Saturday, December 5, 2009
I'm not a savvy when it comes to blog bling and style. Most of the time, you'll find me with my nose pressed against the Blogger window, wide-eyed at all the beeeyoooteeeeful blogs out there and sighing in wonderment. Let's face it - this blog o' mine has been looking a tad neglected for quite some time now.
I have always been in awe of my friend Cheryl's blog Capturing a Moment in Time. There's always some new background and banner to ooh and aah over - the perfect backdrop to the amazing creations this lady makes. Heck, even if I didn't worship her talent, I'd check this blog just to see what cute dress she put on it that morning.
So last week, I dropped her a note over at MSW and basically begged shamelessly for some help. In typical Cheryl style, she began typing out instructions for the blog impaired but finally just PM'd me her phone number and we set a time to talk.
I don't know many of those fancy computer acronyms for things. For instance, it wasn't all that long ago that Annie had to tell me what LMBO stood for. But I do know that IRL means friends "in real life." Those are the folks you can put your arm around; the ones who will walk over and dope slap you when you need it. Like my "real life," I've been blessed to have found some really WONDERFUL people at Scrappy Jo's and My Sketch World - people who have become as dear to me as any of my friends I can walk over and hug. Since I've only gotten to know them through writing and posting, though, I will call them IMC. That stands for "in my computer," that happy little world where a whole nuther set of people who are dear to me live. (Please feel free to use IMC - just leave a quarter under your saucer.)
Till this morning, I've only met one IMC pal IRL - Jennie from MSW invited me to her house because she had some goodies to donate to Calling All Cards for Breast Cancer. I cannot tell you how askeered I was to meet her. What if I snorted when I laughed? What if I belched? What if I got nervous and blurted out something stupid?? Well, of course none of those things happened. Jennie and her sweetie pie daughter, Miss Ellie, were such fun and we had one terrific visit.
Still. . . . I was a tad nervous as I dialed Cheryl's number this morning. But sure enough, a sweet voice answered my call - just perfect for the Cheryl I had in my mind. In short order, she walked me through tidying up my blog, made me feel secure enough to try Picasa and told me that her vast storehouse of computer wisdom is completely self taught.
We talked about her grandkids and shoes and the fact that everyone needed a guru. I hope that was an offer because when it comes to this blog stuff, I need all the help I can get.
So armed with that warm pat on the back, I played around with backgrounds and Picasa and gave ol' Scrapinator a holiday makeover after we hung up. I even figured out how to upload the picture I took of some Christmas candles and use them as a banner.
Before a knock at my front door cut short our telephone conversation, though, Cheryl and I agreed that 2010 was going to be the year we'd get in our cars and meet somewhere. And by golly, I'm considering that to be my first resolution for the next year.
So here's a big ((((HUG)))) and a heartfelt thank you to Cheryl for helping me give a snappy, festive look to Scrapinator.
And I've come up with another new acronym you can feel free to borrow: CIAS. That stands for Cheryl is a sweetheart.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I made good use of my post-surgical time off to work on some Christmas goodies as part of the design teams at Scrappy Jo's and My Sketch World. Sigh. I feel fortunate every single day that I get to be a part of these amazing websites and hang out with such cool, creative ladies.
I got to work on Lucy's December sketch over at MSW. Around this time of the year, my cardmaking mojo can always use a shot in the arm. And for me, nothing gives me inspiration like one of Lucy's terrific card sketches. I knew what I wanted to do with this sketch the moment I saw it - see what I mean about inspiration??? There were, however, a couple of technical hurdles to overcome. The first is cutting a nice, clean circle without a diecut machine or anything. The trick to that is lots of cussing. The second issue was what material to use to actually make a snowglobe. AOK solved that problem by cutting me a piece of window film which worked beautifully. Tucked a few punched snowflakes inside and voila! a snowglobe Christmas card. I even made myself use that piece of SEI paper I couldn't bear to part with last season!
Jo's pack o' December Creative Team goodies perked me right up - talk about that Christmas feeling! One of the things she sent me was goodies from Kaiser Craft's Dear Santa line. For some reason, this year I am drawn to holiday papers that break from the traditional red/white/green color scheme. So what fun I had with this "Pony" paper. Jo also sent along some of American Crafts "Merrymint" ribbon - so velvety and yummy. The photo I used is of the town square here in Painesville. I shot this just after dawn one morning when all was peaceful and calm so I played the title off the headline on the paper itself.
Jo also sent me some of BoBunny's gorgeous Snowy Serenade line. The designers at BoBunny never cease to surprise and astound me. I used the "Winter Night" pattern to make a distinctly non-Christmassy card. But who doesn't like to receive a nice thank you note after the holidays?? Actually, I'm in love with the frosty beauty of this entire BoBunny line and had a ton of ideas for each of the papers Jo sent me.
You should also check out what the rest of My Sketch World's Card Design Divas did with Lucy's card sketch, as well as her December layout sketch. Pretty amazing stuff!
Sunday, November 29, 2009
My Drive Kneewalker was delivered by a nice man in a big truck last Friday, and let me tell you - this baby rocks. Er, rather it rolls.
I first saw this kneewalker after my last foot surgery, ironically on the day I was told I could toss my crutches and walk free forever. As I was leaving the doctor's office, in zipped a man on this. . . contraption. He wheeled around the corner and slid along the counter with all the ease in the world.
I was awed.
So when the doctor wrote out a prescription for one of these after this surgery, I couldn't wait to start exploring them.
Except so many of them looked ugly and geriatric, with baskets and handle bars and turning radii and big wheels. No thank you.
This model can be turned on a dime and goes as fast as I'd like - perfect for the long hallways at work. I rest my right knee on the little shelf thingy, and then move along using my left leg just like a scooter. I'm practicing using my crutches as oars but so far it's not as efficient.
Freedom found. Me and my kneewalker have been all over the house and back with nary a problem.
Look out, world. Frankenfoot just went mobile!
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Here's what you do - head over to Scrappy Jo's for her Black Friday sale! And Jo's Black Friday sale lasts through Sunday.
What can you save, you ask?? How about a WHOPPING 30% on everything!!
The new Bo Bunny Christmas Serenade line. Major yuminess.
Pink Paisley Glitter Alphas. Tres chic.
Stickles, Cuttlebug plates, Cricut cartridges, BG Bling, Kaiser Pearls, ribbons - everything could possibly need to get your scrap on is ON SALE. Be sure to use code BLK30.
So go on. Treat yourself - you know you deserve it! Head to Scrappy Jo's and put the perfect touch on your Thanksgiving weekend.
A great sale at Scrappy Jo's. Now THAT'S something to be thankful for!!
Friday, November 27, 2009
Tomorrow will be Thanksgiving Part Deux at Applegate Farm, for which yesterday's eating frenzy was but a mere rehearsal. Word has it that we will be eating a beef roast of Flintstone proportions, which is a great start to any meal. Since Aunt Lois only knows how to cook for a group the size of an army, the last roast she served us was quite aptly described by my mother as a "haunch." I would not be surprised if she serves the big brother tomorrow.
Please check back here Sunday as I shall be posting photos of a MAJOR DEVELOPMENT affecting my future as a uniped.
In the meantime if you shopped today, put your feet up and rest a bit a. Much to the relief of local shoppers in NE Ohio, that's how Frankenfoot and I spent the day!
Thursday, November 26, 2009
When I was little, we’d always spend Thanksgiving at my Grandma Thompson’s house and sit down for our feast in the middle of the day. Afterwards, we’d wobble away from the table to watch football, catch up on family gossip, take naps and play games. All the dishes would have been washed, and the food kept handy for picking throughout the afternoon. Then about 5 or so, everyone would wander back into the kitchen, rubbing their tummies like they hadn’t eaten in weeks. We’d haul everything back onto the dining room table for Round Two. Even then, everyone had leftovers to take home.
One year, my Great Grandpa Graham and some of my great uncles came for Thanksgiving from Hazeldell, Illinois. My grandmother had grown up on a farm, so these boys were used to hunting to put food on the table. And since you never arrived empty handed, they brought squirrel and rabbit and turkey for our dinner. My sister, Linda, and I were excited to see Great Grandpa, and even more excited when one of the great uncles gave us each bracelets made of the softest white little puffballs. We put them on right away and skipped off to Aunt Lois’ old bedroom to pose in front of the mirror like we were models. One of the great uncles happened by and seemed pleased that we liked our presents, telling us each bracelet was made from bunny tails.
Bunny tails? Why would you take the tails off of little bunnies? we wondered. And then, it dawned on us. We snatched off our bracelets, left them carefully on Aunt Lois’ old dresser and ran to wash our hands.
Things only got worse at dinner. Great Grandpa and all of the uncles seemed very proud of the heaping platter of meat on the table, and everyone remarked at how good it looked as it was passed around. Except it wasn’t meat. It was little squirrel corpses and bunny bodies. Linda and I ate of ton of Grandma’s homemade noodles and green beans that year, vowing to become vegetarians.
When I was about 12 or so, mom, Aunt Lois and I got out the Scrabble game while the menfolk watched football and talked sports. We were just starting our second game when Uncle Chuck asked if he could play, too, so mom gave him a tray and he drew his letters. When it was his turn, he put on the board. . . well, let’s just say it was a six letter word for an anatomical body part. Both mom (so pretty and prim ) and Aunt Lois (so ladylike) protested firmly but Uncle Chuck had covered a triple word score with the last letter and wasn’t about to lose points. But there are young children present someone hissed but Uncle Chuck was having fun and beating both his sisters at Scrabble. Just about that time, my cousin Al who was about eight strolled into the room and looked at the board over his dad’s shoulder. “Hey dad,” he offered helpfully. “You forgot the “r” in “Virginia!” The next year, my mom decided canasta would be the official Thanksgiving Day game.
When our kids were little, Ken and I would host Thanksgiving at our house. We’d fuss and decorate and shop for weeks, and loved having everyone over for the day. The two Thanksgivings that I was pregnant were when I learned that only non-pregnant males should be given the task of preparing a raw turkey for roasting. Then there was the year Mattie had a cold. I was holding him on my hip as we made trips from the kitchen to the dining room with all the food, and he sneezed into the green bean casserole. No worries. Ken dug out the top two inches of beans, whisked the casserole into the dinig room and no one was the wiser.
Ken’s mom had Thanksgiving a few years ago, and was in a tizzy when we arrived. She’d burnt the rolls. Her squash was dry. But when Ken checked the turkey, he found a bigger problem: there was a glistening white uncooked turkey in the oven. Mom swore she’d turned the oven on to the right temperature but this baby was barely warm. After much discussion, she cranked it up to 500 degrees and pulled the roaster out every 20 minutes or so to baste the bird. Unfortunately, she slid the roaster back into the oven without sliding the rack, and the roaster – turkey, juices and all - fell into the back of the back of the 500 degree oven. There was much steam and hissing followed by much cussing. The kids and I stood helplessly by trying not to laugh as mom and Ken set about capturing a round, slippery bird using two long wooden spoons. When we finally ate at 7PM, the turkey was presented in microwave oven-sized portions. The potatoes were dry, the green beans were wrinkly and the yams were congealed and the turkey leftovers went straight down the disposal.
Thanksgiving this year promises to be a bit less hectic. Gone are the hours in the kitchen since it’s difficult to cook while on crutches. I will help Ken make pies (he is the Pie King in this family).The kids will be here later on and we’ll be eating Thanksgiving dinner tonight at Mom Keener’s. I have every expectation that dinner will be yummy and delicious. Then on Saturday, we’ll head to Applegate Farm for the big Baker family Thanksgiving. I’ll probably look like a Weeble on crutches by the time Thanksgiving is over, but I have much for which to be thankful. A big family to celebrate with that includes parents and aunts and uncles and kids and neices and a nephew, all of whom still love to be together. One terrific husband who changes from a total “guy” into a thoughtful and tireless nurse when needed. Amazing friends who bring such love and laughter into my life. Charlie and Sammy, the VelcroDogs, who are always ready for a snuggle. Heck, I’m even thankful for Frankenfoot. As inconvenient as surgery and crutches are, one day soon I will go back to walking wherever I want whenever I want. That in itself is a blessing beyond measure.
So wherever you are today, whoever you’re celebrating with, I wish you a bounty of Thanksgiving blessings.
Even if you’re in Virginia.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I hesitate to write this post because it involves a subject that real ladies don’t talk about. So I’m going to do my best to explain what happened in as delicate and ladylike manner as I can muster. I want to apologize in advance if I offend anyone’s sensibilities, and promise my mother and my aunt and anyone else who’s reading this that I am always very ladylike on a regular basis and I hope you won’t disown me.
Firstly, you need to understand that VelcroDog Charlie is a little. . . well, simple about some things. VelcroDog Sammy can look into a mirror and understand that he’s looking at an image of himself. To Charlie, a mirror is no more interesting than a wall. When someone knocks on a door in a TV show, it’s Charlie that hightails it to the front door barking his little head off. And as you already know, it’s Charlie who’s afraid of things like wind, paper and the beam of light from a flashlight. If VelcroDogs are sitting on me (and when aren’t they these days???) and my stomach growls, Sammy is hopeful that I’ll be heading to the kitchen soon where doggie treats will fall magically from the refrigerator. Charlie glares menacingly at my stomach and growls back
One other thing before I go on with this story. It is important to take a moment to consider some of the touted differences between the sexes. There is an age in every man’s young life, for instance, when he thinks he invented the burp and that it is the most comically sidesplitting talent a human could ever develop. Young girls, however, don’t stoop to such base and crass humor, choosing instead to develop proficiency in the loftier trades like perfecting the sulk and sneaking lipstick past Mom. Besides, everyone knows that ladies don’t burp or make any of those other gross bodily noises in which the male species seems to revel.
Except - forgive me, ladies, for outing our gender - but we do. Heaven help me, but I’m here to tell you that left alone and unattended, under the right set of very unusual circumstances we ladies can be just as. . .um. . . noisy as our male counterparts. Especially if we’ve had general anesthesia and surgery followed by drugs, and our tummies are all discombobulated and trying to recuperate and we’re not sleeping and are all out of sorts - at these times, our bodies can be . . .well . . . unpredictable.
See, I was sitting on the couch this morning and had an . . .unpredictable. . . sort of moment. It was just a moment. Not a big moment or anything, just a regular sort of unpredictable moment if one is given over to that sort of thing but it was a moment you could sort of, well . . . hear, if you catch my meaning.
And that’s when Charlie, who had been draped lazily over my lap, shot off the couch like he’d been poked with a sharp stick. He stood growling and barking at the couch like it had some sort of monster in it. For the next twenty minutes, this dopey little dog patrolled the living room like the German shepherd he longs to be because he was convinced that what he heard (which was, I assure you, only the tiniest, most delicate itty bitty little sound) came from somewhere inside the vast innards of my couch.
That Sammy and I were still sitting on the couch unharmed didn’t even register in his tiny little doggie mind. No amount of coaxing could make him calm down. Something had made a noise he’d never heard before and it was living in our couch cushions. He growled. He snarled; he pranced; he barked. He yapped so hard his little feet came up off the floor. Finally, after much goose-like head bobbing and hackled-up fur, he leaped warily onto the arm of the couch and there he settled like some misinformed sentry, glaring and growling under his breath until AOK came home for lunch.
Of course, I had to explain to AOK what was up with Charlie. I tried my darndest to gloss over what caused the situation, hoping instead to focus on Charlie’s resulting overreaction.
Which brings us once again to another big difference between men and women. A woman should be allowed to retain a certain air of ladylike refinement even if she's done something that leaves her husband rolling on the floor laughing.
Monday, November 16, 2009
I never thought about shower chairs much except for the time old Mrs. Tilly lobbed one out the back door at Mr. Tilly because he came home drunk. The Tilly's were neighbors when I lived in Columbus, but by that time I'd lived in college apartments and a shower chair lobbed out the door didn't even register on my radar.
I did think of them briefly, however, when two years ago Ken brought home this. . .this. . . thing. . . in a big plastic bag and set it out in the bathroom just before my first foot surgery.
It was a shower stool exactly like this one. And nothing has ever made me feel so completely geriatric in my entire life.
I soon learned, however, that to use one of these babies by yourself you must be anything BUT geriatric.
You must be lithe.
You must be nimble.
And you must have lots and lots of towels handy.
The first thing you have to tackle is waterproofing your injured limb. They make these great sleeves that slip over your leg and keep it from getting wet but I just use a ForceFlex garbage bag and a roll of blue painters tape. Not real purdy, for sure, but all I'm after is dry bandages and the least amount of plastic tossed into a landfill as possible. I'm quite proud of the fact that I'm still using the same garbage bag I started out with. I will admit that I've probably used 4, 197 feet of blue painters tape, but using a big rubber band just seemed to be begging for a whole new set of problems.
Your shower chair is a handy thing to sit on while you do all this, but I should mention that it's a good idea to get naked before putting on the garbage bag or you'll discover only too late that those cute little jammies you have on won't come off now and you'll have to untape yourself and start all over again. Considering that the entire showering process is going to take five or six hours, you want to save minutes wherever you can.
I should also mention that it is never a good idea to sit naked on a dry shower stool without a towel between the two of you. Another lesson from experience: taping yourself into your garbage bag will make you sweat. And separating youself from the shower stool in that condition is exactly like pulling duct tape off your skin. Not pretty and it will involve screaming.
OK. So let's review. You're naked and have a garbage bag taped onto your leg.
The next maneuver is to set the shower stool into the tub while balancing on your good foot and being careful not to touch the floor with your Bad Foot. By this time, your good leg will be tiring from exertion so your first instinct will be to sit down for a minute. And the easiest place to sit will be the edge of the tub.
DO NOT DO THIS.
Even if you live right smack dab on the Equator, the edge of the tub will be approximately the same temperature as Walt Disney's cryogenically preserved head. This will cause a sharp intake of breath and an expulsion of expletives followed in the next nanosecond by shooting into an upright position whereby you will forget your slippery Bad Foot and do the splits right there in the bathroom.
Avoid this at all possible costs.
Just slide yourself onto the shower stool, doing a little hop sort of thing to avoid contact with the edge of the tub and you'll be fine. Prop Bad Foot up onto the edge of the tub, turn on the shower, and off we go.
If you're lucky, some sweet person (AOK) will have already fetched the soap off the top shelf of the tub surround and left it thoughtfully within reach along with a clean washcloth. If not, don't panic. Just slowly and carefully stand up to retrieve what you need and make a mental note to whap their ankle with your crutch later on.
And so now you begin to lather everything up. You might have to lean this way or that to get out of the stream of water to do this, depending on how well the showerhead is aimed. But that's okay because being nimble and lithe really comes into play next when it comes time to rinse. For instance, you might find that your right elbow needs to go over by your left ear in order to rinse your armpit. As a matter of fact, you will find yourself putting arms and legs into positions they've never been in and do it all while precariously balanced on a plastic shower stool inside a porcelain tub with faucets and ledges sticking out at you everywhere.
All while you're covered in slippery soap.
Give yourself no more than five minutes of this contortionistic torture and whatever soap remains at that point can just be shammied off with your towel.
Turn off the shower and - if you're like me - remove the sock from your Good Foot that you forgot to take off before you got into the shower. Wring out both your sock and your washcloth and grab a towel.
This is very important: lay the towel over the edge of the tub BEFORE scooting off the shower stool. Don't want a repeat of what happened before, do we? Drying off will be a breeze after the rinsing escapade, but just make sure to dry off your garbage bag, too.
All that's left now is to get dressed in clean jammies so you can go back to bed because this olympian event will have left you with barely enough energy to crutch your way to the couch. I personally think this nation has far too little appreciation for the effort our crutchbound citizenry puts forth just to smell good on a daily basis.
I hope I've been able to help you understand that showering while incapacitated can be done safely, but is not for the faint of heart. It's a good thing that most insurance agents never go through this ordeal because I'm quite sure this little activity would be excluded from homeowners policies just like chainsaw juggling and trampoline target shooting.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Good news: I'm healing nicely and no longer have to seek an alternative level of consciousness because of an itch in the arch of my foot that I can't scratch.
Bad news: I'm in a giant boot that seems to have come from the Frankenstein line of medical products. Annie about fell off the chair laughing when the doctor drug this thing into the room. Later, she suggested that Hardware Ken should bring home bolts to attach to the sides of it. I think its made of cast iron because the frickin' thing weighs about 20 pounds. I'm only five feet tall and I learned quickly that my aim had better be true cuz I'm going wherever Frankenboot goes instead of the other way around. Lucky me - I get to lug this thing around on crutches for another 8 to 10 weeks.
So I'm looking into this thing called the Drive Kneewalker which is like a scooter for crips. Quite zippy, very handy and will sure make getting to the bathroom easier altho I will still have to go upstairs on my knees and downstairs on my butt since there's no way I'm test driving Frankenboot on carpeted stairs. And if there is any justice in this universe I will come out of this with skinny knees and a smaller butt.
However, with my luck I'll probably end up with a withered left leg and a right leg that looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger's thanks to Frankenboot.
2. While it is possible to shove snacks into a 2 liter bottle, it is impossible to retrieve snacks from a 2 liter bottle without the use of chopsticks. Unless, of course, you snack on leftover spaghetti.
3. In MY bloodstream, narcotics have the same half life as plutonium.
4. I could never make it as a drug addict.
5. I am a great dog mom so am surprised to learn that I would give my right arm to be dog-free for an hour. Since I'm no longer much of a moving target, my puppies are on top of me 24/7. I shall no longer refer to them as DaBoys. From this point forward, they shall be known as VELCRO DOGS.
6. VelcroDog Charlie has overcome his fear of notebook computers. I know this should make me proud but it doesn't. Bad dog mom. Bad. Bad.
7. It is remarkably inconvenient to post to your blog using a notebook computer balanced precariously on the left arm of your chair because your lap is full of canines.
8. It is okay to be the teensiest bit resentful of people who can go to sleep at all the right times of the day.
9. Warm laptop battery + warm VelcroDogs + warm chenille robe + hot flashes = God must have a very weird sense of humor.
10. It is impossible to do the PTH (Public Toilet Hover) when you only have one foot to stand on. Thank God Target has clean bathrooms.
Friday, November 13, 2009
However. . .
today comes on the heels of what can only be described as 36 bizarre hours during which I took pain meds. Commit this to memory: Oxycontin + Vicodin + Ambien = Total Freakin' Weirdness. I didn't want to take anything, but knowing how much worse this surgery was than my last one, I decided to heed everyone's warnings about "staying ahead of the pain" when things started to hurt.
First came 12 hours of deep sleep interrupted by urgent lurches to the bathroom which is not a good thing when you're drugged and your only conveyance to the loo is two sticks. Then came bedtime during which I literally could not stop talking. I can hear you laughing, but I'm serious. I know what you're thinking. But I literally COULD NOT STOP TALKING. AOK was beside himself laughing for the first while.
I'm going to stop talking now, I finally said.
OK. Goodnight, sweetie, he said, ears numb from the continual litany I'd been spewing ever since we went to bed 45 minutes before.
So do you think if there was ever such a thing as pink elephants they'd be able to fly better than grey elephants? I'd ask.
Goodnight, sweetie, he'd say.
Sorry, I'd say. I know you want to go to sleep.
That's okay, honey, but it is 1:30 in the morning and the alarm goes off at 6:30.
I know, I'd say. I'm going to be quiet now.
Do you think radishes know they're radishes as opposed to, say, eggplants? I'd ask.
It was at this point that AOK's responses sounded sort of muffled, like his face was covered by a pillow. It was also at this point that the two tiny little drug-free cells left in my brain finally spoke up and told me to take an Ambien so AOK could get some sleep. I followed instructions.
Which means I went to sleep and had weird conversations with myself in my sleep, some of which took place while I was cozied down inside the softest of moon craters, looking out at navy blue space sparkling with planets. I was waiting on the earth to rotate so I could see if you really can spy the Great Wall of China from space. Oh! and I was eating Smarties and being very careful to eat the wrappers, too, so as not to leave trash behind.
The only other thing I remember was being a goat. I had on the prettiest baby blue corduroy coat and a hat with fresh flowers around the holes where my ears poked out. And I was walking to the music store for violin lessons.
Draw your own conclusions, folks, but I'm thinking 36 hours of pain would have been way better than taking narcotics. When I got up yesterday morning, I flushed every damn pill down the toilet only to discover that starting then stopping narcotics brings on another set of symptoms I feel are only now wearing off.
But maybe I'm not out of the woods yet.
They took my cast off today and sent me home with an Ace bandaged foot with a sort of tube sock over it. The sock is open at the toe - no stitching or anything - so they just tucked the ends down inside. And it's looking for all the world like some other body part I can't quite identify.
Oh wait. I know what it looks like - a foresock!!!!
Aiiiyyeeeeee. Is there an antidrug for this????