Thursday, August 16, 2012

Insert Tab A Into Slot B

I have become, for the most part, a self taught guru of Excel.  I recall that about 12 years ago, when I was looking for a new job, I had an interview with a company for a position that sounded great!.  The only problem was that they needed someone with a working knowledge of Excel who could take to the ground running and I had never used Excel in my life.  Despite my being quick on the uptake, they didn't have time to train.
 
Would-a, could-a, should-a.  Oh, well.  Life worked out and the Lord got me my job at the law firm where I am now.  We'll assume that He'll let me know when it's time to move on… hopefully in a less emotionally catastrophic way.
 
Anyway, Big Boss Man #1, Steve, has a fondness for spreadsheets, charts and the like.  In the beginning it was one small chart that was originally just a table in Word.  But then his appetite was only whetted.  Before I knew it, we had spreadsheets with tables and pie charts and graphs.. (Oh, my!)   Frankly, I remember attending a staff meeting where the mental health person came and chatted with us and told us about being wary of enabling people.  I'm concerned that I'm enabling Steve's addiction.  It's fun, though, so I don't complain.
 
Each month, I run reports from our software and take certain info from these reports and enter it all into my spreadsheet and print out his monthly helping of information.  He also gets weekly snack-size portions of reports and stuff, but as the name would suggest, it's much smaller.
 
All was well until last year when, as you may recall, I was off for not one, but two surgeries.  (One planned, the other, not so much.)  As I was preparing to be off for the first surgery, I knew that during my time off, there would be a month-end in there that someone would have to prepare Steve's info, lest the poor boy start going thru withdrawal symptoms.  The only problem with someone else doing the reports, charts, etc., was that I was going to have to prepare explicit instructions on how to do each thing.  Either that or it was going to be a monster conference call to Rose for telephonic instructions.
 
I started back in February, as soon as we knew for sure that the surgery was going to happen.  Since I feel that my odds of being run over by a bus (I tend to envision a red double-decker like in England, don't know why) while crossing the street one evening are much greater than they were of me dying on the table, I probably should have started the instruction manual a LONG time ago, but that's neither here nor there.  I now have a three-ring binder with instructions on each aspect of my job, or most of them, in case that ubiquitous bus runs me over in the street.  (It's a work in progress really.)  Otherwise, I just know that Steve would really break down at my funeral and probably even have to engage a medium to conduct frequent séances to reach me from the other side to help someone could run his reports, etc., and frankly, when I go to my eternal rest, I want to rest!
 
Why am I bringing this up today?  Well, glad you asked.  Yesterday, as I prepared the August month-end reports, etc., I was fine-tuning a new report that Steve's imagination and my Excel skills had come up with in July.  All the while, I knew, just KNEW, that I was going to have to translate all of what I was doing it into written instructions.  As it is, the poor girl who runs these things when I'm out of the office during month-end (which isn't often, but I'm sure she feels like it is) panics whenever I email her a new or updated set of instructions, just sure that I'm taking next month off… (oh, that sounds nice… I wonder if there are any other surgeries I could plan for the fall…  memo to self, investigate that).
 
Today, I spent hours, HOURS, writing up instructions for running this report and producing the corresponding chart for Steve.  Also, I took the opportunity to update/correct the already written instructions and to whip up instructions on another area that was missing.  Now imagine, if you will, writing up instructions for something that you've done for years, mostly by habit by now, and for the most part not even consciously thinking about what you're doing.  The instructions are for someone who is only vaguely familiar with Excel and only does it rarely, so each time might as well be the first time. 
 
For example, to blow your nose, the instructions would go 1) go to store, 2) walk down aisle 6, 3) look left, 4) choose box of tissues, 5) walk to counter, 6) pay dude behind counter for tissues… and then under number 6 there would have to be sub instructions regarding payment… and you've never even got to the nose yet!
 
It's a good thing that I take it as a challenge to write clear, concise instructions... and I like to write.  And aren't you glad?  :) 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

IT Department... Call on Line 2

Tuesday, after a rather uneventful, but still tiring day, I came home to a perfectly lovely meal. I took my plate, my ipad and myself out onto the balcony to decompress and kill zombies over my bowl with the cats.

After a lovely dinner with the kids and a wee bit o zombie-related carnage, I forced myself to return to my bedroom where not only was the laptop not working, but my poor lovely computer had been salvaged for parts and lay in pieces. Ok, not really, the keyboard was unplugged and the internet was hooked into the laptop, but otherwise it was ok.


I called iYogi. This time I got Ramesh. I gave Ramesh the 411 so he could pull up the notes from my session on Monday night with Raj. I told him that I couldn’t do the backup because of the “catastrophic error” and that I was ready to have him walk me through reinstalling the OS.

Now, I have actually done this myself, but there are generally all these questions and it was nice to be able to ask someone which choice to choose. I think I would have made all the same choices, but… Anyone who’s ever installed software like this, knows that it can take a while while it deletes things and downloads new things and installs other things. So Ramesh and I had a chance to get to know each other.

He asked me how the weather was. I told him that it was quite nice. That it had been horribly hot, but since the weekend we’d had some rain and it was cooler, in the 80’s.

I asked how the weather was there. He said they were currently in the monsoon season, so it was rainy. I asked when they had summer – he said April to July, generally.

He asked if I or anyone I knew had ever been to India. I told him that my bro-in-law had just returned from there on Sunday. He’d been there for work, but I wasn’t sure why. I told him I’d never been anywhere. (I didn’t see the point in going into the whole trip to England/Scotland/appendix story.)

I asked him if it was tomorrow there already… if it was Wednesday. He said yes, it was 5:30am on Wednesday there… and that today (Wednesday) was India’s Independence Day. I said that on our Independence Day, I got the day off. He said he had to work, but would get off at 11am.

At this point in our mutual lovefest, the software installation got to the point where it was going to take another 45 minutes. Ramesh told me the answers to the next few questions, and told me to call after the installation was finished, so someone could continue to help resolve my problems, wished me good karma and hung up.

I finished the installation and, since the mid-season finale of Rizzoli and Isles was coming on at 8pm, decided I’d done enough for one night.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

IT Department... Call on Line 1

Haley, Sib #2, was down to visit this weekend and I said something while she was here that has come back to bite me in my much smaller than it was 18 months ago hiney (NOTE: I had to Google how to spell “hiney” and spellcheck still doesn’t like it!) Mom said that she’d found a photograph (or two) that she would like to have scanned so she could enlarge them and hang them somewhere. I, not knowing how to use the scanner that is a part of the printer/copier/scanner that we have, suggested that before she left, Haley could help Mom with that because Haley is the “techie” daughter. (i.e., Rose is perfectly happy not knowing how to use the printer/copier/scanner thingee). Haley did help Mom figure it out and life went on.

So how did my harmless comment come back to bite me on the bum? Well, let me tell ya.

Monday night, after a long, but relatively successful day at the mines, I came home. Mom had dinner ready and while we are sitting at the table, she says she has a couple of things to discuss with me. I was game, so I said, “shoot!”

First, Mom had, the previous week, lost her driver’s license. She got on the BMV website to find out what she would need to get a new license and was pleased to find out that she qualified to renew (it was going to expire in December anyway) it online, but she wasn’t sure if she had an account already with the BMV (she did, I set it up in February when I renewed our plates), so she decided to wait for me to get home. Well, piece of cake. While we are sitting there eating, I get on her laptop, which is sitting on the table beside me, and quick like a bunny, log on and renew her license! I looked at her with a very satisfied look in my eyes and said, “Next?”

B) The virus protection software on Mom’s two computers, the desktop and the laptop, was getting ready to expire in five days. She had got online to see about renewing it and discovered (she thought) that she could get it renewed for all three of our computers (mine, too) for the price of $39.99! But before she did it, she wanted to make sure that she’d read the thing right. Again, quick like a bunny that really wanted to just spend the rest of her evening on the balcony killing zombies with a cat in her lap, I went to their site, confirmed that that was in fact the deal, and renewed the virus protection stuff. I got the renewal code and entered it and next thing I know, the laptop goes to the BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH! (cue lightning sound effect).

My first thought was to say, “Ok, that’s done! Now let’s go kill zombies!” I could feel my butt being nibbled on. But being the good girl that I am… sigh. So the BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH (“BSD”) said that if this was the first time we got it, to reboot and see if the problem went away. I did. It didn’t. Next, the BSD said that if you got it after rebooting, to do something… I didn’t fully understand what, but I thought I’d log on in “safe mode” and uninstall the virusware… maybe that would work. So I got on in safe mode and started thinking that man, I really wished Haley was here. She is fearless where computers are concerned. My next thought was that I really hate talking on the telephone, but I’m going to have to call iYogi.


We have this service. I’m not sure how Mom came across them, but we’ve had it for about a year now, called iYogi and we have an 800 number that goes to India where there are all these techie computer people and they help us do whatever we need on our computers. We can’t print, call them and they log on and fix it for us over the internet. They will scan our computers and clean it up, speed it up, etc. Things I could probably do on my computer but generally don’t take the time and certainly don’t want to do on both of Mom’s computers.

So I called iYogi. Got this very nice guy – I didn’t catch his name and while I don’t want to be insulting, I can’t resist calling him Rajesh Koothrappali. Raj really earned his wages that evening/(morning (in India). We tried to set it up so Raj could log in to the computer over the internet, only to discover that I’d chosen the wrong safe mode. So I rebooted and chose the correct safe mode (with internet). Again we tried to set it up so Raj could log in to the computer over the internet, only to discover that the wireless wasn’t working on the laptop. Sigh. So I trucked the whole kit-n-kaboodle into my bedroom, hooked it directly up to the internet, avoiding the wireless router. AGAIN we tried to set it up so Raj could log in to the computer over the internet, only to discover that although the mouse was working, the keyboard was non-responsive. So I unplugged the keyboard to my desktop and hooked it onto the laptop, only to discovery that the keyboard was STILL non-responsive. I could mouse, but that wasn’t good enough as I had to type in the code to let him take over the computer.

At this point, Raj had to keep putting me on hold to figure out what to do next… and the hold times kept getting longer and longer. I imagined this phone bank of workers feverishly trying to resolve my issues! After over an hour and a half, poor Raj was forced to tell me that I was going to have to reinstall the operating system. We decided that I’d hang up, perform a backup, find the CD’s and then call back when I was ready to reinstall. We said a tender goodbye; he wished me “good karma;” and hung up. Sniff… I still miss him… 
I assigned Mom the task of finding the CD’s while I attempted to backup her genealogy info. I was distressed to be advised by the laptop, upon my attempts to perform said backup, that there had been a “catastrophic error” and that no backup could be performed. I informed Mom of this and we each said a quick prayer that she’d not done too much on it since the last time we did a back up. And she probably hasn’t, since we went on vacation and then she had her back problems and then the heart attack that wasn’t really a heart attack.. (I know, I’ve not told you about that, but this would be why there’s been no blogs for a while.)

We found the CD’s and decided that I didn’t have it in me to do anymore that evening. Plus, the series finale of The Closer was coming on at 8:00 pm and I didn’t want to miss it and my phone needed charging.  I want a cookie.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hot Dogs! Get Your Hot Dogs!!

Today is National Hot Dog Day. Or maybe it’s that July is National Hot Dog Month. Whatever. At the office, we take every opportunity to A) bring food in and/or 2) raise fundage for our annual holiday adoption of less advantaged families in the community. Therefore, as a two-fer, today we had our First Annual Hot Dog Day celebration with the proceeds to be added to our Christmas fund.

We added this event to our social/fund-raising calendar after last year’s Cinco De Mayo Nacho Day was such a hit. This year, unfortunately, that event had to be renamed Cuatro de Mayo Nacho Day because Mayo Cinco was el sábado. But it was still hugely successful.

But back to today. One of the attorneys, Greg, is a BIG hot dog fiend and he has a wife who is a nutritionist and, therefore, limits his munchification of hot dogs to zero. Obviously, Greg was all for this celebration. He insists that the world’s best hot dogs come from some butcher shop in Jasper, Indiana and he volunteered to pick them up. It didn’t hurt that he had to be in Jasper last week for some case! My mother insists that the world’s best hot dogs are Nathan’s and specifically, from Sam’s Club. Every time she goes to Sam’s, she plans the trip around lunch time so she can get their drink and a hot dog for $1.50 special. The woman has been going thru hot dog withdrawal since she’s been stuck in the house recuperating from her slipped discs. Fortunately for her, I take pity on her periodically and bring her home a dog. I’m nice that way.

But again, I digress. People brought in a variety of toppings, sides, and desserts, so a yummy lunch was had by all who were willing to fork over $5 for lunch. And why not? You can’t get much more than a Happy Meal for $5 if you go out for lunch! One of the desserts was brought in by Shawn, our HR peep. She really missed her calling. Not that she isn’t a great HR person, but she really should open up a cupcake shop. During one of the planning meetings, we jokingly mentioned that she should bring in hot dog cupcakes and voila! These are what she made…


They even have tiny relish on them! I nabbed one to take home to mom. I nabbed her one of the hot dogs, too; since I can’t eat all that much, and really should avoid hot dogs. I did have one, though… like I’m NOT going to try one?!

Over the weekend, on a trip to CVS I found the perfect holiday addition to my ensemble for the day.


Imagine if you will, me sitting at my desk, doing my thing, (today it was collections crap, er.. stuff,) wearing my boppers. People walk by my desk, see me and my boppers, and are in no way phased. I’ve been here almost 12 years, so I guess they’re used to me. The best one was early in the morning, just after I put them on, one of the managing partners walked by, looked at me and said “Good Morning, Rosemary” and just kept on walking!

Friday, June 29, 2012

There's An App for That!

I love my iPhone, as I'm pretty sure I've mentioned.  I enjoy being able to read my book on the Kindle app.  I enjoy being able to pull up people on the IMDB app at any time, for example, today at lunch, Jennifer and I were discussing who is in the movie I'm going to go see this evening, and I was listing the people, but I couldn't remember the name of the guy or the series that he stars in.  I could only remember that my niece Natalie thinks he has creepy eyes.  (And if she's reading this, she knows who I'm talking about!)  (And if she isn't reading this, WHY ISN'T SHE READING THIS!??)  So I whipped out my phone and looked him up, right there at the table! 
 
I love not having to carry my Bible to church because I can just get my phone out and read the passage from the app!  I love being able to play solitaire or mahjong  or whatever bit of mindless fun I'm currently addicted to whenever I have to wait for something or someone. 
 
Yesterday, I was having a discussion with some of the girls with whom I'm going to the movies this evening.  One of them was going last night to buy our tickets.  I asked if she had a Stubz card and from her response of "Huh?" knew that she did not, so I gave her my card so Rose could get the points!  The other girl mentions that she has an app that keeps track of all of her cards, and when she's at the store, the sales clerk just scans her phone or, if that doesn't work, keys in the numbers.  I am THERE!!
 
I'm forever going to the grocery store (IGA/Buy-Low) and forgetting my card.  The sales person always dutifully says, "Keep your receipt and bring it in with your card and you can get credit for the purchase."  To which I politely respond, "yeah, thanks" when in fact I want to scream, ahem.. "IF I WAS ABLE TO REMEMBER TO DO THAT, I'D HAVE REMEMBERED THE FREAKIN' CARD TODAY!!!"  Or sometimes, I'll run into CVS with only my keys and wallet.  What's the problem with that?, you ask.  Well, I have so many of those cards, I keep them on a totally separate key ring, so when I say I only have my keys with me, I only have my KEYS.  Sigh.
 
Last night, I downloaded that puppy (keyringapp.com) and quick like a bunny scanned and entered my cards.  And now, I can't wait to go to the movie tonight so they can scan my card/phone when I get my popcorn!  Yeah!
 
Anyway, that's my app recommendation of the week… or whatever time period will be between now and the next app I recommend.

Monday, June 25, 2012

And Now, For the Rest of the Story...

Monday began a new week.  Mom called her doctor's office and they scheduled a CT scan for Tuesday afternoon and, because the nit-wit at the scheduling desk said they (the doctor's office) might not have the CT results by the time of Mom's Wednesday morning with her doctor, they rescheduled it for Friday.
 
Meanwhile, Sophie did not appreciate my administering the steroid cream on her ears twice a day, but the afternoon that Mom called to tell me that she'd seen/overheard Sophie at the food bowl THREE times that day so far.  Of course, knowing my little persnickety turd, she's been at the bowl containing the Meow Mix that the other three eat and not the bowl containing her $55 a bag expensive stuff.  But at this point, I don't care what it is, if she'll eat it and keep it down.  It's just particularly irritating because shortly after I adopted Sophie and Gizmo, I attempted to get them to eat Meow Mix (because their previous caretaker fed them Science Diet, which I thought was SO expensive… little did I know that now I'd kill to feed her Science Diet) and she would have nothing to do with it. I tried different flavors, including the hairball formula, and no.  I don't think Mom and Dad had to buy cat food for a month because they benefited from every bag I bought and Ms. Picky turned down.
 
Also, the previous week, during my fit of feeling useless, I'd ordered something to help Sophie.  Jackson Galaxy, the guy with all the tattoos and piercings on the Animal Planet show "My Cat From Hell", well, he's written a book – a biography, I suppose – and my friend Deborah is reading it and keeping me updated as she goes.  Anyway, Deborah tells me that early on in his cat experience, he had a difficult cat… I don't remember the name… and he'd tried everything to get the cat to eat.. I think that was the problem.. and he was at his wits end when he heard about some woman selling holistic formulas made up of "essential" oils, whatever those are, and supposedly they'd help the cat.  So, like me, being at the end of his rope, he said, "WTF!?"  Now I gather that they helped his cat and Jackson was so impressed that he was like, "I've got to meet this woman!"  He met her, and ended up buying the company!! 
 
(Very) long story short, I got on the website, www.spiritessences.com, and bought some of both the "Happy Tummy" formula for Sophie specifically, and the "Stress Stopper" for everyone in general.  It arrived on Friday and I put a few drops of the Stress Stopper in both of the water fountains and I rubbed some of the Happy Tummy in my hands and then wiped them on Sophie (per the instructions.)  And now, a weekend later, I'm telling you that I'm sold!  Well, first, Sophie is eating.  And…now here, I guess you'd have to have cats to understand this, but Sophie's fur is like silk.  I've never felt anything softer.  And when she isn't 100%, her fur loses its softness… feels like hair.. or more bristly… which is the way Winifred always feels, but with Sophie, it's an indicator to me that something's amiss.  Anyway, for the last month or so, her fur hasn't been "right."  Now, after a week of the steroid cream on her ears and a weekend of the essential oils, she is happy, silky, and, dare I say, more friendly.  She's even a little more tolerant (not 100%, but a little bit) of Winifred and I think, when Sophie chases Winifred out of my bedroom and up/down the stairs, there's a bit of playfulness in it.
 
One patient is fixed (literally…hahaha!).  As for the other, we went to Mom's doctor appointment on Friday.  The CT scan showed that she did have a mild bulging disc on the left side at L4-5 and a moderate herniated disc at L3-4 on the right.  But the thing on the right isn't the one she's having problems with, for whatever reason, so we don't worry about it at the moment.  The left problem isn't bad enough to require surgery.  (One of Mom's, and my, worries down.)  Then I asked the doctor if there was something she could prescribe, nothing addictive, because we are too poor to risk becoming addicts, which could help Mom sleep.  Mom not having had a decent night's sleep in a month.  The doctor gave her a prescription for Flexeril. (Another of Mom's concerns taken care of.)  And finally, Mom asked about exercises or something to help her (Mom) not feel like such a slug, just laying around and nothing else.  So the doctor ordered physical therapy.  (The third and final of Mom's concerns gone!)  When we left that appointment, Mom felt ten times better, not even having had the first pill or PT appointment!
 
Friday night, she took her first Flexeril and slept like a rock.  She was so happy the next morning!  Of course, as one might have guessed, she then proceeded to do too much, at least in my opinion, over the weekend, so she was rather tired when she got up this morning.  Other than her PT appointments, she is going to rest and recuperate this week!  So Patient #2 is doing better and I'm feeling useful, so all is well in Roselandia!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

And the Secret is...

Sorry.  I didn't mean to leave you all hanging in regard to the secret of picking out watermelons, I was just going with the flow of my topic.  I know that for years I was told to thump them and the ripe ones sounded different.  Let me tell you I have thumped many a watermelon and rarely heard anything different between them.  Consequently, it was more of a crap shoot as to whether it was good or not.

Holly's secret.. and honestly, I think she got it from Alton Brown on the Food Network's show Good Eats, is to look at the spot where the melon was laying on the ground (see picture below - it's the discolored area that doesn't look like all the rest) and to find the one that is more yellow. 


It's that easy - almost too simple.  Now I don't know if this is a scientific type of tip, but it has worked for me all summer.  In fact I bought two more yesterday at Sam's (oh, and I've got all my good ones this summer at Sam's - again, don't know if that's relevant, but..) and the one I cut up to put in the fridge yesterday afternoon - sugar sweet. 

Oh, and my apologies for the picture.  I kept taking the pics with my phone and I turned them all the correct way, but then when I load it here, it's on its side and I can't figure out how to fix it.  So I'm sorry for you having to crick your neck to see the pic correctly.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Meanwhile, Back at the Bat Cave...

So, I've been doing all the cooking for me and Mom. Not a problem. I’m actually a good cook. My mommy taught me well. But frankly, without advance planning, my repertoire generally leans toward something involving pasta. Again, not a problem. Rose LOVES pasta. Maybe too much. Remember, there was a reason for that gastric bypass a year ago. And, yup, between the heat and the oddball working hours, I wasn’t doing my walking in the morning, and with the crappy (but yummy) meals, I gained four pounds!! In retrospect, I’m thinking some of that may have been hormone-related or maybe I needed to take a poo before I weighed because those four pounds are gone now. Whatever! This wasn’t making Rose happy and it was weighing (arr, arr!) me down.. so, that might have been a little behind my outburst at the vet’s.

I go home and Mom informs me that her MRI is late Friday afternoon. So it was a good thing I banked all that time, since I needed it for Mom’s ER visit, Sophie’s vet visit, and Mom’s MRI on Friday. It worked out perfectly!

Sophie’s vet visit: She’s perfectly healthy-looking, only she’s lost a pound. We discuss that I had given her a dose of the prescription anti-nausea meds that I’d picked up, and it had worked, she ate that evening. But it’s a two-man offense to get it down her (and I’m down a man), we get as much on us as IN HER, and she acts as though we’ve horribly abused her for the next hour or so and runs from me, and in my fragile state, I can’t take my baby girl running from me scared. So he gives her the shot, at least that’s 24 hours that I won’t have to worry about. We also discuss that Holly’s cat, Jen Jen, has IBS and they rub some steroid cream on the inside of her ear every so often and it’s changed her into a totally different cat… also, that we’ve tried to avoid the steroid route because for some reason that I don’t fully understand, both he and the specialist that saved her life attribute Sophie’s “episode” two years ago to the steroid shots she was getting… but the steroid cream is low dosage so could we try it, because I’m at my freakin’ wits end, here!! He prescribed it. Praise God.

Mom’s vet visit: We get there and she has to fill out these forms about all sorts of oddball questions and she doesn’t understand why. I explain, because the questions have to do about metal implants, that the “M” in MRI stands for “magnetic” and she’s going to be going into this ginormic tube which is a big magnet and they want to make sure that she didn’t have anything metal on or inside her. Well, turns out that 28 years ago, this August, she had this metal thing implanted into her… long story, don’t ask… and they couldn’t do the MRI and it was after 5pm, so we’d have to wait until next Monday to see what up now. I think she was relieved. Hungry, but relieved. We went to Wendy’s so she could have a burger, fries, and a Frosty to celebrate.

The weekend was relatively relaxing. I took my weekly walk with the Deaconess Healthier U thingee. It was at the Riverfront and despite the very hot couple of weeks we’ve been having, we really haven’t had that bad of humidity. That and the 130+ pounds that I no longer have to lug around mean that even though it was hot, it was a beautiful morning for a walk and I walked 2+ miles. Then I went to Sam’s to stock up on watermelon and grapes for the week and pick up some of Mom’s prescriptions. I’ve done a FABULOUS job of picking out the watermelons this year. My sisters have given me tidbits of advice in the past. Some of which I followed, others I did not. But when Holly explained to me the key to picking out a “good” watermelon last summer, she changed my life!! I have not picked a bad one all summer… and we’ve been eating them at the rate of two a week for about 6 weeks! I did other grocery shopping. I found recipes for the next week and got the missing ingredients. I have been utilizing the crock pot and I made some Nacho Cheese Chicken Chowder that very similar to Max and Erma’s Tortilla Soup and was great!.. I made a pork roast that was not… well, it was ok, but it cooked too long and was dried out… and I made Reuben Chicken Casserole and while I did have some misgivings, it was really good! I’ve had leftovers for breakfast and lunch already today! And I took a nap on the balcony. I was ready for the new week.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Livin' La Vida Loca

First, I apologize for failing to keep you up to date on my event-filled past 5-6 weeks. But frankly, the only time/place I’ve really had to write was when I was at work, and they sort of frown on that. So you ask, Rose, (because that is my name), what about your pod (phone)? your pad? your computer at home? and Mom’s laptop? Are they all broken? What! ho?!

Well, if you’ll stop barraging me with questions, I’ll do my best to winge out a bunch of excuses.  And don't call me a ho! First, it’s a pain in the tookie to type much on the pod/phone.. and you know I can ramble on. And while it is somewhat better on the pad, it’s still not the best. As for the computer on my desk at home, well, that’s just not comfortable to sit at for a long time… especially since I can’t sit there for more than 5 minutes without Gizmo hopping into my lap and he’s a 13 pound cat and he moves around a lot, so it generally takes at least one hand on him at all times to keep him from falling out of my lap, and, being a “man,” he ego is very fragile, so I do what I can to help the boy.. As for the laptop, well… why are you interrogating me!? So I’ve decided that I need to get myself a laptop. I’m doing all I can to get one. Every time WIKY, the local radio station, has one on their WIKY Word Rewards, I apply all of my points toward tickets for the drawing. I just haven’t won yet.

The rest of my month has been spend taking care of both my mother and my baby girl. Starting about a month ago, Mom started having pain in her back, radiating down into her left leg. I took her to her doctor, who only works on Wednesday through Fridays, so of course we always need to see her on Monday or Tuesday and Mom chooses to wait until Wednesday. Sigh… Deep breath. Anyway, the cursory diagnosis was that it might be shingles, even though Mom didn’t have the accompanying rash yet or a “slipped” disc or two in her back. Either way, a dose of steroids and rest should help. And Mom got some pain pills to too. After the first week, she went back to the doctor – no better, but no rash, so no shingles. Doctor said she figured it was the discs and she could either order an MRI to confirm, or Mom could just rest for two more weeks [while the doctor went to Mexico on vacation – not that I begrudge her a vacation, it’s more of a jealousy thing! :)]. The choice was up to Mom and she chose to rest for two more weeks. And by rest, this meant doing a better job of resting than she’d done the first week.

So you-know-who had to take over Mom’s usual duties: cooking, dishes, laundry, shopping, etc... basically, being Mom!  No, it didn’t hurt me, but I sure have a new-found respect for my friends who work full time and have a family to cook, clean, etc. for all the time!

Meanwhile, Baby Girl Sophie, who has a seven-year history of gastro episodes where she won’t eat, vomits up “juices”, and I take her to the vet, who gives her a shot or two, she gets better for a couple months and so on, back in May, stopped eating. I took her to her vet – yes, she has her own vet – don’t judge me, none of the others need to have a personal vet. She resumed eating, but not with quite the same gusto as usual. He ran blood tests ($200 worth) and they all came back normal. She’s a healthy cat. Grr.. So flash-forward to last week, she’s not eating again. Or let’s put it this way, she’s eating enough that she can survive, but… oh, heck, it’s hard to put it into words, but the other cat moms out there understand. She wasn’t eating, although she was a tiny bit. I called the vet. He was out that day. (It seems all of the doctors in MY life take Thursdays off.) I left a message that she wasn’t eating and I didn’t know if there was a way to prescribe me what he shoots her up with so I didn’t have to pay $100 just to come in and have him give her a shot. And I made an appointment for her for Friday afternoon (since I was planning on taking that afternoon off) in case the answer was no.

So next.. well, you have to realize that since #1) Boss #1 Steve was on vacation for the past two weeks, and since B) I didn’t know if I was going to have to take Mom and/or Sophie to the doctor/vet, I was going in early each day and taking half lunches when I could so I’d have time for any appointments that reared their ugly heads and if there weren’t any appointments, I could just take the time I’d banked off on Friday. So the same Thursday that the vet was out when I called, I’m at work, minding my own business when I get a call from Mom telling me that she isn’t feeling well and that she thinks I need to take her to the ER. Now, let me interject that I really wanted to scream, in a panic... ahem… “if you NEED to go to the ER, why are you calling ME!? Call 911!!” But instead I calmly asked… ahem.. “now, keep in mind it’ll take me 10-15 minutes to get home to get you, then another 15 minutes to get to the ER, do you have that type of time? Or is it more urgent?” sigh.. Anyway, we get her to the ER, where her Living La Vida Loca doctor said that if Mom felt bad while she, the doctor, was off, to go to the ER and they would perform the MRI for her. (Turns out that’s a lie. MRI’s are not “emergency” tests. We were told in no uncertain terms that if a patient can hang out for the 2 hours it takes to perform an MRI, then said patient’s “emergency” isn’t really an emergency.) Mom was having pain that was different from the, now, usual pain, so she was afraid all the laying around she’d been doing had formed a blood clot. They confirmed that that was not the case and booted her out. I was rather peeved, but happy she was ok. On the way back home, we call her doctor’s office to see if the dude covering for her doctor can order the MRI and were told that he’d want to see her first, so we made an appointment for later that afternoon.

Now, back to Sophie. While Mom was in the ER being given an ultrasound to confirm she didn’t have a blood clot, my phone rings. It’s the vet’s office and he happened to call in, so they gave him my message and he said that yes, he could prescribe some of the anti-nausea stuff that he generally shoots Sophie up with, but it would be a 3 times a day thing whereas the shot is good for 24 hours, or I could just bring her in for her appointment the next day. I told them I’d take the prescription AND unless she had a huge change, we’d be keeping the appointment.

After taking Mom back home, on my way back to the office, I stopped at McD’s for some tea – and despite REALLY wanting it to be the diabetic coma-inducing version, I got unsweet – and dropped by the vet to pick up Sophie’s prescription. I walked into the office and the nurse/tech person behind the counter asked “how’s your day going?!” and greeted me with such a perky smile that I burst into tears. I was really feeling like a craptastic daughter because my mother’s in pain and I can’t do a damn thing to help her and mother because my baby girl isn’t eating and there didn’t seem to be a damn thing I could do to help her!! There might have been some hormones involved there too, it’s hard to tell. Anyway, she rushed to reassure me that I was doing the right stuff in regard to Sophie at least and she felt sure I was doing a good job with mom too.

I returned to my office, where at least I felt like I have at least a modicum of control over my world. My phone rings, it’s Mom saying she got a call from the doctor who was going to see her so that maybe he’d order an MRI, advising that he’d looked at her record and said that there wasn’t anything he could do for Mom until there was an MRI, so they canceled her appointment and would be scheduling an MRI. This was good news because that meant I could stay in my happy place (which ironically, at this point, is my job) until 5:15.

I'm going to stop here in my ramblings.  This is turning out to be more than I initially ancipated and I'm tired and I need to wedge Gizmo off my lap so I can go to bed.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Post-Vacation Ick

Before leaving on this vacation, there were, of course, the expected comments about last year's vacation and how it ended with an emergency appendectomy. My typical response was that first I did not believe that I possessed any extraneous body parts to go bad, but that, second, if anything happened, we would at least be in the USA.

I'm happy to say that no hospitalization was called for for either of us while on the road. I can't say the same thing about when we got back, though.

I felt really good while on the trip. We were doing a lot of walking, I was eating my protein and even getting decent veggies and fruits in. I may not have been getting all of my liquids in, but that's a daily struggle no matter where I am, so no big.

The first signs that something was amiss was on Friday. After the bus tour, I was beginning to feel woozy, like when you turn your head and it feels like the brain inside has to wait a second before turning with it. I realized that I forgot to take my pills and assumed that was the reason. I took the pills and at some point felt better.

The next day, Saturday, while we were traipsing around Stone Mountain Park, I felt it again, realized that yet again I had not taken my pills. I took them and paid attention this time. It was several hours before I felt better.

That night, we stayed in a hotel in Chattanooga. When we got there, we discovered that the person had screwed up our reservation and put us down as coming in Sunday evening, not Saturday. Thank God, they were able to give us a room. Unfortunately, the only room available was a smoking room.

Now, my father smoked for the first 35 years of my life. I actually do not mind the smell of smoke. (Attention nieces and nephew who smoke, this does not mean that I don't think it's a disgusting habit and really wish you'd quit ASAP!). I figured we could handle it. I mean, how bad could it be? It was pretty bad. Good thing I had some Febreeze in the car, I sprayed the entire room, including me and Mom, and it was somewhat better. Probably, it was more just our olfactory senses had adjusted to it so we couldn't smell it all that bad.

On Sunday, I woke up with a headache and my eyes ached.  Well, specifically, my left eye ached.  I could see fine, but if I scanned from left to right, when I got to the far sides, the eye muscle was pure pain.  Mom and I attributed the headache and eye issue to the smoking room.  We drove home, and the wooziness returned.

In the middle of the night, I awoke with a fever, then chills, then fever.  It was a good thing I had planned on taking Monday off because I felt horrible.  As soon as my doctor's office opened, I called and made an appointment.  My doctor, who I love!, ordered bloodwork and a urine test for Legionnaire's Disease.  Great!  Between giving the blood and weeing in the cup, I almost passed out!  They laid me down, got me some juice, called my mommy to come get me, and strongly suggested I go to the ER for more tests. 

For the third time since November, Mom and I headed to the ER!  After tons of blood work, weeing in a cup, and other tests, the results were all negative, except for low white blood count which, or so we learned, means a viral infection.

I've spend the rest of the week trying to recuperate.  I attempted to go to work on Wednesday, but about two hours in, I almost passed out and had to be driven home.  I can't say that I was pleased about having to miss the whole week of work, but honestly, yesterday, Saturday, was the first day that I felt almost human again.  So I've had a week to recuperate, rest with my little fur balls, and to recap the vacation for posterity. 

Tomorrow, I plan to return to work.  Today, I'm going to take a nap.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

On the Road (Home) Again

For some reason, although Savannah is two hours south of Charleston, it is only 9 hours drive to Evansville while Charleston from Evansville is 11 hours.  The extra two hours that we would gain, we decided to spend (squander) on "blue" roads with two additional side trips.  1) It just so happened to be the weekend of the Annual Vidalia Sweet Onion Festival in Vidalia, Georgia.  BTW, only onions grown IN (or possibly around) Vidalia, Georgia, can be called "Vidalia" onions; and 2) Stone Mountain just outside of Atlanta.

First off, we were on the interstate between Savannah and Macon when we roamed off toward Vidalia.  I'm not sure what I expected, but it was just a little town, in Georgia, selling onions.  When we got there on Saturday morning, it was Day 3 of the fest and they were announcing the winners of their 5K fun(ion) run.  We were interested in onions, lots of 'em, and cheap!  Oh, and Mom wanted onion rings.  And we found both!  We got 25 pounds of onions for $15!  And there was a tent of people selling onion rings.  And I stole one of Mom's and they were probably the best onion ring I've ever had.

Before we left, we attempted to get Duncan an official Vidalia Sweet Onion Festival t-shirt as a souvenir/thank you for watching the cats and condo thing, but they only came in children's sizes and 2x.  The beloved boy is, at best, an XL (like his favorite aunt, tee hee!!), so that was out. 

As we left Vidalia, heading toward Atlanta, but on "blue" roads, we also started keeping an eye out for roadside farmers selling tomatoes.  We could have bought vine-ripened tomatoes at the Piggly Wiggly in Charleston for a $1 a pound, but decided it would be better to get them later in the trip, so as to help them last longer.  Plus, we figured Georgia was south(er) of Charleston, so they'd be more likely to have tomatoes!

I could wax on, but let me just say that we didn't find any locally grown tomatoes.  The person we did find, had gone to Florida and brought back tomatoes to sell.  We bought some and they have been delicious, despite not being what we wanted exactly.  After a considerable amount of effort on both my and my Navigator's parts, we finally made it back to the interstate. 

I've never driven thru a city as big as Atlanta, but Mom assured me that we'd be taking the by-pass so it shouldn't be that bad.  Turns out the by-pass still has 7-8 lanes at times, and the speed limit is 60-65, so people are going 75-80.  We were able to find Stone Mountain Park.  Stone Mountain is the Mount Rushmore of the Confederacy - they are carvings of Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, and Robert E. Lee.  The family went on a vacation to Tennessee many moons ago, and we could have, but didn't for some reason, gone and seen it.  Having been to Mount Rushmore, I figured parking lot, visitor center/gift shop, and a viewing area.  Mom read in the AAA book that for $9 each we could take a ride to the top, but didn't see the point, plus, according to the book, those rides didn't start until Memorial Day.  Piece of cake, take some pictures, run thru the gift shop, potty down and leave.

Our first clue that something was amiss was when we were charged $10 for parking.  The map they gave us had no visitor's center or gift shop marked.  And the parking lot was full, it took us driving around about 20 minutes before someone left their spot and we parked.  Turns out, Stone Mountain Park is an AMUSEMENT PARK.  Since we were there only for the carving, we didn't have to pay the $26 to ride the rides. 

Frankly, I was horrified at the borderline blasphemy of an amusement park at a monument to war heroes.  I suppose my horror was slightly abated when we got to the park part of the park. 


After finally getting a t-shirt for Duncan at the park, we headed out and were back on the road.  We spent Saturday night in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Then on Sunday morning, not including the stops for caffiene to take in and then stops to "get rid of" said caffiene, we made great time and were home by 12:30 p.m.  Whew!

It was a good, but tiring vacation.  We were both glad to be back.  And I think the four-footed furry ones were very happy at our return, too.

The Day in Savannah

Neither Mom nor I had ever been to Savannah.  Frankly, I didn't recall ever being in the State of Georgia, but Mom reminded me that the year we went to Andersonville, we were in Georgia.  My bad. 

So first things first, we had reservations for a three-hour air conditioned bus tour of the city.  I point out that we had reservations because before we could hit the road, "they" had to deal with the fact that they'd sold tickets to two people that morning for the same tour, making the total number of butts for the bus ride greater than the number of seats for said butts.  It took about 15 minutes for those two to be told they had to get off the bus, making me feel really bad, but... it was either us or them and mom and I didn't want to wait another 4 hours for the next tour.

I have to point out that while we were waiting for our tour bus to come pick us up, we were sitting in the waiting area with a gaggle of Paula Dean fans who were waiting for their Paula Dean Tour - where you got to see the restaurant where PD made her first sandwich, and the store where she bought her first ton of "buttah", and the thing ended with dinner at one of her restaurants.  If you're interested, this tour was about $60.  I noticed, while Mom was checking out the ladies room one last time, that a lot of the women on this tour looked similar to PD.  The husbands all looked resigned to their collective fates.  Sad.

For the first two hours of the tour, our guide, a retired salesman, exercised his skills by selling Savannah to all of us.  This man was born and raised in Savannah and knew something interesting about almost ever building/house/dog house.  I don't know what the tour people pay him, but he is well worth his wage.  Savannah was a planned city, every few blocks there being a "square," or a block with grass, trees and park benches, and there were tons of one-way streets, making it for very interesting transport.

Now, I have to say that I took tons of pictures on this tour, but since they were all taken from a moving bus, unfortunately they didn't turn out as great and I hoped!  :(  But they should all, by now, be loaded into the Vacation 2012 photo album on my Facebook page for those who want to see them.

 The third and final hour of the tour was very educational in that it was mostly about the different styles of architecture found in Savannah.  I learned more than I ever (EVER) hoped to know about architecture during that hour.  Thank God it sieved out of my brain as quickly as it went it!

Near the end of the tour, the guide drove us past some famous restaurant where the line for lunch ran down the block... no, not Paula Deen's, someone elses.  And then he told us that if we wanted someplace just as good, without the wait, we could go to the Crystal Beer Parlor - he and his wife eat there frequently.  So after the tour was done, my Navigator and I found our way there.  It was a very nice bar, basically.  Mom, who had been woefully used and abused all week, pointed out that she hadn't had a hot dog since we'd left Evansville, so she got a nice juicy dog while I got BBQ pulled pork sandwich, hold the bread - with extra pickles!  A much deserved/enjoyed rest/repast was had by all.


After lunch, we found our way to the house from the book/movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and bought a ticket for the house/garden tour.  While we waited the half hour until our tour left, we wandered around the front of the house and into the "square" that it looked upon.


I also downloaded the book to my Kindle (iPhone app) while we were there waiting.

The tour was fine.  The house's air conditioning wasn't enough to keep me from being very warm, but it was better than I felt while we stood out in the sun in the garden.  Of course, the tourguide did mention the murder, glossing over it as "self-defense" and moving on to another topic almost in the same sentence!  We only got to see the first floor, but it was pretty impressive.  We really wanted to see the ballroom on the second floor.

After the tour, we were pooped and we headed back to the hotel where I downloaded the movie to the laptop, so mom could watch it.  She really enjoyed it, especially after having just been thoroughly educated on Savannah.  Me, I watched an episode of Firefly on my iPad. 

So that was our day in Savannah.  The next two days would be on the road headed for home.  Whew...

On the Road to Savannah

First of all, you have to keep in mind that Savannah, at the most, is about 2 hours from Charleston.  We left about 8:30 that morning, all bright and eager for the day's adventure.  We arrived in Savannah at the hotel about 3:45, approximately 7 hours later.  I defy anyone else to do better!

So, why did the 2 hour trip take 7 hours?  Well, as we head out, the Navigator (Mom) is looking at the map and she says "I didn't know that Hilton Head was on the way to Savannah."  So I asked if she wanted to swing by there.  After assuring her that it was an open island for which we did not need to have a pass to enter, we took the "only 30 miles there and back" detour.

Now, while I was correct that the "great unwashed" can enter onto Hilton Head, I'm pretty sure they don't actually want them to.  We obtained a map of the island from the Visitor's Center (an ironic name), and mom located on the map several public access beaches.  We were off!  I don't actually think the "public access beaches" exist.  We searched and found nothing.  Finally we, by accident, really, found a public park to park in so mom could look more at the map.  I noticed a sign with wavy lines and what appeared to be a beach umbrella and an arrow.  So I trotted off to investigate.  After walking about a 1/4 mile, I turned around, having decided that there just might be a beach at the end of that path.  I got back in the car with mom and drove to where I thought the path headed.  After first ending up in a subdivision, (?) we FINALLY located a path to the beach. 

LONG story short (I know, too late), we found the beach, I was not impressed, in fact I was rather grumpily peeved, but I think it was more due to my being hungry than anything.  So we went back to the car to find someplace for lunch.  Now for this quest, the problem was that most of the places seemed to not be open for lunch.  But we found the Main Street Cafe in a little strip mall area on the side of the road on the way back off the island.  We didn't really care what we had, as long as it was food.

Mom ended up getting a Fried Green Tomato BLT, one of the chef's favorites, and she thought it was great!  I think her plan for the summer is to recreate the sandwich... I mean, we love fried green tomato sandwiches, so how can the addition of BACON make it bad!? 

After leaving Hilton Head in our wake, we finally made it to Savannah.  Oh, I should mention that Mom was happy to have seen the exit off the interstate to Paris Island.  This meant nothing to me, but she tells me it's where the Marine boot camp is.  I suppose I should have absorbed that info from all of the NCIS I watch, but..

Once we were ensconced in our hotel in Savannah, we decided that the better part of valor involved our resting up for the rest of the day so that we'd have the strength to do the entire town of Savannah the next day. 

Charleston - Day 3

Our itinerary for Day 3 in Charleston was to begin the day with a horse-drawn carriage tour of the historic part of the city.  After ascertaining that the tour would be "child free", we boarded the carriage being driven by the horse, Jasper, and our guide, Tim.  Both did a fabulous job of leading us around the city with Tim telling us all about the.
various places in and around downtown Charleston.
Although it was only a one-hour tour, we saw a sorts of beautiful houses, including the famous Rainbow Row, on cobblestone streets, and the ocean-front homes on the "Battery."

After the tour, we walked a wee bit around the same streets to both see a little bit more of the sights and to find someplace to eat.  We came to two conclusions:  1) it is lovely down there - there are some beautiful parks, a walk-way along the waterfront, and beautiful million dollar homes there; 2) there are NO open places for lunch.  So we trotted back to the Market area where we'd parked, and had lunch at the Charleston Crab House.   

Looking back, I don't recall if we had other things we were going to do the second half of the day and didn't, or if we just decided we needed a wee bit of a rest.  Either way, we left the historic area, drove back to Folly Beach, so I could get a nice video of the water and waves.  I used to have one that I took on the beach in  Gulf Shores, AL, but I can't seem to find it, so using my phone and my camera, I made two 3 minute videos of the beach.  Now, I can have them on my desktop at work and during those times that I need to go to my happy place, I can just turn them on and decompress.  It helps me want to bop my boss on the bean slightly less.

After the beach, we headed back to the hotel.  I took a nap in the sun by the pool and mom... well, I think she watched tv or something.  We'd had an eventful three days in Charleston and tomorrow, we would be leaving and heading south to Savannah.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Charleston - Day 2

In order to try not to overdo it on any given day, our travel expert (Mom) worked our schedule out so that we did one thing in the morning and then something else that afternoon.  On day 2, the morning event was to drive outside of town to visit the Magnolia Plantation. 

Now, Donna and I did go to the same plantation several years ago, but it was such a lovely place that I didn't mind going there again so Mom could see it.  It was a fabulous day, the sky was the deepest blue and the clouds were fluffy.  We didn't bother with the house, just took the self-guided walking tour around the estate.  Don't know how much of a walk it was, but it was all lovely.  I have to say, though, that I was a wee bit disappointed.  I figured that since we were there in April, the flowers would all be in bloom.  I guess the oddly warm winter that we had here in Indiana made South Carolina's flowers bloom early, too. 

We did get to see some amazing fauna in addition to all the flora, though.  I named this guy Bob.  He (yes, I'm assuming) just stood there and let me and this other lady take as many pictures of him as we wanted.  And the entire time we toured the property, we could hear the "HELP" of the peacocks that are kept there, but we didn't actually see one of them until we were on our way back to the car.  This guy is Pete (and I'm not assuming, here,.. he was a he.)

After the obligatory foray into the gift shop and the purchase of a few goodies and a bottle of water, we were back on the road and headed for the coast again.  This time for the ubiquitous Barger Vacation site - the visiting of either a Civil War or Revolutionary War battlefield.  I'm not sure that there are many vacations we've taken as a family that didn't include one, the other, or both!

This time it was Fort Sumter, which (who knew!?) is on an island out in the harbor.  For some reason, I was thinking this was the Star-Spangled Banner Fort, but quickly realized that I was thinking of the wrong war.  Anyway, since it's an island, we had to take a ferry out there, which was fun.  Again, although it was a beautiful day, it was rather chilly on the water and even though the ferry wasn't going THAT fast, we were cold.  (So, duh, you say, why didn't you go inside?)  Well, I wanted pics.  I tried to get mom to go inside, but she insisted she was ok, and since I'm the one currently sick, I'm going to assume she was.


It was about a thirty minute ferry ride over, we had an hour on the island to entertain ourselves, and then a thirty minute ride back.  We trotted around, hit the gift shop, and made sure we had inside seats for the ferry ride back!


After returning to shore, we were very wind-blown and pooped.  We returned to the hotel, making a variety of wrong turns on the way, had dinner, watched NCIS and went to bed.  Whew!

Charleston - Day 1 (Epilogue)

Please forgive me, as I've been sick, but I forgot a part of Day 1's events.  So here goes..

Between the pier and dinner with Donna, Mom and I went and took a tour of the USS Yorktown.  Mom keeps telling me it isn't a boat, but an aircraft carrier.  I tell her it floats, it's a boat.  See, yet another way in which my landlubbing life has failed me.


Now remember that it was cool and windy, but sunny.  So we toured around the inside, looking at the museum-esque parts, learning all about it's history and the part it played in World War II, then we decided to check out the flight deck.  Now, being an avid viewer of NCIS, I've seen these tiny, steep stairways that are used on these ships and submarines.  I never planned on using them.  I was concerned about Mom going up and down them, although she did fine.  My biggest problem was that I was carrying along my 15-20 pound purse!

We checked out the flight deck - very big, and very windy.  And Mom decided to forgo checking out the bridge, so she just chose a seat out of the wind on the flight deck while I maneuvered my way up even more of these crazy stairways.  It was a good call on Mom's part to not try, because for these stairs, not only did you have to go up them to get there, but back down them (and I mean BACK down them) to get back down.

But the whole thing was very good, very educational, and well worth the price!

Then we left and had dinner with Donna.  :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Charleston - Day 1

Now my long time readers know that I've been to  Charleston before - I went in September 2008 to visit my friend Donna... and that's where I got my first tattoo.  Well, since I didn't envision Mom being receptive to getting a tattoo, I figured this vacation would be different.

After a lovely free breakfast at the hotel (Hampton Inn - free breakfast!), we headed out for Charles Town Landing - it's the part of Charleston that was originally settled by Europeans.  I was not sure that this was going to be a good place to go because when we walked into the visitors center, there were about 25 kindergartners.  I realized that it was field trip time of the year.  Fortunately, my fears did not happen.  The kids all disappeared while Mom and I were checking out the ladies room and the museum part of the visitors center. 

We trekked around the mile and a half path to check out the scene.  It was a beautiful morning, although it was a wee bit chilly.  There was a little bit of trouble, though, and we were delayed for a short while. 

After a trek through the gift shop and the ladies room, we were able to get away.  It was time to start thinking about lunch.  As we had bananas and peanut butter in the car, we headed for the beach.  Now this turned out to be more difficult that one would think.  We discovered that while Charleston is a lovely place, they have this way of not mentioning upcoming exits until like 2 feet before it is time to exit... making it impossible to take and ending up taking the wrong bridge and ending up on the wrong island.  It was on our way to Folly Beach when this happened the FIRST time. 

We found the beach, found the public access, and made our way to the beach!  As my regular fans know, I was meant to be a beach bum, but through an odd accident of birth, was given to landlubbers.  Sigh.. 

While we dined in high style on 'nanners and peanut butter, we were joined by this cute little bird.  Unfortunately one of his legs was broken and while it was sort of cute to watch him hop and hobble, hop and hobble, it was also heartbreaking.  While I knew there was nothing I could do about it, I was pleased to know that he flew off and I choose to believe that he flew off to a vet's office where a world-class pet doctor performed a and emergency experimental bionic leg replacement surgery and now he's off fighting bird crimes.

After emailing a picture of me on the beach with a message "Guess where I'm having lunch" to my peeps back at the firm, we swept the sand off and packed up to go see this long pier.  I'm sure Mom could tell us the name of it, but..  And again, after tackling the gift shop, we trotted down the pier - I think mom said it's the second longest pier extending out over the Atlantic ocean.  That far out into the ocean, the wind was incredible and we were very chilly.  As we sat and watched the world go by, we saw these three guys catch two baby hammerhead sharks (keep in mind that there was a sign that said that if you catch sharks of ANY size, they are to be thrown back).  I'm like, ok, they're going to throw them back.  But first they each have to take their pictures with them and then the tourists nearby have to have their pictures taken with them.  The poor little nippers were hanging there flipping and gasping for breath.  The guys did throw them back finally, but God alone knows how much brain damage the poor things ended up with.

That evening, we met my friend Donna for dinner.  We tried to meet her at one place that served "gullah" style food.  Sounded good.  The only problem was that it was closed that evening.  Donna's reaction... "They're NEVER closed!"  We found another place and had a wonderful time catching up.  I did get a picture of me and Donna, but she tells me that I promised I wouldn't show the picture of her that I took back in 2008 and then I ended up posting it on my blog.  I didn't remember this, but I again promised not to post the picture.  So you won't get to see how fab she looked. 

We made our way back to the hotel, remarking to ourselves that we'd picked the perfect hotel location and fell asleep...  pooped.

On the Road Again - 2012

So Mom and I felt the need to hit the road again.  After last summer's trip to the UK so I could have my appendix out, we decided to stay in the continental US.  We figured it would be safe, since I don't have any extraneous body parts to lose, right?  And even if something did happen, we'd be close to medical staff who, while still having an accent, I could understand their speech!

On Saturday, April 21st, we packed up the Rav-4 and hit the road.  Well, ok, first we had to stop by CVS for snacks, and McDonalds for iced tea for me, and the Donut Bank for coffee and a donut for Mom, and then in Henderson for gas.   But THEN we were off.

The itenerary for this trip was to travel to Charleston, South Carolina, with that trip being broken up into two days because Mom (and, well, probably me, too) would get too tired if we did it all in one day.  We would spend three nights (four days) in Charleston, then travel to Savannah, Georgia and stay for two nights until heading back (again, taking two days.)

Duncan would stay in the condo, taking care of the kids and taking his finals.

The trip to Charleston was non-eventful, we spent the night at Dandridge, Tennessee and then the next morning, drove through the foggy mountains, arriving in Charleston late in the afternoon, ready for an enjoyable time in Charleston.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Swimmin’ With the Fishies

I don't know how to swim and I've always been a little leery (hahahaha) of water.  So leery, in fact, that when I was baptized at the tender age of 8 (or so), as Reverend Carter lowered me into the water, my left hand had a death grip on the side of the baptismal pool (or whatever it's called).  To this day, I can blame all my evil deeds on my left hand!  Probably ought to talk to Pastor Dave about having my left forearm blessed or something, eh?  Anyway, back to my point…
 
I attribute my fear of water to falling out of a canoe on a Girl Scout trip which I went along on when I was wee because the Sibs were Girl Scouts (not me, I was never a Girl Scout - I'm not a joiner – although Mom did talk me into trying Brownies – I only attended a couple of meetings) and mom was a chaperone or something.  Mom says that this never happened.  Insists I've never been in a canoe.  I think it's a conspiracy and they're all hiding the truth from me so that I don't publish a tell-all novel about the abuse to which I was subjected as a child!  That has to be it.  I'm pretty sure the statute of limitations would have already passed so it can't be fear of prison.
 
If it wasn't the canoe incident, then it might have been the time that Mom drove me to school and the truck got stuck in high water on a bridge over Big Creek, and I had to walk through me-high water to get to safety.  I KNOW that that happened.
 
Or I could just be a weenie.  That's a viable option, too.
 
For whatever reason, I've never learned how to swim.  As an adult, I took several years of water aerobics and was able to relax enough to do my exercising in boob-high water without having to keep a death grip on the side of the pool, and I even was able to float using a noodle!  But that's as far as I was able to go and then I stopped doing water aerobics because the good teachers all left and there was only little old ladies who just puddled around the pool for an hour and organized puddling in the pool isn't good aerobic exercise.
 
But as we are all aware, I've had some developmental strides in the past few years, and I was ready to learn to swim.  At a Harvest meeting in January, I was talking with another girl about God only knows what, and it came out that I wanted to learn how to swim.  Another girl, Lyzz, chimed in and said she could teach me; and a plan was hatched.
 
That was several months ago, and due to schedules and spring breaks and me having to work during the days, we never managed to make it to the pool.  I really wanted to learn, but honestly, I was scared enough that it didn't bother me too much that we never got there.  I did go to Dick's and get me a cool bright pink swim cap so as to protect my lovely locks of … hair.  Don't want the pool chemicals to react with the hair color chemicals and change the color to something horrible.  And I got me some goggles… or Googles, as I said to the sales girl when asking where to find the swim stuff… because it's bad enough getting water up my nose, but with my contacts and stuff, I didn't want to get it in my eyeballs.
 
Well, last night we made it.  As you can tell in the picture, I looked fab in my swimsuit, cap and goggles.  I wanted to chicken out so bad.  Mom said a prayer for me and I went. 
 
I was in the pool.  I learned how to bob under the water holding my breath.  I discovered that looking at stuff underwater is cool!  Then Lyzz wanted me to float, and I couldn't because I couldn't relax because I was scared.   So I asked Laura, another girl with us who can swim but not really all that well and so she was getting taught too, to say a prayer.  She did, asking for courage, and the next time I tried to float, I could!!  Praise God!  I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me, so I figure helping me relax and learn to swim should be easy since He walked on water, right!?
 
I was able to relax enough to learn how to do the dead man float.  Then the next thing I know, Lyzz has me floating, holding onto one of those floaty board things that kids use, pushing off the side and kicking my feet and I'm almost swimming!  Then the next step is to add my arms in there and before I know it, ROSE IS SWIMMING!!!  Not very far, fast, or well, but I confirmed with Lyzz and Laura that I can honestly say that I was swimming!!
 
My problem now is that I need to learn how to breathe.  I can float, kick off, and paddle, but I only get so far before I have to breath or die, so I stand up (yes, we're in 3 feet of water) and stop so I can breathe.  I'm pretty sure that won't win me any Olympic gold.  Maybe a bronze, but if I'm going to do this, I'm going for the gold, baby! 
 
Our little swim class has now grown to four because two other girls have joined us.  While Lyzz was working with them, I was practicing and trying to breathe.  I almost got it a couple of times.  In an hour and a half, I'd made SO much progress!  I'm going back tonight and tomorrow night, maybe Thursday.  Gonna try to learn as much as possible so next week while we're on vacation, I can go down to the hotel's pool and practice.  Yeah, me!!