Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Best text

I have been an anxious mess all day.

My grandma's follow-up appointment after last week's procedure was this afternoon and all I could do was imagine how my mom was going to give me the really, really bad news and wonder how much more time I have left with my grandmother.

But the news was just about as good as it could be.

And for that I am incredibly thankful.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Travels with Grandpa

Mom and I took my grandpa to Wisconsin this weekend.

Wisconsin is the state of his birth and, conveniently, my sister was playing in a tournament.
We actually cooked up this idea before we found out about my grandma's bladder cancer, so it was just a bonus that we were able to give her a bit of a break.


It just takes a lot of energy to be a caregiver. Making sure that he can get his shoes and his coat on, opening doors, helping him buckle his seat belt. It's not much different than having a toddler, honestly, except he moves slower and can read.

He is exhausting but is also very friendly and sweet and agreeable. For the most part, there were no issues. Our flight to Wisconsin was the "best flight I have ever been on." The pool at our hotel was the "best pool I have ever seen." The BLT he had for lunch on Saturday was the "best BLT I have ever had" and our flight back home was also the "best flight I have ever been on."

So I'm not sure which was actually the best flight but that's cool. It was nice that he was happy.

Except for the part where he wasn't.

On Friday, I drove him and my mom to his hometown. My mom was born there and spent time there as a kid visiting her own grandparents, so they both enjoyed the trip. It was a lot of driving -- two and a half hours each way -- for the amount of time that we spent, but it was worth it.

When I suggested the hometown excursion to my mother, I mentioned it along with something like "it's a long trip but he can sleep in the car" and so we decided to go ahead with it.

Problem being that he never slept. And then we went straight to Meg's game and, when we were driving home after the game, he blew a fuse.

My grandma's always telling us about when he loses his shit but we haven't really witnessed him losing his shit and, well, we can't say that anymore. All three of us. My mom said something to Meg about my grandma's procedure and he just lost his mind. He screamed and yelled about how he had to take care of his wife and how if we didn't like it, we could just leave them alone and he called my mom an asshole and -- okay, it mostly made no sense. My mom started to argue with him but she dropped it quickly. I turned up the radio. He kept yelling. And then he tired himself out and he stopped. The whole thing lasted maybe 10 minutes.

It didn't take long for him to apologize after we got back to the hotel. He sat in the chair and he was really quiet (after struggling to get his coat off -- my mom was not offering her help and it was surely on purpose) and then said to my mom "I need to apologize."

Meg and I made a quick exit, sitting  on the counter in the bathroom for a good 45 minutes while they talked it out. Grandpa cried. Grandpa cried about things that happened 60 years ago. It was a lot. He apologized to Meg and to me later that night, when we brought him pizza for dinner. Which he ate in bed, which was pretty awesome.

He was fine for the rest of the trip. Meg's team got booted from the tournament earlier than expected and, rather than sit around an extra 24 hours, we flew out on Saturday night.

He had a good time. It was important to my mom to be able to spend that time with him and to be able to give my grandma that break. Mom called me this morning to thank me for coming along and I assured her that, really, it was my pleasure.

Because it was.

My grandpa is 82 and alive and healthy enough to travel. Sure, he might need help putting on his shoes and he doesn't share his dessert but you can't tell me that I'm not lucky.

Still exhausted. But very lucky.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Homestead

I haven't shared much of what's going on at my house so, let me fill you in on all of the excitement.

Spoiler alert: there isn't actually anything exciting in my Ikea palace. But I have been promising pictures long enough.

I am skipping over my kitchen. I have an underwhelming galley kitchen that feels very apartment-y. Eventually, I should replace or refinish the cabinets and get new counter tops and maybe even knock down a wall so that the kitchen opens up more into the living room.

Here is my tiny little dining area, just off the kitchen. All decorated for...Christmas. Yes, that's when I first took pictures for this post. I am that lazy. You might recognize the rug from when I wrote about it back in January.

Brady the Dog's crate fits perfectly right beneath my table and he loves it under there. When I am in the kitchen, he is chilling in his crate. 

And here's the hallway. I already wrote about the gallery wall but you'll see that I extended it to the little bit of wall past the door. I love it just as much as I did when I finished it in August.

That door on the left is to the second bedroom, which I use as an office and didn't bother to take pictures of.  The bathroom is down the hall on the right and it is much like the kitchen: very standard 1980s construction. There's nothing wrong with it but painting the vanity and replacing the fixtures would do a world of good. It's probably not offensive enough to tear out all of the tile and start fresh unless I get to a place where I am convinced that I will be there for a good long while. Then, yes.

I'm fairly certain that I posted a picture of my room back when I first moved in. It hasn't changed.

Except for Brady the Dog's bed in the corner.

But speaking of 1980s construction: the doors! I feel like the whole place would really benefit from new doors that aren't so blah brown.

Okay, anyway: back down the hallway to the living room. You can see another offensive door there -- that's a coat closet.  

It is fairly boring.

My mom made my pillows. Which match the curtains above the windows in the dining area. Which I didn't take pictures of.

So, there's the tour. Sort of. It's more like a half tour but better than nothing and also now you all know that I don't live in complete squalor. No, it's just your standard condo. Coated in a fine layer of dog hair.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Not Pregnant

Look what I got in the mail today: an invitation to an event for new and expectant parents!

So, that's a little awkward.

I'm not going to pretend that I understand mass mail marketing and I get that I fit a demographic (has a uterus, is of a certain age) but this invitation isn't even from my health system* and it just feels weird.

And slightly painful because everyone is having babies but me and, yeah, I am aware without a postcard to remind me. It isn't like I don't want babies it's just that I'm not even in a place where I have the luxury of simply considering babies to be in the realm of possibilities for me. It's kind of a slap in the face.

At Christmastime, when I was buying gifts for Lucy's sons and a few other special little people, I was invited to join Amazon Mom. I had logged in to my Amazon account and was buying toys -- toys for toddlers, not for newborns -- and this screen came up that congratulated me for being pregnant, asked me to provide my due date and invited me to join Amazon Mom.

I don't even think that Amazon knows my birth date but apparently my shopping and web surfing habits are very similar to that of a pregnant lady.

I mean, I know I have a strong passion for chocolate but really. Not pregnant. Not even close.

*I suppose if it was from my health system I would be slightly nervous. Do they know something that I don't?

Monday, March 23, 2015

The C Word

"She has bladder cancer."

I don't know how to describe how matter-of-fact my mom was when she told me other than to say that she was very matter-of-fact. My grandmother has bladder cancer.

Mom told me the diagnosis before the doctor made the diagnosis. She described the symptoms, she explained Grandma's history, she said that it was bladder cancer.

And apparently she was right.

Grandma had the same symptoms last year, cancelling the appointment with the specialist when she become asymptomatic. My mom didn't force the issue then. She feels guilty.

Mom's gut instinct was correct, as we found out when the doctor gave Grandma the news late last week.

Grandma went in for her first procedure today, an outpatient surgery to remove the tumor. I saw her yesterday and I brought over dinner tonight and...and...and it's truly impossible to believe that my grandmother is sick. Even today, after her procedure, catheter and all, she was smiling and laughing and acting exactly like my grandmother. I cannot fathom how she is potentially very, very sick.

According to Mom, my grandmother's surgery didn't take as long as she expected it to take. (Perhaps I should take this moment to point out that my mom's career is in healthcare; she's neither psychic nor making statements based on knowledge gleaned from Dr. Google.)

The relative brevity of her surgery is either a really good sign or a really bad sign.

We will find out next week.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

So yum

I've been meaning to share this delicious recipe with you guys since the first time I made it at the beginning of the year.

It's so easy and so good. Everything in it (which is a whopping five things) are ingredients that I always have on hand. The only thing that I'm usually short on is the six hours it takes to slow roast it.

Trust me when tell you that it's totally worth the wait. It's impossible to screw up and it's so, so good. The first time I made it, I brought it to Lucy and Chet's house for dinner and Chet nearly danced with joy. (I knew when I first read the recipe that it was something that he would love.)

The second time I made it, I brought it over to Meg's house. She had made baked brie as an appetizer. A little brie and slow roasted tomatoes on crostini? You'll die. But it's pretty damn good with everything.

I am dining with Lucy and her boys tonight and that's what we're having for dinner. We plan to consume many episodes of the third season of House of Cards as an indulgent dessert. Hope your Saturday evening plans are as exciting as mine! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Aunt Marie's bookshelf

The family cleaned out Aunt Marie's house over the weekend.

My aunt died of complications from her type 1 diabetes five years ago. I'm not sure I mentioned it, but my uncle remarried at Christmastime; he and his new wife bought a house in another community and he's planning on selling their home. 

Before he sold, he wanted his daughters (and his former mother-in-law and sister-in-law and nieces) to be able to take what they wanted from the house. My aunt had immaculate taste. She loved beautiful things. There was plenty to choose from.

I am now the proud owner of the perfect red antique stool. Perhaps it's some weird genetic quirk, but every woman in my family has a red stool in her kitchen. Now I do, too. I love it and I love that I can have something in my kitchen to remind me of Aunt Marie every single day.

We also helped clean out the house. Not everything, not close but we boxed up plenty to be donated.

I was in charge of the books. I packed them up and brought them to work to be sold in our annual used book sale.

Sorting through the books was so happy and sad. I could identify books that were gifts and books that she'd borrowed from or lent to my mother. There were books that we all have a copy of, for whatever reason. And a book that reflected each and every one of her broad interests.

Her bookshelf really told the story of her life. I am tempted to keep practically every book that touched my hands, but I settled for a few that made me smile. The rest I will write about here. They can go to new readers; I will keep them just in my memory.

She always left her bookmark (a business card, a folded sheet of paper) in the book when she finished.
She could never have enough cookbooks.
She always bought a travel guide before going on vacation.
She had dozens of parenting books, all of which scream "EMMA!" (Her difficult youngest daughter.)
She kept prayer requests tucked inside her devotionals.
She bought her daughters classic children's literature.
She read the Oprah Book Club books.
She bought novels that featured Scandinavian characters, our family's heritage.
She read voraciously.
She, too, was sentimental about her books. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Taking a Breath

My hockey season ended last week. My soccer season ended the week before. I am relieved. It was too much.

I like being busy but I increasingly dislike feeling scheduled. It's one thing to rush from work to the gym to drinks with a friend, it's another thing to the 8:00 pm soccer game that comes after a hard workday and know you're only attending because you committed to show up.

It's time that I dial back on the commitments.

And it feels so weird for me to type that. It's very unlike me. My entire adult life I've been on two soccer teams and taken a class at night and babysat for Lucy's kids one morning before work and taught skating on the side in addition to working 40 hours a week. Or something insane like that. I've always kept a stupidly busy, stupidly scheduled schedule. I never left much room to breathe.

Maybe it's because I'm in my 30s. Maybe I'm just worn out. But I need to slow down. I need to take a breath.

(And spend more time with my fur baby because I'm pretty obsessed with him, I'm not gonna lie.)

Monday, March 16, 2015


Tomorrow is my grandfather's birthday. He will turn 82.

Watching him age is not fun except for when it is. For example: he's found this gentleness for babies and dogs that he never had before. I love that.

But mostly I hate it. I hate thinking about the night in November when he got so lost. I hate that he will soon be forced to sell his beloved boat. I hate that he can't make it through a day without a nap and that it takes him a good 20 minutes to put on his boots and that sometimes his anger is unreasonable and scary (and usually directed at my grandma).

My mom is solely responsible for the everyday care of my grandparents. Mom's one living sister lives in Chicago; her brother, who quit the family, isn't in the picture. My grandparents still live alone and they get along quite fine, but now my mom calls them daily to check in. Now my mom drives them to funerals that are more than a few miles away and knows when all of their doctors appointments are and makes my father fix things around their house.

She doesn't mind. "It's spending time with my dad," she says, laughing, after spending an afternoon entertaining Grandpa in the form of helping him paint something in the garage. My grandpa is a horrible painter but for some reason he doesn't mind doing it. My mom has been coming up with things for him to paint/ruin all winter. It keeps him out of trouble.

We're taking him on a little trip later this month -- Mom, Meg and I. We will only be gone a few days. Just long enough to give my grandmother a break. I expect it to be fun and sad and hilarious and frustrating. I will most definitely be keeping a running list of the random and funny things that he comes up with.

Like this, which he said to me when I saw him this afternoon. "You work? Oh, yes. You're a librarian. You read books and have your boyfriends visit."

Grandfathers say the darndest things.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Unsure, still

I wish that I had a substantial update to give you on the Alexander situation. I do not.

We have made no progress. Things between us remain much the same as they were the last time I updated: confusing. I continue to feel the same way I felt about the situation four weeks ago: like a bit of a jerk.

I am holding him at arm's length and waiting to feel sure.

Maybe that's stringing him along.

Maybe that's giving him a chance.

I am not handling this flawlessly. It's not even close. I am not perfect. I am trying to do right by him. I am trying to do right by me.

I am learning.

I am still not sure.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Week from Hell

This week, you guys. This damn week.

This damn two-funeral, time-change, everything-at-work-is-breaking-and-it's-all-my-problem, not-enough-hours-in-the-days week.

I am:
  • running out of black clothes. 
  • tired to the point that I'm basically incoherent.
  • not hating this weather, though. 
  • frustrated with my staff.
  • aware that I owe you guys an update on Alexander, plus a post on my house and another about 2015: the year of strange and unexpected deaths. 
  • bruised on my left shin.
  • drinking way too much coffee (and loving it).
  • brainstorming Kentucky Derby hats when I have a rare moment of quiet.
  • looking more than a little rough.
  • in dire need of a decent workout.
  • whining. I know. I will be back with a better attitude the next time I post. Promise. 

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Tennis Pro

I wish my body knew a way to deal with tension other than storing it beneath my shoulder blades.

I don't even feel particularly stressed but my body is telling a different story. The knots. Oh, the knots.

If it gets bad enough, I will book a massage but I shouldn't have let it get to this point. I never should let it get to this point. But I do. Approximately once every five months.

Why is it so easy to neglect your own body?

I am in agony.

This is why I made a resolution to go to yoga class this year. So I wouldn't be crippled by this pain. (It probably goes without saying that I haven't taken any yoga classes yet.)  

There's only so much my sister, the physical therapist, can do for me. Especially when I see her once a week in a non-clinical setting. She helps where she can.

I have learned to keep a tennis ball in my desk at work. If I wedge it between me and my chair (or, if I'm really in pain, I'll get up and use the wall for more pressure), it gives the perfect amount of hurts-so-good pressure on whatever knot has me doubled over in pain. My staff are probably pretty curious when they hear me whimpering from the depths of my office.

Almost as curious as my dog. My dog who is currently staring at me and wondering, I suspect, when I will toss him that damn tennis ball instead of rolling it around my back and periodically yelping.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Blogging about Blogging

I am, like, the worst blogger lately. By lately I mean probably the last six months. Maybe longer? I might just be overthinking the whole blogging process but it really feels like I am all over the place.

That being said, I am far from an expert in anything -- including my own life -- so we're probably all better off that I am content to blog about my dog/knee/dreams/job/family/soccer/thoughts/handbags/feelings/books/baking/fears/addictions/coffee/quirks/favorites instead of just one subject.

Actually, that's probably why I've been able to keep blogging for as long as I have: because I haven't tied myself down to a single topic. It's probably also why I have a pretty modest readership.  

Something that I am very okay with, I should add. I am not looking to turn my blog into my full time job. I like things the way they are.

(But that does remind me to remind you to add your name to my fancy mailing list. As a result of what happened at Thanksgiving, I am going to be making some changes. Eventually. If I can ever find two free hours to string together. So maybe in November?)

Which leads me to the whole point of this post.

One of my many weaknesses as a blogger is that sometimes I leave you hanging. I am not always the best at following up on something/someone that I wrote about. Occasionally, I get a "hello! Update on [whatever], please!" email, and I try to wrap things up accordingly. But unless you guys call me out on it, I'm more likely to just move on to whatever is next.

So tell me this: is there anything you'd like me to follow up on? Where did I leave you hanging? I want to know. Now is your time.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Slightly impulsive

Yesterday, after thinking it over a good two weeks, I applied for a job that I probably shouldn't have applied for.

Getting that job would turn my life upside down. Hell, merely being interviewed for that job would cause significant drama. It would be a hard choice. It could be a huge mistake. And yet, I applied anyway. Because I kept thinking about it. Because it is potentially a very good opportunity. Because I'm not going to have the luxury of choice if I don't have the courage to try.

I doubt anything will come of it. But it doesn't hurt to find out.

Applying for the job felt a little bit like I was standing in front of my life with a lit match in my hand.

I threw it in. We'll have to wait and see if it catches fire.

Monday, March 02, 2015

About Saturday

My parents are on vacation in California. They go every year around this time and, every year around this time, I stay at their house with the dog. This year's twist is that I now have my own dog to join in on the sleepover.

As we tend to do every year while I'm on dog duty, Meg came over for the weekend to keep me company. We watch a lot of television and eat a lot of junky food and go shopping and otherwise completely burn away the weekend being lazy.

It's a good tradition.

This year, Mom's vacation fell during Grandma's birthday. I -- always the one to plan the party -- rallied Meg and our cousin Emma (who is home for her own spring break) and we brought over lunch and presents and a birthday cake. It wasn't anything fancy, but Grandma seemed pleased.

Shortly after arriving home, I received a S.O.S. call from my best friend Lucy's husband, Chet. Everyone at their house was sick with the flu. Lucy had told me as much that morning but apparently things had taken a turn for the worse. Would I mind making a run for supplies? Of course not. I picked up the essentials: Pedialyte and Gatorade and crackers and Lysol and anything else I could think of. $30 and four bags later, I dropped by their house, passed off the goods and made a quick exit.

Thing I do not need: the flu.

Thing I am good at shopping for: the flu.

I'm also pretty good at procuring takeout for Meg and me, which I obviously picked up on my way back home. You can't burn a Saturday night watching Cops and prison shows without proper fuel. 
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