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Travel for Less

Weather Report

It’s spring in Montana. That means it’s sometimes winter, and sometimes summer and generally something bouncing between the two.

I was at work, and saw something floating past the window. At first I didn’t think much about it. This time of year there might be cottonwood fluff, or apple blossom petals, or any manner of natural air pollution. My co-worker happened to be looking at the weather forecast on her phone, and said it was supposed to get cold enough to snow tomorrow. For a minute I thought the snow had already come. Nope. It was just fluff.

All my trees have leaved out. It’s very pretty. You should see the gorgeous bumper crop of dandelions in my yard! They’re all white and… fluffy.

I better sneak out next time i go somewhere. The neighbors might shoot me on sight considering the condition of my lawn on comparison to their own.

The problem is that I had made an agreement with my son for him to take care of the yard in exchange for a rent break. He’s proving about as reliable now as he was as a teenager. Frankly, I’m ready to cut him loose. At least then I can hire a real lawn care company that will actually do the work when they say they will. It might be cheaper.

As to the hip recovery, it’s coming along well. I still get the occasional twinge, and have some problems sitting at a right angle for very long, but otherwise I’m very happy with it. Now it’s just a matter of getting back on the exercise program.

So, how’s your weather?


Full Hip Replacement – Week 2

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The medical team that did my hip replacement worked very hard to educate me. They sent me to a class where the specific techniques used by my surgeon were discussed. They made me surf into an interactive web site about anesthesia and standard procedures for a hip replacement. I had meetings with the surgeon, his Physician’s Attendant, and the hospital’s pre-op staff. They sent me home with a loose leaf binder full of print outs. I have no idea how a ton of little details slipped past me, but they did.

Before the operation I went through the pages and pages of educational material. I did just what those who know me would expect. I set up a spreadsheet.

In the spreadsheet I listed all the hip precautions and how long each was expected to be in force, what equipment I would need and for how long, what medicine I would be expected to take and for how long, what exercises, what appointment schedule, etc. All with extra notes in additional columns.

So how come I came out of it not knowing when I could roll over in bed? Stupid hip precautions.

In case you haven’t had to go through this, a hip precaution is a position you must never allow your leg to assume. After surgery, every flipping tendon and muscle around the hip is going to be ticked off at you. Until they all calm down, they won’t do a good job of holding your leg in correct position.

I didn’t see anywhere that said specifically how long this was going to take. I get the feeling the range is so broad they don’t want to say. At my last doctor’s appointment they said for me it would probably only be six to ten weeks.

I had no idea the backs of my heels would get so sore from laying and sitting around. They said I’d be able to sleep on my side if I put a pillow between my knees, but so far that has been just as uncomfortable as laying on my back.

Most of all, I had no idea that sleep deprivation would be such a demotivational thing. I got myself off the pain meds pretty fast, so I haven’t been as fuzzy headed as I expected, but I just haven’t felt like doing anything. Except for go to the bathroom. That’s like the star event in my life right now. At least it means I’m getting some exercise, even if I slack off on the routines they want me to do.


13 Not Really All That Gruesome Details

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I had a total hip replacement. If you’re squeamish or easily bored by medical talk, then this is a good place to stop reading.

Continue reading 13 Not Really All That Gruesome Details


Christmas in a Box

I keep Christmas in a box. It’s a very large, plastic box with “Christmas” sharpied on the sides. The idea is that when Christmas rolls around I can find all the decorations wrapping, etch that I need in the box.

This year we lost the box.

I’m not sure if it’s still out at the storage unit or buried too deep in the shed for anyone to fine. Regardless, Christmas isn’t available this year.

I’m actually okay with that. I’m not in the mood to deal with the thousand strings of lights, half of which are burned out but might be salvageable or the garlands that are getting a bit ratty, or the ornaments my kids made when they were little. I didn’t work very hard to find Christmas.

We made an emergency run to Walmart. For $30 I got all the lights, garlands, and ornaments I need for our two-dimensional Christmas tree. That was as much as anyone wanted anyway. We set it up today Quick, cheap, easy, and the cats love it.


10 Years

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I missed my ten-year blog anniversary. It came and went last September. I didn’t notice.

A lot has changed in ten years. Back then I lived in a different city, though still Western Montana. My kids were in grade school. My world revolved around parent teacher meetings, cooking, cleaning, and this newfangled thing called the internet.

Avon – the publisher, not the location – held a contest for new authors. I participated in that contest. It is still vivid in my mind. Most of my early posts were about it.

Within a few months I started the serial Suzie’s House. That means I’ve been at it for nearly ten years now. In fact, I’ll be posting another one the day after tomorrow.

Since then I’ve greatly increased the number of times I post about my travels and decreased the amount of writing talk. I totally dropped the recipes and homespun posts. And Jack and Jill died and ignoble death.

I’ve still got my eye on the future, and still intend to blog, though many, many of my blogging buddies have fallen away. Maybe in another ten years I’ll have a blog anniversary that I will remember.


It’s Freezing!


This winter is hitting me harder than most.

It’s not just the extreme swings in temperature. We have gone from highs in the low teens to rain in the last couple of weeks. This is on top of the normal extremes of living out west.

It’s not just that my exercise program has me outside more than before. What’s more, because we only get about nine hours of sunlight a day I tend to find myself out walking in the dark when it’s cold both for lack of sunlight and because my mind insists it’s always colder in the dark.

It’s not just the lack of insulation in our house. We put in insulation where we could reach, by my office is in an area that we couldn’t get to. Where everyone else in the house is reasonably warm, I’m watching a thermometer that liked to hover around 55 deg F.

I like to think a lot of it is that I’ve lost about half of my personal insulation. The heavy sweater I’ve been using as a winter coat for the last several years is no longer miraculously toasty. It flops around loosely and let in freezing breezes. I can’t even fill the space with sweaters, though I’m wearing one on top of another now.

What worries me is that I feel this cold and miserable this early in the season. I’ve got months of this left. Ugh.


Birthday Pie

BirthdayPie The Girl had her 18th birthday this year. This year, when it came time to make the traditional cake, she put her foot down. Although she’s always eaten it, and often complimented it, she says she doesn’t like cake. Well, I’ll admit I’d noticed that everyone in the family prefers the icing, but I never expected anyone to out and out refuse my cake.

I make it from scratch. It tends to be a little too moist and heavy, but I like it that way. So of course I offered to buy a box of cake mix in any flavor she might want, even though I wouldn’t be able to eat any of it if she picked chocolate or strawberry.

Nope. No cake at all. I suppose since she doesn’t like muffins this makes sense. What she wanted was banana pudding pie. So that’s what I made her.

I like to think I am an open minded, generous parent. Apparently this is not so. She was very happy with her birthday pie, and informs me I should have been doing that all along. What’s more, I’ve been overbearing for having forced her to eat cake instead of pie all her life.

How dare I impose a cake tradition on her for all these years. Although she has objected before, I never really took it seriously. But looking back on it, was I imposing my preconceptions on her? Is that a bad thing?


A Random 13

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Just some stuff on my mind.

1. It’s Tax Season. Again. No, really, it’s not too early.

Continue reading A Random 13


Poor Kitty

One of our cats got hit by a car. He’s been known to roam a bit, so we weren’t terribly worried when he didn’t show up for breakfast the first day, but by the second day we were checking with the animal shelters. He’d slipped his collar a few weeks before, but luckily he has one of those chips.

I originally thought the chip would act like a GPS or something; that there’d be a way to locate him the way you could a cell phone. Not so. The chip is scanned by the shelters when a cat is turned in. The shelter then checks the number the chip puts out against a database to find the owner. That’s how the veterinarian found us.

Animal Control had found him in the road and taken him to the veterinarian of their choice. The veterinarian then kept him in a cage, essentially untouched over the weekend. They waited until we came and claimed him, and agreed to pay the thousand dollars it would take to put him together again.

He had both of the bones in his foreleg broken and a smashed in hip. They put pins in the foreleg bones, a plate in for the hip, and completely removed his tail. Now we have to keep him in a cage for six weeks so he doesn’t re-break the vulnerable bones before they get a chance to heel.

The hardest part has been watching how much pain he is in. He has nerve damage in his hind leg, so drags it around when he has to use the cat box. He growls when he has a bowel movement. He bites when we have to move him around. We can’t even comfort him with petting very well because of the inability to move him and the restrictions of the cage.

Worse yet is the fear that he will never fully recover. I’m not at all sure we did him a service in keeping him alive. All I can do is rejoice with each little bit of progress he makes.



I’ve become a NaNo addict.

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every year in November. The idea is to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in one month. This is the third time I’ve done it.

Why? Because of the library.

Yeah, yeah, the library is there all year long. What does it have to do with NaNo? Well, a bunch of us get together in the library to encourage one another to get our words written. I have discovered that I can write much more effectively when I am sitting with other people who are also writing. I focus better, and take it more seriously. I can do as much in two hours as I normally do taking all day.

We meet once a week. I can’t wait until the next one.

The first time I wrote the rough draft of Remember Me. It’s a Suzie’s House book and too deeply entwined with the Suzie’s House story (It’s about Ben’s mother) so that I’ve struggled with the revisions, but I’m hoping to have it come out this coming year. The next NaNo book I wrote was actually two, as Crazy Love only took 40,000 words and I had time left. I went on to Start Beautiful Spanish Hussy, which I haven’t finished yet.

This year it’s a fantasy book about dragons and dire wolves and a girl’s quest to find her father. I’m shooting for 100,000 words, but I’ll count myself a winner if I get the first 50,000 done.

If you’re a novelist, have you ever tried NaNo? How did it work out for you?



I just got two kittens from the animal shelter. Sorry, I haven’t stopped to take pictures yet, but I’ll get to that.

So, I’m wondering…

Costumes? Or not?

Sorry this took so long. We never did get any good lighting with mostly rain, and then when I started to upload the photos, the kids demanded attention. Anyway, here they are. This is Icarus:

And Diana


Whuooohoooo! Leaving the Trailer Court Behind

Continue reading Whuooohoooo! Leaving the Trailer Court Behind


My First Day in the Galapagos

Sorry, no PhotoHunt this week. I just couldn’t get my act together fast enough. Until I get next week’s ready, check out my vacation pictures. Well, some of them anyway. 🙂

We caught a morning flight from Guayaquil, Ecuador, to Baltra.

Continue reading My First Day in the Galapagos


How is it Coming Along?

I missed my intended deadline – to have it completed as of yesterday. Still, I might be able to finish it before this contest is over. I thought I’d let you watch my progress.

As of last night, I’d more or less settled on a final lay out.

I’ve got all the heart flowers pinned and have settled on the top of the ugly flower and the position of the three main elements. I’m still not entirely happy with the roses or the background for the ugly flower, so will probably make some more changes before I stitch them.

Meanwhile I’m waiting for Mr. Al, who works nights, to get up so I can get at my sewing machine.

Rough day. I got two of the central panels done, and changed my mind about the one in the middle. I think you will like the new background much better. I’ll take pictures first thing in the morning so you can see.

By the way, did I mention that this quilt is machine washable? All the material I’m using is good to go. Machine was cold, tumble dry. But don’t do it real often or the stitching will come loose.

I’m sorry the picture to the right is a bit blurry. It’s been a rainy day. Makes it hard to get a good shot. Anyway, I said I’d take one in the morning, and I did. I just didn’t get a chance to post it until now. This is how it looked this morning.

And now here is the central panel now. Wait until tonight when I get the other two panels in. It really does work much better.

The roses were a pain in the patootie. It took me two weeks to make them and four hours to attach them and I won’t tell you how many needles I broke, but my machine is not happy with me. Still, they came out great. If only the picture did them justice. Can’t help the off color. It’s what comes of taking pictures at night.

So far today I’ve gotten the edging cut out, some more seams put in, and a machine fixed. Not as far along as I’d hoped, but still progress.

I was supposed to close down the contest last night, but since I got the dates confused, I’m letting it run until tonight. Hopefully I’ll have the quilt done by then. It will take me a couple of days to tabulate the winner.


The Making of The Quilt

I’m sure this is more than anyone really wants to know, but for those few intrepid souls who are interested:


As you can see, I have plenty of scraps to chose from.

Continue reading The Making of The Quilt