Sunday, July 29, 2007

Wasted Lives

A young woman died recently. She was not related to me, and I only met her once. She succumbed to a chronic illness, and was in her 30's, unmarried, living at home. Someone close to her expressed frustration, anger, and maybe a little guilt, that the deceased girl didn't "rise to her circumstances", didn't make the most of her talents, withdrew from the world--in short, wasted the time she had left.

I don't know if the young woman was happy, but it didn't sound like it. She didn't take care of herself, didn't avoid things that could exacerbate her illness. But who decides if a life is wasted, and how does one come to that decision? Is it a wasted life if her friend learns from the example set and determines to take advantages of opportunities afforded her, to love more, to give more?

I'm not being critical of the friend; her values and standards were different from the deceased's. Can it be said about me after my death, that I wasted my life? Maybe because I didn't travel more, didn't rise to management levels, didn't spend more time being sociable? If I am happy with my life the way it is, doesn't that count for something? Or have I set the bar too low for myself? And does it matter what others say about me after I'm gone?

Do I have regrets? Sure, I do. I've made mistakes as a wife, as a mother, as a nurse, as a friend, as a person in this world. There are many things I wish I could do over, knowing what I know now. But we don't get to know in advance; we have to struggle with the knowledge we have, putting one foot in front of the other, day after day.

If I had a terminal illness, would I have the mental and emotional strength to make the most of what time I had left, or would I just be in survival mode, trying to endure the treatments or live just one more day? I know what I'd like to be able to say, but I don't really know what I'd do.

When I entered nursing school, at the ripe old age of 18, I had visions of impacting lives, making a difference in the world. (I think I read too many Cherry Ames books.) Truth is, nursing is more about turning my frail little nursing home patient every two hours, than listening to his stories about his childhood.
Turning him and preventing bedsores is important to his physical health. I know that. But I'm not the nurse I thought I would be, decades ago. So does that mean my nursing life was wasted? By my own standards? And what about my personal life? It didn't turn out like I envisioned, either, but I am happy and content now. It hasn't always been that way, so has my life been wasted?

What do you think determines a "wasted life"?

Friday, July 27, 2007

S&T Friday

Just a quick one today. Thanks again to Kelli for hosting this fun little distraction!

Take a close look at this little "lamp". Notice anything?

How about the next photo?

It's a candle! The base is metal, but the entire "shade" is a candle. I can't bring myself to burn the candle, because I might never find another like it, and I think it's just so cute!
This was a gift to me from my sister-in-law, JJ, the first year we moved here, 2003. She and my brother came up for Thanksgiving, and stayed a couple of days to see our little "Mayberry". They bought this at one of our Main Street shops.

JJ is a hoot! In her head, out her mouth. She pulls no punches and calls things as she sees them, but was not above a burping contest with her teenage boys. She's all the girls' favorite aunt, loves to sew, is a whiz at photography, and one of the best things to ever happen to our family. My parents never appreciated her, but I did and do more every year. Love you, JJ!

Now it's time for a nap, then a 5 1/2 hour drive up to fetch the grandcats. (Next entry.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Oops = Good Cookies

When I got home from work this morning, J-man was still in the bed. So as not to wake him, I fed the dog and let her out, then decided to make a batch of cookies to pass the time.

Now, I am a mediocre cook, a lackadaisical kind of baker. But this idea, modified slightly, came from Africankelli-- here:

Instead of sugar cookies, I got out a package of oatmeal cookie mix and dumped what I thought was a box of instant sugar-free butterscotch pudding into it, as I had done this past weekend. As I was tossing the box, I noticed it was cheesecake flavor instead. Ooops. Can't take it out. What to do? Look for pecans to add. Didn't find pecans, but DID find coconut. I added about 1/4 C of coconut to it, more than doubled the amount of water the mix called for (originally 1 T, so I put in 3 to adjust for the added powder), and baked for 10 minutes. Oh, my goodness, these are such good cookies. I decided I'd better blog this so I won't forget how to do it. For lack of imagination, these are now "coconut cheesecake oatmeal" cookies.

Now the J-man is up, and I have to work another 12 tonight, so I'm going to bed--AFTER I hide some back to take with me!


Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Only 5 months til Christmas!

Have you started shopping, making lists, or making items yet?

(Ducking and running)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Yesterday was my birthday! I guess it really started on Saturday, when I was able to pick up my sewing machine from the shop and she runs like a dream! Funny how we can become accustomed to dysfunction until someone or something intervenes.

Anyway spent Sunday sewing and sewing and sewing.... Put the borders on this quilt top I started for us.

It's just to be one of those "wrap up on the sofa" kind of quilts, made entirely from my stash, except for the border. I couldn't find anything in my stash that was large enough and solid enough to do the border. A patterned fabric would have been to busy for it, and I think the solid green kind of reins it in and gives the eye a place to rest. It needs to be sandwiched, backed and basted, but I can't get down on the floor with my knee yet, and that's the only place large enough to spread it out. I think I'll just tie this one. That will leave it a little fluffy still.

After I put this one together a couple of months ago, I took the remaining 6 1/2" squares and separated them into color groups. Then I took the beiges and browns and put them together for another comfort quilt--this one lap sized, and made to be donated.

Anytime there's a small piece left from a project, or a fabric I am just getting tired of or can't remember WHAT was I THINKING?--I cut it into 6 1/2" squares first. Then 4 1/2", then 2 1/2", and if there is any left, 1 1/2" squares. (When I'm in my 80s I should have enough tiny ones for a postage stamp quilt.) Someone once said, "There is no ugly fabric; you just haven't cut it into small enough pieces yet."

Of course, my stash can't get smaller as long as I keep buying more fabric, but I just couldn't pass these up at the quilt shop yesterday:

The red fabric I bought to border this quilt, from a free pattern named "Wicked Easy." It'll be a community comfort quilt, too.

The thread I bought to start replacing some of the cheap thread I have from a long time ago. It's not good for my machine, and besides, if I'm going to put this much effort into something, I need good tools. The fat quarters--well, I couldn't pass them up. I don't have many kid-friendly fabrics and I need to make some preemie quiltlets--but that's another post.

Then I got this book from my daughter:

It had been on my Amazon wish list and I'd come very close to buying it already, as I had checked it out from the guild library and drooled over the photos.

Then my J-man ordered this for me from the Smithsonian Catalogue:

Detail of the chimes:

I love windchimes, as long as they're not too brassy or clangy. I like the mellow or musical chimes. This one was a winner!

My birthday dinner was to be at a Mediterranean restaurant in our little town, but they are closed on Sun. and Mon. (J-man is silently cheering). Then my second choice was shot down by the J-man who heard (probably from his barber) that the food is too pricey for what they serve. That's fine; DD and I will go when she comes to town. So, cashing in on the benefits of being a grown-up, we just had nachos for supper, followed by fried ice cream from Breyer's. It's not as good as the real stuff, but not bad for being able to buy it in the grocery store.

Guess we must return to adulthood today.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Show and Tell

Okay, Kelli, thanks for the hosting of Show and Tell Friday (

Here's my very first entry.

Meet Tandi, bought from Charlotte Cocker Rescue in March:

My beloved little mutt, Libby, was hit by a car and died in my arms March 5. I'd raised her from puppyhood, and had her almost 11 years. She was my "empty nest" substitute. I cried every day for weeks, and even the J-man found it hard to get ice out of the fridge, because she would come running from wherever she was to get a piece of ice.

I just couldn't bear the "empty" house, so told J-man I wanted another dog. He was agreeable, so I began searching for a cocker spaniel. I always thought Libby was a cocker at heart, because they have the traits I found so endearing in her: People-dog, loves everyone; loves to play, forever puppies; not too large to travel.

After applying with several organizations, and communicating by email and phone, we met up with Donna, Larry, Regina and Regina's husband outside a Charlotte, NC restauant and chose this 3-year-old little gal to take home.

She's a full-blooded cocker spaniel, abandoned by her owners because of an underbite (think bulldog) that renders her undesirable for breeding. It's a shame, because I think her little underbite is adorable.

We hated her name, so decided, new life, new name. I didn't want the usual names, (J-man suggested the ultimate cliche: Lady), so was racking my brain thinking of names that would fit her. Since she was so timid, I was trying to think of something upbeat, positive, kind of like "Tawanda!" from "Fried Green Tomatoes". J-man suggested "Tandy" after Jessica Tandy, one of our favorite actresses. Perfect! So she is Tandi, with an 'i' to note her gender.

She still has a long way to go (read: Remedial Housebreaking), but she is by far the most affectionate dog I've ever known. Here she is, bringing her favorte toy, Squeaky Football, for Mom to throw AGAIN!

Tandi is a little cuddle-bug, and hardly left my side when I was confined to the sofa with my knee.

She has a charming way of putting her paw on my face when we snuggle, and she's even learning to be gentle about it. lol

I can smile through my tears when I think of Libby now.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Not My Daddy's Dentist

I am a total dental-phobe. When I was 12 years old I had to be given some sort of sedative prior to going to the dentist's office. I have no idea why I was so terrified (well, NOW I know)--I can't remember anything particularly traumatic about going to the dentist, or anyone I know having a terrible time. It's just been this way as long as I can remember. Add to this one very small mouth ("Has anyone ever told you that you have a small mouth?" "Only those who try to cram their fingers into it."), and dormant TMJ (see above parenthetical comment) and it's easy to see why having quintuplets without benefit of so much as an aspirin would be preferable to darkening the doorway of my local tooth-puller.

Of course this is self-defeating, as putting off going to the dentist makes perfect sense to me, until it's been so long that I have just set myself up for a visit to the bowels of hell. My last 2 dentists and their staff showed remarkable patience with this patient, and I don't even care if they made fun of me after I left. Each of them suggested I replace the temporary "flipper" I had had for many years, but there was always a good reason not to--usually financial.

Come my relocation to Western North Carolina in 2003. I saw my dentist just before leaving the Southwest, so figured I could take my time shopping for a new one (read: procrastinate). Then came my wedding anniversary 2005 when I broke off part of my bottom front tooth, leaving a hole in the middle of my smile.

Grab the list of insurance-approved dentists and start calling. Of course, no one can see me for a couple of weeks. Grab the phone book, find someone close by and ta-dah! he has openings several mornings a week for emergencies. His motto in the phone book reads "not your daddy's dentist".

Wonderful staff. Straight-shooting dentist. Internet access at a beautiful desk in a cozy little waiting room with wing chairs and lamps. Murals on the walls, with every room a different theme (beach house, Elvis room, grassy meadow). Dimly-lit room with relaxing chair for pre-appointment jitters. Computer screens above the chairs that can be changed to play movies or the TV channel of your choice, and can display your new dental x-rays or just how much all this (luxury) work will cost you.

He did a beautiful job on that tooth. Everyone was so gentle, so friendly and understanding. I even shared with them my source for kitty-litter cake at Halloween:

Fast forward 18 months or so. I broke the front teeth off my flipper--that's right, the 25-year-old "temporary" flipper. It's so old and so brittle, the acrylic can't be matched, and the dentist can't fix it. His best suggestion: superglue. And set up appointments to get all my dental work done. I glued. I set up appointments. They kindly made me a new temporary after the third break and superglue.

Today was the first of all the fillings to be removed, cavities filled, etc. No one told me it was to be a 3-hour appointment. No one remembered to order a pre-procedure anti-anxiety med. No one seemed to remember I was a dental phobe until I was hyperventilating in the chair after having my size XS mouth stretched to a size XL and needled without the benefit of a topical anesthetic.

Oh, well, let's keep going. Ooops, seems your tooth has developed an abscess and needs a root canal. Shall we do it today? You might not have trouble with it for a year, or it could be killing you in 2 days. Only $1200 more than we'd planned. (Sure, why not?) Stick your tongue over here--spit stops the bleeding. (I HAVE no spit--you've suctioned it all out.) Move your tongue over. (Thon? Wha thon? I dhon' thin' I haf a thon'.) Are you breathing through your nose? (I'm trying!) Put your finger here and hold this ~torture device~ in place while we leave the room. 'Click' goes the x-ray machine. Repeat above. Repeat. Okay, Stephanie, that's all we're going to do today. (You bet your sweet bippy it is). L___ will have your prescriptions at the front desk and can make you another 3-hr appointment to get more of this work done.

I grab the prescriptions, my receipt, mumble something polite and leave. Maybe I'll call next week and make that appointment.

At my worker's comp medical appointment 1 hr later, my blood pressure was 142/90.

No, Dr. S___, you're not my daddy's dentist. Today you were my GRANDfather's dentist!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Yard Sale Goodies

After getting off work this morning, I saw a yard sale being set up across the street by a Seventh Day Adventist Youth Group. I certainly wasn't expecting to hit a yard sale today, but there it was, so my truck turned in there of its own volition. Saw a lady putting a wheelbarrow in her truck. DARN! I need a wheelbarrow. They weren't due to open til 9 am, but you don't start unloading in front of an off-going shift if you want to keep to the plan. There were at least 3 of us there, still in our scrubs, poking through piles and watching every box that came off the trucks.

This was the first yard sale I've been to this year. I really don't want to start cluttering up my house again, and it's easier if I just don't go to them. So, heeding Flylady's advice, if I don't love it, I don't keep it, and if I bring something in, something must go out. Fortunately I've been a good girl, taking several boxes to a charity the last two months, so I could justify my purchases. Or rationalize. Whichever.

Anyway, here's what I got for $2.50:

I don't know that I NEED another bag, but this one is so big and roomy and I can certainly use it. Besides, I liked the fabric!

And the bottle? Well, it goes with the several decanters and bottles we've had for years; some since we first got married.

The wooden sleigh had old, dusty, crumbly florist's foam and little decorations on picks, but I cleaned it up, and I'm thinking a plaid napkin or scrap of blanket-looking cloth and some wrapped candies, or small ornaments or something.

The votive/candleholder was very heavy, a very thick glass. I don't know if it's very old, but I liked the lines and I can always use non-seasonal candleholders. And the coup de grace was that fabulous Christmas box.

It was in excellent condition, very sturdy, and cute as it could be. I thought it would make a great Christmas wrapping for a special gift, but I'm not sure I can part with it.

All in all, not a bad haul!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Herbs and Such

For the last 2-3 summers, I've grown herbs in pots on my back deck. I've never had a successful garden before, unless it was in containers. In the southwest, my lawn was in such bad shape after the sprinkler system broke, I couldn't even grow weeds--just dirt. But here, it's so green, and it rains (though not enough this year) and there are flowers in my yard. I really want to have a beautiful yard, full of flowers and herbs and items that cast interesting shadows. First I have to work on improving the soil, and now it's too hot to do that. (I'm such a wimp in hot weather) Come fall, I'll work my patootie off.

For now, though, I grow herbs in pots on my deck. I almost lost them while I was laid up with the knee, because I couldn't get out there to water them, and DH couldn't keep it up. And it's been SO hot and dry. But somehow they kept the faith, struggled along, and now I'm trying to make it up to them. I have oregano, basil, dill, mint, chives, cilantro, lavender, lemon balm, and others I can't remember unless I go look at the tags. Which of course, tells you just how much I use them. You see, I really don't like to cook. Cooking may be a creative endeavor for some, but for me it's just a chore. If I plan ahead, and follow a menu, I will add some herbs, and if I have iced tea, I'll go clip some mint leaves. Mostly, though, I'm content to water them and prune them and rearrange them, and just enjoy the fact that they grow. That I don't kill them! >

Deck herbs Deck herbs 2 More herbs Chamomile

Monday, July 09, 2007

I've got the Kenmore Blues

I'm in withdrawal. My sewing machine has been running a little rough, and the reverse wasn't working anymore, so now that the quilt show is over, I took it to Foam and Fabric on Friday. They told me the repairman usually picks up and drops off on Friday afternoons.

Today I got a phone call from Mark. The good news is I have a good machine, a 15-year-old Kenmore. The Kenmores have Janome insides, and mine is old enough that it still has the metal parts, and not the plastic parts they come with these days. He says trouble with the reverse is a chronic problem with these machines, but that it's a keeper, and he'd try to hold onto it as long as possible if he were me.

The bad news is, he's backlogged, and it could be 3 weeks before I get it back. I groaned when he told me. He offered to rush it through, but I don't want to hold up someone who really needs their machine. For me it's a hobby, almost a passion, but my livelihood doesn't depend on it. Just my mental health.

Oh, and I was on such a roll! While I was off with my knee, I began going through all my old quilting magazines and tearing out projects, tips, tutorials and color schemes I really liked. I can't keep all the magazines; just don't have that much room. And face it, with that many sources out there, including the internet, it all comes around again sooner or later. I kept all my magazines from '06 and '07, because they are still so recent, and any magazines that were chock full of ideas.

All those pages are now in pge protectors, in any one of 5 different 3-ring binders. I'm trying to categorize them now: applique and quilting motifs, seasonal projects, small projects, etc. As for the magazines I can't toss yet, well, they have sticky notes all in them.

In addition, I went through my bins and bags of stuff and listed UFOs, WIPs, projects I'd pulled fabrics for, ideas I had or things I'd been wanting to do. I filled 1 1/3 legal sheets with this list and tacked it to my corkboard, so when I had a few minutes, or got stuck on one project, I could check my list and move on to another. I've made more progress in the last 2 weeks than I have in the last year. Guess it's time to cut up all that fabric, and do what fusible applique and handwork I can.

In the meantime, here are links to a couple of cute projects:

I made some of these cute little coasters for the boutique at our local quilt show the last weekend in June. The patriotic ones sold right off, as it was the weekend before the holiday. They make up quickly, and 2 fat quarters will make 6 of them. The photo above is of 3 that I had left over. I didn't find a copyright for them, and I gave the link to the instructions, so I don't think I've broken any laws by selling them. However, if someone sees this and can show me I was in the wrong, I won't make any more to sell.

Another cute project:
This is what I wanted to make for a swap at an upcoming quilting retreat, but don't know if I will be able to make 20 or so by mid-Aug. if I don't get my sewing machine back until the end of July. I haven't tried these yet, but there are copyright laws in force on this one, so they cannot be made for sale without permission from the designer. But they'll make cute gifts for co-workers at Christmas. Last year I gave the gals all mug mixes in mugs--pudding in a mug, cake in a mug, etc. This would be a cute follow-up.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Queued Ducks

Well, FINALLY got the check from Worker's comp today! Apparently they didn't pay for the first shift off, and they only pay about 60% of your normal wage, but at least it's money.

Hurt my right knee at the end of my shift the morning of May 29, running to catch a patient before he fell. I felt it "pop", but adrenaline kept me up til we got the guy in bed, and then I couldn't take a step on it. Such a stupid little thing, but that event kept me off work 4 weeks, on crutches for almost 3 of them. Didn't need surgery, just soft tissue injury, but that knee was already strained from standing for hours one day pressing and cutting fabric, and then spending hours the next day digging up plants and replanting those as well as new ones. Just too many things came together at the same moment.

The best thing about it was having my daughter come down for a few days to help out. Bless her heart, she took 2 days off work and 2 days out of bar classes to do some cooking, laundry, and basic caretaking of her mom (and dad!) The only other good thing was being able to watch the entire second season of Gray's Anatomy. 8^) Other than that, everyday life was just so hard. I felt as if I took my life in my hands just getting into and out of the shower. Ever tried cooking bacon at face level, sitting in a chair? Kinda scarey!

The worst thing about it was that Worker's comp overrode my doctor's verbal instructions and decided I could work the computer, answer telephones, etc--basically secretarial work. I let my manager know of my availability for this, but there's not much need in a small hospital for a nurse who can't perform as one. When I didn't get paid after 2 weeks, I contacted my employee health nurse. Evidently neither she nor the adjustor knew I wasn't working, and assumed I'd taken myself off work. And they don't pay for that.

Fortunately, from dealing with other WC and from dealing with Social Security, (not to mention just nursing) I'd learned to document, document, DOCUMENT. I had notes in my planner of every MD visit, every phone call regarding the event, when I sent the papers back to the adjustor, etc. I typed up a 5-page chronology of it all, and faxed copies (at my own expense) to the adjustor and the employee health nurse. I took other steps, including contacting my physician and my manager, who were both willing to vouch for my injury and my initiative in going back to work.

Within a couple of days, the EH nurse telephoned me to ask the number of shifts missed and the dates, which of course, I was able to provide. Do you think they realized I was only a couple of steps away from hiring an attorney, and that all my ducks were lined up neatly in their rows?

So, to anyone out there fighting the big guys, document everything! And do what they tell you to do, because if you don't make a good faith effort to follow their instructions, they can use that not to pay you what you are due.