Friday, July 29, 2011

Thing to Do #17: Redo Laundry Room

Redecorating our drab laundry room was way down on the household project list. But one day I found a puddle of water under our washing machine and realized it had a leak. My co-worker told me it was probably a $40 fix - just open it up and replace one inexpensive part. Well, after I failed to figure out how to open up the machine (and after my rocket-science in-laws couldn't figure it out either), David and I decided to just go ahead and buy a new washer and dryer. Stackable ones, to give us more storage space.

While we were at it, I decided we might as well paint the wall behind where the new washer and dryer would be, since this might be the last time we'd ever be able to get back there. And you can't just paint part of one wall (like the previous homeowners had done), so it seemed worth doing them all.

Along that same line of logic, we thought we might as well do the floor as well. A nice blue concrete stain did the trick.

I soon realized that the ceiling also needed new paint. Someone (probably the same person who had done the walls) had once started to paint it a light green, then changed his or her mind and painted the rest a pale yellow, then left random spots of pink.

While I was painting the ceiling, I noticed there was no cover on the light bulb. So I had to get a new globe.

I had never noticed that the trim around the doors and windows had never been painted. And neither had the old ratty-looking shelving unit some unskilled laborer had made. Out came the white paint!

Now I needed to organize the storage areas. So I went to Tuesday Morning and loaded up on pretty baskets. While I was there, I picked up some nice floor mats. And of course, an ironing board cover that matched the baskets.

The window looked drab then. So I borrowed a sewing machine and made a curtain - my first sewing project in at least 18 years. Found some fake lemon trees at a garage sale to dress up the sill.

We've always wanted a utility sink. So we hired a plumber to install one. While he was there, we had him fix the leaking gas line we had been putting off repairing. And oh, cabinets. I decided we needed cabinets.

Seven months (and a big chunk of change) later, we had our newly remodeled laundry room.

Occasionally, I spot a puddle of water under my new washing machine. I just ignore it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mazzy Rose Griner, 1999-2011

In August of 1999, I had just graduated college and started my first job. I was on my own for the first time, and feeling a little lonely. So I went to a pet store to adopt a calico kitten. They had one for sale - and it bit me.

I knew that wasn't the cat for me, and although I'd had my heart set on a calico just like the one I'd had growing up, I moved on to the next cage, where I saw a grey and white kitten, about 6 months old - a little older then I was looking for. Still, I picked her up and held her in my arms. She touched my chin with her little white paw. And that's how I met Mazzy.

Those first few months, it was just me and Mazzy. She slept in my arms every night, and loved having me all to herself. But about six months later, I found a calico kitten to bring home.

Mazzy was not pleased.

Months passed, and I was worried these two cats would never get along, despite Callie's many attempts to win over Mazzy's affection.

Then, one day, I came home and saw this:

From that point on, Mazzy and Callie were the best of friends. Seeing them cuddling together always cheered me up.

Those cats were with me through six moves in three states, tolerated two cross-country road trips, and eventually learned to put up with the addition of a dog.

In 2007, Callie died suddenly of kidney failure. Mazzy was never the same after that. I don't know if it was the loss of Callie, the stress of our adopting a new cat she never learned to like, or just bad luck, but soon after Callie's death Mazzy developed inflamed bowel disease. IBD can't be cured, and I pity the cats, cat owners, and cat owners' belongings (oh, and wallets) who have to live with it. We had to pill Mazzy twice every day for the rest of her life and take her in to the vet a few times a year for treatment. We had to put her (and poor Cleo) on a diet of bland prescription cat food and stop giving her night time treats, something she and Callie always loved.

Finally, about a month ago, I noticed Mazzy seemed to have lost more weight than usual and looked dehydrated. I took her in to the vet to be examined. Blood tests showed that her white blood cells were highly elevated, indicating she had cancer. It is common for cats with IBD to develop cancer, so I wasn't surprised. The doctor said she wouldn't respond to any kind of treatment, so all we could do was make her comfortable.

For the past few weeks we stopped forcing her to take her daily pills, added night time treats back into her routine, and showed her lots of love. She purred a lot and didn't seem to be uncomfortable at all - just really tired.

Mazzy died peacefully in her sleep sometime during the night of June 24 - coincidentally, my father's birthday. She never seemed to be in pain, never lost her appetite or ability to walk. She was happy right up until the end.

We plan to bury her remains right next to Callie, so they can cuddle together forever.

Thing to Do #65: Take Alli to church (or, The Day My Daughter Learned How to Lie)

You may remember a couple of years ago David and I checked out the local Unitarian Church to see if it was one we'd like to attend, especially after we had a child. Well, a year ago next month, we decided to take Allison to church for the first time. And it was the day when my ordinarily honest little angel decided to try lying. Apparently, the Sunday school teacher was the perfect guinea pig for her little experiment.

Lie #1: The teacher asked the children what the nicest thing was that happened to them all day. One little girl shared that her parents took her out to breakfast at a restaurant. Allison, who up to that point had been quiet and pretending to be shy, blurted out that she also had gone out to a restaurant with her parents that morning. Nope. We made blueberry pancakes at home. But I just marked this tall tale up to copy cat syndrome.

Lie #2: I went back up to hear the rest of the service as all the children were settling down at a table to draw a picture of the nicest thing that had happened to them all day. I was looking forward to seeing what Allison had drawn. When I returned to the classroom, I discovered her paper was blank. When I asked her why, she said because the teacher would not give her a marker. Or a crayon. Or even a pencil. What a mean teacher.

Lie #3: The teacher then came up to me and said: "So Allison tells me you're going to her Nonna's birthday party today." The confused look on my face made her follow up with: "So I guess this is news to you?" Yes, considering my mother's birthday is in December, and this was July.

Since then, we've tried taking her back a few times. But it hasn't proven to be a very fruitful experience for her or us. I guess we're just not church-goin folk. At least I can check it off the list as having tried!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thing to Do #30: Fire a gun

This Thing to Do also happened to be a 2009 New Year's Resolution. When, on December 30, 2009, I realized I hadn't done it yet, I asked my father-in-law to take me to the shooting range. Unfortunately, it was closed that day. But he understood how important it was that I check off this resolution, so he took me to a top secret, undisclosed, never-to-be-revealed location to let me fire a gun. Into a lake. (Some people here in Alabama refer to this as "fishing.")

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Thing to Do #82: Build a Snowman

When I created my to-do list, I thought I'd have to wait until my next winter vacation up in Illinois for this one. But in December 2009, Alabama got a snowfall that accumulated a whole few inches! Of course, within a few hours it had melted and our snowman's head fell off. But he had a good life while it lasted.

Allison and I finally had another chance to build a snowman this past Christmas while in Illinois, but she wouldn't let me take any pictures of her that time. Which is a shame, because my mother had an honest-to-goodness corn-cob pipe that we stuck in his mouth.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thing to Do #1: Get eye surgery

When I was 5 years old my parents informed me during dinner that I had to get glasses. I looked around the room and thought: But I can see just fine.

That was the last time I remember seeing with my own eyes. Until now!

With a prescription of -9 on my left eye and -10 on my right, I'd known for years that I didn't qualify for Lasix. I'd have to get the same surgery that my sister had about 10 years ago, ICL, where a lens is implanted in the eye. I also knew that it was two or three times as expensive as Lasix. But I made a deal with my parents: They'd pay half. Great deal - except that it took me about 5 years to raise my half.

Finally, thanks in large part to our 2009 tax return, I had my portion of the cash, so I booked an appointment. Back when my sister had the procedure done, it wasn't FDA approved, so she had to go to Canada to have it done and wait a couple weeks in between eyes. But since then the FDA has blessed it, and I got to have the surgery performed by a doctor whose office is five minutes from my house. And I had both lens implants done on the same day.

I didn't feel nervous even for a second. I was more anxious than anything. There are a LOT of pre-op tests you have to go through, and you have to wear glasses for two full weeks before the surgery. Had I still been wearing hard contact lenses, I'd have had to wear my glasses for three months, so I was grateful I'd moved to soft lenses a few years back. I was told I'd be awake for the procedure, but I was knocked right out. I remember them putting on a clamp, then taking the other off. Simple as that. An hour later, I had better than 20/20 vision.

I've had a few issues since then, and my vision's still not as clear as I'd like it to be, but it will continue to improve. Overall I can't complain. For the first time since I was five I can get out of bed without having to fumble around the bedside table looking for my glasses, knocking over a glass of water in the process.

Oh, and thanks Mom and Dad!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New Blog. New Posts. New Stuff to Do.

It's time for a fresh start.

Almost two years have past since my last blog post (and yes, we finally resolved that pesky cat-in-heat issue). While hectic schedules and plain old-fashioned procrastination are on my mile-long list of excuses for not writing, my main reason has to do with the fact that I used this blog to write about what was going on in my life. Around the time of my last post, what was going on was my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor, to which he lost his battle on June 20, 2009. My father was a private man and one of my most loyal blog followers, so I didn't want him seeing his struggles posted so publicly. I also tried to maintain a brave face during that year he was sick, so I did not want to frighten him by reading about my own fears and emotions. So, I stopped.

Lately I've really missed writing, so I'm ready to come back. And while I may occasionally write a post about my dad, I promise I won't harp on it. Instead, I intend to use this blog as a launching pad for a project inspired by my father's untimely death. A project that's all about remembering to live life every day and to always have goals that you're working toward.

It's called 101 Things To Do in 1,001 Days. The object is to make a list of 101 things you want to do, like New Year's resolutions. But because, really, it's not always possible to get those resolutions done in a single year, you get to work within a more realistic time frame of just under three years. I started the project on August 22, 2009, so my deadline is May 19, 2012.

So far, it's been a lot of fun, and I feel my life is more focused. I encourage everyone to try it. It was tough coming up with 101 different goals (I started to struggle around 50), but that just encourages a little creativity. And for those of you who do not have 1,001 fingers to count, here's a calculator to figure out when your deadline will be.

So here we go. 101 Thing to Do #21: start blogging again regularly.