Thursday, February 08, 2024

Post-Op Day 1

Lightly snowing
Well that didn't go like I had hoped it would! It has been a lot more painful than I was anticipating, and I can't find a comfortable position to either sit, stand or lie down. I am, however, a good patient for once, and am staying on top of the pain meds to keep ahead of the pain. Pain meds in this case are big-ass doses of Ibuprofen, and teeny, tiny doses of Oxycodone. But the surgery went well, and my "angry" little gallbladder (honest to Pete, that's the word the surgeon used to describe it) is out and gone. I was going to post a picture of the gall bladder since I got one as a souvenir, but decided the snowy day would be more reader friendly.

I didn't realize going in that I was having what was considered two separate procedures--an endoscopy of my stomach and upper intestine, and a cholecystectomy--so I was in and under a lot longer than I thought I would be. Went in at 8:15 and didn't leave till about 3:30. 

Today it is lightly snowing, and I am in a cozy robe with no plans to do anything but laze around, sleep, read, work on my cross stitch or afghan projects, and watch Only Murders in the Building with J. It feels really good to be able to just relax and not fret about how far behind I'm getting on things. I'm retired! There is no behind!

Next up? A visit to the pancreatic specialist for a sepated cyst >2.5 cm on my pancreas! Joy of joys. An aging body is really a pain in the... well, everywhere.

Sunday, February 04, 2024

Some of Us Know What to Do with Our Sundays

Rémy knows what to do on Sunday
It's Sunday and it's snowing. We got an inch or so last night, and i's still coming down in dainty little flakes. The weather poses a bit of a conundrum for me because what I need to do today is go to the other Polson house and load up my tool storage from there (one of those big rolling drawer-thingies from Home Depot that comes in two pieces) to bring it here. I'll probably have to unload it to move it, and I need to wrestle it into the back of the pickup... in the snow... with the pickup bed already full of snow. Well not really full of snow, but enough snow to be a hassle. 

Then when I get it here I have to put it in the garage, but there isn't room for it in the garage because I still have all the boxes of tools from the Austin move to put away in the other new tool drawer-thingie from Harbor Freight--as well as all the 50-lb boxes of glass frit. that are going into the glass shed (I would say glass studio, but it's not a studio--it really is a shed). I can't put the tools away till I have both drawer-thingies set up in the garage so I can decide what to put where. 

In order to get the boxes of frit out of the garage, I need to have the wall storage and attached work table installed so I have somewhere to unpack and put the frit as I move it. I also need to unload the sheet glass from the crates, and reload it back into them after they have been set up vertically--and I need the attached storage pieces to be in place before I set up the freestanding ones like the crates. All the attaching requires tools. the tools are difficult to access because they are mostly still packed. They are packed until I have storage for them.

The above-mentioned chicken and egg scenario is common in most of the home projects I am working through right now. And everything but everything is compounded by the fact that it is snowing today--and I don't want to muck around in it, and I am having gall bladder removal surgery Wednesday and won't be able to lift more than 20 lbs for a month after it. I have two days left where I can lift sh*t, and it's snowing!

Screw it. I am retired. I don't HAVE deadlines anymore. I'll do it after the snow is done, and I can lift again. Today I'll putter in the office/sewing room and finish setting it up. No, I'll leave that till tomorrow. Today I'll just listen to an audiobook while I cross stitch, drink hot tea, and watch the snow fall. (Yes, I said cross stitch... Welcome to the madness.)

Friday, February 02, 2024

Self-Cleaning Cat Boxes

The Cat Link
There are many things I could post about today from the advanced state of the sewing room, to the settling into a bit of a routine, to the great progress on in-progress craft projects, but the thing that is most pressing on my brain is how the hell to get the cats to use the litter boxes. Three floors in this house. Three litter boxers--one per floor--for their highnesses' convenience. Yet cleaning up messes is a daily struggle.

I even upped my cat maintenance game this year and got two fancy schmancy self-cleaning ones--one is a Cat Link and the other a Popur. (Jessie still has a plain vanilla you-gotta-scoop-it one in her bathroom on the ground floor. )When we got the first one--the Cat Link--Kaiju and Pavlova seemed to take to it right away. Pippen, however, seemed too big to get into it comfortably, and I didn't think he was using it. He is over 21 lbs of round orange tabby, and the opening is kind of small and spaceship-capsule-like. 

The Popur
So for the next one I got a Popur which is supposed to be for big cats, and is more open on the top. Pippen used it fine, but it scared the crap out of Kaiju and now he won't use it. The Cat Link both looks like a space capsule, and when it cleans it also revolves like one. The Popur, on the other hand, does this alien-from-space movement and rears up making a big hood when it self-cleans. I think the motion--combined with the not insignificant noise--is what scared Kaiju off. He is at least somewhat considerate, and mostly pees in my shower instead of on the carpet or in one of our chairs, but this is not the outcome I was hoping for.

Yesterday I threw in the towel and put a big corner litter box in our bathroom, and that seems to have pleased both Pippen and Kaiju. I am less pleased as I have to get down on my hands and knees to get to it to clean it. 

Meanwhile I don't know what Pavlova thinks about the new cat boxes, but I know she is all in favor of spraying on any cardboard box left on the floor. And if she does it, the boys have to follow--including Rémy who isn't even a cat. The solution for that one doesn't seem to be catbox-adjacent, and requires me to finish unpacking and get all the cardboard boxes recycled.

The moral of the story? No more cats. I am too old for this sh*t.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Throwing the Dice

Looking up at our house from our mailbox
A year ago, a friend introduced me to a wonderful thing she was doing called WIPGO. It was a sort of work-in-progress bingo on a Facebook group of the same name. The idea was to take a whiteboard, draw out the squares of a bingo card on it, number them, and then fill them with the names of projects that you had in flight and needed to finish. I was very enthusiastic and took a chalk board, drew up the card, and started putting in all of my unfinished projects (I alluded to some of them in yesterday's post). There were too many for the card, so I doubled up on the little ones. There were still too many, but I figured that that's what 2024 would be for! Anyhoo, each month the moderator of the FB group called out two numbers, and the goal was to work on the projects in the corresponding squares for a certain number of hours each week for the month. There was also a prize for completing a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line. 

It was already March when I found out about the group, and even last year was too crazy for me to follow a plan, so the board languished. Last week I hung it in the sewing room and erased all of the projects. I would like to start it up again, but as I haven't even found all of my handwork WIP's--much less unpacked them, and my life is too too fluid and unsettled right now anyway, so I regretfully decided not to do it this year. 

(Side note: I also decided not to get chicks, plant a garden, or keep bees this year. Those are next year's projects. Instead I am going to concentrate on cleaning up the tackroom/horse shelter/corral area, moving Turi (my Appaloosa/quarter horse gelding) here, and getting him a herd mate or two. Equine management for the first time in my life is going to be intense enough.) 

Though I am not going to do the formal WIPGO, this morning I had a glimmer of an idea about integrating the randomness of it into building a retirement structure AND getting sh*t done! A big part of the difficulty in retirement is the lack of structure in your time--the days are all the same, and hours mostly don't have any significance either. When I was "working", my schedule was determined by outside forces--meetings, deadlines and commitments, what to leave in, what to leave out (extra bonus nachos if you catch the reference in that last bit). I don't think I'm unusual in rebelling against forcing a structure upon myself just to have one. I want one that's productive, satisfying, and fun. I don't want to go to the gym everyday at 10:00. I have NEVER wanted to go to the gym everyday at 10:00, and I resist the idea that that is the kind of schedule I need now. 

So back to using the idea of WIP bingo and daily life... a routine is already organically forming a bit in my days. I start the morning with coffee, sometimes in bed. I do a little admin work (email, schedule contractors, research things I need to know like how to manually open the garage door when there doesn't seem to be a pull cord--stuff like that). Then I blog and do a little housework--in either order. Then I have a couple of hours before lunch to work on a project. That's where the randomness of a WIP--like-thing can come in. I have a list of about six household unpacking and organization projects that I need to complete. I have been struggling getting traction on them. Let's be honest--I've been struggling getting started on them. I'd rather whine about it here on the blog. But no more! Today I am going to write six imminent projects on my whiteboard. There are more than six, but I will just pick six. I will assign a number to each. Then each day I will either pick one (if I have a strong preference), or I will roll a die, and then I will spend two hours working on the project that came up on the roll. Heck, I might even add something in like "take a long walk with the dog". 

The projects will stay on the board until completed, and as soon as they are completed, they will be replaced so there is always something next to each number. Six is an excellent number as it means there is one day a week with no scheduled task (days that I have other things on the schedule count for the project that day), and I think I'll stretch and say I can take the day off any day I want--it doesn't have to be a specific day of the week.

I was going to continue with the afternoon and evening schedule, but this post is already long, and I am itching to make my new WIP dice board.

Monday, January 29, 2024

I'm Projecting Projects

quilting cotton quarters and halves
The sun is shining and I am ready to Project, Project, Project! That is project, the noun: "an individual or collaborative enterprise that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim", and not project, the verb:  "plan (a project or undertaking)." (from Oxford Language). Unfortunately my definition of project the noun is rarely "carefully planned", and due to my short attention span is often not completed. I go hard for a few days, maybe an intense week, and then--just as I approach the finish line--another shiny object/project pops up and I go haring off after it. Sigh.

I need to finish Dave's bison coat by putting on the closures--though it is now way too warm for him to wear. The sewing part of the sewing room is finished, now I need to unpack the office part, but there isn't any more room, and I don't want to...

Thread--regular, serger, embroidery
I have been itching to start unpacking and putting away the tools in the garage. The glass shed needs to be set up (shelving and work surface installed, and all frit and glass unpacked), and I haven't finished unpacking the basement yet. I got as far as books on shelves, a loveseat in front of the fireplace, and games in the games cabinet, and then I petered out. 

I still haven't fixed the broken leg of the games table so it is upside down in the middle of the rec room, and the live-edge desk I was making for Austin doesn't fit anywhere and is taking up the space where the loveseat needs to go. Never mind that little room down there that will be the jewelry studio: it's inundated with all the yarn and fiber that didn't go into the attic--including the Ikea cloth cubes (all 50 of them) that go into the two Kallax wall units that are still at our other Polson house because they don't fit anywhere in the new one! I need a fiber barn to get that all sorted out. 

Shirt and clothing fabric
Over the past few days I folded and organized every piece of fabric I have. I found five of Dave's shirts in progress and mostly sewn, and four more cut out and ready to sew. I also tidily arranged fabric for another 177 shirts. I didn't even count all the quarter and halves of quilting fabric. A friend's dress surfaced (I am replacing a zipper on it for her), as did the partially-pieced Crown Royal quilt that I am making for another friend. Oh, and the infamous sunbonnet girls quilt that I started with my grandmother over 50 years ago... I think that one wins for the oldest in-progress project. I'm actually kind of glad that I haven't started organizing the yarn cubes yet as they contain many, many in-progress sweaters--including five baby ones that I started and didn't complete for Jessie--now 22.

But that's what retirement is for, right? Completion of old projects and starting all the ones I squirreled away for this very day. But there are baby chicks coming to Murdoch's soon (they have the enclosure set up in the middle of the store), and I don't have a chicken coop yet. It's about time to start seeds for the garden, and I haven't cleaned out the greenhouse yet. How do I choose what to do, and how do I motivate myself to finish what I've already started?

Good thing I put up a whiteboard and bought some new dry erase markers. Think I'll go noodle a bit on my board and calendar.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Yurts and Composting Toilets

Me: Don't throw away the cover on the beef rendang leftovers. It looks like this (holding up a waxed cloth). Just rinse it in cool water and put it back in this box. 

Dave: Where did you get those, I have never seen them before, what are they?

Me: Covers to use on leftovers instead of aluminum foil.

Dave: Are they better than aluminum foil?

Me: Yes.

Dave: How?

Me: They don't go into a landfill.

A short time later...

Me: What do you think of composting toilets?

Dave: I think we've already done our part with the waxed thingies.

Now, me, I am all into the idea of a composting toilet. Especially one like the HomeBioGas one that you don't have to empty. It makes cooking gas and garden fertilizer as it's output. Our toilets are working fine in the house, and I am not trying to reinvent the wheel. But we are going to be needing guest quarters asap for the flood of people who are going to flock to here in the summer. I am thinking a composting toilet in a yurt. We already have electricity and water to the site, and it is a quick, inexpensive (relatively) solution. Build a deck, get some basic furniture, do a little electrical, do a little plumbing (no septic), get a few appliances, and voilà! Guest quarters! 

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Last Best Place? Hell Yeah!

Moon setting in the west
Yesterday I took a lot of pictures of the progress on the sewing room to post today, but life had other plans. Dave alerted me to the view on the western side of the house this morning as he was getting ready to take the garbage down to the bear-proof can (writing those words never gets old), and to get us a latte and croffles from Bayside Riser. I looked out just in time to see the full moon setting in the west, golden from the sun rising in the east. The view to the east didn't disappoint either--mist rising over the National Wildlife Refuge and the mountains limned by the rising sun. I ask you, how often is something so spectacular that the first word that comes to your mind to describe it is limned? 

Later, as I was sitting here posting, I looked out to the north to see that we are above the clouds and can see to Glacier Park. A few minutes later when I looked again, the light had completely changed and presented me with a different, perfect vista.

Sunrise over the mist
I need to say that while it is relatively easy to take digital photos and enhance, pop, boost, and nudge them to perfection, each of these photos are untouched. I didn't even adjust the contrast or brightness--just cropped a bit.

In between the beauty of the moonset and sitting down to post, my spouse next alerted me to the lack of Internet. Oh the joys of a new house! The Starlink router was not even showing up so I figured it was something to do with the power. Sure enough, all the outlets in the garage and the light above the sink were out. Checked the breakers, nothing flipped. Looked for an obvious GFI circuit in the garage, couldn't find it. Texted the previous owner, he couldn't remember off the top of his head where the master GFI controlling the garage circuits was either. The garage is still so stuffed with everything from the move--and a bunch of random empty cardboard boxes destined for recycling--that I couldn't begin to find all the outlets. That's okay. I had a long, industrial extension cord and power strip, and just plugged the Starlink router and the freezer (with all the beef in it) into it. It's not a perfect solution, but, hey, these are primitive pioneer conditions.

The photos below are the ones I mentioned earlier to the north and Glacier, taken about 10 minutes apart.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Retirerment One Year In

Sunrise lights the clouds in the north
I play a lot of solitaire. I'm just putting that out there.

Dave has been suggesting recently--some days more forcefully than others--that I need to learn how to retire. This morning--as I am up, showered, dressed, teeth-brushed, and coffee finished- all by 7:45 am, and I have nothing planned for the day--I can see his point. This is the first day this year--and in this house for that matter--that I have been up before 8:00 without needing to be. Maybe before 8:30 or 9:00. Let's be honest: I rarely bestir myself till about 9:45. Oh, I'm awake: I check text messages, maybe read the news, my email, or whatever book I'm in the midst of,  play solitaire, and snuggle under the down comforter till the sun is well and truly up. Many mornings Dave brings me coffee in bed. Today I was restless. I was awake, and I got up, but there was no bounce in my bungee. I loaded the dishwasher as my coffee brewed, and saw a life full of repetitive daily tasks stretching ahead of me as far as I could see. This can't be what retirement is meant to be.

I had coffee with a friend in Missoula who is also retired the other week, and he said it's important to take it slow. Unfortunately, I have never done slow well. So far retirement has meant... Huh. I can't even remember what I did for the first few months. I know that when we made the annual migration to Montana in June, I threw myself into home renovation projects (for a home we are no longer keeping), then got mired in the idea of buying a greenhouse/nursery business, then we decided to move here permanently, and I headed back to Texas to pack and ready that house for sale. Getting everything out of that house took five months--and is arguably still not done. But what is left there is Not My Problem. (except for a last little load in the garage). The estate sale person is donating the rest. Anyway, before I knew it, it was the winter holidays, and there is no such thing as a normal life at that time of year for anyone so I didn't even think about retirement.

But now it's mid January. I got through the first half of the month working on Dave's coat, but it's mostly done now (he wears it every time he goes out), and I am left facing Life again. Don't get me wrong--this is not a poor-poor-pitiful-me-my-life-is-so-hard-because-all-I-have-is-free-time rant. I think a lot of people go through an episode of life-re-evaluation in January (hence the prevalence of resolutions and new gym memberships). I also think it's more difficult for the newly-ish retired. I am just trying to work through it out loud here. 

I need structure, but it's difficult coming up with an enjoyable structure. And what's the point of a structure that's NOT enjoyable? Retirement is supposed to be one's Golden Years. Shangri-La. The pot of time at the end of the rainbow. It's NOT supposed to be more time for housework or all the other drudgery that you got to put off before because you were working. 

Balance. That's what I need. Balance between the want-to's and the have-to's. When you are working, the have-to structure is imposed upon you by your job and then by your home and family--unless your home and family is your job, in which case you already had to struggle through the balance issue. It's easy to do a few hours a week on your non-job-how-to's, and then take the rest of your free time for your want-to's. You can justify it.

My problem thus far has been justifying my time choices to myself since I'm no longer "working". I find myself cleaning, or doing bookkeeping, or unpacking, and none of those things make we want to bounce out of bed and start my day. I feel guilty if I don't do something with my time that I feel advances the quality of our life here (cleaning... bookkeeping... unpacking). But that's MY problem. That's all in MY mind--Dave is certainly not pushing me that way.

Let's look at this a different way. My "job" now is to do all the things I planned to do when I finally had time--sewing, weaving, spinning, woodworking, stained glass, ceramics, jewelry, crocheting, knitting, writing a novel, blogging, learning new skills, gardening, equine husbandry, baking, meditating, walking, strength and balance exercises. Those things need to occupy the majority of my day. Then cleaning, bookkeeping, and organizing can fill in around them like they have always filled in around my "job". No guilt. Life is too short--and feeling shorter every day.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Whiteouts and Taxes

It's a whiteout!
I can tell it's getting warmer out as we are back in the white again. I can't say grey because it's a lovely snow color, but you can't see through it. I'm guessing it's humidity, but what do I know? Yesterday saw the driveway plowed. Our guy came up with a bobcat and cleared it, and said it was way more snow than he had seen anywhere else. Anyway, no more Polson drift (like Tokyo drift only slower). 

Yesterday Dave finished setting up the last bits and bobs in his office--including mounting the last bit of whiteboard, and it is now complete. The copper still is not in operation, but I have hope. 

I worked on my sewing room. It's going to be tight, but everything will fit, and I will have a cozy nest when I am done. For the first time in 15 years I will have a comfy chair in a studio space so I can just hang out there. When we were in Missoula last month I got a lovely water color floral-print chair in pastels on cream, and as soon as I find the shade for my stained glass floor lamp, I'll  be set. It's amazing how many things are still unaccounted for in the move. There must be big boxes tucked somewhere that I we haven't run across yet. Maybe the garage. Finding it will be a project for another day, however. 

Today is all about the taxes--both income and property. I have never done income taxes so early. We don't even have half of the official forms in the mail yet, but in this digital age everything is available online. TurboTax (my new best friend) just pulls it all out of the ether for me and Bob's your uncle! 

His favorite place to sleep
As fast as I am going on taxes, everything else moves very slowly here. I got a call from the hospital this morning that the insurance company approved my MRI, but they can't do it till next Wednesday morning even though it's marked stat because they only do them on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays and are all booked this week. Small town rural hospital life. They are going to try to move someone else and get me in, or I'm first on the cancellation list. I am tentatively supposed to have surgery next Thursday, but the MRI needs to be factored into the surgery. Ah, well. Everything will unravel as it is meant to.

In the meantime I will keep tackling one inside space at a time and then move out to the garage and the glass shed. By the time spring rolls around I want to have all my studio spaces set up and ready to go--wood shop, glass shed, fiber barn, sewing room, jewelry studio, and pottery under-deck.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

More Travails, and, Yet...

Even the cats hang out on the down comforter
While I was listing out everything that happened last Wednesday (the day Dave hauled me to the hospital to have my gallbladder scanned), I forgot to include all the Austin stressors that probably contributed to the root cause of the attack. The Great White North was not the only area of the country to be struggling with weather last week. Down in Austin it got so cold that the discharge pipe from the RO system on our well froze, and a water pipe to the apartment above the garage burst, spewing all the water in the well tank onto the stairs up to the apartment where it froze into a slippery sheet of ice all down. I found out about it when the realtor called because the cleaning people were at the house to do the deep clean, and there was no water. 

Our wonderful neighbor (who shall remain unnamed because he abhors social media and online presence) turned off the water to the house, replumbed the RO discharge, turned the RO back on, and tested it for us. When it didn't work right he diagnosed the problem (a bad pressure switch), and fixed it! Today he is meeting with our plumber to let him in to fix the pipe. I love him. Were it not for Dave (and his wife)...

I don't know what the status is of the cleaning--which has to be done before the staging, which has to be done before the photography, which has to be done before the house is (finally) listed for sale. But I trust Dina (our realtor) implicitly, and I know she will Handle It.

Today I am waiting for the guy that delivered our firewood to come and plow us out. J went out with  friends last night and had to walk down to the road (about a half mile) in some pretty deep snow so they could pick her up. Even when we're plowed out today I bet her Challenger is sidelined for the rest of the winter. 

My right hand aches as I type from where I either dislocated, sprained, or partially tore the tendon in my right, index, metacarpophalangeal joint a week ago. It is still swollen, and still painful, and a doctor friend who called to chew me out last night for still considering Oaxaca with my gallbladder issues also laid into me about potential permanent damage to that hand if I don't get it looked at by a doctor. When I went to the walk-in clinic, they x-rayed it to see if it was broken or still dislocated, but that was about it. I got a loose, supposedly-finger-immobilizing splint-thing, and no guidance how long to keep it on or if I should follow up with anyone... *sigh* Bodies suck.

And now the yet of this post... In spite of all the work it takes to live here in the snow, maintain my body, and learn how to manage retirement (that's a post for another day), I am happier than I have ever been in my life. There is nothing I can't handle, nothing I won't face, nothing that fills me with dread and makes my stomach tight and achey. Life is just right--and I'm going to keep it that way.