How Do You Prepare For A Visit From… Royalty?

andrawatkins.com

andrawatkins.com

I am fortunate to live in a comfortable, modest and adorable (if I may say so myself) home.   It is the home where both my children were born and the only one we have owned.  Perfect for our little family of four.  As the kids got older and their height and shoe size surpassed their ages, it did feel a bit too small as their long legs and arms took over the couches and chairs.

Now that the kids are away in college and it is just the two of us, I have had time to look around the house room by room to determine what needs some TLC and updating.  AY!  I better get Bob Vila over here as soon as possible.  Wait, is he still alive?

Well, at my urging, one of my favorite blogging friends is coming to visit me in September.  This is not just any blogging friend, mind you, I am talking about the infamous author, Queen –  Andra Watkins!  Yes, that queen!  The one who is also known as, The Accidental Cootchie Mama.  The same one who wrote, To Live Forever: An afterlife journey of Meriwether Lewis and who is coming to my state (Massachusetts) on her book tour.  The bad-ass “first living person to walk the 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did prior to the rise of steam power in the 1820’s.”  I know!

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How excited am I?

Except, how do I re-do my entire house before September 9th?  I mean, I can’t very well serve the Queen(as I like to refer to her) using my 1990 Pier-1  dishes, can I?  How do I let her use our very well-loved laminate floor/laminate counter-top bathroom? Our front steps’ chipped railing is NOT fit for such royalty, right?  I don’t even have a red carpet!

Seeing that this is not The Bachelorette and therefore no “crew” is going to re-do my house for free,  I need to call my reinforcements.   Nancy from myyear[s]ofsweat, you are an expert in bathroom re-dos, can you get your butt over here, ASAP?  Pam at year ’round thanksgiving project, can you get Warren to come over after he fixes your car?  Gina, Steve built me a ramp after my surgery, what’s he doing for the next 10 days?

Mr. B is looking forward to meeting Queen Andra since I have talked so much about her, but if he hears, “we need to fix that before Andra comes”, one more time…

So, your… oh so kind, highness, I am beyond excited to meet you and to have you stay in my modest home.  The only thing I ask is, can you conveniently forget to pack your glasses before arriving?  Or at least promise not to look too carefully?

**Order, To Live Forever here.**

One Flew North, One Flew South, Both Fled The Scene Of This Cuckoo’s Nest

mixfruitsalad.com

*Notice the $$ falling out of the nest                       mixfruitsalad.com

**This Cuckoo’s Nest is now officially, empty**

…as is my heart,

…and my wallet.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still two adults in the Cuckoo’s nest who are responsible for most of the cookooness, but the young have indeed flown the coop (*sobs uncontrollably).

Where do I begin?  Let me grab my bottle of wine, I will be right back.

Ok. I am back.

Chick #1 flew back north (4.5 hours away), to begin his junior year in college.  We had to rent a cargo van filled with apartment necessities.  Those necessities consisted mostly of our things which we must now replace.  Can you have a bridal shower as a 25 year wedding anniversary celebration?  Just wondering.

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The apartment is on the third floor with narrow stairs, so I only made the trip up and down once.  What I love about this youngling of mine, is that he gave me free rein to do with his apartment whatever I wished.  A mother’s dream!  I set up his little kitchen with some touches of red, including a red cutting board, dish drying mat (essential), trash can, etc.  He even let me organize his room!  I had to contain my utter excitement.  

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After an exhausting day of apartment set-up and running to the store (Mr. B did the running) to get things we had forgotten, it was time to head back home.  The great thing was that my son was returning home with us for the night, before officially moving the following day.  I got in his car and let Mr. B drive the cargo van home.  Do you know how incredibly precious it is to have uninterrupted hours with your 20-year-old son to just chat and laugh?  

We talked about girls, careers, music, movies,cooking and parenting.  We even threw in a couple of bathroom words (fart, mostly) in our conversation, as I needed to open the passenger side window on more than one occasion, to breathe in some fresher air. 

The wonderful thing about your kids growing up is that they really begin to like you and appreciate what you do for them.  He did not stop thanking me for all the help, advice, time and $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ we have spent on him over the years.  He kept adding how much he appreciates us as his parents.

Believe me when I tell you that there was a hell of a lot of SOBBING going on.

Now on to Chick #2.

 My baby girl’s freshman year.    This was a three-day ordeal process.  After collecting all twenty five bags she had packed and assessing the space we had in our newly purchased SUV, it was immediately determined that it was not all going to fit.

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Fortunately, we had a carrier we were able to attach to the roof rack of the car.  Off we headed, on our five-hour journey south.  One half hour into our drive,  she informed us that she had forgotten some important documents back home.  Five and a half hours later, we had reached our destination.

Bright and early the following morning, we headed to the college for our designated dorm room move-in time.  It was the most organized chaotic process I have ever witnessed.  Lines upon lines of cars, separated by rows and color coördinated by dorm.   Even WildCat himself scared the shit out of us greeted us in the parking lot to entertain us while we patiently awaited our turn.

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How many hours does it take to unpack twenty-five bags and set up a girl’s dorm room?  I could not tell you.  It may have been twenty-four or three, I am  not sure.   It was not until her very nice roommate and her parents showed up, that I appreciated my daughter only having twenty-five bags.  How on earth her roommate’s seventy-five bags of stuff fit in the room, is beyond me.

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Trash and recycling outside of the dorm (mostly from our daughter and roommate, I firmly suspect)

 You would be very proud of me.  No tears were shed…up to that point.  I did find myself staring at her and watching her every move for signs of distress, anxiety and joy.  I saw all of the above.  

We participated in all the parent orientation activities and got to know the roommate’s parents well. So much so, that the four of us wished we were starting college and partying at the dorm.  Or at least, drinking.

Here is when the flood gates opened.  There was a closing Mass to end the orientation and to gently nudge the parents off  campus to allow for the students to settle into their new homes.  

The tradition is for the President of the University (a dynamic and charismatic priest), to give a special blessing to the freshmen class and repeat the blessing once they are seniors and graduating.  We were instructed to put our hands on the student’s head or shoulders and repeat after the priest as we blessed our children.  

HOLY emotions.  

There was no turning back and no stopping the flood.  I wailed like a baby as I tried reciting the blessing while looking right into her eyes.  What can I tell you except that it took me hours to recover from such a beautiful and spiritual ceremony.

After the inevitable goodbyes, we set off on our journey back home.  That we survived what became a six-hour white-knuckle drive in blinding monsoon-like rain, while swerving away from a family of deer trying to cross in front of us, was truly miraculous.

I have yet to enter my chicks’ rooms since I have been back.  

I have however, frolicked around the nest naked a couple of times and it was so much fun!

 

Why When You Are On The Brink of Death, Is The Perfect Time To Buy A Car

 

1999 CRV PRINCE wouldn't be caught dead driving this

1999 CRV/ PRINCE wouldn’t be caught dead driving this

My dearest husband, Mr. B, is a creature of habit.  He likes the known, the safe and the routine.  He is the happiest when nothing interferes with his daily routine.  He gets up at the same time everyday,  shaves the way he always does, brushes his teeth in the right order (always before flossing) and takes the same route to work, stopping at his favorite morning place for caffeine.  Any deviation from his scheduled plan can and will set him off for the remainder of the day.  I love him, nevertheless.

I could not be more opposite.  I do not like one day to be anything like the next.  I like to change it up, mix it up and I loathe routine. Blah.  Freedom and spontaneity are my thing.  I have been known to run around my neighborhood bra-less and free on more than one occasion.  I have been caught dancing with feathers for the sake of freedom.  My friend, Mama can attest to this.

So, when it came time in the recent weeks, to get rid of his 1999 tin can  CRV, he was not happy.  Yes, I said 1999.  As in the song, 1999 by Prince.  I am not dreaming as I write this but you can still sue me if I go too fast.

spacegravy.com

spacegravy.com

Four days after I was released from the hospital with a serious illness, we headed to a dealership with a particular car in mind.  To say that I was a bit out of it is an understatement and the reason Mr. B took control of the negotiating with the sales man.  Being a former banking officer, I usually take the lead in these situations.  He did a great job and we signed a purchase and sales agreement.

Both of us felt good about the car but there was something about the salesman that we did not quite trust.  I do not believe I am alone in having these thoughts about car salesmen, am I?.  He was the “everything is going to be ok” type of sales man.  “Don’t worry, it’s all good”, he kept repeating.  When asked for reassurance that the terms we agreed upon were in fact set in stone he replied by saying, “Don’t worry, there will be NO surprises when you come back for the car.  We can match your credit union’s rate if not beat it! It’s all good.”  Famous last words.

Fast forward to this past Saturday when we were to pick up our new vehicle.  Because I have my priorities straight…instead of going to the emergency room after fearing for my life once again,  I accompanied Mr. B to pick up our new car.  With back pain and thoughts of death lurking close by, I stuck to the plan.  In all honesty, I was afraid Mr. B would use my almost dying as an excuse to cancel the whole deal and keep his beloved tin can.

Sure enough as per our suspicions,  Mr. It’s all good of a sales man did not come through.  The documentation presented to us to sign had a higher interest rate than promised.  I will admit that this “promise” was not in writing and thus take some of the blame for trusting this happy salesman’s word.  We knew better, but damn, he was convincing.

Thankfully, my infected Latina blood began to boil.  The former banker in me stood up tall and the near death me, suddenly came to life.  I was not in the mood to be messed with and convinced that my death was imminent, I had nothing to lose.  Believe me, you did not want to be there to witness that me.

Let me put it this way, once I was done expressing my dislike,  the sky was all purple there were people running everywhere.

Not only did we ask to speak with the manager but also the manager’s manager, the manager’s manager’s manager, the manager’s manager’s manager’s father, mother and great grandfather.  They all came.

Needless to say, we drove off with our new/used CRV stocked with all the bells and whistles, a full tank and I believe they even threw in a personal driver as a peace-offering.  Do not quote me on that, I should probably read the fine print.

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http://www.wat.tv/video/prince-1999-382gh_2hztv_.html

 

Photos of A Swallowtail Butterfly Taken For Blogger, Linda Washington

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Blogger, Linda Washington at El Space – The Blog of L. Marie is a very talented and compassionate woman.  She has sent me numerous packages filled with colorful crocheted flowers and shoes she just whips up.  When she read that I was ill, she sent me another package with more flowers and a heart.  Her kindness is humbling.

She has written two posts about missing out on opportunities to capture monarch butterflies she sees fluttering, with her camera.  It seems she keeps missing out due to the quick fluttering movements of these gentle flying wonders.   They keep getting away!

Today, as I was getting ready to leave my home, I noticed this Swallowtail butterfly, fluttering around my hanging plant.  Her coloring so bright and beautiful.  I immediately thought of Linda.  I had to get a picture of it.  Click, click, click.  There it remained.

Linda, although it is not a monarch, I wanted to capture this photo and dedicate it to you.  I thank you for your generosity and kindness,

Brickhousechick

NEGATIVE – Such A Beautiful Word

morguefiles

morguefiles

I am home, resting.

Another bullet dodged.

I have never been so scared in my life.

 Panic really set in last night and why wouldn’t it have?

After being told over and over how sick I was and then being told I most likely had another infection after what appears to now be false positive results…

I barely slept.  My heart would not stop racing and my back ached.

I listened to my body once again and went to the Emergency Room.

Although some levels are still elevated, results indicating signs of infection were:

NEGATIVE

NEGATIVE

N.E.G.A.T.I.V.E

Such a beautiful word.

I need to continue to monitor my body carefully and look for signs of abnormalities, as I am not completely out of the woods yet.

What a ride this has been.

I am sorry if I scared you all but I needed to express my feelings last night.  You have always been there for me and you were there for me again last night.  I felt your presence,  your love and your kindness.

Let’s hope and pray that, NEGATIVE  is a word I continue to hear throughout the weeks and months ahead.

Such a beautiful word.

I Cannot Sleep, I Am So Scared

It is 11:15 pm on Friday the 8th of August, 2014

I am laying in bed and cannot sleep. I am very afraid.  So scared.  So stressed.  Freaking out.

I cannot handle this.

I don’t know what to do.  How to feel.  What is real.  What is not.

It’s not funny anymore.

I am scared for my life.

The feelings occupying every inch of my body are sickening. Nauseating. Haunting.

They are raw.  Organic and Pure.

I need to write.  I have to write.  I cannot sleep.

I am so scared.

Maybe tomorrow I will feel better.  Maybe I will have answers.  Solutions.

I don’t want to feel this way.  It is too much to handle.

So scared.

It turns out my back pain is back.  Flank pain.  Kidneys.  It was bad today.

There are other signs of an active infection.  Shit.  

Is it the same infection?  Is my body rejecting the antibiotics I am still on?  Will I have sepsis again?

Oh my God.

So scared.

What is happening?

I was told by another doctor today that I am very lucky that I survived sepsis.  That I am too young to die.  That this is serious stuff.

That is some scary shit to hear.  I couldn’t find my humor today, I don’t know where it went.

But I was ready to make this the past.  I survived.  I was done blogging about it.  I was ready to move on.

Now what?  Another infection?  Are you kidding me?

I called the doctor on call this evening.  She was concerned.  I have to wait until tomorrow for more tests. More antibiotics.  Go to the ER tonight if things get worse, she said.

OMG, I am scared.  Should I be there right now?  Am I going to die tonight if I don’t go to the hospital?

I cannot sleep.

Who do I trust?  Not my body.  Not my doctor.  What do I do?

They say my body is compromised & suppressed.  They don’t know what caused me to be so sick.  The years of steroid treatments?  Having no spleen?  Both?

The very drugs that allow me to function on a daily basis may be killing me.

I am to wait until the morning to go for blood work at the hospital.  Another set of antibiotics will be waiting for me until they figure out this new infection.  Then I am to go home and wait for results.

But tomorrow we purchase our new car.  At 9:30 am, in a dealership one hour away. I am not canceling.  I am going.  I am signing the papers with my husband.  We have planned this, we have been waiting to pick it up.  I am not canceling.

I will go to the hospital on the way back.

Will I regret this?  I don’t know.

I am scared.  And I am angry.

I cannot sleep.

These feelings are so frightening.  They are foreign to me.  To be scared for my life is just not right.

Maybe by the time you read this, I will have more answers.

Please do not worry, I just needed to express my feelings right here right now.

I am in no way seeking sympathy and for this reason the comment section will be closed.

I will update as I hear more.

So scared.

Surviving The Emergency Room & Hospital Stay

morguefiles

morguefiles

After my life-altering experience last week, how can I not share with you loved ones,  my survival tips for navigating the ER and a hospital stay.  These are very critical tips that I hope you don’t actually have to use anytime soon:

1.  Listen to your damn body.  If you do not feel right, even if your doctor dismisses your symptoms, go to the Emergency Room, yesterday.

2.  If you must visit the ER on a weekend, try to get sick before 7:00 pm – especially on a Saturday night.  It will still be too early for the drunks, gun shot victims and college students to come trickling in and there will be a lot of doctors and nurses on stand-by.

3.  As much pain as you are in and as sick as you feel, if the ER doc is hot (even if he stutters), try to keep at least one eye open so you can enjoy the view.  This way if things take a turn for the worse, your last image will be a good one.

fanpop.com

fanpop.com

4.  If all the doctors and nurses in the ER begin putting masks on before entering your room, you are probably doomed.  This is never a good sign.  They might tell you they are protecting you from their germs but it is obvious they don’t want to catch whatever horrible disease you have.

5.  While getting a spinal tap, beg for the maximum amount of morphine allowed prior to the procedure.  While the 12 inch needle is entering your spine, make sure your spouse/significant other is there so you can squeeze his or her arm so hard that they pass out from lack of circulation.

macmillan.org.uk

macmillan.org.uk

6.  If admitted “upstairs” to a room, hit yourself in the head for actually NOT wearing your cleanest undies to the ER.  You should have changed right before you left the house.  Damn it, mom was right once again!

7.  Make sure the hospital gown they give you has snaps on it so you will not become a tangled mess with the IV line.

meecouk.com

meecouk.com

It might also be good to check for holes on the gown where there shouldn’t be.  Like a gaping hole exposing your right breast.

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8.  Have a family member use 152 Clorox wipes to disinfect the room’s germ infested telephone, tv remote, call nurse button and…the whole damn room.

9.  When using the bathroom , forget trying to relieve yourself in the urinal measuring pan that is awaiting you in the toilet.  No one is going to really measure your urine or test it.  In fact, no one will go into your bathroom, especially to clean it.

Nope, this won't happen. whatwhenhow.com

Nope, this won’t happen. whatwhenhow.com

Nope. They were just kidding.  google.com

Nope. This won’t happen either. google.com

10.  After realizing that your bathroom has no shower, ask for at least fifty packets of bath wipes to have next to your bed at all times.  One pack will most definitely not be enough.

Ask for 50 of these. safeproducts.com

Ask for 50 of these. safeproducts.com

11.  If you want to mess with the nurses, bend the elbow where your IV is hooked up so that the machine beeps.  As soon as the nurse comes in, straighten your arm and watch him/her look confused as they try to figure out why it’s beeping (I was bored.)

12.  When your gourmet food tray arrives, don’t even bother lifting the cover off the plate (proceed with caution).  IMG_1506Just go straight for the Hoodsie ice cream cup, the cookie or the packets of butter.

bostonmagazine.com

bostonmagazine.com

13.  If the little old woman down the hall from you is prone to screaming and yelling loudly about her bowel movements while you are trying to get some sleep, ask that your door be kept shut at all times.  In doing so however, be prepared to be ignored and forgotten by the nurses – because your door is closed at all times.

14.  Warning: Not all phlebotomists know how to draw your blood.  Repeat: NOT ALL PHLEBOTOMISTS know how to draw your blood.

tumbler

tumbler

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Ouch…

15.

 

 

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Do you have any hospital tips?   What horror stories do you have?