Tuesday, June 26, 2012

time out

I wasn't sure what to call this post; vacation?  sabbatical?  Neither word really explains it, so "time out" it is.

I haven't been blogging, mostly because I don't want to impose narcotic induced babbling that no one really wants to hear.  And I find that anything I do on the computer takes at least twice as long as it used to.

I haven't been doing much to tell you about, and I can't get pictures of my beautiful garden, and I am tired of waiting for my kid to find the time.  We have different priorities... the pictures today are from last year's garden, to cheerful up this gloomy post.

Charlie has learned to do laundry, and he and Mike are taking care of the house and such.  But of course at their own speed, and not the way I would do it, but I have just had to learn to live with it, or I will turn into the World's Biggest Nag.  

I DO have something to look forward to - my mom, sister, and her son are coming down this Saturday to spend time with me and take care of me.  We will celebrate my mom's 70th birthday just a bit early, and of course do something fun to celebrate the fourth (in my backyard).  I am giddy with anticipation.  I have already warned them that the house will be 'man clean', and not 'Kristi clean', and they don't mind.

I won't learn until the end of next week what options I have to resolve my current back situation.  If I end up having fusion surgery it will be a six week recovery, so I think it's time to put my blog on hold until I feel whole again.

For now my world feels like this:  do you recall the old fashioned televisions we grew up with?  When we turned them off the screen would go black until there was just a tiny pinpoint of light in the center before it went completely dark?  My life feels like that small pinpoint of light right now, and I am just waiting (sometimes very impatiently) for things to turn on and be bright again.

I hope all of YOU are having wonderful summer adventures!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

reading corner

I have not been near my computer much lately, therefore no blog posts!  My life is very strange right now.

Quick update-heading in for more scans this week and I am meeting with a surgeon the first Friday in July to figure out what to do about my unhealthy back.

Part of my new mostly sedentary lifestyle is lots of reading time. In the past, when I have been crazy busy getting ready for shows, or I am inundated with work, I day dream about spending hours with my nose in a book.  Well, I seem to have received my wish!

Here are some of the books I have made it through in the last few weeks...

First up, "The Gilly Salt Sisters" by Tiffany Baker.  You may recall my post about her first book, "The Little Giant of Aberdeen County" (and if I could find it in my archive I would give you the link, but sadly I cannot).  I purchased this, in hardcover, something I NEVER do.  I usually add books to my request list at the library, or wait until I can find them at Half Price Books in the bargain basement for $2 or $3.  But having read her first book, I knew it would be worth it, and I could pass it on to friends.  And I had a coupon....

DontLookBackOh, I loved it.  She carefully draws her characters so intimately, and her atmospheric descriptions of scenes and events completely take you to the time and place.  Like Alice Hoffman (one of my very favorite authors) she sprinkles in a little magic along the way.

I have currently been reading three or four books at a time, as I have a range of things I like to read.  On my Kindle, I have discovered a new to me Scandinavian mystery author, Karin Fossum.  I quickly made it through "Don't Look Back", and I am in the middle of "He Who Fears the Wolf".

 I really love a good mystery, especially if the setting transports me to another country.  I have long been a big fan of British mysteries, and I am excited to have a new author, and new favorite Investigator (Inspector Sejer) to add to my pile.  They are very much "atmospheric thrillers", and definitely keep you guessing.

The Boleyn Inheritance Book CoverHistorical fiction is another area I enjoy reading, and no one does it better (or more prolifically!) then Phillipa Gregory.  Having read "The Lady of the River" earlier this year (Thanks Beth!  I have to get it back to you!) I looked through my book shelves to see what other titles I had, and dear friend Tracy has shared her titles as well.  I am nearly finished with "The Boleyn Inheritance", having recently finished watching every episode of "The Tudors" this is the perfect one to read to get even more detail about the era of Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard.  Waiting in the wings, to be enjoyed on a quiet summer evening are "The Queen's Fool" and "The Virgin Lover".  I can't seem to get enough!

The Dry Grass of August

If you enjoyed "The Help", I have a new one for you, that I read in just two days, "The Dry Grass of August".  (Thanks for the idea Heather!)  It takes place in the south during the fifites, and is told through the eyes of 13 year old Jubie.  Heart wrenching (I have always wanted to use that description) yet thoughtful, it is from first time author Anna Jean Mayhew.  She has worked on this book for years, and I think she has a winner.  I am still haunted by it, and how different America was back then.   I was initially drawn to it by the gorgeous cover-in this case you really can judge a book by it's cover!

Lastly, another mystery series that I am hooked on is by Julia Spenceer-Fleming.  I picked up the first book in the series for a special deal on my Kindle "In the Bleak Midwinter".  The story is of a former Army helicopter pilot, Clare Fergusson, who becomes an Episcopal priest (what a job change!) and ends up in a small town in New York State.  The other main character is Russ Val Alstyne, the town sheriff, and the two end up working together solving crimes.  And other things...  I have been requesting the rest of them from the library, and I am nearly done with all that she has written, so I will need to find a new mystery series, set somewhere in America to balance all of my European mysteries,  to replace it.  Any thoughts?  I have already read all of Dana Stabenow's books (set in Alaska) and I am also caught up on all of Susan Wittig Albert's books (set in Texas).  I would love your suggestions!

What are YOU reading this summer?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

dreaming of flowers

While I am unable to garden (I don't count telling my kid how to dead-head geraniums and pansies, and how much to water a hanging basket as gardening), I can enjoy what I did get planted this spring.  I don't have many photos, but will send the kid out to take some soon.  When the lighting is nice, and the wind isn't blowing, and the construction vehicles across the street haven't covered them all in dust....

Mike did snap a couple of pictures for me, on my birthday when he was out taking my 'senior picture' (senior implying a whole new meaning here....), so I will share what I have.

My palette this year was inspired by the fabric I used in my new patio cushions for the summer (glad I made those when I did!)  They are bright and cheerful and happy.

After deciding on colors, I dug through our storage shed and attic to see what pots or containers I could use to accent them.  I also have new window boxes on the back of the house, a result of our big paint job last fall.  The old ones were decrepit and went to the dump, I have spankin' new cedar ones in their place.

The old watering can I got for $3 because it had a hole in it now makes a perfect container with drainage.  Even though you can't really see it (Mike is not a flower guy...) there are sunrise zinnias along with the red geraniums, and red gerber daisies.  It normally hangs out by our shed, next to a climbing vine display consisting of yellow black eyed susan vine, two colors of morning glories, and red malabar spinach.  The hope is that they will all climb and mingle and cover the iron trellis and hide my ugly plastic shed.  At their feet I have planted red geraniums.  I have come to adore them, as they don't need a lot of watering.

This yellow pot was a bargain at Home Depot, and fit the color plan.  It is home to more red geraniums and sunrise zinnias, along with greek oregano, yellow lantana, and chartreuse sweet potato vine.  It didn't want to sit on the ground, so I dug out a nice orange pot to lift it's spirits.

You may have noticed that my pots and boxes are quite full, even though they were just planted.  The best advice I ever got on container gardening was this: initially plant them to look good, when they grow they will be gorgeous!  If you keep them watered as needed and feed them about once a month, it works.  I use fish goo to fertilize, you buy the concentrate (at most any garden center)  and mix it with a gallon of water.  It smells terrible, for a day or two, but it absolutely works.  (as you can see in this photo, we have not gotten around to painting our garage the same color as our house yet....)

Here are the refurbished window boxes on the shady side of the house, they got a new coat of paint, new liners, and new dirt.  Speaking of dirt, this year I tried Miracle Grow's new Moisture Control potting soil in all of my boxes and containers.  I really think it makes a difference, my flowers can go a few days without watering and still look fresh and vibrant.  Definitely worth the extra money!

My full shade window boxes this year are sporting both tuberous and reger begonias in shades of yellow and apricot, yellow pansies, lobelia (I have added white too since this pic was taken), red impatiens, and a healthy shot of apple mint.

I think this one will be my favorite (I promise to get a better pic when I can!)  Golden oxalis, orange lantana, sweet potato vine, white pansies, strawberry artemsia, and a couple of candy corn vines to climb the little trellis.  With a sweet little birdhouse watching over it all.  Fun!  This is a really big window box, original to this old house (I think), that got a new coat of paint last fall-it has lots of room for experimenting.

More garden photos when I can!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

looking for silver linings

Do you watch Jimmy Fallon?

I am a huge fan, I think he is just delightful.  His boyish charm, and genuine joy when he is interviewing some of his favorite people is so fun to watch.  I love that he plays games with his guests (water war with John Hamm is a particular favorite).  He brings on musical acts that I may not have heard of, that I add to my playlist.  I think the Roots are the perfect house band for him, and his sidekick Steve Higgins is HILARIOUS.  Their spontaneous humor during the monologue brings giggles.

No, I don't stay up that late.  Thank you, DVR, for taking care of me.

One regular bit that Jimmy has on his show is Pros and Cons.  I am borrowing that today to lighten up my current health situation.

I have been in lots of pain since Friday.  I can't do much other than switch positions on the bed, or the hide a bed. Sitting is mostly impossible.  But there are always two sides to every situation:

PRO?  I have read four books since Friday.

CON?  Girls have to go to the bathroom sitting down.

PRO?  Claude has LOVED spending so much time with me.

CON?  I have been unable to be outside in this gorgeous weather.

PRO?  I am nearly finished knitting a pair of socks I started in February.

CON?  I have to rely on Mike or Charlie to do lots of things for me.

PRO?  I can still do a lot of my regular job from my bed, with my laptop, so I am not too far behind.

CON?  Well, the pain really isn't much fun.

PRO?   My recent pedicure is holding up really well.

CON?  I can't cook, garden, sew, or make jewelry.

PRO?  I plan to catch up on my giant stacks of magazines.

So, I can't get in to see my new back doctor until June 18th.  TWELVE days from now.  They advised me to go to my primary care physician if I really couldn't wait until then.  I now have an appointment with her tomorrow.

I will keep you posted....and I found out that the majority of the pictures from my surprise party post couldn't be seen, so I promise to fix that and re-post that, eventually....

Thanks to all of you who have wished me well!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

the curse of the rummage sale

Perhaps it is just a coincidence, but the last time I planned to hold a large rummage sale (tag sale, garage sale, yard sale-whatever term you prefer!), I hurt my back and after four weeks of bed rest ended up having surgery.  That was five years ago, so you can imagine the amount of things I have accumulated since then....

Friday morning I woke to the sound of the cardinal that has a nest in the tree right outside my window.  The sun was shining, and I knew I had a table full of junk treasures that still needed marking, and boxes full and ready to be hauled out to the car.  I have been going through my attic and basement and china hutches for the last several weeks to reduce my collections of 'good things', and was so looking forward to the giant sale I was having with my friend Joanne on Saturday at her coffee shop in S. Mpls. Not only would I make more room in my home, I would have some money in my pocket.

Those of you who know me, already know that I have had back issues for years-I just recently went to the Sister Kenny Institute here in St. Paul and my new (wonderful!) doctor ordered an MRI, we discovered that three of my herniated discs have slipped out a bit more, and are pressing on the nerve that goes down into my right leg.  THAT would explain why it occasionally hurts, and often goes completely numb.  Since I wish to avoid surgery again, at all costs, we decided on a physical therapy program I am to start next week.  She also prescribed a new medication for me, in combination with my narcotics, to help with the pain.

Feeling that I was on the right track, I had a goal in mind of being able to ride my bike by the end of the summer.  I have a wonderful bike, but have been unable to ride it in several years.

Back to Friday's sunny morning.  I decided to throw in a load of laundry before I started on my long list of chores for the day, and as I bent to throw it in my back let me know it was not happy with that position.  By the time I climbed to the top of the stairs, the pain was searing up and down my spine and into my legs and I knew, immediately, that I was going to have a bad day.  And I regretted purchasing a front load washing machine....

Long story short (although it doesn't really feel like it, if you have already stuck with me this far...) I attempted to have a normal day.  I marked more rummage, watered my flowers, and drove to the vet's to pick up Claude's meds (thanks for your help Tracy, and for sending dinner down too us!)  By late afternoon, I surrendered to the pain, and ended the day in bed.  I have clearly done some more damage to my herniated discs, and I am hoping that by resting and applying ice off and on I can get them back to where they were when I started my day on Friday.  When the sun was shining brightly, and the birds were singing...

I called my dear friend Joanne, to let her know I would NOT be having a rummage sale with her, and I had the guys haul all of my stuff back downstairs.  CLEARLY, the curse of the rummage sale.

I am currently holding court from the hide a bed in our living room, as climbing the stairs to our bedroom is just too painful.  On top of that, Claude can jump up on this bed and hang out with me, our upstairs bed is too high!

They have brought me my lap top, my drugs, an assortment of books, my knitting, the tv remotes, and my cell phone-I am ready for my weekend of bed rest, and I pray that it is only for the weekend.  I recorded the "Hatfields and McCoys", so I can watch that, and I have lots of choices on Instant Netflix.

My guys are heading to Huntersville, for their first enduro race of the year.  It is Charlie's first ever adult enduro, of course they offered to stay home with me but there is NO WAY they are missing it because of a series of unfortunate events.

You just never know what life is going to throw your way, do you?  Has life thrown YOU a curve ball?  I would love to hear your stories, as now I will have plenty of time to read them!


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