Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Heat like this will kill brain cells...

Currently, we are in the midst of a heat stroke streak where it's been 100+ for 23 of the last 26 days, and the forecast calls for 105+ for the next 10. I'm used to heat - I come from the Mojave Desert, for crap's sake. But this is a different heat. The sun shines like it's leaning on you here. Like it's rightthereonyourshoulderandyoucan'tgetaway.

Mom and I decided we REALLY NEEDED to get the red tip photinias yanked out of my side yard NOW. Why? Because we're losing brain cells every day. We have no common sense anymore. This is what the yard looked like prior to all the yanking and hacking:
(There's one more to the left that didn't quite make the shot, but you'll see that in a minute.)
Suspect red-tip photinias...

So we gathered our tools (gloves, pruner, crowbar, tow rope, Jeep...), soaked the ground around the small one and went to work. I'll let the photos speak for what happened next.
Smallest of the red-tips.

Mom stopping imaginary traffic - we were smart enough to do this on a weekday morning so no neighbors would see us.

Annnnnnnd yer outta there!
So you can see...that worked out pretty good. We were thinkin' we were pretty impressive. This turned out way better than what I had envisioned. That would have involved me snapping the top off the bush, and sailing down that street right there, past all my neighbors while they wondered "Where the hell is she going that fast, and what the hell is that she's dragging behind her?!" But, this didn't happen, and for that I am grateful. While still high on the rush of adrenaline from yankin' that sucker out, we decided "Let's keep going!" even though we hadn't soaked any other of the bushes. So we hooked up the tow rope, and started tugging away.
Locked and loaded...

PULLLLL pull pull pull....(noticing a bit of smoke from the Jeep even though you can't see it in this picture)

BOOM! Outta there.

Victory is ours!!!
So now we're two for two. That last one was a little more firmly entrenched than the first...and my Jeep was smelling a bit like burnt oil and we were afraid we'd do some serious damage to it, so we put it away, knowing that the last one would be the worst of all to take out. We weren't wrong. It had an actual TRUNK on it. So we hacked it back...tried leaning on it, pulling on it, and then I got out the pick-axe. Had to free up a big root underneath, so that was a logical tool, right?
 As it turned out, I smacked the root, the axe bounced off a couple times, then bent into a completely unusable shape. At that point, I was done. I put all the tools in the garage and went inside. Mom came down the next morning, looked at the axe and laughed. Right after she finished laughing, she got a gleam in her eye as she decided we needed to go to Home Depot NOW and get a reciprocating saw. Oh yes...we did. We got that, a pedicure and a sledge hammer over the course of two days. So, back to the saw... we took the saw home and got to work:
Mom's "I mean business." face

This thing is goin' DOWN.

Maybe a different angle will work better?

As you can see, we didn't get the root out. It's still there, chuckling at me quietly when I go past it. I need to drill some bigass holes in that sucker and KILL IT.
And pedicure time.
So there you have it. Persistence pays off...even if a lack of common sense prevails. I hope brain cells regenerate. Quickly.
Oh...the sledge hammer? Well, here's this:
I got a sledge hammer and I'm not afraid to use it.
Fortunately, there are no photos of me using it...and I did use it...successfully. Gotta get those posts out from where the deck was, right? Well, they're gone.
Trust me when I tell you that I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Year Ago Today...

Anthony and Karrlea, Redondo Beach, 2006
Today is the day, a year ago, I watched my love of 23 years slip away from me. Our last words to each other were ones we’d said hundreds of times – I told him “Remember who loves you the most.” and he responded “You.” Then they administered the anesthesia and the last sound I heard him make on his own was when they put the ventilator tube in. That was not the last sound I wanted to hear. No one really indicated to me that it would be.

I spent the day prior to his last day with him...trying to understand why he was the way he was. Why was he breathing like that? Why was he hallucinating? What was going on? No one ever told me he was dying. He got worse and worse as the day progressed. It was SO hot that day, and there were thunderstorms all over the place. The power in the hospital went out momentarily, and the a/c never did come back on. I was trying to take care of him, along with the nurses. It was SO hot in that place! They kept telling me I was doing a great job and asking why didn’t I ever become a nurse...I couldn’t do what I did that day for anyone else - but I felt like no matter what I did, it wasn’t making anything better. He was getting worse. They transferred him to ICU late that night, intubated him at 12:30 on the morning of the 16th. He died at 7:23 that evening.

I wasn’t there when he died. I was on my way to pick up my mom at the airport. Several of his friends offered to do that for me, but for some reason, I felt like I needed to be the one to go. I feel like he actually may have waited for me to leave so he could do his thing on his own. He never liked to see me cry...and I know he wouldn’t have wanted me to see him go. I said my goodbyes before I left – I knew he wouldn’t last until I got back – kissed him on the forehead, and left. I was on the 405 about 15 minutes from the airport and stuck in traffic when I got the call from the nurse. She told me that she and another nurse were there holding his hand when he finally went. Of course it should have been me holding his hand when he drew his last breath. That's surely the one thing that will bother me for a long, long time. It should have been me.

When I picked up my mom, she hugged me, and we went and ate dinner. And then Anthony’s nurse called and asked me if I wanted to come to the hospital to say my last goodbyes. I didn’t know what to do. I thought I had done that already... So I thought it over and called the nurse back a few minutes later and told him I’d be there. I was not prepared for what I saw. It truly wasn’t him anymore. He was profoundly gone. The man who was so full of life, had so many stories, and was my best friend...he was just...gone. So I was left wondering – did he know he wasn’t going to be coming home when he went to the hospital on July 4th? Maybe. Did he know he was living his last day on the 15th? Probably. Did I? No. Would I have believed it if someone told me? Maybe. 

During that last day, most of his friends showed up to say their goodbyes. One stayed with me until I left to go to the airport. One gave him the Last Rites. I kept talking to him, telling him how much I loved him and would miss him – the nurses kept telling me that people can hear when they’re in that state. But again, his eyes never opened, he never spoke to me again. I put my hand on his chest just to feel his heart beat. Now, when I think of him and it’s quiet, I put my hand on my chest to feel my heart beat...and it makes me somehow feel closer to him.

So if you read this today, and you’re coming up on 7:23, California time, stop for a second, and send a happy thought his way. He’s in Mammoth now...with Rudy...his favorite little dude, in his favorite place. 

I love and miss you, Anthony... Remember who loves you the most.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Life as It Looks Now...

Well, I didn't lie when I told you I'd be sporadic at best. Sorry for the long delay. It's been a busy couple of months!!!
I'm waxing a tad nostalgic as we creep up on the 1-year anniversary of Anthony's death. What an amazing year of change. Not all of it good, obv, but most of it's been ok.

Let's see if I can catch you up a little.
She died a Texan.
Simple update on Mooch...she did not end up living much past my last post. Poor thing. She was failing so badly that I had to put her down on the 5th. That was not easy. First time I've had to do that. It sucked just as much as I figured it would, but once it was done, I knew it was the right decision. She was so sick. I had no other choice but to send her off to be with her dad and brother. I hope they're all together and hanging out like they used to.

Now...on to other, more pleasant items.

The house closed on the 23rd, and on the 24th we had the guys come and "trim" the trees. OMG. What an amazing difference.
Clearly it was something that needed done!! Kind of like a teenager who has let his hair grow too long, and then his dad hauls him into a barber. My tree was bashin' up my neighbor's roof, so I made a friend by having that done. Right after that was all done, Mom's friend, Dianne and her husband Ken helped Mom and I move all my crap from her house to my house. We picked a day that was hotter than the surface of the sun itself and rainforest-humid. If I had that to look forward to that again, at this point, I'd sell all my crap. I don't know how we managed. So yeah, it was me, 2 69 year olds...and I don't know how old Dianne is, but seriously, I felt terrible having them all out there totin' that barge and liftin' that bale. But...we got it all done, and that's what they set out to make sure happened. And I couldn't have done it without them!!

So, let's see...another big accomplishment of late was that Mom and I tore out the deck off of my back porch. When I got here in April, we walked around the house, and there was a DEFINITE smell of skunk in the back yard. Well, it was no secret that the skunk was under this little raised deck. We didn't just tear out the deck because of the smell, it was a crap deck anyhow. But...I'd have torn it out because of the smell alone. It reeked so badly...I can't even describe the bad. So, Mom and I put on our steely resolve and some work gloves and went to work.
As it was when I moved in.
Offending Skunk.
So we gotterdone. Let me tell you a little about the Offending Skunk. I only took a pic of the tail, as I figured no one wants to see a dead, mostly decomposed skunk. I know I didn't. I could have lived my ENTIRE life without having to deal with that. Mom did the big job of shoveling it up and I was the designated bag-holder. She got it into the bag...and that's when I started having issues. I went to tie up the bag, and the smell wafted up...I thought I was going to pass out. I gagged and gagged...I'm surprised the neighbors didn't think Mom was choking me. Mom didn't laugh really hard until after we were done - I appreciate that. Because she did. Laugh HARD. And that'll be a story that gets told and told and told again.

So, aside from that, and a snake in my garage, the only other thing I've had to contend with is bartending school!!! Yep, this whole Chapter Two thing is for real. I decided that having an actual trade would be a good thing, so I signed up. Two week course, and now I'm a card-carrying TABC certified bartender. Now I gotta get a job. And no, I won't be flipping the bottles around like Tom Cruise any time soon.

Right. Well, with that, I'll let you absorb my last couple months...I actually do look for comments/ don't be afraid. Join up. I'm fascinating. Just ask anyone.

Take care!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Here I am!

Cousin Robyn.
Hey y'all! Well, I made it to Texas. Big thanks to my cousin, Robyn, who flew all the way to California to get into a Jeep Wrangler and drive halfway back across the country with me. I couldn't have done it without her. We showed up at Mom's lookin' for all the world like the Clampetts, except that Ellie Mae and Granny would have been my other dog and cat. We found out along the way that there is NOTHING between Phoenix and El Paso, and even less between El Paso and San Antonio. Epic amounts of nothing. We stayed overnight in Deming, New Mexico. Had to actually go to Walmart at 12:30 the night we got there so I could fashion a litter box out of an aluminum baking tin and cat litter. Mooch appreciated it. I think I was propositioned in Walmart. I don't think the guy had all his teeth, but he did help me find the baking tin. (I did not take him up on the proposition, but he did manage to let me know that he snores, and that when people say someone "sleeps like a rock" that pumice is, in fact, a rock, and it floats. I'll let you ponder that one.)
Cortney and I after signing my paperwork.
In other news, I ended up getting the house I was trying for!! I close on the 23rd of May, so I have another move in my future. This is a good one...only 2 blocks. All my stuff made it from California - just fine, so far as I can tell. I haven't unpacked a box yet, but my curio cabinet that has 3 glass sides is here and all in one piece. The garage is stacked high and tight here at Mom's, and I can't find anything to wear, so we had to make a run to Old Navy to pick up a pair of pants and a couple tops. I labeled my boxes on 3 sides AND the top, and the movers managed to put the ONE unlabeled side out. Keepin' things interesting, I guess.

A very cool thing about living here is that there are LOTS of farmers markets. I've eaten more veggies in the last couple weeks than I likely have in the last year. And they're GOOD! You know, tomatoes actually HAVE a flavor! Who knew? Grocery store maters are so meh when you compare them to "real" ones. And we've had a bucketload of green beans, too. Other cool things include the pair of little cardinals flitting around in the front yard - a male and a female. They mate for life, so it looked like they were just out for a little morning neighborhood fly-around before heading back to the nest to get warm. Yeah, to get's cold here! Well, at least today it is. It's been fairly hot and humid, which is the norm. I don't know how long it's going to take me to get used to that. Trust me, I'll keep you posted on how the summer goes.

The one thing that's been not so great - Mooch isn't doing too well. She's an old gal, and Mom and I are now giving her subcutaneous fluids once a day because she's so dehydrated. Thank goodness Mom was in nursing school at one time. I'm such a chicken-shit that I had a rough time stickin' Mooch with the needle. I'm a good assistant, though. I don't think Mooch has a whole lot longer with us, but she made the trip, which was really all I required of her. I'll let you know how it goes with her.

Ok, that's about all I have time for now...gotta go and vacuum up the kitty litter that Mooch has tracked through Mom's bathroom - Mom's not used to the beach in her bathroom, for some reason.

Y'all come back now, y'hear?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

So much to remember!

Anthony and I, 2007

I suppose I should maybe start this by introducing myself. My name is Sue, as you may have surmised by seeing my bio. I am a 46-year-old widow. My husband was much older than I am, and it wasn't really an issue until he died way before I was ready for him to (as if I'd have ever BEEN ready). He was an avid skier, snappy dresser, one of the smartest people I know and the love of my life. At least the love of Part Un of my life.

We have a great little furry family - Mooch, our 16+ year old cat; Sticks, our 15+ year old Chihuahua and Bones, who is probably around 3 or 4. 3 1/2 months prior to my husband dying, we lost our little dude, Rudy. He was a special boy...and by that, I do mean short-bus special, as well as being the sweetest little guy you ever met. He had a seizure disorder and ended up dying from some type of undetected mass in his stomach. So as you can well imagine, last year was not a fabulous time for me.


In the sort of fuzzy after-ness of Anthony's (and Rudy's) death, I have decided to quit my job of 20 years, pack my stuff and move to San Antonio, Texas. My job was nothing to really speak of...worked for the State of California - and we all know what kind of mess this state is in. I wasn't so much a a legal "assistant" or "secretary" as I was a "paper shuffler". It didn't take a whole lot in the way of mental exercise. I worked with some good people - and some kooks - even one mass rapist/murderer (no, really...)...and it's likely I'll miss most of them.

So now I'm facing a houseload of furniture and belongings that need to be sorted, purged, sold,'s a lot to do alone. I have to remember to make all my doctor appointments, dentist appointments, schedule the movers, call the vet, get the Jeep checked for the road trip...I don't know how the heck people do it. I guess after 23 years of being with someone and working as a team (him carrying the lion's share in the memory department), I'm just not used to being the only one having to remember stuff. All this job-quitting, dog-caring, packing-the-house, appointment-setting is getting pretty tedious. I carry a calendar and a notebook with me at all times...and even that doesn't always help. Even when I'm firing on all cylinders, my memory isn't that great! I'll have to do a crossword or some Sudoku to handle some point...when I have some free time. Whenever that might be.

In the midst of it all, my "check engine" light came on in the Jeep (turned out to be nothing important), and last night it was broken into. My memory probably played a part in that also, since I think I forgot to lock the back end of the Jeep, giving the swine an all-access pass to whatever they wanted. Fortunately, all they ended up taking was a GPS that was in the center console, however, they did bust up my glove box - and there wasn't even anything IN there. So now I have to remember to get THAT fixed. It could have been worse...there was a car down the street that was stolen. And my neighbor just called and told me HER truck was broken into also. I use the term "broken into" in both cases loosely, since we both inadvertently left doors unlocked.

Anyhow, there it is for now...I'm not sure at all what to tell you to expect with this blog. I'm going to take this opportunity to thank my friend and co-worker, Eugene, for his endless, tireless, constant haranguing encouragement to get one of these suckers started. That way you know who to blame if it all goes awry.

Cheers for now-