Saturday, May 26

Hear me roar

I cut the grass in the backyard today. Oooh, you say. Big news. Thanks so much for sharing that. Smartass.

Here's the deal. When I bought the townhouse years ago my parents moved in too. This would be a major trauma for a lot of people but it works for us. The reasons are too complicated to go into here, but the main thing is that it works for us most of the time. And part of this arrangement is that my dad handles most of the 'guy' things, like bugs in the house, leaky pipes and the lawn.

So fast forward to present day. As you all know my dad has been going through some tough stuff. We're dealing. But I am now faced with doing all those little things that I had taken for granted before. Bug in the house? "Dad!" Leaky pipe? "Dad!" and so on. A few weeks back I realized that I was going to lose the cat in the backyard one of these days if I didn't do something about it. No problem, I'm a modern woman, right?

Turns out there's this little part of me deep down in that still believes some things are meant for men to handle. Like bugs in the house, for instance. Also lawnmowers. Some primeval thing inside of me insists that it's a 'guy' thing. This thing was so strong that I couldn't even bring myself to remove the cover from the lawnmower, so I improvised with the weed wacker. Okay, go ahead and laugh; but it worked. In fact it's worked twice now and if it was a little ragged it was also not bad for a make-do job, if I do say so myself. But ...

Couldn't go on that way indefinitely. For one thing even with such a small yard it takes time. Plus the damn weed wacker kept coming unplugged. They should elasticize the electrical cords, that's all I'm saying. Why nobody has thought of that yet is beyond me. And it's not as though I am inept when it comes to household stuff. I don't say I'm good at it, but I'm not completely helpless.

So anyway I finally bit the bullet tonight. I waited until late in the day when it was cooler (and coincidentally a lot fewer neighbors around to watch me make a fool of myself) and uncovered the mower. After dragging it into the middle of the yard I stood back and assessed the situation. What did I know about this mower? It ran on gas. So the gas must go someplace, right? And um, maybe we should make sure it has enough to do the job before we go forward? Ya think? Found the cap and unscrewed it and something sloshed around in there so I decided I had gas. Next I knew I was supposed to yank on the cord thingie and, theoretically, the mower would, hey presto! start. So I pulled. And literally pulled up short. Couldn't make it budge more than six inches or so and the mower showed no signs of life. Back to assessing. My thought process went something like this:

What's this wire thingie up here by the handle? There wouldn't be a wire there if it weren't supposed to do something right? Okay, mower = guy thing, so who knows? But the wire is attached to a line and it looks like that runs down the handle to the where even I know the motor is cased. So it must do something.

So I pulled back on the wire thingie and pulled back on the cord thingie and hey presto! still nothing happened.

*sigh* It looks so easy when Dad does it. Alright, I'm a reasonably intelligent adult, I should be able to figure this out. Back again to the assessing. What's this little red button down here by the motor? Hmmmm. Looks promising. There's some writing next to it. Most of the writing is worn away but I think I can read the word "prime." Prime what? Prime time? Prime of life (well it's a fairly young mower)? Prime cut (now wouldn't that be a neat play on words?)

Prime cut, lawn mower ... get it? Never mind. Then it occurs to me that the mower has been sitting there since last fall which means no fuel has passed through the whatzit, the thing that burns the fuel. So ... could this be prime as in "priming a pump"? And what do I know about priming a pump? Not much. Never done it. But I've heard of it, I mean I READ so I know lots of bits and pieces of mostly useless information one of which is that sometimes pumps need a running start, so to speak. I don't know why this is necessary because though I am well read, I am also an urban child.

Anyway I looked all over the mower and that red button was the only thing I could see that I hadn't tried so ... I pushed it. And nothing happened. So I pushed it again and still nothing happened. Then I went back to the other end of things, pulled back on the wire thingie and gave the cord another go and ...

IT STARTED! Of course I got so excited that I let go of the wire thingie and the motor shut down. I guess it's a safety thing, since it pretty much forces you to be behind the mower when you are running it. But at least this time I knew what to do. In fact I didn't even need the little red button this time because there's already fuel in the whatzit. So at last my backyard got cut and it is ever so much neater than the weed wacker job. Although I do still need to get out the weed wacker. At least I already know how to use that one. But first I need to invent an elastic power cord so I'll have get back to you.

Saturday, May 19

Something else to look at

Here are a few pictures from my yard, in case you are at all interested. I would say my "garden" but I haven't done much with that this year. But I do have a few things blooming. Notably my climatis which has really staged a come back. Last year I cut out a lot of old stuff and then spent the winter biting my nails worrying that I ruined it. I guess not. Normally I make an effort to train it as it grows but, again, my head just hasn't been in it this year.

This is a close up of some pansies I had put in just before winter last year. I like to do that, put in the pansies at the last minute, because they winter over so nice. Sometimes I can spy the odd bloom even in January. And then come spring they really take off. But they don't like the heat much so they'll need to come out before too long. Still, its nice to look out and see those colorful faces when everything else is still brown. And you get a little bit closer look at the climatis in the background.

I bought some big pots last year and put in a few plants, some more pansies and something ... I forget now but some kind of perennial. Except I think the squirrels got to them over the winter. So a few weeks ago I went and got a flat of snapdragons to fill up all that empty. I just wanted some quick and easy color. They seem to be doing well. Just today I did some deadheading, snipping back to encourage new growth and blooms. Hopefully they'll fill out

Wednesday, May 16

Here's What's Up *updated*

**Update at the bottom**
Okay, I know some folks have been wondering what's been going on with my dad. I wasn't deliberately keeping it from ya'll, just that I wasn't sure for a few days what to tell you. Plus most of you have been on this ride with me from the beginning and might have needed to step off the roller coaster for a bit. I know I've been feeling that way. Here's what happened.

Dad was home from the hospital following a brief return because of swelling around the area of his surgery which was making him loopy. You may recall that at the start of our story Dad was having a tumor removed from his brain. Surgery went well, a few set backs then to rehab then home where he was doing fabulously until the swelling episode.

So Dad was home and doing okay, though not great. We know this is going to take time. But then he seemed to be getting weaker plus had this cough so we were going to take him back to the docs. The night before this was to take place he took a bad fall. I won't go into that nightmare but I will tell you that there was no damage done to his brain. In fact considering how awful things appeared he did relatively minor damage, but it did mean a call to 911 and a trip to the emergency room. While there they of course did head scans and then when Mom noticed Dad grabbing his side when coughing they did chest xrays (yeah, Dad was going to tough it out and not mention that his ribs hurt) and discovered cracked ribs. They also discovered what appeared to be a small spot of pneumonia. Well we knew he had the cough, but we didn't know he was that sick. Turns out he wasn't, yet, but it probably would have turned worse quickly so the fall was a blessing in disguise. Anyway they decide to keep him but the hospital that the emergency people took us to was not contracted with their insurance and the insurance requested he be moved to a contracted hospital. This is actually not the biggie it sounds like because the hospital he ended up at is not terribly far from home and actually a very nice hospital with a really good reputation. So it's okay that this happened, really. And they took care of the transfer and everything, it didn't require us to do anything.

Anyway, at the new hospital they checked everything over again, of course, and asked about his meds and the fall and yada yada. They decided that the steroids he was taking for the swelling in the brain probably caused the weakness that led to the fall. So the started weaning him off of it but then he started getting loopy after a few days. Also his breathing was becoming very labored. Lots of tests followed: new CT scan, eeg, xrays, blood work - you name it. Everything came back looking good except for that spot of pneumonia in the xray and they were treating it with antibiotics.

They moved him from a regular room to CCU in order to keep a closer eye on him. They decided that the loopiness might have been caused from taking him off of the steroids too quickly so he's on a small dose, partly for that and partly for his breathing problems. Plus the antiobiotics via iv. Plus he gets this nebulizer thing to breath from every six hours. (Literary reference: I told him it makes him look like the caterpillar from ALICE IN WONDERLAND.) In the meantime they also did a swallow test which came back inconclusive. The test was because he still has this roughish cough but nothing much coming up, and they want to determine whether his swallow/breath reflex is off and maybe something worked its way into an air passage. But as I said it was inconclusive. So they put him on intrevenous diet for two days and ran the test again to get a better idea. That went pretty well so they moved him up to soft foods and he's been doing well on those so maybe back to regular food today. We shall see.

He is still very very weak and tires easily but his oxygen levels are much better and the xray he had yesterday morning shows his lungs are looking pretty good. Two days ago he was moved from CCU to a 'step down' room which is something between CCU and a regular room for a few days and now it looks like he's ready to go to a rehabilitation facility for a bit to get his strength back. There's a really nice place near home, quite upscale, that the insurance will cover so we're hoping for that. As I said, he's still terribly weak and tires very easy, which worries Mom and I; but no new health issues are coming out, so they feel the next step is recovery and rehabilitation.

It's still a one day at a time deal and that's how we're trying to take it. Mom and I are very tired but make a pretty good team.


So we got Dad checked into the rehabilitation facility this afternoon. These things don't move quickly so it was late afternoon before he was picked up for transport and evening by the time he was settled in. Mom and I both had a pretty good feel about the place. Staff was friendly and Dad has his own room, small but private. Hopefully our first impression will bear out. It's only about 15 minutes from home, as the crow flies; a little bit more at rush hour but still pretty darned close.

Thanks for being there, all of you. It means a lot to me.