Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Thanks everyone for the good thoughts and prayers.

The results of the MRI came back with good news! There are no lesions in my neck or spinal cord and the rest doesn't look too different than the fist MRI. A couple of more lesions, but no one's in a tizzy, so I guess it's ok.

I am going to do a round of steroids, though. The good news is that I don't have to go in for 3 days of steroids through an IV. Instead I'll be taking them for 10 days. I'm not sure how steroids help get over a relapse, but at this point I don't really care, either. Even though I definitely have trigeminal neuralgia, the doc thinks the flair up is because of the MS, so he wants to do the steroids first instead of putting me on the anti-seizure meds full time for the TN. At least, I think that's what's going on.

All I know for sure is that for the next 10 days I'm taking a huge amount of steroids. The nurse said the side effects could be an upset stomach, bloating and water gain, inability to sleep, and moodieness. Some would say, "And that would be different for you how?" And they'd be right ;-)

The best news though is that since I don't have to do the IV treatments and there's nothing else horribly wrong, I can go on the day trip to Minneapolis. Al and I are going with a riders' club to the motorcycle show up there. Al asked how many yarn stores he was going to have to go to to make this up to me. But I told him none, since I'm going to dump him and spend time with a blogging buddy. It should be a lot of fun. And 6 hours on a bus gives me lots of knitting time.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sick Leave

Just wanted to let you guys know that you might not hear from me for a few days.

I haven’t been feeling too hot for the last week, but as usual, I just ignored it and tried to work through it. But the last couple of days have knocked me out. I’m having a lot of pain in my left cheek, so much so that I went to the dentist because I thought maybe it was a tooth problem and he could take care of it. He had good news and bad news for me—the good news was that he couldn’t find anything wrong and I didn’t need a root canal. The bad news was that he couldn’t find anything wrong and I didn’t need a root canal. So, I called the MS clinic and headed in for a check up.

Turns out I’m not crazy and I’m not just tired; I’m having a full-blown relapse of the MS. And it’s bad enough that they’ve ordered an MRI of my brain and neck for as soon as possible. The pain in my cheek is trigeminal neuralgia---a pain that runs down the trigeminal nerve of the cheek. If there aren’t any new/active lesions in the MRI, I’ll get a prescription for an anti-seizure medication to help with the pain. But since I’m noticeably weak on my left side and a little numb on the left side of my head, around my left ear, and neck, they are thinking that I may have some active lesions on the right side of my brain. If that’s the case, then I have to go through a round of steroids—3 days IV, 3 days oral. I’m not sure how the steroids help, but I guess they do. I was hoping not to have to get into steroids for a while, so I’m hoping for a pretty clean MRI.

So, I’m taking a break until we get this under control. It’s a pain (literally!), but it’s still not as bad as it could be. I’m optimistic that we’ll be pleasantly surprised by a relatively clean MRI.

Whew! I’m exhausted now. We’ll talk again soon.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Art of Mending

I admit that one of the reasons I picked up The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg was the cover. It’s a comforting picture of a glass cabinet full of material. As someone who loves textiles, the combination of the title and the picture drew me in. I’ve also chosen wine by the label sometimes. And sometimes, this actually works!

I was hesitant about this book because I put Elizabeth Berg in the “Oprah Books” category. Her book Open House actually was an Oprah Book Club selection. And being the stubborn snob that I am, I always picked up Berg’s books then put them back down. But I’ve decided that I need to let go and try things I don’t think I’ll like. And it worked, because I really liked this book.

The story revolves around Laura, and it’s told from her point-of-view. You get to know her through flashbacks, descriptions of photos, and her own thoughts and actions. She and her husband and children go to her parents’ home for a family reunion. There, her younger sister tells her and their brother about horrible experiences with their mother. They are shocked and don’t know how to respond. Then something happens that forces them to face these allegations by searching their memories and listening to what their sister has to say. And then they have to decide what to do next to stay a family. It reminds me a little of Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood because of the time period and the mother/daughter relationships. The heart of the book is expressed best by the jacket copy: “…[Berg] confronts some of the deepest mysteries of life, as she explores how even the largest sins can be forgiven by the smallest gestures, and how grace can come to many through the trials of one.”

As to the title, it is the metaphor for the book. Laura says in the book that her family still makes fun of her love of all things domestic, but she doesn’t mind. She says, “As for mending, I think it’s good to take the time to fix something rather than throw it away…you’ll always notice the fabric scar, of course, but there’s an art to mending: If you’re careful, the repair can actually add to the beauty of the thing, because it is testimony to its worth.” This is said early in the book, and it’s not until you get further into the story that you realize that many things are worth mending.

Of course, I also enjoyed the descriptions of Laura’s quilting career—her trips to the fabric store, her love of fabrics, her workroom, how she stands in front of her design wall moving pieces around, and how she sees possible designs in things all around her. But that’s just me.

And just as a side note, I also got it as large print, and oh my gosh was it easy to read. I’m getting so old. It’s an easy, quick read anyway, but it was even quicker with large print.

Anyway, give it a try. Yes, I teared up several times during the book, and there were times I wasn’t sure if I liked Laura, but she definitely grows through the story. There are several memories in the story, where Laura relates a story from her childhood that has a correlation to what’s going on in her life now. I got a little tired of that but not enough to stop reading, but I did do a little skimming near the end because I just wanted to see what was going to happen.

So, have you read any good books lately?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Over 8 Inches

Of Snow! We had a snow storm, and the 3 to 6 inches turned out to be more like 5 to 8 inches. More like 8 at our place, except for the 2 feet at the bottom of the driveway courtesy of the snow plows, even though it was nice that they came so early on a Sunday morning.

We're exhausted. It took an hour and half to clear the driveway and sidewalk (actually, we didn't have to do one of the sidewalks because the guy behind us used his snow blower all the way down to the road--nice guy). It would have taken longer if it wasn't for the angel who came to visit us in the form of a nice old man in a truck, offering us the use of his snow blower. Seems he drove by and saw us struggling, so he went home and got his snow blower, then came on over. Amazing. Al had been wading through the pile of ice and snow at the end of the driveway while I was trying to push the snow off the driveway. We were pretty pooped by the time he showed up; he really was a life saver.

So, guess what we're going to do this afternoon? Yep. We're gonna buy a snow blower. Al doesn't care how much it costs, he's going to get the biggest damn snow blower he can find. It may never snow again, but by God, he'll have a snow blower just in case. That is, if we can find one. I would imagine there will be a run on them after this snowfall.

Anyway, here are some pictures for your enjoyment. Now that all the work is done, I'm ready to take a walk because it really is beautiful.

The house early this morning, before the shoveling began.

At the end of the driveway:

Poor mailbox:

A ballet of snow blowers:

A clean driveway!

The front walk and the piles of snow.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I Got Nothin' For Ya

I'm brain dead. I keep telling myself I'm going to try to post more often, but I just don't seem to get around to it. So, when my friend sent me this meme, I thought "Yeah! Soemthing to blog!" Actually I got a couple of these, all labeled, "Getting to know you in the new year." Like I'm very different this first month of 2007 than I was last year. I'm actually getting a little tired of these (horrors!). But, I got nothing, so I did this instead.

Oh, and Neil, I am so not tagging you on this ;-)

1. What time is it now? 5:38 pm

2. What color are your socks right now?
Kind of a khaki color—hiking socks. Although, I’m not hiking right now; they’re just really warm

3. What are you listening to right now?
Law and Order: SVU

4. What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
Where am I? What time is it? What day is it? I have to pee.

5. Can you drive a stick shift?
Yes, I prefer a stick shift because I’m a control freak.

6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Oh I hate picking out just one, but more than likely it would be some shade of green, like sage.

7. Last person you spoke to on the phone?
My friend T about the quilt group. That block-of-the-month quilt is never going to end.

8. Do you like the person who sent this to you?
Yes, she's a brilliant ESL teacher in CA

9. How old are you today?
This is just wrong! Why do these things always ask how old you are?

10. Favorite drink? With alcohol?
Hmmmmm. I really love bourbon and Coke. Without alcohol, it has to have caffeine—coffee, usually.

11. What is your favorite sport to watch?
Rally racing. I’m learning to cuss in several languages.

12. Do you like thunderstorms? Yes! Love them.

13. What's your favorite board game? I love board games! I like Scrabble, Sequence, Trivial Persuit, Yahtzee (is that a board game?), and on and on.

14. Do you like to drive fast? Not really. Maybe 5 or 10 miles over, but I'm pretty much a scardy cat.

15. Favorite food?
Besides chocolate? I crave Indian food.

16. What was the last movie you watched at the theater?
Oh, you’re testing my memory here. Um. I think it was Stranger Than Fiction.

17. Is the glass half-full or half-empty? Depends on the day, but usually half-full, I guess. But if it has a bourbon and Coke in it, it's empty!

18. What do you do to vent anger?
I’m a slammer—whatever door is unfortunate enough to be open and near me. Then I cry.

19. What was your favorite toy as a child?
I really liked my Baby Alive and my Chrissy doll—you could pull her hair out of the top of head and she’d have long hair! Oh, if only it was that easy in real life.

20. What is your favorite season?

21. Hugs or kisses?
Can’t I have both? I’d really like both, please.

22. Chocolate or Vanilla?
Can’t I have both? I’d really like both, please.

23. Cherries or Blueberry?
Can’t I have both? What’s with all this one or the other thing?

24. What are you reading right now?
Starting The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg and Misquoting Jesus by Bart D. Ehrman.

25. Favorite thing to do just for you?
I'm pretty crafty, what with the knitting, quilting, and scrapbooking, but just for me, I want to read.

26. Living arrangements?
Well, that’s a bit politically correct. Um, with a guy, in a house.

27. When was the last time you cried?
Yesterday, I was watching some hospital reality show and a little boy lost his arm. Why do I do that to myself? I will never let Al have control of the remote again!

28. What is on the floor of your closet?
Shoes, some dirty clothes, a sack of clothes I need to get rid of, a hangar I keep forgetting to pick up

29. What is your favorite TV show?
I’m not sure I have one. I’m terrible about knowing when something is on and remembering to watch it. But I try to remember to watch House and Monk.

30. What did you do last night?
Knitted a hat for a friend, listened to whatever was on TV, made a shepherd’s pie, updated my MS journal

31. Favorite smells?
Flour and butter before it’s turned into some pastry and bread baking. I also looooooove my “Rain” herbal soap.

32. What inspires you?
The families who keep going while their family members are in the desert. Good music with good lyrics.

33. What are you afraid of?
Way too much. But the latest fear is that the MS will progress quicker than I want. But that’s not going to happen. Actually, I’m planning on a full remission.

34. Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers?
Plain. I used to like everything on them, but I’d always end up taking everything off, so now I just cut out the middle man.

35. Favorite dog breed?
Petite Bassett Griffon Vendeen (that’s what Daily was), Spinone Italiano, Border Collie, Westies, just about anything!

36. Do you sleep with an animal? Are we speaking figuratively or literally? Not since Daily passed away :(

37. Number of keys on your key ring?
Well, I have 2 key rings. One with the key to my car, and one with keys to the house and the other cars. I don’t know why I have 2. At one time Al suggested something like it, but I don’t remember exactly what he suggested. Maybe just having the house on a separate key ring? Oh well.

38. How many times do you eat out in a week?
Once or twice

39. Favorite day of the week?

40. How many states have you lived in?
7, so far (AR, CA, NY, LA, FL, OH, NE)

41. Favorite holiday?
Halloween and Thanksgiving

42. Ever driven a Motorcycle or heavy machinery?
No, but I’ll be riding a motorcycle when it warms up

43. Who is your favorite NFL team?
Whoever my brother tells me to cheer for. But I prefer college football.

44. Do you have a house phone that is NOT cordless?
They still make corded phones?

45. Prefer 10 inches of snow or 100 degree weather?
Ya worried me there for a minute. 10 inches of snow—I know I’m weird. But you don’t want to be around me in that kind of heat! I get cranky, before I zone out then have to take a nap.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Weekend Wrap-up

OK fellas, here’s a little tip for ya to keep peace and harmony in your relationship. When it’s
been snowing all day and you begrudgingly go outside to shovel but have only been out there for 20 minutes and shoveled only half the driveway, don’t come inside and say, “Boy, if you need some exercise, you can come out and help shovel.”

This is just wrong on so many levels. I ignored him at first. Then he said, “Honey?” and repeated the statement, this time even more jovial. He looked so pleadingly at me that I decided to help. And being the better person, I didn’t remind him that I did all the shoveling last year by myself because it always snowed while he was on shift. Hey, I know we had a mild winter, but snow is snow and shoveling is, well, shoveling. And let’s not even get into the whole implication that I NEED this exercise. He may not have meant it that way. And it doesn’t matter that I do need exercise, that’s not the point.

And here’s the kicker, it kept snowing, so there’s another few inches out there. But even though he’s supposed to have tomorrow off for MLK day, he’s going into work. So, guess who’ll have to shovel what’s left out there, including that thick pile of ice and snow that the plows left. Uh huh. I could wait until he got home, but I probably won’t. But I might call him and tell him to be sure to go to the gym since he wasn’t getting any exercise by shoveling.

Shoveling also shows another difference between us. I’m a little neater, for lack of a better word. For example, here’s Al’s side of the driveway during our last snow:

And here’s my side:

Before you talk about how much faster Al is, just know that as I got near the end and he was zooming to the sidewalks, he asked me to go back and clean up those lines.


We went over to our friend’s house for pizza Friday night. They have two girls, but for some reason it had expanded to four. Seems 11 and 13-year-old do that—they clone on Friday nights in search of a slumber party. This family also has three dogs, two Great Danes and a chocolate Labrador, so it was a pretty full house. But we had a great time, and I got my dog fix. Here are a couple of pics of them:

Anya and Addie love the fireplace

Addie and Cocoa wait for a cookie

The girls were playing Dance Dance Revolution or DDR, that arcade game where you watch a screen and try to match the steps on the screen by stepping on the correct arrow. For some reason the girls just had to get me out there to play, too. Everyone wanted to play against Kell. Ya think that’s because I’m old and uncoordinated and they knew it would be an easy win? Yeah, me too. Actually, it was a lot of fun, and the girls had pity on me. Well, they had pity after I humiliated myself with the first song. So for the second song, they chose the “easy” one, the “slow” one, “Get Down Tonight” by KC and the Sunshine Band. Yeah! Now we’re talkin’! Bring it on, baby! And I did good, too. So good that they went back to a fast song next. Competition starts early, I see. All the songs sound like that Barbie song—“I’m a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world.” And I’ve learned, after watching the experts, that the key is not to worry so much about getting back to center. If you’re standing on the left arrow and a back arrow is coming up fast, you don’t have to go back to center and step back, you can leave your left foot on the left arrow and step back with your right. I tell you this so that when you are in this situation, you’ll be ahead of the game. Learn from my mistakes. Plus, if you’re a rather, um, womanly woman, with rather large womanly features, you might want to wear a jogging bra. Those “jump on two arrows at the same time” moments are a little tricky.

BTW, I’m sure Al is taking bids on showing the video he took of me. Oops, that got deleted! How did that happen?


I went to a “Foundations” class at a local Yoga/Pilates studio. I’m so bored with my workout and I think I need something to help with balance and flexibility. This is the year of balance, remember. I was there for 3 friggin’ hours! I don’t even like to do something I really enjoy for 3 hours. It was interesting and I learned a lot, but by the last 30 minutes, I was getting cranky. That may have had something to do with the fact that I hadn’t eaten since 7:30 and it was now 2:00! Cranky, definitely cranky.

However, it was fascinating. I think I’m just going to do the Yoga for now. The Pilates classes are done on these machines called “The Reformer.” Doesn’t that sound a little intimidating? First of all, I keep hearing Arnold Schwarzenegger say it, but also I keep imagining some future world where people who wear color have to go through “The Reformer” and change into an army of grayness.

They do a lot at this studio—hypnotherapy, massage, Reiki and Ayurveda, a type of ancient Indian treatment that takes into account your “dosha”, or body type. If your dosha is out of balance, you have certain ailments, so if you know your dosha, supposedly you can focus on foods and exercise to obtain and maintain that balance. You can go here to find your dosha. I’m a Pitta, BTW, I think, with quite a bit of Kapha. There are parts of me that are all 3, but that’s the way all those test things work out for me. The questions always seem to be black and white—Are you this, this or that? Well, I’m a little bit of this and that. Anyway, it seems to be all the rage here.


So that’s how my weekend went. How was yours?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Smile and Show Those Pearly Whites

We all hate it. We all dread it. And even the most testosterone-ridden man will admit to being afraid of going. But I had old cavities that had to be replaced, so I had to go to *pause for dramatic organ music* the dentist.

You almost have to sedate me to get me there. Well, maybe it’s not that bad, but could you? I mean, could someone just knock me the hell out and let me know when it’s over? Dentistry has come a very long way in my lifetime and it is pretty darn close to painless, but I remember the pain. I’m old enough to remember the “I’m sorry but this is just going to hurt a little bit” days. The “root canal takes at least 2 long visits” days. My heart’s beating faster just thinking about it.

I am a professional dental patient. Oh, I brush and I even floss the majority of the time, but I am paying for past sins. The kid and young adult who didn’t take such great care of her teeth and didn’t go to the dentist as often as she should have is suffering the effects.

Cavities don’t last forever, especially the silver fillings of old. They break or fall out, leaving a hole in the tooth that either has to be filled quickly, or as is more often the case, has to get a cap on it because there is already so much filling in that tooth, there’s not much tooth left to drill. And hoping against hope, it won’t need a root canal first, even though I know it will because I ignored any pain by trying to cover it up with aspirin.

2005-2006 was the worst dental year of my life. A root canal and three caps. I had so much dental work done that my insurance stopped paying—I maxed out my benefits. It was all fairly painless, but damn, that’s not the point. I should have just set a cot up in the back room of the dentist’s office. Caps take 2 visits, and the root canal was 3 (one to find out if I needed a root canal, one to do the root canal, and one afterwards to make sure everything was ok), plus a visit to refill the cap they had to drill through.

Isn’t it odd that we say an appointment with the dentist is a “visit.” As if we’re going to sit around the breakfast table, have a cup of coffee, and gossip about our neighbors or co-workers. Well, not with the dentist I saw during this time. He was an excellent dentist, but he had the bedside manner of a turnip.

But that’s not the case here. I found a wonderful dentist who seems really good at his job, plus he’s very nice. And his office is comfortable and the other people working there are very nice. I’m still a nervous wreck, but I don’t have to be sedated to go there.

I’m slowly having those old silver fillings replaced with this white stuff that’s supposed to be stronger and better and let me keep my teeth longer. The longer I can keep from getting another cap, the better.

So, that’s what I did yesterday. Can you believe that it took less than an hour to take out 2 fillings and refill them? I’m sure it took at least a whole day when I was a kid. Or at least, that’s the way it felt. There are TVs in all the cubicles, so I can watch the morning news if I want. As if I could focus on anything, let alone hear anything, besides that drill wailing like a siren in that giant echo chamber that is my mouth. But it’s a nice offer.

And my dentist is very nice. He’s always asking, “Are you doing OK?” But of course all I can say is “Uhrr Huuuaahhhhggg.” He just assumes that translates as “Yes, I am perfectly fine, thank you.” Not unlike a waitress who waits until your mouth is full before she comes by to ask if you need anything else; you don’t want to spew everything that’s in your cheeks just to say you could really use a glass of water.

I can’t tell him that the sound of that drill will echo in my sleep tonight. Or that the grinding tool he uses not only vibrates my head, but tickles my nose, making me pray that I don’t have to sneeze. And that the smell of that epoxy he packs into the tooth is worse than anything my hairdresser puts in my hair to cover the gray—and that stuff makes my eyes water. Or that as nice as his dental assistant is, every time he asks for a spray of water, I get a shower, and I hate water being sprayed on my face. And by the way, that bib you put on me? Can you loosen it a little because it keeps riding up across my neck.

But I made it through. He even said, “You did good, Kell.” What? What did I do besides lie there perfectly still and not scream and cry that I wanted my mommy? If a guy had a drill in your mouth, wouldn’t you lie still? Unless, of course, he said, “Is it safe?” *shiver* (that's a terrifying scene in Marathon Man btw.)

The right side of my mouth was numb all morning; it was close to 1:00 before I was back to normal. However, this morning, everything is back to normal. And I don’t go back until my next cleaning, which I think is April. So, that gives me over 3 months to recover/anticipate/gather up my courage for the next round.

Maybe I should get a prescription of Valium, just in case.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Whisky Potluck

The potluck is a party standard. Everybody brings something to share, so one person doesn’t have to do it all, and everyone gets to show off their specialty to the applause of others. It’s wonderful. Everyone is happy at a potluck.

So, who says a potluck only has to be food? For a first, we were invited to a Scotch Potluck Party. Everybody brings a bottle to share. Oh, there was gumbo and some food, but the whole point was the whisky.

A little background information for ya, first. The Dundee Dell is a great old bar here that has the largest collection of scotch outside of Scotland. I believe at last count they had over 700 different types of scotch. And once a month, they have a “Scotch Tasting” which we attend fairly regularly. I don’t partake because I drive. But I always have a good time, usually because of the other regulars, who know more about this stuff than anyone and are all pretty funny.

Every 3 years, these regulars go to Scotland for a distillery tour. They’ve gone so often that they have their own tour guide, Willy (how great is that, Simpson’s fans?), who sets everything up and drives the bus. They get real “behind the scenes” tours and some really nice bennies. And this year, we are going, too! I’m very excited about this. Besides the fact that we’ll be going to Islay then up into the Highlands and Edinburgh, it is great because I didn’t have to plan any of it. I just get on the bus. This will be awesome.

So, this potluck party originally started as a reunion party for the Scotland group. Since we’re going this year, we were invited to kneel at the shrine and partake of the life-giving liquid.

Reed’s house is in the Dundee area and is an old house that has had many different roles. Apartments, home, apartment within a home, and now a home. A warm, character-filled home with built in shelves, arched windows and original tile in the kitchen. But the focal point of the front room is definitely the liquor cabinet. It’s over 6 feet of rare single malts and souvenirs, including a Whisky Trivial game that is coming to Scotland with us.

Across from the cabinet was a bar-height slate table where everyone put their contributions. And oh my God, it was amazing. I don’t know all that much, but even I know that a 175th Anniversary Talisker is a huge deal. Al emailed my brother a list of what he could remember, so here’s what he remembers being there, with his short tasting note:

Littlemill 8 & 17 year old (an amazing lowland)
Linkwood 29 year old (great)
Glenmorangie Burgundy wood finish 12 year old (mine)
Glenmorangie 25 year old (not bad)
Edradour 25 year old (hot and spicy)
Balvenie 17 year old (finished in an Islay cask)
Ardbeg (finished in a sherry cask, interesting)
Talisker 175th Anniversary (amazing)
Something 35 year old (can't remember the name)
Some kind of rum (tasted like butterscotch)

Reed had tasting glasses for everyone. I settled for my one glass of wine for the evening because, as usual, I was going to be designated driver. And that brings up another good thing about this trip—I will never be designated driver. Anyway, it was like a bell rung and Al was off to the races. I didn’t see him most of the evening. As is usual for these little tête-à-têtes, I ended up talking to the other wives, listening to stories about the kids. But this time, these woman were going or had gone on this trip, so we had other stuff to talk about. Plus, Reed has a little slut-puppy dog who was just the cutest thing. She just loved being petted, so I spent quite awhile on the floor doing just that.

As the evening started to wind down and thin out a little, I ventured to join in and admire the liquor cabinet. That’s when the stories started, and I love stories. Every bottle has a story of how it was acquired. Al insisted that I try a Littlemill, a lowland scotch that was out of this world. It was very smooth—no alcohol shiver after the first sip. Just a nice, caramel taste with a warming sensation. And that lead to stories about past Scotland trips and what we have to look forward to this year.

I started watching Al pretty closely. I knew he had had too much because he kept repeating himself and he that little twinkle in his eyes. It’s that twinkle that comes at the peak of light-headedness and right before the crash. I started to maneuver us out by getting our coats, getting him a bottle of water, putting the glasses up. He was doing OK I thought, then they had to open that bottle of rum. He only had a sip, but that seemed to push him over the edge. I don’t remember the name of the rum but it was wonderful (I had a sip), but I do seem to remember hearing that it was made by some guy in his garage on some island. Ohhhhhkaaaaaaay. Time to go!

I finally got him out of the house, as another wife was trying to convince her husband it was time to go. We had to walk a couple of blocks to the car, and Al pretty much swayed his way there. He rambled a little about all the single malts that he had tried, saying “You’ll never see a collection like that again. Mo said it was at least $10,000 worth. You’ll never see a collection like that again.”

I got him home and into bed, finally. He valiantly tried to stay up while I filled my friend RJ in on the night (she decided to stay at the house and knit). I watched him as he slouched in the chair and his chin fell to his chest. I got him upstairs to bed, and he was out. He didn’t even notice when I came to bed later.

He was hurting the next morning. Not as bad as I expected because he did drink a lot of water throughout the night to stay hydrated. I told him that we were so concerned about working out at the gym to get in shape for this trip, but that’s not what we need to work on. Either he has to drink less and don’t try to keep up with those guys, or he better drink more to get ready. As tempting as whisky is for him, he said he had decided that drinking less was the way to go. Good choice.

The most important thing about this party, for me anyway, was that I had a good time with these people who I will be spending 10 whirlwind days in March. I think we’re going to have a blast in Scotland.

Friday, January 05, 2007

And Yet a Little More

Note: The Scotch Party post is still coming—I have to wait until Al gets home so he can tell me again what was there. I might remember the name, but I won’t remember the year, and that seems to be rather important. So, until then, here’s a little more holiday recap.

My friend RJ came in on Tuesday after Christmas, and I spent the next 4 days knitting, talking, crying and staying up until 2 am. It was wonderful. I didn’t realize how much I missed having a “hobby buddy,” somebody who has the same passion I do and doesn’t mind wallowing in it. I have a friend who is quilting the block-of-the-month quilt with me, but she’s a little more obsessed than passionate—there’s a difference, you know. Although some might call me obsessed, I am able to put projects down and leave them unfinished for awhile. I’m more obsessed about starting projects than I am about actually finishing them. Maybe that could be my new year’s resolution—to finish unfinished projects.

Anyway, RJ and I went to a workshop where we learned to knit a log cabin quilting block. It looks like this:

I’m not done yet, there are a few more sides to do. I really like this technique and think I’ll be doing it again after I finish the projects I’m working on right now. Also, she and I have decided to knit a scarf together. I mean, we’re each going to knit the squares for this scarf, then we’ll trade some of them so that our scarves will have a little bit of each of us in them. Cool, huh? Here’s a picture of what the scarf will look like when it’s done, I hope by next fall.

We’ve bought all the yarn (one of the local yarn shops in my town was having a 20% off year-end sale), so now we just have to start knitting. Knit 4 triangles, then sew them together to form the squares, then sew the squares together. All 32 squares. You can see why I’m saying I hope I’ll have it done by next fall. But it’ll be worth it. I’m also going to make a tote bag. What the hell, I have the yarn.

I was really sad when RJ left. And lonely. Al was home, but I didn’t realize how much I do by myself until she was here to do things with me. One of my other new year’s resolutions should be to get out among the living more often.

So, now the holidays are over and my friend is back in Austin. I have no more excuses. I have to get back to exercising and eating right and doing all the chores I’ve pretty much ignored for the last few weeks. Back to reality. But I’m not as depressed about that as I thought I’d be.

I feel hopeful for the next year. I have a lot to look forward to with our trips, so I have the incentive to get back to the gym and a better diet so I’ll be in good shape for all the walking I’m going to be doing. And I’ve had an energy boost when it comes to organizing some unorganized things in my life. I’ve created a journal for my MS so I can keep better track of how I’m feeling so that I can see if I have any triggers or if there is a pattern to any flair ups. I’ve also created a knitting journal so I can get all those projects I’m working on and want to work on organized. And hopefully this weekend, Al and I are going to sit down and do some honest talking about the year ahead: what kind of work we want to do on the house, what kind of repairs have to be done on the house, a more realistic look at our finances before and after the trips, and even looking further into the future and where we both want to be. I told him we should each work on a list of what we think needs to be done this year and what we’d like to do this year, then compare. I bet we’ll be surprised by what we consider priority and what we think needs to be done. I know that a BMW motorcycle is not on my list, and I’m pretty sure that a trip to Rhinebeck NY for the Wool festival isn’t on his.

Susan said that instead of new year’s resolutions, she’s having a theme for her year. Hers is Dare to Create. I like that! And after careful consideration of, oh, about 5 minutes or so, I think my new year’s theme will be “Balance and Content.” I spend an awful lot of time thinking, “I’ll be happy when I . . . “ instead of being content with the way things are. And balance? Well, I’ve felt pretty tilted all of 2006, so I’m going to even out and stay balanced this year. I’ll have to think on that one a little bit more.

OK, I’ve rambled enough for another day. I have more lists to work on! Have a great weekend every one.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Quick Holiday Recap

So, all those things that I said “I’ll do that after the holidays” have reared their ugly heads and are now waiting in line on my massive To Do list. Some are more important than others (balance checkbook and get more stamps), some are always on there (balance checkbook, laundry, exercise), and some are fun (buy yarn and work on travel plans). It’s 11:00 and here’s what I’ve accomplished: nothing. Nada. Not a damn thing. I’ve read the paper, I’ve eaten breakfast, I’ve read some blogs, and I’ve started typing up this post, but I haven’t done anything on my list yet.

This is my first day alone in the house again. It was nice having Al home for the holidays and I loved having my friend RJ visiting, but it’s nice to have the house to myself again so I can regroup. The beginning of a new year can be a reflective time, and now I have time to reflect.

It was a nice, lovely, quiet Christmas. We spent Christmas Eve with good friends, eating a fabulous meal and watching A Christmas Story. Al and I had a bit of a tiff but it didn’t last all that long (thus the description as “tiff”). ‘Tis the season for my nerves to be on edge, and unfortunately for Al, he’s the only one around for me to get mad at.

Christmas Day started with the traditional mimosas and breakfast then opening presents. We stuck to our plan of not going overboard this year, and I think we’ll stick with that. The gifts were much more heartfelt because we had to think a little harder about what the other person would want. I got Al The Road to Dakar book/DVD, which is about Charlie Boorman’s quest to race at Dakar. Boorman and Ewan McGregor rode around the world a couple of years ago in The Long Way Round. I watched the DVD with him, which at first I thought was part of his gift, but really, I love shows like that. They make me want to accomplish something that would scare me to death. But I’m not going to race in the desert—people die in that race. Anyway, he loved it. He gave me a Winnie-the-Pooh watch, a cookbook and a subscription to Hobby Farms magazine. Now, I know that last one might seem a little odd, but it’s really the sweetest gift of all. There are always articles about sheep, alpacas, goats, rabbits, and any other animal whose fur can be turned into yarn, and I have a pipedream about having a small farm. Al doesn’t really share that dream, yet he gets me this magazine because he knows how much I enjoy reading it. And speaking of thoughtful gifts, my mom and brother got me wonderful books, mostly knitting books, that I’ve been wanting for a long time. I can also get some yarn at my favorite yarn shop and some new tunes from iTunes.

New Year’s Eve was another quiet affair. It sleeted that morning, then snowed all day. I think we had around 3 inches, and the roads were really bad. The fireworks planned for downtown were postponed, and we pretty much just sat inside and relaxed. Al seems to take great pride in the fact that he doesn’t go out on new year’s eve, so even if it wasn’t snowing, we would have stayed home. He doesn’t even want to stay up to watch the festivities on TV. I tried to go to sleep but couldn’t, so I stayed up and finished my book.

We spent New Year’s Day at an annual party of one of Al’s co-workers. We really like this family and always have a good time at their house. Andi is a crafter and makes beautiful jewelry in addition to quilting and scrapbooking. Plus, she’s a great cook, so we always eat well. And Chris is a brewer, so there’s always good beer. I took my knitting because I knew that all the women would end up in the living room, sitting around the fire, talking. Except for a sleepy spell, I was able to keep up with all the conversations. And is usual for us, we were the last ones to leave. I don’t know how we always do that—it’s a little embarrassing, really. Actually, we left the same time another couple did, and while Al was putting on his shoes, he looked outside and saw them getting into their new Toyota FJ Cruiser. He jumped up and yelled, “Hey, don’t go yet, I wanna look at your car.” It’s freezing outside, but the wife and I stand there shivering and talking while Al sits in every seat and talks about the car. No, we are not getting an FJ Cruiser. I like not having car payments and sitting in that thing was like sitting in a tank. I couldn’t see over the hood very well. And I’m not that short! Besides, it really is more car than we need. We’re not planning on driving up a rocky mountain or through any rivers any time soon. Although that does sound like a lot of fun.

And that brings me back to sitting here, typing up a post when I should be doing a whole list of other things. Oh well. I guess I’ll stop there. I’ll ramble some more tomorrow. Next post, I'll tell ya about the scotch party we went to. Woo boy. I think Al is still hurting from that one.