Saturday, November 19, 2011

To Maine and Back Again

It was a week ago tonight that I was writing my last post as I sat in Kevin and Angie's family room and they watched a football game. This week has gone so quickly, since I've been back home.

My Facebook status update after I arrived at Kev and Angie's house on Thursday night:

The enormous full moon sitting on the snow-topped mountains, as I looked in my rear view mirror on the way to the airport was the highlight of the trip. It was downhill from there.
  • discovered that my flight was 8:10, not 8:51, as I was checking in
  • there was no seat assignment for me
  • when I got a seat, it was window - I am only comfortable on the aisle
  • lady in front of me decided to put her seat back in my lap, which doesn't help the claustrophobia
  • my injured foot was killing me by the end of the flight - must have been tied too tight and it swelled
  • just enough time in Detroit to grab a bagel
  • from Detroit to Manchester, NH was on a "mini plane" with mini seats, mini aisles, and a mini rest room
  • driving 2 hours in pouring rain in the dark in unfamiliar territory a bit unnerving (thank the Lord for the person who invented the GPS!)

    SO GLAD to be here - Angie had a lovely pot roast dinner waiting.

    Friday morning, Kevin and I went to a cute little old-fashioned diner for breakfast after Angie went to work. He needed to study for a major test in his statistics class the next day, so I headed over to visit my dear blogging buddy, Groovy. We had a too-short, but sweet, visit, and it ended with an introduction to her newest family members --

    When I got back to Kev's house, I discovered that he had not been studying after all - he'd fallen asleep and had a wonderful long nap (which he must have really needed). So I relaxed all afternoon, reading a good book, while he struggled with studying for his exam. By the sound of his struggling, I was really nervous about how he was going to do. I was praying for him to have peace of mind, and clarity.

    Late in the afternoon, we headed over to Augusta and picked up Angie from work, heading for the annual Teen Challenge Harvest Banquet - which was the great excuse I used for going out for this visit. The banquet is always held in the house that used to be the governor's mansion. It is a lovely place for such an event.

    Kevin was asked to be the first on the program. He was able to give a bit of his testimony, which is always such a thrill for me.

    We met this young man sitting next to Kevin when we were out there in July. He has had his struggles, as all of these young men do during the program, but I have faith that he's going to persevere and make it to the end this time. He's a lot of fun, and he and Kev have a similar sense of humor, which makes them fun to watch in their interactions.

    Kevin and Angie were enjoying their time together.

    There is a young man who is staying at the Teen Challenge house with the guys. He is an amazingly gifted artist with wood. I wish I had taken pictures of some of his things. He set up his wares at the banquet and contributed 20% of his sales to the program. I bought one of the adorable snowmen for my collection. I wish I had his web address so I could send you over there to look at his things. He is so very talented. Unfortunately, the right "arm" broke on the way home, so Dwight is working on getting it fixed. It may involve finding another stick. I was so sad when I opened it after I got home and realized that I hadn't taken sufficient care of it. It's very hard to carry something so fragile and keep it safe on such a long day's trip.

    Saturday we left the house bright and early, because Kev's exam began at 8:30, and the university is in Portland, an hour away from their house. He was a nervous mess. Angie and I went along for the ride, and waited in the car in the parking lot. We had planned to do some running around, but it was a cold, breezy morning and that didn't sound very inviting. He thought the exam would take him 2 hours, but after an hour and a quarter, he kind of bounced out of the building with a smile on his face and a thumbs up - he felt really good about how he'd done. He called today to tell me had scored a 93%!

    We headed for brunch at a little cafe in downtown Portland. It's very popular, and required quite a long wait for a table. But we weren't in any hurry and enjoyed visiting and people watching while we waited. The parking situation was pretty grim, and I was so amused and confused by these signs!

    The time sped by much too quickly, and before long it was Sunday morning and time to re-pack everything so that I could head for the airport in Manchester, NH, right after church and a quick lunch. Kev and Angie are working on getting acquainted and involved at their new church.

    The drive back to the airport was much easier when it was daylight and not raining. I left at noon so that I'd have plenty of time to get the rental car turned in, find my way to my gate, and not be in a rush. It was hard to find good music to accompany my trip, but I did manage to find a Christian station out of North Carolina that played old, old, old music, old, old music, and old music. It was the kind of songs that brought back many good memories - many of the ones that Dwight and I used to sing in church as duets.

    I have to say that the only thing about Maine that I really dislike is the ridiculous abundance of toll booths! They get you coming and going, over and over again. It can add up very quickly. (Of course, I've never been there in the winter, so that might be the other thing I would dislike).

    I had plenty of time before my 4:13 flight, and enjoyed the peacefulness of the small airport - it was amazingly empty that day, and it was so nice compared to most airports. When we boarded the puddle jumper for the first leg of the journey home, I was happy to have a seat to myself - there was only one seat in each row on the left side of the plane, and two on the right. I wondered how this could be balanced! The one and only flight attendant was a guy at least my age, hopefully older, since he looked like he was in his 70s. I remember when I was young and used to think it would be fun and glamorous to be a "stewardess." That was before I realized they were basically waitresses in cramped, uncomfortable conditions, high in the sky. I was too tall in those days. Now you can be old, young, man, woman, tall, short, fat, thin.

    The flight to Newark was uneventful. I must say that the Newark airport is my least favorite ever. This was my second time there, and perhaps my last, if I'm lucky. From the very serene and peaceful situation in Manchester, I couldn't believe how crowded the waiting area was when we got off the plane.

    I was happy to have a couple of hours to maneuver the change of concourses, and time to eat in the Food Court. It was like a little United Nations in the Food Court - interesting to watch and listen. I have to say it's much easier to read when the conversation around you is a language you don't understand. I wasn't so excited to get to my gate and find out there was a minor delay, which turned into a much more lengthy delay. I finally learned that the plane we were to leave on was coming in from Jamaica, and had been held up in Customs for some reason. We finally boarded at 9:30 p.m. for a 4 1/2 hour flight against a head wind from the west. It was a crowded flight, but I was thankful for the aisle seat this time. We landed finally at around midnight Denver time. By the time I got to the shuttle but, to my car, and finally home, it was 2:00 a.m. It took me the better part of this past week to feel back to normal.

    I know several things for sure:

    • I missed my traveling buddy - it's not as much fun alone.
    • I will always check luggage - it's worth the price. Especially when I'm alone.
    • I will never fly anything but Frontier or Southwest again - preferably Southwest, because baggage flies free! And because they have a sense of humor, nicer planes, and generally a better attitude toward those of us who pay their salary.

    Have a wonderful week as you look forward to Thanksgiving Day and ponder the many things to be thankful for.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It's Been a Crazy Ride Lately

It's been almost two weeks since I wrote anything here. That is a record for my five plus years, one I don't particularly like. I am having a really hard time getting thoughts to gel in my head so that I can put them down. I don't like this feeling at all.

I had something in mind when I wrote this title several days ago. There's been a lot of "stuff" lately. I'll try to remember what all I was thinking of.

It kind of started in August when I broke the little toe on my left foot by running into a high chair on the patio. It hurt like crazy, but I taped it to the next toe, as I have done more often before than I like to think of - I seem to be incredibly clumsy with my poor toes. I googled to see if I should see a doc, even though I haven't ever before, and I have LOUSY insurance. I decided not to go, but to go with the taping, and read that it would take about 6 weeksto heal - which it did. It no sooner felt really good and healed than I did something I've done probably 10,000 times since I've lived in this house - headed to the bathroom in the middle of the night. This particular night in September, I apparently was still asleep when I headed back to my bed and missed the turn, heading straight into a door frame, probably separating the second and third toes, cramming into the edge of the frame. I barely remember stumbling back to my bed, but I do remember being in great pain. I once again did the taping method, and settled in for another 6 weeks of difficulty walking, and particularly, exercising. The pain in the toe subsided fairly quickly, but I discovered in the last week or so that there was a major twinge when I stepped down on the ball of that foot - sending an electrical sensation through my foot. I decided that there must be some nerve involvement and I'd better bite the bullet and get to the podiatrist. Which I did. And found out that it is a tendon problem. He taped it up majorly for a week and had me back in. It felt some better, so he created an orthotic for my shoes , and now I can't wear any dress shoes for who knows how long (my insurance only helps with custom orthotics if you are diabetic - just another piece of evidence that insurance company decision makers are crazy). He also gave me this funny looking little padding device to place over three toes to keep the affected area from hitting the ground fully. After 2 weeks I'll go again and we'll evaluate the situation then. The worst case scenario, of course, would be surgery. It could be a cast. It could be that I'll have to buy orthotics outright. It's the pits. I should probably have gone in sooner.

Kristen's had several more bouts of health issues - take your pick. So of course, that means a lot of kiddo time at our house. They do well, but sure do miss their mommy when she's sick - and the big ones worry about her. I have to admit that I do, too.

Last week, Livi woke up with a sore throat on the week-end, of course. By Monday she was really miserable, so a trip to the doc proved that our suspicions were true - strep throat. At the same time, Kristen talked to him about Livi's continual plumbing problems. So, since Kristen had to work a lot Monday through Wednesday so she could have the girls while I took my trip (more later), I had 3 of the girls most of the three days - Livi's throat felt better quite quickly, but I turned into the Miralax Nazi, on her case constantly to glug down 30 ounces of liquid with 6 caps of Miralax. Needless to say, her love of apple juice is now gone. But it worked! Now we have to keep her more steady and be proactive. Poor little thing - she has struggled with this problem for most of her little life.

At the same time, she woke up that Saturday morning to take a bath, and informed me that there was no hot water. She was right - the old water heater bit the dust overnight. Of course, on a Saturday. So Monday was greatly anticipated! In the meantime, one of those days, I heard a lot of activity and toilet seat banging going on in the lower bathroom. I should have checked sooner, because by the time I did, there was water covering the entire floor (Yep - the twins). They played in the toilet water - yes, it was flushed! When I got down there, I found a baby washcloth floating in there - uh-oh, I thought, what might they have flushed? My worst fears were realized when Livi came up the next morning and told me that the water was about to overflow. We plunged and plunged and plunged some more. But nothing worked, so when the "Dwelling Doctor" came on Monday morning to replace the water heater, I asked him to check the toilet as well. In the meantime, I had asked the twins once again if one of them had flushed something down the potty. This time Emma said, "Katie did." Katie is nothing if not honest. She's the one who owned up to cutting Emma's hair. I asked her what she had flushed and she said, "A zebra." Livi immediately went on a hunt - they have two different Noah's Ark sets, so there are 4 zebras around the house. All 4 were accounted for. Livi thought it might have been a giraffe instead.

The plumber could not get the clog to release, so he ended up removing the stool from the floor, which led him to discover a more serious problem than the clog - a blessing in deep, deep disguise! And he did find the clog problem - a ZEBRA!! Turns out there was another set of animals - this one a zoo or safari set that I forgot about. This one has a movable head, and if the head had been straight, not cocked to the side, it would have gone through.

But - we had a working toilet and HOT WATER!! What a blessing! A very expensive Monday morning, but not as bad as it could have been, or as I feared. This guy was recommended to us by our BIL, who works with many small businessmen in town, and he knows who is good and honest.

Seems like there was more, but it's kind of like childbirth - I seem to have forgotten the pain. It did make for a late night of getting ready for my trip to Maine Thursday morning. I will post about that next time - including the trauma of the actual trip (which you have probably read if you're on Facebook with me).

Have a great week!