Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Post of the Year

This has been SOME week!

You'll remember we had Christmas on the 24th, because I had to work the 25th.  What I didn't tell you was that we got a phone call right in the midst of unwrapping gifts on Friday.  My youngest brother, the black sheep of the family, was found dead Christmas Eve morning.  The best we can figure is a heart attack, since nothing else seems out of whack.  He had been living with my mother and stepfather, helping them out, and when he didn't wake up early as usual, she found him.  With the holidays, arrangements were in limbo for a few days, and I wasn't sure whether we'd try to go or not.  I won't go into the weird family dynamics (I'm sure you all have some of those), but I hadn't seen him in over 20 years, and hadn't seen or spoken to my mother in even longer than that. 

Saturday it began snowing--and snowing and snowing!  We got a total of 8 inches where we are, and I wrenched my arm coming out of a skid trying to get to work.  I first tried to drive DD's car, since Jack's was unreliable, but got stuck twice, and had to be pushed up a hill by 4 neighbors.  I transferred everything over into the SUV and made it in early, but my right arm became increasingly more painful as the night went on, and I couldn't lift it more than about waist high.  After getting off work Sun, I went down to the ER and got it checked out.  It's probably a strained deltoid, but since it was a re-injury of a strain from lifting patients several weeks ago, I'm to see an orthopedist if it's not better in 7-10 days. They gave me a sling, which has helped considerably.

Mon. we got the word that my brother's funeral would be on Tues, so after talking it over, DD and I drove down to Birmingham to stay with my other brother and his wife.  Jack stayed here and kept the dog and DD's cat and just held down the fort.  DD hadn't seen her cousins in years, so it was good for her to visit with them, despite the reason.  Tues. night after the funeral, they all went out for Thai food and had a great time! I got to spend more time with my other brother and my sister as well as all the nieces and nephews--that makes twice in one year! 

Wed. we left there and drove back here to NC, and Thurs. morning DD left here headed for HER home.  That's a lot of driving in just a few days, but she's young and beautiful and she can do it.  lol  Yesterday I had the mandatory mammogram done, and last night came down sick with what is probably a sinus infection. I had chills and fever, with a temp of 101.4 and a very sore throat, but the worst seems to be over for now.   However, the Christmas stuff is going to stay up for a while longer.  Lifting is still difficult, and I don't even feel like playing with my "new toys" for now.  I plan to continue vegging out on the couch and may not see 2011 come in.  I will have to work this weekend, so conserving energy seems to be the best option.

Here's hoping 2011 will be a wonderful year for us all, and if you're making resolutions, hoping that they'll last more than a week! 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Anybody Home?

Sorry I've been out of commission for the last few weeks--seems like I would never get caught up.  And I almost didn't.  We had our Christmas this morning, since I have to work Christmas night, and didn't really want to get up, have Christmas, then go back to bed before going to work, and then come home to DD leaving on Sun. morning.  At 10pm last night, I declared the tree finished, even though only about a third of our ornaments were on.  When DD went off to bed at 11pm, I began wrapping gifts.  By 2am I had lost 3 gifts, one pair of scissors, and all my creativity. Found the gifts, got to bed by 3:00, but haven't found the scissors yet!

Here's what I ended up doing for ICU/Telemetry decorating this year:

These were repeated over all the doors in both units.

One wreath over a wrapping-paper covered bulletin board in ICU, one in Telemetry.

A little tree behind the nurses' station in Telemetry,

and a bigger one in ICU, because they had more space.

And wreaths for the glass doors on the rooms in ICU.

My sewing room is a wreck.

DD came in on Monday, and we've had a really good time with her and the animals (she brought both the dog and the cat.)  She set her alarm and we got up at 3am to view the lunar eclipse, but it was overcast, so we hurried back to bed. We've watched Sleepless in Seattle, Scrooge, other movies, finished shopping, cooked a little, and just hung out.  Wed. we all went to a very entertaining Christmas play and then out to eat. It's been good family times here at the Scraps  household.

There have been a couple of glitches, though.  I remembered my car registration hadn't been renewed and needed to get my emission test done first as well as an oil change, so I swung by on my way to the store and had them do it all, including rotating my tires, which was also overdue.  One of the mechanics came in very apologetically to tell me he'd broken off the stem under one of the lug nuts.  It was stripped and just broke off, and I don't even remember who rotated them the last time.  I've been so busy, I forgot to call the place the next day so they could make arrangements to fix it. They said it would be okay to drive with 4 lug nuts/stems, but it would need to be fixed soon.

Then Jack's car has been haunted.  (You'd think it would have been mine, right?) It's been locking and unlocking itself, and sometimes the inside lights go on and off.  He was going to take it in next week to be checked, but last night it apparently stepped up the pace, and when Jack went to make a trip to the grocery store for me, the battery was all but dead, and the security alarm was making weird noises.  Our roadside assistance service sent out a repairman, who managed to jump start it, but said we really need to get a new battery.  Right.  5pm on Christmas Eve.  Last year on Christmas Eve, there was snow and ice on the ground and I scraped my daughter's car as I backed out of the garage.  I think we are going to refuse to drive any car on Christmas Eve ever again.  As it is, I'm supposed to work tomorrow night and of course, it's supposed to start snowing tomorrow.  Keeping my fingers crossed either the roads won't be bad, or we'll be able to start the car.

Oh, and one other thing: I went to see my doctor last week, and my A1C, the 3-month compilation of blood sugar averages, has come down from a moderately dangerous 8.6 to a high normal of 6.5 in the 4 months I've been on the South Beach diet. I've also lost 35 pounds and lowered my cholesterol a little.  Still got lots to work on, but the progress is encouraging!

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and that you all make wonderful memories tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

End of November

Where has this month gone? Did you have a good Thanksgiving?  Did you get to spend time with family?

DD has a major deadline coming up next week, so we didn't get to see her this holiday.  It'll be Christmas soon, though, and I hope she has some vacation time left and can spend more than just a couple of days here.

We did have a couple of visitors, though.  Well, Tandi and I did. Tandi wants them to play, but I think they come by hoping I'll go back to giving them treats again.

The black and white dog loves to chase cars, and I'm worried one day she'll get hit. This was just as a car was coming up the street.

The brown dog is shyer, but has the sweetest expression in her eyes. I'd adopt her in a heartbeat if we didn't have Tandi.

I don't know to whom they belong, but I think they're the reason Tandi got fleas earlier this summer, so I don't encourage them to stick around.

As for me, I had 4 days of PDO to use or lose by Christmas,  so I took one day last week, and will be spacing the other 3 out during the next few weeks.  Since I was off  Mon-Fri night, I decided to go ahead and cook, even though there were only going to be the two of us, and one of us is on the South Beach Diet. 

Challenges can be so overrated.

I did try some new dishes off Kalyn's Kitchen website:   baked artichoke hearts au gratinDouble Berry Jello salad, and SBD-friendly Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie with a crushed pecan crust.  Oh, my, goodness.  That pie was SO good.  Jack had dressing with gravy, and pecan pie, but he liked my cranberry salad better than the canned jellied stuff he usually prefers.

My weight loss has ping-ponged between 31 and 33 lbs for the last 3 weeks, and I think I'm going to have to go back on phase 1 for a few days just to get back in the right mindset. Now that I've lost enough to be comfortable in the next size down, I find my motivation to be slipping a bit. In 2 weeks I go back to my doc for repeat bloodwork and I am expecting much better numbers and a pat on the back. Maybe that'll help. I haven't told DD yet, and she hasn't seen me since July, so there's another reason to keep plugging.

Outside the weather was beautiful the last 2-3 weeks, with temps in the low 60s, until a cold front came through on Fri., and now the nighttime temps are below freezing. The Bradford pears are the last to change colors and drop their leaves, holding on to autumn as long as they can. 

They're also the first to announce that spring is on the way, with hard little buds appearing as early as February.  It's as if they know their time on earth is limited and they don't want to spend any more time sleeping than Mother Nature makes them.  One of them is struggling mightily, and I don't know if it will last the winter, or collapse with the first ice storm. Maybe we'll get lucky and not have any ice storms this year.


My manager at work asked if I'd head up the Christmas decorating of ICU/Telemetry this year, because I "had such a fantastic Halloween display".  Pure flattery, as he didn't see it himself, and besides, being able to do Creepy and Macabre does not guarantee one can do Comfort and Joy.  But I'm a sucker for flattery, so I agreed.

Since themes seem to help me stay focused, I made an executive decision and chose "An Old-Fashioned Christmas".  We have a lot of elderly patients who will enjoy it, and I think it's something most people can relate to, whether we've experienced these ourselves, or watched "The Waltons" on TV or seen Norman Rockwell's work.  

Here's hoping I can pull this off--but if not, someone else will get asked next year and I'll be off the hook, right?

Thursday, November 11, 2010


The yard looks bare without all the Hallowe'en stuff in it.

 All that's left are the two wheat straw bales with some pumpkins on top, the little skeleton who is also perched on it and waving to passersby, and the spiderweb on the house that I can't quite get to behind the bales.

 I spent most of last Tues. and Wed. pulling everything down, as it was supposed to rain, and then spent Thurs. and Fri. in continuing education classes. Then it was time to go back to work, so lots of items are piled on the back porch for now, waiting to be sorted into the various storage bins.

For years, I managed to miss working the fall time change night--a 13-hr shift--because it fell on the last Sunday in October, and that was usually close enough to Hallowe'en to be included in my "vacation" time.  Now that they've extended it an extra week, it ain't happening. Drats.  Then, to my pleased surprise, census dropped on Saturday and I was put on call--and didn't have to come in. Dodged another one! I used the time to cut open some of those pumpkins that never got carved, and tried a couple of  recipes using the seeds: both found on Delia's blog. Still haven't found a recipe I really like--and there are probably 8-9 pumpkins left out there.  I hate for them to go to waste, so maybe I should just clean and dry the seeds and toss them out for the wildlife. Do critters eat the insides of the pumpkins, too? I know Tandi was trying to get at one.

The weather's been mild this week, with highs in the mid 60s, though it has been windy. Tandi and I spent a lot of time outdoors on Tues, futilely raking leaves off the bushes and out of the flower beds.  Our friend the Mower Man has a mulching attachment on his riding mower, which saves me from having to fill bag after bag with leaves.  The Bradford Pears are always the last to drop their leaves, and they are holding on mightily. Last week's cold snap killed off the last of the coleus, celosia and herbs, and the Mexican heather is about to give up the ghost. The tipsy pots came down and are stored in the crawl space until spring.

This is the one plant in it that hasn't died yet.  I believe it was the only perennial in the pots, and I'm not sure if I should at least put it on the back porch, or in the house, or ust leave it outdoors to renew itself in the spring.

It's supposed to stay mild through the weekend, so I may have one last chance to get some spring bulbs into the ground. Even the rose bush is still blooming. 

 It was warm enough that when I got tired, I just plopped into the hammock, which is up for just a few days longer. With a light quilt, it would have been easy to take a nap out there.

I'm really itching to get into the sewing room, which is in a critical state of havoc right now.

There are UFOs in there, pleading to be finished, not the least of which is the string quilt I started for DD 2 years ago. 

 I got stuck when it came time to sandwich it, and I'm still not sure what to do. The strings are sewn onto muslin, of course, making them a double layer already, so they only need a fabric backing.  But the border is only a single layer, so do I try to cut a thin batting for the already attached border and then baste the whole thing to a fabric batting?  Or do I just quilt the border more densely, giving it the weight it needs to hold up to the string center? 

No one has had answers for me so far. I wish I hadn't put a border on it, but I ran out of the fabric I was using for the center string, so couldn't make any more squares, and adding a border was the only way to make it large enough for a sofa quilt. 
If you've got any suggestions for me, I'd appreciate it, because I'd really like to get this finished and off to her so she can enjoy it before spring gets here again!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Whew!  It's over.  363 days to plan the next Halloween. No matter how much I think I have it all planned out, the last day or so, sometimes the last couple of hours, I end up trying to put out more items or rearrange what I have. Anyway, here's how it all turned out.

This is the view from inside my sewing room on a truly sunny day.  I've posted the view from the outside at night, but I get to enjoy it during the day.  Now, however, I'm anxious to get it down and get my room de-spooked and ready for sewing again!
And the kitchen window, looking out:

The front door:
The hall bathroom before the party:

And the shelf :

During the week I had the tall skeletons out on lawn chairs in the yard, while the short one rode the flowerpot tricycle with pumpkins in the back.  Not scary, but fun to view.  For Halloween, I scattered the skeletons and the pumpkins about the yard as if there'd been some random carnage. Here's a daytime view before I show you the nighttime pics:

The little guy ended up in a tree with his ghost dog below:

Night views:

The "dude" responsible for the situation:

And then there was the graveyard. 
By day:

By night:

One of the witch jars hanging in the trees to the left of the graveyard:

Remember the little casket MightyMom gave me?  This is what I did with it.

 There were "jewels" all around the sides.  I put a finger inside and the kids all wanted to touch it. Since it was made of soap (found in an Etsy shop), it was slick and just a bit slimy.  On the end, I smeared red hot glue, from Hot Blood.  It was so realistically colored--even in the daylight, it looked amazingly real.

Then I painted the glass box as well, and it held the glowing heart.
These were extracted from clients who refused to pay me.   The casket cackles maniacally when opened.

This was my table inside the gypsy tent:

My "jewels"--payment for placing or removing curses:

The shelves of potions and "trophies":

You can see the glowing heart there in the middle:

I placed the carnival mirror just to the right so the kids could see themselves when they came in.  They loved it.  I really needed more light, but their flashlights and glow sticks helped.  This is the view of the shelves opposite through the carnival mirror:

Inside the tent, I burned clove-scented candles bought from Dark Candles, and every female over 12 years old commented on how good it smelled inside the tent.  In the graveyard, I burned--of course--"graveyard" scent.  The REALLY good scents I've selfishly saved for inside the house.  Later.  For me. 

In anticipation of sitting outside and toasting marshmallows at the party, I'd bought a firepit at Ace Hardware.  They had marked it down from $60.00 to $40.00, so I decided it was a good deal, and am I ever glad we bought it, even though we didn't use it Saturday night.  Halloween night was cold, so I had the firepit set up about 10 feet outside the tent, and had those duraflame logs burning.  It was nice to go out and warm my hands, and it helped the visitors know where to go, as I had blocked my driveway with my truck, and turned out the front porch lights.  Once they saw me in front of the fire (which wasn't real easy, as I was dressed all in black, except for a red scarf around my head and lots of shiny jewelry), they figured out the candy was in the tent.

 And we had just as many kids on Sunday night as we did on Saturday night, only they were all spread out over the evening, and I recognized them as more of the neighborhood kids. One of the parents stood there and looked around and asked "Where do you store all this?"  I had to answer her, "I don't know."  

But it was worth it.