Apr 222012

Got a seriously late start the next day, not hitting the road until about 11. Our excuse was that we needed the sleep, which was not a lie.

Unfortunately for me, Mom could not stay awake more than an hour whenever she got behind the wheel, which meant that I ended up driving the entire 1500 miles to Texas. She’s also one of those people who doesn’t “get” technology well, so I usually had to navigate as well.

As an exception to that, she decided to ask about any upcoming construction at a manned rest stop east of Louisville, and found out that some big fireworks event called “Thunder” was happening downtown. The whole area was jammed, and we would have spent at least an hour or more getting through without her alternate directions. Yay Mom!

Overall, she’s good company and we’ve always gotten along well, even on long car trips. The closest I came to losing my temper was when we were circling the perimeter of Memphis trying to find the correct exit to I-55. When I needed confirmation of the original directions, she somehow pulled up different directions, so I had to call Aaron to get me back on track.

All in all, those were minor bumps, and the rest of the trip was enjoyable. We stayed in Forrest City, Arkansas on Saturday night and, after a quick Burger King breakfast, we were rolling at 7:15 am to make up for the late start the day before.

Outside Texarkana, we passed slowly by a Car-B-Q burning on the shoulder. The entire front end was engulfed, while a young cop and the driver were standing nearby, and the fire truck had yet to arrive. We were so close I could feel a bit of the heat, and hear the popping noises from the engine.

Stopping at a gas station just over the Texas border, we stretched our legs, and I walked the dog a bit while Mom got snacks. There was a warm wind blowing, and the air smelled amazing: trees and flowers I couldn’t identify. After a minute or two, I sneezed. Then sneezed again. My eyes felt a little dry, so I rubbed them for a second.

Big mistake.

The air smelled so good because it was full of frickin’ POLLEN. When I got in the car and looked in the mirror, my eyes were solid red from edge to edge, and I could hardly see. Luckily, Mom had some eye drops which helped, and we closed the vents and turned on the AC. Within about a half hour, things were almost back to normal, and I could put away the ruby-quartz visor.

We decided to take the smaller state highways instead of the interstate. As I told Aaron, I’ve seen the United States of Generica, and I wanted to see something else. The state highways (271 and 155) go through a lot of small cities and towns, almost certain to not be paved over with Targets, Applebee’s, and Best Buys.

During my quest for allergy medicine through all this “real America”, however, I discovered a fact about small Texas towns: each and every one contains a Dairy Queen, a Family Dollar, and four churches per person, but NOT ONE DRUG STORE.

At last, I found a Brookshire’s (the Kroger equivalent) with a pharmacy, and Allegra saved the day.

Northeast Texas is beautiful: rolling, forested hills, winding roads, and green pastures. I’d assumed it all looked like the suburbs surrounding Dallas or San Antonio: hot, flat prairie, with chain restaurants and big-box stores packed densely around the freeway, surrounded by miles of identical sand-colored subdivisions; devoid of walkable city centers or indeed any character at all. It was nice to see that, in some places anyway, reality didn’t match my snarky cynicism after all.

We finally had to rejoin the mass of humanity in Waco, and the special stretch of Hell that is I-35 from Dallas to San Antonio. I actually feared for our lives more than once, and this from someone who’s driven in Chicago and San Francisco.

We rolled into a Logan’s Roadhouse (it doesn’t matter which one; they’re all the same) in one of the San Antonio suburbs (it doesn’t matter which one; they’re all the same) and met my sister for dinner and a couple of much-needed drinks to celebrate the end of the drive.

Apr 192012

Mom’s moving day came at last. Johnny from the moving company arrived at about 8:30am, but he wasn’t able to recruit any more help, so I agreed to help load for $15/hr. It’s bullshit that, after all the money Mom paid, the company didn’t provide more movers except one 50-year old man.

When I lived in Oak Harbor, WA after the Navy, I occasionally loaded moving trucks for some cash. I wasn’t very good at it, thanks to my ADD; I was too slow and not very organized. I remember being on one job for 11 hours, and the guy who hired me was very frustrated. I’ve always felt a little ashamed about what a poor worker I was then, and I saw this as a chance to kind of make up for it.

I did so with a vengeance.

I pitched in and kicked ass, and we were done in 3.5 hours, which didn’t count the 2 hours of pre-staging I’d done the night before. I flew up and down stairs, bounced in and out of the truck, and ran the dolly stacked four boxes high. It’s a testament to all the working out I’ve been doing that, although I got tired, I never wore out, and barely slowed by the end.

I gave Johnny my wages as a tip, since he really cut Mom some slack on weight and volume, and gave her more than a few boxes he should have charged her for. He was a fascinating character, from deep south Mississippi, with some great stories. Mom and I both took a liking to him.

After a couple hours of cleaning up, loading the car, and hauling out the trash, we declared the job finished, and left. By then it was 6pm, but we just wanted out of there, and didn’t want to drive all the way back to my house for the night.

After a mediocre meal at Cracker Barrel, we hit the highway, but only made it as far as Dayton before calling it a night.

Feb 132012

Since Mom had to work this weekend, and her birthday was Sunday, had her over Friday after work. Took her to a nice dinner at Cafe Felix downtown. They had just started their new menu that very night, so we got to be the guinea pigs. All lab animals should have it that good. I had the poached salmon with herb mashed potatoes, and she had panko-crusted chicken hiding under a bed of greens (the proverbial “bird in the bush”?).

Afterward, we wandered down Main St. and into a couple of shops she thought looked interesting. There are so many cool little stores on Main, that I’ve just never considered going into unless I needed something specific. I’m going to have to make a point of checking out more of them. I found a gift for Aaron for V. Day that I hadn’t thought of until I actually saw it in a case at Peaceable Kingdom.

Then we had to stop at the Cupcake Station for birthday cupcakes before heading home. The snow had really picked up and we were ready to put our feet up and digest. Connor and I played on our laptop and iPad, respectively, while Mom watched Say No to the Mess Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta. Despite my determination to ignore it (and my previous post bitching about it), I got drawn in enough to make snarky comments. The parade of train wrecks were kind of entertaining. Hmm…bridal gown…train…train wreck…does that work as a pun, or is it too obscure?

The roads and weather were a mess, so Mom stayed overnight on the sofa bed and left for work the next morning. The rest of Saturday and most of Sunday was spent on Minecraft and tending to some things around the house. Aaron hinted strongly that I should take a stab at making dinner, so I opened the Book of Rachel (Ray) and chose a menu of stuffed pork chops, cream cheese mashed potatoes, and sautéed sugar snap peas.

One trip to Kroger and a couple hours of intermittent panic resulted in a pretty good dinner, considering I’ve only cooked a full meal like that about four times in the ten years(!) since I met Aaron. Everyone seemed really happy with it, though the snap peas were slightly overcooked, and the stuffing didn’t bind together very well for some reason. Maybe because I didn’t chop the apples fine enough, or used packaged mini corn breads instead of corn muffins (Kroger had none). I managed to cook the pork chops near perfectly, though: white all the way through, but still very juicy. The hardest part was the timing; starting all the various dishes so everything finished at roughly the same time. I started the snap peas too late, and probably turned them up a little too high to compensate, hence the overcooking.

For his part, other than showing me proper chopping technique, Aaron stayed completely out of the way, for which I was grateful. Had he been there, I would have constantly second-guessed everything I did, expecting him to correct me, and I might have given up in frustrated anger.

I did learn new appreciation for why Aaron wants everyone out of the kitchen when he cooks. Connor started to get underfoot at first, and I was on the verge of laying down a smiting. LOL

Nov 122011

My mother and her dog just spent nearly two weeks with us while she recovered from foot surgery; most of it on the couch in the family room. Since she works afternoon shift, and doesn’t have a DVR, this was a chance for her to take advantage of Comcast’s OnDemand service to catch up on her favorite TV shows.

She did so with a vengeance.

Since I spent a lot of time after work and on the weekends keeping her company, I got caught up too. Since I usually go weeks without turning on the TV, except to play Xbox or PS3, this was a chance to see what I’ve been missing or, more often, what I’ve been NOT missing.

In the interest of snark, I’ve decided to share my pain with the 1-5 people who visit this site on a daily basis, according to Google Analytics (I hope you know who you are, because I sure don’t). This is just a sampling of the fare to be had, in glorious HD.

Anything on HGTV: A lot of networks take the formula for a successful show and duplicate it in hopes of creating more successes, but HGTV has elevated this to, well, insanity.

Every possible way, shape, and form of selling or buying a house has been turned into “follow this couple/family as they try to buy/sell a home”: Curb Appeal, Desperate to Buy, House Hunters, House Hunters International, House Hunters on Vacation, House Hunters in Space, House Hunters: Across the 8th Dimension (ok, maybe not those last two), Love It or List It, My House, Your Money, Property Brothers, and on and on, ad nauseum. That’s just a few of the house hunting shows. I don’t have time to even start on all of the design shows.

They all follow the same format: cute hosts, generally likable couples or families, and three homes to choose from. There’s a little suspense, and a little conflict, but nothing that ever escalates to the level of, say, Maury Povich. This is kind of a shame, because profanity-laced screaming, smashed drywall, and hurled power tools would make a welcome and more realistic change from the same tired formula. They could call it Homewreckers. As it is, though, if you watch just one episode of one house-hunting show and one design show, you have just seen almost everything HGTV offers.

Say Yes to the Dress: Up to $8,000 (or more!) for a single dress that a bride will wear for one day, and (ideally) never again? You have got to be out of your fucking mind. To make it even better, almost without fail either the bride, a family member, a friend, or some combination of the three is a demanding, insufferable, hypercritical bitch. I propose a new title: Say No to the Mess.

Dancing with the Stars: For someone whose last name is “Grace”, Nancy has none. I would, however, kidnap Tristan MacManus, just so he can read the phone book to me. His accent reduced me to goo every time he opened his mouth. Now if only Nancy would keep hers closed. Forever.

NCIS: First, an apology to my friends who love this show. I know you love it, and I know there are people who don’t like the shows that I like: Fringe, Firefly, Game of Thrones, or Battlestar Galactica (heathens!), but damn I hate this show. I can’t stand most of the characters: the quirky goth chick, the dweeb, the douchebag (especially the douchebag), and that caricature of a British professor. As bad as it is, however, it doesn’t hold a candle to…

NCIS: Los Angeles: What a godawful show. I mean, holy shit this is bad. While NCIS at least maintains the illusion that they report to the Department of the Navy, the agents of NCIS:LA run around like the cast of Scooby-Doo with guns, complete with Shaggy, and Shadout Mapes Hetty Lange as Velma. They lack only a Mystery Machine to drive around in. Alternatively, they could have called it Hetty’s Angels. Plus, someone had to tell me Chris O’Donnell was in this, because I didn’t even recognize him.

While almost all shows of this ilk play fast and loose with the capabilities of computers and hackers, their depiction in this show made me want to bounce a can of corn off of Barret Foa‘s (admittedly cute) head. With a few quick keystrokes, he hacked into the computer of a heating & cooling company, and the work schedule of an employee appeared instantly on the screen. No lag! No navigating any pesky file directories! It’s like they had a private 10 Gb fiber optic line straight into the server. Have you ever tried to find a file on a computer when you didn’t know the exact file name or location? Yeeaahh…if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be behind the garage, shooting my suspension of disbelief in the head.

Castle: Damn, Nathan Fillion really let himself go.

Rizzoli & Isles: To my complete and utter surprise, I actually liked this, although I’d dismissed it based on TNT’s commercials. It didn’t try to play “grosser than thou” like most shows involving a medical examiner (I’m looking at you, Bones), it had sharp dialogue, and some actual laugh-out-loud moments. Wow, go figure…

Mom has recovered and gone home, and I can erase most of this tripe mercifully from my memory, which is good, because I missed last night’s episode of Fringe, and I haven’t finished either Bioshock or Fallout: New Vegas yet.

Sep 232011

Mom’s having some minor outpatient surgery today, so I took the day off to play chauffeur. We’ve been here since 10:30 a.m., it’s now 3:07 p.m.

I’m bored: I’ve taken all my Words with Friends turns, restocked Tiny Tower, and caught up on all the news.

I’m hungry: I’ve burned off the Dove chocolate bar I had 90 minutes ago.

I could try some writing, play some more games, or just stare into space and let the iPad charge.

Jun 232008

Visited Mom on Saturday. She's getting around great now, and has all but stopped using the cane. She still has to take stairs slowly, but otherwise the surgery pain is all gone but for her kneecap (which was split open to do the knee replacement). The original pain from the bad knee is completely gone and she can walk without limping. I helped her haul many bags of trash to the dumpster; the aftereffects of major redecorating, painting, and reorganization. Now that she's fully mobile again, she's been using the time off work to catch up on all her projects, and the house is looking great. She starts back to work tomorrow, however.

I also got to spend more time working on her iMac. Mom needed a refresher course and some fixes to things that had seemingly changed on their own (translation: user error), and I wanted playtime on it. That thing is such a joy to use that it keeps me motivated to keep saving for my own. I ran some updates that hadn't been caught by the automatic updater yet, installed the trial of Comic Life, showed her the cool screensavers (including the mindblowing RSS feed display), and, in a "Duh!" moment, found that iPhoto does indeed have basic editing functions. What it doesn't have, at least that I could find, was a way to add keywords to multiple photos at once. Very annoying.

After I left, I decided to finally stop at the Sonic in Southgate to see what all the fuss was about. Aaron was put out that I was going without him, but said that I may as well, since he has no idea when he'll be able to get down there.
I pulled into the Meijer parking lot to access the Sonic and encountered a sign in the road saying "Sonic traffic right turn only". The Sonic was to my left, and I didn't see anything to my right except the vast expanse of Meijer's parking lot, so I turned left anyway. The first of the two entrances/exits was blocked off with sawhorses, so I had to go in the further entrance and make a complete orbit of the parking lot to get in the drive-thru lane. There were two high school/college kids hanging around the entrance, getting in the way, and twice tried to tell me something but I ignored them, figuring they were gonna ask for money, or to buy them something so they could skip the line.

I got my food (double cheeseburger, jalapeno poppers, cheesecake bites with cinnamon caramel sauce, and cranberry slushie), pulled out of the lot, and discovered what it was the kids were trying to tell me: the line to get in was actually in the Meijer parking lot, where there were two columns of cars waiting their turn to be allowed into the Sonic lot. I had accidentally jumped ahead of about a dozen cars. I felt like a bastard, but if Sonic has people managing the parking, they should have them dressed in something other than scrubby shorts and tank tops so people KNOW they're actually working. Another sign of the place's popularity is that they had an entire refrigerated semi trailer on the lot to restock the store from, and I saw a couple employees coming out of it loaded with boxes of food. The place is a zoo, but the food is very tasty.

Most of yesterday was spent (after our usual Dim Sum Sunday) clearing out junk from the basement. The broken refrigerator which had sat there for about three years was emptied out, the Lovecraftian horror in the produce drawer banished through the use of an Elder Sign, the doors removed, and the whole thing hauled up the small square staircase accompanied by much swearing, sweating, gouging of walls, and cursing of the laws of geometry.

Also disposed of were the old wrought iron patio chairs, the chimenea (used once, followed by a cease & desist letter from the condo association), and boxing bag and stand, which was claimed by our cute neighbor two doors down. The Jawas* had claimed the chairs, the chimenea, the fridge doors(?!), and its copper tubing and coils, by the end of the evening. Wish they would have taken the whole fridge, and spared the garbage men the effort.

After buying some cheap metal shelving from Home Depot and organizing the camping and homebrew equipment, the laundry room is now a thing of wonder. I discovered that it does indeed have a floor that reaches all four walls, despite years of evidence to the contrary. Clouds of dust and lint no longer swirl at our feet like a Depression-era dustbowl. I finally found that damn sock. Next on the list is the basement's main room, which should go much more smoothly now that there's room to actually store things.

In order to actually start lifting weights again, I decided to give the Body for Life program another shot (but not the actual contest). The first attempt, years ago, was a failure because I didn't plan well, didn't buy enough food, didn't have good equipment, and wasn't used to the method. Now that I've spent a couple years doing something similar with the trainer, I've got a feel for how it's done, which should help my progress.

I prepped all my food and clothes last night, turned out the light at 10:15, and was actually out of bed and headed for the gym by 5 a.m. I miscalculated how long exercises would take me, and ended up cutting the last one short (bicep curls) so I could shower and change, and that took less time than expected, so I was in the office 10 minutes early.

We'll see if I can keep this up, but if I can get through the first two weeks, it should be ingrained enough to have become a habit. The change in sleeping times will be a killer, but I've found that working out first thing in the morning makes me feel good for the rest of the day, instead of sitting in the cube for 8-10 hours, then facing the prospect of the gym afterward, when my energy is low.

* Jawas are my term for the neighborhood scavengers who cruise the streets the night before trash pickup day, hauling away any "treasures" they find. I'm all for it, as I'd rather see someone else get use from my old stuff instead of it ending up in a trash dump.

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May 292008

Mom's 20" iMac arrived yesterday at around 5:15pm. Both of us were as giddy as little kids on Christmas; practically literally bouncing up and down at the front door waiting for the (cute!) FedEx guy to show up. Scheduled delivery was supposed to be by 4:30, but because he had to deliver to Grosse Ile first, he was delayed. We set the box aside and relaxed, trying to finish the Panera salads I'd picked up. I scarfed mine down, while Mom gave up and took hers upstairs to the sewing room where we set it up.

There wasn't a whole lot in the box, and everything was packed tightly and efficiently: iMac, power cord, keyboard, mouse, two small booklets (Everything Mac and Everything Else), two backup DVDs, and a mouse-cleaning cloth. Setup was incredibly easy: I put the iMac on the desk, plugged in the power, ethernet, printer, and keyboard cords, then plugged the mouse cord into the keyboard. Done.

I parked Mom in front of it for The Great On-Turning and she fired it up. After the short but pretty "Welcome to Leopard" intro movie, Mom entered her Apple ID and personal information, registered for her free 60-day trial of .Mac (no credit card required, so you don't get billed automatically when the trial is up), then used the built-in camera to take her picture for her account photo, after multiple posing attempts.

She was so nervous about breaking anything or doing something wrong that every time I stopped her to suggest or explain something, she jumped. It was cute, but I felt kinda bad for scaring her. I kept reassuring her she couldn't hurt anything, and she eventually relaxed. I activated the right mouse button, which was off by default, then walked her through the basics of getting around in the OS: how the Dock works; that the menu bar for programs is always at the top of the desktop, and changes to reflect whichever program is active at the moment; identifying running apps by the blue dot under them on the Dock; how to quit a program instead of just minimizing it, and so on.

I went downstairs to her old computer to put her old stuff onto a thumb drive, and by the time I came back, she'd already mostly figured out how to create an appointment in iCal. I showed her the rest of the process and she made an all-day event spanning my and Aaron's trip to Alaska. Luckily she didn't have much to transfer from her old computer; just pictures, documents, and bookmarks, to the tune of about 688 MB. Transferring them to their appropriate folders was easy enough, but I got stuck at getting her pics to appear in iPhoto. I'd bought her a copy of Missing Manual: Mac OS X Leopard so she'll have a reference for figuring out how to do things while we're gone to Alaska, so I downloaded the iLife crash course PDF from the Missing Manual site and that told me how to import the photos, which turned out to be so easy I would have figured it out on my own if I'd had a bit more patience. In a bit of an ego boost, Mom remarked that she was amazed at how well I knew my way around a Mac based purely on book learning, having never owned one myself. Yet.

We also set up the Mail app for Gmail, which was just a matter of creating a new mailbox and entering her Gmail address and password. Done. It automatically started importing all her email from Gmail which, after the first 800 messages, we decided might not be such a great idea after all, and stopped it. I also discovered that Apple and Yahoo don't play well at all together. You can't import Yahoo mail into Mail, and you can't add a Yahoo account (which is what Mom uses) to iChat.

This lead to the first install of a third-party app: the Adium multi-service chat program (like Trillian for Windows). I downloaded the adium.dmg (disk image) file, which automatically opened up a little window displaying a cartoon depiction of picking up the Adium duck mascot and dragging it to the Applications folder. I did that right inside the window in question, and Adium was installed instantly. While trying to drag it from the Applications folder to the Dock to create an alias (shortcut), I accidentally dropped it on the desktop, which removed it from the Apps folder. Thinking it was an alias, I deleted it, which uninstalled the program. To get it back, I just dragged the icon from the trash back into the Apps folder, then dragged it properly to the Dock to make a shortcut.

Merely reading about how easy it is to install and remove Mac apps just doesn't prepare you for how amazing it is in practice, coming from 15+ years of Windows use. There's no lengthy installation or removal process, and no registry entries to worry about. The entire program and all of its support files are contained in a single package represented by its icon. Unlike in Windows, you can drag that icon into any folder on any drive and it will still run when you click it.

After getting her set up in Safari and iTunes (she has NO music files at all, and only a couple CDs!), and some more general poking around, I ran the software updater to get the small patches installed, prior to the big 10.5.3 patch which was released yesterday. Mom asked me to run that before I left so she would be forced to finish the quilt she was commissioned to make. I didn't get to show her the Spotlight search function, or see if her new printer/scanner would work properly when turned on (waited til after the 10.5.3 install for that), but I'm sure she can figure it out from the book. Heh, for the next week, she'll have to!

Her old computer is ready for the dumpster once I return and wipe or destroy the hard drive. It's a 10+ year old Gateway tower with 384 MB of RAM and a 15 GB hard drive, with Ubuntu Linux generously installed on it by my friend Alex over Christmas, after the Microsoft police caught up to her borrowed copy of XP. It's been adequate for her until the last couple of years, but even her modest computer needs have finally exceeded its horsepower. Even with Ubuntu's small overhead, it's dog slow, and Ubuntu's lack of drivers prevented her from using the scanner function of her printer. Firefox under Ubuntu also wouldn't properly load certain websites, and even IE under WINE emulation didn't work for every site, like her bank's online services. I do worry that she may have the same problem with Safari or Firefox on the Mac, which may require Windows and Parallels or Fusion just to run IE, but I'll cross that bridge when I'm forced to at gunpoint.

Mom and I were just totally enthralled by the whole thing, and I haven't been this excited about a new computer since building my gaming rig in 2003, and by an operating system, of all things, since the first release of Win95 and then WinXP. Although honestly, since the Mac hardware and software are effectively one entity, there's little distinction between the hardware and the OS. All in all, as corny as it sounds, it was a great experience, and I can't wait to get my own.

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May 132008

After two and a half weeks in the blue collar enclave known as Downriver (all the communities south of Detroit along the river and, incidentally, the area I grew up in), Mom graciously cut me loose this afternoon rather than tomorrow. She’s made incredible progress since her knee replacement; more than I expected and FAR more than she expected. The visiting nurse came today to remove the surgical staples so she should be in much less pain by tomorrow. She can handle pretty much everything herself now, so after a run to Kroger to restock her food, and a quick once-over housecleaning, I loaded up the Audi and made my way home.

We had a great visit and, even though I know she’ll be fine on her own, I was almost reluctant to leave. I feel pretty accomplished: I did all the cleaning, laundry, shopping, cooking, errand running, wound dressing, pill scheduling, exercise nagging, and TiVo/computer/TV tweaking. A couple trips home to see my man, and play Exalted, kept me from burnout, along with World of Warcraft on the laptop, a new five-pound book on Mac OS X, and a daily routine of pushups, planks (thanks throbbin!), chinups, and running. I’ve dropped 10 lbs between all that and the walking pneumonia of a month ago. I owe my boss big time for letting me work from her place for the last week and a half, and Mom sent him a thank you card last week.

In other news, I went and saw a sports medicine doc yesterday to get a definitive answer about my heel problems. The diagnosis: heel spurs caused by Achilles tendinitis, the very thing a previous doctor told me I did NOT have. Idiot.
The treatment: plenty of stretching, icing, and new running shoes, which may require tweaking at the heel to make sure it’s not too tight or loose. He also gave me a scrip for 4 weeks of physical therapy, and mentioned surgery as a last resort to remove the calcium buildup.

I also found out that my stepmother Barb had a heart attack at the end of March; 95% blockage in one artery, which required a stent. Apparently she was totally blindsided by it, as she has none of the markers for heart trouble: cholesterol’s fine, blood pressure low, no family history. The only thing the doc could theorize was, believe it or not, broken heart syndrome, which may have started when my father’s cancer was diagnosed and caused gradual heart damage over the last five years. Bizarre, though I’d recently read an article about that very thing; that the stress of grief and mourning can cause actual heart damage.

My boss cleared me to work from Mom’s the rest of the week, but I’m going back in on Thursday. Tomorrow I’m working from home, simply because I need a day at home, and I’ve got nothing but conference calls anyway. Afterwards we go pick up the new car and wave goodbye to my trusty PT Cruiser. I’m perfectly happy driving the Audi, cuz it’s all classy and shit, but I will miss the PT; I had fun in that car.

It’s good to be home.

May 042008

Things have been going well with the recovery. Got her settled in late Friday afternoon, then I went grocery shopping. Made some food and got her comfortable, but we were both out by 11ish.

Saturday I was in high gear for over 13 hours. After the visiting nurse and physical therapist came and went, I went shopping for cleaning supplies, then got started. Cleaned the upstairs and downstairs bathroom, vacuumed all the carpeting, Swiffered the kitchen and bathroom floors, put up a new shower curtain liner, took out all the trash, made breakfast and lunch, dealt with wound care several times, washed sheets twice, managed the pill schedule, picked up the Applebee’s To Go that Mom treated us to, and then went running. Bad idea. I really need to see a sports med doc about my heels (tendinitis/tendinosis). Luckily my trainer gave me a referal to a guy in Auburn Hills. I’ll make an appt. tomorrow for after I leave Mom’s.

Today I did more cooking, more wound care, moved the computer down to the living room, and helped Mom get up and down the stairs for the first time so that she could shower and I could show off my spotless bathroom. Since then it’s been laundry all day. The last load (my stuff) just buzzed that it’s done drying.

My boss was kind enough to let me work from here over the VPN all week, so I’ll be back up at 6:30am so I can wake up enough to log in at 7. This is why I’ve been busting my ass this weekend to get everything taken care of that I can so I’ll have less to juggle while trying to work. Luckily Mom’s doing very good with getting around and doing some things for herself, making visible progress every day.

For some reason, she developed huge blisters on her left leg, just below the knee, after surgery. Even the doc was at a loss as to why. I swear, the main one looked exactly like someone had stuck an entire human liver to the outside of her leg. I’ll leave it at that, but suffice it to say that if not for the blisters, this would be a lot less hassle to deal with.

May 012008

Apologies for my bizarre little bout of sleep-deprived self-flagellation Monday night. I only slept for about an hour after posting that, pushing my grand total to three hours between Sunday morning and Tuesday afternoon.

Got Mom to the hospital at 5:30am and she was in surgery by 7:30. She finished up at 9:15 with no complications and was in her room by about 10:30. I stayed with her until about 2, when she shooed me out the door to get some sleep. By then I had that thin nasty film of sweat that comes with extreme exhaustion, so when I got home I took a quick shower and fell into bed for a 3 hour nap. Got up, had some food, called and checked on her, and was back in bed at 10:30. Felt MUCH better yesterday morning.

Worked from home for a couple hours, then went back to the hospital for visiting and her group physical therapy class. She did ok, but because the epidural had come out during the night, AND the IV’s morphine drip wasn’t working, she had no pain relief the entire night. The night nurses didn’t bother to really investigate, but when the anesthesiologist checked her in the morning, he started cracking the whip, and soon after PT class she’d had four doctors check her, at least four doses of morphine, two doses of Percocet, and was feeling no pain. There’s been more swelling than normal, but it’s gone down after keeping it elevated and iced all day. She’s surprisingly mobile already, despite the pain, and made noticeable progress in just one day. Aaron stopped by at lunch with a gift basket of chocolate, cookies, chocolate, crackers, and chocolate, further cementing his #2 position on the favorite son list.

If all goes well, she’ll go home tomorrow, and I’ll be at her place for the entire week. Luckily she’ll have home care coming in for three weeks, so that will help me, and my boss has cleared me to work from her place, so I don’t have to take family leave and go unpaid, or burn what little vacation I have left.

There’s no gym I can go to anywhere near her, so I’ll be a cardio whore for the next week. I lost over 5 lbs when I was sick, and I’ve worked to keep it off since then, dropping below 200 lbs and 34 waist size for the first time in years, and cargo shorts I’ve avoided wearing for a year now slide right on with no gut-sucking required. If I keep this up, I should be beach-worthy for the trip to Maui in July.

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