Sunday, February 24, 2013

Still Around

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After that last big gap in posting, I don’t want to leave you all hanging, wondering if some other tragedy has befallen us.  It hasn’t.  Unless you count house repairs.

Our house was built in 1988, which means just about everything is due for upgrade, repair or replacement.  We’ve replaced all the kitchen appliances, the water heater (twice) and most of the windows.  Next up was the aluminum-framed sliding-glass door in the back of the house.  The screen was ripped out of one corner, thanks to Rosie, and there was condensation between the double panes.  Fortunately we have the number of a talented handyman who’s already done some other work around here.

After waiting a month for the actual door to come in, the day finally arrived last weekend.  And this is how it looks today.



When the handyman started to pull out the old door, he discovered that most of the wood around it was wet and distintegrating, from an overflowing gutter (lesson: clean your gutters, people).  This meant he had to take out the top layer of brick steps to get all the siding and wet wood off.  In addition, the door—which he ordered to the exact dimensions of the old one—was too small for the space.  This meant that he had to use the plastic inserts here which were destined for another window he was supposed to trim out.  So the window project has now been pushed back ‘til…who knows when.

It also means the door installation cost more than twice what we’d expected.

As I mentioned, we’ve had this fellow do some other work here before.  Just like when we do our own repairs, he always seems to run into just enough trouble to guarantee a return visit.  It’s actually good thing, since in this case he managed to prevent some really serious damage to the house…but I’m beginning to have flashbacks to this guy



Fortunately, this all happened while Miss Chef was home for the weekend, so we were able to calmly talk it over, sit down and look at our finances, and take a big gulp together.  One step at a time…I still have money for groceries, and even splurged on a pizza this weekend, so I think we’ll be ok.

Miss Chef also had enough funds to prepare supplies for her return to the hinterlands of the Alabama mountains.




It’s a small town, where she can’t even find a decent amber ale.  The sacrifices she makes for family.

After she left, I stocked up on my own supplies.


I wrote an entire post about the role of tuna casserole in our relationship.  It’s my fallback recipe to feed myself when Miss Chef’s out of town.

However, the casserole only lasts so long…eventually I had to put on my Big Girl apron, and cook for real.



Problem is, it doesn’t last very long.  Now I need to go buy some more tuna and cream of ___________ soup!

There, now you know what’s been going on.  Oh, I went into work, too, and did the usual routine there.  But that’s not the important stuff.  The important stuff is whether I’m done with that plate yet.



Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wild Weekend

Dad is still working on his latest essay, and as we start to move on, it’s high time I put something else in this space.  It’s only Sunday morning, and yet I feel that I’ve already had a weekend’s worth of stories, so surely there’s something to share with you.

Yesterday morning the opening buds on a tree looked from a distance like pussy willows, so I grabbed my camera and went outside to try to capture the beginning of spring.  The tree buds weren’t all that interesting (and the opening ones were too high to photograph, but there were plenty of other signs.

The daffodils have been up for weeks!

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The hyacinths and tulips in the back are already making a strong showing.


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And our poor neglected daylily isn’t letting a lack of attention hold it back.


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As I wandered the backyard, I spotted a big brown clump on the end of a branch of our lone pecan tree…


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…and remembered Dad saying at Thanksgiving that we had a pecan out there.


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Which just goes to show you how often I wander into that part of the backyard!

Shortly after taking these photos, I was inside ironing (my least favorite chore), when it started snowing.


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“What!??” you say.  “You can barely see anything!”

Not ten minutes later, it had become this.


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Ten minutes later…

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Another fifteen minutes…

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The small, wet driving snow had turned into enormous clumps of BIG wet falling snow, and it was building up fast.

Not sure what the background sound is…NPR on the radio plus the dryer, or maybe Rosie scratching?


As you might be able to tell, the sun was also falling, so I wasn’t able to take pictures much longer.  Besides, I had to finish ironing my shirt so we could leave in time for our reservations at our favorite restaurant, Passion8 Bistro.

“We?”  “Our?”

Yes, Miss Chef is back for a weekend!!!

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She and Rosie stepped outside for a few minutes to play in the snow.  Or, in Rosie’s case, eat as much as she could before someone came and stole it from her or ate it all or made her stop omg must eat it all now!

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So, as I was saying, Miss Chef and I had to whisk ourselves away into the winter wonderland that was growing winterier by the minute.  We had a particularly wonderful dinner, but for once I’m not going to show off our plates or make you drool.  The weather outside made the restaurant even more welcoming and cozy than usual, but I was happy to make the drive home well before the temperature dropped to the predicted lows in the 20s.

I was also a little excited to take the camera outside this morning and get some more pictures before all that snow started to melt.


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And now, by the time I’ve uploaded all these pictures and edited these paragraphs, the grass is beginning to peek through and branches are quickly losing their snowy coats. 

As for Miss Chef, she will return to Alabama on Tuesday, so I’m seizing every day we’re together.  Lots to do, fun-wise and chore-wise, so off I go, to enjoy the rest of this long weekend!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Difficult to Write

Part One: The Bad News

I did not mean to let you hang off that cliff so long, dear readers.

When last we met here, I was sharing photos of a recent trip to my parents'.  I had hinted at my father's extended lifespan, because I was marking the tenth anniversary of his heart transplant.  (And let me go ahead and assure you that he is fine.)  My cliffhanger was supposed to be wrapped up within a week, when I published another guest post from Dad reflecting on the past decade.

But then life intervened in a brutal and ironic way.

Dad is just fine.  But Miss Chef has lost her mother to a heart attack.

It happened at work.  Though she received immediate CPR and was stabilized at the hospital, she never regained consciousness.  After a week, she was removed from respirator support and passed away peacefully in the presence of her family and her priest.

Yes, there was a history of heart problems.  In fact, Miss Chef's mother and my dad had similar introductions to the world of cardiac intervention: at a young age (she at 19, he in his late 20s), they each contracted rheumatic fever, which left them with damaged mitral valves.  My father's was repaired, Miss Chef's mom's was replaced.  The difference is that Dad lived a normal non-cardiac life until he was fifty.  Miss Chef's mom was always a bit weakened by her condition, and she had to undergo surgeries every ten to fifteen years to re-replace or repair her valves.  Still, she raised two children, worked her way up from receptionist to CFO of a medium-sized manufacturing company, and was helping raise her three granddaughters.  She was a very vital woman.

However, the other difference between our parents' stories is that Dad got a new heart at age 64.  Miss Chef's mom was only 57, and never got that chance.

So that's why I disappeared for a couple of weeks.  But I am home now, and for me at least, it is time to get back to Life As Normal.  Miss Chef is still with her family, and her life is on hold for the moment.  I am greatly looking forward to having her home again in a few weeks, if only to be able to take care of her as I wish I could do from a distance.

Part Two: Looking For Good News

In the meantime, I'd like to share a few pictures I took of the one good thing to come out of this great loss--I got to spend a lot of time with Miss Chef's family.  While she has never told her parents about us, her dad adores me, and her brother and sister-in-law do know, and have accepted me fully--especially after the last couple of weeks.

As part of that benefit, we got to play with the kids a lot.

In the snow.

The funeral was held in Michigan, during the most recent cold snap and snowstorm.  My first reaction, upon stepping out of the airport, was "It's like being home!"  But that only lasted a couple of days.

Fortunately for the Alabama-born and bred children, Miss Chef had thought to buy them some winter gear, which they eagerly donned as soon as it came out of the bag.

After too many days of 13-degree temperatures and squeaky snow, the thermometer crept up above 20 degrees the afternoon of my departure.  It seemed everyone was eager to get outside and make snow angels, have snowball fights, and hop on the snowmobiles.

Look at those snow-caked gloves!

Miss Chef takes the snowmobile for a spin in the front yard.

At least one Alabama girl would have preferred to watch it all from the warmth of the farmhouse!

Ah well.  Here are some other, indoor pictures from the night before, at a birthday party for yet another of the multitudinous relatives I was busy memorizing that weekend.  (Miss Chef's mother was one of a dozen children, and her father has three siblings...almost all of whom live within 20 miles of each other.)

Miss Chef corrupts the children.

Truth be told, it was the eldest, at left, who suggested pool.

She didn't need to know it was the wrong end of the mic boom.

Hopefully, the next post will be Dad's, which I know he's been working on for a while now.  But for now, life's progress seems a bit less predictable than usual.

Hug your loved ones today.