Craziness and Four Random Things

Things feel like they are finally settling down back into a routine. I probably shouldn’t have posted that I was being treated for cancer and then dropped off the planet like that. All is good. My radiation treatments are over and they were remarkably few and easy compared to what many people have to go through. It has just been so exciting to not have to think about my health for a while that I’ve thrown myself into getting my routine back. I’m stealing time to write this post from something else so I’ll just do a quick, random update:

1. I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend a conference the other week of senior women at my company. Not senior as in a particular age but women who are at a higher level in the company. It was so fun to spend the week with such a SMART, accomplished group of women. There is no way to come out of that and not be better for it. I just soaked everything up like a sponge. It meant working late into the night to keep up with daily duties but totally worth it.

2. The home office project was briefly abandoned as its priority is relatively low. I’m excited to get back to it and have been obsessing over the stupidest detail. At this point I’m embarrassed for anyone to see my living room (totally full of office crap) so I’m getting really motivated to get on with it already. I haven’t had a lot of weekends to myself in a while but I should have a few in a row which will help get a little momentum going again. I’d love to host the grandparents for Halloween (an annual tradition) but I just can’t do it with the living room like it is.

Helping me build bookcases.

3. I need to take a vacation. I haven’t had one yet this year and I think I lose it if I don’t use it. I could sure use the time off and while I would like to get away, it sounds more relaxing to just stay at home and putter away. Have I gotten old and boring? I just feel behind all the time. What is this standard that we set for ourselves and why? Is this a woman thing or do guys do this to themselves too? I’m afraid if I stay home, I’ll just do chores and then beat myself up every time I take a few hours to read a book.

4. I cut my hair off this weekend. Well, I didn’t actually cut it all off, I just got a lot cut off. I hate when my hair gets too long. It isn’t very flattering. I have very thick, very curly hair and you would think it would be a glorious mane of red curls but it just gets frizzy, huge and either looks like a 70s showgirl or middle age hippy hair (not the good kind). So out of desperation this weekend I raced into the salon and made her cut a great deal off. It is quite a bit better but is also giving me, unfortunately, a bit of a helmet head. Big and round. I don’t even really care, that is how much I hated the hippy hair.

Futon has been snagged from Frankie. It now belongs to the cat.

A wee bit of progress has happened in the office. I’ll post an update later this week.

National Black Dog Day

Just a quick hit-and-run today. I’m writing up a post but in the meantime, I wanted to call attention to National Black Dog Day because black doggies and kitties deserve loving homes too. I’ve been lucky enough to be owned by several black dogs and black cats. I wrote up a post last year that I’ll recycle here because it is full of adorable pictures and facts about our black, furry friends who languish in shelters for some, bizarre reason.

Black Dog Syndrome

Black dogs and cats rule!

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This is Sapphire. She loved a good ear scratchy. Her muzzle is white due to age and the fact that I rubbed all the color off of it!

Confession Time

Over the last few months I’ve struggled with how much to share here. This is a blog. It is a public forum and I’m under no delusions about how interesting I am. I’m no design maven, I’m no DIY expert, I’m not even a lifestyle person; I’m just a regular person whose house needs to be vacuumed and who forgets to put the garbage out for pick-up most Fridays. But I consume a lot of material online and find so much representation for the people who do it perfectly or who are stylish and creative but not a lot for those of us who don’t have a design background or who have four kids or four dogs (or both). Don’t get me wrong, I love many of the fabulous sites and find inspiration and ideas from these people but there is a perverse, contrary person in me who refuses to stage pictures and freely admits multiple errors and failures as I stand next to all the experts (well, probably more like down the block and around the corner from them).

I just really like holding up reality next to the fabulous. I like that contrast. The fabulous is all the sweeter for living the reality and reality is more comforting and grounding when you’ve experienced fabulous for a little while. Recently though, I took my eye off reality because it wasn’t something I wanted to deal with.

A few months ago I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Don’t worry, it is the “best” cancer to have next to skin cancer. It was only stage one and giving up the uterus would take care of things. After the surgery, they decided that, even though they got everything, they would like to do a little radiation. It is only a very little and I’m not sick or losing my hair or anything. Something that does bug me though is that I wish I had dealt with this sooner. Yup, I have great benefits and really good medical care in general but I was embarrassed to go to the gynecologist while I was having a period. That’s it. We don’t like to talk about them. I don’t like to talk about them. But it is a reality that I shouldn’t have been ashamed of. If you are having issues with Aunt Flo (terrible euphemism), just get it checked out right away. Your dignity can take it.

The odd thing is, SO many other women I’ve told have gone through something very similar. I can’t believe how common this is! If I hadn’t been so shy about it with friends and family, I might have been less shy with my doctor. Why was I pretending everything was fabulous when I was struggling with something? My doctor also told me that endometrial issues like I was having can very often turn into cancer. Ignoring the reality can make any of us women, very sick. It’s OK not to be fabulous all the time. If something is cramping your style (HA! Pun!), talk to your doctor and trusted friends.

Cancer is a scary word but it hasn’t been that bad. Reality is always there, whether we want it to be or not. For me, facing it hasn’t hurt the fabulous. I hope each and every one of you, if you have a little reality you have been avoiding, looks it in the eye and beats it down with your fabulousness. Get your screenings, make that appointment you have been avoiding, do that “thing” you know in your heart you need to do.

You got this.

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I’m armed with axes to back you up.

It’s the Little Things

I could also title this “The Joy of Caulking.” That doesn’t mean I love to caulk, but I love the results. Caulking is not at all sexy and not something you would ever known was done in one of those fancy, staged rooms. However, I think it is a critical piece in “finishing” a room. It is the kind of thing you don’t notice if it is done, but you do notice if it isn’t done.

I think one of the most dramatic results was my door frame. This really confronted everyone who went out the door. I caulk around the baseboard and the door trim but this was really in-your-face. The left side is what it looked like before and the right side is after a quick bead of caulk. It took about 10 minutes and a tube of caulk costs about $3 to $5. A tube will cover several average-sized rooms so this is highly affordable giving us a lot of bang for our buck.


My windows are going to be tricky though. The gap around the window trim is way bigger than a bead of caulk can fill. I’m researching how this can be filled but I’m thinking there is likely some kind insulating fill that I can stuff in the crack and then caulk over that. I can’t believe that this isn’t making my heating/cooling less efficient.

And, as usual, I was well supervised. Here for your “awww” of the day, Scarlet Kitty playing with a Q-Tip. She’s blurry because she never holds still.

I See Baseboards

Because nothing is funnier than an out-of-date cultural reference.

I got my baseboard on this weekend and finished a job in the home office project that seemed really hard. Of course, in the end, it was nothing. I managed to sweat up a storm which was either because it was hot and muggy or it was a hotflash. I’ll bet you don’t hear too many contractors complain about those. Either way, the sweat was not warranted because this was easy and done quickly.


Now I just need to get my caulk on which sounds way more fun than it is.


Slow and Steady Wins the Race

I’ve not abandoned things here, I swear. Life is moving at a painstakingly slow pace as I heal so it just feels like there is little to share. “Worked for an hour. Took a nap. Painted the baseboard trim. Took a 2-hour nap. Worked for 3 hours. Laid down for a while.”

Not to be judgy, but I’m not sure that’s interesting reading.

So many little things have added up these past weeks (like the tumblefur!) that I think it will behoove me to just bring in some cleaning help so I’m not playing catch up for the next month and a half.

The office remains my focus because I use it all the time. The baseboard is ready to be installed. I’ve been working on reducing the crap going back in. The best description is “pecking” at the hill of stuff. I’ve set up a little system for myself that keeps progress progressing. I try to sit down as often as possible and just get a garbage bag full to throw away and then I can quit. It is both incentive to throw things away and it keeps the task doable in the middle of a busy, regular life. At this point, the big barrier to overcome is getting that baseboard in so I can put together the new shelves and start putting away things that I’m keeping.

No boss, the baseboard is still not there.

Maybe I’ll get this weekend to do it. I haven’t had a weekend to myself in ages. The grandparent drama is on the upswing right now. They are both 96 and the aging stuff is very prominent in all of our lives as change seems to be constantly required to keep things safe for them. The very latest is admitting to ourselves that they can’t go to doctor appointments by themselves because they just don’t have the cognitive abilities anymore to understand and retain what they are being told. This is a tough commitment for anyone in the family. The best solution we have come up with so far is to set an appointment day (or two if needed) once a month and try to schedule multiple appointments on that day so that one of us only has to take one day off. If anyone else has had to deal with this in their family and found something that works for them, let me know. This stuff is tricky to work out and not let it take over everything.

While I was stuck being “quiet” I read a LOT. No hardship there. I love reading and it feels like a luxury most of the time so I was super excited to have an excuse to just read constantly. I got hooked on a weird genre: murder mysteries set in the 20s with a upper-class female detective. It seems to be the combination of the social changes in the 20s and the social situation of upper-class women that I find so interesting. I went through two series (Her Royal Spyness and the Daisy Dalrymple series) that are very light and easy to consume. The popcorn of literature. When I finished these up, I couldn’t find a series that replaced them. There are a lot of murder mysteries set in the 20s but it is the upper-class female perspective that I was finding interesting; the limited freedom of a woman of that class as well as the huge social changes happening with a large middle class and women’s roles and expectations changing dramatically. I started reading biographies of women who were in service at that time “downstairs” which was interesting, but I wanted to learn more about the upper-class. I’m still craving that so I’m looking around for more. I get on these binges of subject matter and I can’t get enough. I did this with the Tudor period, the Elizabethan period, and Victorian steampunk, etc.

In between books, I’m taming wild beasts.

Anyone else getting any reading done this summer?

Back on the Horse

I’ve been silent for a while and I apologize. not that anyone’s life was emptier for my lack of blog posting, but, I committed to myself to writing regularly and then I let it slide. True, I did have surgery and have made recovery from that my first priority, but if I’m honest with myself, writing wasn’t going to wear me out much.

The recover goes extremely well. It is weird to be limited in what I can do and lift. I’m not allowed to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. Which is SO easy to forget. I also need naps suddenly in the middle of the day. I chalk it up to healing and I’m lucky I work for an awesome company that lets me work from home so I can sleep when needed and work when I am awake.

On the home front, because I have limited energy and lifting capability, things are slow. But I’ve plugged away at small jobs in the office: replacing door knobs, measuring and cutting baseboard, etc. I’m ready to paint the baseboard and hopefully install it this weekend. I’ve had company for the last three weekends in a row and it just seemed rude to start that kind of project while they are here.

So I’ll just leave you with a few images of what we’ve been doing these past few weeks.

I picked up some shelving for either side of the fireplace in the family room. Just need to accessorize them.

Vicious dog keeping me company while I have to rest a lot.

My mentor and coach on the resting part. I don’t know what I would do without her example.


I had surgery yesterday. The first time I’ve ever had surgery or even been admitted in a hospital. All is good and things went remarkably well. It was a long day so I’m left with all these little moments that were surprisingly funny.

I’m parking in the morning and it’s a very confusing system. At one point, I find myself driving the wrong way in a one-way section. My brother quips, “Oh good! Let’s all have surgery today!”

Me arguing with my Mom that it wasn’t the drugs talking when I thought it was so awesome to be taken from point A to point B in a comfortable bed. I’m totally off the drugs now and I still think it was the best way to go.

Requesting tuna noodle casserole as my “recovery” food. I asked about it enough that Mom finally said, “You’re just a little too excited about tuna noodle casserole.” She’s right.

Being asked by the anesthesiologist if I had any loose teeth. Surprised, I asked, “Why? What are you planning to do?”

Trying to show my brother my little laparoscopic incisions and he just turned and ran out of the room. I’ve never seen my line-backer brother move so fast.

I’m even more excited about the tapioca pudding. Mmmm. Tapioca pudding.

Weird Outlets

I started getting the measurements for the baseboard and figured, while I’m on the floor, I’ll swap out the outlets. This ended up not being as straight forward as it has been for me in other rooms so I thought I would share what I do when something doesn’t look like the youtube video.

All of the outlets in this room are cream and I want white. This is just an easy little update that I think, combined with other easy, little updates, adds up and leaves the impression of a home well cared for. I think this helps when selling the house. I’d rather do this a bit at a time than try to do it all at once when I decide to sell the house. Besides, I want to enjoy the pretty updates too and not just make them for a stranger.

I did my usual power off routine where I turn off the power at the circuit breaker but I still check every outlet with my voltage tester. I do this every time because I have a room with one outlet on a different breaker so I’m super careful about this.

As soon as I got the old outlet off, I saw that I didn’t recognize the configuration at all. I have the new outlet in my left hand and the old one to the right of it. The new ones have screws on the sides of the outlet but this old one had the wires going in the back of the outlet.

I stopped what I was doing and started watching youtube videos. Fortunately, I found one that sort of applied to my situation.

This was very helpful except my outlet didn’t quite match his. I had little slots in a different place but putting my screwdriver in there didn’t release the wires at all. I finally just got frustrated and cut the wires.

Once I had the old outlet out of there, I could easily, and quickly, replace it with the new one. The very next outlet though gave me pause again. This one, only had one set of wires for some reason. The other had two white and two black. This only had one of each.

OK. This must be one of those annoying outlets where one of them doesn’t work. But why would someone do that? I decided I’d figure out how to fix it later but would at least get this replaced now so I swapped it out with the new one.

The last outlet really confused me. This one had an extra wire. Now there were three white and three black. Why?

Another problem was that the outlet was giving me some hot readings. Enough, and consistently that I just wasn’t comfortable mucking about with it. I took a little video so you could see the reading I kept getting.

Because of this, I decided it just wasn’t worth it. I didn’t know what the extra wire was for or if I could just tuck it away. So I put the old outlet back and left it alone. This might be a good job for an electrician. I think when I have one here for this outlet, I’ll get the outlet with fewer wires fixed so both outlets work. It shouldn’t be an expensive job and it’s just worth it to have an expert do it right.

As usual, I was well supervised.

Building Up the Nerve

I’m getting up the nerve to do my baseboard installation myself. I don’t know why I’m so sure I can’t do this. It’s one of those projects that doesn’t look hard but people are always saying, “Oh, that is too difficult, you should pay someone to do it.”

Everything I look at makes it look simple. So maybe what others think is hard, is the part I’m comfortable with. I can’t help but think a lot of “helpful” folks are getting baseboard mixed up with crown molding (which does look a bit trickier because it has an angle back as well as an angle in the corners).

So I just keep watching these and look for the tricky part. I’m building up the nerve to try this tomorrow. It isn’t like I’d have to do the room over if I got it wrong.