Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Nice Reunion ...

Sunday morning and, by my standards, I completely overslept.  Not that there was an alarm set or that I have any pressing need to be on my way to Melbourne at the crack of dawn or anything.  No, it's just a phenomenon that is peculiar to me...I go to sleep, no matter what time, and I am awake 3-4 hours later.  Not last night.  Last night I went to bed around midnight and I did not awake until 8 AM!  I think that is a testament to the better conditions of this hotel room over the one from Friday night.

Thursday was my final work day in the LOVELY (?) Lake Charles, LA.  I can honestly say, I did not see much of the town.  Most of our traveling around town time was in transit to and from work, hotel and FOOD.  I was so full the whole time I was in that place, I thought I was going to pop!  The final day, six of us went to lunch at Darryl's, the place of the famous "best sandwich," according to my co-workers who had been to this destination on several occasions.  I wish I had been able to carry my camera with me, but it was not possible, so you will just have to trust me that this "1/2 sandwich" I was served was truly enough calories to keep a person going for about a week!  Three or four types of meat, three types of cheeses, brown gravy all over this, and jalapeno mayonnaise topping this cholesterol nightmare served on a huge sturdy bread LOAF.  My co-workers scoffed down a WHOLE one, while I managed to make my way through only half of my half....we all fought the siesta urge the rest of the afternoon.

Friday, 5:30 AM we were on our way to the airport, my co-worker heading back to VA and I heading on to FL for the weekend before our next jaunt starting Monday in FL.  I was not unhappy to leave the very plush hotel in which we stayed, because, lovely as it was, there was an unpleasant smell that permeated the place...sulfur.  I flew to Florida's west coast, away from the Melbourne that will be my ultimate destination, but close to some of my friends from those "Good Ol' Days" of FSU (Go 'Noles!!!)  It had been many years since we'd seen each other, and since rediscovering these folks on Facebook and such, I was determined to touch base with them, if at all possible.
Approaching Landing -- Sarasota, FL
Sarasota from the airplane

Three flights, a rental car, and a few driving faux pas later, I checked into my hotel in Venice, FL, at a little after 6:00 PM. I did NOT let the "Palmetto Bug" aka GIANT ROACH that greeted me, arms and legs flailing as he laid on his back, caught in the sudden sunlight streaming in when I opening the door to my room, dissuade me from proceeding with my plans.


I contacted two of my friends most local to this place and the reunion began.  Friday night was delightful.  I visited Betsy in her beautiful home just minutes drive from that motel, but seemingly in another world.  Absolutely stunning is the only way I can describe the way she and her husband Matt have remodeled their 20 year old home.  I considered requesting they adopt me, but since they have successfully raised two beautiful, talented daughters, one now in law school and the other in medical school, and they are still raising their high school junior, baseball player son, also destined, I have no doubt, for paths similar to his sisters', I thought they probably have their hands sufficiently full!  Bets gave me the tour of their home and we chatted about everything since Smith Hall Days of 1976.  Eventually we went out to eat at a nearby restaurant, where we enjoyed delicious Mexican food and ..... chatted some more about everything since Smith Hall Days of 1976.  Back at their house, we finally wrapped up our Friday Night Trip Down Memory Lane session a little after 11PM and I  headed back to my fine digs with Mr. Palmetto Bug.

I slept with the lights on...ALL of the lights... I figured it was my best defense against sharing my BED with the little creepy crawlers.  Well, I use the word "slept" in its most loose interpretation.  The old song by Simon and Garfunkel kept running through my head as I was trying to talk to Joe on the phone and then to fall asleep...

"Couple in the next room
Bound to win a prize
They've been goin' at it all night long
Well I'm tryin' to get some sleep
But these motel walls are cheap
Lincoln duncan is my name
And here's my song, here's my song "

I dosed off now and then, and kept a watchful eye on the clock that would permit me to rise to start my Saturday.  Finally, the numbers lined up in red against the black plastic and I became vertical, heading in to take my shower.....twenty minutes of wasting perfectly good water, after having to convince myself I COULD actually take a shower in that filthy tub, with some sort of mouse or large insect "droppings" on the soap dish, and with still NO sign of hot water, I conceded to the fact that a shower was not to be.  So I cleaned up as best I could and went out to meet my friend whom I have always simply called, "Teach."

Teach and I ate our reunion breakfast at 8:30 AM in a little place across from the motel, the motel from which I had now checked out, having found better options a couple of miles away.  The food was good, though I doubt we gave it much of a test since we each just ordered plain egg on whole wheat's what we felt like eating.  Teach had brought with him a small package filled with old photos and letters from me to him, sent all those many years ago in the days of snail mail communications. We reminisced over the photos as we ate, and I saved the old letters to read later.

And then Teach and I spent the day meandering around the town and the area surrounding.  It was a delightfully pleasant meandering.  We walked on beaches and we took pictures of seagulls, and of each other taking pictures, and of the kids playing volleyball, etc.  We compared cameras...his a fabulous (aka expensive) model, mine a "I will not spend over $100," model.  As we were returning to the car at Venice Beach, I spied an interesting plant/tree and asked Teach if he knew its name.  He swore he did but claimed the "senior moments" defense.  I completely senior moments started when I was a high school senior, I think.
Teach on Venice Beach

Cute Kid...

Volleyball on Venice Beach
Seagull, giving me "the eye!"
So, because those types of things drive a person insane, we decided to stop in at a Barnes and Noble where Teach was convinced there would be a book on Florida plants immediately accessible.  Just as we hit the parking lot he hollered out, with much enthusiasm, "Sea Grapes!!!"  I had to laugh as I recognized the "Final Answer" for the million dollars had just been remembered.... But then the doubt crept in, so we went into the bookstore to validate the "winner."  And yes, he was correct!

Once in, we were nosing around at the displays and became curious about the "hot" item they are apparently peddling to all these days.  There must be major competition for these electronic book gadgets, but I honestly know nothing about them.  So we carried a sample from the table over to the girl who was waiting to 'splain it to those poor souls, still in the dark ages of book-reading.  Teach says to the girl, "Is this the whole thing?" as he handed her the lightweight item in the box."
"Yes," was her reply.
"How does it work?" asked he.

She carefully extracted the item from it's box and opened it to show these two losers the obvious.

"You slide your nook in here and then close's the cover."'s only the COVER for the thing that costs $199 and then free downloads.....but what is "my nook?"

Yeah, well, you get my point.  The world of technology has determined I will be better off with 10,000 books downloaded to a single unit that I can read wherever, whenever..... but I just don't think this gal is ready for that.  I'll buy the paperbacks when they have the burn sales.

We had a relaxing day, wrapping up with a nice search of the car, the parking location of which neither of us could recall.  We'd stopped at the mall to see about taking in a movie, an idea we ultimately rejected.  Instead we'd enjoyed a soda, a cup of ice cream, my first trip EVER to a Starbucks....and we chatted about those days, then, in between and now.  And...we forgot where we'd parked.

Teach at New Pass
Mural at New Pass
Hotdog and Beer!
Flowers at New Pass

We DID eventually find the car, and by 5:30 PM I had bid goodbye to my friend Teach and was checking into the FABULOUS hotel ... OK, so there is one of these EVERYWHERE, but it is clean and neat, with hot water, no visible bugs and BREAKFAST!!!  After contacting Betsy to line up another evening with her, I jumped in the shower, and immediately felt MUCHO BETTER!

Saturday night was pizza with Bets and Matt, and more chatting about the times we had together and the times we'd experienced since.

Waiting for Pizza!
Bets and Matt, washing hands before eating PIZZA!

Bets, after more than 30 years...still looking GREAT!

We talked of old friends (not that Bets looks old, I might add!) and of children, parents, siblings, houses, name it, we talked about it!  And, as if the conversation were not sufficient, they ordered a pizza (no, not the typical Dominos that I get) and we munched on tasty extra cheese and sauce smothering the mushrooms and pepperoni... When we wrapped up the evening around 10PM, Bets woke Matt from his comfortable snooze in the overstuffed leather chair, asking him to please snap a photo of the two of us.  He happily obliged, and, completely aware there were photos about to be taken, Milo and Miller insisted on being in the frame!  I am holding Miller, and Bets has Milo. (I think)

Me, with my YOUNG friend Betsy!

With that, it was last hugs, promises to get a reunion together with "the others" (Spank, Dots, Norm, et al) and off I went to the MUCHO BETTER hotel.  After a nice long phone conversation with Joe, in which he shared more of the work successes he has had while I am down here playing with old friends, I was ready to sleep.  As I lay my head on the pillow, I remembered the old letters Teach had given me, and I decided that MAYBE I could read one, or two.  I was halfway through the fifth letter before I drifted off.  Funny, as much as I think I remember things of those days, those letters remind me I have forgotten far more than I remember.  They are interesting to read.  I'll save the others for another day, but it was very nice to have those letters as sort of a diary of my 1977-1980 days.

And so I slept.  When I awoke, I was surprised to discover nearly eight hours had elapsed.....

Today I will set out for Melbourne.  I will miss seeing my friend "Spank," as we call her, as she is not in a position to leave town to make the trip up to see me.  Dots, is going to try, but if it is not meant to be, so we will ALL get together soon.  I'll take my time driving over, hopefully getting to my hotel before dark.  I have had a wonderful day and a bit here in Venice! me "the eye" at New Pass

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Telephones, Cameras and Computers

Let's see -- Wednesday just ended here in the central time zone and, though I only left home on Monday, I am feeling as if I am "missing out" on all of the excitement happening around the old farmhouse.  Joe is great about taking pictures ( no, REALLY!) and that, along with the phone conversations and email, helps keep me in the loop, but it isn't the same.

When we spoke yesterday, Joe reported the "good news" and the "bad news."  Now, when I'm there, participating in the adventure, the good and bad are rolled into one and they are just "the experience."  But for the experience to be recounted, it must be separated  into the "highlights" and the "end results."  So, yesterday's good news included the success in knocking down the old farmhouse's original chimney.

Original chimney, from inside the attic
Careful demolition -- bricks to be fed down
the remaining chimney, to contain the damage

Is this scary, or what???

The bad news included the loss of the lovely, 50 year old tongue and groove paneling that covered the wall that had been built to hide the chimney, when it was no longer used.  We'd hoped to retain that lovely paneling for use in the reconstruction, but is was not meant to be.

Beautiful paneling
ruined in demolition process
It seems, also, that our island stove, the beautiful deal we'd scored on Saturday, suffered damage when Joe had the two demolition kids help him move it from the van to the semi trailer for "safe keeping" until the old farmhouse is ready to receive it.  I suppose hiring strong demolition guys to move heavy, precious units, is a bad move...they are used to destroying, which, I might add, they do quite well!  Thankfully, when they "dropped" the unit, it was only the cabinet that took the damage.  We will have to sink more money into restoring the cabinet, but it IS salvageable.

We'll have to repair this end of the cabinet...

Meanwhile, typical "Green Acres" style, our "Mr. Haney" continues to deliver dirt to us, continues to try to sell us all kinds of weird odds and ends he thinks we might need for our projects, and performs minor electrical work for us.
More dirt, please, Mr. Haney!

He is a general contractor and does electricity, but I honestly wonder sometimes whether his is more Mr. Haney from Green Acres, or more Les Nessman from WKRP in Cincinnati!  Pictured here are his fingers, adorned with electric tape "bandaids" from where he cut himself during the job....

Les Nessman?

And... at the Pond house, the riding mower that stopped moving forward, backward or sideways was awaiting the examination by the lawn mower repair guy who sold Joe the box truck on Monday....part of that "deal" was for this guy to pick up the mower and fix it...  He was supposed to complete the pickup on Tuesday, but it ran into Wednesday before he made his way there.  The repair is determined to be a minor one, though not the belt replacement all had suspected.  Still, Joe showed him around the Pond house property and, like everyone else who sees it, the guy fell in love with the pond...another deal was struck and the guy will bring his son there to fish this weekend. (I suggested Joe should have required him to MOW THE LAWN in exchange for the fishing rights! LOL)

Fishing, anyone?

Of course, with my being gone, Joe is having to fend for himself for meals.  He's not a kitchen kinda guy, happy to exist on a loaf of good sourdough bread, and so, it came as no surprise when he admitted Tuesday, that he was eating for the first time that day, and that his "meal" consisted of a 50 cent fruit pie....this at about 7:00 PM.  Hmmmm.... Just as he was sitting down to chat with me on the phone and enjoy his "feast," he announced that a vehicle had pulled up in the drive.  So, exhausted as he was, he got up and went to investigate.   It turns out our neighbors recognized Joe would be in need of decent food, and brought him a care package...their leftover supper from the night before.  AND they invited him for Wednesday night supper!
Neighbor's Leftovers!

So, it goes...the guys finished up the clean up portion of the chimney demolition today, but I don't yet have photos of the "after."  Suffice to say, Joe, after enjoying a REALLY BIG supper with the neighbors, is catching up on some much needed sleep!  Still, the photos he sent last night show the progress.  Tomorrow will be a much lighter day, with only the deck guy, returning to build more walls and such in my eBay trailer, and to add a small landing and steps to access its back door.  Sure wish I were there in the "thick of things" but thank goodness for telephones, cameras and computers!

Removing old bricks for "reuse"

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Grandad, Granther and Black & White Photos

Tonight I was musing through photos...old photos.  My niece had posted some old photos on her Facebook account and I was enjoying looking at the images from years long gone.

Grandad was born in 1904 and lived a long, productive life, passing quietly away one month before his 97th birthday.  I was the last family member to see him alive, and I held his hand as he drifted in and out of sleep.  When he was awake, he was very lucid, and I venture to say, his final thoughts were probably of my nephew and niece, who, at the time, were traveling in Ireland.  Grandad was still that aware of his world and the goings on of those he cared about.

A few years before he passed away, Grandad's second wife, Evy, many years his junior, passed away.  It was the second time Grandad found himself burying a wife, and I felt very sad for him.  He did not, however, feel sorry for himself.  He told me he was confident God put him on this earth, in this place, that he would be able to care for these two women and take care of them in their final hours.  He had fulfilled his word to his wives and to his maker.

His first wife, "Granther," as I knew her, remains in my memory as she appears in this old photo.  She passed away from cancer when I was six years old, when she was 56 years old -- young by today's standards.  My lasting impressions of this gentle, calm, loving woman seems to have made me especially partial to the lovely appearance of  prematurely grayed hair with delightfully youthful skin.  Mom says Granther's hair was "salt and pepper" from the time she was 18 years old.  I only know that this appearance embodies "peaceful" and "comfortable" to me. The photo below, taken in my grandparent's living room, has my Granther (far right) and her sister, also prematurely gray, along with my Grandad and my mother...long before any of my mother's children were even a twinkle in this only child's eye...I don't think Mom was even 16 in this photo.

Left to Right -- Aunt Esther, Grandad, Mom, Granther

If I have any regret besides the obvious loss of my grandmother at such an early age, it is that I did not get to say good bye to her as she was passing.  The others did.  But I was left in the car, sick with strep throat, hurting and stiff from a penicillin shot gone awry, just an hour or so before.  Back then, I recall feeling left out.  Today I feel as if I just never got to say "I love you, Granther" that last time.  Still, I did have that opportunity more than 35 years later when Grandad passed away.

There is something about black and white photography that seems to better capture the feelings of a moment.  Color, in all its beauty and vividness, seems to distract my eyes from those feelings.  For instance, in the photo above, I can see the honesty of the laughter being shared by Aunt Esther, Grandad and Granther, while at the same time see the "putting up with it" in my mother's expression.  Mom looks uncomfortable in her dress and bored out of her skull, but dutifully "participating" in the family gathering.  One day I'll ask Mom how she was feeling at that moment!

The photo below is one I don't ever recall seeing before my niece posted it.  I absolutely love it!  It has become one of my all time favorites.  This photo captures Granther before her hair turned gray and while both of my grandparents were in their youth.  They looks so comfortable together --  not like those stiff photos we all have of our generations-past relatives.  I'm not sure when this was taken, whether they were "courting" or already married, but I am sure they look content!

Comfortable together
Ten years after Granther passed away, Grandad had taken up photography, building himself a darkroom and developing and printing his own work.  We all became his "subjects" and I recall working with him as he explored and explained the techniques of bringing the raw film through the development process, and creating the desired effects in the prints.  My niece also had a shot from those days in her Facebook photo album.

In the photo below, my sister Jeannie and I are posed (against our will, to be sure) with each other, to create the effect of "sisters."  In those days Jeannie and I were NOT close and sitting this close was purely ridiculous... so ridiculous, in fact, we were genuinely LAUGHING at the fake image we were creating for the camera.

Jeannie and Judy

And in this image, in my sister's beautiful face, I see my Granther's smile shining through.  Though I truly did NOT feel toward my sister as this photo would suggest, I find it oddly "truthful," as this IS how I feel about my sister today.  I am thankful to Grandad who knew the importance of preserving memories for future reflection, and delighted to be able to see Granther again, in my sister's smile.

And now, just a little fun with some recent photos, changed, with the help of technology, to Black and White...not the same, but fun, nonetheless!

Judy, Benoit, Jenn and Heather -- Summer 2010

Judy and Joe -- Summer 2010
Sunflowers -- Summer 2010
Garage -- Spring 2010

Apple Blossoms in Fall

I arrived in Lake Charles, LA this afternoon.

Lake Charles, LA Hotel Room

I was supposed to arrive yesterday but due to flight delays, had to return home and try again today.

Dallas, TX

While I was frustrated with the six hours these delays cost me yesterday, I was happy to get another night at the old farmhouse before my travels.  Joe and I took the late afternoon to continue a wonderful weekend, full of really good "deals."

To recap our weekend, Saturday we spent the day completing the leveling of the parking pads upon which, Saturday afternoon, the two new carports were erected.

Skilled workers erect carports in less than three hours!

Carports erected

We wrapped up that operation late afternoon and then headed over to look at an island stove I'd found on Craigslist.  The stove was awesome and the very large cabinet/counter it came in was worth five times what the seller was asking.  New, and without the cabinet, the stove would have cost me $1000, and this one is in very near new condition, with a beautiful custom cabinet.  I did not quibble with the seller's asking price of $100.

Island stove

Of course, Joe, ever in the market for "what ELSE are you selling?" ended up scoring another TON of stuff, including, but not limited to a LARGE bird cage.... for which, together with several sections of vinyl porch railing, several porch posts, several parking cones, a weed eater that looks like a small lawn mower, and other miscellaneous items, he paid an additional $75.

Bird cage, weed eater...more treasures..

When we arrived home with our load on Saturday, I looked up the bird cage to see how well we'd done (I know NOTHING about bird cages)...seems our birdcage is worth over $400 new...and again, this cage is in very close to new condition....will it be blasphemy to use it for chickens????

So, Sunday afternoon, it was with the old beater van we did our dealing. We stopped along the road to look at a box truck being offered for sale. The box truck is an old one, 32 years old, to be precise, but it is in working condition and provides instant, mobile storage...ideal for our operations on the farm.  The guy selling it was not there yesterday, but I put my vote in with Joe and we agreed he'd try to make the deal to purchase it today.

Box Truck...Ancient...but excellent storage!

Meanwhile, the guy next door to where the truck was being sold, was having a yard sale, trying to raise money for his fiancee's medical bills... Me?  I looked at it and saw a bunch of junk.  Joe?  He has an eye for these things.

Junk or Treasures?
He wandered around (we were the only customers this late in the afternoon) and struck up a conversation with the folks.  Before long they had run an extension chord out to the old electric organ for sale and Joe was pleasing the "crowd" with renditions of patriotic tunes!  Did we NEED another organ?  Well, of course not, but, that did not change the fact that, while we arrived at the yard sale with an empty "beater van," we left with a FULL beater van -- including that organ!  (So what else is new?)  I was amazed, as I always am when I shop with Joe, how much "stuff" he can get for such little money.  Sunday's load cost $41 and included TV's, the organ, VHS camcorder, an antique carpet in decent condition, a huge bin of "miscellaneous stuff" and more.  But the REAL find was the guy having the yard sale...turns out he does drywall work....hmmmm another bidder for some of our work!  Well, OK, the bin of miscellaneous items turned out to contain some real treasures too......lots of plumbing, electrical, and carpentry tools and fixtures, as well as half a dozen "collectible" toys....

We returned home with our treasures, and relaxed on the new deck, enjoying the cool evening air.

Deck in Evening

With our BIG van filled on Saturday and our BEATER van filled on Sunday we NEEDED that 14 foot box truck!  And so it was that I left home this morning at 4 AM, leaving the securing of the van to Joe.  Of course, he had other projects to attend to as well, but he was happy to report his success this evening when we chatted.

While I was flying over the US, changing planes in Charlotte, NC and Dallas, TX, Joe was BUSY!  He secured the truck for a "deal" that included the following:

  1. 75% of the seller's asking price
  2. delivery of the truck WITH a pile of lumber from Mr. Yard Sale (an additional $20 for the lumber)
  3. Mr. Box Truck Seller is ALSO picking up my riding mower from the pond house and repairing it
Not a bad negotiator, eh, what?

And, on the way home from his box truck/lawnmower repair negotiations, he stopped to purchase a dozen eggs from a neighboring farm.  While there, he firmed up plans to "harvest" the goat meat from our two goats.  This will be our first foray into the world of livestock raising to put meat on the table, but that's our plan.  The neighboring goat farmer has agreed to come teach us how and also to prepare the meat for us to freeze.  If this works out well, we will likely make the goat purchase, summer brush cutters, fall harvest, an annual process.

Then there was the latest modification to the garage.  Our carpenter guy installed the last of the windows to complete the exterior work of our garage makeover project.  As completed, we erected a 12 X 16 foot deck which doubles as a carport,  and replaced two windows with two doors and five windows.  It has significantly changed the functionality and appearance of the place!  With this last window installed today, Joe had our little carpenter guy bidding on five small projects we have left to complete, hopefully before our California travels in October.

Back of Garage Before Final Window Installation
Final Window Going In
Back of Garage After Final Window Installation
And.... tomorrow the demolition crew will be taking out the original chimney, now non-functional, from the old farmhouse.  The next round of contractors will need it out to proceed with the leveling of the floor, so that will put us one step further on that project... Think Joe is staying busy enough????

Well, he is NEVER too busy to catch a few pictures of the "happenings" around the old farmhouse.  And this evening, when I awoke from my nap in my lovely hotel room, I was greeted with email containing a surprise seems our "sticks," those pieces of branches Joe pruned from the trees of the seller who sold us the tractor, those seemingly dead sticks we put in tubs of nutrient water three weeks ago, not only produced new leaves, which we discovered last week, but are BLOSSOMING!  What a beautiful sight!

Apple Blossoms in Fall

I will have to ask my daughter, the owner/operator of Sugar Magnolias whether she is aware such beautiful growth can come from "sticks."  She uses plants and flowers natural to the local environment to create her designs....  regardless, this has been another fun experiment and I am certain there are plenty more yet to come!

Now, I must turn my attention back to work, as that is the purpose of my being here in Louisiana.  I am going to really miss all of the excitement at home, but I will look forward to my return that much more!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Strobe Voices

"Breathe deeply...chest breathe," she told me as she placed the thingy over my nose.  I was in the "operating" chair at the oral surgeon's office, and the assistant was prepping me for the fun that was soon to erupt.  The Nitrous Oxide was my choice, since Novocaine is not entirely enough to allow me to "not care" when someone is extracting a broken molar from my mouth.  I obeyed and breathed my deepest breaths, and before long my head was dizzy and I noticed changes in my hearing.  I focused on thinking about relaxing things.


Before my lungs were filled with the so called, "laughing gas," I was completely unaware of the background music.  However, it suddenly became foreground music in my altered state of awareness, and Olivia Newton- John was singing her heart out in that unforgettable number from "Grease," "Hopelessly Devoted to You."  Now I was a big fan of "Grease" back in the day, but I never heard it quite like this.  This was akin to watching the strobe light version of an act on stage.  It had those peeks and valleys of sound and really gave the song a strange, twisted sound.

And I noticed I could hear the staff talking in other areas, and chattering about what they'd had for lunch, asking the Doctor what to do with a certain file, and such.  These conversations were also delivered in the "strobe sound" mode.  It was a little weird -- kind of like being able to hear everything that is completely meaningless and the strobe sensation giving odd emphasis to unimportant details.  Still, it was interesting.

Having shared with the doctor my past experience with a tooth extraction (horrible) in which I permanently lost the feeling in my lower left part of my mouth, and sharing with him my historical problems with exogenous sources of epinephrine, I was "numbed up" with a product that did not contain the epinephrine.  The flip side to that, I am told, is that its effect does not last as long, but it is what it is, and we proceeded.

I won't say it was the most painful experience I have certainly was not.  I would hardly call it a walk in the park either.  No, for an hour an a half there was pulling, drilling, cracking and other oral surgeon calisthenics.... until, after one last, "are we doing OK, sweetie," from the assistant, answered by my mumbled lies of assurance, the doctor announced his success.

And the assistant instructed me to, "breathe deeply" to get the oxygen into my lungs.

"I've spent the entire day extracting impacted wisdom teeth and THIS extraction was the most challenging," the doctor told me.

"Weely?" I garbled back.

"Yes, you are a big bone producer (figures!) and the roots were hooked at the end.  All the roots came out successfully until the last one and that one made a hole in your sinus....I packed it with soft gel (whatever that is) so it will promote clotting...."

At this point I am seriously wondering what kind of pain I will endure during the next few days....

"Don't blow your nose for a week, sneeze through your mouth, and if you get a cold, take decongestants...but DON'T blow your nose..."

Geez, this is sounding like a lot of fun already....

"If you blow your nose it can make everything pop out and we will have to go back in there and clean it up..."

Oh, joy!

"I'm giving you a prescription for anti-biotic, because this could end up with a sinus infection...."


"Any questions?"

"Yes, is there any concern with my flying on Sunday?"

"No, that shouldn't be a problem..."

Sure, that's what they ALL say!

So, anyway, the doctor told me I'd been an excellent patient in a very difficult extraction and thanked me.  I thanked him and, after waiting until my head had cleared from the nitrous, I was off to get my prescriptions filled.  I finally arrived back home, fat little cheek, jaw clamped shut over the gauze, with jaw and sinus throbbing, four hours after leaving, pain-free, for my appointment.

I was greeted with a completed new window in the stairwell, and most of the new fruit trees planted.  I helped Joe plant four more trees before it grew too dark to work outside.

I "help" by taking photos.....

I made us a little something to eat (my exciting diet of yogurt and pudding offered very little room for imagination) and we turned our focus to cleaning up the indoor construction mess left behind.  We have another hour or so of work left on that one, so I guess I need to get off my "break" and help Joe with the clean-up!

Trash, trash, everywhere trash