Monday, June 30, 2008

Sad and Scary Revisited

I know y'all (well, all two of you) can't want more of this, but this is my world right now.

My friend Kate had to go back in for an "adjustment" to her pacemaker. It seems the probes weren't quite in the right place, so they had to go back in and fix them up. She said she still feels pretty strange, but the doc thinks that may be due to part of her heart being worked out that's simply not used to it. My prayers for her heart and her health (and NO MORE SURGERIES if possible) are ongoing.

I can finally blog about the thing that happened, since Son the Younger is finally home from Germany (after a 24 hour delay).

Last Saturday night, hubby, Son the Older and I went out to dinner. When we got back home, it was time for us to play some scheduled World of Warcraft. Hubby plays upstairs and noticed that Jake, our dog, was lying upstairs. This was very unusual for him -- his hangouts are all downstairs. After a few minutes, hubby noticed that Jake hadn't moved, so he called his name. Jake tried to sit up but could only move his front legs. His breathing was very fast and shallow. So we called the emergency vet clinic to alert them that we were on our way and took off. Hubby and Son had to carry the 100-lb dog down the stairs, which didn't look at all comfortable for any of them.

Once the vet saw him, she diagnosed a ruptured tumor, either on his liver or spleen, with abdominal bleeding. She gave us two options: operate to stop the bleeding and remove as much of the tumor as possible, with a very high monetary cost and a life expectancy of probably 2-3 months IF the surgery went well -- and there was always the possibility that he wouldn't survive surgery, given his age (10.5) and how sick he was when he got there. The other option was the one no dog owner ever wants to consider.

As painful a decision as it was, we decided to let him go. Given that Son the Younger was in Germany, it was even more difficult. They gave us a private room where we were allowed to say our goodbyes, and then the vet came in, and Jake went peacefully to sleep. Cooing sweetly to my dog as he died so that he would have that small comfort (and not breaking down until he was gone) was truly one of the hardest things I've ever done. Watching Son the Older experience the same thing was just as hard. (Hubby, knowing his limitations, wisely elected not to be in the room.)

Jake has always been one of the sweetest dogs I've ever known. He's never known a stranger. In fact, if you'd just continue to pet him indefinitely, you could be his best friend forever -- he simply never tired of your love and affection. He was unfailingly gentle with children, no matter how they tugged or patted him. He greeted me every day when I came down the stairs, letting me know that I was the queen of his world. He was my dog, and I have missed him every day. I imagine that will continue for a long time to come.

In the latest twist of Sad 'n' Scary, I found out on Sunday that an acquaintance from church, Michael Argall, was killed in a bicycling accident on Saturday. I didn't know Michael well, but he had served with me on a production team several years ago as a camera operator. I know he had a really busy life -- he served in other areas; he was a divorced dad with three children; and he was very involved in fitness in his spare time -- but he always showed up to serve with a smile, served joyfully, and left with a smile. He ultimately found that he wanted to concentrate his time in other ministry areas, so I didn't serve with him for very long, but I enjoyed the brief time I served with him and have always thought fondly of him. I guess God wanted him back early. I know that pains his long-time girlfriend, his children, and so many people who love him (check out all the links I found talking about him).

What can we learn from Michael? Live life to the fullest. Live with joy every day. Know that you are not guaranteed tomorrow, and live that way.

Michael would probably be surprised at how many people are shocked, taken aback, in mourning over his death. I'm not; he was really a great guy. But like Michael, if you live you live to the full, you might be surprised at how many people you end up touching along the way.

Hey, Michael? If you can hear me, pet Jake for me, OK? Y'all go for a run -- you'll both love that. Give him a treat for me until I get there.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fried Brains, Anyone?

I thought I would get to bed early tonight; apparently not.

Hubby and Son the Older and I went with a (highly non-technical) friend to help him buy and hook up a new TV. Then of course, we had to have dinner. When we went to hook up the TV, there were no cables. And so the evening progressed.

When I came home, it suddenly dawned on me that hello, it's Thursday evening, and I really wanted to take beads to be annealed today, which would have meant that I would have had to have finished them all. So I made a few more beads when I got home. They will go with me to the glass shop tomorrow, where I am taking a two-day class from a real-life celebrity beadmaker. This is the first class I've taken since my beginner class two years ago, and I'm SO excited. I've been learning out of her book since I've had my torch; this class is the beadmaking equivalent of taking singing lessons from Bono.

Whoops! Then I remembered that, it being Thursday, it's time to send off my weekly report to the co-workers in Asia. It reads, "Hi, I'm still an idiot. See you in a week!"

Did I mention I'm leaving for Asia in a week? Because that's eating large portions of my brain right now. I've never been there, and I'd like to not be a total moron while I'm there meeting all my new co-workers. If you have advice, I'm all ears. ("Start by not speaking at all, Lisa.")

And do you know what I got for my trip? The greatest trip toy EVER. I lovelovelove it. Yes, I'm shallow and materialistic, I admit it. I'm a gadget geek and a book lover; this hits my sweet spot dead on. Now I don't have to take 27 books on my two-week trip to Taiwan. Awesome.

I should also mention, on a completely different topic, that I talked to my friend Kate last night. Her surgery was successful, and she's home with her new pacemaker. She is YOUNGER THAN ME, y'all. And I know you'd like to think that I called Kate to see how she was doing. I'd like to think that too, but I can't. Kate called me, you see. She wanted to express her condolences over my much more minor personal thing that I can't talk about for another 24 hours. Hello? Did you not just get home from a life-threatening stay in the hospital? You're not supposed to be comforting me, lady!

I love her so. It's really just the way she is. And it was so, so great to talk to her and know she's doing well. Friends are even better than new toys. And that, my dears, is saying a lot.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Sad and Scary Few Days

Some weeks I just don't like the world as much as others. Today it doesn't seem very friendly.

A sad thing happened to me personally that I can't talk about yet; Son the Younger is in Germany on a school-sponsored trip, and although I doubt he's reading my blog while he's there, that's not the right way to tell him.

On Sunday night there was a goodbye party of sorts for our associate pastor, who is leaving the staff to go into the life / business coaching business. The event itself was bittersweet, but afterward I talked to a friend who made me cry by crying over my situation (she's a crier by nature; we kid her about it all the time). I got a call from her tough former Marine husband last night, and he was in tears: they had just gotten word that her beloved father had just died. Not unexpected, but still, very sad.

Also at the event, I saw a friend who had to struggle quite a lot physically to be there. Her issues are very personal, but she's had a lot of health problems over the last year, and they have peaked in the last month to the point where I wonder just where her breaking point lies. Because mine would have been before now in her life. I admire her strength, but I know that what she's going through physically and emotionally is beyond my comprehension.

We have some friends who were out of town for a family funeral last week (for her brother). Her mom had lost her father less than a month ago, and now her son in a tragic accident. I cannot imagine the pain of burying my son, ever, much less my father and my son inside a month.

And lastly, I just found out about another friend who has been hospitalized today. She had been suffering fainting spells but was trying to delay treatment until next week when her family's insurance coverage kicks in. Her husband took her to the ER, where they determined she has a heart blockage and will need a pacemaker. She is now in the ICU awaiting surgery.

These aren't women I know casually; these are dear friends whom I love with all my heart. My loss pales in comparison to their needs. My heart asks "why?" and "why all at once?" but I know there are no answers.

And so I pray for Kathy, for Jen, for Angela and her mother Susan, and for Kate. I ask God for mercy for all of us, even though we don't deserve it.

Abba, have mercy on us all.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Movie Mania

You'd think I could find other things to talk about, and in fact I'm way behind on a post I'd like to make, but I was tagged by Steve for a silly meme, so what the heck.

The rules of the “game” are simple:
1. list your top ten favorite films (in no particular order).
2. if you’re tagged, you’ve got to post and tag 3-5 other people.
3. give a tag back (some link love) to the one who tagged you in your post
4. give a hat tip (HT) to Dan

No, I have no idea who Dan is. Probably the guy who started all this. I went back several levels and didn't find him. If you have more patience than me, more power to ya.

So here we go. I shall warn you now that I'm quirky.

1. The Princess Bride. Not so quirky -- everyone loves this one.

2. Real Genius. Lots of people have never heard of this, but it's a great, quirky '80s comedy starring pre-Top Gun Val Kilmer. I had to watch everything with him in it for years. I can almost recite this movie.

3. When Harry Met Sally. Greatest chick flick of all time, beloved by many men.

4. Virtually anything by Pixar. Although I think it's cheating to list trilogies and things like that as one entry, everyone else has, so I will too. :-P Besides, Pixar could kill off half my list.

5. The Indiana Jones movies. I love me some Harrison Ford. He seems like a guy who has his head on straight for a Hollywood type, too.

6. Memento. I cannot believe I don't own this one. I really need to buy it.

7. Wallace and Gromit films (a total rip-off of Steve's #4, but who cares?).

8. Better Off Dead. "I want my two dollars!" I SO love John Cusack. When I visited Chicago for the first time and found out he lived there (and a friend of a friend knew where he hung out), I had visions of running into him. Maybe he's not all that interesting in person, but I'd love to have dinner with him and find out. Naming only one Cusack film was tough. You can make #8 "virtually any John Cusack film."

9. Four Weddings and a Funeral. I like Hugh Grant's movies too, and I've watched many of them, but I suspect he's a mess as a person. Still cute though. #9 could be "lots of Hugh Grant films"... and yes, I own many of them.

10. Good Will Hunting. "How do you like THEM apples?" Lots of other movies I love in my collection, but this is the one I keep coming back to when I go to my shelves and look for #10.

Runners-up: the Bridget Jones movies (love Renee Zellweger in them), Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Juno, Wedding Crashers, Sleepless in Seattle, Pirates of the Caribbean. Since most of these are more recent, I want to see if they pass the test of time to become beloved movies. I'm betting on Juno for that.

I tag Brian (why has he not been tagged? Hello? Film buff!), my seester (private blog, sorry guys), Kristy, Coach J, and Karen.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's Like Kindergarten, Only More So

This morning I sent Son the Younger to another country.

Some parents only dream about this, I know. But as irritable and hormone-filled and just plain LOUD as he can be, he can also be my sweet youngest son, the sunshine in a room, my little darlin'.

Wow, will that fifteen year old ever hate seeing that in print.

In deference to his sensitive feelings, I'll at least post a pic of him that I know he likes. This is him texting a night or two before he left. It's all I have right now. *sniff*

He'll be wandering Germany for ten days with the other misfit German-learning children from his school. When you want to ask if he has pink hair, the answer is yes. It's a temporary color, and it's the fourth color change this summer, I think. I'm hoping his hair doesn't fall out in protest, but I sometimes wonder.

Two of the other boys going to Germany had leather jackets with spikes on them, and still another had those ear piercings that are way bigger holes than a regular earring. I'm thinking German is the language you decide to learn if you don't want to fit in with the other guys (the girls on the trip look like standard issue high school girls, curiously enough). I know that's my boys's mission in life: NOT to fit in.

So for the next ten days, if your house is loud and chaotic, hug your children for me since I can't hug mine. I'll enjoy the silence, but I'll welcome my boy back with a giant hug. I miss him already.

Monday, June 16, 2008

My First Day with the Big Kids

Today was my first day with my new company. After a slow start (my start date was delayed by two weeks due to some legal stuff, since I'm the only U.S. employee), I got to start up today with a bang by taking customers to lunch. Whee!

Here I am just before I left for lunch. I made Son the Older take my picture. He insisted I use the diagonal one for the blog.

Lunch went well; I took three engineers from my former company to lunch, one of whom I've known for a number of years. I have a long way to go technically, but these guys will be great in helping me get there.

I get to spend three weeks here, then I will go to company headquarters in Asia in early July. How fun is that?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Long Day at Schlitterbahn

So much to post about really. And I wish I had pics from today to show, but unfortunately we took them with a waterproof camera (WHAT? REAL FILM? WHAT'S THAT?!), so I don't have them yet.

For those non-Texans around these parts, Schlitterbahn is about the greatest water park in the history of water parks. In fact, hubby and I went there on our honeymoon about thirty-leven years ago after spending a lovely weekend in San Antonio. We lived high on the hog, we did. That's how it works when you get married while still in college, girls. Don't do it.

Anyway, the whole fam goes to Schlitterbahn every year and has for years. Usually we take along a big group of friends to expand the fun. This year it was the four of us plus the roommate, his hanger-on, and a friend of Son the Younger's -- pretty much our smallest group in memory.

We rode the Master Blaster first, followed by the brand new Dragon's Revenge (a retooling of the Dragon Blaster -- now with longer line!). We lazed in the Torrent Wave River. We went over to the old part of the park and sat ourselves in tubes and floated. We came back to Blastenhoff and sat in the Torrent Wave River some more. Life was good.

Oddly enough, the teenage boys tired out first and begged for mercy, or at least for the park exit. "Who ARE these boys?" I was wondering. So we took off and ended our day at the Grist Mill. Mmmm, mmmm, good! Naturally, everyone's food was delicious, and we all saved room for dessert, which was simply amazing. Lisa, Son the Younger's friend, declared that she was going to have to make this her new birthday tradition. Good stuff.

Now I have tomorrow to tie up loose ends before I start up my new job on Monday. But that's another blog post or three. =)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I woke up this morning to a strong smell of gasoline in my bedroom.

At first I was wondering what my next door neighbors -- famous for their various projects -- were up to.

Then I wondered what Son the Younger and his friend who'd spent the night had gotten into.

I got dressed and hurried downstairs, where the smell was much worse. Son the Younger and his friend had vacated the premises, leaving his cell phone. Odd. Very odd. Almost unheard of, even.

I went into the garage as I was calling hubby. There I found the source of the smell -- a gas can was upended, and there was gasoline all over the floor of the garage. Yuck. Hubby said he'd been messing with the water softener and had probably knocked it over. Dork. I opened the garage door and positioned a fan so that it would evaporate as quickly as possible.

Now my entire house smells like a filling station. I don't know how Son the Older, whose room is over the garage, is sleeping through the smell. It's literally nauseating.

Monday, June 9, 2008

To Satisfy the Masses

Or at least for the one or two of you who have asked... and because I've been a very bad blogger.

To be fair, I spent two weeks painting and another week cleaning and organizing for Son the Older's graduation party (graduation pics will follow). I've had a little downtime, which admittedly I should have spent blogging, but now I'm back with a vengeance. Or at least a whole lotta pictures.

In general, I let my interior designer friend Heather have her say in the paint colors. Because A) she's fabulous that way; and B) I'm not. Turns out Heather's dad, who is the adorable Tom, used to work for Benjamin Moore (the paint company), and he and Heather used to name paints together. So all of my paint colors were Benjamin Moore. Great stuff.

The first thing I tackled in the painting insanity was our downstairs half bath. It's a tiny room, and I'd always wanted a sort of wine color in there. You can get away with a bold color in a small space. Heather chose Pottery Red. Here's what it looked like before painting. It was one of only two rooms in the house with any wallpaper at all -- yay!

And here's the same shot, more or less, after the Pottery Red. The lighting is funny, but the color is a true Aggie maroon. Now understand, I'm an Aggie. I'm picky about my maroon. It can't be too red or too brown. This color is just perfect.

It shows up a little better in this picture -- more like the color actually is. We called our neighbor Eric over to show it to him. Eric is surrounded by females -- lives with his wife and two daughters. He told them he was taking over the garage since their house was all "girly" -- then he proceeded to stain the concrete maroon with a big aTm in the middle of the floor. He's a true Aggie. Anyway, he came over, took one look at this paint, and said very calmly and clearly, "I need the brand, the color, and the number of coats you put on." He was very excited; he's been looking for a "real" maroon paint for a long time, apparently. It sure doesn't look maroon when it's wet, but after two coats, it dried that way. WHOOP!

Next up was the kitchen. I should probably state somewhere in here that every wall in my house was the same off-white color when I started. I did do a few test patches with the kitchen color, which is called Concord Ivory, although it's clearly yellow.

It clearly looks much better painted. This is Heather's all-time favorite color; it goes with pretty much everything. It's hard to tell here, but my tile backsplash is cobalt, which looks fantastic against the yellow.

Here's the bay windown in the breakfast area prior to painting. One of our next expenditures will be plantation shutters in these windows and the windows in the next set of pictures. The sun sets through these windows, and it's just brutal -- I can't imagine why the original homeowners chose to install shutters that left so much of the window uncovered.

Again, the difference with the Concord Ivory is stunning. Love the color. Still hate the shutters, but love the color.

This wall is just to the left of the bay window and reaches into the living room where our entertainment center used to be (it was a casualty of this project -- keep scrolling for those pictures). Again with the yucky cheap shutters that I want to replace with some lovely real wood ones. Ah well, baby steps.

The same area with Concord Ivory. It almost makes the cheap shutters presentable. Almost.

We have reached the end of the "before pictures, so from now on, you'll just have to use your imagination and remember that all walls were the same off-white color. This is my kitchen island, which I painted Gunmetal. Yes, I could have taken a better picture, but that would have necessitated a great deal more cleaning. Tough noogies, people.

And this was the last leg of the project: the master bedroom. I did two of the four walls in another of Heather's favorite colors, Blue Danube. Ironically, I had spent forever finding something to hang over my bed, and it had been there less than a year, but it doesn't work with the blue paint (it's antiqued brass). So Heather the Wonder Designer is trying to figure out what to do with the large space over my bed now. Yes, it's very large and very empty.

I wasn't sure if the last picture really conveyed how awesome the reddish wood looks next to the paint, so I took a close-up. I really love the paint color with the color of the wood in my furniture.

This is the opposite wall, which holds my dresser and a bunch of family
pictures. The cross-stitched towel over the mirror was made by my mom, and the rectangular doily on the dresser was made by my great-grandmother. The round doily off to the right was made by my mom. Two of the pictures are five-generation pictures, with my great-grandmother, my grandmother, mother, me and my kids. Having lost two of the five (I still have my grandmother), it's great to have those pictures.

This is my master bathroom. There is a 6' x 6' glass block window in it, which is great for natural light. The color I painted in here is African Violet. Again, nothing on the wall... I know. Pathetic.

This shot is standing more or less in the same spot but turning left ninety degrees (i.e., with the glass block window behind me).

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand that's it for the painting. Now aren't you sorry you asked for pictures? Ask and ye shall receive!

So once I was done with painting, I was ready to tackle another pretty major project (and I really wish I had the "before" pic for this one!): organizing the completely overflowing bookshelf in our front (formal) living room!

We started by buying two additional shelves -- one in place of our entertainment center, and one to replace an old dresser that sat outside our bedroom door and held office supplies.

Since we mounted the TV above the fireplace, it left a lot of space in the bookshelf for actual books (along with a few DVDs and video games). Here's how it turned out.

The upstairs shelf gave us a place to put all of the comic strip books we've collected over the years (Calvin and Hobbes, Baby Blues, For Better or For Worse, Zits, Get Fuzzy, Fox Trot, Dilbert, etc.), along with some other books. This is where the chick lit resides, as well as all the Oprah book club books I've ever bought. But there are three solid shelves of comic strip books. I don't know if that's cool or completely appalling.

And this is the poor, overloaded shelf that used to hold everything. It looked like a book volcano. Well, truth be told, the comic stip books were really stacked on the floor, but everything else was in here. Sad. This is why I have joined Bookins (and if you want to join, please let me send you an invitation so I can get extra points!).

If you're wondering, yes, I know there are still a large number of books in this shelf. Books in front of books. Books on top of the shelf unit. But it was SO much worse; you have no idea.

And while we're on the book topic, here's what's currently on my reading list. For those who know me reallyreallyreally well, that means those are the books that are on the floor between my two nightstands. Yes, there are a lot of them. I'm currently reading The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn and Bird by Bird.

That's all I have for right now, although I still owe you guys a post or three. But now I'm plumb tuckered out. Whew!