. *LOL* Notasgood news: My blood pressure was up a little. Not dangerous, but up. My guess is that the unusual stress of the last month or so is the culprit. Could also be that I had to rush terribly to get out of the office in time to make my appointment.

So, added to my ToDo List:
  1. Start paying serious attention to diet and exercise. Especially exercise.
  2. Stress management techniques I've been taught in CommonHealth classes must be put in place.
This will be a fairly stressful week at work, but it will be a short one, thank goodness. After I make it through Thursday, I'm off until January 3. YAY!

And when I return on the 3rd, the new fiscal assistant will be coming in to work. That will help, too.

Speaking of work, time to hit the shower and get ready.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Holiday Shopping

Well, I may not be ready for the holidays, but I'm finished! I stopped at Wal-Mart last night and picked up the last of the odds and ends. Oh. Except for some canned chunk ham to make a ham ball. They were sold out of that.

Did you ever wonder if anyone reads your blog, or it's the same as keeping one of those diaries I had as a little know, the one with the lock and key. (I always wondered if all the keys were alike. *noting that I was a bit paranoid as a kid*)

There are never any comments on my blog, but then again, I read a lot of blogs and never leave comments, either. Hmmmmmmmmm.

Ah well, got to get to the grindstone. More later.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Leslie Harpold's Advent Calendars

I just found links to each of Leslie Harpold's advent calendars and wanted to include them here, just in case anyone would like to reminisce a bit.

Missing Someone I Never Knew

I just read on "Not Martha" (a favorite site that I read almost daily) that Leslie Harpold has passed away. Reports say that she died alone (probably of bronchitis), and that her mother found her on Sunday.

A couple of years ago I followed a link from "Not Martha" to Leslie's Advent Calendar, which has been bookmarked on my computer ever since.

It became a holiday tradition for me. I looked forward to clicking a new link on the calendar each day; each link led to holiday games, recipes, reminisces.

I noticed that the calendar hadn't been updated since December 7, but just assumed that a busy holiday schedule may have delayed the update. When I read of her passing, I felt a sense of loss. I'm sure that across the internet, this sense of loss is felt by many.

Fare thee well, Leslie Harpold, and thank you for the lovely holiday memories you evoked for me.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Fa La La La La......

I worked a half-hour past my usual quitting time last Friday, so I'm taking that half-hour this afternoon so I can get a small headstart on after-work crowds and finish up (I hope) my Christmas shopping.

I actually need to go to Wal-Mart, but will probably leave for work early tomorrow morning and do that on my way in. (Less hoopla in the parking lots early in the a.m.)

We've finished with the Madrigal season. It was a lot of fun, and I'll miss it.

At work, we finished with the interviews for the new fiscal assistant today. We had some really good applicants. I'm definitely encouraged!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Holiday Spirit Ensues

Tonight is the last concert of the season for the Madrigal Singers. Had I mentioned that I'm singing with them this season? It's a lot of fun, and I hadn't done it in several years.

We start rehearsals in August, once a week, and sing only Christmas concerts. It's a great group of ladies, and we sing a variety of types of holiday music. I'll miss it when it's over.

The Christmas shopping is nearly done. I'm usually finished by now, but it's been a different kind of season (see last post).

We're interviewing now for a new fiscal assistant; I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a good one. The pool looks great, so I'm encouraged.

I've got to find my recipe for cranberry salad, since that's what Mom wants me to make for Christmas dinner. As I remember, it's not difficult to make; I just need to know what to pick up at the grocery store!

Ah, lunch break's over. More later. Stay tuned. :-)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Another New Beginning

Ah, I see it's been awhile since I posted. Well, things have been a bit strained, and I really just hadn't felt much like posting, to tell the truth. My relationship with Randy was in a rapid decline. He wasn't spending much time with me, blaming it on working extended hours helping his brother with his construction business.

The time we spent together dwindled down to a couple of hours or so each Sunday afternoon. No matter what time he told me he'd arrive, he was at least an hour (if not two hours) late. He'd come through the door, spoiling for a fight. "Yeah, I'm late. Now jump all over me." *sheesh* He called me daily, but those calls kept coming later and later in the evening. Those calls also often began with him baiting me toward an argument. "Yeah, I know I said I'd call this morning. I forgot. Big deal."

Thanksgiving morning, he was to be at my apartment by 9:30. We were going to Mom and Dad's for dinner, and I wanted to get there early to help Mom finish up. As had become his habit, he was very late, but I was determined that we were going to have a good day. (There'd been so few of those lately.) He came through the door picking a fight. I said nothing about his lateness, trying to keep the mood light and pleasant. However, he was determined to make me unhappy. It was not a pleasant morning.

After Thanksgiving, things declined even more rapidly. On the Thursday after Thanksgiving, I didn't sleep because he hadn't called until 11:00 pm and was particularly nasty to me. I finally decided that enough was enough. On Friday morning, I called and arranged to have the locks changed on my apartment. That afternoon, I took the few things he had remaining at my place to his sister's house so he could pick them up there. That evening, I disconnected his cell phone (which was in my name) and changed both of my phone numbers.

After I decided enough was enough, I found out that he'd told his siblings a month earlier that he and I had parted company, and that he was seeing someone new. Funny that everyone was notified except ME!

Am I bitter? No, not really. I'm more relieved than anything. I'm just glad it's over. I'd given a lot of myself to that relationship in the nearly four years we were together, and got very little in return. I waited all last weekend for grief to kick in, and it never did. Guess that tells me something, eh? *LOL*

So, to the New Woman in his life, I wish you luck. You're going to need it. He's a LOT of work.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Warrior's Path.....the End of My Camping in 2006

I was off all last week (October 9 - 13) and had decided that I wanted to make one last camping trip before the weather gets too cold.

I knew that the evenings and mornings would be too cool already for MeggieDog to enjoy being in the great outdoors, but I didn't want to leave her alone for an entire week.

My solution was to camp at Warrior's Path State Park, a mere 15-minute drive from home. I could come home each day to shower and check on Meg. I could also avoid having to pack towels and clothing for the trip.

It also solved another problem; Randy was helping his brother, Richard on a few projects. He would be able to come to the campground each evening and go back to Richard's from the campground each morning.

I'd already driven through the park back in August and decided which would be the best campsite for my purposes. I wanted a site with enough room to set up my tent that had enough room between the fire ring and the picnic table that I could put my screen house over the picnic table without risking damage from the campfire. I figured that I'd have a better chance of getting the campsite I wanted if I waited until Monday morning to go to the park.

On the Saturday before I was go to camping, I went to Mom and Dad's. Daddy had a huge stack of firewood all cut up and ready for me. He said our friend Paul (in Wadlow Gap) had some apple wood cut up for me, too. We took Daddy's trailer and loaded the apple wood. When we got back, we loaded the firewood Daddy'd already stacked in their yard.

On Monday morning, I went to the park; happily, my first choice of campsites was available. I called Mom and Dad to let them know where to find me so they could bring the firewood. They told me that Mom's sister, Sandy, and her husband, Wilton, were on their way for a visit and they'd be out after they arrived. I set up the tent and unloaded the car. I had things pretty well squared away with the exception of the screen house; I have to have a little help setting that up.

Mom, Dad, Sandy and Wilton arrived with lunch from McDonald's. We ate our sandwiches, then set up the screen house. Then we unloaded the firewood. They stayed for awhile; it was nice to sit outdoors and visit.

I planned to make hamburgers on the campfire after Randy arrived; he'd promised to be there by dark. Dark came, and Randy still wasn't there. I called, and he said he'd be leaving in just a few minutes. About 45 minutes later, I called again. He'd just left, he said, and was on his way. I knew it was about a 20 minute drive for him, so I went ahead and cooked the burgers.

The burgers were ready, and he STILL hadn't arrived. I went ahead and ate mine, because I was beginning to feel ill. Diabetics have to be careful about eating on schedule, and it was a LONG time past my scheduled suppertime!

After I'd eaten my burger, I covered his food and left it on the picnic table. I went to sit by the campfire and wait for him. While I was warming myself by the fire, I noticed movement over near my car. It was a HUGE raccoon! It looked at me, quite unconcerned, then went to the screen house. It seemed a bit puzzled by the zippered screen, but simply walked to the side of the screen and slipped under it. It was making a move for Randy's supper when I said, "Hey, that doesn't belong to you!" It looked at me, still not frightened at all, but decided to move along.

When Randy finally arrived, he was eating his stone cold supper and explaining why he was so late (couldn't get away on time, truck was out of fuel, yadda, yadda, yadda) when another smaller raccoon appeared at the screen.

After we went to bed, I fell asleep almost immediately, but Randy was having difficulty sleeping because of a train that passes near the campground very often during the night. He said he'd just doze off and another train would come by, blowing its whistle. Funny thing is that it never woke me once during the whole week I was there! Once while Randy was awake, he heard something crash out in the screen house and woke me up. "I think your friends are back," he whispered. I listened for a moment and said, "Yup, the raccoons are exploring. I'll clean it up tomorrow." I was asleep again in moments.

When I got up the next morning, I found that they'd been in my cooler. I'd put all the other food in the car and locked it up, but didn't think about them getting in the cooler. They hadn't removed anything except a jar of pickle relish, which was sitting on the concrete pad under the picnic table. They'd just rummaged around in the cooler, not finding anything particularly interesting. Other than the pickle relish, the only evidence of their exploration was two pawprints on the inside of the cooler lid.

Randy had left at 5:30 that morning to go back to Richard's. That evening, he was late getting to the park again. I said, "You know, I've been here two days, and you still haven't seen the site in daylight. Why don't you just go home from Richard's tomorrow night? I'm not afraid to stay here alone. I actually thought I would be, but the rangers are great about checking on me, and there are nice people camped nearby."

So, he called to check on me, but didn't come back after that. I actually got more rest with him going home each night, since I didn't have to set an alarm clock and could eat supper at a more reasonable hour.

The days were crisp and cool. The weather was just great Monday and Tuesday; a storm passed through Wednesday night, bringing hail to some areas, but not at the campground. The temperature dropped drastically, though, so I knew something was going on nearby. Randy called me at 11:00 Wednesday night; he had hail at his place and was concerned that I had it, too. Luckily, I'd had the foresight to take a Coffee Butler full of coffee and a breakfast muffin into the tent with me Wednesday night. When I woke up Thursday to a cold, frosty morning, I enjoyed breakfast in bed, reading a book until the temperature rose to a more comfortable level.

Even on the mornings I didn't set a clock, I woke early, reading and sipping coffee, relaxing under my sleeping bag. Days (after running home to check on Meg and shower) were spent walking a bit, watching squirrels, reading, and tending the campfire. In the evenings I'd read by the campfire until it became too dark to read; then I'd watch for the raccoons to emerge from the woods again. I sat by the fire with my camera on Wednesday and Thursday nights, hoping to get their photo. I never managed it, though; they waited until I'd zipped myself up in the tent before they ventured into the site again.

Friday morning was frosty and cold; Mom and Dad were headed to Pigeon Forge and called me to be sure I was okay before they left town. When Daddy called, it was 26 degrees! I sipped coffee and waited until about 8:00 a.m. before I unzipped the tent. It still was only about 30 degrees, but I stirred up the campfire and soon had a cozy blaze to sit near.

Check-out time wasn't until 3:00 p.m., but I had everything all packed in the car by 1:00. So, I called a Japanese restaurant in Blountville and asked them to prepare a take-out order for me. I picked it up, drove home, and was welcomed by a happy little MeggieDog.

I was so sorry to see the end of my camping week; I was especially sorry to see the end of this trip, because I knew it was the end of my camping this year. I can hardly wait for spring so I can go again. I don't think I've ever had a more relaxing vacation than my week at Warrior's Path.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Grindstone in September

Our camping trip was just wonderful. There's just something about getting out in that fresh air and away from the day-to-day grind that brings me back to life.

Friday morning it was bright and beautiful as I loaded that last minute items into the car. It clouded up a bit as we left town headed for Grindstone, and I was concerned that the clear weather that had been forecast for the weekend was going to disappear. Luckily, clouds were all we got, though.

We arrived long before check-in time; I told the nice lady who checked us in that I knew we were early but we'd be happy to just visit with my parents (already in the campground) until our spot opened up. She checked her records and found that there was no one on our site, so we could go ahead and set up. They are so very nice there; if you're looking for a great place to camp in southwest Virginia, I heartily recommend Grindstone Campground.

Our camping space was three up the hill from the spot Mom and Dad were camped on (they'd been there since Sunday). Randy asked if we were going to go visit before we set up, and I said that I'd rather get everything set up first, then we could relax.

I had everything up (with Randy helping with the screen tent) except for putting the stakes in the ground and blowing up the air mattress when Mom and Dad appeared in the driveway. Daddy laughed and said that Mom had looked up the hill and said "Somebody's on Dava's spot!" They didn't even know we'd arrived until then. That's something I love about Grindstone; the camping spots are roomy and wooded enough that you feel that you have some privacy from the surrounding campsites.

Since I was nearly finished, Randy walked down to Mom and Dad's site to sit by their fire while I finished up. I drove the stakes and prepared to blow up our air mattress. When I plugged in my electric air pump, I found that I had no power. My heart sank as I looked around the camp site at the tent and screen tent, already set up and staked down, not to mention all the things we'd unloaded onto the picnic table from the car. I'd already been working an hour, and hadn't thought to check to see if the power worked! Luckily, a campground host who was living on the site next to mine was able to fix it. *whew*

Mom and Dad had planned a delicious lunch for us: grilled Cornish hens with just a touch of Cajun seasoning, Mom's homemade potato salad, baked beans, and rolls. After we'd finished lunch, Daddy wanted to go explore a nearby road that was marked "not recommended for passenger vehicles". The road was narrow, rocky, and interesting. My car wouldn't have had enough ground clearance to get over the rocks, but Daddy had no problems with his Durango. He'd been told by a friend that the road went to nearby Whitetop Mountain, but it didn't. Partway up the mountain, we met a couple in a Wagoneer that stopped to talk for a few minutes. They'd been picking blueberries up on the mountain all day and told us that the road ended at "The Scales". We didn't know what that meant, really, but trekked onward.

We soon came to bushes and bushes of blueberries. Mom and Dad had a couple of plastic ice cream buckets in the car, so we hopped out and picked for several minutes. Randy wasn't very interested in picking blueberries, so he wandered about, enjoying the view. He spotted three wild ponies and called to me to come see them. Amazingly enough, they didn't seem startled by us at all. In fact, they didn't even react when Randy whistled to try to get them to raise their heads so I could take their photo!

When Mom decided we had enough berries for a homemade cobbler, we climbed back into the Durango and headed up the mountain again. At the top of the mountain, we came upon a gate (not locked) that allowed us to enter a fenced camping area. It's rustic camping (no water or electricity), but a fairly new outhouse is easily accessible to campers. We admired the view for awhile, then eased our way back down the mountain.

We were more than ready for dinner by the time we arrived at the campground and thoroughly enjoyed grilled burgers. It had been a full day, and Randy and I were happy to find that my small electric heater made the tent warm and cozy for sleeping.

Saturday Randy mentioned that he'd like to go to see a cabin owned by friends of ours, so we explored another forestry road, then went to Sugar Grove for lunch. There's a really good restaurant there; home cooking and reasonable prices. You can tell by watching the waitresses work the room that most of the customers are regulars. After lunch, Daddy drove us to see the cabin; I began to feel ill, as I usually do when I'm a passenger instead of a driver. I've been plagued with motion sickness all my life. Unfortunately, age isn't improving it at ALL.

By the time we got back to the campground, I was so ill I had to lie down in the tent. We were to have dinner with some friends of Mom and Dad's that they'd met camping in Grindstone on an earlier trip. (They were parked directly across from Mom and Dad this trip.) They'd planned a fish fry; I knew I wouldn't be able to eat fish and had planned to eat a pastrami sandwich while everyone ate their fish. Unfortunately, by the time dinner was ready I was still much too ill to think of eating. I visited with them while they enjoyed their meal, which Randy said was delicious.

Luckily, I felt much better when I awoke Sunday. Check-out time was noon, so I got everything packed up and in the car by the deadline. Randy and I went to Mom and Dad's site and visited for a little while before heading out. I'd missed trying Mom's blueberry cobbler when I was ill the night before, so I was able to sample it before going home. It was just wonderful; the berries were sweet and juicy and Mom's cobbler was a perfect complement.

We went across White Top on our way home. The sky was that beautiful sharp blue you seem to find only in the fall. It had been another wonderful camping trip; if only I could train the camping gear to put itself away!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Waiting for the School Bus

I saw something yesterday morning that made me smile. As I drive to work each weekday, I pass several school bus stops. The normal group waiting is a grumpy-looking, slightly disheveled bunch of grade-schoolers, sometimes accompanied by a more disheveled-looking mom in sweats or a bathrobe.

Yesterday was no different....until I got to the last bus stop that I pass before getting on the Interstate. There two little girls had used sidewalk chalk to draw a hopscotch board and were happily passing the time until their bus arrived.

A wave of nostalgia passed over me and made me smile. In today's world of grade schoolers carrying cell phones and insisting on the latest in XBox/Nintendo/Whatever'sNewestThisWeek, it warmed by heart to see these two young ladies entertained by nothing more than a piece of chalk and a small stretch of sidewalk.

When I passed the bus stop today, a steady rain had everyone huddled under umbrellas, but the memory of that game of hopscotch the day before still made me smile.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Camping at Natural Tunnel

This is the first opportunity I've had to post since our camping trip to Natural Tunnel August 17 -20. Busy, busy, BUSY!

It was another great trip. Randy wasn't able to leave until Friday, so I went ahead on Thursday afternoon (after Randy's doctor appointment) and set up camp.

The weather Thursday was glorious, but hot! I was pretty tired by the time I got everything set up, but I hadn't planned to do much but rest that day anyway. It was my birthday, so a lazy evening was my gift to myself! *LOL* By bedtime, fog rolled in and the temperature dropped to a level that was very comfortable for sleeping.

It was still foggy when I woke up Friday morning, but the fog burned off to reveal another beautiful sunny day. After I'd eaten breakfast and straightened up the campsite, I took an unintentional driving tour of the area. I say "unintentional" because I was actually trying to go to nearby Duffield (5 miles away) to place a cellphone call. (That's the nearest place I could get a signal.) I zigged when I should have zagged and drove on some scenic narrow roads for a good while before I got to an area I recognized. I really didn't mind, though, because I was only killing time until the chairlift started running at 10:00 am anyway. :-)

When I returned to the park I took the chairlift to the floor of Natural Tunnel. I have pictures on Flickr (see link to the right), but if you're ever near enough to visit, be sure to add Natural Tunnel of your list of things to see. Near the tunnel is the Carter cabin, which was moved from its original location to the park in 1997. The cabin is believed to be the oldest house in Scott County, Virginia.

Randy arrived Friday afternoon earlier than I'd expected. I fixed him a quick sandwich for lunch, then we went down to the Tunnel together. Initially he seemed a little reluctant about the chairlift, but enjoyed the ride and was impressed by the Tunnel as well.

There was to be a "community campfire" in the campground that night, but a sudden violent thunderstorm rolled in just before it was to begin. We were disappointed that the campfire was cancelled, but the storm cooled everything off for another night of good sleeping weather.

After breakfast Saturday morning, we went back to the Tunnel so that Randy could visit the Carter cabin. The woods were all wet and cool from the storm the night before. When we took the chairlift back to the parking lot and returned to the campground, though, we found that the temperature had gone up considerably at the campsite.

To dodge the mid-day heat, we decided to go to Norton for lunch in an air-conditioned restaurant and make a side trip up on High Knob. A benefit gospel sing was scheduled at the amplitheater at Natural Tunnel for 5:00 pm, so we went back to the campground to rest for a bit before time for the singing. We also had reservations to go on a hayride at 7:30 that evening.

We were sitting under our shade tree, enjoying afternoon breezes, when I heard thunder in the distance. No sooner did we take care of getting everything under cover when another violent thunderstorm hit. We'd planned to be at the amplitheater when the benefit sing began, but the rain didn't let up enough for us to get out of the screen tent and into the car until 5:15!

There were several local gospel groups participating in the singing. Proceeds went to help defray medical expenses for a lady who worked for the park for many years and was going through some very serious health problems. We were surprised and pleased to see our amiable campground host, John, take the stage and sing a few songs.

Even though we were reasonably sure that the hayride had been cancelled, we left the amplitheater just before 7:30 and drove to the parking lot at the blockhouse, where we were to have met our guide. No one, of course, was there. We were a little disappointed, but when we returned to the campground John already had my refund for me. We'll make an effort to go on the hayride again later. I've never been on one, and would really like to do that.

Sunday morning the weather was foggy again, but this time when the fog lifted it was replaced by gray and threatening skies. I'd hoped the weather would clear so that the tent and screen tent would all dry out before we had to check out at 3:00. By mid-morning it was obvious that the weather wouldn't improve that day, so we went ahead and broke camp. I put a plastic tablecloth over the front seat of my car and placed the wet tent and screen tent nylon on it so it wouldn't soak everything.

We said our goodbyes to our campground host and his wife (lovely people!) and drove to Mom and Dad's house. They were in Pigeon Forge, but I called Daddy and asked if he minded if I pitched the tent and screen tent in their back yard to let them dry out. He, of course, didn't mind at all.

Just as we pulled into their driveway, a downpour struck! I barely got onto the back porch before the deluge. We sat there for about ten minutes and the rainstorm passed. We pitched the tents and headed to my apartment to unload everything else.

We were wet and tired, but all in all it was another great camping trip. The next one will be September 15 - 17; Grindstone, here we come!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

We Survived

And so the intrepid campers rack up another camping trip! This time, MeggieDog went along.

She did really well, but she was so exhausted by the end of the weekend that I felt sorry for her. Randy commented that he thinks she must sleep all day while I'm at work, then goes to bed when I do and sleeps all night. I'm sure he's right.

The only really bad thing that happened this trip is that on Friday night (actually Saturday morning), Randy became violently nauseous at 1:00 a.m. I was terrified the first time it happened, because I was afraid he had cellulitis again. He wasn't running a fever, however, and seemed to feel fine when he got up Saturday morning. He ate well and felt fine all day, then the same thing happened again at 1:00 a.m. Saturday night (Sunday morning). Weird.

He felt better each time once he sat up, and became really ill again when he laid down again. Friday night he slept the rest of the night in a chair under the screen tent; Satuday night he slept the rest of the night in the car. We've come up with two possible reasons for his nausea:
  1. His sinuses were really bad; it's possible he had a touch of inner ear trouble which caused his nausea when he laid down.
  2. Last trip we had one inflatable mattress. The only problem was that it was difficult to get up and down from it. So, I bought another mattress and stacked them. It worked well, and was really comfortable to sleep on, but it felt a bit like a waterbed. Maybe the combination of sinus trouble and added motion in the mattresses caused him to have motion sickness. Next trip, I'm only going to inflate one mattress and see if that makes a difference.
Because I lost sleep two nights in a row I woke up Sunday morning with a raging headache. Even though I felt just awful, I had to cook breakfast (note to self: take some honey buns next trip so Randy can have a quick breakfast if I wake up too sick to cook), break camp, and pack the car. Randy helped break camp as much as he could, but I had to pack the car. It's really tight getting everything in my little Saturn, and everything has to go in just so or it won't fit. I've had better mornings!

Except for Randy's nausea and my headache, though, everything went great. The weather was wonderfully dry and cool (just one brief shower just after we'd set up camp Friday), and we really liked our campsite. We were able to have a campfire both evenings. Meg didn't like the campfire at all; but, then again, she doesn't like it when I have a fire in the fireplace at home, either.

Our next trip will be August 17 - 20. To celebrate my birthday, we're going to Natural Tunnel State Park. I hope we like their campground as much as we've enjoyed Grindstone. I've reserved us a spot on a hayride on the evening of the 19th, which should be fun.

I've already made reservations to go to Grindstone again in September for a weekend while Mom and Dad are camping there. If it's not too cool then, I might take Meg back again on that trip.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Waitin' for the Weekend

We're going back to Grindstone this weekend. We had such a good time on our last trip; I hope this trip goes as well.

The last time we went, I had a four-day weekend, but this will only be a three-day weekend. I think that will be fine, though.

The last trip was a learning experience, and I've adjusted what we'll take along on this trip. I'm sure we'll learn still more this trip out. For instance, Daddy and I learned some things about setting up the tent last time that will make it easier for me this time. Also, I've replaced my ancient clunky cooler with a smaller one that will work out much better.

On our first trip, Mom and Dad loaned me their old screen tent to put over our picnic table. I really appreciated it (especially since we had so much rain that trip), but it's pretty hard to set up. In fact, Mom, Dad, Randy and I all worked on it. I told them I was grateful for the loan, but there was no way that Randy and I would be able to set it up by ourselves. Randy and I planned to buy a new easier-to-set-up screen tent before our next camping trip. The next day, Mom and Dad told me that they'd decided to get me an early birthday present, a new screen tent like theirs! So now, in my closet with the rest of my camping gear, is a brand-new, never-taken-out-of-its-storage-bag screen tent. It's designed to be set up quickly and easily by two people. After looking at Mom and Dad's, I think I could even set it up alone if I needed to. I'm anxious to get it out of the bag and set it up the first time.

I'm debating over whether or not to take MeggieDog along this trip. I'm watching the weather forecasts before making my final decision. She's so desperately afraid of thunderstorms that I don't want to put her in a tent during one. If the weather cooperates, though, I might just add a small supply of Little Bites to the provisions and take her along. :-)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Little Piece of Heaven

This is my first opportunity to post a blog entry since we got back from our long-awaited camping trip. It was just glorious!

Here's a photo of our campsite very early on our last day there, Sunday.

It began raining soon after our arrival last Thursday, but with Daddy's help I was able to get "under roof" before the rain began. By the time we arrived, Daddy had already had a campfire going at his and Mom's campsite (just down the hill from us) since Tuesday. We enjoyed roasting weiners and a few marshmallows, but a new idea Mom and Dad had tried earlier was bologna roasted on the fire. I didn't try it, but Randy said it was very good.

There were only two less-than-great experiences during our trip:
  1. On Thursday night I suffered horribly all night long with leg cramps that literally took my breath. I'd no sooner get through one and settle down again until another cramp would jerk me awake again. On Friday I bought a bunch of bananas; eating them helped considerably, but I still had light cramps each night. Amazingly, my first night back in my own bed at home I had no cramps at all! It occurred to me that I didn't take a bar of soap to put at the foot of my camping bed like I have in my bed at home. (see my blog entry of October 23, 2004) You can bet that on our next camping trip, a bar of Ivory will be tucked under the sheet.
  2. On Friday, Daddy took us out riding around mountain roads. We enjoyed a good home-cookin' type lunch at Sugar Grove and saw some beautiful scenery. Unfortunately, as usually happens to me when riding with another driver, motion sickness did me in. I felt really badly most of the time we were riding, and really didn't feel well until the next morning. Ick.
Otherwise, though, it was a really wonderful weekend. It rained most of the day Saturday, but we had a screen tent over our picnic table, so no meals were bothered by the rain. The trees were so thick that you could actually sit under the trees and barely get damp.

The temperatures back home during that time were in the mid- to high-nineties. In the campground it was at least 15 if not 20 degrees cooler than that during the day. At night, it was COOL. We slept under a sleeping bag and even ran a small heater part of the time (mostly to dry the dampness out of the tent and bedding).

We're anxious to get the opportunity to go camping again soon. It's great to get away from the hustle and bustle and to actually be OUT OF TOUCH for a while!

Last post I listed my hopes for the trip. Let's see how we did:

  1. I hope the weather is dry. It wasn't, but the rain didn't bother us at all.
  2. I hope it's not too hot. It was deliciously cool.
  3. I hope there aren't any bears in the campground. If there were, I never saw them. Several chipmunks, a hoot owl or two, and a noise one night that I think was a coyote, but no bears.
  4. I hope Randy's health stays good during the trip. Except for the sleep he lost the night I had the leg cramps, he did just wonderfully. The rest did him a world of good.
  5. I hope Randy doesn't get bored. He only used his headphones to listen to music a couple of times. Most of the time he seemed entertained by helping keep the campfire burning.
  6. I hope I can get some much-needed rest. Even with all the work getting things together, packing the car, setting up camp, breaking down camp, repacking the car, and carrying things back in the house, it was well worth it. I didn't get as much reading done as I thought I might, but I rested A LOT.
  7. I hope MeggieDog doesn't get too lonely. She was awfully glad to see us when we returned late Sunday afternoon, but she fared well. I did miss her an awful lot, though.
I wish we could go again this weekend, but we can't. *sigh* Maybe next weekend.

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Very Long Friday

Since this was a short workweek (because we were off Monday and Tuesday for Independence Day), and I usually work Monday - Thursday (10 hours each day) during the summer, I asked permission to switch my "flex" day from Friday the 7th to Thursday the 13th. That way, I'm working Wednesday - Friday this week and Monday - Wednesday next week.

I said all that to say that I'm not accustomed to working Fridays in the summer. And this has been a LONG one. *LOL*

But it's nearly over, thank goodness. And next Thursday as I'm driving past the college on my way to the campground I can whistle cheerfully. :-)

They tell me it's beautiful outside. I wouldn't know. I haven't been out of the building since I came in at 7:00 a.m. I think when I leave here I'll go home and nuke something for supper, then sit out on the deck with MeggieDog for awhile. I feel the need to inhale some air that hasn't been air-conditioned to a fare-thee-well.

It's been hot in my office the past two days, but today you could hang meat in here. My fingers and toes have been numb all day. Oh, well....they'll thaw out in the car, no doubt.

Mom and Dad are leaving Sunday for the campground, then Randy and I will go up on Thursday. He's really excited about the camping trip. I hope he's not disillusioned once he gets there! As I'd posted earlier, he's not been on a camping trip since he was a Boy Scout, and that was a WHILE ago.

My hopes for our camping trip:
  1. I hope the weather is dry. I don't mind clouds, and wouldn't even mind a brief shower or two, but I hope there are no downpours or thunderstorms.
  2. I hope it's not too hot. Camping in July is always iffy, temperature-wise. I can stand some heat during the day, but it hope it cools off at night for comfortable sleeping.
  3. I hope there aren't any bears in the campground. Period.
  4. I hope Randy's health stays good during the trip. He's had so many problems this year; I hope he can really feel well for this trip. He was so sick during our trip to Pigeon Forge. I want him to be able to enjoy this one.
  5. I hope Randy doesn't get bored. He's so used to being able to watch TV or listen to the radio. I can read and enjoy listening to the birds sing while I'm reading. I bought a couple of paperback Westerns for him (even though he's not a "reader") and have told him to take his headphone radio. I don't know if he'll be able to pick up a station at the campground, but it's worth a try. A campground I want to try next trip will have fishing available for him, but there's no fishing at the campground we'll be in on our first trip. Hopefully he'll be able to keep himself occupied.
  6. I hope I can get some much-needed rest. It seems that I just can't get caught up on my rest any more.
  7. I hope MeggieDog doesn't get too lonely. I know Randy would like to take Meg with us, but she would be just miserable in the great outdoors. She's always been an apartment-dweller, and I'm sure she'd hate the heat and strange outdoor noises.
I wish it was time to go camping now.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Paying My Dues

Quick post while on a much-needed lunch break at the office. Yesterday was my first day back at the office after the holiday, and it was pure unadulterated hell. I finally had to close my office door and hang a sign on it that said "Payroll Deadline. Please do not disturb." so that I could meet my deadline. Awful. Just plain awful.

Today's a little better. Very busy, but not overwhelming at least.

A few days in a tent is looking better all the time.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

This Could Get To Be A Habit

I've been off work since last Thursday, and I have to go back to work tomorrow. Dang. This has been great. I was sick Friday, and still felt a little bad Saturday, but not terrible. The rest of this time off has been just wonderful.

We didn't do much of anything really. Went to visit Mom and Dad for awhile Sunday, then I went to Wal-Mart yesterday. Those were the highlights. *LOL*

It was awfully hot yesterday and today. In fact, I haven't been out of the apartment today. I've gathered up a few things for our upcoming camping trip and done a little laundry, but that's been about it.

I really needed the rest, though, so I'm glad it's been an uneventful Fourth. :-)

Here are some Independence Day fireworks, just for you: CLICK HERE!

Happy Fourth of July!

Friday, June 30, 2006

A Fine Start to the Holiday Weekend

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Today was the first day of a 5-day holiday weekend for me. And I spent the whole dang day in bed. No kidding, I've not been out of bed more than 15 minutes all together today, and 5 of that was looking at my e-mail a couple of minutes ago.

I awoke at my usual 5:15 am with a raging headache. I thought it was a sinus headache. Since I didn't really have to go anywhere today, I took a couple of aspirin and snuggled back under the covers with MeggieDog. I never really went back to sleep, just dozed a bit off and on.

I dragged myself to the kitchen and made myself a little breakfast about 7:30 and took my medication. I called and talked to Mom for a bit about 8:30. After we talked I still felt pretty awful, so I took a couple more aspirin and laid down again.

I got progressively worse, and about 10:30 violent nausea set in. After I lost my breakfast I went back to bed and dozed all afternoon. Each time I woke up I debated on whether or not I wanted lunch. I didn't.

I finally decided around 6:00 this evening that I'd better try to have a little something so I could take my medicine. I settled on a plain baked potato and some icy cold sugar-free ginger ale. That's still staying down, so I'm hopeful that whatever caused today's illness is over and done. I'd sure hate to spend my whole holiday weekend being sickly!

I'm still a little shaky, so I'm headed back to bed now. Meggie will be thrilled. :-)

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Lovely Uneventful Weekend

Randy's follow-up visit with his primary care physician went well. We'd planned to lunch at Fuddrucker's (kind of a tradition when we go to Johnson City), but he had to hurry back to help his brother with hauling some dirt.

After I dropped him back off at his apartment, I went to Wal-Mart to do a bit of shopping, then went to spend some time with Mom and Dad. They'd offered to loan me a tent and a screen tent, so we practiced setting up the tent in their back yard. It's just beautiful; looks like brand new. In fact, it practically is new. Even though it's probably 15 years old, it's only been slept in once.

During the tour Randy and I took at Beartree Campground a week earlier, he'd become all enthused over the possibility of us doing some camping. I told him that I actually used to camp A LOT and still had a lot of the equipment. With Mom and Dad loaning us the tent, screen tent, and a camp stove, we were ready to go.

So, we already have reservations for July 13; four days and three nights. This will tell the tale of whether or not Randy's really a camper or not. *LOL* I asked if he'd ever camped before, and he said he hadn't since he was in the Boy Scouts! This should be interesting!

Saturday we went to a birthday party for Randy's great nephew (grand nephew?? His niece's son.), Noah. It was at the Eastman Park; the weather was pretty hot, but the party was in a shelter beneath some lovely shade trees, so it wasn't bad at all.

After the party, we went to Dairy Queen (Randy felt the need for a custard), then stopped by Mom and Dad's for a brief visit.

The only thing we did Sunday was make a Wal-Mart run. While Randy was watching the Braves on TV, I dragged some of my camping equipment out of my storage area and began cleaning it up.

I'm looking forward to spending some time in the great outdoors. Sure hope the weather cooperates!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A "Regular" Day

You know, sometimes it takes having your world shaken up a bit to learn the joys of a "regular" day. The most exciting thing that happened to me yesterday was going to the dentist's office to have my teeth cleaned. Admittedly, I live my life in a rut, but I LIKE it. *LOL*

Speaking of the dentist's office, if you're reading this, Kris, Esther asked about you. Her oldest is now 16, and the twins are 12. I feel old!

Randy continues to do well. Tomorrow is follow-up day with his primary care physician. I'm hoping that's followed by an uneventful weekend. We're invited to his great-nephew's (grand-nephew? How do you say that? His niece's son.) birthday party Saturday, but I don't know if he wants to go or not. It's not been mentioned since we got the invitation, so I have to remember to ask him about it when I talk to him tonight.

Did you hear about the guy who ate nothing but monkey chow for a week? It was silly and funny and weird. If you'd like to take a look, go to The Monkey Chow Diaries. Be sure to click on the links to see his daily videos. That was my favorite part.

Gotta love the internet.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Saga Continues

So, we waited in the trauma room until they got a room for him upstairs. Randy's sister arrived while we were waiting for a room. It wasn't long before they moved him, thank goodness.

He was alert enough by then to be complaining that he really wanted something to drink. However, because of his recent seizures, the doctor's orders were nothing to eat or drink for awhile. They did let me use some sponge swabs to moisten his mouth, which helped somewhat.

Randy's brother-in-law arrived and we filled him in on the happenings. While he and Randy's sister were there, I ran home to check on Meggie, take my medicine and eat a quick bite. I grabbed a few items I thought Randy might need in the next day or two and sent out a couple of quick e-mails.

It was 10:45 pm before the doctor came to see him in his room. That doctor confirmed the earlier diagnosis of cellulitis and amended the order to allow him to have food and drink. The nurse quickly brought him some ice and a Pepsi, along with his medication (which by this time, he hadn't had since breakfast). She also told him that a sub sandwich had been ordered and would be delivered "in a little while".

At midnight, the sub still hadn't arrived, so the nurse brought him some peanut butter on saltines to tide him over. The sub finally arrived at 1:00 am, by which time he really didn't care anymore. He nibbled a bit, and we settled down to try to sleep.

Ever try to sleep in a hospital? It's just ridiculous. You try to get adjusted to sleeping in a strange place; just as you doze off, someone comes in to check your blood pressure and temperature. They turn off the lights and leave; you doze off again and someone else comes in to draw blood. They turn off the lights and leave; you finally manage to doze off again and the IV thingee starts beeping because the fluid in it is running low and needs a new bag. Needless to say, it was a long night.

Because they were giving him antibiotics and medication to control his nausea, he was able to eat regular food all day Monday with no ill effects. He began to feel much better; the seizures did not return, thankfully. His leg still hurt if he put it over the side of the bed and was still red and warm to the touch. Otherwise, he seemed much improved. He was well enough, in fact, that I was comfortable leaving him alone in the hospital and going home to sleep that night.

I returned early Tuesday morning so that I could place the order for his meals for the day. He'd only had one big irritant during the night. His IV machine had started beeping in the wee hours, and the nurse didn't come to reset it for what seemed to be a very long time. The third time he hit the buzzer to ask them to come stop the beeping, he suggested that if they didn't come make it stop, he'd put it throught the window and they could go to the parking lot to reset it. That seemed to get their attention.

I ordered his meals and went to work. He called me several times during the day to report on his progress. They did a dopplar procedure on his leg to rule out blood clots, and all went well. At about 3:30 he called to tell me he was being released from the hospital. I left work at 4:00 and went to pick him up.

He was so happy to be getting out of the hospital; we went to Ryan's for dinner and he ate a good meal. I took him to my apartment so I could keep an eye on him; I actually felt they'd released him a little soon, but what do I know, right?

Sure enough, at midnight the vomiting began again. It continued nearly constantly until I decided at 1:00 am that we had to go back to the hospital. He was much too sick to get dressed, so I just put a robe over his pajamas and slippers on his feet and helped him to the car. I live less than 3 miles from the hospital, but Randy needed to use the small trash can we took with us before we arrived at the ER.

They put him in a trauma room, started an IV, and gave him nausea medication. They also gave him some more IV antibiotics. It was a ridiculously busy night in the ER, so it took a long time to get everything done. The doctor ordered blood and urine tests; when the results were back, he told me that he could put Randy back in the hospital or send him back home with nausea medication and let him rest there. I asked if it was safe for him to go home, and the doctor assured me that it would be fine.

We left the emergency room at 6:00 am Wednesday. I called in to the office to let Deb know what had happened. I took Randy back to my place and got him back in bed. I waited until Walgreen's opened at 8:00 and went to fill the prescriptions we'd received from the ER doctor. When I got back home, I began my day-long unsuccessful attempt to get some sleep.

It was just nuts. Before I tried to go to sleep, I made calls to Mom & Dad, to Randy's sister, and to the brothers I could reach. I told each of them that we'd had no sleep all night and were going to try to get some rest. All day long we'd no sooner doze off before someone would call. Around 2:00 pm I finally gave up. I told Randy that at 6:00 we were going to call everyone in his family and announce that we were turning off the phones at 8:00 pm. I told him that if there was an emergency, they could send someone to knock on my door.

It's amazing how great it can be to sleep all night long. Thursday morning I felt groggy because I'd slept so hard. However, I awoke to find Randy improved enough that I could go back to work. We talked several times during the day so that I could keep tabs on him, and other than being bored with the clear liquid diet, he was doing really well.

Friday dawned bright and beautiful. I had to run to the office to take care of a few things, but was back home before Randy was ready for breakfast. Even though the housework had really piled up that week, I suggested that we take the day and go to White Top Mountain. I did a few quick chores, and away we went. We stopped to pick up a box lunch in Damascus and drove to the top of the mountain. The photo on my Flickr site (see the box at the right) will show you just how gorgeous it was that day. What the photo doesn't show you is that on our way to the top of the mountain, we met one pickup truck and two vans coming off the mountain. However, once we got to the top, we didn't see a single human being there while we were having our lunch. The only sound was the buzzing of insects and the chirping of birds. It was just heavenly.

As we came off the mountain, we stopped at Beartree Campground for a quick tour. On the way back home, Randy suggested a stop by Dairy Queen, feeling the craving for a cone. We were tired when we got back home, but it had been a very lovely day.

Saturday was spent running errands and catching up a bit. Mom and Dad invited us to their house for a cookout on Father's Day. That, too, was a nice visit. All in all, we had a great weekend after a dreadful week.

Things seem to be looking up. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Another Round of Illness

Gosh, lots to catch up on. Last Sunday morning (June 11), Randy woke up feeling fine, ate breakfast, and sat down in the living room to watch a little television while we decided what to do with our day.

Suddenly, just past 9:30, he became violently nauseous. After throwing up three times, he began having terrible chills. I thought he'd caught yet another virus (there's ALWAYS one going around, it seems), and told him he should go back to bed. He was chilling so hard his teeth chattered. I wrapped him up in several layers of blankets and even put a heating pad in bed with him. He dozed off, so I went into the living room to let him sleep for awhile.

I went back to check on him about noon and found that he was feverish. I took his temperature and was alarmed to find it was 103.8 degrees. I gave him a couple of aspirin with just a sip of water, put a cool cloth on his head, and let him go back to sleep. An hour later his temperature was 103.9. I called the local urgent care facility to see what time they closed on Sunday afternoons. They were open until 4:00, so I told Randy we needed to get him cleaned up a little and get him out there to see if they could determine what was causing the fever and nausea.

As I was helping him get cleaned up, he went into a seizure. This was not at all surprising, since he'd not been able to keep his seizure meds down. When the seizure passed, I finished getting him dressed, and we went to the urgent care facility. He was terrible feverish, but walked into the office without too much difficulty.

I put him in a chair in the waiting room away from other patients (in case he was contagious) and went to check him in. When I told them the situation, they had a doctor come out into the waiting area to look at him. A nurse took Randy's temperature....104. When the doctor heard the word "seizure", he immediately began saying that the center was a small facility and he should go to the hospital. I tried to explain that the seizure did not cause the fever and vomiting, that the fever and vomiting caused him to be unable to keep his meds in his system which caused the seizure.

However, the doctor had already panicked, so I just said, "Fine. We'll go to the hospital." The doctor insisted that we have transport to the hospital, so they called the rescue squad to transport him....less than 1/2 mile. Geez.

While we were waiting for the rescue squad, I noticed that the calf of his left leg was really red and hot to the touch. I briefly wondered if he'd kicked anything during his seizure, but didn't think a lot about it.

At the ER, he was triaged and placed in a small cubicle. A medical student came to take a history and talked to us both. I pointed out Randy's leg, which continued to grow redder and warmer all the time. The student said that it appeared to be cellulitis, and that the doctor would be in to see us as soon as possible. When the doctor arrived, he examined Randy and agreed that cellulitis was the problem. The toxins from the cellulits caused the high fever and vomiting, which in turn caused him to throw up his seizure medicine, which caused him to have a seizure.

FINALLY!! A doctor who LISTENED!!

So, he said he was going to send someone in to draw some blood for some tests and he'd get an IV started and get some antibiotics into him as quickly as possible.

Shortly after that, the phlebotomist drew some blood, but didn't get it all drawn because the vein collapsed. She said she'd be back in a few minutes.

Randy dozed intermittantly, but I suddenly noticed that his head was beginning to draw to the left. That's the first thing that happens when he's having a seizure. I ran around the examining table and shouted his name. He didn't respond, and began to seize. I threw myself across his chest to try to hold him on the table and keep him from falling to the floor.

I grabbed the nurse call button, pressed it, and counted to ten. No response. I reached up and slapped the call button marked "STAFF ONLY". An obviously annoyed voice responded "Can I help you?" I said, "Mr. May is having a seizure. I need help NOW."

The door immediately flew open; four nurses, the med student, and the doctor ran in. By that time, the seizure had begun to slow down. He'd bitten his tongue and was bleeding from the left side of his mouth.

The nurses moved him into a trauma room, hooked up an EKG machine and began attaching leads for various monitors. They were still getting him hooked up when the doctor reappeared. He asked me if they'd finished drawing his blood. I told him no, that they'd started, but the vein collapsed. He asked if he was getting his antibiotic. I said no, they hadn't yet started the IV. He reddened slightly, turned to the nurse in charge and said, "WHY hasn't Mr. May's IV been started?" She stammered slightly and said that they were waiting for a doctor's order and that it had been really busy. The doctor interrupted her and said, "I'M the doctor, you HAVE the order, and I want it started NOW."

He turned back to me and said that he'd be back in just a few minutes. Well, in that few minutes, they not only started his IV, they took a chest x-ray, they finished his EKG, and they finished his blood draw.

When the doctor returned, he said the test results did indicate cellulitis and they were going to admit Randy to the hospital to run fluids, get the antibiotics running, and get his seizure medication level back to where it needed to be.

Ooops. End of lunch break. I'll finish this tale later.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Day in the Sunshine....For Awhile

Today my sore throat was all better, thank goodness. Randy wanted me to take some pictures of an old log house where his family lived when he was three years old. So after breakfast and a few household chores, away we went to the community known as Hickory Tree.

I took pictures of the old house for him, then we rode around back roads for a bit. We were both hungry, so we went in search of a place to eat. We wound up at Fuddruckers in Johnson City. Luckily, the worst of the lunch rush was over, so we had a leisurely enjoyable lunch. He had his usual burger and Fudd Fries, and I had my usual taco salad. *yum*

After that, we went to the cemetery to visit the graves of his Mom, Dad, and his brother Ronnie who died in 1941 (crib death, twelve years before Randy was born). It was our first visit since Irene's burial last Sunday. He handled it really well.

As we started back from Johnson City, we ran into a dreadful thunderstorm. It's been raining and thundering around off and on ever since. If Meggie wasn't so horrified of thunderstorms, I really wouldn't mind. It makes me feel all dozy and warm.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Joy of Crowds of People

When I woke up Monday morning (no work, Memorial Day!), I had a bad sore throat. I honestly didn't think a whole lot about it, because during Irene's visitations and funeral I'd been exposed to hundreds of different colognes, after shaves, and flowers. I have allergies to many items in all three of those categories, so I figured the sore throat was just an aftereffect of an allergic reaction.

My throat was still really sore Tuesday, but I went back to work. I felt worse and worse as the day wore on. After work, I went to see a doctor at the Urgent Care center. They did a strep culture and found that I didn't (thankfully) have strep throat. I really didn't think I did, because I wasn't running a fever, and I always run a fever with strep. The doctor took one look at my throat and said, "Well, it's not strep, but it's definitely an infection. Have you been exposed to anything in the past couple of days?" I told him I'd just been through a funeral over the weekend and had probably been exposed to a couple of hundred of people who could have had ANYthing.

So, he gave me a sackful of antibiotics to take for 8 days. Yesterday (Wednesday) I just felt terrible, so I stayed home from work. I could barely swallow at all. Gargling warm salt water helped more than anything I tried. (Love those old home remedies!)

This morning, I felt much better, so I trudged off to the office. Thankfully, I feel better as the day wears on. I might even try "real food" for supper. Glucerna has kept me going for the last few days. It's not a "steak and Lowenbrau" (as Randy's always saying), but it's nutrition, at least. :-)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Back to Semi-Normal

On Saturday morning, there was a special "family" viewing at 11:00. Irene was adamant about not wanting an open casket. She'd told us all many, many times that she didn't want people standing over her saying, "Doesn't she look good?" Her casket was not to be opened at any time during the visitation or the funeral service. So Saturday morning we gathered, the children and their spouses (and one significant other, namely me), a few of the grandchildren, and one of her surviving sisters, to see Irene for the last time. I told Randy later, "Your mother would HATE my saying this, but she DID look just lovely." :-)

One of the local churches provided a chicken dinner for us that afternoon, then we changed and got back to the funeral home by 5:30 to prepare for the visitation and funeral service. There was a huge crowd; not only did Irene know a lot of people, but each of her children have many, many friends. It was a very long evening, but the service was just lovely. I think Irene would be pleased.

The graveside service was at 2:00 pm Sunday. It was a beautiful clear day, but it was HOT. The Weather Channel said it was 92, and I think they were right.

The family is doing well; heartbroken, of course, but coping. We're all very tired and very glad all the formalities are behind us. Now we can heal.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Getting Through It All

Yesterday was a long day, as expected. Randy's family gathered at the home of his sister, Sharon. The brothers came and went as various tasks needed to be performed. Some are taking it better than others, as it usually goes in situations such as this.

Randy and his siblings will gather at the funeral home this morning to make the final arrangements. Seeing the dread on their faces convinces me even more that pre-planning is something I need to think about seriously. No one should have to make decisions like that while dealing with overwhelming grief.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Dreadful, Dreadful News

Randy's dear Mom, Irene, passed away this morning. She'd been in the hospital for several days with a urinary tract infection, but we all thought she was improving. She'd been eating pretty well and was perked up enough to complain about the hospital food. Then word came that she passed away about 5:00 this morning.

Such an awful shock.....

As if her death isn't awful enough, her sister passed away on May 9, her brother on May 17, and now Irene. Three siblings in just 15 days. Just dreadful.

I'll be leaving shortly to go to Randy's sister's house to see what I can do. I just wanted to post this before everything gets busy for the next few days.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

May has been a rough month.....

As much as I've looked forward to spring, May has turned into a pretty rough month. I'd planned to take a week off in April, and really, REALLY needed it. Because of tight scheduling at work, though, I had to postpone it until the week of May 8 - 12.

Mom and Dad were in Pigeon Forge that week and offered to take Randy and me to Dollywood on their guest passes on May 8. (I refused to buy season passes this year, because I bought them LAST year and we didn't get to go to Dollywood a single, solitary time!) I made reservations for the 8th, and we planned to drive down that day, go to Dollywood, spend the night, then go to the Appalachian Museum in Norris with Mom and Dad on Tuesday, then come back home on Wednesday.

Randy got violently ill on Saturday, May 6; one of the worst viruses I've ever seen him have. All day Sunday I kept saying "I'd better call and cancel our reservations." He said it was just a bad virus, and he'd probably be better by Monday morning (which actually DID make sense). So, on Monday he insisted that he felt a little better and away we went. We went to the campground where Mom and Dad were staying and they took us to Dollywood. We'd only been there a short while when Randy got so sick we had to go ahead and take him to the motel so he could go to bed and suffer in peace.

I left him with a cell phone so he could call me if he needed anything, then went to lunch and to Cades Cove for awhile with Mom and Dad. When we returned, they planned to grill burgers. Randy thought he might be able to eat a little, so I took him to the campground. Poor thing still couldn't eat. I'd stopped at Walgreen's and picked up Pepto-Bismol and assorted OTC remedies. He was up and down all night long. I was getting really concerned that he wasn't keeping his seizure medication down long enough to keep his system stabilized.

Early Tuesday morning, we gave up, checked out, and came back home so I could take him to a doctor. I didn't even go by the apartment, just took him directly to the Urgent Care center. They prescribed Promethazine for the nausea and put him on a clear liquid diet for the day and said he could move up to a "BRAT" diet the next day.

The nausea meds made him sleep all afternoon and most of the next day, but at least he was able to rest. On Tuesday afternoon we received the sad news that one of his favorite aunts, "Glad" (his mother's sister), had passed away in Maryland. They were going to have a service for her there, then bring her back to Honaker for a local service Sunday evening.

Randy had a brief backset on Thursday, but was well enough to go back to his apartment on Friday, armed with applesauce and Gatorade in case of another backset. He was still too weak to attend Glad's service, but was quite a bit better by Monday.

In an effort to salvage a little of my vacation time, MeggieDog and I spent Saturday and Sunday lazing about, watching "chick flicks". I'm not sure how we managed it, but neither Mom, Dad or I contracted the virus, thank goodness.

Yesterday (Wednesday), more sad news arrived for Randy. His Uncle Don (his mother's brother) had passed away in Honaker. Two of his mother's siblings in eight was a terrible shock to the family.

So far, May has just not been great at all.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Rats, Rats, Rats

Doesn't it just figure? I got addicted to "24".....I watched Seasons 1 through 4 on A&E (bless 'em, they ran them in sequence on Monday mornings from 8:00 a.m. through 12:00 noon until they'd run all the way through Season 4). Then Season 5 has turned into a disappointment.

They assassinated former President Palmer, leaving President Doofus to flounder about helplessly. Our only hope is that his First Lady, the always-wonderous Jean Smart, will smother him with a pillow and take over the reins of government, saving us from mounting frustration with her husband's never-failing idiocy.

Oh, yeah, think about it. President Jean.....and she appoints Jack Bauer as Attorney General. Cool.

Oh, well......away from the Land of Bauer and back to real life. I've bought an MVOX speakerphone and downloaded Gizmo. Now I'm just waiting to hear from Kris to see if she's got her set up ready. Finally, a chance to talk to her for less than $60 a call. (So THERE, AT&T!)

Tomorrow there's going to be a baby shower for Randy's newest granddaughter-to-be. I will be conspicuous in my absence. I bought gifts. I will wrap them. I will give them to Randy for delivery directly to his son. I will not, however, waste my free time on a Saturday to attend a baby shower and play stupid games and watch other people eat cake I can't have. I don't do showers. Haven't for many years now. I think instead of a shower invitation, people should just send out notices saying "I'm having a baby. Buy me something." That would be much more honest and much less grief.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My Favorite Facts About Jack Bauer

Okay, I admit it.....I'm addicted to 24. *LOL* Dave Barry is also a 24 addict, and the posts on his weblog regarding Jack Bauer are just hilarious.

This week one of the bloggers posted a link to random "facts" about Jack Bauer. Here are a few of my favorites:
  1. You can lead a horse to water. Jack Bauer can make him drink.
  2. If you wake up in the morning, it's because Jack Bauer spared your life.
  3. Upon hearing that he was played by Kiefer Sutherland, Jack Bauer killed Sutherland. Jack Bauer gets played by no man.
  4. Jack Bauer once forgot where he put his keys. He then spent the next half-hour torturing himself until he gave up the location of the keys.
  5. Superman wears Jack Bauer pajamas.
  6. Jack Bauer doesn't miss. If he didn't hit you it's because he was shooting at another terrorist twelve miles away.
  7. Jack Bauer can get McDonald's breakfast after 10:30.
  8. Killing Jack Bauer doesn't make him dead. It just makes him angry.
  9. Jack Bauer has been to Mars. That's why there's no life on Mars. .....and my favorite "fact":
  10. If Jack Bauer was in a room with Hitler, Stalin, and Nina Meyers, and he had a gun with 2 bullets, he'd shoot Nina twice.

I just hated Nina. *ROTF*

Monday, January 23, 2006

Monday, Monday

Sure, it's Monday, but it's better than my SUNDAY was! Fever, chills, joints that felt like they were full of ground glass, and frequent visits to the little girls' room. YUCK!

I'm a little tired today, but otherwise much, much better. It has, however, been Monday. That's okay 15 minutes, I can go home. *sigh*

Sunday, January 22, 2006


I feel perfectly dreadful. I felt pretty well all during the day. Randy and I went to visit Mom & Dad this afternoon for awhile, then went to Wal-Mart to do some marketing. I started feeling bad in Wal-Mart, but thought maybe I was having a sugar drop or something.

We came home and had supper, and I kept feeling worse. I went to bed early and fell asleep watching TV. Then the idiot who lives upstairs and his equally idiotic friends woke me up about 11:00 p.m. with loud shouts, laughter and stomping around. That only lasted a half-hour or so after I woke up, but I haven't been back to sleep since.

I'm feverish, my stomach hurts, and my joints feel like they're full of broken glass. I'm not sick enough for it to be flu, but that's what the aches feel like. My hip joints hurt so much I couldn't stand to lay in bed any longer, so I decided to get up and get on the computer for a little while to see if I could take my mind off the pain.

So, now I'm going to quit whining and reminding myself how much I ache and go web surf awhile to distract myself.

I'm hoping for a better tomorrow. :-)

Friday, January 20, 2006

E-Mail Notification Program

Forgot to tell you about that e-mail notification program I use. I have several different e-mail accounts, as I'm sure most of you do. To keep up with new mail received in these multiple accounts while I'm at work, I use a terrific little e-mail retrieval and notification program called E-Prompter. It's free (they do, however, accept donations if you feel so inclined) and can be found at It auto-updates itself when a new version is issued, and it's performed very well for me for a long time now. Enjoy!

A Nice Surprise

I got a lovely surprise this morning in an e-mail account I rarely use but check via a little notification program I use. (More about the program later.) It was an e-mail from one of my first cousins, Bunny. I'm sure she probably hasn't used that nickname for years, but it's hard to escape those nicknames of childhood. We'd been out of touch for a long time, and it was just wonderful to hear from her.

I don't make New Year's resolutions (too much guilt when I break them!), but if I did, one of them would be to make a better effort to keep in touch with distant family and friends. I've lost touch with so many people. We're all too "busy". I remember when letter-writing was an art. I was always terrible at it. I had the best of intentions. I bought boxes of lovely stationery, fountain pens, sealing wax and an imprint stamp so I could press a stylish "D" into the warm sealing wax once I'd sealed the envelope. Someone would write me, I'd write back, we'd exchange a few letters, then I'd get a reply and think "I'll answer that in a day or two." Then that would be that. *sigh*

When e-mail came along, I did better. I'm still not great, but I'm better. :-)

One of my tasks to do this weekend is to get my wall calendar updated and put back up on the kitchen wall where I'll see it and deal with things. I must remember to put "Keep In Touch" on it in at least 2 slots per month so I'll write friends and family.

I'd like to think that a note from me would mean as much to someone as Bunny's note to me meant.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I'm a bad, bad blogger.....

I swear, I don't INTEND to be so bad at posting on my blog, honest! It just seems that life gets ahead of me sometimes....okay....MOST times.

Holidays were good. Relatively quiet, but good. On December 24 we went to visit Randy's mom (she's in a nursing home), then went to Mom & Dad's that evening for a holiday dinner with them, Bud & Daphene, and Dallas & Sue. A good time was had by all. Too much food, as always, but fun.

On Christmas Day we went to North Carolina to see Randy's granddaughters. As usual, it was loud and wild. Sky was really keyed up; Chloe was sick and cranky because she'd been up all night and was sick with a cold. After we left there, we went by Sandy & Wilton's to visit for a bit, then came back home. It's a 3-hour drive each way and we left very, very early that morning, so I was truly glad to see the end of Christmas Day!

New Year's Eve would have slipped right past us, but a car alarm went off under my bedroom window at 11:30 p.m. So, for the first time in many years I actually saw the ball drop in Times Square! *LOL*

I was off from December 24 through January 2 and really enjoyed having the time off. I can't say I accomplished a great deal, but at least I finally got some rest.

Went back to work on January 3 and things haven't let up since. I was for Martin Luther King Day on January 16, and believe it or not I NEEDED a long weekend by then.

Well, lunch break's over, so I'd better get back to work. I'm trying not to let the mess on my desk overwhelm me, but it's beginning to bug me!