Saturday, June 24, 2006

Spur of the moment getaway!

Hubby and I are packing as we speak for a last minute getaway to Chattanooga! Well, actually, he's showering as I type this, so that's not really packing, but you know what I mean. I love little trips like this!

Our friend, the incredible blues woman Ann Rabson is playing at The Chattanooga Billiard Club in the Tropicana Room (doesn't that sound all Lucy & Desi?), and we're going to catch her there. She sent us an email late this week announcing her last minute scheduling there, and since we have a very busy July/early August ahead of us, we decided that a brief weekend jaunt would be perfect right now. I, for one, am looking forward to indulging in the hotel's pool when we get there, since it's already hell-hot here in Tennessee -- and it's only June!!! I shudder to think of July & August!

I'm virtually certain that my dear, sweet hubby will have pics to post when we return, so be sure to check his blog. ;)

A bientot, mon amis!


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My "good" sister

I was reading back through this blog and discovered that, though I've often spoken of my youngest sister and her issues, I've rarely spoken of our middle sister, aka The Good Sister. I feel guilty about this, because of all people, I should write about her. She has always been and continues to be a great joy in my life. So, here are some things you should know about A.

A is 5 years younger than me, 2 years older than youngest sister, M. Naturally, with such an age difference between us, we didn't have a lot in common until we were older. Youngest sister was so much younger that she seemed like a baby most of my growing up life, but A always seemed very self-sufficient and not much in need of help like the baby was. A was always very sweet, very placid, even -- someone everyone liked. She had a good friend, P, who lived around the corner, and they were always together. I know it used to annoy her that M would always tag along behind her, but she tolerated it for the most part, because she and M were also very close.

I have the most beautiful pictures of A, from when she was a baby. She had the most beautiful white-blonde curly hair, and sea-foam green eyes, or so they looked to me. She also had cute little toes, which I noticed in a picture of her, my brother and me, swinging like mad together on a porch-type swing in the backyard of our 'old house'. She truly looked like an angel.

At times growing up, she was a cheerleader for the community football team; in high school, she was in the Flag Corps for a time. I took her to New Orleans once when she was about 15, I'm guessing, and she walked in a Mardi Gras parade along with me and a girlfriend. Probably not the most responsible thing I've ever done, but it was fun and she was no trouble.

I also used to take her and M to movies with me -- I remember taking them to "Gone With the Wind" and "Sophie's Choice". They tell me I took them to the mall alot, which I don't doubt. I used to cut their hair -- "feathered" it, as was the fashion in the 70s and early 80s.

When I lived in Memphis, I always loved it when A visited me. I have more fun with her than I do with most people. She makes me laugh so hard I nearly (and sometimes beyond nearly!) wet my pants. This runs in our family (no pun intended), so I can't help it!

She married a wonderful man who had 3 children by a previous marriage. Naturally, she was and is a wonderful stepmother. But she wanted to have her own children, like most women. Unfortunately, like me, and like my mother, and I think even our youngest sister, she had PCOS, which complicated her fertility. But with a little assistance -- better living through chemistry, as they say -- she gave birth to my absolutely magnificent nephew nearly 10 years ago. Like his mother, he's the light of my life, and amazingly smart to boot.

She has been the most hands-on mom I've ever known, participating in the Band Boosters club when her step-children were in high school. She and her husband manned the concession stand which funded, at least partially, this band's many out of state trips. They also served as chaperones on most of the trips, which couldn't have been easy. Now, she's the room mother for my nephew's class, and has been, I think, since he started school. She's also begun working at the school's library, which keeps her "in the know". I visited my nephew in his classroom one day when I was in Florida, and it was easy to see that he is much loved by teachers and students alike.

The reason for my visit was that A had a total hysterectomy, and asked me to come stay with her while she recuperated. I was so honored and flattered and grateful that she asked me. I was thrilled to be able to do something for her -- she's the most grateful person in the world, and so easy to care for. When I visited the school, everyone from janitors to the principal, teachers and students, asked after her. They were all missing her greatly and looking very forward to her return. I was so proud & happy for her. I'm glad others recognize what an angel she is.

She's also quite talented, having become a practiced quilter, among other things. I doubt there's a limit to her creativity, but she focuses her talents on quilting at the moment. She has made some beautiful pieces for everyone but herself, I believe. Thanksgiving before last, she made me a tablecloth while she was sitting at my kitchen table. That just blew me away! She made it look so easy that I bought some quilting material and a pattern, thinking I would try it too. I have to remember to give it to her next time I see her, cuz it's been sitting in my closet for a year & a half now. lol

Anyway, that's my middle sister -- mommy, wife, sister, friend, peacemaker. I hope I get to see her soon. Hopefully we'll find some time this summer to get together. She has no idea how much I miss her, and when I try to tell her, she just brushes it off -- she's quite modest, in case I hadn't mentioned that. Just one more thing that makes me love her so much.

Peace, everyone,


Queen Anne's Lace

All along the sides of the roads near where I live, which is out away from the Metro area, Queen Anne's Lace, aka Wild Carrot, grows like crazy. I drive by patches of this lovely blossom all the time, and always wish I could see it up close. Well, today I finally just stopped the car on the side of the road and looked at it, up close. I also picked a few stalks to carry home and press. The four caplets of lace are currently residing in my kitchen, between two sheets of wax paper, under my giant Family Circle Recipe Book. I have no idea if this will work well with this wildflower, but I have high hopes. :)

I'm glad I took the time to stop and pick the flowers, as it were. Doing something so spur of the moment is not as much like me as it should be, but I'm going to try to remedy that. When we were in Norther Virginia recently, I saw what I learned were Wild Roses seemingly everywhere we turned. I never stopped to get a close-up look, though, much less pick some. I regret that error. If I ever have the opportunity again, I will not pass this by.

Peace, y'all.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Random things I've learned recently

1. Anderson Cooper is Gloria Vanderbilt's son.

2. Our van will not crank, or even turn over, unless a foot is on the brake at the time.

3. Birds nest in my Boston Ferns, which are hanging baskets on my porch.

4. Fruit freezes in homemade ice cream.

Yes, I'm blonde. What a surprise. :D

Kooky dreams for a change! lol

I must have eaten something weird yesterday to cause the dreams I had last night, but I have no idea what! If I knew I could do it again! Here are two little tidbits of information before I launch into this post -- A) the Bonnaroo music festival is occurring soon, apparently, and is very close to where I live, and B) I recently visited Memphis where I had dinner with a friend who always has some hilarious video to show me. We watched "Mario Cantone: Laugh Whore". Mario Cantone is a very funny man who plays Charlotte's gay friend on "Sex in the City". He did a bit about Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli.

Now, on with the post

Dream #1: I'm looking at a very well-delineated, closely packed field of marijuana plants. lol They are in a very contained area, but very much full grown (or more, I guess), and just glistening in the sun. Among the plants are a bunch of hippie types, just bursting for "them" to give "the signal". I learn that this huge plot of land is the site of the Bonnaroo music festival, and that the reason it's so well-delineated is because there's an invisible fence around it. Somehow it's been decided that the people attending the festival can do all the pot they want, but they can't start till the "official word" is given, and they can only do it in this area. If they try to take any outside the boundaries, they'll be shocked.

I go into a house a good distance away from the field/concert-goers. There are lots of windows on one side, the side facing the field, but I have the curtains closed. There are other people in the house, but I don't know them all that well. We are talking about all those folks out there and how strict the rules are, when there's a loud knock on the door. In walks the actor, James Wood, but he's like an FBI agent. lol Other FBI-types follow. He says he KNOWS someone here has some dope on them and he's going to find it. I am scared to death, but know it's not me. Finally, one of the other people there produces one shriveled up leaf, and James Wood seems satisfied, but takes this guy out to be shocked, apparently.

That's it for that dream.

2. I am again working in the business office of a hospital, like I did for about 5 years in real life. Some of the same people are there working with me, but they are WAY behind on their work. It's very frustrating, because it's clear that people have just let things slide. There are some new people in the back of the office, and they haven't been trained well. They are taking phone calls, and bring me a stack of messages. The messages are pretty much medical in nature, and have nothing at all to do with the business office. I take them to the boss, who says to take them to the person who's over the operators so she can handle it. I decide that I'm too frustrated to stay and decide to leave.

I get into a convertible and drive off. I'm going through a small town on a highway with a traffic light. I stop at the light and somehow pick up someone in the front seat, and Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli (ala "Arthur"!) in the back. We drive off and have come into a large city with nice neighborhoods that have large homes. As we're driving through one of the beautiful neighborhoods, Liza & Dudley are bickering. I tell them to chill, but they keep on. Liza says something snarky to Dudley, and I tell her she has no room to talk after that fake marriage to "that queer, David Gest". She protests that he's not gay, and I say something like "Oh please! Everybody knows he is and just married you for the money! Why do you insist on such a charade?" Then I get out of the car, NOT stopping it in the process, and just let it go on down the road. I start walking around in this ritzy neighborhood that has beautiful green areas and parks, and then I woke up!

Anyone have an interpretation???? I can assure you I'm not obsessed with either pot or Liza Minnelli, so I'm clueless as to what this was all about! At least they were pretty funny dreams, in an ironic way, for a change. :)

Peace, everyone.


Thursday, June 08, 2006


Recently some of you very kind people have commented that I must be nearly saintly because I've been able to have a good relationship with my husband's ex, etc. For those of you who have made such comments, thank you, but trust me when I tell you, not everyone feels that way. Nor do I have a good relationship with all family-in-law members.

Hubby's son is the one I'm closest to, and so is hubby, for that matter. I'm grateful for this fact on both of our accounts, because I truly love and enjoy the company of his son and his son's fiancee -- I feel like we're genuinely friends at the very least. There had been some difficult times for hubby and son in the past, but with time, those things have ironed themselves out, and now my hubby considers his son his best friend. That is a treat for me to see because hubby just simply is not that close to many men.

Hubby's ex has always been very nice to me, but even though I don't have a problem being around her or even kind of participating in her life and her in mine, it's still kind of weird to me. However, weirdness is OK, especially if it doesn't hurt anyone and actually provides a sense of peace in my home, which this particular situation does, for the most part.

Today, though, there was a fly in the ointment. Hubby's daughter emailed him, again trying to guilt him into forgetting about being thrown out of her house by her husband when they were in the middle of domestic difficulties. The short story is that we were called by daughter and ex to come to daughter's aid 2 years ago when she had her hubby arrested for domestic abuse. When daughter's hubby returned home after the 3 day mandatory restraining order, he came home early, and daughter didn't want him let in, so hubby blocked the door. After the time was up, daughter's hubby ordered my hubby and me out of their house saying we were not welcome in his home, and he goaded and baited my hubby to try to have an altercation, which my hubby very skillfully avoided. Since that time, my hubby has called daughter every week or two. That is, until the fateful birthday "gifts" delivered this year. Hubby turned 60, and daughter's family sent him some pictures, which were much appreciated, a few things the kids made, and then a mug with a form of a squashed frog on it and the wording "old croaker", as well as a hat with the wording "made of achy, breaky parts". Hubby was a little hurt by the last two items, but made no comment about that, thanking her family for the pictures and the other items they sent. Daughter made a huge deal out of his omission, stressing how her hubby did so much work picking out the pictures they sent, arranging them, etc. etc. etc. She had been told previously that her hubby needed to apologize for what he said to us while we were there, because until that happened, we could not feel comfortable around him. She finally emailed my hubby to beg him to give up on that, that she couldn't talk to her hubby about that, that she didn't want to rock the boat because things were going so well for them and she didn't want to stir up old stuff, etc. etc. etc. Hubby explained again why, without some kind of acknowledgement from her hubby of having made a mistake at least, we could not feel comfortable in their home or around him, period. Nevermind, too, that I have had nightmares about this clown -- as that incident happened only the second time I'd ever met daughter or him.

Longer story than I'd intended -- sorry!

This past Memorial Day we went to visit son and ex, as well as other family members. About a month before the visit, hubby called daughter to find out if there would be a time when we could see her and the kids without her hubby around. She complained that she couldn't talk when hubby called, but that he kept on talking anyway. She also complained that he was holding a grudge and being childish, that he should just move on, like they had, that they'd forgiven and forgotten, and we should too. Hubby decided to just let it go and not try to pursue any further contact with daughter for the time being. She pushed it, though, and wrote him yet another hateful email, and this time I responded that she needed to grow up, if she couldn't talk for whatever reason, just don't answer the phone, and that she was being selfish and disrespectful to her father, as well as to me. I explained that she could blame me for our not having contact with her hubby if she liked, but no matter what, she shouldn't treat her dad like that. I learned that that was like pouring gasoline on a fire.

Fast-forward to today. Hubby receives an email from his daughter out of the blue. This is the email, pasted next:

Life is too harbor grudges. What if something were to happen to any of us? We could be dead tomorrow. If you want to risk loosing a relationship with your daughter and her family because of something that happened 2 years ago, then that is your choice.
My family has since healed and we have made numerous gestures of kindness to all who helped us in our time of trouble, including you. If you choose not to accept our way of making amends, then that is your choice, and I'm truly sorry for it, because it means you've chosen to cut-off your grandchildren who certainly don't deserve it. It also breaks my heart that you've forgotten all the efforts we have made to help you in the past in your trying times, especially with (late wife) . . . when we got the call that (late wife) didn't have much longer, Hubby immediately drove me and Brother and all our kids to TN in the middle of the night in a blizzard so that (late wife) could see the grandkids one last time, then a month later, Hubby drove me and Brother and all our kids to IN to pay our respects to (late wife)'s parents since we missed them in TN--if it were up to me and Brother, we would not have made all those efforts, it was Hubby's insistence that called us to action, and I'm glad for it.
I have yet to hear from you since your phone call over a month ago. You've talked bad to everyone else about me and my family, but you haven't faced us directly. I don't want to hear from anyone else. You're my father and I at least deserve that. I know you don't deal well with confrontation, I understand that, but there have been nothing but loving and open arms on our end, so it's frustrating to me that you won't accept them. I've been talking with you on the phone almost every week for the past 2 years, telling you every detail of our healing process and how much we have to be thankful for, and yet you continue to ask "is everything okay?"--of course I dismiss that remark, understanding you're being skeptical, and continue to tell you the joys of our hearts and successes in our lives, hoping that you'll actually hear me one day.
Hear me now . . . let go, forgive, move on, be a Father, be a Grandpa. Love, Daughter

I don't know, maybe it's just me, but that doesn't sound either very loving, or very persuasive of her desire to have a good relationship with her dad. It sounds more like a brat not getting her way. Hubby is susceptible to guilt, and daughter is certainly playing on that. I suspect that his ex had something to do with this, since daughter said that he's talked badly about her family to "everyone else". Oh, and I'm the 'anyone else' she doesn't want to hear from, which is good, as I had no intention of contacting her.

Honestly, I just don't know what to make of all this. I am so very grateful for the relationship we have with his son -- we get along better with son's ex, in fact, than we do with his daughter. I am aware that there have been problems with son-in-law historically, and that daughter is pretty self-absorbed, but geez... I wouldn't DREAM of speaking to my parents the way she has to her father!

So, what comes next? Good question. I don't know how he's going to handle this. He was really bummed today, but tried not to let it overtake his whole life. I pointed out the fallacies of almost every statement she made, and reminded him that he didn't do anything to deserve such treatment, and especially not at the hands of someone he did everything in his power to help. The fault lies squarely on daughter & son-in-law's shoulders, and with every communication, she digs a deeper hole. He knows all of that, but that doesn't make it hurt any less.

So, there we go. You can bet your bottom dollar I'm not thinking saintly thoughts about this girl. Shame, too, because there was a time when I sincerely hoped we could be friends, but that's pretty obviously not going to be possible. Oh well. Son and fiancee' are delightful, precious people and that makes up for a lot. We'll have to see what happens with the rest of the family.


Tarlov cyst

Yes, I know -- I had never heard of that either, but I have a 2 cm one of these in my lumbosacral region. According to what I've read at , the definition is this: spinal nerve root lesions filled with spinal fluid, found most often at the sacral level through MRI scanning. Tarlov cysts can be asymptomatic or cause a serious neurological disorder called Tarlov disease. The symptoms are: pain in the low back, buttocks and hips. The thighs, legs and feet may or may not be involved. Symptoms can be opposite-sided. Tarlov cysts can also cause pain and disorders in the organs of elimination and reproduction, hypoesthesia, paresthesia, and pain in the thigh from lack of blood supply (neurogenic claudication). The postures of sitting, standing, walking, and bending are typically painful, and reclining flat on the side is usually the only posture that offers relief.

I have also learned that this is a fairly uncommon condition, and one that not a lot of successful treatment options exist for. I do not know at this point if I have symptoms as a result of this condition, or if this is simply coincidental to some of the pain I've been having. There have been times in my life, 20 years or so ago, when I had a great deal of difficulty with what I thought was sciatica, but I suppose it could well have been symptoms of this cyst. I'm not sure if there's any way to find out definitively.

My doctor is ordering more physical therapy for me, though she did also mention that now might be a good time to have a baseline visit with a neurosurgeon. That prospect is pretty scary to me. I have long had an almost-phobia of having surgical procedures performed on my back, particularly the needle part of surgical procedures, and any way you go with this, if surgery is involved, there will be a needle.

I'm not sure what to think about all this, or even how I feel about it. On the one hand, it's a very scary prospect, to think of having a spinal growth that could do lasting nerve damage. On the other hand, I'm not sure what the chances really are of that. I could be having back pain for a variety of reasons, none of which would have to do with a cyst. I've had lower back pain for many years, so does that mean I've had this cyst for that long? I just don't know.

Anyway, I guess I'll look forward to more PT. I know I benefited from it last time, and I have no reason to think I won't this time. Maybe they'll even be able to work on my neck & shoulders a little again, too. That would rock.


Monday, June 05, 2006

Lightning striking again....!!! Plus FIRE!!!!!!!!!

Well, the last few days have not been the greatest. On Saturday evening, we experienced an unexpected-to-us storm, which involved lightning. We were struck, AGAIN, blowing out our VCR/DVD player and Internet connection (again). Not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, but annoying as hell.

On Sunday morning, hubby started to blend us a smoothie for breakfast. He put all the ingredients in the blender and turned it on. Suddenly, and also quite unexpectedly, FIRE, as in FLAMES, began shooting out of the socket in which the blender was plugged. I did not know that this happened until I came of out of the bathroom later. Fortunately, he had good sense and quickly unplugged the blender, ran down into the basement, and shut off the breaker for that outlet. That breaker, though, also controls the electricity for that whole wall (coffee maker, bread machine), and the adjoining wall (REFRIDGERATOR!). Yet again he had the good sense to run a heavy-duty extension cord from the living room to the kitchen so we could keep the fridge plugged in. Oy vey!

So, today we had to wait for electricians, and are currently waiting for the siding people to come deal with the previous exploding-neighbor's-tree problem which damaged one side of our house. We are also needing to go back to pick up the new car we bought on Saturday, after having some of the add-on equipment installed. Again, none of these things on their own are humongous deals, since the house didn't burn down or anything, but when you add it all up, it equals STRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I decided to go back on my anti-anxiety agent for a little while after all these little dramas have unfolded. I had JUST weaned myself off completely, hopeful of using it only as needed, but it looks as though, in order to make sure things don't get out of hand and turn back into full-blown panic attacks, it's safer just to take the minimum dose for a while. So, that's what I'm doing. I think this is helping with the heart hiccups, as I don't notice them today at all, and didn't really notice them yesterday as much. I'm thinking my plan is working. I'll check with my doc on Wednesday when I see her to either confirm or deny this.

Here's hoping the rest of the week is less hectic. I could sure use a little peace.


Saturday, June 03, 2006

I am SUCH a baby sometimes...

Yesterday I took an unexpected trip to my doctor's office. For several days I'd had extra-strong heartbeats, almost like hiccups, and it freaked me out. I've had these events since I was a teenager, usually, it seems, when I'm tired, but I'd never had them so often or so long as I did this time. I do know that I have mitral valve regurgitation, and perhaps mitral valve prolapse, depending on who read which echocardiogram of mine. I also have left ventricular hypertrophy, which is a thickening in the left lower chamber of my heart.

I'm new to this particular practice, and knew, due to having had them ask me to reschedule an appointment, that my preferred provider was unavailable. However, I called in around 3:25pm on Friday afternoon to ask if they could work me in with these "palpitations" (I didn't know what else to call them). I had no chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, etc., so I was pretty sure I wasn't having a heart attack, but still couldn't rule it out due to the length and persistence of these 'hiccups'. The receptionist had me speak to a nurse, who did agree that I should come in, after, I think, determining as best she could over the phone that I wasn't about to die on the way over.

A nurse practitioner saw me, and after having an EKG performed, reassured me that I was going to be OK. She asked if I had been drinking a lot of caffeine (no) or was under a lot stress lately (I didn't think so until today). We've just returned from a long trip that, though very pleasant, was very stressful due to being with people I don't know well and yet need/want to make a good impression on (i.e. my in-laws), our preparations for buying a new car (did that today -- a Scion, the shoebox car), concern for my sister/family members, trying to overcome some pain issues, and also participating in my husband's retirement planning. Though that last part was fine, it still impressed upon me my absolute need to contribute financially to this household in order for him to be able to retire at the appointed time.

Though the appointed time is not for nearly 6 years, I still worry. I worry that I can't function normally in the work world any more. I worry that I won't make enough money to help him like he needs me to. I worry that he'll hold it against me if I can't do those things. I worry that if I return to the normal working world, I'll miss opportunities to do things with him and with others because I'll be working all the time again. So many worries.

Today I'm still having 'hiccups'. The nurse practitioner said she or my doctor may go ahead and order a holter monitor (records the heart's electrical activity over a long period of time) for me -- the only question is whether it will be a 24 hour one or a 72 hour one. I see my doc on Wednesday anyway, so this would be the perfect time for it. I don't expect them to really find anything, but this extra-hard heartbeat thing is both scary and annoying. I talked with my friend C last night about this -- she's had them too -- and it helped alot to share this with someone who knew what I was talking about.

When I was a teenager, I never told anyone I had these things. My Dad was dying of cancer, and I just KNEW that anything that happened to me MUST be cancer or something at least that bad, too. I guess it didn't help that in the couple of years before my father's passing I lost a favorite uncle to cancer and a favorite grandfather to arteriosclerosis. It seemed for a while that my life was ruled by death, even if it was other people's. Maybe I still carry a bit of that fear today.

My husband's late wife's father is not doing well at the moment, either. We have a good relationship with her family, though it took time, of course, for them to develop that with me. Now they call me their adopted daughter, which is very kind of them, and much appreciated. Hubby and I both know that it won't be long before we receive the call letting us know that he has passed on. As it is, we're planning to go to visit them on the 4th of July weekend. They live 6 hours north of us, and that's not that far away time-wise.

Right now much of our attention has been and is focused toward the people in my husband's past (ex-wife, late wife's parents), or toward his family. I think that throws me off a bit, because I don't really fit in to either place, other than with my husband's son, who is truly one of the supreme joys of both our lives. His son has always treated me with respect and as a friend, which is what we are. He is kind, considerate, thoughtful, hilariously funny, and so much like his father it's crazy. He has definitely been a balm when things have been tough with his sister (when haven't they been tough with her?). So, all is not dark and dim, really -- just difficult to process sometimes.

So enough whining. Hubby has gone to the grocery and should be home soon. There was some kind of accident on the interstate that tied us up coming home from the car dealership. We need to go back down to get it, but there's no point in going right now, as it would take forever to get home. Hopefully, things will clear up down there soon. I pray that whoever all was involved is or will be OK.


PS We got new cell phones this week -- both with BLUETOOTH thingies! I feel so cool. lol

Friday, June 02, 2006

Good trip

Our trip this past weekend was quite a success, all the way around. We covered a lot of territory -- almost 2000 miles, I believe. We also visited six states -- Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Kentucky. We stayed with hubby's son for the first time and had a marvelous experience. We also visited one of my cousins, his sister, and his ex-wife and her husband. There was even time for hooking up with some of his old band friends at one of their gigs, where we surprised them. Naturally, hubby was asked to sit in on a few songs, which is something he enjoyed tremendously. Clearly they were happy to see him and have him participate, and that really made my night.

One of the things I enjoyed most was getting to know hubby's son's fiancee better. We've only met twice, I believe, so we haven't had that much time just to hang out. She is a very beautiful, charming woman from Australia who sells stuff to gigantic organizations. She is very smart, funny, thoughtful, clever, and about every other positive attribute you can name. This kind of person would normally intimidate me, but she doesn't. She has a way of putting everyone at ease, which must be quite useful in her line of work. This weekend gave us the chance to just have girl talk, I think, and to enjoy seeing our men enjoy each other's company. We both enjoyed that aspect quite a bit, and spent more time together as a result. I am sincerely hoping that she and son will come to visit us sometime soon, and let us show them a good time. She's never been here before, so there would be a lot we could do. I also really look forward to future visits to their home, knowing in advance that I already feel comfortable there and like part of the family. That's a wonderful feeling, and quite a relief.

The visit with hubby's ex was interesting. This is the first time either of us has been to their home, though we pretty much always have seen her when we've visited up there -- she comes down to NORVA. This is the first time I've met her husband, though. Wasn't impressed with him, to be honest. No comparison between this guy and hubby -- other than he's younger. Definitely not of the same class as my husband -- no comparison in any way. I won't go into gory details, but will say that the ex had an affair with current hubby, which was the icing on the cake that was the end of the marriage. After, she and then-lover sponged off hubby, taking 'alimony' because hubby was more generous than he had to be ("she was the mother of my children") -- I do admire that about him, though.

I don't know how hubby can stand to be around her hubby, but somehow he doesn't hold a grudge. I don't think it's in his nature. He knows that her current hubby was definitely not her first affair -- the first was way back in the beginning of their marriage, and continued throughout their relationship. To meet his ex, you'd never imagine this about her, but he said that was the thing -- on the one hand she appears very normal, average, etc., but she has a "dark" side that's attracted to dangerous men and doing very edgy things. Some of the stories I've heard just blow my mind, but it's hard to walk in another person's shoes. I just don't get it, though.

His ex did give me a beautiful sterling silver fish with an articulating tail necklace she bought while she and now-hubby were on vacation at the Outer Banks. She gave a similar necklace to son's fiancee. For my hubby and his son she brought salsa. She's very kind and thoughtful this way, actually. For our wedding, she gave us a beautiful bowl for our coffee table, which was very surprising to me. I really appreciated her kindness -- it certainly made things easier for me to meet her for the first time -- on our honeymoon, actually.

This must all sound weird to the average reader. To tell the truth, it feels weird to me, too. I have a different relationship with my husband and his family members, I think, than most people. But then, our relationship is kind of different from most. I doubt many people reading this have a 17 year age difference between themselves and their spouses. I doubt many people reading this are divorced and widowed also. I think that makes a difference.

Speaking of having been widowed, hubby's late wife's father is very ill. He's 91 and until recently has been in pretty good shape. We attended his birthday party in December. He did say then, though, that he was kind of tired of living, which surprised everyone. As of now he's in a nursing home after having recovered from pneumonia. However, he's lost a great deal of weight and is not eating. He's also anemic, but no source of bleeding has been found so far. Prior to the pneumonia, he and his wife, age 85, I believe, were living in an assisted living facility, after having only given up their home in the last year. He was very stubborn about it, and though they really needed help a while back, he refused help. Money was his primary concern, as it is now, too. But, unfortunately, there appears to be a possibility that he may be in bad enough shape that money may not be an issue. Our concern is his wife, who is quite dependent on him. After all, they have been married 62 years as of the 17th of this month. I suppose we will be making a trip up to see them soon -- maybe even this weekend. I hope not, for many reasons, but we're prepared to go whenever necessary. If nothing else happens, we'll go for the 4th of July holiday. We're keeping our fingers crossed until then.

This weekend we will be spending our time at home, dealing with all of this lightning-strike business. I guess it's kind of good, though, because at least that will keep us at home. We could use a little rest anyway.

That's the news from Lake Woebegone. It's good to be home. :)



This past Memorial Day weekend, we took a trip to Northern Virginia and surrounding states to visit relatives and friends. Imagine our surprise on returning to find that our garage door window was broken, that the remotes for the door didn't work suddenly, and that my car was covered with leaves, wood chips and sawdust. Further imagine our surprise in discovering that our cable box, modem, router and septic pump were not working. And yet more surprises -- there were holes in our siding, some pretty large. There were things in the kitchen sink that had been knocked off the window sill -- we thought Roger the cat had done it.

However, we soon discovered that our neighbor's 100 foot tall poplar tree was struck by lightning on Sunday, sending sawdust and wood chips flying through the air, making missiles of the wood chips and making us very very grateful not to have been outside when this happened.

Because it's in our neighbor's yard and because it was a lightning strike, claiming it on our insurance is kind of out of the question, due to the $1000 deductible we carry. The neighbors didn't even realize their tree had been hit, since the side that was struck is facing our house. They just knew that there was a loud loud bang around 9 am Sunday morning and that they lost their TVs, invisible fence, and had things knocked off their fireplace mantle.

Hubby has wanted them to take down that tree for years, because it's so tall and will evenutally land on one of our houses -- possibly ours! He spoke with them about this again this week, and their response was that they hope the tree will die so that their insurance will cover it. I suppose they will leave it standing otherwise.

Well, things could have been worse, I suppose, but it really BITES to have to absorb the costs of all of these items because of someone else's tree.