Saturday, April 24, 2010


Sometimes when you are waiting for a certain outcome it pays to turn a blind eye to whatever you are looking for. Distraction is a good ally and time will always provide perspective, even if it doesn't give you the results you want.

After 4 weeks of exercising routinely I do notice my stamina and strength have improved somewhat. I've been able to increase my leg weights by a pound and my arm weights by 2, so that's something. Day to day the changes are too subtle to be able to take note of, but over a month there is a discernible difference. I'm still needing supplemental oxygen, but at least I haven't leveled at the depressing plateau I'd been at. I may need a little extra help, but I can still crawl back up the hill.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring 2010

I love spring.

Blue sky birches through the verbena.

Scilla by the back basement steps.

Tree form verbena buds.

Cheerful daffs along the side walkway

Friday, April 16, 2010

The After

No seamstress would ever be envious of my tailoring skills, but I did manage to take in the dress and even put in a zipper (my very first!) I'm not sure I'll ever have the cojones to wear this out and about, but if nothing else, it's a cool summer dress to wear around the house. Did I mention it was only $2?

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Before

I got this linen summer dress at a thrift shop for $2. I knew it would be way too big for me, though no tag inside to name the brand or maker. I loved the fabric and colors as well as the simple lines. It falls a little above the knee and looked like a perfect hot-weather, casual dress.

I know absolutely nothing about making/altering clothes, usually running off to the seamstress to have something taken in, but this time I decided to mess around with it and see if I can get this dress to actually fit. Oh well, for $2, even if I royally screw it up, no great loss.

So far I've taken it apart. Hopefully, it won't be like my attempts at mechanical projects: with leftover pieces when I'm done! To be continued.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Oxy Moron

Also known as the driver who brought my O2 compressor yesterday. Clearly, he missed the Sensitivity Training class when it was offered.

Tuesday evening I had an exercise tolerance test to document the need for oxygen during exercise. Instead of the super-duper test I've done in the past on the treadmill with increasing grade and speed, they had me do a 6 minute walk test which consists of walking back and forth in a hallway as quickly as possible for 6 minutes. I felt a little bit like a duck in a shooting gallery going from one end of the hall to another, but it must be a frequent occurrence in the PT hallway at MGH because nobody even did a double take. I hauled ass, sweated like a dog and my O2 sats dropped to an unhealthy 83%. Matt, the pulmonary PT, was not pleased. Neither was I.

After he explained the risks of having a low sat for extended periods of time he said I was definitely going to need oxygen for activity and he wanted me to keep my sats over 90%. Ok, not a problem. He was very sweet and said he was sorry. Nah, it's fine, I replied. I was prepared for this. Staying healthy is the most important thing and if this is what I need to do it, then I'm ok with it. He gave me the encouraging speech that this may well be temporary, just as my lungs recover from the latest infection and round of IVs. Could be in a couple months I can stop using it, but on the other hand, I shouldn't be disappointed if I need to continue with it. Oh yes, I'm very zen about it, I don't have any expectations and will just wait and see. Even I was impressed at how well I was handling it.

That is, until the guy delivering the equipment showed up the next day. I have the good sense (after the fact, anyway) to realize that I probably would have had the same reaction regardless of his behavior and attitude, I know I was reacting to the situation more than his demeanor. It's so much easier to be angry with a person than a situation over which I have no control.

First off, the driver got lost and was quite annoyed at the maze that is our neighborhood. I can absolutely understand that, it is aggravating. But he kept talking about it, again and again. He then proceeded to huff and puff this big compressor and several smaller oxygen tanks up our 4 front steps, which looked like it took quite a bit of effort on his part. After his reaction to getting lost I figured I wouldn't tell him they needed to go up to the bedroom on the 2nd floor!

He started to explain about the cleaning and maintenance and I jotted down a few notes. "You don't need to do that, I have everything in the packet". I was probably being overly sensitive but his tone was definitely a bit sharp. "What about a more portable tank for when I walk/work outside?" His reply was: "I'm going to get to that, you have to let me tell you about this first". Whoa. My eyes teared up. "Do you have allergies or something?". Yeah, that's definitely it, allergies.

When he realized I was upset his tone softened and he started calling me "sweetie". Gag! That just made me cry more. "Is this difficult for you?" Hm... what do YOU think? I couldn't even speak at that point for fear of totally losing my composure. What an idiot: I'm 45 years old and you're bringing an oxygen compressor and portable tanks into my house. Now why in the world would I be upset???

Clearly uncomfortable, he went through the rest of his spiel (without interruption from me, I might add) and then asked if I had any questions. Nope, I'm good. Now get the hell out of my house. His parting line was: "when you get refill tanks, you better give directions to the driver, 'cuz they're probably going to get lost".

I should try to have some compassion for this guy but at the moment I had trouble accessing it. We do have something in common, though: there isn't a cure for stupidity, either.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


All the seeds have sprouted except for the peppers (though I think today may be their day) and the tagetes marigolds whose seeds were a few years old. Lesson #1: don't be cheap, buy new seeds each year.

So far I have planted: luffa sponge gourds, super sweet 100 hybrid red cherry tomatoes, sun gold orange cherry tomatoes, big boy tomatoes, red peppers, summer sun yellow peppers, black beauty eggplants, basil and petite mix marigolds. The remaining seeds can go directly in the ground in another month: the zucchini, beans and lettuces. The potatoes will be planted at that time, also. I need to figure out what plants are going to go where in the raised beds but I've got time for that.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sunday Dinner

When I was growing up my dad's parents would often come over for a big afternoon Sunday dinner. It was a nice tradition of family, food and my grandfather usually nodding off in the chair while everyone else sat around and chatted.

Although we don't really celebrate Easter now, it feels a bit odd not to get together so my parents and brother made the trek yesterday afternoon and joined us for a meal. It reminded me of when we were growing up and enjoyed a big Sunday afternoon dinner with 3 generations of family. Here's to tradition.

Monday, April 5, 2010


My stiff muscles today can attest to the amount of work done outdoors over the weekend. We had unusually warm temps for this time of year, perfect for getting a jump-start on the garden chores. Joe made these wonderful raised beds for me on Saturday; Sunday morning before my parents and brother came he filled them with all 16 bags of soil and manure. Ready for planting!

Before the beds could be put in, we removed several decades-old forsythia bushes, an 8' tree of unknown species and the compost piles needed to be moved. The recycled white fence was placed perpendicular to the existing stockade to hide the bins. The composters were emptied out, turned, then moved about 3' to the right. The uncomposted material were put back in with some leaves and soil. The finished compost went right into the garden beds and around the peonies. That stuff is the best.

A neighbor had rented a lawn aerator and was kind enough to bring it down and let us borrow it. Earlier in the week I had put down corn gluten to prevent crabgrass and other annual weeds in addition to giving the grass a boost. It has been about 10 years since I started using only organic amendments to the soil and in the past couple years it has started to pay off with a noticeable reduction in crabgrass. Organic isn't an overnight fix, but with patience and consistency it works well.

I've planted up a couple seed flats for the plants that require an early indoor start and the potatoes are ready to be put in the soil as soon as it is warm enough. I don't expect miracles this year, but figure I'll do a lot of learning as I go along. I'm excited about this new adventure and will be keeping track of the progress with photos and notes so I can refer back in future years.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Put a Little Birdhouse in Your Soul

Or on your new back fence!

My dad is a very creative guy and for Christmas gave both me and my brother these garden-art birdhouses that he made from garden tools. The birdhouse was firmly attached and even the holes in the pitchfork were pre-drilled (screws included!) so it was ready to put up as soon as the weather got nice enough. My dad thinks of everything.

Knowing that we were going to be erecting a fence this spring I held off on installing it until it was up. I primed and painted the house white, leaving the roof and half moon on the door to weather (hopefully!) gray. I'd love it if a bird moved in but even if it remains unoccupied, it is an cool addition that gives some interest to the otherwise boring fence. There happened to be a purple clematis vine planted just underneath, so I'm hoping it will grow up the handle of the pitchfork. I was amazed it survived the chain-link removal and stockade installation. They are tougher than I imagined.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I is Pretty as a Pansy

While waiting for the weather to improve I left 2 flats of pansies and one of the pots they will be planted in out on the 3 season porch. Gracie loves bags, but Miss Millie is a pot girl. I crossed my fingers that she wouldn't hop out as I ran for the camera and as luck would have it, she didn't.

She's mid-yawn in this photo, just prior to doing several summersaults and cozying up for a warm nap in the sun. Even the pansies can't compete with that cuteness!

Friday, April 2, 2010


I am finally finished stripping the little yard sale table I got last summer. It was covered in at least 2 different coats of paint in addition to the wood finish underneath. I love my power sander!

The next step will be using progressively finer sandpaper to give it a smooth finish before I oil it. I don't think it's going to need any stain since it's a pretty wood and I don't want it to be too dark. I have just the spot for it in the living room and even got a pre-WW2 lamp for $1 at a yard sale that will look perfect on it. The lamp does need to be re-wired, but luckily Joe is handy in that department.

I'm hoping to have some time this weekend to work on the table now that the worst part is over. Better look for my mask!