Thursday, October 27, 2005

Medical maintenance

What a week this has been. In addition to yesterday's mammogram retakes, I went in Monday for a blood test, which came back normal for everything they were looking at (cholesterol, blood sugar - the usual suspects), and this afternoon it was back to the dentist for some fillings. Never my favorite thing, this was worse than usual because he was working on wisdom teeth, so I had to keep my jaw open so wide I thought my jaw would separate. Maybe by tomorrow it'll feel normal again. And I'd forgotten how the anesthesia travels to weird places, like my ear and the bone under my eye on that side.

I guess it's true: after 40 it's all patch, patch, patch.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

HUGE sigh of relief!

Got my retakes done today. OUCH! Today I learned that "do over" mammograms involve a smaller plate (i.e., stretching and flattening only part of the breast) and greater pressure. Or at least that's what it felt like. They did both the diagonal and horizontal takes, but the radiologist was able to see enough from those two that I didn't have to do the sonogram. If I'd had a vote, I'd've had the sono first, in hopes of being able to skip the mammo! But the news is good - just fibrocystic tissue, which made for a slightly anomalous initial mammogram, but nothing worse. Nothing serious, nothing scary - we're going out to dinner to celebrate, and I'm hoping the restaurant has champagne!

Monday, October 24, 2005

"It certainly entertained the gapers."

Well, the furnace guy collected a new story this afternoon. We told him we needed someone to go into the crawl space under the house and check the ductwork because we know we've got a hole or break or something there from the raccoon. We told him the story and at first he just laughed in disbelief. "Raccoon?!?"

You see, a year ago August we had gone to bed w/ the kitchen skylight open. In the middle of the night, a juvenile raccoon, presumably smelling whatever we'd had for dinner that night, came walking across our roof toward the source of the aroma and fell into our kitchen because the skylight screen wasn't designed to hold any weight. "Then up on the roof there arose such a clatter, we sprang from our bed to see what was the matter." As we ran from the bedroom into the kitchen, the raccoon ran from the kitchen into the bedroom. We immediately shut the door and called Animal Control. I gotta hand it to them, we had an Animal Control officer there at 4 a.m., probably called from a sound sleep, no more than 45 minutes after the arrival of our unwelcome guest. We told him how said guest had made his entrance, whereupon our officer carefully slipped into the bedroom with his cage at the ready. Guess what? NO visitor! AC officer and Chief moved the bed (and all the shoes and sweater boxes stashed under same) to find the little rotter had pried up a floor vent and crawled into our ductwork! We never did smell it, so we know it didn't die in there. Chief noticed the next time he did yard work that a slatted ventilation grill in the crawl space had a section broken out. Given that and other evidence, we assume our probably rabid little friend took advantage of a join in the ductwork to make a break for freedom and eventually make its way into the crawlspace and thence into the neighborhood at large.

The next couple of times we had the system checked, I tried to get the tech to check for a break in the ductwork but they never did. I think this 3rd time was the charm; Chief even showed the tech where he'd nailed mesh over the grill to keep the critters out, because they've pulled down some of the insulation under the house for nesting or other, more nefarious purposes. Someone's supposed to call us tomorrow to arrange to repair the ductwork. Good thing - with all the gloom-and-doom forecasts about how heating prices are going to shoot up this winter, we DON'T want to be heating the neighborhood, or even the crawlspace!

Spring color, coming right up!

Well, not literally, at least not yet. I took today off work to take care of various business; getting the furnace checked out, running errands and - drum roll, please - planting lots and lots of spring bulbs. How many is "lots"? 175! I've got 35 Allium bulbs - new flower for me; can't wait to see how they work out - 50 assorted daffodils, and 90 assorted crocus bulbs! I absolutely love crocuses - they're my "hang in there, spring is coming!" flower.

I had planted about 200 assorted bulbs (snowdrops, anemones, grape hyacinths, miniature daffs, and crocuses, of course) across the little slope in the front yard several years ago, but most of them quit coming up. Don't know whether disease or insects got them, but now I get to spend a happy couple of hours digging holes and planting what I know will be a wash of color come spring. And because the package tells me the allium comes up in late spring, I'll be getting color for a while - first the crocuses, then the daffs, then the allium. Or maybe the daffs & allium will come in together. I don't care - it'll be fun to see what happens, and what colors and varieties I get.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Maybe it's not so bad after all.

I talked to my doctor this afternoon about the results of my first mammogram. She said it showed some thickening of the tissue, and a "questionable masslike area" but no calcifications, which is a good thing. There was also some "blurring", which is part of why they want to do another, magnified mammo, with a sonogram for independent confirmation, I suppose.

After talking to my breast cancer-survivor mom last night and learning this today, I'm feeling much less worried about the whole business, although I'm still not exactly looking forward to getting another mammogram so soon.

Ladies, do your self exams!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Pray for me!

Been catching up on a lot of medical "routine maintenance" lately - dentist, allergist, mammogram, annual "date w/ the stirrups". No fun, but some things ya just gotta do. Most of the follow-up has been merely tedious (e.g., flu shot, 2 cavities to be filled).

However. I had my mammogram last week and learned today from my HMO that they want to "re-image" my left breast and do a sonogram of it, just for good measure. My mom had breast cancer several years ago, so the implications of "re-imaging" are scarier than I care to dwell on.

I'm scheduled to go back for more pictures next Wednesday. That means a full week of fearing the worst. I'll happily take all the prayers and good wishes you can spare!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Reading back, I see I wrote that the fall festival "always seems to get good weather". Not true this year! It was raining steadily when we woke up Friday morning and didn't stop for good until late Sunday morning. The festival parking is in a field, so when Chief asked about going later in the day or even waiting until Saturday, I insisted on going as soon as possible, before the mud got axle deep in the lot entrances. (Trust me, dislodging a car mired axle-deep in mud is not quick, not easy, and definitely not cheap!)

Unfortunately, the weather definitely affected attendance by both visitors and vendors; the crowds were even lighter than we expected, and there were a number of empty vendors' spaces. A shame; this is definitely one of the better shows. It's large enough to be interesting but small enough to be manageable (not like some that cram hundreds of vendors into the county fairgrounds, for instance), and because it's juried, you can be sure that all the vendors make all their own things. No dishtowels reconstituted into a different shape or anything. And what I enjoy almost as much as seeing all the lovely, well-made things is getting the chance to talk to the makers about materials, techniques, what got them interested in (woodcarving, weaving, ironwork...), and so on. Several of the vendors are also re-enactors and wear their period clothing and are happy to explain the old techniques of barrel-making, why they use this particular breed of sheep for the wool in their sweaters, or where they managed to find the tools to make their instruments. Because the people are invariably emotionally involved in their craft, they always tell a wonderful story about it. That was one advantage to Friday's rain - because the crowds were so light, I think the vendors were happy to have someone interested in their work. The woman doing the Swedish weaving (basketweave throws with multi-colored embroidery) was good enough to show me how she did the patterns on the throws, the woodcarver answered my husband's questions about which woods were easier or harder to work with, the woman with the braided rugs was quite proud of the fact that in the past 5 or 6 years she's completed 160 rugs (her goal was 125!) and the cooper shifted easily from telling us the history of the "barn stars" he makes to the barrels he also makes. Well worth the price of admission!

By contrast, the apple butter festival was a disappointment. I think it suffered by being visited so soon after the other. This festival may not be juried. It was certainly more eclectic, with a lot of vendors the Chief described as "aging hippies"; my term was "New Age". As with the other, the rain hurt them; we saw a lot of empty vendor spaces, though we couldn't tell whether they hadn't shown up, or had merely decided to cut their losses and go home early.

And with all the rain, I didn't even pull out my old camera, let alone my new one. Maybe the next time we're out at the cabin...

"Spam" is a 4-letter word.

I really, really didn't want to do this, but may yet be forced to. Lately, nearly all the comments to my blog have been from spammers. This is really irritating; my blog is NOT intended as a place for some anonymous scam artist or self-promoter to make a fast buck. Not to mention that my ego is a little dented; the 2 or 3 readers I have aren't commenting, while the spammers have no qualms whatsover about butting in and making irrelevant, self-aggrandizing sales pitches disguised as comments. I suppose I should be grateful that at least they've been clean. So far.

Please, don't make me use word verification.

Monday, October 03, 2005

New toy!

My digital camera arrived today! Three guesses how I'll be spending the rest of the evening (well, after I bake an apple cake and deliver some "neighbor debt payments"). This is good timing because the Chief & I will be going out to an autumn foliage festival Friday and an apple butter festival on Sunday.

The Friday fest always seems to get good weather, perfect for driving around and looking at the scarlet of the sugar maple farms. I just hope they got enough rain this year to make the leaves turn bright colors before they turn brown and drop off. The festival has lots of crafts workers, furniture makers and the like, and draws large enough crowds that it inspires the neighbors to have little stands of their own for quilts, home-made baked goods, produce, and the like. The apple butter festival is smaller, but equally fun - I want pictures of the HUGE kettles they make the apple butter in. They often let little kids stir the stuff, but have to put them on a stool so they can reach, because the kettles are big enough to hold 3 or 4 toddlers.

I'm hoping the "Gourmet Termite" will be there again, too. The first time I went to the apple butter festival was while the Chief was deployed overseas. Among all the watercolorists, other artists, goodie sellers, and the like was an older gentleman with an old van he'd converted into a mobile woodshop! Calling himself The Gourmet Termite, he made custom signs while you waited. I had him make a sign for our cabin, selecting a sign template from among the many he offered, giving him the text and letting him know the local emergency crews mandated house numbers at least 4" high. While he worked on it, I nosed around the van, which was a marvel of ingenuity. Ship's cabins are marvels of efficient use of space, but this van easily rivalled them for efficiency. He had a shallow set of shelves in the back end of the van that stored what looked like various types and sizes of drill bits, while the body of the van housed his sign templates, paint, varnishes, and other supplies. The Chief would really love seeing the van and talking to the man when he's not busy. Although, come to think of it, I'd have a hard time tearing him away - he might want to sign up as an apprentice! :D