Friday, December 30, 2016

Farewell 2016....please...go

What a freakin year this has been? With a brand-new year getting ready to greet us I find myself in a very familiar place of self-reflection. A new year feels like a clean slate to me. And most years I find myself facing goals that I didn't quite complete the previous year and what new goals I may want to accomplish. For a couple of years now I've given up on specific goals because - well - I just don't care enough.

Blood Clot updates...
I'm still trying to get the INR (blood coagulation level) settled. It's been a bit all over the place and part of these several weeks after starting is all about getting it settled. Going about every other day to get the blood checked. It's a small price to pay to live.

Birthday Shenanigans
The birthday week is almost over. I did have a few gatherings planned. I usually do a party, but this year I just didn't feel it. I'm going to chalk it up to this year just kinda sucking all the way around.

Still, Wednesday my co-workers and I spent several hours at a local pub having some drinks, some viddles and some conversations. All that showed up are really some of my favorite work people. Despite the crazy that is work, the people make it worth it.

Thursday, the actual day of birth, I met the fam at the Keg, like always. Free steak dinner for your birthday is not a bad deal. The Braspir's, Seattle SIL, The Niece and Blueberry all joined me in ringing in a new year.

So...2017! What's next?

I can't wait to see what 2017 has to offer us. Should be an interesting year...Happy New Year everyone.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Blood Clots...the gift that keeps on giving

Back in 2002 I had a bout, pretty serious bout, with blood clots. I was in the hospital for 5 days while they figured out why I got them. They ultimately decided it was because of birth control pills and a LONG plane ride. A deadly combination.

I was on Coumadin for 6 months after and that was the last time I put much thought into them.

The Saturday before Thanksgiving I started having shortness of breath and exhausted all the time. Symptoms of blood clots for sure. But I also had a few other things that pointed to a 24 hour bug going around. So I assumed it was the bug.

On Monday this last week the symptoms were back. I finally got talked into going to the clinic. Funny when you walk into an Urgent Care and you say you have a shortness of skip to the front of the line.

They whirled me to ER and within seconds I was de-robed and had wires and IVs coming off of me. I barely blinked, I swear. Those ER nurses mean business (on a side note...ER nurses are truly amazing. They kept their calm and kept me calm.)

The doctor came in and asked questions and then determined I should have a CAT scan. Off I went to a cold room with a big machine that looks like a doughnut. I was all set to go when the doctor put a stop to it to do a pregnancy test. Haha...That ship had sailed. By passing that test, off we went.

If you've not had a CAT scan, they're a trip. They put this contrast stuff in you through an IV and you feel instantly warm and like you've pee'd your pants. Followed by this wonderful metallic taste in your mouth.

15 minutes later the doctor came in with the bad news. Blood Clots in both my lungs. The clots were in the lower lobes and not in the "danger zone" which is between the two lungs. He had called a transport and I would be heading into the hospital for further tests and to be watched.

The EMTs showed up. Handsome young men who were so friendly and really amusing the whole time.

I was admitted to Evergreen hospital and it would be determined later how long I would stay. They started me on blood thinners. Coumadin in the evening - for life. And they have me on Lenovox twice a day for a short period until my Pro-time levels standardized.

Back when I had the hysterectomy I had to give myself the same shots. I'm no fan of needles or shots. But if my life depends on it, then I'll do it.

They did an echocardiogram and an ultrasound on my legs and found nothing that pointed to causing blood clots. Nor any evidence that they traveled through my legs. That ultrasound...whew...that was relatively painful.

So I'm day two into this new life and have had some time to reflect slightly on it. The doctors have no idea why I'm getting blood clots. They assume I'm just predisposition-ed to them. Lucky me!

But what amazed me the most was the love and support from friends and family.  You know you have loved ones. You know you have people who say they'll be there and you never really know until you put that to the test.  The out pouring of support, concern, and love was a bit overwhelming. My heart grew a little bit.  And I discovered I had a heart...the echocardiogram proved that.

A BIG thank you to The Niece, Seattle SIL, Blueberry and The Braspirs for coming to entertain me while I was in the hospital.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I Give...

We all have them. Those days when you just want to say "F*ck it!" and walk away from your job, your life, your house, your everything.

Today was that day for me.

Truthfully, it started yesterday. The MomUnit ended up in the hospital with some pain and after many tests they determined it was the gallbladder and it would have to be removed.

Stresser number 1.

Queue today.

Everything seemed fine, but as the day progressed I found myself getting more and more frustrated with work related stuff.

Stresser number 2.

The MomUnit came through her surgery fine and for some reason felt it necessary to call me when she was in recovery (or close to it). I couldn't understand a darn thing she said. She sounded like she was talking with marbles in her mouth.

That conversation hit me hard. It reminded me of when the DadUnit was in the hospital a million years ago and the vicoden he was on was sending him on the trip of a lifetime. He was groggy, incoherent and mostly talking babble. Oh and accusing the MomUnit of leaving him in a garage while he's recovering from surgery. Say what now?

So work being a chaotic mess of monkey dong on top of the MomUnit being out of it and I'm just done!

The MomUnit called again tonight. I wasn't sure to laugh or cry. She wasn't quite coherent ...oh hell, who am I kidding? She wasn't coherent at all. In fact, she fell as sleep in the middle of a sentence.

I know tomorrow is another day. And I'm hoping blogging and getting this out of my head will help some.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


Clearly I never finished my post about Savanna and Atlanta. Since it was over a month ago it seems not very important now.

So let's move on to Thanksgiving.

This week is always a difficult week since BigBro passed away three years ago. I still find there are days I'm in total denial. I miss him every day. The odd thing is, I may or may not have a melt down this week...instead I find I have little melt downs at the oddest times. In June, I was driving to work and thought about BigBro and had a melt down. June? weird.

At any rate, Thanksgiving will never be the same for us, but what will always be the same is family. Thanksgiving is about family and friends. That's exactly what I did this year.

This year's gang was some old faces and some "not seen in a while" faces.

This year the guests consisted of Seattle SIL, Niece 1, Niece 2, The Mom of Seattle SIL, The Landlords and The Landlord's sister and her wife. And of course the demons.

It was a nice gathering with people I really enjoy being around. Just looking at these photos make me smile.

And, of course, we ate. Oh boy did we eat. All my traditional food was out on display.

The evening started with clam dip. What Thanksgiving is a Thanksgiving without clam dip? I made two batches thinking I'd have some left over...and I didn't.

Dinner was turkey, dressing, broccoli casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy. Guests brought roasted veggies and desserts.

This year I didn't put much thought into what I was thankful for on the day of Thanksgiving. Today, however, I did some thinking. And the list is pretty fact, I was a bit surprised how long the list was. And that...that's what I'm mostly thankful for. That I have so much to be thankful for.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Goodbye Charleston. Hello Savannah!

We spent our last day in Charleston today...well, last half of the day anyhow. We're headed to Savannah!

But first, Fort Somter.

Apparently, Fort Somter is where the first shots of the Civil War were shot. There's more history to it, but truthfully I was too hot to pay too close attention. I made myself a note to study up on it.

We took a ferry across the Charleston Harbor - I think that's what it was called - to the fort. It was a nice 25 minute ride that had great views of Charleston. One thing is for sure, South Carolina is FLAT!

We had an hour on the fort to wander around and learn about what happened there, but the most impressive thing, was the flag raising. We were the first group over on Tuesday morning, so they involve the tourists in putting the flag out each morning. The ranger (and I can't say ranger without saying, "Sorry folks, park's closed. Moose out front should have told ya.") told us some more history. He unfolded the flag with us tourist holding it and proceeded to tell more about the fort and the history. We had a brief moment of silence and then he asked the veterans of our group to lead us in the pledge of allegiance. That gave me goose bumps. Not only had I not said the pledge in I don't know how long, but to see a handful of veterans leading it just made me smile.

The Fort Sumter facility where we caught the ferry.

Shell still in the wall.

Raising of the flag

After the fort we hopped in the car and headed to Savannah. This is where things get interesting.

See we've had this issue with restaurants we wanted to go to being closed and so have had to find something else. On our way out of Charleston we figured we'd find food along the way. I was already starving so this was to be a quick trip out and food fast. We drove past the first group of food stops and nothing sounded good. So we pressed on.

Next "town" - or gathering of houses - nothing.

About 15 miles out of Savannah we stopped at a General Store. The clerk there recommended this place called Jasper's Porch just up the road.

Great ... so off we went. We got off the highway, tried to find this stinkin place and couldn't. After a dozen or so (I exaggerate) turn arounds we finally said, fuck it and decided on Dairy Queen. As we pulled into DQ's parking lot, there was Jasper's Porch signs.  Following the signs, we turned the corner...and it was closed. GAH! Fine ... DQ it is.

We arrived in Savannah around 3, found our hotel and unpacked. A quick little walk outside and the MomUnit was tired so headed back to the hotel. SIL and I stayed out and walked around a bit. Got hot and tired and decided to drop into a bar that said Happy Hour!

Done with our libations, we headed back to pick up MomUnit and off to find food. Somehow we came up with Vic's on the River and saw that it looked like it was just on the water front in front of us. But having just been down there, SIL and I knew the cobbled streets would be too much for the MomUnit so we opted to drive.

Again the directions from the phone weren't the greatest and we found ourselves turning in circles trying to figure out how to get to the water front. Finally got down there, but didn't see the restaurant. So we back tracked and the phone directions kept telling us we were there, but we couldn't be because it was ON THE RIVER and we weren't.

One more time turning around and this time we pulled into a parking lot when the SIL looked up and said, "There it is!" It was quite literally across the street from our hotel. 300 feet...maybe. Ugh.

We had a great meal there though. Mom had the beef spare ribs that were to die for. I had fried shrimp and SIL ordered the meatloaf. It came as the entire loaf. There was enough food there for a full 4 person family.

Tomorrow we'll wander around the city and check out some of the squares. Savannah must have a thousand squares so that should keep us busy for a while.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Day 2 Charleston (Sept 26)

So today was plantation day. We had planned on visiting 3 plantations that were within miles of each other. We started at Drayton Hall.

This was owned by a wealthy family, surprising. And it looks beautiful...on the outside. On the inside, there have never updated it to include running water or electricity. Imagine, no breeze on a hot summer day in Charleston...sheesh...that'd suck. Suddenly fans that women carried made sense.

But here the kicker, not a stitch of furniture on the inside. Just empty rooms. The furniture was being restored and would eventually be put back...or replicas of it. A tour of an inside of a mansion without furniture is B-O-R-I-N-G. Really not very interesting at all. While the moldings and what not were pretty, it certainly wasn't work the $$ we paid for it.

So off to the next one, Magnolia Hall. That one turned out to be about the same price, and had a tram ride...but it was mostly gardens and to see the house you had to pay extra. We opted out.

The last one on our list, Middleton Place, was written up as the oldest and finest in the area. It sure as hell should have been for the price they were asking to get into it. Let's just say we opted out of that one too.

The most exciting part about any of them was driving into one of the long driveways and seeing a HOARD of Turkey Buzzards attacking road kill.  Turns out turkey buzzards are ugly birds.

Enough of the wildlife and boring, expensive houses, we headed in to Sommerville for lunch. We had been told from one of our waitresses that Sticky Fingers was a great place for BBQ. Its a chain, but we figured why not try it.

OH....MY....GOODNESS was it delicious. Some of the best BBQ I've had. And we did, in fact, have sticky fingers. The interesting thing here was the corn on the cob...every had deep fried corn on the cob? Yah me neither...and oh my was it good.

On our was back to Charleston, the skies opened up and it rained, hard, for a good 3 hours. We couldn't get out of the car to see anything because the rain was pounding. So we drove around, dropped the window quickly, and shot a photo as quickly as possible so we didn't get wet. I do like my torrential downpours, but this was really a lot of water.

After swearing we'd never eat again after lunch, we decided to go grab dinner. Our first stop was Jestine's and it was closed. Here's the thing, we've ran into I don't know how many issues with restaurants we want to eat at being closed.  It's like we're cursed.

So instead we drove to the market and decided to eat at the Crab House. And considering we had our crab hats, it just made sense. Only...I forgot my hat back at the room. So the MomUnit and SIL wore there's and boy did they get the looks. Funny enough, we didn't order crab. Not a single one of us.\\

Tomorrow we'll get up early and go to Fort Somter. Really hoping it doesn't rain like it did today. If I buy a poncho I can almost guarantee it won't rain.

Here are some other shots from today:

African American Burial ground on Drayton Hall land. "Leave em rest"

Entrance to the African American burial ground

Wrought iron is everywhere here.

We found a graveyard!!

Grand Staircase in Drayton Hall

The Privy at Drayton Hall. It has a fireplace!

Drayton Hall version of running water.

The driveway...

Monday, September 26, 2016

Charleston Day 1 ( Sept 25)

Well we made it. The trip here was long, as is anything when you head to the east coast.

Charleston....I'm in love. What a charming little town. But man it's humid. My hair is out of control. Voluminous is a word for it...

So let's see...What have we done?

We started our morning by having what we thought was a complimentary breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express here in the Historic district. 30 minutes later our bill of $52 came...we were, needless to say, floored and miffed. Every Holiday Inn Express I've ever stayed at has had the free continental breakfast. This one has it set up like one, but it isn't.  So today (which is Day 2) we'll be going to a bakery for breakfast.

After that shock, we headed off to our Carriage ride through the historic district.  Luke was our draft horse. 19 years old and ready to retire. The carriage driver told us a "story" that Luke  was about to retire and he was trying to buy him for his retirement. Before a carriage horse, Luke was owned by the Omish. They only keep them for 5 years and then sell them off. This org that rescues them has a huge farm they frolic in on their days off. The city, apparently, has very strict laws about how long a horse can work because of the heat and what not.

Anyhow, we sat, squished in a single row and off we went. We heard ghost stories, heard stories about individual houses and who they were owned by, we saw Rainbow Row, a couple of churches, the city market, the waterfront and a few other things. It was a lot of fun and one of the things I like to do in new towns I visit.

After that, we were hot and thirsty. We found a store called MoonPie and we had to go in. Inside I found a cooler that had Cheerwine in it. Since it was on my list to try, I went ahead and tried it. Um...YUM. Where has that been all my life? And why can't I get it in WA? It's a black cherry flavored cola and tastes very different than cherry coke. The MomUnit and SIL tried a Nehi (one was orange and one was peach) - also delicious.

We walked through the city market and like all markets a lot of vendors selling their hand crafted items. Once you've seen one row you've seen it all. Ended up buying some photos from a photographer there - plan to frame them. A stuffed crab with a stuffed baby crab...that'll become our mascot. (More on that later).

Ate in Lowcountry bistro: fried pickles, moonshine, chicken andwaffle, biscuits and gravy and she crab soup. Oh and sweet tea. Some delicious start to our food adventure. After this stop we figured we set the bar pretty high. We shall see.

After lunch, we drove over to Rainbow Row. A row of houses painted in bright pretty colors and worth a cool million or two. These homes have managed to survive the fires, hurricanes, and earthquake ravaged city and are said to date back to 1730 to 1750. They were hard to photograph because of all the damn trees.

We parked and walked along the waterfront for a bit to find, what else, but the Pineapple fountain. None of us could really find in any of the guide books why a pineapple fountain, but we took photos of it all the same. Mom was pooped so she sat and SIL and I went to get the car. On the way back she spotted an Italian Ice cart. Slamming on the brakes we got ourselves some Italian shaved ice that was out of this world.

Next on the list was to go see Angel Oak. Depending on which guide book, post card or website you read it's anywhere from 500 to 1500 years old. I figured it was somewhere in the middle. It's enormous though. 65 feet high and 167 feet wide.

After that SIL, wanted to go see Folly Beach - there was a lighthouse we wanted to see. Driving through the small beach town was fun and full of gorgeous beach houses. We finally got down to the end and found there was a walk to the lighthouse...we opted not to.

We did take a moment to dip our toe in the Atlantic ocean. Check another off my list.

Lastly, we were ready for dinner. Our waitress recommended a restaurant at Shem Creek in Mount off we went. Drove over this amazing bridge called the Ravenel Bridge...named for some historic person...

Dinner was at Red's. Turned out to be quite a find. It was a dog friendly restaurant and we were surrounded by dogs. Everywhere you looked was another dog. We were in heaven. The food was outstanding too, so there was that.

Tomorrow we'll be doing a couple plantations. Not quite decided which ones yet...we shall see.

Some other photos of stuff...

Charleston, SC - St. Philip's Episcopal Church

Earthquake bolts...holding buildings together.

St. Philip's

St. Michael's


Sweetgrass basket art for sure.