Thursday, April 30, 2009

Houston, We Have a Problem . . .

. . . or maybe not. I finally have a diagnosis on my thigh pain: meralgia paresthetica. Not that I'm happy about the diagnosis, but at least I now know what it is and what I can do to alleviate the pain, which at times is quite bad. In fact, here are the most common symptoms, all of which I have in spades:

  • Constant pain on the outer side of the thigh, extending from hip to knee

  • Burning, numbness, or tingling in the thigh

  • Bouts of shooting pain, often likened to being stung repeatedly by bees

  • Hypersensitivity to touch and heat. Warm water from the shower causes stinging and burning sensation.

  • Occasionally, aching in the groin area or across the buttocks

  • Usually more sensitive to light touch than to firm pressure

  • Aggravated by walking and standing, or prolonged sitting
So I am scheduled to start physical therapy, and I need to lose weight (no surprise there) and start walking again. The only problem is, walking is painful. But I'll do it anyway. Anything to get rid of the constant pain.

On a high note, I bought some hanging plants today, and now I'm going outside to hang them from the beam I installed on the front deck, just for that purpose!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Dogs

Dogs are so entertaining. I have a 4-year-old Doberman named Nova and a 6-month-old Boxer named Asterisk. They're both girls, and right now they are wrestling on the floor and making the most godawful fake growls and snarls. They enjoy each other's company, and so do I. They're fun to have around and keep me from being lonely.

I don't have much news to report, so this is a fluff piece. I've included pictures to pad out this short blog post. Here are my girls.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Project Done!

It's done! I have a few odds and ends to do yet, but for all intents and purposes I’ve finished building the benches and potting table on my front porch. I still have to paint the benches and table, and clean the deck and then paint it too. But I finished inserting the last screw at 7:30 last night, 4/24. Lord knows when I'll get around to painting them all. That's for another day! I had a blast building this stuff, and now my deck looks so cool.

The long photo above is a composite picture I did in Photoshop, stitching together 6 photos, so the perspective is a bit off. It makes the bench on the right and the table on the left look considerably longer than they really are. The picture was taken from the gate leading onto the porch from the driveway. It makes my deck look huge, but it does give a decent panorama, if somewhat distorted. And yes, the wall and door really are purple. Here's a better picture, without distortion:

The long beam across the top of the benches will be used for hanging plants. The table on the left with the small bench on the end will be used for potting plants and for potluck dishes during barbecues (Think July 4th!). It will also come in very handy when lugging groceries from the car. Instead of leaving the slider open to the elements while I troop back and forth carting grocery bags, I'll be able to deposit all the groceries on the table, first, then once the car is emptied, I'll whisk the bags inside in one fell swoop.

The next picture is actually 2 photos stitched together. You can tell because the deck planks don’t line up. However, the benches are in proportion in this picture. I think it will look really nice once I get it all painted and have flower pots hanging from the beam.

I’ll probably build a gate to go between the two benches, and install handrails for the steps leading down into the side yard. But that's for a later date. Right now, I'm dreading picking colors to paint the deck and benches and table, because it will be one of those exploding projects. To backtrack, I have a new roof that clashes horribly with my house color. When I picked the roof color, I thought it would go well with my taupe house. I was appalled when the roof was done. It's reddish brown, and clashes horribly with the taupe. So I have to repaint the house. It needs it, anyway. But trying to decide on a color is so trying, and I can't paint the deck and benches until I decide on my color scheme for the house. Then I'll be able to find complementary colors for the deck, etc. And then (groan!) I'll have to repaint the cinder block wall and my intricately painted door, because purples will most certainly not go well with anything in the reddish-brown family.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

WIP - a Work in Progress

I have several WIPs around the house. The term "WIP" stands for Work in Progress and rightfully belongs to the writing world, where it refers to the manuscript you're working on. For me, it means a whole lot of unfinished projects. Currently, it means the overly-ambitious deck project I'm working on, and which keeps expanding at an alarming rate.

I blame it on the miserably cold and wet winter and spring we've had: unrelenting rain and a spring with hardly any sun at all. It kept me indoors to the point of dementia. And every time we had a rare day or two of good weather I went screaming outside to roll in the dirt in my garden or some other equally physical activity.

So when the forecast a few days ago said we were going to have several days of exceptional weather, I roared into Home Depot and bought a bunch of pressure-treated lumber so I could build benches for my front deck. Then I decided to build a taller bench in one corner, to use as a potting table for when I repotted plants. Then I decided it needed to be longer, so it could double as a table for holding side dishes during barbecues. Then I decided I needed two benches, not one, since I was going to have more barbecues, meaning more people needing places to sit. Then I decided to add a third bench to the end of the potting table. Then I decided I needed to have a place for hanging plants to decorate the deck, so I hoisted a 13-foot beam above two of the benches and bolted it into place.

I'm envisioning a Babylonian Hanging Garden, steaks on the barbecue, the clink of ice cubes in glasses of Sangria, and good friends sprawled comfortably on my brand new benches while the sounds of Stevie Ray Vaughan waft from the stereo. My neighbors will sit in their mean shacks, green with envy, salivating over the delicious smells emanating from the barbie. Or so I imagine. If I ever get this WIP finished! That's a picture on the left of what I've done so far: 2 benches and the overhead beam (it's not really bent--I stitched 4 pictures together using Photoshop) The potting table will go on the left wall where the lumber is stacked. I still have to add backrests to the benches, and complete the arm rests, and then once everything's done, I'll paint the deck and benches.

I'm terrified of what I'll think up next! I'm still working on the bench project, and I have to say that it's coming along nicely, though I sometimes wish I had an extra hand for things like holding up one end of a 13-foot beam while I bolt the other end into place. On the other hand, I . . .

Oh, wait! How about if I put arm rests on my benches? Yeah, I need arm rests. And maybe I could cut out holes for cups, like they do in movie theaters!

What about you? Do you have any WIPs? If not, I envy you! *g*

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Blessed are the Friends

This is a post about Susan Wiggs. (Photo on the right)

But first, let's talk about me. *g* Despite the fact I'm the perpetual optimist, I've been feeling a little down lately. The medical things are getting to me: pending hysterectomy, extreme pain (cause unknown) in my right thigh, constant coughing from allergies . . . and an I-don't-care-you're-just-a-number medical system. Yesterday, I made yet another phone call to the clinic trying to find out if my referral to a specialist had gone through. They had initially said it would take 2 weeks. It's been over 2 weeks. I found out they hadn't even started on it. As I told them 2 weeks ago, this needs to be done ASAP, since I'll be losing my medical insurance in the near future, and I want to be sure my hysterectomy is covered.
So how does Susan Wiggs figure into the picture? Well, she may not be able to build a fire under the medical system, but she sure can do things to make you feel better. Susan is a person who always manages to lift my spirits. She did that today when I opened my mailbox and saw a long, skinny package. What the . . .? And then I saw it was from Susan. Now, Susan has this quirky mind that always seems to come up with the perfect gift at the perfect time. The Screaming Monkey Christmas gift had my family in stitches. My Doberman Nova's favorite chew toy is a big green rubber thing, courtesy of Susan. The Rubber Thing has since been commandeered by Asterisk, my Boxer pup. That's Asterisk above, with the Rubber Thing. (And yes, she is sitting on Nova) BTW, a suggestion from Susan was the trigger to my naming the pup Asterisk.

So when I saw the package was from Susan, I started to laugh, knowing it would be something quirky and fun. By time I got back to the house, I'd torn off the brown paper and discovered . . . a BugZooka! (Where does she find these things???)
What's a BugZooka? Well, it's basically a bug disposal unit--a long vacuum tube that sucks up insects. Better than a flyswatter, because it doesn't leave splats on your walls or ceilings. You can either set the bugs free outdoors, or dispose of them some other way. I get these humongous hairy spiders in my bathroom that hang out over my sink or shower, keeping me from my ablutions for fear of them landing on my head. I don't know what kind of uber-spider they are, but Raid has no effect, even when sprayed directly on them. I find that exceedingly scary. And using a flyswatter is out of the question. I tried that once and it left an extremely gross mess on the ceiling. Now I have an effective means of dealing with uninvited critters in my house. I can't wait for the yellowjackets that invade my house every fall and terrorize me and my pets. Zap! Gotcha!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Truth in Advertising

If I were in a position of power, I would make it mandatory for food companies to package their products in a non-deceiving way. How many times have you opened a box of macaroni and cheese and discovered that 3/4 of the box is filled with air? Or opened a bag of chips to find that the contents only take up half the bag?

Today I opened a box of angel hair pasta with herb sauce. The box was 7 1/4" x 5". At the bottom of the box was a measly 1" of pasta, and a small bag of powdered seasoning. The box didn't need to be 7 1/4" tall. A 2" tall box would have been ample room for the pasta and packet of seasoning The amount of cardboard wasted on unnecessary (and deceitful) packaging was ludicrous. (See pictures below)

This has long been a pet peeve of mine. Just think how much shelving space would be saved in grocery stores if food companies sized their packaging to fit the actual contents.

End of rant. See the pictures for yourself. The ball point pen in the second picture is pointing to the 1" mark on the ruler. That's how much pasta fills the box. The rest of the box is just empty.

In the second picture, below, I've cut down the side of the box so you can see the 1" of pasta.

This is the actual size of box needed: 2" tall. The other 5" was pure waste.