Friday, August 30, 2013

Aloha Friday!

Despite two nights of really annoying insomnia, untold hours of studying and sitting, and way too much yummy healthy food, I made it through the last day of Pioneer School intact. With the help of lots of caffeine, a whole pack of tissues and my new friends, I not only got through it but learned a lot that will hopefully stick. September - here I come. Oh, one more day of August? In that case, I'm going to sit back, kick up my feet and hang loose until Sunday.

One of these students is sweet, calm and collected and gives wonderfully well thought out answers.
The other one is jacked up on caffeine after two sleepless nights.

We've had a wonderful host crew at the Garfield KH attending to our every need for breakfast, snacks, and lunch for the past two weeks. I'm really going to miss being pampered with coffee and tea, a breakfast bar, fruit and goodies, a hot lunch everyday, and more snacks in the afternoon. How spoiled we were. Today, after lunch and before our afternoon break, the host crew turned the Mediterranean themed decor into a Hawaiian themed one - with grass skirting, leis, coconuts and smoothies. It was a fun surprise and gave us all one more photo op with our new friends.

The Garfield host crew

Jennifer, Jackie and Karen showing our appreciation for their efforts.

Tuffli and Dean - an ice dancing duo?

Ed thanking the instructors on behalf of our class.

Men with gifts.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Polka Dot Thursday!

Our two week long Pioneer School is coming to an end. My brain's fried and my body's tired of sitting for hours and hours a day. My hand is about to fall off from all the note taking. But today was Polka Dot Thursday at the KH on Garfield, and we sure had fun with it.

I had picked out a black and white polka dot dress on Tuesday, and got my usual pick-me-up from wearing it. It's hard to have a bad day when one is wearing spots on one's clothes that are supposed to be there. I thought, wouldn't it be fun if everyone was wearing polka dots? I tossed the idea around, almost all the 39 students got behind it and we set the day for today. Too bad it's the last week, because I'm already thinking up some more themes:

Checks Monday
Plaid Tuesday
Stripes Wednesday
Argyle Thursday
Flowered Friday

Maybe next time!

OK, I should be more mature.
I'm blaming it on Pioneer Polka Dot Peer Pressure.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A poke in the eye with a sharp stick

It's a bit of a mouthful, but when Ernst is trying to make the best of a situation he says "Well, it's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick!" Since most things in life are in fact better than getting your eye stabbed with a sharp object, the saying gets used a lot around here. But lately, we've been feeling a bit jabbed.

A few weeks ago, Ernst was in the pool swimming with the dog. He loves to throw the ball for Molly and then dive in and race her to the steps. It's quite the workout, since Molly wins most of the time. Next thing I knew, Ernst was standing on the back steps, dripping wet, calling for me. "Come look at my eye, I think there's an amoeba in my eye!" I'm betting most people would have just said they had something in their eye, but leave it to Ernst to pin it down to an amoeba. I tried my best to stop laughing and help him, but I must admit I was not taking it very seriously.

He came inside, and I looked for the amoeba but found none. He still saw it, so we examined his eye even closer. We got out a magnifying glass, a flashlight, a magnifying mirror, but there was nothing there. Poor Molly was upset that her swim session ended so abruptly and she was stuck in the pool area, Ernst was upset because something was crawling in his eye, and I was still trying not to laugh. He took a shower and tried to wash off the creature. Amoeba or not, I had to go to work at the bar exam, so I left the two of them to deal with the pool creature.

It didn't go away, so Ernst called the Kaiser advice nurse. "I think there is an amoeba in my eye" is probably not on the list of typical medical calls, so he was advised to see a specialist right away. Our neighbor Steve drove him. "I think there is an amoeba in my eye" was met with extreme skepticism by the eye doctor too. So with more advanced tools than a magnifying glass, he discovered the real problem. Ernst had a retinal vein occlusion. He wasn't seeing a creature in his eye, he was seeing blood and it was moving. That's why it all happened so suddenly and he was sure it came from the pool. This was caused from past damage from when he had out of control high blood pressure. They also discovered two aneurysms in his retina and evidence it had happened before. I heard all this from him while at the bar exam - it wasn't funny anymore.

He had several more appointments which all involved having his eyes dilated. I couldn't bring him to one single appointment because I had commitments I had to keep. Thanks so much for all our friends who drove him to his doctor visits. At first the retinologist offered to take a wait-and-see approach. But when it was evident that it wasn't healing on its own, she suggested laser surgery. While the surgery has risks, the possibility of a blind spot in his vision was better than the possibility of a detached retina. They did it Wednesday afternoon, which again I had to miss because of Pioneer School and yet another friend helped us out with a ride. The procedure was uncomfortable, but trouble-free, and Ernst came home and slept for 14 hours afterwards. Against my strong advice, he went to work the next day with Jeff B driving and then we had dinner Thursday evening with friends from China. I guess all the good vibes from good friends were better than sitting at home worrying, because all seems well. His vision is great.

Trying to look on the bright side of all this:

Happy to have a good (though incredibly expensive) health plan.
Glad there are doctors who decide to specialize in the retina of all things.
Grateful to have friends and neighbors who drop what they are doing to help us out.
Pleased to know my husband doesn't mess around with trying to kill amoebas in his eye at home.
Scared of what other effects from The Big E's past health issues are yet to manifest themselves.
Relieved beyond everything this didn't happen while we were in Romania.

Ernst, what am I going to do with you?

So, what's better than having a laser beam shooting into the body's most sensitive area while being told to sit still and relax, knowing that if it doesn't work there could be blindness in one eye? Many things, one of which is swimming with our dog Molly in an amoeba-free pool.

"Sorry about your eye, Buddy, but I'm still going to beat you to the steps."

Focusing in on other family members:

Around this same time, my sister Joanne called to tell us about her eye. She was doing yard work and (can you see where this is going?) she poked herself. In the eye. With a stick. Not a dull one. After a trip to the ER, some prescription eye drops and a recovery period - she's all better now. No wonder I can't get any shut-eye!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sheep Pops

Eat me, I'm not baaaaaad!

It's Friday night, I have my feet up on the coffee table, my books packed away where I can't see them and my mind set on silent mode. I got through week one of Pioneer School!

How have I survived the week not eating any beef, pork, chicken, eggs, butter, milk or wheat? Salads - the trick has been giant salads for both lunch and dessert. I must say, they didn't make it easy to say no.

There were gorgeous cakes...

... innocent looking mini cupcakes...

...really big, in your face chocolate cakes...

...and the cutest sheep-themed cake pops ever!
I stuck to the veggies, fruit and salads. Poor, poor me.

Plant Powered Pioneers
Besides making me look like a shrimp, which by the way is also not on my diet, my partner in eating is Jackie. I about screamed when I walked into class the first day and saw her there. We are on the RBC drink crew together. She is one of the most amazing young women I have ever met.

She survived leukemia when she was 17, fought Stanford Hospital as a minor over her medical decisions, went through traditional and alternative treatments and came out alive and happy. She and her whole family are now strict vegans. She's a hero in my book, not because of what she went through, but because of the attitude she came out of it with. She is so excited to reach 30 in a few years because there was a time she thought she might not.

Jackie and I are the salad queens of the school. But for next week? Less food period - I'm about to pop!

Jerry and I were in the 2005 class together!

My buddy Laura, we arrive together each morning and she's always on time.

From the Romanian Congregation
Jesse - Igor - Alex
Sheep Mom - Laura - Rafaela - Irina

Monday, August 19, 2013

A cabin in the woods

What's the next best thing to having a family cabin in the woods? Having friends with a family cabin in the woods. All the fun but with none of the work weekends. This past weekend we were up at Rosie's Place, where the only rule is don't flush the toilet too often. We didn't. We also didn't burn the place down, a key to getting another invitation in the future.

The guys and Ilein played Catan like addicts, Myra, Jamie and I sat around and talked about life, we ate food and drank the product of the vine, swam in the lake, let our hair do what it wanted and slept just enough to play more Catan and talk. I found out things about myself that are important to know:

  • I am really happy when there is no full length mirror around.
  • I have no desire to eat bacon. None.
  • Pliny the Elder is wasted on me. 
  • I have a strong desire to eat potato chips. Strong.
  • Swimming with ducks in a mountain lake is extremely cool.
  • Good friends are worth keeping.
  • Good friends with family cabins are worth bribing with Pliny the Elder to ensure future cabin trips.

Molly couldn't come because...

...she would have viewed the bunny under the deck as the appetizer...

...and Murray the Boxer as the main event.
(Not shown, Murray's people Eric and Jamie)
Oops, he's a Boston Terrier!

It takes 1 mini van to get 4 adults away for 2 nights.

Adrian and Ilein

Jeff and Myra

Four Elders
Adrian, Ernst, Jeff and Pliny

Thursday, August 15, 2013

all stacked up

A pile of things is never good unless it's money or already-made dinners in the freezer. Whether it's piles of laundry or dishes, stacks of bills or towers of ironing - usually when something is higher than normal - it means someone is ready to not have fun. This August is stacking up to be a busy one.

Didn't I JUST dust in July?

Didn't we JUST update territories?
 Reading Romanian notes in Cyrillic text slows things down a bit.

Will someone please write and say they owe US some money?

If I keep dying my grey roots, why won't the grey DIE?

Ants in summer for no reason are just WRONG.
Take this back to your leader and share.

Need to order the "We DO have a plan" sign for the front yard.
And then come up with the plan.

It would be grand to get the Fall Leaves quilt cut out and finished.
BEFORE Winter comes.

My Summer reading hit the doldrums.
It will be speeding up BIG time next week.

I can at LEAST take the territory updates off the list.
For now.

You have to make a mess to make it better.
If ONLY I could train the ants to update territories.