Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Note About Melinda's Work

We don't, very often, put YouTube videos on our blog - especially if they aren't ones that we've recorded ourselves.  I'm making an exception this time, however.  This one is near and dear to my heart - and a catchy tune you'll be singing in your head all day!

Due to HIPPA regulations, I really don't have much occasion to talk about my work as a NICU Nurse at UMC.  Suffice it to say, I love my job!  There are difficult days, but the good days outweigh the bad and there's nothing more satisfying than to know you've made an impact in someone's life - especially when they only weigh 1 or 2 pounds.  If I reflect over my career as a Nurse, these past couple of years in the NICU are the years that I feel most proud of the work I'm doing, most satisfied with the care I'm giving.  I am amazed, daily, by the level of knowledge and skill of my co-workers.  Each of them are champions, truly heroes!  So while I can't talk about my work very much, or very often - know that I'm doing exactly what I am meant to be doing - and enjoy this little video/song!
 music and lyrics by Hugh Blumenfeld

Friday, April 22, 2011

Proud Pappa!

Our neighbor down the street, Jack, has a landscaping business with his sons, so his place is a showplace of plants and flowers, many of them unusual. After all the comings and goings of our recent travels, I've lost track of his front yard, but this morning I happened to pass his place mid morning and had to slam on the brakes. The cereus cactus in in front yard was in full bloom! On my way home, I ditched the van, grabbed the camera and walked back.

About the time I took my first pic, he got home from work and talked up his "bloomers". I believe he called it a Trico Cereus, though the Google entries of that name look different. Anyway, it has spectacular, huge flowers, and he said he had hoped I would pass and see it. He walked me through his side yard where other cacti varieties recently bloomed were in storage. I missed a lot of other spectacular flowers, but this variety has to be up near the top. In comparison, our yard looks like vacant lot, but we're slowly adding plants, hoping they survive our mistreatment. Meanwhile, it is nice to have neighbors like Jack to spruce up the neighborhood!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring is Baby Season!

This last Sunday we made the regular trip out to Iowa to visit the Ketelsen family. This time there were some new relatives to meet! Nephew Jeff and wife Sandy just had a baby girl 4 weeks ago, so we got to meet Claire! She seemed so tiny after visiting with other kids at a Saturday birthday that were nearly a year old. We fell under her spell and didn't realize till after we had left that we didn't take any pictures of the parents with the baby! Only Great-Uncle Dean and Great-Aunt Melinda. Also of note in that visit was spending time with niece Sarah, who is getting married in July! That is our next planned trip out, and of course, she got to hold baby Claire too!

In our hours of driving across Iowa farmland, there were lots of newborn calves, with a few scattered colts and goats as well. We had enough advanced warning to stop a time or two and take more baby pics. The calf is indeed newborn - mom still has some afterbirth hanging out! The Canadian goslings were taken from home here next to the Fox River. Not quite lil' puffs of fur, but cuties nonetheless!

While in Iowa we also stopped at a Pizza Hut in DeWitt for a meeting-o-the-sibs! Sister Sheri, way down in Texas didn't make it (looking forward to that July wedding for that!), but the 5 others made it. Stars of the show were great niece Alivia showing off her butterfly "tattoo" next to the one on her shirt, and great niece Mya with a loose front tooth, here posing with brother Jim and Alivia. It won't be long before the "tooth fairy" will be visiting Mya!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Home Improvement Elves at Work

Our last trip here in Illinois there was over a foot of snow on the ground, so not a lot of outside activities. Yet, with typically only a week here, it is hard to get into a project in our little cottage in the woods. And sometimes, just starting a project reveals some interesting aspects of the 80 year old place.

We had talked for a time about replacing the carpet in the "Sunroom" with a wood floor to match the bedroom. The old carpet was still fine, but a rather unpleasant shade of yellow - we were ready for a change. So our last trip we cleared some furniture so Maj could start some floor work. She had already offered the woodwork floor for a Christmas present, and had stained and pre-finished the lumber even before we got here in February. Cutting back the carpet and padding revealed some lovely linoleum, still in good condition, so the thinking was to go right over it with the new flooring. And that is where we left it - clearing an 8' by 10' section of the room for her to start. After all, part of the satisfaction of completing the job is doing at least part of it ourselves.

So we arrived Wednesday and we found the renovation complete and spectacular! Trim work finished, furniture (even the heavy buffet and mirror) returned to place. I can't imagine all the hours of working alone she went through, but all we are doing this trip is thinking ahead to our near month here this summer when we will get put to work by our contractor-sister Maj!

A side note from Melinda:  When I moved into this house in 2006, and thought about the things I'd like to do to it, this is the exact vision of the sunroom that I had!

Friday, April 15, 2011

This Bud's for You!

We had an uneventful flight to Illinois the other day. We got in 30 minutes early, but then had to wait for our checked bag for about that long, so it evened out... We were excited (as were the local residents) when temps hit the mid-80s a couple days before we arrived. Would a true Spring be waiting for us? Well, it was a bit premature - trees are mostly still bare, though the ornamental flowering trees and shrubs are just waiting for a day or two of warm weather to truly declare the start of the season. The only cultivated flowers in bloom are the daffodils, even tulips are a week or two away.

There are a number of small "belly flowers" (you've got to get low to get a good look). In particular the grape hyacinth and blue scilla have turned sections of the yard a beautiful sky blue. Mixed in with them are budding prarie trillium and others I've yet to identify.

As I said, trees are mostly bare, though the flowing branches of the weeping willow are taking on some green. A closer inspection reveals not only the narrow leaves pushing out, but the flowers that I've never noticed before! While a few more warm days will advance the new growth, they may not get it while we're here - forecasts say cool temps and rain for our remaining days here...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Avoiding Mayhem

A quiet beautiful evening. Melinda and I left home at the same time, she heading to work, me off to meet friends for dinner. Fate had slightly different plans!

Less than a mile from home, I was stopped at a light when I heard the screech of tires, and a view of what appeared to be movie special effects with flying cars in my rear-view mirror before I got hit from behind. Fortunately I was fine, and formed the front end of a field of auto damage. Behind me was a mess of twisted metal, shards of plastic and shattered glass. A pickup truck, evidently causing a rollover accident a half mile to the west moments after Melinda had turned south to work, fleeing that scene hit another car at a high rate of speed causing damage to a dozen cars in total. The fellow fled on foot but was apprehended a block or two away.

Meanwhile, the flying car I saw in my mirror landed a few feet from the van and was a crumpled mess, requiring an hour to extract everyone, though all seemed stable on their way to the hospital. The fellow behind me who was similarly struck from behind, hitting my van, was also fine, airbags all deployed (with the rear impact!), though his little Nissan will likely be totalled out. The van suffered a dented rear fender, rear door and latch seems fine. I lucked out, as did all of us who walked away.

I was delayed an hour till the police dismissed me with a copy of the report number. I was still able to join Chuck and Joey for curry. 4 hours later (was at work writing reports), they were still sweeping up after the accident! We're scheduled to fly tomorrow - after an incident at work today and the near catastrophe, I'm rethinking those plans!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Who is Marley going to eat with now?

We've had a sad day, today.  Back in late November our cat, Lance, was diagnosed with a tracheal tumor.  While it was inoperable, we hoped to be able to give him "some time" before the inevitable - and we did that.  In fact, we thought we would be only able to 'buy' him a few weeks but Lance was able to live for four months longer than we (or the doctors) thought!  We took him in for periodic check-ups, and maintained him on Piroxicam (an NSAID) to reduce swelling and discomfort.  As it turned out, Piroxicam has some anti-neoplastic properties which were beneficial to our Lance.  He enjoyed laying in the sun, sometimes chasing across the yard after butterflies, and at one point gained a little weight!

This morning Dean brought Lance into the house, saying he thought he was losing weight.  He had been 'wheezing' more lately, and his appetite was dwindling over the past week or so.  After a quick call to the Vet we took him in for another check-up.  Lance had lost 2 lbs since January, and yes, he was working much harder to breathe.  He was letting us know that it was time for us to make the hardest decision pet owner's face.

We've both been in this position before.  It's never easy.  It's part of being a responsible pet owner and 'parent' however.  The Vet, Dean, and I were all in agreement and so Lance passed away peacefully this morning in the loving arms of his 'Dad'.

Our tribe of kitties have a definite social order.  Lance and Marley always ate dinner together.  So the question remains...