Thursday, October 29, 2009


So...interesting how life throws "curve balls" at you.

I received a call from my brother-in-law on Tuesday night informing me that my dad was in an ambulance, on his way to the Mt. Ayr hospital.  Apparently, he was outside, filling birdfeeders, and his legs went numb.  He couldn't make it into the house, and mom couldn't get him inside, so they called the ambulance and rushed him to the emergency room.

At 5:00 Wednesday morning, mom called to say that he had been taken by ambulance to Mercy Hospital in Des Moines.  They were going to air lift him there, but the cloud cover was too low, and they had to do it by land.  They did emergency surgery to try to clear plaque, cholesterol, and blood clots from his aorta.

Turns out his legs had gone without any blood flowing through his veins for about 10 hours.  Not sure how that's possible, as I would THINK one would be able to tell that something was wrong, but apparently not.  Permanent muscle and nerve damage occurs after 6 hours, so, at this point, the doctors are not sure if he'll ever walk again.

The part of his aorta that separates around his belly button was 100% blocked for about 6 inches.  Because of this, his kidneys may have also suffered damage.  It's possible that he will need dialysis for the rest of his life.

At this point, it'll be about 6 months before we'll be able to tell what the extent of his injuries are.  At the hospital, they cut slits from his knees to his ankles, and had to leave them open, to make sure that the muscles didn't swell so much that they were destroyed.  So...he's in intensive care, loopy as ALL GET OUT because of the morphine (at one point, he asked where his purse was, and at another wondered what we thought of the motel room we were in...), and has a FOUR hour surgery on Monday at 12:30 to do a bypass around the blocked part of the aorta.

It's been a REALLY long couple of days in the waiting room and ICU, and I'm SO not good at the "sitting around doing nothing" thing.  I've read about 20 magazines, paced incessantly, crabbed, griped, and done the SNARKY thing, and we still have LOTS of hospital time to go...

I'm worried, and concerned that things will NEVER be the same again, and am trying to come to grips with the fact that my AMAZING father may forever more be wheel-chair bound, and in need of dialysis on a weekly/monthly basis.

If you pray, please do so...if you offer concerns to the universe, please do so...if you just want to think happy thoughts...I'm good with that too!

Here's hoping YOU are happy and healthy!  Enjoy walking, and being with loved ones, and don't take a SECOND of your life for granted.  It can change in an instant...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Travel Tree

I've been working for the last couple of months on ornaments for a tree that I'm putting together to go on the table on the landing outside Duane's and my doors.  I put up the silver tree with multi-colored glass balls last year, and it was nice, but I've wanted to find a way to remember all of our AMAZING trips, without having to drag out the albums.

So...being the DECOUPAGE KING that I am, decided that I'd ModPodge an ornament for each of the trips we've been on in the last 10 years.  Turns out we've been A LOT of places!  I'm FINALLY finished, and I have 46 ornaments!

I decided to limit it to ONLY trips that we've taken by airplane.  As luck would have it (for me!), I was able to keep the Northwest airplane model that I dropped a few months back (while trying to find something in Duane's kitchen).  The plane part snapped off the base, and is now going to be the "star" on the top of the tree!

I also found some tiny glittery stars to "sparkle up" the tree, and will string white lights as well.  I think it's going to be cool!

Here are a couple of shots of the ornaments...

I'll post a picture of the finished tree as the holidays get closer!

Here's hoping YOU have found a way to cherish all of YOUR favorite photos too!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Out With the Old (II)...

...and in with the new (II)...

So...getting the new sofa (which I LOVE!) created a bit of a problem...the OLD chair that I had sitting next to it looked like CHILDREN'S furniture next to the new piece...SO...Duane and I had to go out and look for a new chair (I THINK it's a conspiracy in the furniture industry to make things BIGGER and BIGGER so that the OLD stuff doesn't work with the NEW stuff, and you just keep BUYING things)!'s the OLD:

...and here's the NEW:

I THINK I like it (a lot), but need a little while to get used to's CERTAINLY "loud"...!!!!

Here's hoping YOU have a living room full of COOL furniture, and that it's all the SAME SIZE!!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Whirlwind Weekend in Kansas City!!

MEA (Minnesota Educator's Weekend) is HISTORICALLY a four day weekend on which teacher's attend conferences for two "work days", then have the weekend to attend additional conferences, or stay home.  In recent years, MEA has become a four day weekend on which everyone travels.

In Minnesota, it's the BUSIEST travel weekend, next to Christmas.  Consequently, people who fly "standby", and who INTEND to get to London or Paris or California end up closer to home, visiting places not many people want to go...which is why we ended up in Kansas City.  I'm TOTALLY not trashing K.C., because I actually find it to be a DELIGHTFUL place, with lots of cool stuff to do (even though, this trip, it was cloudy and dreary, and cold the entire time we were there...).

We were planning on London up until Wednesday morning, and I spent several HOURS trying to find accommodations near Victoria Station (and found an AWESOME B & B, for a very good price!), when Duane informed me that SIX additional, "real" (non-"standby") people had just booked, and there was no way we'd get back (I'm STILL mystified WHY we can GET to these cool places, but can't get MINNESOTA...WHO would come here??!!).

Anyway, we then tried to get to St. Louis, but that flight filled up DAY OF travel, so Kansas City was about the ONLY place in the WORLD that we could actually get to, AND get back.

AGAIN...not to "bad mouth" Kansas City, because we had a GREAT time (as we always do when we travel).  It's just that it's a TOTAL mind warp to be thinking "what do I need to pack for London??!!", and then ending up on a one hour flight to Missouri...

Standby travel BITCHING aside, we had a LOVELY time!  We got to town on Thursday, in the early afternoon, and headed to Country Club Plaza to have "burnt ends" (bbq) at Jack Stack BBQ. After getting our fill of ribs and baked beans (and coleslaw and corn pudding), we headed downtown to look around City Market  (SO not busy on a Thursday afternoon, and not much was actually OPEN!!!), and to explore the four story antique mall that we found on our LAST MEA weekend trip to K.C., two years ago.

I've been looking for a Fisher Price barn and silo for awhile, and found one, complete with white plastic fence, cow, sheep, pig, chicken, tractor, and a couple of Fisher Price farmers, for $25.00.  It even fit in my suitcase!

After the antique mall, we looked at a restaurant supply store we found last time, then hit a seed and spice store that we ALSO found last time. 

We then headed to our hotel (the Holiday Inn Express), and walked to a shopping center nearby to explore their Half-Price book store.  They were playing an AWFUL Hillbilly girl country/western singer (I have no idea who she was, but, when they finally switched CD's, Duane and I clapped, causing several people to laugh...out loud...!), but we managed to survive the experience...

When we were finished at the bookstore, we headed to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  I LOVE the Nelson-Atkins.  The architecture alone is worth the visit, and they have some GORGEOUS European and early American paintings, as well as sculpture, stained glass, and fine china.

We looked around for a couple of hours, then headed to a grocery store nearby to pick up a few things for "snacking" (I got Chicken in a Biscuit crackers, cheddar bacon "spray cheese" and CLASSY am I??!!).  We went back to the hotel, watched a little bit of Wanda Sykes (how FUNNY is she??!!) on HBO, then went to bed.

Friday, we got up, and got directions to the nearest Waffle House (in Overland Park, Kansas).  I LOVE WAFFLE HOUSE!  We had a DELIGHTFUL breakfast (the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich with "scattered and smothered" hash browns, and a sweet tea), then went to a mall in Overland Park.

The mall was...a mall...nothing special, and the only things I bought were a clarinet Christmas ornament (for Abigail), and a saxophone ornament (for Duane's and my tree).  After the mall, we went to Loose Park to see the fall leaves (since we aren't going to have any color this year, due to snow and freezing temperatures), walk through the wilting rose garden, and get some exercise.

We then headed to the World War I monument.  What a COOL place!!  The monument is a tall concrete tower that can be seen from most parts of the city, and, at the base, is a REALLY well constructed museum, chronicling the war, and all that it was.  Interactive, big, really well done.

the monument from the parking lot

Kansas City, as seen from the monument

part of the "frieze" on the wall in front of the memorial

After touring the various other buildings at the memorial, we headed down the hill to the train station (now a museum, restaurant, exhibition space, and post office).  We spent a little time looking around, hit the gift shop, debated going to the chocolate exhibit (at which the lady behind the ticket counter talked us out of doing...NOT the best "tour guide representative" K.C. has to offer), TRIED to find the Warhol exhibit (not very hard though...neither of us are big Warhol fans...) then we headed to "Pot Pie", a cool little neighborhood restaurant near the hotel.  We were TEMPTED to actually GET the pot pie, but ended up having the pan seared chicken and mashed potatoes...very good, and the restaurant was VERY fun!

We headed to the Kemper Museum of Modern Art after dinner to look around.  I have to admit that I DO NOT like modern art.  I don't get it!  A brown square on a black background is just a brown square on a black matter WHAT artsy title someone gives it!  Ditto paint splatters and blobby sculpture...ick!  LUCKILY, they had a special exhibit of paintings by the Wyeth men (M.C., Andrew, and James).  Otherwise, it would have been COMPLETELY awful!!!

We found a World Market after leaving the museum, so were able to stock up on stuff we are no longer able to get in the twin cities, since they CLOSED all of our stores...then went back to the hotel to find a parking place (the hotel shares a parking lot with a VERY popular burger joint, and it's not unusual to drive around for a half an hour before getting a spot).

The "vehicle" for the Westport Flea Market and Bar and Grill

It was a LONG night, as there were LOTS of noisy people in the rooms around and above us, and a bar SOMEWHERE in the vicinity had LOUD music piped OUTSIDE until about 2:00 in the morning...ugh!

Because of last night, and our HORRIBLE stay at the Holiday Inn in Des Moines a few weeks ago (maybe it's just Holiday Inn's that are bad??!!), I've come up with "Jeff's THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND When You Stay at a Hotel"...

1.  NEVER talk in any common it HALLWAY, outside the ELEVATORS, by the ICE MACHINE, or anywhere else people MIGHT be...because THEY ARE, and they DO NOT care what you have to say...ESPECIALLY when it's 2:00 in the FREAKING morning.  From the time you enter the hotel, to the time you QUIETLY close the door to your room...SHUT THE HELL UP!!!

2.  Leash and vocally restrain your children.  They are LOUD (!), and they WILL "make a break for it"...given the opportunity!!!

3. Keep the television (and sexcapades!) down when you get to your room.  The walls are THINNER than you think, and we DO NOT CARE TO HEAR WHAT YOU ARE DOING!!!!

4.  Don't wear clogs, or cowboy boots, or military boots, or skis (or WHATEVER the hell it is you are wearing) in the room above other people when you are walking around!  SERIOUSLY, did you bring your pet elephant on the trip with you?  CRIMINY!!!!

5.  STAY HOME!  You certainly aren't making OUR stay a restful one!!!!

Okay...done with the snarky...for now...

Today, we got up, checked out of the hotel, maneuvered our way around the Kansas City Marathon, ate at ANOTHER Waffle House (near the airport), and actually made it in time to get on an earlier flight (we even got FIRST CLASS seats!), and are now back in the cities, where we have the rest of today and tomorrow to BE LAZY, and get ready for the coming work week.

It should be an interesting week...I have a sore throat AND a headache...we'll see where THAT goes...

Hope YOUR weekend is progressing nicely, by this point, and that YOU are/were able to do something interesting!!!!

Saturday, October 10, 2009



...on October 10th??!!!!!!

The reminaing plants on my deck are SO not going to make it through this!!!

Hope it's warm and sunny where YOU are!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Out With the Old...

...and in with the new...

I bought a new sofa!  It's gorgeous, but I'm mourning the old one a little bit.  It was the first piece of furniture I bought after getting the children's librarian job in Fairfield, after spending NINE MONTHS living with mom and dad, after moving back from Japan.

First pieces of furniture are...APPARENTLY...a little like old friends.  You grow to love them, and you grow comfortable with them, and you APPARENTLY have a difficult time parting with them. 

I remember picking it out TWENTY YEARS AGO.  I remember dad and I trying to lug that HEAVY, HEAVY sofa up to my upstairs apartment (oh how I WISH we'd thought to take the mattress out before doing so!).  I remember how AWESOME it looked in that old, bare, white room...shiny, clean, BEAUTIFUL.

I also, however, remember how FREAKING uncomfortable the "bed" part of the thing was.  You had to sleep "kitty corner" from upper right to lower left, or you PAID with a sore back for DAYS.  I also remember how Duane HATED how narrow and low it sat (which was a BIG part of why I bought a new one).

It served me well, and I really did think it was one of the most comfortable pieces of furniture EVER.  It's currently wheeling down interstate 35 in the back of mom and dad's pickup...bound for the auction house in Ringgold County.  Hopefully, it'll find a new home, and will live out it's days with nice, calm, careful people!

I know...get over it...IT'S JUST A SOFA!!!!'s a picture of the "old"...

and here's a picture of the "new"...

UNFORTUNATELY, the arm chair's days are now numbered.  APPARENTLY, like everything else these days, the sofa is SUPERSIZED, and the chair now looks like children's furniture.  Luckily, I'm not as emotionally attached to it...I bought it at Wal-Mart for eighty bucks to have something to sit on in the bedroom of that same apartment.  It's shiny, and blue, and looks a little TOO early 90's...'s hoping YOU have a nice, comfortable sofa...whether it be new OR old, and that all of YOUR furniture is the same size!!!!