Thursday, August 25, 2011

Surviving Race Week

It's race week in Bristol. I'm not a NASCAR fan, so race week is always something to "get through" for me. How does a non-NASCAR fan survive race week?
  1. Get out of town for the week. This is my favorite way to deal with the race crowds, just by leaving and not coming back until they've left. Unfortunately, this isn't often an option. Gotta work for a living, y'know.
  2. Make sure you have groceries in the house at least a week before the race. You can't believe how crowded the local grocery stores are during race week!
  3. Plan to eat your meals at home. Restaurants are full of race fans, so eating at home is the only practical choice.
  4. Stay out of Wal-Mart. I've never understood why people travel to Bristol to see a race and spend so much time at Wal-Mart. There's nothing I need from Wally World that won't wait until the race fans are on their way back home.
  5. Grin and bear it. Sure, everything's crowded and traffic is worse than usual. But the race will be over Saturday night and by Monday Bristol will be back to normal.
We had a very unusual event here on Tuesday earthquake! It hit central Virginia just before 2:00 pm, and we only felt a tremor here. I happened to be on a conference call with other state employees across the Commonwealth when it struck. The folks on the call who were in the area of Richmond began shouting, "We're having a earthquake!" "We're leaving the building! We're leaving the building!" "What's happening?"

Then I felt the tremor. If I hadn't been hearing people shouting over the phone about the quake, I'd have thought I was having an attack of vertigo. It was a strange feeling, more of dizziness than a sensation of shaking. Then moments later I felt kind of a deep low shudder. So WEIRD!!

We soon learned that the quake was registered 5.8 on the Richter scale, the largest earthquake ever recorded in central Virginia. Not a big quake by California standards, but it broke a record. Before Tuesday the biggest quake recorded in central Virginia was a 4.8 in 1875!!

I should have known it was going to be an unusual week when it started with a call from my daughter, Kris, early Monday morning. She'd learned that she was going to have to have her thyroid surgically removed and wanted to call to tell me instead of e-mailing me. While I'm sorry that she's going to have to have surgery, I'm glad they're going to do something about her thyroid. They've been trying to control it with medication, but it's been just out of control for some time now. I'll be glad when it's done and over with, and I'm sure she'll be glad when it's over, too!!

Everyone over on the coast watch out for Hurricane Irene.....BE SAFE!! We're not expecting anything here from the storm, but it looks like more than 60,000,000 Americans could be dealing with it. It could be a rough weekend for an awful lot of folks.

A very eventful week so far....and this is only THURSDAY!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

I've found that one advantage of getting older is that I don't worry about birthdays. I'll be honest, I never did worry about them much. Only two birthdays ever bothered me:
  • The day I turned 24 I cried all day long. Don't ask me why, because I have no idea! I think it had something to do with the fact that my life hadn't turned out quite like I'd planned (whose does??) and I was feeling a little overwhelmed.
  • My 50th birthday bothered me more than I thought it would. I wasn't depressed, really, just mindful of the fact that I was crossing over that "half a century" mark. Ewww.
But since then, birthdays have come and gone. I've celebrated them, enjoyed them, and moved on with day-to-day living.

So how's my birthday been so far? Pretty dang good. I was given multiple gifts, cards and congratulatory e-mails at the office, and Mom called me at work (which she NEVER does!) to wish me a happy birthday. On Facebook I got lots of birthday greetings, which was really lovely.

I'd bought myself the Roomba the other day, so I considered that partially a birthday gift to myself and haven't bought myself anything else. By the way, I still ADORE my Roomba, who I now call "Spock" at the suggestion of a friend who is, like me, a fan of "The Big Bang Theory". It follows, of course, that the Roomba's dock is now "Spock's Dock". Yes, as a matter of fact, I AM a geek. *LOL*

I decided to throw dietary caution to the wind today in celebration of my birthday. For breakfast I stopped at Mickey D's for a country ham biscuit and a large coffee. Because I'm not used to eating so much for breakfast, I had a granola bar and Diet Coke for lunch. Why was I so relatively good for lunch? Because I'd already decided to really treat myself for dinner! :-) I called a local Cracker Barrel and asked them to prepare a take-out for me: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, okra, baby carrots and a biscuit. *drool* I'm never disappointed in Cracker Barrel's food, and they lived up to my usual expectations!

I thought I should treat myself to a dessert as well (after all, birthdays come but once a year, right?) so I bought something truly decadent: double chocolate fudge Coca-Cola cake. Yes, I'll probably hate myself tomorrow, but I'll deal with that another day. :-)

And so, friends, I've been looking at that piece of cake for awhile now, so I'll close this blog entry and settle into the recliner with my cake and the remote control. I received a copy of "The Big Lebowski" for my birthday and am going to watch it while sending myself into sugar-laden euphoria!

Have a great evening, everyone! The Dude abides. :-)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Family Reunion and A New Toy

To quote Al Pacino's Tony Montana in "Scarface": "Say hello to my little friend!" Yup, I bought myself a Roomba. I've been thinking about it for awhile and finally decided to buy one. This is something I should have done for myself way back when my back was giving me so much trouble! If you'd like to see an admittedly terrible video of Roomba in action, take a peek on YouTube by clicking here.

If you're not familiar with the Roomba, it's a robotic vacuum cleaner. Yes, there is a household appliance that not only vacuums my carpets and sweeps the vinyl flooring in the kitchen and bathrooms, but also goes and parks itself on its charger when it's finished! I think I'm in love! *LOL*

There's a VERY wide price range on robotic vacuums; like a lot of electronics these days, you can pay just about anything you want for one, depending on how many bells and whistles you want.

My wants and needs are definitely middle-of-the-line:
  1. I needed a vacuum that could go under furniture. This is the number one requirement. Since my back surgery in 2009 I've been unable to move my unspeakably heavy bedroom furniture, and I suspected that killer dust bunnies lurk in the areas out of reach under my queen-sized bed.
  2. I wanted a vacuum that would return to its charger when it finishes its work. I didn't particularly want to have to worry that the little guy would run out of power while chasing the above-mentioned dust bunnies under my bed.
  3. I didn't particularly need the "program to run while I'm at work" feature, because I want to be at home when it runs in case there's a problem.
Considering my list of requirements I did some reading online and decided that the iRobot Roomba 540 suited my needs and my budget. Even after making this decision, I hesitated for a bit, just to give myself plenty of time to change my mind.

Last Saturday I dragged out my good ol' Kirby and vacuumed the apartment. After pushing the very efficient but very HEAVY machine back and forth for what seemed an eternity (it wasn't really), I settled into my recliner with my netbook and ordered my Roomba.

It arrived very quickly (on Wednesday!) and was exactly as advertised. I charged it overnight and could hardly wait to get home Thursday to see how it worked. Thursday I had it clean the living room kitchen, hallway and guest bathroom. Keep in mind that I had vacuumed with the Kirby the Saturday before. I was amazed (and a little horrified) at the amount of stuff the Roomba found! On Friday evening I had it clean my bedroom and bathroom. I'd been correct: there WERE killer dust bunnies under my bed!! *LOL* Roomba killed 'em though, bless its little electronic heart!

So, if you're like me and have developed a back problem, or if you're like me and a total geek, consider a Roomba. Robots are cool. :-)

Yesterday I went with Mom and Dad to the 30th Lucas-Sweeney reunion. They had a good crowd this year, and TONS of food! There are a lot of wonderful cooks in the family, so tables were piled with platters of chicken, barbecue, casseroles, fresh garden veggies, pies, cakes, candies, homemade breads....makes me full just to remember it!! I took a couple of Tang pies; I got the recipe from a friend at the office, and several folks commented to me that they really liked them. It was good to see such a good crowd. It was awfully hot, but the building we were in (Copper Creek Ruritan building) was air conditioned, so we were able to go in to cool down if we got too warm.

I (of course) took my knitting along and made good progress on some Christmas gifts I was working on. Today I've spent the day doing a little laundry and resting up from the busy day yesterday. I've also managed to make good progress on a pair of socks I've been working on off and on for awhile. In fact, I've turned the heels and I started on the gussets just before I stopped to write this blog post. I'll get a little more done on them before bedtime, I think.

Well, back to the knitting needles. Have a good week, everyone!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

A "Normal" Weekend

Who would ever think that I'd be grateful for a Saturday spent chasing dust bunnies? I have to admit it was nice to have a more normal day than I've had for awhile.

I won't say I finished my housework (is it EVER really finished??), but I did put a pretty good dent in it before my energy ran out. :-) I went about my work at a steady pace, taking a brief break from time to time, listening to The Green Mile on my Zune to ward off boredom. Is it weird that I find rereading Stephen King novels relaxing? Speaking of which, I'm rereading The Stand in hardcover as part of an online book club at Crazy Aunt Purl's website. (If you've never read her blog, you might find it fun.)

I love listening to audiobooks while performing tasks that don't require me to think. And let's face it, housework doesn't require much thinking. Had I ever told you that I never buy audiobooks? I check them out from the local library via the internet. For free. I don't even have to leave the apartment to do it! If you've never looked into this, check the website of your local library to see if they participate in the R.E.A.D.S. program. If you happen to live in my little corner of the world, here's a link to the Bristol Public Library's webpage for this wonderful program:

I use it only for audiobooks because the ebooks offered are not compatible with my Kindle. My guess is that there's probably a way to convert them to make them compatible, but I already have tons of reading material on my Kindle so I've not looked into that. As for the audiobooks, there's a large selection. If the particular book you want is currently checked out, you can reserve it, and the program will send you an e-mail to let you know when the book is available. You can check them out for up to 14 days, and can check out several at one time. I usually check out only two at a time, just so that I can be sure I'll finish them up before the end of my checkout period.

If you've never listened to audiobooks before, you'll find that some readers are better than others. On occasion I've given up on a book because I didn't care for the reader. That's rare, though. They're usually quite talented and make the book an interesting experience.

Audiobooks will never replace reading for me; I've read as long as I can remember and it's always a relaxing experience for me. And as much as I love my Kindle, I still love holding a hardcover book in my hands, the smell of the paper, the calming effect of turning the pages. That was always my favorite thing about the beginning of the school year as a child: getting our new textbooks, hearing the slight crackle of the glue in the bindings as the fresh pages were turned for the first time.

But I digress. As usual. *LOL*

Back to my "normal" weekend. On the agenda for today: not a lot. I have just a couple of small tasks to finish up, then I'm going to go spend what I hope will be a restful afternoon with Mom and Dad. I'll take along some knitting (I'm finishing up a few Christmas projects) and Mom will have a pot of her delicious coffee waiting, as always. As I'm finishing this post, I hear a gentle rain beginning to fall outside. A restful, rainy Sunday....sounds like a great afternoon to me! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, August 01, 2011

I Need a Weekend

I need a weekend to get over my weekend! Friday night about 6:00 my aunt (Mom's older sister) took a particularly nasty fall in her living room, apparently hitting the bridge of her nose against the edge of a table. She's on a blood thinner, so the injury resulted in an immediate and horrific nosebleed of EPIC proportions!

The local rescue squad was summoned and they determined that she should be sent by med-flight from her home (about 2 hours' driving time away from where I live) to the hospital that's only about 3 miles from my home. When Mom called to give me the news I told her that I'd grab my things and meet her and Dad at the hospital.

We all arrived just minutes ahead of the helicopter and waited while the trauma team attempted to staunch the blood flow. They finally managed to slow it down enough to get a CT scan and some x-rays. I was dismayed to hear the doctor use the word "shattered" to describe the injury to her nose. They packed her nose to slow the bleeding, then told us that because they didn't have an ENT on call at our hospital that she would need to be transferred to another area hospital about 20 miles away.

We all went to the second hospital and waited for her to arrive by ambulance. There she received another x-ray and we got the good news that her broken nose was the only apparent broken bone. Unfortunately, we also learned that the doctor who needed to evaluate her nose wouldn't be available until the next morning (Saturday).

I said that I'd stay with her through the night since her immediate family wasn't able to make the trip to the hospital until the next day. Mom and Dad went home to get a couple of hours' sleep, and I stayed in the trauma room with my aunt until they were able to get a room for her at about 3:15 am. By the time they transported her upstairs and got her into bed, it was 3:45 am.

She'd been chatting away all night long, but when she got into a more comfortable bed, the pain medication kicked in and she fell asleep. As it always happens in a hospital, sleep is often interrupted by people drawing blood, getting vitals, etc. I didn't even try to sleep. I just sat in a chair in the room and knitted, waiting for the morning I knew would be coming all too soon. (See my knitting blog linked at the right for more about how I passed the time.)

Morning came, and Mom and Dad arrived with a delicious country ham biscuit and hot coffee from MickeyD's. I told them that the biscuit might not be the BEST thing I'd ever tasted, but it was pretty dang close! The day was spent waiting. And waiting. And waiting. My aunt (who by this time resembled a raccoon with her two black, swollen eyes) was in a great deal of pain that was relieved (or postponed) by doses of morphine. When the plastic surgeon (turns out he wasn't an ENT after all) arrived, she was so groggy from the morphine that he couldn't properly evaluate her. He said he'd have to wait until the next day to be able to check her properly.

Her grandson and husband arrived late that afternoon for a visit, so we went home to get some rest. We went back to the hospital bright and early the next morning and found that she was in a fair amount of pain because they'd weaned her off the pain meds. So the long wait began again for the plastic surgeon's return. The nurse told us that he was in surgery and that it would be at least noon before he'd be able to come perform the evaluation. Saturday afternoon it had dawned on us that part of her head pain might be a caffeine-withdrawal headache since she hadn't had any coffee or Diet Coke in 24 hours. (Like me, she enjoys her caffeine!!) As soon as they told us Sunday morning that she could have breakfast, we made sure that she got her coffee. She ate a good breakfast and it seemed to help.

When the call came to order her lunch, I made sure that she got Diet Coke. When her lunch arrived, she felt well enough to complain about the lack of salt in her food. *LOL* Around 1:00 we learned that the plastic surgeon was in a SECOND surgery and they didn't know how much longer it would be before he arrived.

It was a long afternoon; she was really tired of being in the hospital and wanted to go home. While we waited, the nurse removed her catheter (her IV was already gone by the time we'd arrived Sunday morning) and she received a bath and shampoo. This really helped her feel better, I think. I was amazed at how much her swelling and bruising had improved since just the day before.

When the surgeon finally arrived, he checked her nose, removed the packing from it and gave us instructions she should follow when she arrived home. Shortly after, we had her all packed up and ready to leave....finally!

We loaded her into Mom and Dad's Durango, and away we went to Dickenson County. Just under two hours later, we had her settled into her recliner at home, tired, still bruised, but safe and sound.

Mom had taken some OxyClean along to try to get the blood out of her living room rug, and she did a really great job with it. I did a few dishes that were in the sink and we washed some bloody towels that had been used to try to stop her bleeding before they called the rescue squad. Before long, we had her all squared away and we were ready to head back home.

We were all pretty tired by the time we got back; it was nearly 10:00 pm, and it had been a very long day. Mom checked on her today, and she said she was feeling pretty good, thank goodness.

It was a frightening experience all 'round, but thank goodness she wasn't injured more seriously! Just another reminder that we must never take good health for granted.