So What’s Left? By Robbie Rhur


So What’s Left?

By Robbie Rhur

The screened in porch, the garden and the yard landscaping remained.  I think a few pictures of the yard when I moved in might help you see what it was like (overwhelming comes to mind).

whats left 1

This is the side yard, you can really see how crappy the house and yard looked.

In the 90-plus years this house has stood, no previous owner had done  many yard improvements.   There were a few mulched flower beds with your standard daffodils and azalea’s but nothing that I would call a garden.

I decided to create a small, dog free, flower  garden; it was nice to have two doors to the garden – one off the kitchen and one off the porch.  I wanted edible herbs and flowers; someplace that birds & butterflies would want to visit.

Screenshot 2016-03-25 11.38.18

Back yard after the huge dead tree came down and before the fence went up.

Once the enormous half dead oak tree came out, the back yard went from full shade to full sun.  I removed all the out buildings to put up the work-shop and new fence.

Screenshot 2016-03-25 12.16.12

                   The fence is up and creates a garden in the side yard. 

Once the fence and workshop were up, the dogs were secured in the yard.  Most gardening came to a halt until the house was more or less complete.  I did tackle the front beds, weeding them and planting a few shrubs and small trees.  But that was about it for the next 2 ½ years.  Eventually I started to imagine what I wanted the yard to look like.  I had never been a gardener, I was good at weeding and cutting grass but I had not had the opportunity to really consider what went into making an outdoor space look planned but feel natural.  I’m still not great at it but it’s kinda like remodeling a house, you have to create good bones (hardscape) and let the process unfold.  I looked at a lot of books for ideas and inspiration and walked the alleys with the dogs and got some inspiration looking into back yards of other houses.

I decided that I wanted raised beds along the fence in the back yard since I wanted to encourage Crepe Myrtles to grow huge and replace some of the shade I lost with the loss of the oak.  I also planned several patios, one off the back door and the potting shed. 

Screenshot 2016-03-25 11.39.22

              You can see the raised bed and the patios – just installed.

I then decided to re-screen the porch; I wanted to create a Moroccan theme.  I had never torn out old screen before; my advice, wear a mask.

Screenshot 2016-03-25 11.42.22

                                                        Porch before I began

I decided to carry the purple theme onto the porch and create a lower screen to offer more privacy. It created a really nice feel while on the porch.

Screenshot 2016-03-25 11.42.51

Screenshot 2016-03-25 11.43.31

            I’m very happy to spend time out here when the weather is good.

Screenshot 2016-03-25 11.43.54

The garden took a little more planning but it came together rather nicely, too.

The garden is maturing and lovely but I’m sad to report that the back yard has proven more difficult.  There is nothing but weeds where the old oak once was and when it rains that whole area is underwater.  I am currently trying to figure out a way to drain the yard during the winter months and encourage some grass to grow without the use of chemicals in keeping with a dog friendly yard. 

It’s a work in progress, kinda like life!

A Wrench for the Works: Springtime Plumbing Tips


Running water is one of the most basic amenities/necessities of modern life. I shudder when I think of life without it. The plumber who comes to your aid is truly a HERO (think burst pipes underground or drains that are completely clogged). Men have traditionally dominated this field of work, but women have also undertaken these missions of mercy.



Lillian Ann Baumbach Jacobs the First Woman Master Plumber in the U.S. helped pave the way for other women to “take up the wrench!” According to “Famous for becoming the first woman master plumber in the 1950’s Lillian became the pen-pal of more than 250 men in the United States and overseas, 75 letters from Korea alone included election as pin-up girl for an infantry company. Lillian was also on two television shows a New York TV program, the TV game show What?s my Line? A radio broadcast and wrote a magazine article (Helpful Plumbing Hints for Housewives.) One of her favorite experiences was her interview with Walter Cronkite.”

But onto the topic at hand, although we don’t commonly think of checking on plumbing as a “Spring Cleaning“ project, this seasonal check can spare lots of worries down the road. Per Patriot Plumbing in Colorado, there are some small problems that can turn into big headaches if they are ignored:

Water Leaks – An unnoticed water leak or drip can cause hidden mold and rot problems. Enclosed spaces like crawl spaces should be inspected for water spots or mold, which can indicate a leak.

Screeching Faucets – This could indicate that the air “bleed-off” system is not working right.

Low Water Pressure – This can be caused by a clogged,leaking, or pipe that is too narrow for a particular application.

Rattling Pipes – This can indicate air is trapped in the pipes.

Backed Up Toilet – This may indicate a damaged or clogged sewer line.

Water Heater Rust – If you see brown water coming out of your faucets, your water heater may need replacing.

Additionally, here are some general maintenance tips:

Fix Leaks – Inspect shower heads and faucets for leaks. A single dripping faucet can waste hundreds of gallons of water in a year. Check toilets for leaks by adding several drops of food coloring to the toilet tank. If the tank is leaking, colored water will appear in the toilet bowl.

Test Your Sump Pump – Test the sump pump by pouring a bucket of water into the sump pump pit. The pump should turn on immediately, remove the water, then turn off.

Sewer & Drain Maintenance – Check that all drains have strainers to prevent debris clogging the drain lines. Schedule a sewer line inspection. A video sewer line inspection will help to find the small issues before they become a major problem.

Ensure Plumbing Systems Are Regularly Used – Exercising faucets and water valves under sinks and toilets will prevent them from sticking from underuse.

Maintain Your Water Heater – Drain a few gallons from the water heater tank to remove sediment, which reduces heating efficiency and can shorten the life of the water heater. Check with your water heater manufacturer’s instructions for your specific make/model.

Speaking of water heaters, as of April 15, 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy’s new regulations requiring all water heater manufacturers to meet higher energy factor (EF) ratings have gone into effect. They include gas, electric and oil water heaters; newer, tankless water heaters already meet these new standards. So, how will these changes affect you? Water heaters will cost up to 35% more than in previous years. The installation requirements will be more complex and the units may be larger. But, the new requirements will result in greater efficiency, so you may save money later. Most water heaters have a lifespan of 8 – 12 years, so if yours is 10 years or older then you might consider getting a new one now.



Making desserts for someone who is diabetic is a daunting prospect, especially when they are also allergic to wheat. So, I’m always on the look out for ways to make a sweet that is sugar-free, wheat free and actually tastes good. I did try the red velvet cake, with questionable results (it looked good, but had the consistency and taste of a doorstop). I may try it again, but in the interim, I have just made a Pavlova sans sugar. I used Splenda instead. I also divided the recipe in half.

It was very good, tasting like a “Flourless Angelfood Cake!” I whipped cream without any sugar for the filling, which added a special richness to the dessert. This style of whipped cream reminds of “schlage sahne” which is German whipped cream. It is very heavily whipped, so much so that has a slightly buttery taste.

Anyway, please enjoy the recipe below, with or without Splenda!!

Bon Appetit!

Easy Pavlova

Recipe by Rosina (From
“In this elegant dessert, a crisp white meringue layer is filled with whipped cream and fresh fruit. To keep your meringue from being flat and grainy, try beating egg whites until stiff but not dry. Overbeaten egg whites lose volume and deflate when folded into other ingredients. Also, when beating in sugar, beat in about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well between each addition. Then beat until meringue is thick, white and glossy. Be absolutely sure not a particle of grease or egg yolk gets into the whites.”





Original recipe makes 1 pavlova

4 egg whites
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch

After combining the ingredients and whipping the mixture until it forms stiff peaks, place it in a 300 degree oven and bake for one hour.  Turn the oven off after an hour and leave it there to cool.







hgw 2

After a brutally cold winter, and chilly early spring, it is so good to see the trees budding and the flowers blossoming– truly the Gods of Gardening are smiling down upon us! So, the warming days and sunny rays welcome “Historic Garden Week in Virginia!”




Every year the Garden Club of Virginia invites the world to come and tour lush gardens and beautiful homes throughout the Commonwealth. This fabulous event dates back to the late 1920’s when the Garden Club of Virginia began raising funds for its’ first restoration project, Kenmore, in Fredericksburg.


hgw 1 png    hgw 3 png

Today, 80+ years later, Historic Garden Week in Virginia is thriving! Always scheduled for the last full week of April, it was long ago dubbed America’s “Largest Open House,” featuring splendid sights and sites across the Commonwealth.This year there are 31 tours that will delight you and give you ideas for your own homes and gardens!

The pictures featured here are of some arrangements from past tours.

Here is a link to the Historic Garden Week website! Mark your calendars for tours from April 18 – 25 and go see’um, CARPE DIEM!


hgw 4



Celebrating Spring: May the Peeps Be With YOU!




Get on a roll having fun with dessert! This was something my friend Susan made for me and it was almost too cute to eat. I managed to scarf it down, though!

Ingredients: Peeps,


Chocolate covered mini pretzels,


Junior Mints

Viola! You have a masterpeep!

Marthe Cohn, A Woman of Derring – Do


Marthe Cohn, author of "Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany"




Since it’s the last week of March and Women’s History Month, I wanted to add another to our record of spy stories.

In 2002 Marthe Cohn, a holocaust survivor and French Jewish spy during World War II , published the story of her exploits and feats of bravery in her book, “Behind Enemy Lines.” Written with assistance from Wendy Holden, Ms. Cohn recounts her spine-tingling adventures as she traveled in and out of Germany gathering information for the French First Army Fighters and others.

In 1920 Ms. Cohn was born and reared in Metz, a metropolis in northeast France. This region along the French/German border is known as “Alsace,” and is a strip of land that has gone back and forth between the two countries for many, many years. Thus, Marthe was fluent in German and her native French. Her proficiency made it very easy for her to pass as a German nurse in a heartbreaking search for her fiance. Or, so it seemed to the German soldiers but, her story was merely a ruse to gather intelligence for French First Army fighters and the Allied Troops. In fact, in the information that she imparted was crucial to the Allies’ ability to break through the Siegfried Line in 1945 and enter German territory. The Siegfried Line was a line of fortifications built along the western border of Germany, opposite the Maginot Line. It stretched from Kleve, on the the border of the Netherlands to Weil am Rhein on the Swiss border. Piercing these fortifications was a major breakthrough that led to the War’s end in June, 1945.

Occupation by the Germans galvanized the fighting spirit of the French people. Marthe, like so many of her compatriots, fought in myriad ways including a failed attempt to rescue her sister Stephanie. Unfortunately, Stephanie eventually died at Auschwitz. Ms. Cohn credits having a nearly photographic memory for names, dates, places and languages and a real ability to “read” people in being able to gather information successfully and survive.

She has been highly decorated by her native land! Marthe Cohn received the Croix de Guerre in 1945 and more recently the Medaille Militaire, the Medallaire of the Reconnaisance de la Nacion and the title Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur.

Hers is truly inspiring, a remarkable story of the triumph of bravery and intelligence!







I have received scores of positive comments on Joan Garrabrandt’s marvelous article “Living The Symbolic Life.” Many of them are inquiries about finding resources for dream work or ways to approach dreams.




In “Living The Symbolic Life,” Ms. Garrabrant takes a Jungian approach to dream analysis, which emphasizes the appearance and interpretation of symbols that show up in the dream and waking states. Carl Jung believed that dreams are meant to help us navigate the world and that the symbols we encounter in both the dream and waking states help us decipher what’s going on, where we are, where we should go, etc.


One very important construct of the Jungian approach is the appearance of different people in a dream. Unless they are archetypes, usually represent aspects of the dreamer. So, when you see someone you know in your dream, think about what they mean to you, how you would describe them or how you know them, and these answers will give clues to the meaning of their presence.

Other aspects of a dream, like what the dreamer is wearing and how the clothing fits are important to the meaning of the dream. I recently had a dream where I was trying on some older (but still nice) clothes, and, they just didn’t fit that well. I took that to mean that some of my attitudes were changing.

Anyway, this is such an enormous and interesting topic that I could go on and on, but, instead, I’m going to send you to some additional dream work sites that could be helpful. Keep dreaming — it opens up entire new worlds!


Traveling Light and Right


I have a number of friends who travel a lot for their jobs, and I am always amazed at their abilities to pack lightly and still look wonderful every place they go. It is an art, I think, to be able to anticipate the types of events that are on the itinerary and make sure you have enough clothing, shoes, etc. that will also accommodate the weather, and still look good.

Purchasing classic clothing that is neutral enough to go from day to night in just about any climate is one of the key tricks of the traveling trade. Packing an extra makeup kit that is ready to go at a moment’s notice is another important tip. And, don’t forget to place your valuables (including your makeup kit and extra pair of underwear) in your carry on bag. This is really important! Once, while traveling across country I lost my all of my bags, except my carry-on, and I never got them back. I’m sure that someone is still enjoying that new raw silk blouse that I packed in my suitcase.

But, what are some good ways to actually pack your bags? First, I am going include some tips from my husband on how to pack a blazer so that it doesn’t get wrinkled and dirty.

Turn the collar and lapels up

Blazer 1

Turn one of the shoulders inside out

Blazer 2

Push or punch the other shoulder inside the one that you have already reversed

Blazer 3Lay the jacket down Either fold the blazer, or,

Blazer 5

Roll it up

Blazer 6


This method of folding will ensure that the blazer doesn’t get dirty or wrinkled.

Now, here are some tips from flight attendants on packing. The information that I found in an article sent to me by Conde Nast’s Traveler is fantastic! Some of it is common sense, but other ideas are completely novel and brilliant! Here goes:

“Packing cubes are a great way to pack for each day (if you would like to be super organized).

One of the simplest but often overlooked packing tips is to put heavier items at the bottom of your suitcase, meaning the short end where the wheels are—it’s easier to roll a bag through long airport hallways when the weight is down there.

Shoes always seem to kill my suitcase space. What’s your advice on which shoes to bring and how to pack them? Always bring flip-flops—hands down the most useful shoes. They take up no room and are perfect for the beach, to wear with shorts or a dress, or to use as ‘house shoes’ in your hotel. Then also bring a nice pair of flats that looks great with pants or dresses, but are comfortable enough to wear walking around a city as well. There is always a chance to work out or take a beautiful walk in a new city, so bring a pair of sneakers. They usually can pack up tight, and a nice walk in comfortable shoes usually leads to sleeping better when your internal clock is off. Save room by wearing the bulkiest shoes you are bringing to the airport; if it is fall or winter and you want to bring boots, just plan on wearing those on the plane.

One thing that we always pack is a swimsuit, because you never know when you might need one and it takes up so little room. What do you always pack no matter where you are going?

Always bring a bathing suit, especially if you live in a cold climate—the chance to get a little color is priceless—and sunscreen, though flight attendants are not subject to the same liquid restrictions. Make sure you bring a small one in your carry-on. Also, always bring flip-flops, black yoga pants, and a large pashmina-type scarf (drape over your shoulders if it is chilly, or use it as a blanket or rolled up pillow on the plane). Pack a small outlet extender, one that makes one outlet turn into three with USB charge ports, which eliminates the need for extra plugs and chargers (and then you can just bring the USB cords and not all the cumbersome plugs).

I have two suitcases that I use: a regular Briggs and Riley black 21” suitcase (which is totally worth it because of their lifetime warranty), and a backpack/roller bag hybrid. I live in a snowy city and sometimes you need something you can wear on your back when dealing with train stalls and snow, or water on the ground.

Flight attendants hate to see folding garment bags—they don’t fit in overhead compartments and closet space is very limited. So if you aren’t flying first class and you are carrying one of these, expect it to get checked into baggage and for your suits to be delivered wrinkled.

What are the best tips for packing toiletries, cosmetics, etc.? It depends on where you are going. If you are going to a hotel that carries nice shampoo, conditioner, and soaps, then do not bring those at all, because they take up so much room. Also, most hotels have hair dryers, so never pack one of those. Then slim down your makeup bag by taking only what you know you will be using—you would be amazed at how much smaller that bag becomes. If you wear contacts, always bring another set. If you forget anything, most hotels have all basic amenities you might need, like razors, toothbrushes, etc. Most flight attendants also bring a little squirt bottle of wrinkle reducer spray and a travel-size pack of makeup wipes (makeup wipes get the job done without requiring you to carry liquid cleansers).

Everyone seems to travel with a laptop, iPad, phone, camera, headphones, etc. Any tips or tricks for packing electronics? Think about what you will really need. If I am traveling for fun and not work, I just bring my phone, which also doubles as my reading device and my camera. Most phones take amazing pictures now, and they also double as books, etc.

I feel like I always end up eating overpriced, unhealthy food when flying. What is your advice on packing snacks? Are they worth the real estate?

Bring a large Ziploc bag of snacks in your carry-on. Choose items that will keep well for a couple of hours—think picnic food—and make them somewhat delicious so you will actually want to eat them instead of giving in to the Auntie Anne’s pretzel smell. Cut up celery and carrots, include hummus and string cheese, and add protein in the form of salami slices or peanut butter. Bring along apples, and maybe a pasta salad tossed in olive oil and vinegar with cheese cubes, artichokes, etc.

What do flight attendants pack to make themselves feel right at home while traveling? Perhaps flight attendants learn to not be sentimental about objects that take up space, as everyone we talked to simply said: ‘I have my kids’ photos on my phone.’

Do you have any work-arounds for the “one carry-on and one personal item” rule? Bring your roller bag, a tote, and a purse (hiding the purse in the tote). I always do this, and it’s a great way to bring everything on that you need.

Do you have any other great tips that we didn’t even know to ask? If you are traveling with children, bring extra diapers and formula—most airports do not carry these items. Also, I always [make] a list before larger trips to make sure I am not forgetting any essential items. Pack a stash of large Ziploc bags, because they are so handy. For example, if you take a last-minute swim, you can plop your suit in the plastic bag and pack it away. They can also help keep all kinds of things organized so your carry-on is a little tidier.

Note: One trick many flight attendants use, though there’s no proof that it works, is to unwrap a bar of soap and stick it between the mattress and the box spring in any hotel. The thought is that the soap attracts bed bugs. We may never know its success rate, but every flight attendant we talked to said they had never seen an actual bed bug, so it’s worth a shot?”

“Year Three – The Upstairs” by Robbie Rhur


Year Three – The Upstairs

My upstairs to do list: install an upstairs heat pump; remodel the old Chucky Cheese bathroom, create a master bedroom in the back of the upstairs with a rebuilt deck, and build bookcases and repaint the middle section of the upstairs, which I call the library. Two rooms in the front of the upstairs were already done, my walk-in closet and the small room across from the closet, which now functions as my yoga and general chill-out room.

original chucky cheese bathroom 1

Original Chucky Cheese bathroom

I tackled the bathroom first, I was planning to put a mock cast iron claw foot tub in this space. But somewhere along the line, someone mentioned that those tubs were not insulated and lost heat quickly, they recommended that I consider a copper tub. I looked into it and found the most beautiful, surprisingly affordable, copper tub that just barely fit into this space. There was left over flooring from the pine floor I installed in my yoga room, enough to replace the floor in the bathroom, so once the room was gutted and sheet rocked, the new wood floor went down and got a dark stain to give it that aged look (it looked amazing). I painted the room a dark color and stenciled the back wall in gold to match the yellow glass window that I had redone the first year in the house. Out of the last of the floor boards, JW created a barrel shaped vanity base and small a cabinet, both flanking the door, topped with left over Richlite from the kitchen counter tops. The tub facet was a problem because the tub was so deep and the knees walls so low, there was no place to mount a standard faucet, so I had the idea to run flexible copper tubing up and out the ceiling, worked like a charm! This is still my favorite room in the house!

Original Chucky Cheese bathroom I tackled the bathroom first, I was planning to put a mock cast iron claw foot tub in this space. But somewhere along the line, someone mentioned that those tubs were not insulated and lost heat quickly, they recommended that I consider a copper tub. I looked into it and found the most beautiful, surprisingly affordable, copper tub that just barely fit into this space. There was left over flooring from the pine floor I installed in my yoga room, enough to replace the floor in the bathroom, so once the room was gutted and sheet rocked, the new wood floor went down and got a dark stain to give it that aged look (it looked amazing). I painted the room a dark color and stenciled the back wall in gold to match the yellow glass window that I had redone the first year in the house. Out of the last of the floor boards, JW created a barrel shaped vanity base and small a cabinet, both flanking the door, topped with left over Richlite from the kitchen counter tops. The tub facet was a problem because the tub was so deep and the knees walls so low, there was no place to mount a standard faucet, so I had the idea to run flexible copper tubing up and out the ceiling, worked like a charm! This is still my favorite room in the house!

The new Not-chucky-cheese bathroom 2

The new Not-chucky-cheese bathroom



Sink Before 3

Sink Before


Sink After 4

Sink After

The next project was to have heat and AC installed upstairs so I called Toler HVAC, they came out and put the unit in the area where I was planning to create my master bedroom. JW built a closet to hide the new unit but after it was closed in, the area where I was thinking to put the bed was tiny. No matter how I looked at it, unless I was willing to sleep in a single bed, there was no space to create a functional master bedroom.

The master bedroom area and broken door to the upper story deck 5


The master bedroom area and broken door to the upper story deck


So I went to plan B and set up the downstairs bedroom as the master but it was a noisy room. Bellevue is a busy neighborhood with a lot of coming and going. I could hear every word of every conversation on the street. Sigh….

On to replacing the broken upstairs back door. After the new HVAC unit was installed and the old unit removed from the old deck, I realized what bad shape the deck was in when I nearly drove an old nail, which had backed out of the aging deck boards, through my foot! I hammered them all down but they backed out in just a couple months, time for a new deck. So we tore it down and rebuilt it, this time to code. Now I had a nice little deck off, the soon to be, master bedroom and I was able to put my larger house plants outside for the summer – this made them very happy.

We then tuned our attention to the “library” area. When I had lived on Seminary Ave, I had an amazing attic space I finished the attic into the master bedroom and huge bonus room/library. That room was spacious and rustic; it was an awesome space and I wanted to recreate it in a space suitable for a hobbit……



The original view of the upstairs…6

The original view of the upstairs (standing in what became the master bedroom) looking towards the front of the house into what became the library.

The above picture shows how low that upstairs ceiling really is 6’9” at the peak! You can see the old boxy book case that was rebuilt. Once the stairwell was built, the upstairs ceased being a loft. The stairwell walls flanked the skylight and gave me more wall space for a taller book case and created more privacy at the back of the upstairs.

JW built a large book case on the stairwell wall with that 1X4s that we picked up at Lowes in one of their damaged pallet sales (what a deal that was). Since my goal was to create a rustic attic/library space, I replace all the hollow core doors with hand-made bead board doors (that I built – not JW!) with rustic hardware, plus I painted the room green. JW replaced the old boxy white low bookcase with a natural wood bookcase with storage for art supplies and we put another small sky light in the roof to give the upstairs more natural light. Below is a picture of the new bookcase on the stairwell wall.



Book case 7



A view of the new low bookcase

A view of the new low bookcase


Another view of the upstairs and the bead board doors 9

Another view of the upstairs and the bead board doors.

Two more seemly small details made a big difference in how this space felt when it was done: the rumor about my house is that an architect who owned it, in the 80’s, was the one to make the attic into an upstairs for his two hellion children. All I can say is that this architect did not design for comfort or beauty, rather for utilitarian use. This is why, I believe, he used a metal spiral staircase to access the up-space and used very boxy/cheap materials to finish it. When finishing off the ceilings, he ran the sheet rock up into the rafters creating a reverse valley ceiling rather than a flat ceiling making overhead lighting hard to install.




Old ceiling



New ceiling

When I told JW I wanted an actual ceiling across the front of the upstairs, he groaned and complained; he did not see why he needed to figure out how to install a proper ceiling in the very out of square front section of the upstairs. But once done he agreed that it looked and felt better.

The other issue was the teeny tiny base boards. Who installs 2.5 inch base? That’s what I thought until I realized that rather than removing the base boards when they installed the wood floor, they just ran the wood up to the existing base, making it appear like the base was super short. So I added a top board to the existing base with a lambs tongue top-cap to give the base a full height. I also put a decorative cap on the window and door trim in the Yoga room. This changed the squared off trim and made it look more appropriate for the age of the house. Lastly, the wood floors, they had aged and turning an orange color – UGH! So they were sanded to remove the old stain and re-stained a more neutral color. These small details made the upstairs more interesting visually and created the feel I was looking for.

By this time, my tax abatement deadline was 3 months away, so I contacted the City to have them come out and finalize the project. They asked if I had done all the improvements that I desired and I told them that I really wanted to raise the back of the roof upstairs to create a real master bedroom but the money! They said that everything I did to the house prior to the final inspection would give my house greater value and create a much better abatement situation for me over the next 10 years. So I looked at my line of credit and dove in to make the upstairs much more livable and what I ultimately wanted.

I am not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV


Well, it’s been a long time, and, I don’t exactly know where to begin, except to say that I have had a lot of family matters fill up my life for the last few months. One of my parents has been very ill and has been in and out of the hospital numerous times since “The Holidays.” Because I am geographically convenient, I have been tasked with the lions’ share of the care-taking, appointment shuttling and had, until recently, completely “stopped” my life. My siblings have been very helpful, but, I am the one with the most flexibility.

The tide does seem to be slowly turning, but, coupled with the bonechilling cold of the winter (and some snow), it has been a very intense time that, sometimes, feels like a dream. I had actually prepared a couple of entries, one on making cool paper ornaments that are dipped in wax, and another is a foray into trying to bake a gluten free, sugar free red velvet cake. I’m not sure that one was entirely successful — it looks good, but tastes like glue. I’m still searching for a better way on that one! And, lovely Robbie has sent me an entry which, I will post after this one, in which, I apologize for my negligence. T

here are some takeaways from experiencing parental illness first hand. Other than the first and most obvious — OMG, I HAD BETTER TAKE CARE OF MYSELF, after the initial shock of the situation, I have become much more appreciative of my “free time!” I am not letting those casual, uncommitted moments slip away unsavored or unused…they are too precious!

Another takeaway is greater medical knowledge and capacity. I, who am deathly afraid of needles, can administer diabetes blood tests now and have learn to give insulin injections.

Also, and this is really important, it is key to be able to be an advocate in the Dr.’s offices. Ask the questions again and again and again. Don’t assume doctors will talk to you or each other (DO NOT ASSUME THAT, BECAUSE THEY WILL NOT UNLESS YOU ESSENTIALLY GOAD THEM INTO IT!!) Be the squeaky wheel, no matter how annoying it might be. I never thought I would be pushy, but, I have become pretty tough minded with the doctors, physicians’ assistants, etc.

Make sure the doctor will approve home healthcare, that way it will be covered by medicare.

Here’s another one…bleach and surgical soap don’t mix well. I put a white washrag that still contained surgical soap into a tub of water and bleach and it turned an ugly brown.

And, don’t forget, vitamin K, found in leafy greens, garbanzo beans, power bars, etc. can counteract the effects of blood thinners such as warfarin (also known as coumadin).

Medical supply stores are a GODSEND!

I think that the biggest thing I continue to learn is that events like the illness or death of a loved one (both of which I have experienced in the last 12 months) have their own process and rhythm, and there is not much a person can do to change it. Try to hold onto as much of your own life as possible, but, realize that the situation has its’ own pace, one to which you will need to adapt.