Friday, April 18, 2014

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded...

I like going to church. I especially like holidays. Sometimes the hymns are the "hook" that makes it all worthwhile for me.

Let's just say, it is horribly horribly disappointing to go to church ON Good Friday and not sing the one hymn that hooks the holiday for me, that can't really be sung on ANY other day of the year.

For the first time in a long time, I left church with a sour taste in my mouth and a snitty facial expression.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014


I am not a morning person. Markedly so. Just .... not.

My husband cannot sleep past 7am, I hate getting up before noon. He thinks I burn the day sleeping but he's in bed at 9pm out cold and I'm rocking the midnight oil.

Since the surgery, I've been able to sleep a lot better and sleep through the night, which had been something I hadn't been able to do for quite a while. I maybe wake up once a night to pee and that's usually because I drink a lot of liquid around dinner time and it has to make its exit sometime...

A few days over the past week or so I've made the concerted effort to be up early and have gone to the gym with my girl C. I feel I slow her down a lot if we try and walk outdoors, so if we are next to one another on an exercise bike she can go fast and I can go at my pace. She can do 5 miles to my 2, and we never lose track of each other ... it works out great.

This morning was to be a gym day, and I woke up with my knee hurting and swollen... I knew it would be a bad idea to go work it out the way I'd been working it out. So I told C that I wanted to pass on the gym, and she suggested breakfast.

She had a dentist appointment to get to, so she was up and ready anyway... so I agreed.

It was so nice to get out and have breakfast... I'm used to just a cuppa coffee these days. I'm home now, and have the whole day before me to do stuff. I've got boxes of books to unpack, some book cases to move (I need Geoff's help with that, maybe Jess' too) and I have the dishwasher running and the stovetop cleaned.

Getting up early has its benefits.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


There are some women who have entire walk-in closets set up and organized with their shoes. I've seen them on the TV.

Me? I have
  • a pair of New Balance sneakers, 
  • a pair of snow/rain boots, with zippers up the side, in black. I think they are made by Totes. 
  • a pair of Merrill hiking shoes, 
  • a pair of Columbia Sportswear hiking boots, 
  • a pair of cheap black flats, 
  • a pair of purple Teva hiking sandals, 
  • a pair of Teva dressy nice looking sandals, 
  • a pair of 80s retro throw-back green elf boots,
  • a pair of black leather boots with a chunky heel, which I never wear because even though it is literally a one-inch heel, I fall over,
  • a pair of Nike flip flops in brown and pink
For me, that seems like a LOT of footwear. I did this little inventory recently when thinking about job interviews and what I'll need to wear as the weather gets closer. Lucky for me the Teva dress nice looking sandals fit the bill, but ... not until after Memorial Day really.

I'm going to a funeral today, so I put my black flats on. The bottom of the shoe has come apart, and so I threw them away. I started looking at the other shoes. The green elf boots would work... I picked them off, dusted them off (yes, they've been idle so long they are dusty) and went to slide them on.

They won't go on.

My feet are swollen,  by-product of the medical condition I find myself in. Crap on a cracker.

I start eyeballing the black boots with the short heel. They come up about 1/5th my calf. They look really cute, kind of a British Mod period look and feel, like I'd be dancing with Austin Powers if I could pull it off.... But I can't wear them when I'm in good health without falling down, how am I going to walk with them on my feet when my knee is killing me and when my feet are swollen?

The only thing left to do was just put on the sneakers. They are shiny and nice, I only ever wear them to the gym, which literally has been all of 10 times since I bought them. I don't wear them to take the dogs out (hiking shoes or winter boots) because I do not want to get them muddy. They are silver and grey and pink and white. I think they are Susan Komen foundation sneakers which initially went for $100 plus at Olympia Sportswear but I got them for $60 in the fall sale last year. I didn't buy them to wear pink in support of breast cancer, but because they were the only things that were not 80s Neon Glowing Horror colors, which seem to have made an unbelievable comeback for some unknown and/or demonic reason.

I had on a pink blouse, so ... okay.

Driving down the highway, I remembered the other time I wore sneakers to a funeral. My friend Ben's mom had passed away, and there were several of us from the office who decided to go to the funeral. It was a pouring, rainy day and I realized I was going to have to be the one who was the driver. I ran out to my car, in my sneakers and my dress, and tidied up the back seat of the car (at the time, I had small children so the back seat of the car was full of gear, car seats, a ton of kid related crap, and oh ... my dress shoes.

I transferred items into the trunk, grabbing literal armloads of stuff in the pouring rain, to make room for two co-workers to have a semi-clean place to sit.

In the process, I managed to drop one of my dress shoes. I realized this when we got to the funeral (2 hours away).

So there I was. In my sneakers, in my panty hose, in my dress and my long wool dress coat. My co-workers and I had a good laugh about it, one of them went the extra mile and went through all the stuff in my trunk to double check for me ... no dice.

It was more of a memorial service than a funeral. Ben's mom had been cremated weeks beforehand, and this was at some sort of yacht club or country club on the ocean near Mystic, CT. We all walked in, soaking wet, and someone took our coats. We went into the bathrooms to spruce up, and my boss and I were just laughing at how stupid my feet looked.

Walking out into the hall, I got the dirty up and down looks from some of Ben's high school female friends who must have been saying to themselves "who is that frumpy old bag in the sneakers? WTF?" Literally watched some of them eyeball me up and down and giggle with one another, in that Connecticut school girl kind of way, with the hands gently raised to the lips and the check-it-out-over-there eye movements.

It didn't matter.

Ben came around the corner and beamed, smiling at me broadly. He hugged me and kissed my cheek and hugged me some more, thanking me for coming down. He kind of hugged our boss. He held my hand and walked me over to a display of pictures of his mom and the family, and put his arm over my shoulder as he walked us through some of the memories.

I stuck my foot out to show Ben that I was wearing my stupid sneakers, and told them the story of how one of my priceless Payless black flats had slipped out of my arms in the rain, in the transfer. He laughed and laughed and shook his head. I laughed too as I wagged my foot and made an "I'm such a dope" facial expression. By then all 3 of our co-workers who made the trip were with us, and we all had a good laugh.

The looks from the girls that I got after that were even better than before. More hugs from Ben and he went to greet some other guests arriving.

No one cares what you wear to the funeral. They just care that you took the time to show up.

No one noticed my feet today. I was happy to have on the sneakers because my knee hurts from too much fun at the gym yesterday. The only thing that mattered were the hugs from my friends who were there.

Monday, April 07, 2014

ponderings on a Monday afternoon

It is slightly warm out, enough that it smells warm. I like it.

And this is one of those "it sounds good but don't get your hopes up" moments in the job search. In fact, it sounds too good. In fact, I can't believe how good it sounds even if the commute is going to be a bear, a wolf, and a chupacabra all at one time.

I will need a more reliable vehicle.

Not to be too mysterious or anything but, I don't want to say anything lest this is all flash in the pan not gonna happen stuff. Cloud talk, ya know?

In the meantime, lunch.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

When the Great Man falls, we fall. We fall...

In the fall, we lost our BSA Troop Committee Chairwoman, Marie. A couple of weeks ago, we lost another great Scouter, and I lost yet another mentor and friend.

Steve was a deacon at our church and was very active in Scouting. 25 years plus active, as a matter of fact. My life got to overlap with his on these two very wonderful fronts, and I got to know him really well in both venues.

A lot of people get their kids through the Scout program and then they quit, phase out after a year or so. Steve got his son through Eagle, it wasn't an easy process, but he did it. They did it. And Steve kept on.

At our church, often times he was a voice of reason. He would think deeply about a situation or a problem. He had great opinions. I found him to be a calm voice in a big storm sometimes. If there was a conflict or problem, I would often say to myself, "I want to know what Steve's take is on this..." 

He died suddenly, unexpectedly, and my heart breaks even weeks afterwards just thinking of how important he was to his family, our church and the Scouting program.

I'm heartbroken because of how important he was to me, and how much he loved my son. We are getting ready to submit Geoff's Eagle project, and I had asked Steve to serve as his project coach. He was elated. He couldn't wait to get this going. And now he's gone.

Steve was the best Boy Scout I know ... because he lived literally by the Scout Oath and Law on a daily basis. Need something done? Steve will be there, a smile on his face and a joke in his heart. He may grumble if it starts raining, but the job will get done. Flat tire on the side of the highway? Steve is that guy who is going to stop and help you figure out how the jack works, and get your car up, tire changed, and back on the road in no time.

There were many events at our church where I rolled up my sleeves and stood side by side with Steve, but there were even more that I passed on and I greatly regret that. I won't get that opportunity again, to live life in service beside a man who did it so well.

At his funeral, I got to be the last person who shared a memory about him. I overlapped with him in church and Scouting so I addressed the Scouting end of things. I had my son come forward and lead those who were Scouts in the Oath and Law, and as Geoff lumbered back to his seat I recalled the best Steve story ever -- the time he helped Geoff get his canoeing merit badge in 2009.

I intended on talking about "Be Prepared," and how Steve's death was something NONE of us could have been prepared for. But to live this life prepared to leave it by loving one another so powerfully, and to do such great things, that the world is in essence changed forever by your being there... and by your passing.

The church was PACKED, and I almost made a joke, which my pastor might not have found funny. "Jesus rising from the dead can't fill these pews this full but man alive, Steve dying packs all y'all in here!" It would have gotten a laugh from that crowd, but ... sometimes you share the joke with your husband on the way home instead.

I told the audience, whether or not they were Scouts or Scouters to print out the oath and law, tape it up somewhere that they can read it every day, and do it. Do the words. Live the words. Do it for Steve and do him proud. There were a lot of smiles coming back at me, and I know Steve would have liked what I had to say.

My friend Jim Infantino has a song where the refrain (in the title here) states that "when the Great Man falls, we fall..." the rest of the song is about a professor he had who was a titan, a role model, a great mentor and leader. The verses don't apply to Steve, but that refrain... gets me every time now when I think of it.

And in my head, I know that Steve would stand behind me and put a hand on my shoulder and tell me get up, and go on.

And I will.

Saturday, April 05, 2014


This winter has been a brutal one around here. The weather has been bone-chilling, the snow just kept coming. Getting sick during the crappiest season of the year was a good idea.

I am starting to feel somewhat better. There are good "up" days and even better days, and days where I literally feel I'm going to die.

Yesterday I took myself to the gym, rode the exercise bike for 2 miles and did all the upper body AND lower body machines. I was there an hour. I broke a sweat, even though I literally have the pin set in the LOWEST setting on most of the machines for weight (i think this is 20 lbs, not sure). There are a few machines in the lower body realm that I had to raise the weight up to 50 or 60 pounds simply because the lowest setting was way too "weak" for me.

Today I am feeling it. Doug just left to go to the gym and asked if I wanted to go and I cringed... no. Maybe tomorrow. A day off would be good.

The big problem right now is my original knee injury from December. Everything surgery-wise is fine and healed up nicely. I'm clear to do a lot.

But my knee hates me so much.

So, today I woke up at 9am, which for me is early. I came down for coffee and goofing off. Doug ended up outside working in the yard and I ended up looking at my kitchen and groaning. The dining table had become everyone's dumping ground for "put this here and we'll figure it out later." Under the table was the doggie bed, which one of my dogs has decided is the "eat a lot of cardboard and tear up boxes on it" bed. The kitchen is a disaster. I started cleaning it, and got it to about 90% before my knee just couldn't take it anymore. Under the table is going to have to wait, and then mopping... oh the mopping that will happen.

I need a new vacuum, so I will go pick one up this week. I have swiffer dusty thingies but can't find the handles that you slip them on. They are in this house somewhere... but where, I'm not sure. I have literally 20 of them.

Geoff and I did a bunch of work in the study. First off was me telling him to take all his camping gear upstairs, which he did. He has a tendency to bring stuff home from a trip and just deposit it in the study, where it sits until he needs it again. He will need it in 2 weeks when he goes on the next trip, and will gripe at me that he "had to schelp all of this crap upstairs and now drag it all back down and blah blah blah..." yeah. do it, deal with it. It BELONGS up in your room, not in the study.

We moved 2 of the 5 bookcases into position. Now I can unpack book boxes. That'll be sweet.

One or two of the bookcases will actually end up in the back porch when we're done but for now -- I need to move boxes OUT of the back porch in order to get the book cases out THERE.

I feel like someday we'll actually live here. Just in time to pack and move again? Who knows.

Anyway. Moving the bookcases was fun because I felt healthy and strong, and Geoff and I did it together, and it was fun. I may be starting to feel like me again. Maybe.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The side effects

This past week, a friend of ours died. Steve was a fixture at our church and in BSA. He dearly loved my son. He dearly loved me and my husband.

I will miss him for a very long time.

His visiting hours are tonight, and funeral tomorrow. I have known for a while that I need to go buy new clothes, as nothing fits now that my belly doesn't look like I'm 5 months pregnant or more.

I am the queen of procrastination, so I have not gone shopping. A problem is walking and stamina and not having enough strength to get through a store. And I need to go to a store because I have no idea what size I need for clothing, so trying on in person is important.

Going upstairs this afternoon I went through the clothes and drawers and closets. Everything was too big, falling off me big. Size 22 pants that fit me a few years ago weren't even wearable with a belt, or safety pins, or any way. Size 20, slipping off of my hips too.

I realized I didn't have anything smaller.

There was a bag of clothing that ended up in the back porch when we moved in, all earmarked for donation. I ripped into the bag and found a pair of size 18 pants.

They fit, but literally if I lose 5 pounds they will not.

I could, in theory, very soon be fitting into size 16. I haven't worn a size 16 since BEFORE JESSICA WAS BORN in 1992.

The blouse I'm wearing is huge, where it used to cling to my gut.

Right now I'm simply stunned. I can literally go buy off the regular rack in the non-"women's" size section of a store. No more size "1x" or "2x" for me, which is code for 20-22 and 24-26. Because tiny numbers make you feel so much "better" and "normal" about how humongous you've become after 20 years.

I'm kind of stoked.

Now, I just need to get my legs strong enough to go workout again. Hopefully soon.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

What happens when Christine buys a printer

When we moved into the new apartment, I set up the office with the computer and printer and everything. We didn't need to print anything any time soon, and once we got into the academic year, Geoff was submitting papers to his teachers via their online program at school. Printing seemed to be a non-issue.

But then he had to print something in October, and told me the printer didn't work. I thought maybe the ink had gone dry or something since we hadn't printed anything since maybe May. I grabbed some new ink, and headed home... only to find that the ink wasn't the problem (after installing it).

The error on the screen was that the "printer door was open" and it most certainly was NOT open.

I tried to clean out the little hole where the little plastic thing goes in and tells the printer "hey, printer, the door is closed" thinking it got some food or some dust or some other detritus in it from the Boy and the Man who use the office. But that didn't do anything. I stuck a partially re-bent paper clip into the hole to MAKE the sensor feel something. That didn't work.

I read the manual. That didn't work.

I gave up.

Geoff asked us for rides to school so he could go to the library and use the printer there. He would have to be there for 7am in order to get things printed and organized and make it to home room.

This went on all winter.

Thursday, I ordered a new printer online at

Now, I've got an issue with this "delivery" system they have. I chose my printer, put it in the "cart" and the message on the screen said "In Stock" which I said "awesome" to.

I got a $50 rebate for buying it online, which I also said "awesome" to, or maybe "wicked pissah awesome."

I paid for it, I got the confirmation email. I didn't see anywhere in the transaction that the store does not take stock off of their own shelves when you get something online. It says that in the CART section in tiny stupid print (I had to go back through the process to replicate the screens so I could see the message, in tiny stupid print.

Where it should have told me was where it says "In Stock... but ..." or maybe in the body of the confirmation email there should be a message that says "oh, just so you know since you probably didn't read the message in the cart before you clicked purchase..."

I called the store to ask when I could pick it up because not having seen/read/acknowledged that "you have to wait for us to get it from the warehouse so you can't pick it up today" message. The kid on the phone was super nice and helpful and said "we can void the transaction and you can come in and buy the printer now."

"But I'll lose the $50 buy it online discount thing then, won't I?"


"I don't need a printer today THAT badly..." So we went and picked it up today.

There is a giant printer in a box looking at me right now.

And there is a reason for that.

When we moved in, we didn't unpack in any sort of organized or orderly fashion. Stuff ended up thrown in rooms. In the study, Doug grabbed the first thing he could, a small kids' desk that we always kept the guinea pig(s) on in the living room, and set that up for the computer. I told him "NO. Set up the dang computer desk! Don't do that! If you do that it will never get undone!" Because I know our family well.

"It's good enough for now."

Groan, says the wife.

I set up the computer, and put a small chair next to the kid's desk to hold the printer, which as you now know didn't ever work.

We were driving home with our new box of printer, and I said to Doug "so, what are the chances of you setting up the computer desk when we get home?" He sighed heavily and said he would do so.

And he did.

But the office has become the convenient dumping ground for everything that comes in the house ... Geoff's camping gear, stuff that really should go straight to the garage but comes inside instead, items from the trunks of cars that get totaled on Rte 9 in Wellesley or Rte 1 in Lynnfield. 

Layer that with the usual Lazy Geoff Syndrome where he drops soda cans and food wrappers behind the desk, and takes his socks off and they pile up under there (oh, so THAT'S where all the socks I bought you this year went!" the room is a complete and utter disaster. Un. Fucking. Mittigated.

So Doug set up the desk in what little space he had and then angrily went upstairs with his phone and a glass of water to play Candy Crush Saga... I called Geoff down and told him that this was our project of the day - and the project for his Family Life Merit Badge.

We cleaned the room and organized it... just so I have a place to set up the printer. Because I wasn't going to set it up on the chair again. I want a right proper office, with bookcases that have books on them, and no camping gear, and no empty guinea pig cage or guinea pig food.

We're not quite done, because I needed a freaking rest from the chaos... but we're almost done.

And this is all just to set up a printer.


With my leg being swollen and uncomfortable, taking a shower is a challenge. I tend to go as quickly as possible, the quick body wash and shampoo only. Conditioner has not touched my hair in a month. I just don't have time to stand there and let it sink into my gorgeous locks.

Doug thought it would be nice for me to take a bath. He went out and bought some "relaxing bath salts" to ease sore muscles. He's deeply thoughtful that way. Jess scrubbed the bathroom and the tub for me yesterday so I could go up and luxuriate in the tub.

This morning I did so.

My conclusion is that baths, or at least every bath in every bathtub I've had in my life, are overrated.

Turning the water on, I lowered myself into the tub. With one bum knee (right) and a swollen thigh and blood clot in the left knee, this was a challenge. I got seated and then kind of realized that getting up might prove to be a huge problem and possible nightmare for getting out.

But I figured ... I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

I started by washing my hair quickly, because it needed it badly. I did not apply conditioner. I wrapped my bath towel around my hair and realized I maybe should have brought two towels into the bathroom with me. Stupid.

Then I turned the water spigot up to the hottest water temperature  possible, which really wasn't that hot - I wanted REALLY hot water. Like hot tub hot water. I sat there as the bath salts dissolved, and the tub began to fill.

Now, if you're like me, your upper body sticks up out of the tub. This is uncomfortable when the room isn't really warm. I lathered up the bath scrunchie with some special dry and sensitive skin body wash that I'd bought for Geoff, and soaped the upper body part of me up nicely. This was temporarily very soothing.

Rinsing off, I then realized I was going to be even colder than before because now ... I'm wet.

The tub was finally filled up, and basically from right below my waist downward I was in the water... head, arms, back and shoulders freezing. The immediate instinct is to maybe scrunch down, bend the knees and get the back part of my body into the water. But my tub isn't really long enough for repose.

I'm miserable at this point. And I feel like such an ingrate because my loving husband was so excited to get relaxing muscle body bath salts for me and treat me to something nice.

I force myself to stay in the tub, putting water which is quickly becoming cold water up over my back and shoulders again. How much longer do I wait? I decide I've waited long enough and hit the drain stopper. The water starts to sing the song of its people as it heads to the septic system, and I realize I have to get up.

The challenge I predicted it would be, it was. Pushing myself up by my arms proved no good, the side of the tub on one side is too small for a hand to palm and push up off of. Trying to push with both arms on one side was no good either. I ended up getting onto my bad knee and uttering blasphemies while rotating the body to the point where I was on both knees and could get the left leg under me to stand.

I considered calling out for some help but once in the right position, even though I was wet and freezing, I was home free and got the towel from around my head (it served its purpose there) and wrapped myself up.

Coming downstairs, Doug asked me with a big smile on his face if I enjoyed my bath.

Yes, honey. I did.

So here's what I want in life. I want a big, huge "two person" bathtub that is close to 4 feet deep, with a seat on either end of it, with jets and the hottest water a body can tolerate. I want a nice shower hose thingie that I can take off of the wall at the end and rinse myself off with (because in general, I always feel like a bath is you sitting in your own dirt in the long run...) And I want more of those bath salts, so I can truly love and appreciate the gesture.

Friday, March 14, 2014

because three or four of you are dying to know...

The increased dosage of the blood thinners seems to be working. My leg is a lot less swollen, the pain has not stopped all together but it is a lot less than a week ago.

I walked up and down the stairs this morning (down and up, technically because I had to go down the stairs to help Jackdog up the stairs after Doug left for the day) without getting winded, hugely painy and borderline cry-ey, and winded.

Still have the appointment scheduled to remove the IVC filter on the 26th. Appointment to see a hematologist on the 25th. My doctor wants me to see a cardiologist but the cardiologist's office doesn't know why he wants me to see one since this is a vascular issue, not a heart issue, per se. So that appointment is on the 27th. I'll be in Salem 3 days in a row that week. Amy, we can have lunch.

Day by day, slowly hoping this gets all better soon. I want my life back.