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Are we having fun yet?

Friday, April 5th, 2013

I’m still feeling sluggish and useless after yesterday’s “adventure in medical science”, and am banned from continuing any of my physical therapy exercises (here at home or at the clinic) for my dislocated shoulder for a week. . . . feeling bummed out!  Despite my overly- extensive experience with medical tests/procedures/surgeries, the  “adventure” (an ultrasound-guided needle biopsy of my liver) was more of a challenge than I had expected!  There were all of the usual pre-test rules and regulations, of course:

1) Nothing to eat or drink after midnight. 2) Do not take any medication on the morning of the procedure. 3) Arrive at the hospital at 7 am. . . . . although the test is scheduled for whatever o’clock.. . . .in my case, 9:30am.

Complying with rule #1 is usually quite simple. . . go to sleep before midnight!  I tried – I honestly did try – but sleep apparently wasn’t on the menu!  Coping with rule #2 is, I suspect, a somewhat thorny issue for nearly everyone “of a certain age”; if you’re not on blood-pressure meds (I’m not) or heart meds (I am), than you are probably on some form of pain medication (yes, between my RA and the afore-mentioned shoulder damage). If you happen to live anywhere in the great state of Texas, (especially in spring) you are probably miserable without your allergy meds, too! (Yep!)  Rule #3 probably isn’t a huge issue for some (or most?); in many cases, it allows one to leave the house later than usual because the hospital is closer than the office. In my case, it required ending my quest for sleep at 5 am to shake off the morning RA stiffness and engage Tom’s help in getting dressed and taming my hair ( because my left arm isn’t very useful at this time, donning a t-shirt is an acrobatic feat and the “simple” tasks of tying shoes and gathering my long hair into a barrette are impossible).

I realized that rescheduling this test (it was originally on the calendar for the day after my less-than-elegant battle with gravity at our son’s new house) before my shoulder had ‘fully healed’ was going to make the morning more difficult, but I want the results of the test sooner rather than ‘whenever’. I knew that getting out of my street clothes & into the ever-horrible hospital gown, trying to get positioned not-so-comfortably on the gurney, pulling my left arm forward with my right hand for blood tests and such was going to add a new dimension to “business as usual” –  but somehow forgot that I would be doing all of this without any of my pain meds – Duh!  Normally, the 7 – 9:30 am paperwork, weigh-in (they weren’t happy that I’ve dropped to 97 lbs., but then neither am I!), undressing and waiting on the gurney would have been the same-old-same old, but there was very little which was routine or comfortable this time!

Murphy’s Law showed up, too; sometimes my veins act up and it’s difficult to get an IV started, and yesterday was one of those days. It took two rather painful attempts in my right arm and an uncomfortable success in my left arm! “Can you turn your arm over more for me?” “Uh, no, I can’t.”  The biopsy itself wasn’t a picnic, but it wasn’t terrible. . . . except that I had to stay very still with my left shoulder and the IV line both yelling at me!

The doctor’s announced plan was “We’ll do the biopsy here” (X marks the spot, between two ribs) “and then have you roll into whatever position for several minutes to minimize the chance of bleeding.”  Um, what?  I called and ascertained that no rolling to either side would be necessary before rescheduling this test, because I Can’t!  Change of plan, more ultasound readings (and more ink on my torso); the X was relocated to just below my sternum and the needle with the local anesthetic was slowly and gently inserted. Obviously, it went only as far into my body as was  needful, but I began to suspect that his target was my spine! The problem with local anesthetic is that you are not numb when that needle is inserted!

Then came three long hours of lying flat on my back, not moving, to lessen the chance of internal bleeding. Ugh!  Tom brought me home at 2 pm. I had (over-optimistically, as usual) planned a short nap and some time in my studio just playing with ideas. . . .  I was so wiped out that I wasted the rest of the day alternately trying to read (couldn’t concentrate) and staring at the ceiling (it needs painting)!

I’m not allowed to lift anything heavier than our smallest cat (Noel) or do any strenuous exercises (there goes my PT) for the next five days. Right now, I’m trying to talk myself into going upstairs to my studio to see if I can accomplish something. . . .Anything!  Since the “exercise” involved in trying to catch up on e-mail is wearing me out, that feat seems somewhat doubtful.  Guess I’ll just lay here and watch the action at our backyard bird feeders!

Sorry about the whining – I know a lot of you have much more serious things going on in your lives right now.  Hugs and positive thoughts to everybody!


Christy  =^o^=

Taps & Tears – Ambushed

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

I attended a funeral yesterday. I had only met the deceased once, and briefly at that; I was there to comfort and support his widow. She is one of the strongest, most caring and gracious ladies I have ever been priviledged to know. I expected the service to be somber, of course; I even expected to tear up a bit if I saw my sad and courageous friend cry. It was a truly lovely and loving memorial service. . . . and I had forgotten one salient fact: her husband had been an officer in the US Navy before his retirement and new civilian career brought the two of them to San Antonio. Military honors were due and rendered, the US flag was reverently presented to his widow, and a lone bugle began to play Taps!
I lost it – utterly and completely, diving for tissues lost it! I was about 5 years old when Taps was played for my paternal grandfather, 23 years old when Taps sounded over my brother’s grave, older when the honor was rendered for my wonderful Dad. When I hear it, the tears come swift and strong and leave me shaken. . .even a day later.

May God bless Bob B. and guide his grieving wife to peace – I’m going to go hide for awhile.

Horses, Oh My! – Part 2 (45th Anniversary)

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Leaning to let "Texas" drink

 Note – I’m not slumped in the saddle; Texas needed a drink!  Look at my right hand, and you can (barely) see that I was using an extremely short rein.


It doesn’t seem possible to me that we are are old enough to be celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary, but we are!

My husband, Tom,  gave me a fabulous anniversary present this weekend! Not just a leisurely drive through the beautiful Texas Hill Country (still lush and green despite the ongoing drought)  and some shopping/browsing. Not just dinner-for-two and a relaxed over-night stay at an inn in historic Kerrville, TX.  He gave me the fulfillment of a long-held wish; to go horse-back riding again after many, many years!

By booking a two-hour trail ride for us at the Silver Spur Ranch ( in Bandera, Texas (through  the quiet meadows and often rough, rocky and  challenging terrain of the Hill Country State Natural Area,  he also showed his faith in me.  He showed me that he believed in my ability to still control a powerful  (and somewhat opinionated) 1,200 and “see the course through”.  He gave me much more than he planned; he gave me back my confidence in that ability and allowed me to prove that this was something 30+ years of severe Rheumatoid Arthritis had not taken away from me!  Sure, I walked rather oddly for a few minutes after dismounting, but so did he >grin<!

We arrived at the ranch promptly at 9am (slowing several times on the ranch road to allow an abundance of cottontails and jackrabbits to zip across)  to fill out the required health disclosures and liability waivers. “What is your riding skill level?”  I started to check ‘Experienced’ and thought,”Um, Chris, that was 45-46 years ago! ” Settled for ‘Advanced Beginner’.  “Any medical conditions which could affect your ability to complete the ride?”  Well Yes, actually several, but none I was going to let stop me from trying!  Check mark on the “No”!  After we took a short detour through the small but well-stocked gift shop (and I found a t-shirt I wanted to purchase after the trail ride ), we made our way down to the corral for a short riding ettiquette briefing (while we watched geese,  burros and a ranch dog amble through the corral and out the open gate), and then our wrangler (also a Tom) began matching up horses to riders.  (The ranch has a herd of  30 well-trained horses, and the wranglers take the matching-process seriously.)

Approximately 45 seconds before I climbed up to the mounting dock (much appreciated, as I estimate my horse was somewhere near 15.2 hands tall), my legs suddenly went sliff and very uncooperative!    I suspect that rather small portion of my brain which is reasonable and sensible surfaced long enough to scream “What on earth do you think you’re doing?” Note:  When stiff-legged, it is a bit of a challenge to act nonchalant while slipping an orthopedic shoe into the left  stirrup and attempting to sling your right leg over the horse and saddle. . . never mind capturing the right stirrup before you suffer the indignity of having the wrangler stroll over and shove your right shoe into it!  (No, he didn’t – I accomplished the “feat” on my own 😉

Others were still being matched to their mounts, so I manuvered “Texas” out of the way. He seemed interested in what I assumed was a  feed box mounted on a nearby rail, so I indulged him.  However, he wasn’t after food, he was after mischief; when he grabbed a piece of tack (a bridle)  out of the box and cheerfully flung it several feet away, we had our first discussion about appropriate behavior!  He wasn’t pleased to have his playtime interrupted, but I won the debate.

Tom was matched with “Winchester”, another sleek and handsome mount.  We soon learned that he should have been named either “Pistol” or “Glutton” – more about that later!  The wrangler lined us up. . . . youngest rider directly behind him, a couple of ranch guests, Tom on Winchester and myself bringing up the rear; it seems Texas doesn’t like anyone coming up too close behind him.  The Appaloosa directly in front of Tom’s mount had the same dislike (LOL!)

During the short portion of our ride which took us off of the Silver Spur Ranch and onto the Hill Country State Natural Area, I had my horse figured as a “plug” and assumed I would spend the entire two hours trying to urge him to keep up with the pack ~ I was wrong.  As soon as we entered the Park,  he decided we were too far from the group and should shorten the distance . . .quickly!  Well, alright then – this might be more than a slow walk through a very scenic portion of the Hill Country after all!  That is also when I realized I could indulge in a small “experiment”  (exactly the sort of behavior Tom meant to curtail by booking a trail ride -LOL!)  I held Texas to a slow walk, waited for a suitable gap to occur between myself and Tom’s horse, then kicked Texas into a canter and snuck in a short burst of speed before I had to rein him in to avoid a collision with Tom’s Winchester. It took a fair amount of “kicking” to get Texas moving, but I soon realized that a quick  flick of the reins brought immediate results.

That tactic worked rather well throughout the ride, but Winchester made the ‘stolen thrill moments’ a bit dicey.  Winchester began to display his belief that the entire ride was actually a “salad bar” set out just for his personal enjoyment!  He would drop his head and stop suddenly to munch on any inviting tufts of grass.  Horses have very strong necks  (and Winchester had a strong will) — – -once his head was down, even Tom standing in his stirrups and hauling back on the reins would not stop “Win” until he had a suitable mouthful!  (Tom’s left hand and his shoulders are sore now, and will be more so tomorrow!)  Once in awhile, Winchester would stop for another snack just as I put Texas at a canter, requiring me to pull back on the reins rather firmly, too! Hehe.

Some of the ride was uphill or down over loose, slippery shale and sharp rocks.  I am convinced that the wranglers use an alternate route if there is a rank beginner in the group, as those areas required a mix of 90% trusting the horse to pick the best route and 10% “No Way, Jose.  We’re going to try over here!”  Those areas also reminded me that it is difficult to use the reins for guidance while leaning back (or far forward)  in the saddle to maintain one’s  balance!  Those who know me (and my “luck”)  well will understand that those were also the ones I was most likely to tumble off into:)

Tom’s mount got skittish when we were stopped for a moment and there was a bit of noise under a nearby bush.  He handled Winchester beautifully, but it he was busy getting his horse under control. Busy, while Texas decided to rear, twist to the right and try to run in another direction!  Our wrangler (and half of the group) were out of sight, around a stand of trees, so my loud “Whoa!” as I tried to control Texas was their only cue there might be a problem.  It is amazing how fast long-unused instincts kick in!  Before Texas’ front hooves touched the ground,  I was reining him sharply to the left and trying to stop his ‘flight’. . . . and it worked!  Somehow, digging my feet hard into the stirrups and leaning kept me firmly in the saddle, while I had no time to think about either.  (Yes, I am feeling a bit smug about that.)  He only tried one other “You’re not the boss” move during the ride, and coping with that one on my own felt great, too!

Being a State Naatural Area, the trails aren’t cleared of small bushes, encroaching trees, big rocks, etc. – they’re left, well, natural.  That is why wranglers wear chaps (leather leggings) and long-sleeved shirts, even in the summer heat.  That’s why Tom and I wore long-sleeved shirts and our battered old Stetsons.  We did a bit of ducking, leaning and putting our heads down so that our hats took the brunt of passing leaves and branches. We also forced a few course corrections when we could see the vegetation our mounts were planning to haul us through. . . .except there wasn’t always a handy alternative 🙂  Winchester dragged Tom’s upper arm against a solid branch, so he had a bloody mark on his sleeve when we returned to the ranch;  I was too busy fending off tree branches to my left to notice  the one to my right. . . . it knicked a tiny hole in my elbow and then caught in the lace insert on the front of my blouse and ripped a good sized hole open. Until we got to a clearing, I didn’t know what sort of a “wardrobe malfunction” had occured!  The tear was low on the front portion of the blouse, so I didn’t have to borrow Tom’s shirt for modesty’s sake.  (I did buy that shirt I wanted, though, as my right sleeve was rather blood-soaked  by the time we returned to the ranch!)  As I texted our kids when we got back to our car, “Safe, sound & exhilerated, with just the right number of scrapes and bruises – LOL!”

All in all, a wonderful weekend!  Thank you and Happy 45th Anniversary, Tom



Three Strikes and . . . . .?

Friday, July 20th, 2012

I may need a padded cell – very, very soon!

My miniaturing woes started on Tuesday, July 17th. I had finished the interior (papering the walls, ceilings and floors) of a wonderful 1/144th scale bookcase kit by Ann Vanture ( . If you have looked at her site, it is the McLoughlin Bros. Book-of-the-Month Dollhouse Bookcase. Although the inside is meant to hold her wonderful books, the interior is fully finished as a three-story dollhouse. The exterior is a gorgeous, crystal clear print of a house with wrap-around porch and balconies ~ the shading and detail are so well done that it truly looks 3-dimensional ! (Can you tell I love this kit? LOL!) Well – it was late in the evening (apparently way too late), but I carefully aligned and glued the front facade print onto the bookcase and placed weights on it to ward off wrinkles and bubbles while it dried. Then I actually left it alone, instead of trying to rush the drying process and mucking up everything! (There is a good reason why many miniaturists sign  their messages with “Waiting for the glue to dry”!)

Wednesday, July 18th. . . . went through the now-traditional, post-surgical morning bickering with my intestinal tract, watered all of the drought-stressed outdoor plants and then rushed to my studio to glue the sides and top/bottom flaps into place. Picked it up, flipped it over to admire the inside, and. . . . . yep – I had glued the façade on Upside-Down!! Major upset! I managed to remove the print and sand off the remaining paper & glue   residue and sent a panicked e-mail to Sooooo, Smaller Scales Project #4 is now carefully boxed and set aside, awaiting the replacement print from Ann (which she is providing at no charge other than postage).

Rooting around in my bins, I found “Dolly & Her Trunk” (my mystery kit) , which includes one photo and absolutely no other information.  Yikes!  Not only are the parts list and directions totally missing, but no maker’s name or contact information is contained in the kit!  I sent the cover photo to all of my on-line miniatures groups to see if anyone recognizes it; meanwhile, Smaller Scales  Project  #5  is set aside, waiting for possible help of any sort.

 Thursday, July 19th. . . . Returning to my stash, I pulled out Smaller Scales Project # 6 – The 1996 version of Braxton Payne’s quarter-scale “Cruise Ship Stateroom”.  It is still available from him (,and hopefully the modern kits include a  photograph of the completed vignette,  as well as a thorough set of instructions !  Some Internet searching   produced a couple of  rather small photos; I am working from them and a very sketchy, abbreviated set of destructions.   (There are several small bags of tiny parts, each bag carefully numbered. Wonderful, but those numbers do not appear anywhere in the instructions!) This evening, while cutting a replacement  back wall  (a piece which went missing from my kit), I failed to notice the small piece of clear plastic with the printed portholes which was lurking underneath the piece of cardboard I was cutting!  I didn’t cut clear through the plastic, but there is a quite unseaworthy line scored  across one porthole.  I’ve been muddling through on instinct and the somewhat helpful photos. . . . .so far, so good.  Right now, I’m “waiting for glue (and paint) to dry”.  Still,  I am beginning to believe Fate is strongly suggesting that I stick to 1/12th scale!

Happy miniature adventures, everyone!



“Pixie Dust”, Studio Time & Horses, Oh My!

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Big Grin – If my poor neglected blog had any readers, that title might catch their attention! LOL!

Somehow, there truly does seem to be “pixie dust” or some other magic element in the air!  I place in evidence the quarter-scale (1/4″ = 1′) New Orleans/French Quarter Balcony Vignette  at right; a kit created by Braxton Payne which had been languishing in my “Smaller Scales” storage bin for ages.  My RA damaged hands usually confine me to  larger (one-twelfth scale) projects, where 1″ = 1′; even then, some of the pieces are quite small and have a frustrating habit of  launching out of my tweezers into thin air! This was completed on July 5th, 2012 and is now on display. . . . . Finally!  Actually, it is my  third small-scale success within the past 30 days; the only plausible explanation is that I have lost my few remaining marbles!


Tiny Paper Village

This paper village is one of the projects I packed in my ” recovery busy box”  just before my surgery on March 29th. Please don’t ask me how I planned to get all of the tiny pieces cut,  assembled and mounted on the base while confined to bed ~ I obviously wasn’t thinking too clearly!  However, when I began to feel better (and mobile enough to venture upstairs to my studio/disaster area), I determined that A) It is ridiculously small, and 2) It was going to be completed somehow.  Not sure of the scale, but the US dime at the right of the village will give you an idea of just how nutty I am 😀   Work was started on this in mid-June and finished in early July 2012.  This was adventure #1. (Yes, the church bell tower is leaning rather precariously, isn’t it?!)





After completing the village, I took a deep breath and delved deeper into the Smaller Scales bin and unearthed  this 144th” scale Japanese Tea House. It is a beautifully compiled kit by Susan Karatjas    Most of the components are 1/16th” or 1/32nd”  stock. . .if they are pinched too firmly with tweezers, they either  snap in two or disappear entirely! There are several flaws in the construction of my Tea House, but I am quite proud of it. Completed July 2nd, 2012.


The mysterious powers of pixie dust still seem to be active; my current project is an English Span Green House (kit by  The scale? Quarter-scale, again! The structure has been fully glazed(“glassed”) and constructed, but I won’t post pictures until it is properly landscaped and the plant trays have seedlings in them. BTW – the small plant trays measure 5/16″ x 1/4″ and the large plant trays measure 1/2′ x 3/8″ !

Horses? Oh, yes, I did mention horses, didn’t I? In my preteen and teen years, I loved horseback riding. At every opportunity, I would exercise a friend’s horse or resort to a young rent-a-horse with some spunk still left in it. Young and still feeling invulnerable, I rode alone, jumped fences (sometimes clearing the fence while the horse stayed behind!), rode full-out when prudence would have suggested a canter, and enjoyed every minute
of it! Marriage, multiple moves, children and careers shifted any indulgence in that pastime into the “Yeah, someday” category. . . . . and then
Rheumatoid Arthritis moved the wish into the category of fond dreams. Or did it? I have wistfully mentioned wanting to ride – – – sometimes (as a gesture of defiance against the RA, most likely, I have threatened to “go find ahorse to ride”. Well, it’s going to happen!! For our 45th wedding
anniversary, my husband has made reservations for a two-hour trail ride in Bandera, Texas on July 22nd! This is incredibly sweet of him on so many
different levels. He has ridden horses before, but I seriously doubt that he misses a repeat of the experience. He knows he’s going to be sore as hell
afterwards. He also knows that this is probably the most foolish activity I could undertake and that every part of my body will  extract a fee afterwards (making me rather poor company for awhile) . . . but he knows how much I want to try! Oh wow!

A Tuscan View

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Class taught by Vikki MeekerA few days ago, several members of the Inching Along Club of San Antonio, TX were privileged to have artisan Vikki Meeker as our instructor for a one-day class. I am still in the early stages of recovering from my recent gastrointestinal surgery, but so very glad I hauled myself out of bed for this!

The theme was “A Tuscan Still Life” (my finished vignette is pictured here), and we had a wonderful time creating our project and learning new techniques under Vikki’s helpful guidance!  She showed us how to build the shadow box and bench seat and create an aged-plaster look to the interior surfaces.  Then we made our choices of drapery material and color of velvet, labeled  and placed our wine bottles, and arranged our fruit & cheese platters. We antiqued our frames, and one of the  prints Vikki provided for the frame looked very much like a photo my husband took while he was traveling through Europe!  I added a turned malachite candle stick (created by Gerda van Dijk) with a real wax candle and a rather battered/well used pitcher to my vignette. Great fun – thank you again, Vikki!

P.S.  Comments welcome – I don’t think anyone is reading!

Speaking at various Arthritis Association? Cool!

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Could be!  The Cimzia seems to be preventing new joint & organ damage. After almost two weeks sick with an upper respiratory infection complicated by COPD, I bounced back 4 days ago and have been powering through errands, garden care and miniature projects.  I’m still at 99 lbs., but that’s well up from the 93 lbs. that I dropped to, and my Rheumatologist is quite pleased with everything.  He asked if I would be willing to speak at various functions about the importance of persevering, the importance of pushing through pain to remain mobile and maintain dexterity despite RA .  I could really, really enjoy this!

Happy 4th of July Weekend!

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

This year (after an embarrassing number of years of planning, collecting and creating stock), I am proudly displaying “1776 – Fireworks Stand and Americana Souvenirs”.

I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday:)

My "1776" Fireworks standAmericana Souvenirs

Americana Souvenirs

Osama Bin Laden

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Osama Bin Laden is dead and his body is in the hands of US officials!!!!!!!

They Faxed What To You?!

Friday, April 1st, 2011


This could be a funny entry, but I think I have lost my sense of medical humor after many years of erroneously trusting doctors staff to use old-fashioned common sense, basic powers of deduction and/or simple reasoning skills. Yes, I know. Trust me, I know it’s a silly (and sometimes dangerous) assumption; I just continue to expect intelligent file handling and proper sharing of the correct information when my physician refers me to another specialist! To be fair, most of the staff get it right most of the time, but??????

At my last appointment with my RA doc (the follow-up appointment which had originally been scheduled for November 2010 and cancelled/rescheduled so often that it took place March 29, 2011!), the in-house lab did an extensive panel of blood tests. Several hours later, one of the nurses called to explain that some of the results were back – my ALP (Alkaline Phosphatase) was sky-high & Doctor W wanted me to see a Gastroenterologist soon. (Hmmm – same story about 12 months ago.)

I’ve put off contacting the Gastro’s office as I am still fighting a nasty bout of IBS. (Actually, I am betting that is why the lab work came back wonky.) Someone at Dr. W’s office sent my lab results and contact info to the Gastro; his nurse called me today to set up an appointment. A hint of puzzlement in her voice tipped me off – – – -something wasn’t adding up for her. Not sure why, but I asked “What is the date on the lab-work you are referencing?” “Uh, erm, it seems to be July of 2010!” No wonder she was confused!

I immediately called Dr. W’s office, went through the customary dance with the automated phone service and managed to snag a real, live person. (Pressing “0” sometimes over-rides the system and lets you contact a person instead of a “leave a message, we’ll get back to you” recording.) As briefly as possible, I explained that someone at their office had contacted Dr. G’s office and supplied them with July 2010 lab results instead of the relevant March 2011 lab results! I expected some embarrassment and an apology – what I received was a blithe explanation along the lines of “Oh yes, that happens often. The lab results do not reach a patients file for a couple of days ~ if our staff contacts another physician right after we’ve seen you here, the current results aren’t available to them yet.” OK. . . .so this seems to be common knowledge throughout the practice? With that in mind, it doesn’t occur to the staff to seek out up-to-date lab results before contacting another physician? Groan! Somebody, anybody, please tell me this sort of error doesn’t occur with predictable regularity with this clinic!!! (Except, obviously, it does!)