Sunday, May 31, 2009

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

This week, I finally got a copy of my textbook for Issues In Music, the class I am taking to fulfill my ALAMEA requirement for my degree (basically, different cultures) As the professor indicated in the first announcement and syllabus that he didn't care when the assignments were done, so long as everything was completed by 5pm on July 15th, I didn't really look at the assignments.

However, since the book was taking so long from first the college bookstore, then I finally ordered via Amazon, I sent him an email. "There is a substantial amount of the coursework available on Blackboard. You could get a start on those items, then take the tests after the book arrives and you can review the chapters in question."

This made sense, so the night I submitted my Art History assignments, I started viewing the online program and reviewing the supplements to the text. If you'd never taken a music lesson or picked up an instrument, none of it would make sense. However, the first two hours of programming and chapters in the text were basic music theory. Cool. I was enjoying the classical performances, so that was a bonus.

Then I got the textbook and started in on reading the chapters. I popped in the first CD and discovered that disc two didn't come with the book as indicated. Crap. First an email to the book seller, then a look at the track listing for the disc.

Of the 16 tracks listed, I've got 5 (possibly six) of the tracks listed. Not ideal, but when you consider we're talking all classical music, that's probably more than the average student. I turned my attention to the disc I did have. I have more than half of those, albeit different performances (except the E Power Biggs recording-that's identical)

What are the odds? It's not even a case of Ed had some and I had the others-they all were my discs.

The plan is that when I go to pay rent, I'll drag the laptop over to the campus and see if they've got a copy of the book with the CDs in the library. This way, I can copy it to the hard drive for the duration of the class or until the replacement disc shows up from the seller.

Best part? One of the songs? I have two choir recordings in which I sing the Alto for All County and Tenor for the high school choir. I find it pretty cool that "How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place" by Brahms, shows up as part of the curriculum of a college class 25 years after those performances.

(Yes, I know that this is "How Lovely are Thy Dwellings", but it is the Brahms piece. The other good recording was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and I found it annoying that they took a section that is supposed to be legato and fluid and performed it staccato and nearly march like. It was too jarring, thus the inaccurate wording, but wonderful performance.)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tips For Viewing a Movie at the Drive In

Chef Jr and I went to the drive in tonight to see Up. Some pointers for those not familiar with drive ins, of which I am still a novice.

1. Check your radio's ability to tune in the FM band before leaving the house. If it doesn't work, choose a row that has speakers.
Ed has been telling me for months my radio doesn't work. I can get the three stations I listen to, so I thought he was pulling my leg. He wasn't. If not for the van next to me and the SUV behind me, I would not have been able to hear the movie.
2. If you need to use the speakers/have windows open to listen to the movie, bring bug spray.
I am covered in mosquito bites. Chef? Not a one.
3. If you have them, bring a blanket or camp chairs if you want front row viewing.
If we had known about 1 and 2 ahead of time, I think this one would have made the movie even better.
4. Get there early to ensure a good spot.
Our first attempt to visit the Silver Moon two years ago for another Disney movie resulted in us being turned away a half hour before showtime. Tonight, we got there nearly an hour before the movie began and had our pick of the spots. The kids can run around in front of the screen. Bring a ball for them to toss around.
5. If you get hungry, the snack bar is close at hand.
We ate dinner before heading in, but the drive in makes their money off those pizzas, hot dogs, popcorn and beer. (The Silver Moon gives free refills on the popcorn. Sweet!)

Oh, and the last one:
6. If you're going to see Up, bring your tissues.
It was a great movie, with a fantastic storyline, but trust me, you WILL cry unless you have a heart like the Grinch.

Friday, May 29, 2009

New Adventures

This evening, we dropped Game Teen off to go on his first camping trip with the new Scout Troop. A troop of 20 boys and 18are attending this weekend. (One is sick and the other had a prior commitment.)

It's so cool to see boys who already impressed me start anew and step up their game even more. They're geared up for the weekend and are ready for rain and a ten mile hike. With the new troop, 'boy led' is still infused with a lot of adult input. The goal is for all the boys to have a merit badge by the end of the weekend. An Eagle required one, ka chow!

Our first activity post departure was a dinner for three. It seems weird to only have one kid, but sometimes it's good. Heck, next year, we'll be sending both boys on these camping weekends. That, my friends, will be very strange.

I think Chef liked having just the two of us for dinner, kibbitzing about the food, and getting all the attention.

Like I didn't miss his misreading of a sign on the wall "Kellogg's BRAIN Flakes". We think that it might have been a Soylent Green product. Might have missed that comment if there were two kids at the table.

On tap for the rest of the weekend is a possible viewing of Up at the drive in. Cross your fingers that the rain holds off until after 10:00pm tomorrow.

These weekends are good for all of us.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Matter of Biology

I'm going off on a political rant today. If you're not in the mood for that, since I rarely tread this ground, feel free to wander off and read a funny blog or two or three.

By virtue of my Mom's line of work and the friends she associated with, from my earliest memory, there always has been a gay friend or two involved in my life. From Mom or Dad's coworkers and friends Bruce and Hockey, to classmates who were definitely gay (but closeted), to the elementary school music teacher who channeled Liberace's ring wardrobe, there were those who walked a different path.

My parents were very matter of fact if a question came up, but we rarely asked. Men who loved men were accepted as being equal as the married couples we encountered. To us, it was like having friends who were Christian and others who were Jewish. Each had valid reasons for who they were and what they believed.

As I grew older, I realized that my parents point of view was not the norm. Being gay was not something those in the public arena publicized. If that information was leaked, it was detrimental to their political aspirations or their ability to get juicy acting roles.

Probably the most confusing to me is how heterosexual couples could go about their lives together without speculation, but if you were gay? Well, surely you must be thinking about getting into every person of the same sex's bed. This made no sense, because I don't know anyone, male or female, gay or straight, that talks about sex 24/7/365.

When I first moved to Maryland, part of the Bible belt, the first question after "Where do you live?" and "Where did you move from?" would be "What church do you attend?" When you answer that you don't belong to a church, you're on your own. The ex and I made very few friends those first few months.

Then I met a friend who wasn't all about which of the 125 churches in town I was a member of. Instead, we had good conversation about work, music, the arts, politics and everything under the sun. The difference?

He was gay.

Over time, my ex and I became a part of our Ken's crowd of friends. Much like the straight world, this crowd had the boisterous, the quiet, the educated, the redneck, the well traveled and the religious. The only difference is who was standing by each person's side.

Conversations with Ken were much like those with my single female friends, lamenting the lack of quality men in a small town who weren't already snatched up. More likely, though, we'd be talking about food, what we'd read in the Washington Post or when a favorite artist would get their act together and release another album. In short, it'd be typical. His sexual orientation was (and is) only a small facet of who he is and what he talks about.

One of the couples in the crowd would tell us of the predominantly gay church they were quite active in, but it was a substantial commute for us. Any time I'd see Kevin, we'd comment "Hey, MCC (Metropolitan Community Church) needs to get up this way." This church sounded like it possessed something that I felt many churches lacked-an appreciation for ALL of God's creatures.

Long story short, MCC opened a satellite branch in our town that quickly outgrew the building rented for services. When we moved 100 miles east, the original congregation that Kevin had belonged to was close by. We attended this church and felt at home, even though we were the minority there, the rare heterosexual couple. In 1997, we were married in that church, with a pastor who we adored. It was home.

One thing that my experience has taught me with my friendships of gays and lesbians over the years-we are different because of how those DNA molecules are put together. Does someone choose to have Down Syndrome? No, it's because they have an extra chromosome. How about having green eyes? Thank what Mom and Dad contributed to the gene pool. Choose to be left handed? Tall? Short? Blind? Intelligent?

You're scoffing at me. "Suzanne, I have no control over those things." Well, why would someone CHOOSE to be attracted to someone of the same gender, knowing full well that most of society rejects the concept and considers those who do to be perverts? Would you choose a path that would set you up for a lifetime of ridicule?

(If you want my theological argument, I'd dive into my question of "if God makes us in his image, why would he make gay people, unless he condones it?" We're not going there today.)

Last fall, many states had referendums, propositions and amendments to either legalize gay marriage or to legally allow persecution by defining marriage as between a man and a woman. California voted that gay marriage was unacceptable, as did my state.

It went to court in California the other day and the verdict was upheld. Gay couples cannot marry. I am upset, because who you share your life with and want to be legally committed to should not be denied to you by virtue of your partner's gender.

My friend Ken? Ten years ago last week, he began a journey with a wonderful man. If I were given the task of finding him the perfect partner, I could not have found a better person for him-the two are like peanut butter and jelly, wine and cheese, Burns and Allen. I am so happy that Ken found his life partner. That they've celebrated ten years is no surprise. Someday, they'll have a silver anniversary and maybe even a 50th anniversary.

Unfortunately, I am sad that a matter of genetics, of uncontrollable biology keeps the two from cementing their love for each other with a wedding.

Someday, I hope that we as a country get our damn act together and allow these fine men the opportunity to have the same rights as they would have if one of them was a woman. I want to see that for all gay and lesbian couples.

I especially want to someday sit in a MCC church and watch happily as my friends Ken and Bill get to say "I do" and it be recognized by the state as well as the church.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What's For Dinner Wednesday

Last week, I shared one of my crowd pleaser recipes over at MomDot. It's been featured on WFDW before, but when I visited Ed in the hospital last week, mention of this favorite had him hankering for Kebabs.

If you were a frequent dinner guest, at some time or another, I made these for you. So you won't mind that I didn't take pictures, right? You've seen them before, right?

Will it make it up to you that I shared my Awesome marinade recipe and instructions for making Chicken Kabobs on Tasty Thursdays?

Pictures to return next week.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Monkey on My Back Was Really a Capuchin

I am a procrastinator.

All week, I knew the two biggest assignments loomed in front of me for Art History. One was a 900 word essay about my visit to the Dali Museum, covering eight points the professor wanted us to note, compare and contrast. It counted for one fourth of the grade, more than even the final exam.

The other assignment was to view two works in progress videos, then write an essay addressing the methods each artist used. One is a performance artist, the other a muralist. The essay needed to be a minimum of 500 words and had to answer several questions posed by my professor.

I was intimidated by these assignments. Do I have the chops to write college essays? It's been 15 years since I last had to submit assignments for grades. Doubt about my abilities dogged me. There was a big monkey dogging me, perhaps even a gorilla perched on my back.

This afternoon, I viewed the videos and organized my thoughts around the questions the teacher posed. As I prepared to write, something came to mind. "Hey, ding dong, you probably write 500 words every day!". Then I checked a recent post that was my average length of post. Over 600 words. Hmmm, maybe getting out the minimum 500 words won't be that hard after all.

No, it wasn't hard. In fact, I wrote 1024 words on the topic.

Twenty percent down, another 25 percent to go. This was the Dali museum report. I was so concerned about it that I nearly went back over to the museum this morning to look at the works again. I didn't, but I did take the assignments instructions and my notes and created a template to ensure I answered all the questions within the 900 words. Heck, I was concerned that I wouldn't have enough to say.

It turns out that I shouldn't have worried. They all were answered and the best part is that the word count was nearly 1,100. I carried around a huge monkey for the past week, when in reality it was one of those cute little Capuchin monkeys, like the one in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Tiny, cute and annoying.

The funny part? The rest of the assignments do not require one bit of writing. There's a couple of multiple choice exams, a couple of true/false exams and the final.

This is one of those times that blogging has had a positive impact on my life. I write daily. Once I made that connection, the monkey shrunk, then jumped off my back. Remind me of that when I have to write the next report!




Monday, May 25, 2009

Amazon to the Rescue

The day I registered for Issues in Music, I ordered the textbook from the college bookstore. It was back ordered, and the professor said this is a common situation with his course.

Fortunately, there aren't weekly deadlines for assignments, like my Art History class. As long as all the work is turned in by July 15th, it's fine. So, I wasn't sweating it too much.

Last Thursday, I was getting a little antsy, so I looked on eBay and found a few copies of the text-for one quarter the price for a new book. This appealed to me, especially since Ed won't be working for another couple weeks.

I got outbid, but Ed to the rescue. "Did you try Amazon?" Actually, I hadn't thought of it. There was the book-no bidding, same great price. I've purchased from one of the sellers in the past, so that made my decision for me.

Of course, the book is paid for and should show up on Wednesday or Thursday. What shows up in my email this morning? A message that my book has arrived at the college and can be picked up tomorrow.

I think I need to look for the out of stock textbooks for next semester's classes on Amazon!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Vegging

Today, we all vegged and relaxed around the house. We need it. I've got the cough that won't go away and Ed needs to get that leg healed up before returning to work.

I think the kids are going a little stir crazy, but it's important for Ed to take it easy. Funny thing is that I got him a little ottoman to use to keep his leg propped up. If he is not in the living room, they are all over that sucker, carrying it all over the place.

Last night, I soaked my aching back in the tub and watched Bride Wars at the same time. (I did something to the back but I'm not sure what. It's not pleasant.) It was a cute movie. Watching while soaking was pleasant. I wonder how many people with more money than me have installed flat screens within view of the garden tubs.

Back to the grindstone. These assignments don't complete themselves, you know!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Less Stress, In Theory

Today I had chauffeur duty. I'll also have it again next week.

That means that my life is *supposed* to calm down. Instead, it means that someone is going to assume that I will drive hither, thither and yon to whatever doctor's appointments she may have. I'm sure it does, because the discharging nurse told her that she had to follow up with no less than four doctors.

Small problem-she's on painkillers. She will fall asleep at the wheel when she is on pain medication (and may or may not have done so already). Soooo, this means that no one in that household is currently able to drive or holds a driver's license.

Other than Mom asking me to take her for an outpatient procedure tomorrow, I was not asked if I was free to be chauffeur. It was assumed that I would do it. This has happened before. Each time, she calls the doctor last minute to cancel. If that were you or me, we'd incur a 25 dollar charge for not giving 24 hour notice.

Last month, i started cooking dinner for them. This cost me an additional 40-50 bucks a week in groceries, but when I stated this, I was blown off. It seems that when something inconveniences others, that's not her concern. The already tight financial picture is squeezed even tighter, thus I cannot be expected to provide meals for others. Soon enough, we'll be eating lots of spaghetti and hot dogs.

I am done. I'm not doing it, and Ed is not in any shape to do it. We've decided we will sit down and decide exactly what we are willing to do and what we will not. It's time for some tough love.

After having two friends tell me to cut them off months ago, and two others tell me that I am over reacting, the recent events has everyone on the same page. I really AM listening to all of you.

Too bad the parties involved won't listen to me.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Salvador Dali Museum

One quarter of my grade in Art History is a report on one of three area museums. One choice was underwhelming, but two are museums that I've wanted to visit. The question was, would I head down to Sarasota to the Ringling or St. Pete for the Dali?

The Ringling's website made it sound more suited towards a family outing, so I chose to visit the Salvador Dali Museum instead. It was tough to go alone, because Ed has said many time that he wanted to visit. However, with my student ID admission was free, so I'll go back with him someday soon.

What an impressive collection of Dali's works, starting from when the artist was 13 to works that were completed in the late 1970's. The museum houses seven of Dali's 13 Masterworks. Alas, they do not have the most famous Dali work, The Persistence of Memory. (It's housed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.)


Still, what IS there is just mind blowing. I've frequented many museums in my life, and enjoyed quite a few National Gallery exhibitions of a featured artist, but this was the first time that I've seen one artist's work from beginning to end.


Dali was an artistic chameleon. Most of his early works reflect influences from the great masters of the era. He was a gifted impressionist, creating works at the age of 13 that rivaled Monet. Once he went off to study art as a young adult, he would explore realism, cubism and other concepts, easily mastering them.

The cool thing about walking a gallery that features one artist is that recurring themes are so much more apparent-you can go back and forth and notice the father/son, how many times Gala shows up, the Christ of St John of the Cross and other minor images.


My assignment had several steps to it, and I thought it'd be easy. Follow my professor's directions, choose a couple of works to write about and I'd be done.

Wrong.

Now that I've been to the museum, there is so much more I need to research before I can write a 900 word essay! We are expected to compare and contrast one of Dali's earlier pieces with two of his later works that are not oil on canvas. The gallery had only 5 pieces that fit the criteria, and 3 of them were ink on paper studies that lead to oil on canvas works. This leaves two Gouache on panels if I really want to explore complete works. Those Gouache pieces intrigue me, because it is a tough item to create with. The fact that he was able to get such small, crisp detail with what is essentially pigmented wax is incredible.

Tomorrow morning will find me at the library. Hopefully I will find decent pictures of the images I wish to compare and contrast...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Updates

Some updates:

The laptop: We have a Toshiba authorized repair center right here in Lakeland. I dropped up my laptop Tuesday afternoon, they ordered a keyboard, and called me at 11am yesterday to tell me it was fixed. Yes, it's definitely a new keyboard-the old one had a shiny spot on the space bar because I rest my thumb there.

The bronchitis: I caught this thing very early. The tightness in the chest that is a hallmark of the sickness hadn't even set in when I saw the doctor. No, that happened a day later. It's slowly improving, as I no longer have the feeling that I will cough up a lung. The neti pot is getting much more gunk out of my nose. My earlier C has been upgraded to a B.

The husband: The best update of all-HE IS OUT OF THE HOSPITAL!!!!! A week of Levoquil and probably two weeks at home.

The sucky part is the sister in law who has the same infections and didn't bother to tell us, and the worry we have on how we'll pay things without a paycheck coming in. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

If you'll excuse me, I have to finish being the secretary to Chef and finish typing his report on Virginia.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

So, This is What Happened...

I was carrying on an IM conversation with my brother in law, Joe, yesterday morning. He was doing what he does best, cracking me up. It was too good not to share, so I told him I was cutting and pasting it into a blog post.

I did, then set about typing explanations of what the non sequitirs of our conversation were about. At 7am, I got up from the computer and woke Chef from his slumber. And promptly forgot that it was in draft mode.

So, gentle readers. It is time stamped in my Dashboard as originating on Tuesday. Does it count as a Tuesday post? When it goes up in a few minutes, it will enter the blog on the date of origin, not the date posted.

Is the streak unbroken? You decide.

You Can Tell I Was Sick

I thought I posted about the Bronchitis diagnosis after midnight Monday, thus making it a Tuesday post. Did I check it? No.

Here I was, popping in and out of the blog all day yesterday, but I didn't post, thinking the day's duties were fulfilled. Wrong.

I could go back and fix the time, but that would be wrong. My almost 19 month streak of posting every day has ended.

Waaaaaaahhhhhhhh.

Guess this is post one of the next streak.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Conversations To Funny Not to Share

A Glimpse into the humor that you'll find early in the morning when you find both me and my brother in law checking out Facebook. Joe was in the mood for some pancakes, fixated on them, even. The wife and kids were asleep. This is what transpires:

6:58amJoseph
Any precaution needed. I'm back, pored my coffee. 3 sleepin' slackers, 2 spoons of suger, and a hubbie that wants to go to ihop

and im not in a pear tree

At 6 in the morning my brother in law said to me

12 days of xmas....hunger is setting in

7:00amSuzanne
lol

7:01amJoseph
I should just go. It's called Ihop not wehop or theyhop,or wait til they wake up hop.

7:02amSuzanne

LOL

7:03amJoseph

IHOP should hire peter cottontail and hop the f&#* over here with some pancakes

7:03amSuzanne
that I'd pay to see!

7:04amJoseph
Had a great burger sun. and awesome Calamari yesterday

7:04amSuzanne
shhh, Chef will nag me for some if he knows you had it [editor's note-Chef and Uncle Big Joe will conspire on what seafood they're consuming when they get together]

7:04amJoseph
Tues is MCDonalds

Tell him it was fra dialvo...tossed

7:05amSuzanne
tonight it's chicken ala king, because we have not had a home cooked meal in a week, and I really can't afford that

oh, if I do[tell him Uncle Big Joe had Calamari], I am really screwed


and now, we make a 45 degree turn on a tangent, because he's read the blog...

7:07amJoseph
If your Neti pot is blue you could get an emblem and make it a Meti pot

7:07amSuzanne
LOL
I should save all ofthis, filter it down to musings from my BIL-instant blog post

7:08amJoseph

I gotta put on my play clothes.still in suit and tie (he had to work overnight)
b right back

7:08amSuzanne
okay, gotta wake the kid-his alarm didn't work

7:10amSuzanne
just went into the kitchen and found that Game Teen ate my leftover asiago roast beef sandwich. Horseradish for breakfast, mmmm

7:11amSuzanne
ahhh, cough medicine is kicking in-I just got warm and queasy

7:16amJoseph
warm good queasy not

horseradish always good

7:16amSuzanne
codeine always makes me queasy, but it works, so I take it

I lived with it(the queasies) for a year and a half when I was on the vicodin
and you know we like horseradish when there's three jars in the fridge

7:20amJoseph
This week on tasty tuesday: Horseradish marinaded Pharmoceuticals with neti pot broth and Staph ooze for dessert.

now you're queasy

7:20amSuzanne

that is NOT helping my queasiness!

and Chef is complaining his stomach hurts. He's the kid who doesn't try to get out of school

7:20amJoseph

but you have a better excuse for queasiness

7:22amJoseph
go be mommmy. I'm gonna try to accidently wake everybody up. Where's my bullhorn? talk to you later.

7:22amSuzanne
enjoy your pancakes-don't forget to use some boysenberry syrup

7:23amJoseph
I'm having magical wish pancakes. I'm gonna wish I had pancakes.


Times like these, it sucks that we live 1200 miles apart. Either Chef could have made his pancakes with pears, caramelized onions and asiago cheese sauce, or I could have whipped up the camp favorite pecan pancakes. Bet Joe is STILL wishing for those pancakes!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Yep, It's Bronchitis

It was caught very early, before it settled in, but definitely Bronchitis. Hell, even Joyce, Donna and Kathi were saying it was yesterday-they've heard me with it enough times, the lovely Kathleen Turner raspy voice and all.

Antibiotics, codeine cough medicine and an albuterol inhaler and I should be on the mend in about 48 hours.

Yesterday, since I couldn't get to the doctor, I bought two unusual things: Tissues and a Neti Pot. My feeling is that TP and Tissues are the same stuff, so I usually use the stuff that wipes my butt to wipe my nose (but not both, folks-one or the other. You people are GROSS!) When I used a half a roll of TP on my nose yesterday alone, I figured it was time to get a box of Kleenex instead.

The Neti Pot was interesting. It's a concept I could get behind, with my constantly blocked upper sinuses and all. A Neti pot is filled with a luke warm saline solution and inserted in one of your nostrils. Then, you tilt your head to allow the warm water pour through one nostril and out the other.

This is supposed to help flush the sinuses, removing mucus and irritants. Supposed to being the operative word.

Either one of my nostrils is deformed, or it was so blocked that the warm water wasn't enough to cut through what is in there. I suspect the latter, and the salt water went down the back of my throat instead of out the other nostril. Even witn breathing through my mouth like the instructions stated.

A tip here: If you decide you want to use a Neti pot, breathing through your mouth means "Pant like a dog that is overheated, otherwise, you'll be tasting salt water for days".

The Neti Pot gets a solid C after three uses. I think Saline Spray works just as well for me. I'll give the thing another go when there isn't enough gunk up there to rival The Blob in volume.

In other news, Ed should be home tomorrow or Wednesday. The big concern I have right now is that I need to SANITIZE the whole freaking bed. The sheets and comforters are not an issue, the mattress itself is. We can flip it over, but that means there are still bad germs in the house. I'm tempted to go buy a Protect A Bed cover, but seventy bucks on a queen size cover that will be used a couple of years seems foolish, when we plan on upgrading our ten year old mattress to a King as soon as is humanly possible.

I suppose we should be talking to the nurses about that sort of stuff. It also makes me wonder if they'll want us on prophylactic antibiotics, like when my boss years ago had meningitis. They put her husband on the same antibiotics because he lived in the same house.

Now that I won't be coughing my fool head off all night long, I'm going to tuck myself in and get some much needed sleep.


I Must Seriously Have a Target on My Back

My laptop is screwed up. Big time screwed up. Like in, half the keys won't work screwed up.

The thing is FOUR months old. I noticed something wonky as I was typing up my notes as I was listening to my Art History lecture, in that it wouldn't let my highlight and delete text. Then, the M wasn't showing up. Try explaining to Monet why he's known as 'onet' in my notes, because I can't right now.

The backspace button stopped working. And delete, and the l and oh, most of the letters in my password. That's a big problem when you've password protected you laptop so that the 13 year old Game Teen doesn't infect the darn thing with a virus. Oh, and I'll shut it down (as in shut down, not reboot), but it restarts itself.

I get the impression, from everything I've heard about Best Buy, is that they'll tell me 'too bad, so sad, you should have bought our highway robbery protection plan', even though the thing is still under warranty. Either that, or Toshiba will tell me to send it out to them and they'll get it back to me in 3 to 4 weeks. I can't go most of the summer session without the machine.

The college offers repair services, but only guarantees they can fix models they sell. Crapity crap crap.

My tech support is in the hospital. I'm not going anywhere near him with the creeping crud I am dealing with at the moment. He does not need bronchitis or an upper respiratory infection on top of everything else.

At least I can get on his machine to do some work, but not everything.

Now do you understand why I am constantly looking over my shoulder, wondering what the hell else is going to happen? I am a marked woman lately.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

The Music of Sisters

As one of eight kids, each sibling had their own musical identity. For the most part, there weren't too many issues when someone had control of the stereo, but everyone had their distinct contributions.

Giggles was no exception. As the youngest, I think she suffered the most of not having time to spin her own records, but she definitely had her opinions. Her first favorite was Barry. One Christmas, she was very happy to get not one, but TWO Barry Manilow double albums from Dad.

Later on, it was Duran Duran. She was definitely the changeling, preferring Z-100 to the rock stations. Car trips with her and my Dad after I'd moved out were interesting-they'd alternate between my Dad's jazz standards and her Top 40 choices. We took a trip to visit another sister in Pennsylvania one holiday, and it was funny to see the banter between them, ribbing each other about their musical tastes.

Today, though, there's another song to associate with Giggles. It's very stoic and majestic, not at all like her usual listening pleasures (which have ventured far beyond Top 40).

Want to hear it? I wish I was there to hear it in person, but having it here on the blog will have to do. (Besides, I don't think she wants my icky bronchitis germs nearby right now)



Hats off to Giggles, college graduate! She earned a 3.97 in Microbiology, in 2 1/2 years. Those grades were earned carrying a 20-25 credit course load each semester. Summa Cum Laude in 30 months? In Science? That's mighty impressive.

Congrats, Kathi. We're very proud of you!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Remember how crappy I felt Thursday night?

It's back.

At least we got 24 hours camping, experienced a scavenger hunt that took us all over Fort Wilderness and spent some time in the pool. Unfortunately, the van is still in the driveway, waiting to be unpacked. I do NOT have the strength right now.

I also had words with Chef. At the mention of "We need to go home", he became a little ogre-and would not listen to the rest of the story telling WHY we needed to go. I was fading fast and there is no way I would have been able to sleep flat on my back tonight.

Add to that the fact that Disney is hosting an Iron Man triathlon event in the morning and the road to exit the campsite would be closed until 1pm. If I happened to be worse in the morning, I would be trapped on a campsite and feeling even crappier than I do right now.

Let's just say that at first, the child wasn't getting the concept that there is nobody left to take care of Mommy or the two boys if I got too sick to do it. I think he does now that he spent 45 minutes driving home with me coughing non stop.

This sucks.

Friday, May 15, 2009

This Feels Weird

Your husband is in the hospital, and you're beyond stressed, what are you going to do?
If you're me, you will be taking the kids camping with the scouts for the weekend.

This is the big camping trip, the one we paid for back in September. It's a campsite we've been to before, but the scout pack has not. Some have scoffed that it is 'cushy camping', but hey, I like the idea of immaculate shower stalls, a real sink to wash my dishes and a pool to enjoy.

Why am I going? Ed has insisted we go, and I have to go with it. As it stands right now, he's in the hospital through the weekend. If anyone else needs us, too bad. I cannot be all things to all people.

Right now, I'm going to be making the kids happy. And doing all the school work I haven't touched this week because of all the crap that we've been dealing with. I don't know how much will get done, but I suspect that I'll be reading the text by lantern light tonight after the kids are sleeping.

This campsite has internet access, as I've seen posts on a message board from people camping in their RVs at the property, but I'm not sure if that extends to the group sites-or if there is electrical hookups nearby. I've got about 2 hours battery life. Worst case, I'll be watching the lectures Sunday afternoon when I get home.

After the van is loaded, we'll head over to the hospital to give Ed his cell phone charger and then we'll be able to keep in contact.

It feels really weird to be going, but I am optimistic that camping will do what it usually does-relax me. Let's hope that it can cut through some of the fever pitch stress I am dealing with right now.



Thursday, May 14, 2009

Moving Right Along

Ed had a surgical consult tonight. Wounds are not necrotic, but he has staph. Still waiting on whether it's MRSA. He had a room change because some moron thought they could sneak off to the bathroom in the hall and get a cigarette smoked.

Wrong.

Instead, the smoke detectors caught it and the bathroom and hall got flooded. Everyone on the same floor/wing as Ed got moved to the other side of the floor.

Meanwhile, I've got the hacking cough that makes me want to puke and a nasty headache. I am beat-and I'm going to bed. At 10:06. I don't think I've gone to bed that early since elementary school.

Too bad I've got a to do list a mile long that needs to be done before 3pm. It'll have to wait until tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Some Answers, But Still Many Questions

Ed was admitted to the hospital. They are awaiting results on some cultures, and those will take another 48 hours. He has a massive infection, and as such, is being dosed with plenty of IV antibiotics.

Yes, he's in the hospital and will be for 3 to 5 more days. For some reason, his sister with the OPEN venous stasis ulcers thought it was a good idea to bring her scooter up to his room, like "Oh goody, I've got someone to visit and play with now." Wrong. He's got an INFECTION and you've got open wounds. The two should not be mixed.

I made a decision today that I waffled over all along. I knew I'd be toast at my on campus class tonight (less than 2 hours sleep last night), and I emailed the instructor to see what his opinion was, if missing the first night would be impossible to catch up on the course work.

At 4pm, I still had not received an answer, but in my heart, I knew there was plenty on my plate with Ed, Jane, Mom, my kids and the two classes I already have. I dropped Psych Statistics prior to the first class session. I don't think the time was right for that class-the web based ones work well with the erratic schedule I will have for a little while. (There's a solution in the wings that satisfies two issues).

Ed still has not been seen by the patient advocate, so I don't know what options they offer. I think that I'll be over there on Friday morning, getting some answers. His employer, since he works with the public, is putting him on a leave of absence until his doctor gives him the all clear.

On top of everything else, they suspected a clot, so he had an ultrasound and is getting heparin injections because he will be in a bed for the next few days.

As for me, my eyes are drooping and I still have some tasks to complete before I sleep.

Thank you, everyone, for the kind words and emails. It is comforting to know we've got people praying and thinking good thoughts.



Tuesday, May 12, 2009

When You Think It Can't Get Any Worse, Life Dumps More Crap on Us

Some serious crap, too.

Since last year, I've not written about a certain family member because she was giving Ed grief that I wasn't sensitive to her health issues. More like, I don't raise the white flag at whatever life throws at me, and my personal need to find out everything about a health issue that pertains to me or a loved one goes directly against her nature. She'd rather give up than try.

Right now, I'm scared, angry and don't know what to do. The silence here about someone was okay-until it hit MY household.

Last Thursday, I received a phone call at 5:05 to 'come look at Jane's leg'. She's had venous stasis ulcers for about two months. That may sound familiar, because I had two of them that were detailed here on the blog. Why I was called, and not her doctor, I don't know.

Long and the short of it, I spent seven hours in the ER with her Thursday night. A crowded ER, full of germs. Friday morning, when I went back over, she still wasn't in a room and she requested that I bring Mom to keep her company. Ed just got home from work when I went to get Mom, so the three of went to the hospital. And were in the crowded, germy ER.

Two days later, Ed and I got the cold from hell-we both had severely sore throats. He and I took down a tent that day. He got some pimply things that he thought were bug bites.

They got big and nasty. Sunday, his birthday, he had a fever, felt like crap and three huge blisters developed on his leg. (I didn't get to see these things until late last night-he didn't tell me about them).

Yesterday, for the first time since starting his job, he called in sick. These things were oozing non stop and his leg was swelling up. It hurt to walk. He didn't move from the chair. When I got home last night from scouts, he finally showed me these things.

He stayed home from work, while I went to work. He called our doctor in Brandon, the practice that has only seen him twice for upper respiratory infections, both in 2006. Today, the doctor would not even TOUCH these things and ordered him to the ER.

My friends, he has STAPH INFECTION, probably MRSA (please pray he doesn't). He probably will be admitted to the hospital for a while if this is the case. If we're lucky, he may just be on heavy duty antibiotics and be able to come home. Somehow, I doubt it.

WE DON'T HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE!!!! Take his $1100 a month salary, my $1000 a month unemployment and our bills and we run in a deficit. His employer just offered him full time last month, and health insurance this month, but he has to pay premiums for six months before he can utilize the benefit.

Why am I angry? Because our family doctor told Ed the only way he could have contracted Staph is from a doctor's office or a hospital. A #%YU^%*#$@ HOSPITAL. If we didn't have to deal with a freaking sibling's revolving door visits to the hospital, he wouldn't have been exposed to @$#%@%$^ Staph.

On top of the fact that his Mom's neurologist telling said family member to her face last year that Mom's stroke was caused by stress. The stress she deals with daily, thinking she is going to have another daughter die before her eyes because she's too freaking lazy to get her act together and manage her diabetes, her heart issues or see the multiple specialists she should be seeing.

Yeah, I'm pissed. Because this could have been avoided. Every friggin time she goes in the hospital, we're expected to drop everything and make sure his Mom gets to the hospital, that shit is taken care of.

There is more to the story than this, but this is it. If Ed's not working, there isn't money to pay my rent. I'm not even stopping to consider how many thousands of dollars I don't have will be spent on an extended hospital stay.

Please pray that it's not as bad as our doctor made it out to be. I sure hope he was overreacting, but it's not the nature of our family practice to over react.

Also, please pray that Ed has the conversation with his sister before I do. It won't be pretty either way, but for him to spend the first night in a hospital since he was born 45 years and 2 days ago over something that was 100% attributable to being at the hospital because his sister was there AGAIN, well, it probably will be more impactful if it comes from him.











Monday, May 11, 2009

This Is What $414.90 of Knowledge Looks Like


I picked up my books today. Three classes down-my Issues in Music text is backordered, as are the text for two of the fall classes.

In a case of "yes, we want you, no we don't. Oh wait, we changed we minds again!", I go back to work tomorrow. For one week. I'll take whatever comes my way right now, but I did see a job prospect in an unlikely place. Flexible schedule, too.

The shuttle went up today. I'm sure if you're a space geek, you were watching TV or NASA's website. I was outside, looking towards the east coast. Alas, there were lots of clouds keeping me from seeing this launch. Bummer.

I had a meeting with a social worker about Game Teen today, basically to update some of the standardized psych profiles. What should have taken an hour took three and a half. She was really nice, but overly locquatious. As a result, I got to the college to pick up my books at 1:10-and the book pickup hours were 9-1 and 4-7.

I took advantage of being on that side of town and visited with Bob and Maureen for a while. Then I grabbed dinner and headed out to scouts with Chef Jr.

I feel smarter already.





Sunday, May 10, 2009

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

The music of Mom.

If you're the average person, certain songs are flashbacks to certain times and events in your life. Other songs remind you of friends you've lost touch with years before, the summer hanging out at the pool or hours spent assembling/disassembling sets from one college production after another.

Meanwhile, there are songs that are stamped indelibly with loved ones that years later, you can't help but smile when you hear them, no matter hokey they may be. And so it is with my Mom.

Mom loved music. If you came into our house and Mom was there, the radio was on. Sometimes, it was 'Beautiful Music' or 'The Music of Your Life', AKA the elevator music stations (WHLI and WKJY, if my memory serves me well). Those were typically on when Mom wanted music, but was probably thinking through stuff or needed to concentrate on a sewing project or tax return for a friend.

More often than not, it'd be tuned to an easy listening station and you'd hear Mom singing along with her favorites. Only problem is that my Mom couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. Her enthusiasm shone through, so even after she's gone, I can hear her not quite dulcet tones singing some of those favorites.

What were those favorites? There were a few dozen, but here are a few:

Kenny Rogers-Lucille
. I don't think she ever did the mondegreen "400 children", but boy, could she belt out "You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me, LUCILLE!"

Wedding Bell Blues-Fifth Dimension
I believe this one was particularly for "Won't You Marry Me, Bill?" that Marilyn McCoo wrote to her intended, but my mom would croon this one to HER Bill long after they had tied the knot.

Copacabana-Barry ManilowI think Mom had a soft spot for all of Barry's stuff, but this one earned the distiction of Mom actually learning more than just the chorus!

Breakin Up Is Hard to Do-Neil SedakaThe slowed down version, not the original.

I can still hear her singing along with them. Mind you, there are probably about 200 more songs that I can hear and remind me of my mom and that stereo in Merrick playing, but these few? I can't hear them without Mom singing along.

And Mom isn't hear to explain why, when I'm holding a kid in a pool, I have this irresistable urge to bounce them around and hum the Mexican Hat Dance. Any ideas? ;)

Happy Mother's Day to all Moms out there. I hope that your kids all have songs that as soon as they hear them, they smile, because the song says "MOM" to them.

Boy, do I hope my boys someday can say the same thing...







Saturday, May 09, 2009

On The Mend?

I think I've slept more in the past week than I had in the previous month. Today, for instance, I got up around 9am, rolled over, woke at 10:30, rolled over again, woke at 1pm, lather, rinse, repeat.

Conversely, I've eaten very little all week, because it hurt like hell to swallow anything. Ice water has been my friend. Sipping some every 1/2 hour or so kept the throat from having a dinosaur egg stuck in it, rather, I only had a goose egg. If I woke in the middle of the night, the routine had been to take a sip of the water.

When I got up at 6, we decided I wasn't cooking and I grabbed a fast food dinner a little after 7pm. Now, I'm hungry again. Oh, and that goose egg has been downgraded to a robin's egg.

Maybe I'll feel like normal tomorrow?

I hope, because I have to head over to the college on Monday, as well as participate in a volunteer event I signed up for months ago.

I hope no one else gets stuck with this darn thing. It was NOT fun.

Friday, May 08, 2009

What Happens When You Ask...

"So, should I worry if those enrollment numbers for this class are low? Is it at risk of being canceled?"

In a word, YES.

I won't be learning about China Today. Instead, I've got a web course, Issues in Music.

Sounds good to me.

Now, I just have to send back the books when they arrive on Monday.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Success!

It's official. I start college next week. Three classes, one web based, two that meet on campus ONCE a week. (What's up with that? I thought we had to meet more than that!)

In addition, when a certain class in my major is added to the schedule tomorrow or Monday, I can register for the fall session, too. By December, I'll have 22 credits in. Possibly 26, if during the first week of the fall session I think I can handle one more class in the schedule.

The books for four of those classes totalled more than 500 bucks, and that's for used texts, no math or sciences in the mix. Am I going for buybacks when the semester is over? Heck, yeah!

It's an interesting mix of classes. There were two that fulfilled the requirements that really tweaked me, but they met on Monday nights. So much for that, we've got Scouts. Internet Ethics sounded REALLY interesting, perhaps I can get that in before I graduate.

Instead, I've got China Today, Intro to Art History, Children's Literature and three classes in my major. If I can add another class to the fall semester, it'll be either Sign Language or Spanish, since I need 8 to 10 language credits to graduate.


Probably the best thing of all is that if I get a job, the schedule I have will have minimal impact on a normal M-F 8-5 schedule.

Now that I've got all the paperwork in hand, this finally feels real.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

On Campus

Last Monday, I dropped off my immunization forms at USF and tried to schedule my appointment with my advisor. She was booked solid, but I was given her number to see when I can get in to see her. I called her as I was leaving the campus Monday morning.

She called back Wednesday, and repeated that she was booked up, but that walk ins began on Monday. I asked when the best time to come in would be. Monday was no good because of commencement, Tuesday was full of meetings. "Come in Wednesday". Okay, works for me.

I dragged my butt out of bed and got over to the campus at 11:15. The secretary informed me that she'd just gone back with a student, there was another waiting there and that would take her right up to lunch time. Can you come back at 1:30?

At least I could go pick up my ID, which I did. Then I tried to sack out in the car, because I was whipped. I spent twenty minutes debating whether I should drive up to CVS for something to take the rock out of my throat. Eventually, I decided to go and got back to the campus at 1pm.

To me, it made sense to wait in the office and ensure the first spot when my advisor returned from lunch.

At 1:30, the secretary called back-and found that she hadn't eaten lunch yet and had a 2pm meeting. Can you come back tomorrow?

Argh!

At least I got my ID. Not bad for being sick, but not my best effort:

Back over to the campus at 9am. It's good practice for driving every day, beginning Monday.



Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Sick

Over the weekend, Chef Jr was showing signs of a nasty cold. It didn't slow him down at all, and I'm of the mind of letting the kids do whatever they're up to doing.

Last night, I started feeling a little stuffy. Crap. Sleep was sporadic and I finally had settled down into some Z's when Ed nudged me and asked if I'd set the alarm-8 minutes before it was to go off.

I woke Game Teen up, he got himself ready for school and I told him I was feeling pretty crappy and wouldn't be driving him up to the bus stop. (It's really up the block and he's fine, but I do it more for my comfort than his.) I set my alarm for 7am to get Chef up for school.

At 7, I woke him up and told him I feel yucky and was going back to bed. Chef honestly has been self sufficient in the morning for well over a year-he just needs someone to wake him. I pulled a comforter out of the laundry room and went back to sleep on the couch.

When Ed got up for work, I stirred for a moment, then went back to sleep. That's been the majority of my day. Sleeping. I was still dozing when Chef, then Game Teen came home.

About 20 minutes after Game Teen came home, I asked Chef where he was and he said he went into his room-but I heard nothing coming from there, not the usual sounds of the DS, nor him talking to himself.

No, he was asleep on my bed. For Game Teen to put himself to bed means he. is. sick. A couple hours later, he woke and told me that he noticed his throat hurting at lunch time.

We're adjusting to the 5:20am wake up, so he's still rebelling against the new 8pm bedtime. Not today, though. He's been in his own bed since about 7pm. I just need to wake him to take his bedtime pills.

Spring colds suck.


Monday, May 04, 2009

Punchbuggy

When you own a Beetle, you witness a phenomenon fairly frequently, that of the "Punchbuggy". You know it, right? It's the game where the first person to see a Beetle (new or classic) punches the person close to them and says "Punchbuggy (color of beetle), no punch backs."

It's common with the under 12 set, but I have seen adults do it, too. I don't need to hear them to tell what they're saying. Seeing this makes me chuckle.

My kids, because they usually are ferried around in a Beetle, never really knew of the game. Until recently, that is. Chef Jr has been in the car a couple of times lately with his best friend, and his best friend's family is big on playing punchbuggy.

Tonight, we're driving to scouts and a block from our house, Chef punches me in the arm and says "Yellow punchbuggy, no punch backs." He did not listen to my argument that the owner/driver of a Beetle is immune to Punchbuggys. He told me that I was not immune.

Poor kid. He didn't realize that I knew of at least five Beetles that were parked along our route.

Punchbuggy Luna Blue, no punch backs!
Punchbuggy, Yellow, no punch backs!
Punchbuggy Blue, no punch backs!

I felt bad for him and pointed out the green one behind us at a traffic light.



I think he'll stick to playing punchbuggy when he's with his friends!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

Living in this house, one hears a ton of video game music. Good, bad and everything in between. From the Tetris melody coming out of my laptop, to the dreadful Pokemon music and for a time, whatever 'channel' was chosen on Grand Theft Auto.

Once in a while, there is video game music that is so good that it easily can stand on its own merits. Jill told me a while back that I should pick up Endless Ocean for the Wii. She explained that not only was the game good, the music was fantastic. In fact, she'd gone out and picked up more discs from Hayley Westenra because she and her boyfriend had enjoyed them so much.

At the time, I headed over to You Tube and found a song from Endless Ocean:


Then, a favorite Kate Bush song, Wuthering Heights:

This is a song that I consider impossible to cover without sounding shrill in the higher registers, but Hayley does a good job. (just a little fast, IMO.)

There's another game that Ed has been playing lately, and instead of insipid music that drives me nuts, I actually LIKE it when I hear the music blaring from his computer. World of Goo, which can actually be downloaded from WiiWare, has a pleasant soundtrack behind the game play.



Sometimes, it pays to unmute those games, for you find something that doesn't get stuck in your head, driving you crazy.

Last Chance for Dole Contest!


Would you like to win $25 in Dole Coupons?

Head over to New Sue Review for your chance to win in the Dole "Make Me a Chef" giveaway.

Contest ends at NOON tomorrow, and there are only 10 entries as I write this.

Good luck!

(Winner will be drawn using random.org)


Saturday, May 02, 2009

Stress, Stress and More Stress

There are few things I don't put in the blog.

I don't blog about some people, because when I do, my husband gets a lot of grief about it and told to make me stop. He tells them the same thing every time "I have no control over what she does or says." It's true, just as I don't control what he does or says.

Suffice to say, the parties I do not write about are the cause for a lot of concern and worry right now. Some of it is preventable bullshit, some of it is the aftermath of previous stress on another person. A meal out with this person last night just drove home the point that thinks are not okay, nor will they ever be again.

After 36 hours of extreme stress, today was almost a normal day for us. We went to Bed Bath and Beyond to find the 60 cup Keurig K cup sampler (it only has 3 varieties we haven't tried and several we have tons of already), out for mexican for lunch, then did grocery shopping and did some housecleaning.

A funny story-Chef made himself a cup of coffee and noticed some ants. Here in Florida, they're a constant issue, but Ed had sprayed thoroughly last month, so we decided to try to find the source and pulled out the stove.

Underneath, we found two cookie shees (not ours) and a car registration sticker for our landlord's truck. It expired 12-05, so landlord probably was ticked that he couldn't find the darn thing soon after he moved into this house! If I hadn't already given him the rent check yesterday, I would have handed it to him with the check. For not being moved in 5 years, it wasn't too dusty back there, and we got rid of the ants.

Now, we're enjoying some wine, a race and Chef's in the tent in the backyard with two of his friends. You'd never know we were dealing with all the bullshit that's going on lately.

Friday, May 01, 2009

On Second Thought...

The phone rang at 8:15am.

"Suzanne, they changed their mind. The project isn't happening."

I went and turned in my stuff and I'll look for other employment/cross my fingers on the SSDI appeal/hope they call for the next phase sooner.

What did I do with my day off? Much the same as the night before, spending time at our local hospital. No, not me, the kids or Ed. All I'll say is that I'm normally empathetic, but in this case, I've no patience to deal with the situation.

Unfortunately, I think we'll be dealing with it for a while.

Please tell me that all this bad karma will result in something good happening soon. Please?