Thursday, January 25, 2007

Quakin' in my shoes

We're going to Belize tomorrow. It's a day-long trek; we'll leave Baltimore around 8 a.m., swing by Dallas for a bit, then head on to Belize City, taking a puddle-jumper to Ambergris Caye.

That's not why I'm quaking. The anxiety-inducing part is that I'm taking ONLY ONE PAIR OF SHOES. Anyone who knows me will tell you that this is a really out-on-a-limb am-I-out-of-my-mind move for me.

When we went to Europe, I took two pairs; one my favorite Birkenstocks, one dressy pair (non-Birks) for the class reunion. In the 10-plus years that I've been wearing Birks, I don't think I've gone anywhere without taking or wearing them. But Friday I found these.

Now I'm not saying that I'm giving up Birkenstocks. No way; they're comfortable, occasionally stylish, great color and style selection, and I ♥ them. But I wanted something to wear on the beach and running (well, walking) around Belize, and I don't have any waterproof Birks. So after a couple of days of browsing web shoe stores, I found these.

Oh. My. Goodness. Lust at first sight. Since I was a teenager I've loved ugly shoes. And these are ugly with a capital U. I read the reviews, decided that I had to have them, but with only a few days to work it, I had to move fast.

I ordered them and added 2-day postage. Then I got worried about the sizing; in Birks I wear a 38 in most styles, but once in a while I need a 39. So I panicked. Okay, I didn't, but I could have. So I checked with an online rep and was able to add a pair in size 39 without additional postage. They have the best customer service department I've ever come across. I ♥ Drew, my personal rep.

You know me. I worried that even with 2nd-day postage, they wouldn't come in time. But they did. And I'm glad I ordered the larger size too, because the smaller ones didn't fit.

And comfort? Wonderful. Like walking on Memory Foam. The description says that the insole conforms to the shape of your foot within 12 hours of wear, so I've worn them to work the past two days to make sure they're comfortable enough to wear in Belize. And they are comfortable.

I see many more of these in my future.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A snow day

We've had a pretty mild winter so far, with warmer-than-usual temps and only snow flurries now and then. We live in the boonies of WV and have to drive over a mountain to and from work.

Strangely enough (at least, to me it's strange) the WV DOT is usually on top of any bad weather, even when it comes on suddenly. Rarely is that side of the mountain icy or have much snow on it at all. The Virginia side, in comparison, is like an unplowed driveway.

One morning last winter we left home at the usual time (before 6). By the time we got to the mountain, it was snowing heavily (I bet it's all of two or three miles), but the road on the WV side was relatively clear. At the top of the mountain, at the Virginia line, it became a ski slope. There'd been no plowing, no salting or sanding, and just around a curve, a tractor-trailer had jackknifed and backed up traffic. Cars had slid all over the road trying to avoid hitting it, and there was no way that we could stop. Even though we were going maybe 10 mph, we slid and turned and bumped into the guardrail (thank goodness that Virginia at least has those) and bounced off that into a small car. Somehow Tom got us turned around and headed back home, where we waited until things started melting, around 10:30. Well, he waited; I went back to sleep.

Unfortunately, the damage to the truck was on the side that I hadn't bashed in the year before.

It snowed most of the day Sunday, one of those heavy, pretty snowfalls that doesn't leave too much on the ground. We watched the birds going after corn that the deer had left behind, then we threw out some bread and popcorn.

Two male cardinals (only one female that we saw) really stood out in that snow.

Really gorgeous day.

P.S. School was actually closed yesterday. We had snow in WV, but VA got ice.

Friday, January 19, 2007


I don't have anything in particular to write about today, I just have some photos I want to share. Lucky you.

I was back in Orlando Jan. 4-7 for A's birthday. We'd just gotten home from Florida two days before, but I was able to get incredibly cheap airfare and flew back down for three whole days. On Sunday we went to Celebration, Disney's planned community. Want to live there? TOWNHOUSES start around $400,000.

There's a cool fountain where children can play, so we took the kids there. It was so much fun to watch them running in and out of the water.

The first photos are of a loon that was in the lake; it cruised around with only its head and a little bit of neck sticking out of the water, then it came ashore and stood still for at least 10 minutes while its wings dried. Then, of course, it jumped back into the lake.

Then the kids played in the fountain. It was a balmy day, and although I would have been cold in the water, they weren't.

Notice the couple on the Segways. Only in Disney territory would this be an alternative mode of transportation.

And, of course, there were little boys who....... enjoyed the fountain a little too much.

On the way back to the car, we smelled burning rope. Why on earth would anyone in a Disney community be burning rope on a Sunday afternoon?

Oh. It was this guy and his wife, both gray-haired and wearing Harley leathers. They quickly got on their bike and left. (Not the family in the foreground; that older man in the left background.)

Smoking dope in Celebration. WWWDD?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Things we do to for our dogs

I just received these photos of two Yorkies wearing sweaters that I'd knit for the Yorkie Shoppe.

I've knit over 20 sweaters so far and have another 4 almost ready to go. I took a break over Christmas to finish these knee socks for two little girls:

While we were in Florida, Zippy stayed with my sister and her dog, Kipper. Kip's an old man who doesn't like these young whippersnappers playing in his yard, but as long as it was just Zippy, he was resigned but okay with it. Add in another young dog and Kipper just barks curses at them nonstop.

Chester was really glad to see Zippy when he finally came home.

I'll leave you with these photos of how well our cats get along together:

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Long time no write

Wow. It was longer than I thought. It's been a long long month!

First, let's do away with that Christmas panic thing. I got over that. I knit a whole bunch of bowls and felted them. Done. I think that I made something like 13 of them in less than a week. They're pretty much useless, but they're pretty.

And at the same time, I finally felted Nancy's cat bed.

This was after I was hospitalized for 4 days after experiencing stomach bleeding. Only I didn't realize what had happened. How can one person be so stupid? I can only plead lack of blood supply to the brain.

*Warning--yucky details*

I was at school when it started. I didn't feel any pain, just a feeling of warmth swept outward from my stomach. I thought it was a weird hot flash. Immediately I was weak and lightheaded, but I figured I had the bug that was going around school. I work in the main office for 1/4 of the day and every sick kid comes in there for Tylenol or Advil, like that'll cure them.

I managed to drag myself back upstairs to my office, telling myself with every step that I could not drop the laptop. I don't know how I made it, or how I made it to the car and drove to pick Tom up. My coworker told me that I looked awful.

I didn't go to work the next two days (Thursday and Friday). I got progressively weaker and could barely stand up. I was really cold and couldn't get warm no matter how many comforters I had over me. I still thought it was the flu. The odd thing was that I didn't feel sick, just couldn't stand up or even hold my head up.

Thursday afternoon I noticed that my (*WARNING--YUCKY*) stool was totally black. I just thought, huh. I bet that's blood. It didn't really sink in that it's not supposed to be like that. The thought just sort of flitted through my head.

By Sunday I was noticing that my lips were completely colorless. Again, I thought, huh. Isn't that odd. Since I was getting worse instead of better, I decided to go to the doctor's the next morning. Forget work.

Tom took me into the doctor's office. I could hardly stand up long enough for the nurse to (*WARNING--YUCKY*) weigh me. My blood pressure was something like 60/28. The doctor pulled my eyelids down and looked at them, then looked at my gums, read my palm (at least that's what it looked like) and told me to go immediately to the emergency room.

After telling the same story to about 50 different people, they decided that I was telling the truth and decided to admit me. Whew, that means I don't have that $100 copay. They took me to the Critical Care Unit, which I have to admit scared me a little. I didn't think it was that critical.

I was given three pints of blood that afternoon and evening. A GI specialist was brought in to scope my stomach to see if they could pinpoint the bleeding. All of the equipment was brought into my room; if you're in ICU, you get real service. They couldn't find the origin of the bleeding, so either it healed on its own or it was in the folds created by the stomach surgery I had four years ago--almost to the day.

The next day I was taken to a regular floor, but that night I was given a 4th transfusion. I was awakened every three hours for my vitals to be taken; by Wednesday night I was exhausted and was given Ambien. I love Ambien.

I was released on Thursday with a new med, Protonix. No lifestyle or diet changes were suggested and I sure didn't ask for any.

I was out of sick leave by this time, but I didn't care. I stayed home Friday and went back to work on Monday, and you know what? I felt better than I have in years. No fatigue at all. I was concerned that it would take me weeks to get over losing so much blood (my doctor later told me that he thinks I lost 5 pints; I think that's half of the blood in the average adult), but I've felt wonderful ever since. I must have been anemic for quite some time.

We left for Florida a week after I came home, played with the grandkids, shopped, went sight-seeing. Absolutely no problems. Well, there was that one time when I drank a slushy drink way too quickly and thought my stomach was bleeding again, but it was just an esophageal spasm. Those things hurt.

Last Thursday I flew back to Orlando for A's 7th birthday. I was a little apprehensive about the trip; she was taking a bunch of kids to DisneyWorld for her birthday, and I was worried about my stamina. I shouldn't have worried; the kids and other parents wore out long before I did.

Life is good.

*note: if your lips turn white, go to the emergency room*