Thursday, December 25, 2008

More Christmas Present

video

A gift from my mother and father. I get lots of Santas as I collect them and have well over 150 at this point. Some are antiques and family heirlooms, some were found at yard sales, most were gifts from family and friends. Jen is going to take pictures of many of them in the future.

Christmas Present

A present to me from sister Nancy.
The hit of the family gathering last night at sister Nancy's - a pony tire swing to go in Nanny's yard for all the kids to play on.
My fiber-optic Christmas tree which is the only "safe" tree with 5 cats (3 of them just 6 months old now) in the house.
Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Past

Three little girls in the late 1950's. I am the older blonde on the left. Sister Nancy is the little blonde on the right. Sister Beth is at the bottom. And of course, the real Santa Claus is holding us.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Oh my aching back! Oh, the pretty lights!

DH and I restrung the lights on the back porch today. The temperature had moderated into the 50's (he denies it, though) so we did not freeze during the process. I rigged a telescoping light hanging pole from a duster handle that cut down considerably on the need for ladders and stretching precariously. However, the unaccustomed angle and precision required is already taking a toll on my arms, neck, and shoulders ... and my lower back is protesting, too. But the porch looks really nice! We have three strings of lantern lights with flicker bulbs and a long string of icicle lights that go along the porch roof and then strung a LONG string of colored mini-lights that goes all the way around. I tried to take pictures but was too lazy to get the tripod out and the pics are all fuzzy.
We were going to put more lights on the front porch where we already have LED icicles and colored lights but discovered the plugs on the motion lights we were going to use don't fit inside the light covers. We will have to come up with some short extension cords or something similar. From our slight height elevation I can look out over the town and see many decorated houses. I want to go out light-seeing and take photos too. In the meantime, I have played with wiggling my camera at my own lights. (Hey, why not take advantage of not being able to hold the camera still!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Whew!

We just went over 12 hours with the computer not able to finish a boot. DH had done something with an ActiveX control yesterday afternoon but it would not install properly. From that point on the computer would freeze somewhere during the boot process. Sometimes we got all the way to the desktop and were able to open a program before the freeze happened. He worked with it for at least 2 hours before I got home and had no more patience once I got here. So I sent him to his room and worked on it myself to no avail all last evening. I even tried System Restore but the computer would freeze during that too. Now, sometimes our modem causes problems with the computer so we are not sure if it was the computer or the modem that acted up yesterday. We unplugged the power to the modem to try to get it to reset but that did not seem to help. I finally just turned it all off and went to bed. DH tried again this morning with no luck. I tried again with no luck this morning. Then I decided to try System Restore by not waiting for the boot to complete and opened it and started it as soon as the desktop appeared. System Restore even seems to have shut down the modem completely during the restore process. Hallelujah! everything seems fine now. Whew! All my Christmas craft and photos are on the computer and I was resigning myself to not being able to complete them for Christmas. I am feeling much better now. LOL.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Red sky in the morning

Just a few minutes ago. They are predicting over an inch of rain in the near future.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Another thing begun ...


Today my mother is 84 years old. Happy Birthday, Mom.

Also today, DH and I (and Mom, Dad, and sister Beth) went to the hospital for the first of possibly three epidural steroid injections into DH's neck for the pain he has been having for months now in his neck and left shoulder and arm. A frustrating experience for him and for me. We went to see the "neurologist" two weeks ago and this is what was set up. We waited for the instructions to come thru the mail as to when and where to show up. The only thing that came was the time of the actual appointment. So I called. "Well, I think you just go directly to outpatient radiology" was the answer I got from the neurologist's office. We checked in at the outpatient information desk instead and that was the right thing to do. They did not even have it set up right in the computer. According to the computer we were supposed to be there last Friday - but he is only there every other Wednesday so what was a Friday date doing in the computer anyway! Rant, rant, rant.

Anyway, the actual procedure took less than 45 minutes after waiting only 15 minutes beyond the appointment time. Funny thing, there was an "X" on the back of DH's neck after we got home and the injection was actually done about 3 inches below the "X"? So far no bad reactions.

We went out to eat breakfast after we left the hospital then DH and I came home and went back to bed and slept ...

All this medical stuff just makes me so angry sometimes. Some of the medical people are good and seem to really care about the patients. Others just push people thru as fast as they can with no compassion at all. I guess the more you see the less you care sometimes.

Sorry, still ranting. Going to happy place now. See the beautiful sunset photo I just took. Isn't it lovely. Happy thoughts.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Another Frosty Morning

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at Jen's on Thanksgiving Day. She and her husband have hosted Thanksgiving for several years now and we all enjoy it immensely as they do practically all of the cooking and then send leftovers home with us. We had 4 kinds of pumpkin pie - traditional, applesauce-pumpkin, layered pumpkin cream, and my sister Beth's sweet potato pie (which I counted as one of the pumpkin). The food was fabulous. The companionship and laughter were wonderful.

I have to go grocery shopping again today. Yesterday I avoided the Black Friday shopping (terrible what happened in New York) by not going out until the afternoon and then only went to one grocery store and the dollar store next to it. No crowds, no rush, but awful "modernized" Christmas music playing both places. What have they done to my carols and classics? (Getting old and crochety here.) Today I have to hit the larger store for the things I did not find in the smaller grocery and I need pet food - again, still, for ever. I have been working on photo Christmas crafts and need some supplies for those, too.

Myste is going outside on her own without a lift but I go with her everytime. She cannot do steps and there are two places she could find herself trapped in our yard. One is alongside the house from the back to the front. This is a very tempting place for her as DH comes home the front way. If I put her out the back and she even thinks he may be coming home several hours early she manages to go down the two steps but then cannot get back up and sits at the bottom and barks and barks until I come with the belly lift and help her back up to porch level. The other steps are next to the garage and at least there are grassy ways around them but I watch carefully and try to keep her from attempting those steps also.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

It is bright, crisp, and cold this morning and there has been a water main break in town. We have very low pressure right now but at least we do have some water. It always seems to happen - cold weather on a weekend or holiday often means a water break. The poor guys were supposed to have today and tomorrow off ... now they have to work in the wet and the cold. I am thankful for them being there as well as all the other things I have to be thankful for. This year that includes so much.

Thank you, Lord.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Updates

These pictures are from earlier this week but I just around to posting again. I love the starkness of this early morning photo and the sky behind the tree.
Here is Myste in her FOUR wheeled walker. We discovered Sister Beth and Dad had the same brand of walkers as the one that I picked up at Goodwill. So we have "borrowed" the wheels from one of theirs and added them to the back of Myste's walker. She actually is doing so much better that we are now using the belly sling mostly. She goes out often during the day when we are home and I get up at least once during the night to put her out as well. We have not had a used pee pad for nearly a week now. She and I are so much happier about that development. She hated being wet or messy and waiting for someone to take care of her and I am delighted to see full bladder and bowel control has returned.
Myste is showing more and more interest in going further in the yard and I have to discourage her from doing too much too soon. But I really did not think she was going to come back this far this time. PTL.

This is something new I discovered on the web yesterday while looking for different photo gift ideas. It is called AndreaMosiac and I downloaded it thru CNet. The picture below is one I took of a columbine blossom this past spring. I loaded it into the mosiac program and told it what other pictures to use to make the mosiac and this is the result after a few tries.
I am intrigued. I am going to try a few more mosiacs and maybe make some photo coasters using the results. If you are interested this is the website www.andreaplanet.com/andreamosaic/


Monday, November 17, 2008

Myste's Walker

Yesterday I stopped in the Goodwill store to see if there was anything I could use for Myste such as bedding, padding, etc. What I found was a folding walker with wheels on the front. I brought it home and with the addition of some large sturdy dog collars, a few pieces of pool noodle, duct tape, and some socks I made a walker for Myste.
She was thrilled, delighted, ecstatic, yahoo. As soon as we stood her up in it and she realized it moved with her she took off for the back door and went outside to do her business. She is still weak in the rear legs and this gives her stability and a place to rest when the legs won't hold her. It also provides support when she squats and gives her a sense of freedom that the rear support harness does not. She still has to have a human along with her as the wheels are only on the front and there is too much risk she could tip over ... but oh joy oh joy oh joy!
Total cost for this temporary walking aid - $2.99 for the walker; $1 a piece for 2 collars at the dollar store; $1 for 3 pairs of socks at the dollar store; part of a pool noodle and some duct tape: maybe $6.
Oh, yeah, its snowing.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Myste is walking!

Myste is walking ... not well but she is walking using all four legs. She started LATE last night (of course) while DH was "watching" her. Actually he was sleeping and woke up to find her moving around the living room in desperate need to go outside. He woke me and we put the new rear leg sling I had made on her and got her outside. She used her rear legs to help although she is still knuckling somewhat especially with the left foot.

The rear leg sling makes things so much easier than the belly sling. We are able to walk her outside without too much trouble also using a front harness to guide her as you cannot guide a dog from the rear (or anything else either). We now have to put walls around her bed to keep her from moving too much. Luckily we have left over grids from the cat crates and some pet fences that we can use as there is simply no room for a dog crate her size upstairs with the cat crate set up.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thru the Eye of the Noodle




Sister Beth found some pool noodle connectors and gave them to me this week for the kits. Velcro wore one on her head for a while but I did not have the camera at the time and was laughing too hard to take a good picture even if I had had it in hand. Fun, fun, fun.

Upshots

It has been raining off and on since Thursday night. We need the rain but it has taken most of the leaves off the trees. Yesterday morning before work I took the camera outside and captured the sun sparkling on the raindrops.
The sky was beautiful yesterday morning and I also got some shots of the clouds and blue sky thru the bare branches of the trees.

This morning it is still raining. The holly tree is glistening. Soon it will be time to trim it back and make the holly wreaths for the holidays to come. I always end up with pricked fingers and arms when I do this but the wreaths look wonderful and last a long time.

Raindrops were pendant from every twig and branch.

The grey sky today is still a nice backdrop for the nearly leafless branches.
I have been coming back home at lunch time this week to tend to Myste. Yesterday when I got home we had a period of sunshine and the temperature was very nice, too. So I used the belly sling and managed to get Myste outside where she relieved herself with great relief (she hates using the pee pads and being wet until someone can change them). I left her sitting on the sidewalk and went back inside to straighten her bed and change the pads. When I went back outside she had managed to move herself into the yard and about 10 feet from the sidewalk and was sitting contentedly in the sunshine at the top of the slope watching down the street. I hated to bring her back in but I had to return to work. She moved her rear legs and tried to help when I used the sling to get her back inside. She is moving the legs more and bending them as well as wagging her tail. We are cautiously optimistic that she will regain some strength in her rear legs.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Running in Circles

What a week ... so far.

I have been home with Myste all week learning how to take care of her with her rear legs nearly useless. We are both doing better, learning what we need from each other. She is much the same as she was mid-week ... no strength in her rear legs but she does move them and they twitch along with her front legs when she runs in her sleep. I have been absolutely exhausted much of the time but am apparently adapting as I have felt better the past two days.

We are not ready to give up on her anytime soon. DH is talking an outdoor wheeled cart for her and we are looking at options on-line for that as well as bedding to relieve pressure points and a rear-lift harness to help us move her indoors and for "quick" trips outdoors. There are a lot of sites on-line with good information on handicapped pets and I am reading a great deal when she will let me out of her sight. The other problem we have is that the steroid upsets her stomach even with the extra stomach medication. Bedding is getting washed often but thankfully we have several sets of beds (Thank you, Mom and Dad) and blankets and padding. Just a few more days of the steroid left to go.

We are not expecting a "recovery" at this time. Her hind legs were already weak from the previous injury and it is not likely she will regain even as much strength as she had last week. But she is not suffering and her appetite is still good (although considerably restricted since we are hand-feeding her and she cannot clean out all the pet food bowls as she was inclined to do) and she is still functioning.

I do have much greater appreciation of what my mother and her sisters went through in taking care of their handicapped brother all those years.

The video shows Myste in the background and Velcro rediscovering the scratching post which I had moved from the floor to the shelf in the cat crate to give myself a little more floor space while tending to Myste. Velcro did finally catch her tail but it keeps escaping and she has to chase it all over again.

video

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Looking up

There are birds out there.
It has been a hard few days. On Sunday our dog Myste lost the use of her rear legs again. She had a back injury several years ago and lost the use of her legs for a while. With steroids and care she regained most of the use of her legs. Sunday morning she was up and moving around as usual. By Sunday afternoon she could not move her legs. She is heavier than she should be and with DH and I both older now it was impossible for us to get her to the vet. So I went down and talked to the vet and came home with meds for her. The vet said only 10 days and if that does not do it then we have to consider ... Yesterday evening she started moving her right rear leg and this morning she has wagged her tail. I have been staying home with her and making certain she stays clean but I have not been getting much sleep. I stay in the living room with her and nap in the recliner and wake every time she moves. The longest uninterrupted sleep I have had since Saturday was about 2 hours. But she is improving so that is good news. Whether of not she improves enough to walk on her own again ...

I did go vote after DH got home from work and voting yesterday. The election is over and Obama is president elect. Historic. But I am too tired to care right now.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Fall Carpet

Even the ground is beautiful right now. Mom and Dad's tree has begun dropping its leaves but many still remain on the tree.

Here are photos of the kittens. Last night I had all three on my lap at one time and then each one alone at various times. The kittens are 4 months old now and the two black ones are nearly as big as Midnight Smoke. With three black cats we really have to careful when we walk around at night. We have joked about painting stripes down their backs or painting their tails different colors so we can tell them apart.

This one is Spot Monster. She was named Spot as a result of the white spot of fur under her chin. She earned the name Monster as she is the roughest of the kits and you have to careful of fingers and toes around her.
This is Tig-Tig. She is the largest and heaviest of the three and also the one who wants loving the most. She loves to lay across my arm with her belly pillowed in my hand.
And here is Velcro, who has earned the additional descriptive of Slippery. She runs to the door when the dogs are being put out or coming in and has slipped out a few times when we have not been fast enough to catch her. I often pick her up and tuck her inside my sweater or jacket and carry her outdoors with me to try to satisfy her curiosity. She does not know the meaning of "No" and is always climbing where she should not ... on top of the wardrobe, along the high window sill, up the sashes and across the computer table behind the printer and hard drive and monitor (where the power strip is that she can walk on and turn off the power to everything!)
Momma Stormy does not like having her picture taken with a flash and Smoke would not sit for photos last night either. I never thought I would be the owner of 5 cats at one time. We have to get Smoke taken care of before there are more now that he has a harem. I worry about his periodic cough and surgery though. He has had the cough since he was a kitten and is now about 14 months old. He is big and healthy except for that nagging cough a few times a day.

DH and I have been going through problems with his health and have put the cat problem on the back burner for a time but we HAVE to take care of the one resident male cat.

And another shot of Mom and Dad's tree in the the evening sunshine.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Dad's spider web

video
There are birds outside that window and if they come any closer ...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Recipes Request

I can't get enough of this tree. I look out my window and see the light has changed again and grab the camera and take more photographs.

Linda from Australia asked "What are buckeyes?" The "real" buckeyes are the fruit of a tree. Wonderful for squirrels, etc. But Buckeyes, well, of course they are peanut butter and chocolate delights that we really should not eat at all but just have to indulge in. There are numerous recipes for this candy on the internet (called Buckeye Candy or Candy Buckeyes) and they seem easy to make but I prefer to get mine at family gatherings and bake sales. It is easier to limit myself that way.

For the same reason, I only make Peanut Butter Surprise cookies for special occasions (like now?). I found this recipe on the internet a few years ago (sometimes called Magic Peanut Butter Cookies). It is a chocolate cookie with peanut butter inside. Delicious!

Cookie Dough:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
Filling:
3/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Directions:
1. Combine filling ingredients and blend well. Form into 30 (1-inch) balls. Set aside. (I think chilling them makes wrapping them in the dough easier.)
2. Beat sugars, margarine, and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add rest of ingredients.
3. With floured hands, take about 1 T dough and wrap around p.butter ball, covering completely. Place 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with bottom of glass dipped in sugar.
4. Bake at 375 for 7-9 min or until set and slightly cracked. Cool on wire racks. About 30 cookies.

Oh, I am so tempted to start baking. Help! Where is my will power?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Peach Maple

My favorite fall maple has finally come into its glory this season. This tree is in my parent's yard. It is not truly Fall until this tree changes color as far as I am concerned. Yesterday the tree was still nondescript. Today, even with clouds and rain, the tree is glorious.

Sister Beth and I went to yard sales and a craft sale today. There were only about a half dozen sales listed in the paper and almost all of them said rain or shine or indoors, so off we went a 8 a.m. I came home with more tins for packing christmas ornaments in and two more collage picture frames. We went to a moving sale just two blocks over. The elderly lady had recently moved to a nursing home and her family was clearing the house. All the accumulation of years of costume jewelry, souvenirs, holiday decorations and kitchenware was spread out for strangers to paw through and walk away with. But she has gone into a nice home with another relative already there. That was the sale I got the picture frames from and also a few of the tins. I also came home with some wooden clothes hangers to try to make musical harps for next year's VBS and another wooden bar stool for Dad.

The craft sale was at a local high school. Beth and I were inside out of the rain but exposed to temptation in the form of baked goods. I came home with two small pies - pumpkin and apple - for DH and me. Beth got fudge and buckeyes and we shared the buckeyes in the car. Chocolate and peanut butter - nothing better, except maybe Nanny's Christmas Peeper Cookies and my Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies and .....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Catnapped

This is what happens when you try to sleep "late" (anytime after 6 a.m.).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Auto Fall

The drive back from Pittsburgh on Thursday was beautiful in spite of the clouds and occasional spitting rain. I did not realize it until I reviewed my photos that Pennsylvania rarely offered views of just trees. It seems more commercialized next to the interstate. Once we got back into West Virginia, though ...
the views and hills took over again (probably just prejudice on my part).
We never stopped the car anywhere to just take pictures and when we did stop at The Highlands to eat it was all parking lots and stores. (Jen, I saw the Michael's store! We did not go in to anywhere but Cabela's but I saw the Michael's store!)


Then we came home over the hilltop and down Rt 250 hill. You can see the difference between long straight interstate and curvy hilly twisty 250.

I got some nice shots before the road and my head started disagreeing with each other.

After that I still managed to get a few shots but it is amazing how quickly a scene disappears when you are in a car.

Almost home, we are going down the hill into Moundsville now. This is one of the longer "straight" stretches going down hill.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tunnel Vision

Yesterday DH and I went to the VA hosp in Pittsburgh for an informational and examination session about his prostate cancer and Agent Orange exposure. We left very early to try to escape some of the rush "hour" traffic but of course that did not work. Still we had a mostly enjoyable drive except for the actual getting into Pittsburgh parts of it. I took the camera with me in hopes of getting some nice photos of fall foliage on the way home. I could not resist taking pictures in the tunnels.

This one is my favorite. Light at the end.
Not a bad day all-in-all. We were early for his appt and had to wait but got in almost on time and out within an hour and a half. The drive back was much less nerve-wracking. The fall foliage was beautiful but we did not stop the car for pictures as we both wanted to get back home.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Look how big we are

Tig-Tig claims the man chair as soon as DH leaves his seat even for a moment.
The 4 month old kits barely constrained by the playpen at Mom and Dad's.

At a recent yard sale I picked up an old fur stole and have taken it apart to use for VBS - but the kits got one section of it. They like it better than any old stuffed toy. Note the pool noodle before and after examples, too.
Velcro "playing" with "the fox".

video