Sunday, June 29, 2008

Misting nonsense

All week long, they've been threatening me with rain every day. Heavy downpours and thunder and lightning and even a possibility of hail. Uh huh. The best I get is maybe a light mist that barely dampens the ground. My plants are upset. I'm upset. If it's going to rain, could you please do it right?

IOW, I still have to water my poor little plants. The ones I'm worried about most are some Alaskan Shasta daisies that I'd ordered. I'd hoped for little 3" pots, but I got two bags with bare root plants.

I'm good with plants. I can make a lot of things grow that shouldn't grow. But I'm death on bare root plants. I've never been able to figure out if I water too much or not enough. I just know that they hate me. So I have 6 little tiny rounded areas in my big garden out front that are supposed to house some bare root Alaskan Shastas and, so far, they look pretty damn dismal. No top to speak of and I can't tell if the roots are alive because I'd have to dig them up and shock them again. Only time will tell.... /sigh/

I did collect my seedlings from Mom last Sunday. I'm hoping to get the yarrow (Achillea) into the ground today. A cute little bed of feathery stuff down near the front of the big bed out in front. The color is supposed to be brilliant red. We'll see. Right now, each plant is one feathery tiny shaft of potential. The others that are simply too cute is I started geraniums from seed. They're adorable and tiny. I know they're just waiting to take off once I get them in the ground. But they're so darned cute that I've decided to plant from seeds again next year. LOTS of them... /g/

Oh, speaking of geraniums, I did finally get to the cemetary. Thursday, I think. I couldn't stand the guilt anymore. Now, I know that Dad totally understands that I was late this year due to the surgery, but that's besides the point. There are several stones in the area that people come and tend and do take very good care to show that they love and remember and honor their loved ones. And I hadn't been to the cemetary yet. It's like I couldn't care less anymore and that wasn't true.

Normally, I never care what other people think. Trust me on this. My family will be happy to attest to that fact. But this is one place where I do care. I didn't know my great-grandparents all that well and... er, let's just say I wasn't their favorite great-grandchild and the feeling was reciprocated because their favoritism was so blatant that it was hard to ignore. But I loved my grandparents and adored my father. So it matters that I plant and maintain the small plot at the family stone. Anyway, I had my last post-surgical follow-up on Thursday morning (I've been cleared for all active duty... YEAH!) and I loaded the back of my Jeep with all the tools and plants I needed. It took me a while to dig out the weeds, but I dug it out and planted geraniums and I have some cousins of petunias -- I forget what they're called. I also brought a hose so I and others could water our little areas. I hope no one steals the hose like they did a couple years ago.

The last two beds to weed and plant are the two by my front door. Being at the top of a hill, they're usually the last to get done because, let's face it, no one can really see them. They're tucked behind my huge garden on the hill so you can't see them from the street and our front porch is too small to really sit on unless you're taking a quick break or waiting for someone to come over. Mark and I would really love to have a larger front porch, but we have a lot more work to do inside the house before we can even think of tackling that project.

Anyway, so two last areas and then I'm down to sheer maintenance on the yard. Oh, and the purchase and spreading of a couple yards of mulch, but that's a given. I'm hoping to get to that today as well as vacuuming the pool. The water is crystal clear and the chemical balance is right. I just need to vacuum the damn pine fluff off the bottom. Have I mentioned before that I truly hate my neighbor's pine trees? Yeah, probably.

The good news is that I've been a spinning demon. I finished that first bobbin of bright red and plied it with a variegated "maple" that I'd had sitting around. Yes, I bought the red to ply with a yellow variegated fiber named "daffodil", but I had a feeling the maple and red would look wonderful together. So I tried and it worked.

So, in the past week, I kept to my plan and did get spinning time every day and I spun up a whole bobbin of red and another bobbin of the maple. Now, I'm in the midst of plying those two together.

And, yes, practice is certainly helping. My singles are much finer and much more even. I think I might have gotten a bit too much twist in some areas of the maple, but I'm hoping that setting the twist (as well as the inevitable whacking) will smooth that out. I'm going to wait to set the twist until all the skeins are created and then do it all at once.

Next I'm going to work on the daffodil because I have a lovely green variegated that will look lovely with that. Then I can finally get to the gorgeous merinos that I'd ordered from Stone Barn Fibers. Blueberries & Cream, Wild Orchids and a third in Arcade Treasures. Those will be absolutely lovely to work with and make wonderful Christmas Moebius' for the women in my life. Light and fluffy and warm as freshly-made toast.

And it also gives me a chance to catch up on my podcasts. I'm SO woefully behind on those. It's easy when I'm working because I'm sitting in my booth with nowhere to go and nothing to do but knit. But when I'm working in the yard, I usually just toss music on the radio, so I'm far behind on my spinning and knitting podcasts. But my spinning is a good time to plug in the earset and listen while I zone to the thrum of my wheel.

One more quick update for those who might be interested. I received a phone call from my insurance company. A lawyer has requested a statement from them that I don't (yup, you read that right... _do not_) have an umbrella policy. Right after the accident, we were sent a letter to inform us that one of the passengers in the other car had retained council. I agree it was a good idea since the driver at fault (who is NOT my daughter) was painfully underinsured. Yes, I believe they're going to have to sue in order to collect enough money just to cover the medical expenses this poor girl has accrued.

But the bad part in this is everyone seems to forget that my daughter was also a victim. She had no fault in this accident other than being in the wrong place when the other driver decided to turn left in front of her. Yes, I carry more insurance. But that's not my fault. My daughter was just as much a victim as this girl who landed in rehab long enough that she attended her prom almost a month later in a wheelchair. I'm sorry the other family was underinsured, but why visit that on us?

God forbid they file against us, I can only hope that a jury recognizes the fact that my insurance rates shouldn't be increased because the other family didn't carry enough to cover costs.

Oh well. This is Connecticut, a no-fault state, which means they can try to collect from us. They have two years to file. We have 22 months to go before we're safe from persec... er, prosecution. Lovely thought, isn't it? My fingers are crossed.

In the meantime, a lovely day outside. I'm going to go pull some weeds and vacuum my pool. Then I'm going to take my wheel out on the deck and catch up on some podcasts. That's a plan I can enjoy. I hope you enjoy your week!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I am a spinner...

At least, that's what I'm trying to tell myself... er, again. My poor wheel. She's been pretty well ignored for the last couple months. Covered in dust and pining in the corner for some oil and usage.

Well, this past Friday, youngest daughter dragged out the frame for the canopy from the basement. We took out the shell, shook it out, hosed it down and laid it on the driveway to dry. Then we put the shell on the frame and I immediately went in and saved my poor little wheel from her abandoned corner. I dusted her off, every cranny with love and affection, and brought her outside to enjoy the fresh air with the rest of us.

Okay, so youngest daughter looked at me with a horrified glance. After all, the neighbors could sit and watch me spin. Was I really going to indulge my little hobby where everyone could see me? Yup, get over it, girl. I am a spinner.

And I have a TON... well, okay, let's be realistic. A half-TON of fiber that's waiting to be spun and plied. Yes, ladies, I hate to admit it, but my fiber was so lonely in it's box that it began cloning and reproducing when I wasn't looking. I know I had a couple of pounds sitting there, but I think it doubled in weight while I was off ignoring it.

So I've got my work cut out for me. Lots of fiber to spin and ply. Lots of yarn to make. And then what to do with it? Well, I always knit something for my Mom and my mother-in-law and my aunt-in-law for Christmas. What if I spend my summer making up the yarn and then knit it into various Moebius' for all of them? And I have enough fiber that I can also make yarn and then knit Moebius' for both my girls also. I have a lovely "Blueberries 'N' Cream" fiber that I know oldest daughter will like a lot. And I have another bunch of fiber in a colorway called "Orchid Petals" that younger daughter will simply love. Both fibers are from Stone Barn Fibers and hand-dyed by Cathi, a true master at mixing her colors.

I'm thinking that might be an excellent plan. Yes, I was also planning on working on wedding shawls for the daughters for use someday, but I'm sure I'll want something that's different and simple when I need a break from lacework. Not only hand-knit, but hand-spun, would be excellent for this Christmas, don't you think?

I'm still trying to get my singles fine and even enough to spin my own sock yarn and I'm getting close. Very close. But I'm not quite there yet. I'm down to about a sport weight in my plied yarn. That's pretty good, but not good enough yet to knit socks with. So I'll keep practicing this summer and make Moebius' out of the final products.

Lord knows, I have enough fiber to achieve that goal.

Let's see.... what else? The yard is taking shape. I have seven out of ten beds weeded and pretty well planted. (I think I've claimed more flower beds in my yard, but I did a quick recount and there's only ten of them.) I do promise some pics of the beds. Some are quite small. But one is HUGE. I already plan to take a pic of that one with me sitting on the boulder in the center. That will give some perspective to just how huge. This is the one that I spent last summer digging out by hand. Approximately 6 days a week, 6 hours a day and it took me just about 6 weeks to get that thing dug out and properly mulched. Believe it or not, we used about 2.5 yds of mulch to bury it once I'd dug it out. I had some of the plants last year, I added a few more this year and I have a LOT more to add, but I want to do it slowly so it doesn't appear haphazard.

The plants I've been sticking in the ground are small. I can't afford to buy well-established plants, so I start with younglings and hope they grow up to fill in. It'll probably take another year or so to finish planting the area and at least 3-4 years for it to mature. But once it's all done, it should be fairly maintenance free. A bit of weeding. A new topping of much. Sit and enjoy.

BTW, all three of my purple smoke trees survived the winter. That was my biggest fear. The trees were SO young when I planted them and one is stuck in very heavy soil. So I worried that the heavy soil and winter chill might kill it. But they've all survived and doing well. It'll be another 5 years before they really come into their glory, but they'll be beautiful once they really grow up. I trimmed the new growth at the bottom this week to enourage top growth. (The grasses surrounding them are topping out and a couple of the grasses were taller than the trees... /g/)

But a note on the grasses. I planted "Strawberries & Cream" grasses around the base of each tree. A ring of 5 grasses. Well, life can be strange at times. I lost 3 of the 5 at each tree. So I only had two grasses that survived. Needless to say, it looked quite strange. So I contacted the nursery I'd gotten the grasses from but they're not even carrying those grasses this year. Yes, I could divide them, but I didn't want to divide one into two and the other into three. But I lucked out. Last weekend, I found a local nusery that had them. I bought three new grasses. Then, after I'd trimmed the new growth at the base of the trees, I divided the established grasses into two and planted the new one. So each tree now has 5 grasses around the base.

I was really worried that I'd have to move the grasses and start over, but now I don't have to. These grasses should fill in to create a full ring around the base of the tree and give a lovely contrast to the dark purple of the leaves. Give them all a few more years to mature and I'll find out if my plan will really work... LOL!

Anyway, off to the shower and then Mom's house to collect my seedlings. Both girls are at work until mid-afternoon and Mark is still away at his "boys' weekend". He won't be home until later. I hope I have time to get the plants before the rain comes in. It's supposed to downpour today. I really don't mind. We've had showers every evening this week. Nice sunny days and rain at night. I won't complain. It means I don't have to go out and water... LOL!

Have a wonderful week and drop me a comment.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

No More soup... Yes!!!

Thank goodness that heat wave is gone. I hope it stalls out over the Atlantic and stays there all summer. If I believe my trusty weatherbug, our heat index hit about 106 on Monday. Tuesday was weird because it felt cooler only because the cold front was coming. You could actually feel little breaths now and then during the day until all hell broke loose Tuesday night.

The rest of the week has been in the 80's. Yeah, yeah, I know some people feel a HUGE difference between 82 and 89. I say "Pffft!" Anything in the 80's is good for me... /g/

So what have I done? I actually finished a pair of socks. Oh, a couple months ago, I'd bought some of Gypsy Girl's newest colorway Spring Fling and started the pair looooooong before I was out of work. I only had about 36 rows to the end of the second sock. During my recovery period, I was supposed to finish those, finish the pair of Happy Feet also OTN and knit my friend Linda a pair in Fannie's Farmhouse. Hmm.... remember my last post where I said I did nothing but sit and zone out on the boob tube? (Yes, I've just dated myself because my girls haven't a clue what the boob tube is... /g/) Okay, I finally finished that pair of socks. Next will be to work on Happy Feet.

But I'm happy with myself because my fingers were itching to pick up the needles. That's a good thing, right? /g/ That was Wednesday night after our heat wave made a beeline for Europe.

I'd love to tell you about Tuesday except I don't remember much of it. I think it was one of those days where I woke up with great intentions and promptly forget each and every one once my feet actually hit the floor.

So Wednesday was better. I bought some plants. This will force me to start that dreaded weeding. But I bought anyway.

Thursday was a work day. Things are piling in the office faster than I can process them. The monthly bills were in the mail on Monday, so the phone calls began on Tuesday. "What do you mean you charge us if we don't show up?" It's in the contract, dear. The one you signed. I even made the print bold so you can't miss it. Oh, that's right. You'd actually have to read it before you signed... /sigh/ "Why are you charging me and not my insurance company?!?!?" Because you didn't give us any insurance to bill, dearest. I really do try my best, but I'm sadly not telepathic. I have no idea if you have insurance unless you give us your card so we can -- here's a concept -- make a copy of your card so we know who to bill and where to send it.

My favorites are the people who've been sent to collection because they refuse to fork over the money they owe. We send bills every month. No payment. We stamp the bill with a big red stamp that says "Past Due". No payment. We hand write on the bill "If you don't send us money, we'll be forced to send you to collection." Yes, we actually sit down and hand write this on the bill, showing that we really try to keep that personal touch with our patients. No stamps. No computer message. A real honest-to-goodness handwritten message. What's the usual result? No payment. We finally send them to our collection agency who sends yet another letter that states they have 10 days to send something or this will be put on their credit report as a bad debt. Ten days comes and goes. The agency sends notification to the credit bureaus.

That's when the phone calls begin. You've had months of hints, threats, action and warnings. Nada. Suddenly now we get irate phone calls of "How dare you!!!!"


I shouldn't tell this story, but I do have a good one. We had a patient who was a 20-year-old girl. She ran up a bill that was over $600. Finally, the doctor told her she needed some kind of payment or she couldn't see her anymore. The girl left. So we went through our routine of hint, threat, yadda, yadda. The doctor asked me to call. Now, I work this job part-time. Heck, not even part-time. I only work 10-12 hours per week. It's a solo practice, so it's not like billing is a huge thing. Couple hours a week, but she pays me well to keep the paperwork flowing. Anyway, at the time, I worked on Sundays because I was also working my full-time job. So it's Sunday morning and it was around 11AM when I pick up the phone to call this girl. Someone answers the phone and I tell them who I am. They don't cover the receiver, but I can hear LOTS of noise in the background. Frankly, between you and me, it sounded like she was in the middle of Sunday dinner with her family (and it was quite an extended family from the chatter). Then another voice comes on the line and asks who I am. I repeat my name and I'm calling from the office of so-and-so. Again, it's obvious to me that the phone is moved away from the person's ear as this person repeats to someone who I am. What do I hear in the background? A third voice saying, "I don't want to talk to her!" And they hang up... /bigger sigh/

So I call back and no one answers. I get the voicemail (this is obviously a cell phone with caller ID so they can ignore me), so I left a message stating that we needed to discuss some kind of payment plan or I'd have no choice but to send her into collection.

The very next week we get notification that our bill is being listed in the parents' bankruptcy. So very not kewl. So I wrote a letter to the attorney representing the parents as well as a copy to the bankruptcy court stating that this bill was not the responsibility of the parents as it belongs to their daughter who is of legal age to make her own messes and have to clean them up. Take note here, folks. Big trouble ensued. Trying to claim someone else's bills in your bankruptcy is attempting to perpetrate a fraud on the court. They don't have the ability to discharge debts accrued by someone else. And claiming it as yours is illegal because of the fraud issue. The parents got into big trouble and the girl still ended up in collection.

For what it's worth, don't be a deadbeat. I have great admiration for another patient who used to come to our office. She ran up a bill of well over $1,500. They started paying us $25 a month. As they paid down other bills, it went up to $30 a month, then $35 and they currently pay us $40 a month. Each and every month, their check arrives and their bill is now down to a bit less than $500. It's been a long, slow journey, but I can't send them to collection. They don't pay much, but they pay every single month. I'm sorry, but I see a lot of deadbeats in my job, but I admire this couple for recognizing the fact that they ran up this bill and they're doing their best to pay it off.

Oh, the stories I could tell, but I won't. That wasn't my intention. I was simply relaying that Thursday was a pain. Computer work is fun. I shuffle lots of paper, my biggest interaction is with my keyboard and I get to sit in an air-conditioned office for part of the day. But then there are the phone calls....

Anyway, moving onto Friday, I took care of some appts, paid a couple bills since Fri was payday. Then I did some weeding in the yard, though I wonder why my liatris is drooping on one side. I thought it was just dry, so I watered on Thurs. But it's almost kind of smooshed on one side. I'm wondering if Copper sat on it while it was developing. It's that kind of smoosh. I'm hoping the plant bounces back. When you first walk into the side yard, it looks okay and then you see it from the side. The whole back half is smooshed. Considering it's in the center of a triangular garden, this could be a problem. But we'll see...

Then about 2PM, I drove oldest daughter and her friend to the beach. We only spent about 2 hrs there, but it was nice. The water was cold, but not unbearable. I splashed sea water up on my legs and my arms. Time to start the summer tan. I'm already 5 weeks behind.

Today is a day of yardwork. I should be cleaning my filthy house, but I can't bear the thought of another day inside these walls. I've been pretty well housebound for the last 5 weeks... Argh!!!! I need sunshine and fresh air. I need dirt under my nails and allergens clogging my nose.

Yes, the pine trees are throwing off pollen like crazy. I started early this week with one Zyrtec a day. Ha! After 3 nights of waking at 3AM because I was so stuffed I couldn't breathe, I took an additional Zyrtec last night and was able to sleep through. Another week or two and I'll be past the tree pollen. Then I should be fine until fall.

And, if I get yardwork done early, maybe I can sit at my little Prelude and finally begin my summer spinning. I have a couple lbs of fiber to spin up and I haven't even begun to work on that. So that's the plan.

I hope your day is just as productive as I hope mine to be. And I promise to be better about updating. I think I have 3 relatives who read this and my Mom loves to tell me that she learns more about my life reading this blog than she does through our phone conversations. I haven't figured out why. It's just one of those mysteries that we'll have to live with...


Monday, June 09, 2008

Almost MIA... Oops!

I can't believe it's been over a month since I last updated. But some big stuff happened during that time period. As I mentioned to my friends, the last month has been like the worst country song has taken over the direction of my life... /g/

First, my oldest daughter was involved in a very serious accident. Now, quickly, she's okay. A young driver tried to turn... oh, about 50 feet in front of my daughter. I guess she was really surprised that there wasn't enough road. My daughter was NOT surprised when the headlights suddenly veered in front of her. Six teenagers all sent to the hospital. Luckily, four of the kids were basically treated and released. Two of the teens weren't so lucky, but I've heard that they're on the road to recovery. It might take a while, but they should recover. Both cars were totalled. Yes, my daughter's Blazer was totalled, which should tell you how bad this accident was. But my daughter was lucky. A cut on her eyelid (seven stitches and the scar is hidden in the fold of her eye) and a broken nose.

But that was our first adventure. I won't elaborate any more details because I know some lawsuits are going to come from this accident for various reasons and I don't want to give ammunition to anyone.

Okay, two weeks later, I finished with work at the university and had my surgery. Ladies, let me give you a piece of advice. DON'T wait to have a fibroid removed if the doctor says they can take it out. The operation took over three hours and the durned alien baby had grown to 12cm (they tell me that's about 6") in diameter. Now, I don't think the size was the problem except that there wasn't enough room, so it sort of smushed everything in its path. Recovery is slow, but it's coming along. And I have the 6" scar to prove it... /wry g/

I'm almost four weeks later and feeling very good. In fact, I took my EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) this past weekend and I'm pretty sure I passed. Okay, I know I passed, but I still like the card to prove it... /g/ If you don't know what an EMT is, real quick, it's the basic certification needed to work on an ambulance. I think I've mentioned it before, but I volunteered for seven years on an ambulance, both as a driver and a technician. I still use my training very occasionally in my job in security, which is why I was in for a refresher (which is the technical term for re-certification). Since I'm the only person on site over at that off-campus dormitory, the EMT certification comes in handy. I can do a quick evaluation and assessment if one of the kids gets hurt or sick.

Anyway, moving on. I had the surgery on Wednesday. They released me to come home on Friday. The DH was and still is absolutely wonderful, but remember that one of our trucks is trashed. I get home and notice that my older dog, Copper, is breathing hard and I'm worried. So I call my Mom and ask her to come over. Hmm... Copper is definitely not right. Shelby had taken Copper to see the vet on the day of my surgery, but in my drug-infested sense of perception, I haven't got a clue what she told me. So Mom agrees that Copper needs to see the vet again. Mom and Shelby take her to the emergency vet hospital.

Skip to the end of the story... Copper is suffering from congestive heart failure. Yes, we had to put her down. Shelby called me to advise her what to do and I lost it. I had a complete emotional meltdown. I think I scared everyone because I never meltdown. I try to cut myself some slack on this. I was 3 days post-surgical, I was loopy on percocet and I hadn't started the hormone patch the doc had given me. Yup, I lost it.

In fact, I hope Shelby doesn't hold it against me. I was a little panicked when we got the call, but once I saw her and saw how bright and shiny her eyes were, I knew she'd be okay. I was calm and collected at the accident (yes, we arrived on scene before the fire dept had taken her out of the vehicle because the other vehicle was SO badly damaged that they had to cut the roof off to get the kids out). I'd been at a lot of accidents in my time with the ambulance and, let's face it, I'm her mom, so I knew she was okay. Oh, the funny story is that I knew her nose was broken. My husband denied it. Shelby denied it. The doctor denied it. They did a CT scan. Her nose was broken. Ha! I'm her mom! If anyone would know her daughter's face, it would be me...

Anyway, that's my sad country song. My daughter's okay, but we lost the truck. I lost the fibroid (thank you!), my uterus and my ovaries, but I'm recovering nicely. And I lost my dog, but I know we were able to give her three wonderful years at the end of her life. But we still have the house and my Hubby has been terrific.

Today, our heat index is supposed to be something like 103 degrees. In fact, my youngest daughter just called. They're letting school out early because of it. Oh boy. Last week, we were lucky to get in the 70's. Now we're definitely hitting mid-90's with a heat index of 100+. So I'd better get my shower done and keep putting water in the pool. Normally, our pool would be open by now, but I always help Hubby get the cover off and I haven't been able to do it. The bad part of the surgery. I can't lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. Heck, I have a cat who weighs more than a gallon of milk... LOL!

Oh, the good news is that I mowed a little section of the lawn yesterday. Yes, I felt so normal doing that. I'm hoping to pull a few weeds today while working on my summer tan. I worked really hard last year getting my yard in shape. I'm not about to let it go to hell now. I might not be planting a lot of stuff, but I'm certainly going to search and destroy any weeds that try to invade. I haven't done any knitting or spinning to speak of, but I think that will be remedied soon. I had projects all lined up for my recovery period, but all I've done is sit and watch TV. Isn't it funny how that works? You finally have time to read and knit all you want and, instead, you sit and lament how you can't be out in the yard weeding and planting... /wry g/

But now that I'm feeling better, my fingers are beginning to itch for projects. It's about time, right?

Take it easy. Drinks lots if you're in the soup (hot and humid) like me. Enjoy the week and I'll try to have more fibery and knittery stuff next time I update.

OH, stupid!!!!!! Here's the best news of all! Listen carefully to Cast On in September. Brenda Dayne actually asked me if she could include a piece I'd written about why I began spinning. Isn't that just the BEST?!?!? I'm flattered. I'm honored. I'm totally wowed and humbled that she'd like something I wrote.

Time for a shower, folks. When you can begin to smell yourself, that certainly is NOT a good thing. Weird how I shower first thing so I can go out in the yard and work up a sweat. But whoever said I was normal?

Take care!!!