Another August visit to Door County

Home yesterday from our friends' cabin on Green Bay in Door County. The visit seemed shorter than usual this year and a little more low key despite the fact that there is never any intense agenda. Maybe a nature walk, or a visit to the store to stock up on food. Otherwise we cook, eat, hang out, make campfires (and sit around them), sing, joke, make up songs, there is gaming in the evenings, some play instruments, others get out their art supplies, or crocheting. We get creative with as much local food as we can acquire plus CSA veggies from town. It's a relax-o-blast.

This year the weather was perfect. Beautiful sunsets, clear night view of the beginning of the Perseid. Of course, many of us were sitting in our blankets watching bad SF movies projected in front of the water. During the day I attempted drawing trees, having most fun with the bark. My colored pencil box contains bark colors that weren't really there but still gave a similar effect. I never made it to leaves. just trunks and branches which I was sitting amongst.

I did very little socializing this year. Did some cooking and clean-up, but I just felt like sucking in the atmosphere. Sitting aside, listening in. Not sure why, but it was comforting. I love this group and this event. I loved sitting on the swing in the trees drawing bark. It felt safe. Like a little kid being among the grown-ups.

Kitties had fun with Karen for two days and didn't miss us at all, although both of them took turns petting us in the night. I wish Mercury didn't pet me with his little claws, however. Jim is well and we are happy to be home and done with the house wrangling. (well, there may be something else we need to do.)

The house is on the market and has been seen by someone. Have heard very little so far. I'll have to go over tonight and see how it looks.

House is on the Market!

Yipee! Here is a link to our house. You can see how hard we have worked with the painting, cleaning, and especially landscaping. Ok, other people did a lot of that. When I look at the kitchen I want to buy it.

Anyhow, anyone want a lovely house in Madison in a great neighborhood? There is a new family/rec room in the basement too.

Open house Sunday


We are so excited.

Almost on the market

Wondering if I should start a new career of "flipping" houses (not!) We have put together a pretty good crew. Hopefully, about a 5,000.00 investment will reap 10,000 extra and a quick sale (which saves us much money.) Not that our mortgage on the house is huge, but we hope to pay off more of the principle of the condo and get our monthly rate down so that there is money left over for living. (seems like a plan.)

The  house will go on the market next week for sure. And it will have a new "rec" room in the basement, a new ceiling and walls in the large room where last week we pulled down paneling. The basement stairs will have walls around them and new paint. I almost feel like moving back. It already has all upstairs rooms painted and we are trying to come up with furniture to make it look like home. I put curtains back up yesterday. They look good with the new paint. I can't believe how fast this is going.

J has done an amazing job on the garden and back area. It looks all new. Vinegar between the rocks on the terrace does kill weeds and keep them from coming right back although it might take two treatments. Perennials stand out when the weeds around them are destroyed. New mulch. Compost. Annuals. She even planted tomatoes so, if the place doesn't sell by fall, at least we will have tomatoes.

It's pretty exhausting. I've been touching up the paint in the kitchen and bathroom. Strangely enough, the wall paint we used in the kitchen in 2004 is still good and still totally matches the old paint. Fun to cover up the scrapes. I'm getting to like painting. It's a bit messy, but it is so rewarding.

Time compression

I think it is summer now. Sometimes I drive out of the garage and look around surprised that it isn't fall. Incipient alzhiemer's? stress? I don't know. It will be fall before we know it. I'm not the only one who finds days staying the same length as always but weeks and months and years compressing. Zooom.

Jim got back to work at the beginning of April. He was in a wheelchair for quite a while, then in wheelchair with prosthetic and walker awhile more. Then just prosthetic. He is currently at an "awkward" stage where he needs his prosthetic refit but he still gets around very well. Yesterday he was carrying things up the stairs from our basement--as long as he could use one hand on the railing.

Last winter I began to look on-line for apartments or, preferably a condo, that we could afford and that would have a reasonable amount of space (Jim and I just can't part with our books) but Jim felt he just didn't want to deal with that at the time so I dropped the search.

However, in April, I just happened to wander into an Open House at a building near us. It is a 5 story brick building near Lake Monona only 7 blocks from where we were living. I'd always admired the place with it's gorgeous windows and balconies and wondered what it looked like inside. The inside was really impressive. Also there was a terrace on the roof that tenants can share. With a grill, tables, prairie gardens and trees as well as a nice view across the lake to the capitol and around the neighborhood. A week later I took Jim to look at it.

The rest is math, consultation with our financial adviser, discussion after discussion, and history. So, gentle readers, we have moved. Or mostly moved, or 98% moved although only about 58% unpacked as we are busy getting our house ready to sell. This is definitely a time when time compresses but the workdays are long!

An incredible number of friends have helped us with the packing, hauling, and cleaning. Finally the house is almost empty and the remodeling and painting will begin. Actually it is more like unmodeling as we are going to remove the "finish" from our partially finished basement leaving it clean, painted and open. We bought the house dirty and barely emptied--I didn't dream that we would be doing so much before selling it. But we want the rest of the house to live up to the remodeled kitchen and bathroom. We want the house to look fabulous. So I'm taking time off work this week to paint.

In early March I came down with the flu and was sick for over a week. Then there were weeks of recovery time. I was weak and tired all the time. I also lost a lot of weight. But now, after two months of working to move I have gotten stronger and yesterday carried many many loads up the stairs from the basement of the house. Lately I  have felt really healthy.

Our new place has a huge living/dining room with a fireplace, a balcony and a deck (or terrace never sure what to call it as it is on top of the garage roof.) It has a lovely kitchen with maple cabinets a custom maple/cherry/mahogany floor and fancy stainless steel appliances. It has one (very large) bedroom, a big walk-in closet, a study, utility room (laundry) and a storage room as well as two bathrooms, one of which is as big as the kitchen! I find it beautiful. We are on the second floor with trees around for privacy. Someday we will have unpacked and will be able to find things we need. Like the shower curtain liner, the cookie sheets, my favorite cookbooks. We hope.

I'm seeing glimpses of the life we can have. Jim and I cook together some nights. We eat meals on the deck and have even started watching one or two TV shows a week. Soon.
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    contemplative contemplative
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"Doing quite well in fact"

Yes. There is something positive about all this. First, there is no more infection. Jim's health has been off for a long time. A doctor said that he was probably spending about a fifth of his energy just fighting infection. Of course, right now, about a fifth of his energy is going toward healing from the surgery, but he is feeling quite well. Second, the "bad thing" we were fighting against happened and, guess what?, we're still here and still love each other. 

Another thing that has helped me a great deal is that Jim has had the most amazing and positive attitude about everything. He has helped me and everyone else around him to get through these weeks. Apart from that, we have been experiencing what it means to have incredibly good friends. Thank you!

Then, change has been good as well. We're getting the house decluttered, reorganized, and cleaned. At the moment Jim's choices for getting around are limited to a wheelchair and walker. This means that we can't clutter as much. From the time he came home from the hospital in October, I had to stop leaving shoes on the bathroom floor. And strangely enough it's gotten to be a habit to keep the bathroom floor totally clear. We had to move bookcases, cat-pans, wastebaskets--anything that blocks the flow. It seems to be working. Now I have "J" to come in to clean for us every other week and that takes some of the pressure off. She really does a great job of scrubbing cabinets and stovetops! Her help keeping the house cleaner frees up time to work on all the closets (dusty,) drawers (hey, what's that doing there!) and cupboards (Ok, why is there cat hair on the blankets in the linen cupboard?) Freeing space from the clutter will help a lot.

I'm hoping to get back to my office reorg. now that the fires are getting put out. There were complications when the bookcase and cat pans in the hall had to go into my office, Now I have another bookcase that needs a home. Still, I have ideas.

It was good seeing Jim's parents during his hospitalization. His dad, Clark, came the day before surgery and stayed until the following Tuesday. He did a good job of distracting Jim from the emotional pain of losing his foot. Alex made some good meals for him while he was here although he stayed at a hotel. He seemed to enjoy finding out how many ways he could get lost between his hotel and the hospital! The night before the surgery, he and I hung out with Jim until midnight, chatting and drinking decaf coffee from the visitor's lounge. During the surgery we waited with Alex in the surgical waiting room. 

On this stay, Jim was on the cardiac floor and got great care from the nurses there. It was noticeable that the staffing on that floor was much better than the staffing in the general wards. It made the hospital stay easier. What helped the most were all the friends who came. I parked my art supplies in the corner of his room and spent some time doodling on new bookmarks. Jim got me a set of 80 watercolor pencils for Christmas and I've been enjoying them greatly. Lots of colors. I've also picked up some metallic markers to add pizazz to the bookmarks I make. Great fun.

JIm's mom, Pat, and sister, Nancy got there the day after Jim got into the Rehab ward. I started back to work (was going to work on most days already.) Jim was pretty busy working his legs and upper body, but Pat and Nancy could sit with him during breaks and evenings and talk. It was great to be with them. One evening, Nancy and I got into a game of pool. She showed me what happens when someone plays more than once every 4 years. I got some balls in the pocket really. Only one was a cue ball. Pat and Nancy went to museums and bookstores every day finding ways to amuse themselves. I couldn't talk them into eating at our house, though. They didn't want to put me out.

Rehab at Meriter hospital was pretty good. They take people for short term stays and work them hard. If the patient is sick or really weak, they go into longer-term rehab at other locations. Jim was eager to do his exercises, learn to handle stairs, laundry, cooking, and other tasks. He wanted to go home so bad!!!

The next Sunday was Jim's pass to try out being at home. I picked him up in the morning and we spent some time alone. It was a little stressful because that was when we realized our house was not wheelchair friendly. I'd had training in supporting him during some of his activities, especially stairs, and that worked out fairly well, but just getting into the house was a bit of an ordeal. It somehow didn't work quite as planned. Anyhow, I finally got to cook a meal for Pat and Nancy and Jim! and we feasted. Tom was over and Mom so we had a bit of a party. Then I had to take him back. Pat and Nancy flew back west on Monday, and I got to bring Jim home the next day.

Jim won't be able to get back to work until sometime in April. I think he is starting to get tired of being home by himself when I'm off at work, maybe a little bored. Anyone want to visit him? It would be cool.

More anon. Other subjects? I hope!
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Carrying On - (caution, medical details)

I look back on my last entry, posted in October, mostly written in August. Lots of dark stuff, Mom not doing well, Dad dying. 2012 was not the best year. This one didn't start so well either but we are surviving. We are doing quite well in fact.

Jim and I took a great vacation in October, spending a week at a B&B cottage on a farm full of pet goats, a potbellied pig, dogs, and chickens. Great fun. We mostly relaxed, worked on writing, gave treats to the animals who became fond of us, did some great cooking and eating, smoked ourselves well with the leaky fireplace but otherwise loved the pine paneled house we were in. We were in the Western region of Wisconsin in the Driftless area, where the land is dramatically hilly. Our farm was surrounded by Amish farms so it was very quiet. A nice break from being in town.

On the Sunday after we returned home, Jim showed me a spot on the top of his foot that was getting red. There was also a small scab on the foot that had been there awhile. The next morning it looked much worse so I dropped Jim off at the emergency room before work. There they put him on IV antibiotics but didn't admit him. I drove him home and went back to work. Mid-afternoon he called saying it was getting worse, he had a fever, and his foot was hurting pretty badly so he was going back to the hospital in a taxi. I met him there. After about 5 hours when he was getting antibiotics and doses of dilauded (a morphine substitute) he was finally admitted to the hospital.

He stayed in the hospital for 8 nights during which time 3 wounds had opened on his foot, two of them looking terrible. The fever went down eventually, and they found a way of dealing with the pain (eventually) and the wounds stopped getting worse. An MRI of the foot didn't show any bone infection so they sent him home. I went off to Minneapolis for a much anticipated weekend with my friends. (We had a wonderful time!) When I got back my Mom had just broken her arm and I drove her home from urgent care and tucked her in. (Alex took her to the Urgent care, after a several phone calls. Jim couldn't drive.) Two days later, Jim was back in the hospital. The oral antibiotics didn't work for him because the circulation in his right leg was very bad. This time he was there for 5 days getting the antibiotics working again. They also did an angiogram and inserted a stent in his leg a few inches below the knee where a major artery was clogged. Another MRI was done--no bone infection found.

After that he had IV antibiotics at home. I learned to bandage his foot every day and Jim did his own IVs. Once he was off IVs in December he went back to work half time. He wasn't allowed to use his foot more than a tiny bit so he got around on a knee scooter (think "scooter" raised to knee level with a big pad on it.) Meanwhile day by day we watched for improvements in the two wounds on his foot that were about an inch in diameter. Not much improvement. He went to a Wound specialist every week and we varied our techniques for wrapping it, using various scab dissolving materials (that also involved wipes to protect skin we didn't want to dissolve.) A big fear was that the wound went down all the way to the tendon, which, I'm pretty sure one of them did. We didn't see much improvement but for weeks, it didn't seem to be getting worse. But then it did.

Patches of infection showed up on the bottom of his foot. Inflammation at the instep, pus filled scabs near the toes. Lots of drainage from the top of the foot. On Friday, January 4th the wound specialist ordered tests. Another scan of the arteries, another MRI, blood tests for bacteria. That weekend, Jim was gloomy. I was busy reorganizing my office and ignoring the other housework except for some cooking and a bit of dish washing, so the house was dusty and a bit messy. (I made progress on my office however!)

Monday we went back to the wound specialist. We were in the office only minutes before she came in along with the surgeon who had done Jim's angioplasty. Minutes later we realized that Jim would lose his foot. The MRI showed that there was considerable infection in the bones of his foot. We had a choice to remove the whole foot and get rid of the infection or to remove part of the foot. Due to the damage to the capillaries in Jim's foot, the remaining foot would be very vulnerable to repeat infection and in the end he would have to lose it anyhow. The partial removal would require healing in a weak area and the outlook was essentially grim. Removing the foot would enable Jim to have healthy arteries in the part remaining.

So we drove to the hospital right then where they got him back on antibiotics with the surgery settled for Thursday morning. Now Jim has a healing incision on his leg. It looks more or less like a teddy bear foot. Not scary. No infection. He gets by with a wheelchair, and a walker (hops.) He can stand on one leg supporting himself on a counter in order to reach cupboards. He seems to be learning how to do everything he needs to.

To wrap up, Mom's arm healed although she hurt her back in a fall so we had numerous PT appointments. She's having increasing problems with speech and electronics are her enemy. Last week she survived a bout with a Norovirus (sweeps through assisted living centers like the plague.) Generally, though, she's still good company most of the time. I stopped to see her yesterday to drop off some muffins, milk, and bananas, and got her TV and radio working again. (One of those invisible black buttons on the TV had gotten pushed and the cord came out of the back of her radio.) I wish I could do these things for her daily. It would take her anxiety levels down a great deal.


Old news but never posted

Mid August - I found this in my draft folder. I think I used it in a Turbo Apa post.

Another month. The drought ended near the end of July. We have been getting adequate rain since and I  have hardly had to water anything. So much for the usefulness of the rain barrel. I've used it once this year! Then it was empty for at least 5 weeks. The main garden loved the change. It went from being a clean, mulched, place with tidy, well watered plants to being a dark jungle of tomatoes, melons, peppers, and beans. It seemed to say. Ok, I don't need you anymore.

Of course, now I need to pick things and do stuff with them. Not a bad thing at all. I hope to get lots of tomatoes and peppers in the freezer. A new batch of bloody mary mix will be much appreciated!

Glasses, Phones, and Votes
Things have changed. Mom seemed to have been more herself right after she was taken off Seroquel. She was certainly not as dopy. But then her anxiety levels went way up. She lost her glasses again, just after I'd gotten her a new pair and went through several days of panic trying to find them. Eventually she did find them, nearly in plain sight. Her phone kept getting unplugged causing much difficulty with trying to get hold of her so I got her a phone that doesn't need to be plugged into an electrical socket. It has no answering machine, which is good (less complicated) and bad (I can't leave a message) but overall should be less likely to get screwed up. Or so I thought! She called me on Sunday evening and when I answered, I could hear her, but she didn't seem to know that I had connected. I hung up and waited a bit then called her back. Eventually the phone was answered and I could hear a television in the background. I yelled for her but nothing. So I hung up. A bit later I called again and the phone rang and rang. So I jumped in the car and drove to see her. The doors were locked but a worker let me in. Mom was there but her phone wasn't working. It took even me awhile to see that the reciever cord had detached from the phone. Once I plugged it back in there was a dial tone and all was well. I guess nothing is foolproof! 

Last week I took her to vote which didn't go so well. She had expected me earlier and had been waiting so was already anxious when I got there. It didn't help that I didn't know where her polling place was and she couldn't remember. 3 polling places later we were at the right one. I was going to let her do it on her own but decided to go in to check on her. She was wandering about with the ballot in her hand. Someone directed her to the polling booth. She immediately asked a man next to her to help. I requested that I be allowed to help her and went over. She couldn't figure out how to mark the ballot. I asked, "were you trying to vote for Tammy Baldwin?" The guy who was "helping her" said, "Hey, you can't tell her who to vote for!" I told him to go away. Anyhow she couldn't remember how to draw the line between the two halves of the arrow, although she did know who she wanted to vote for, including Tammy Baldwin, thank you very much.

Later in the week I got her in to see her geriatric doctor. He thinks that if he increases her Namenda and decreases the Prosac, her anxiety levels will decrease. I sure hope so! She has been so unhappy about not being able to remember things or complete a sentence much of the time. Having anxiety on top of that just makes everything worse. I wish there was something she could take that would just make her feel happy. (With no side effects!!!)

Dad died after a month at home. He got a bad attack from clostridium dificile which causes terrible diarrhea, destroys intestines and poisons the whole system. By the time I got there, he was in the hospital being treated with only oxygen and morphine. We think he knew we were there but he couldn't talk and didn't do any voluntary movement. So Jim and I sang to him and I held his hand and told him I loved him. He died the next morning. I was so glad that we went there. It felt so right to be with him even though he couldn't even express that he knew I was there. It was just good to be.

Jim, Alex and I went to his memorial service on Saturday in Illinois. The service was at a "Church of God." The pastor, Brother Jones, was a friend of my stepmother's and the church was where she went on Sundays. Dad never did go to church since the 60's. He was not a "born-again" Christian. He might have been a Christian but I didn't ask. Apparently "Brother Jones" had asked him a great deal of that sort of thing, as that was the focus of the service, assuring us that Dad was "right with the Lord" and would be waiting up there in Heaven. I didn't mind too much. At least he didn't read from Revelations and talk about the "Rapture." During the service I gazed at a collage of photos of Dad I had put together and remembered him teaching me to row a boat and find river clams in the shallows. There was no burial as Dad was cremated and Gloria has plans for the ashes. My sister, June, and most of her family were there as well. It was so good seeing them. My niece, Vicki, has a 7 month old son, Dylan, and he has a lovely disposition. We all enjoyed playing with the baby. The three of us stayed with my girlfriend who took good care of us. I owe her big time!

(no subject)

Home today with the aim of getting some housework done. Started off with sleeping too late. Somehow I missed the snooze alarm and hit the off button. Still groggy. No one did the dishes last night so I have the dishwasher running and I think most of the rest of stuff ready to clean.

Picking up Mom after she has lunch and she is going to help again. This is terrible that I need my 86 year old mom to help me clean. Actually I just want to hang out with her but she isn't the sit-and-have-tea sort. So I will work on getting some clothes washed for her to fold and I am hoping she will do some dusting while I do the floors. Or maybe we will cut up those apricots in the fridge and cook them into a sauce. (yum)

And we will talk. Mom is doing better. Her new geriatric doctor got her off the seroquel and her mind seems so much better. She isn't tired all the time and seems to remember current things better. At Wiscon this year I went to a panel where a whole group of women discussed dealing with our elderly parents/friends, trying to get them into better situations. The problem of over medication came up repeatedly. I was very happy when Mom's new doctor said she may be having many of her problems because of getting too much medication, (falling, dizziness, extreme grogginess, sleeping too many hours a day.) So now she is biting her fingernails again (a lifelong problem for her) but awake and lucid. Yay! Got my Mom back.

Jim invited a few people over for my Birthday Sunday so we have to get the house clean.

More good news. My dad is home from the Rehab place. He is able to uses his walker again and make it to the bathroom. He joked that he was going to get on the garden tractor. I wish. It bothered me that he was so slow a couple years ago, not dreaming it could get this bad. He did manage to do things outside. I hope to visit him again soon.

Temps in the hundreds. Madison was 105 yesterday or 106 depending on where you get the temp. Ugh. AC working overtime. I need to get a new filter in there. I feel very lucky we have AC. So many people can think of nothing but the heat. They have no cool place to escape to. I went out to walk last night at midnight. It was still 85 out there but bearable. Garden is totally dependent on me for water. So far it's doing well.

Back to housework! I wish it didn't get so bad. I was sick, then Alex was sick, Jim rarely has a lot of energy so it has been hard to keep up. Hopefully we will all be doing better now! Jim was joking that the only place that looked tidy and happy was the veggie garden. Right.

Happy Day!

Supreme Court upheld Affordable Care! Now to get our governor to act like an adult!

We were getting pretty annoyed by our old Honda Civic (1996 EX manual Transmission) because it was starting to act a little old and cranky. Like the passenger window wouldn't open, rear driver's side door wouldn't open. Had to manually lock all doors as the electronic dohicky died. On top of that the knob that regulates volume on the radio had to be played with for ages before you could get it set properly and every time you turned on the radio you had to do it again.

Ok, we could have got all that stuff fixed for about half the value of the car which also has some body dings and 240,000 miles, and were thinking of it.Then we were offered a very good deal on a lease of a new Honda Civic and bit!

So now we have a new Honda Civic LX (difference seems to be no moon roof, no hand's free phone system) and we love it. I suppose we will be looking to buy the damn thing when the 3 year lease ends. We will see! We also still have our old car so when I'm off in Joliet, Jim will have a car to drive.
Looks pretty much like the picture above. (well exactly but it's white.) I like the way Honda doesn't change things just to change them although some of the stuff is different.

I've been really enjoying the music set up.