Friday, September 25, 2009

Blessed (Joey's Alternate Title: Rhonda the Honda, V2.0)

I'm having trouble getting my "mojo" going with my Ethnic Lit paper, and I wanted to post this update/story, so we're going to give it a go.

"Rhonda," as we affectionately call her, came into our lives about a year and a half ago. In December of 2007, my very first car, "Fatboy," my very bestest car friend, finally had his unceremonious and final demise. He'd been with me through high school, college, and a wreck that nearly parted us. We'd replaced part after part, and this time, it was the transmission, and as he was an old Hyundai (everyone I met was amazed that he was still running at all), it wasn't worth the cost to have a new (or used) transmission put in. In February, we donated him to the Kidney Foundation. The default deduction that you're given when you donate is $500. We later found out that he brought only $225 at auction. That actually hurt, to be honest.

We were doing okay with one car in early 08; Joey and I were carpooling to work, and when we needed two vehicles, his parents didn't mind rearranging things and helping us out. We knew, however, that we were going to have to find another car before Joey started his schoolwork at Wake Forest; he'd be making multiple three-hour drives, and I would need to be able to get back and forth to work every day. We prayed about it, and waited.

Rhonda belonged to our friend Wayne, who worked at our church; he'd gotten her in Rhode Island some years back while working there. He bought her for five hundred dollars, and she saw him through the rough weather of Rhode Island, through his move down here to NC, and had driven faithfully for the (almost) four years that he lived here. Shortly after he got married, he and Erin, his wife, felt called to the northeast and were going to be moving to NY. And there, our lives with Rhonda intersected.

They knew they'd only need one car, and felt led to give Rhonda to us....well, to "sell" her to us for $1 for the title's sake. We were speechless. It was a whirlwind, really...they offered, we accepted, they came over and signed the car over, and then, they were gone. However, they did let us know that Rhonda had some...."quirks." Among them were: a hole in the exhaust, a sagging front bumper, power doors that no longer worked, power seatbelts that no longer worked and were fixed in the "locked" position (you have to crawl under them to get in), a driver's side front window that won't roll down, broken AC, TONS of dents and rust damage. I don't really remember what else. But she RAN! and well!! And we were grateful, no matter what.

We had some work done right when we got her, and she's been fine until recently; we had to have a new clutch put in, to the tune of $900. Still, she's cost us less than our new car has in payments and insurance, and her taxes are low and the inspection cost is low. But she wasn't pretty.

Until now.

To protect the identity of the "culprit," let's just say that someone blessed us more than we could have imagined with an Extreme Makeover for Rhonda. And here she is:

Her dents have been fixed, the rust was fixed (as much as possible). The whole car was painted. There's a new door (with a window that rolls both up AND down), and there's a working AC. The power locks work now, and the knobs on the dash were replaced so we no longer have to use pliers to change the air temperature. I don't even know what else was done.
She is absolutely beautiful. I cried when I saw her because of the change, but mostly I cried over someone's generosity and God's grace. She's not perfect; she's got 260K miles on her, and she's twenty years old. But she's the unofficial fourth member of our family, and she serves as a daily reminder that God really *is* there.
Washed By the Water
Daddy was a preacher
She was his wife
Just tryin to make the world a little better
You know, shine a light
People started talking
Just to hear their own voice
Those people tried to accuse my father
Said he made the wrong choice
Though it might be painful
You know that time will always tell
Those people have long since gone
My father never failed
Even when the rain falls
Even when the flood starts rising
Even when the storm comes
I am washed by the water
Even when the Earth crumbles under my feet
Even when the ones I love turn around and crucify me
I won’t never ever let you down
I won’t fall, I won’t fall, I won’t fall, as long as you’re around me
Even when the rain falls
Even when the flood starts rising
Even when the storm comes
I am washed by the water

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

ANOTHER Pictureless Blog? Get With the Program!!

Sorry about that. I've got to get better about taking pictures throughout the day. I have a couple that I'm going to post in the next blog or two about the past visit to the shooting range and qualifying for the CCH class I'm taking this weekend.

So, last weekend was incredibly good for me health-wise. Spending all day Friday and most of Saturday in the bed really restored my kidneys...but, on Sunday, I felt a slight sore throat. On Monday, I sounded like a frog:(. Tuesday, hacking and stuff, and today, more hacking, but it's moved into my head. I should be really grateful, though, because as far as I remember, this is the first time I've gotten sick since last December right before the Christmas Muscial. On a tiny negative note, I'm finding it a little hard to come up with warm beverages that soothe the throat that don't include chicken broth. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not intending to go back to being an omnivore, but, I guess you can say that I'm discovering one of the less-than-great sides of giving up meat and meat products.

I've been making do with some nine bean soup that Mom sent home with me last weekend and I froze. It's DELICIOUS, but, unfortunately, with nine beans....well, let's just say that it must be eaten after 1 pm if I'm at work or else I'm SPRINTING into the house with no chance to say "hello" to Joey. But it's good!

On the docket for the rest of the week? Reading for Ethnic Lit, and working on a paper. Working on my project for Research Bib/Methods, writing another two frugal articles, and practicing the song I'm recording Monday afternoon (I'm wondering when I'll get to practice since I can't sing).

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Look Out, Here Comes Tomorrow...

This one made me laugh today, so I figured I'd share with you (also, especially for my mom, who has a deep connection with raccoons...). I always save my LOL Cats for last on my Google Reader...saving the best for last, I suppose.

As quickly as it began, my three day (that was supposed to be a camping trip) weekend is now over. I've been 25 hours with no hydrocodone...a little pain, but I'm going to wait until I go to bed to take another one so I can get used to not having it in my system. I've never had an "injury" this bad before, so I didn't believe Joey when he told me how much better I'd feel after spending a weekend doing nothing. He was so right.

Tomorrow will be back to the grind, though. I'm a little nervous, really, because I took things so slow this weekend...we just went to Wal Mart today and I had to take a 1.5 hour nap afterward. Tomorrow will be a full work day, and then knitting group at 6:30. Hopefully, I'll be able to stay the whole time.

Good night, everyone!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

On the Mend...

Hi there! Man, let me tell you, I would never wish the last week on another soul, definitely. So, all of this talk about recovering from a kidney stone in 48 hours? Bull-hockey. A few things my doc didn't tell me:

  1. Save the stone. Nope. He just told me what it was going to look like and to look for it. After the fifth person asked me "did they send the stone off for diagnostics?," I felt like a pretty big fool for not saving it on my own. Hopefully, it's not hereditary and whatever dietary changes I make as a result will keep me from having another one.
  2. Sometimes the pain afterward is just as bad, or worse, than the pain before. My Aunt passed that one along to me (and I'm very grateful. I thought I had another one and was terrified). I passed the stone on Monday and spent Monday night taking a hot shower every hour just to get relief...finally got to sleep at 4 am and then went to work on Tuesday.
  3. Patients (women, in particular) should have 48 hours of bed rest after passing the stone. I should have been home on Tuesday and Wednesday not doing anything. Instead, I went to work and worked full days. I'm sure that did WONDERS for my muscles in my side and back, as well as my torn ureter, etc.
  4. It can take two weeks to heal...I have two friends to thank for that bit of knowledge. I had to call the doc again Thursday to ask him to call in another hydrocodone prescription for me so I would have more pain relief since his "48 hour" healing time didn't pan out that way.

So, thanks to family, friends, and extensive internet searches, I've spent yesterday and thus far today doing precious little. Joey didn't let me out of bed at all yesterday, save for an hour at dinner time to eat and watch Jeopardy and 1/2 of AFV. I just made it out to the recliner about an hour ago, and thus far, I'm not having much pain and haven't had any hydrocodone since 4:30 this morning.

I'm thinking about trying to find a new PCP...I've been staying with this one because he's the same guy I've had since I started college ten years ago, so I have history with him, but I don't like feeling like I didn't get a full picture of what I would be facing with this. I feel like I've done a pretty good job over the past year of the anxiety/depression treatment of not being afraid of the doctor anymore, but no one likes having something wrong with them and not knowing either what it is or what to expect. I'm also pre-hypertensive and stress also manifests itself in a physical way with me. I might need to switch to someone who'll listen to me and help me to be actively involved in my own health. I guess it's something to think about.

Well, that's about all I've got right now. Schoolwork is done for the day. I'm going to relax.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy 200th Post to ME...BLEH

Well, I was anticipating amuch more fun post full of pictures and some kind of great story, but we have to play with the cards we're dealt, I suppose. It's been quite the weekend, that's for sure.

Thursday, I felt a little weird all day; I had a little tummyache and when I woke up from my car-nap, I felt really panicky for no apparent reason and couldn't calm myself down. The rest of the afternoon/night went fine, though, so I didn't think anything of either problem.

Until about 1 am. I was struck with the worst pain I've ever felt in my life; it seared through my left side and back, causing my back muscles to begin to spasm. I thought I was just having stomach cramps, so I told Joey I was going to go into the living room so I wouldn't disrupt him. I spent the rest of the night writhing in absolute agony, simultaneously feeling overheated and having chills, all topped by wave after wave a nausea. Finally, at 4 am, I made Joey drive to Wal-Mart to pick up a heating pad and some Ibuprofen. I told him I'd call the doc once they opened and he went to work. I prayed I'd pass out from the pain a few times. From the symptoms I was describing, several people told me that I probably had a kidney infection. I've never had one before, so I didn't really know how bad it would hurt.

The doc's office worked me in at 12:30, and I spent the rest of the morning jumping into a hot shower every hour to help with the pain. I was heartened, though, b/c I was told that, if it was a kidney infection, I would feel a ton better as soon as I started the antibiotic.

Not so. The doc thought that I probably had a kidney stone rather than an infection and sent me home with a tiny strainer to pee through and a prescription for hydrocodone and an antibiotic just in case there was any infection. A few thoughts on this:

  1. Hydrocodone does NOTHING. If I'd know that it was only acetamenaphin and codein, I would have told the doctor where he could put it, since Tylenol has NEVER worked on me.
  2. Peeing through a strainer is one of the most difficult things I've tried. It's nearly impossible to do without peeing all over one's hand and being totally grossed out.
  3. Either the pain pill or the antibiotic is supposed to cause constipation. Great. Give someone with excruciating pain in their stomach a pill that's going to make them have to pop an eyeball out to poop.

So, the treatment prescribed was to drink tons of fluid and try to flush the little sucker out. I spent our one and only evening with our friend James (who got a pass before he went to Iraq) feeling crappy, but the pain subsided that night. Saturday, I felt GREAT! Surely I must have passed it, yes? We went up to Charlotte and had breakfast, went shooting, and had lunch with my parents. I was doing great until about 11 that night. *sigh*....another night spent writhing in agony...this time, in bed as I asked Joey to take the chair in the living room. Another night of hot showers every hour so I could get ten minutes of sleep. Another night of having the shakes from the pain. The stone had only lodged temporarily and was now on the move again.

I had to miss church yesterday. I've had to stay home from work again today. I've tried the home remedies and I'm hoping they'll kick in.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Operation Oatgurt: Failure. Operation Almond Butter: WIN!!

It's been a couple of days, so I figured an update was in order. First, the oatgurt was....GROSS. Bleh. I think I let it ferment for too long and it ended up spoiling. It looked like the pictures, with the crust over the top that looked a little like sourdough bread, but it how I remember the dumpsters behind my elementary school smelling. Nonetheless, I mustered my strength and tried a bite. Not very good. "Maybe it needs some flavoring," I thought, and added honey and Almond Butter. Another bite..."mmpgh," the sound of me running to the kitchen sink to spit it out before I hurled it onto the floor. So, needless to say, the rest is going down the disposal, and if we try again, we're only letting it go for 24 hours.

Dinner last night was some excellent potato hash that Joey made (check out the recipe HERE). It was incredibly tasty with a little hot sauce and some ketchup!

Here's a pic of the raw almond butter that I made the other night! I didn't process it for long enough, so it's pretty thick, but I'm learning that it's good on/in pretty much anything! Yesterday, I put a little in my brown rice and added some sesame furikake for a savory, nutty treat! Today, I had it in oatmeal, and I thinned a little out and put it on some steamed broccoli, which was interesting, but not bad at all! I'll definitely roast the almonds before the next batch,'s supposed to do wonders for the flavor.

Here's a side-shot, and yes, we do recycle our glass jars. We used to mix up powdered milk, and it tastes better when kept in the fridge in glass containers. They also come in handy for sauces and stuff like this, and the jars and lids go through the dishwasher just fine. Why buy thousands of plastic containers when you're almost sure to have used something in a glass jar recently??

And now, for a little kitty pron....Joey got some really good shots of Shelli playing around the other night in the box that our new water heater came in. It never ceases to amaze me how you'll spend hundreds of dollars on fancy cat toys and perches and "trees" and whatnot, and a giant cardboard box ends up being what she goes nuts for.

Daddy got her riled up with the wrist strap for my camera in this shot; she was definitely entertaining to watch.

Tomorrow's Joey's super-early day again (going to Wake Forest), so he'll be up and moving before 3 am. Gotta love it. I'm so proud of him.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Is it "Labor" on Labor Day if it's FUN?

Today has been the most perfect day off that I've ever had. I had already planned to go sit in on one of Joey's classes so that I could see the "instructor" in action. The class met in the same room where I had Women in Lit, eh....nine years ago (or so). I sat in the back this time (I usually sat on the front row by the window whenever I could). The kids looked sooo young. I don't remember us looking that young when we were freshmen. I don't feel like I look al that different other than the extra forty pounds, few wrinkles around the eyes, and white hairs here and there. I could still pass as a student! Anyway, Joey did a really good job, and the kids were attentive and talkative, so that was neat to see. There were a couple of girls who asked if I wanted to work in their group with them when Joey broke them into groups for discussions. It was really sweet...they didn't know who I was since I didn't say anything.

After that, we talked to our friend Mark who's a religion professor there, and then went and hung in Joey's office for (part) of his office hours. I spent an hour with Dr. Little-Sweat, my poetry/creative writing professor. She's got some really great things coming up dealing with poetry and performance. Expect to see some discussion of that once she's finished her project. She's actually the third longest-standing faculty member at Wingate....if I've done the math right, she'll be entering into her 47th year there next year.

I spent another hour with Dr. Thomas, for whom I worked as a student assistant for 3.5 of my 4 years at Wingate. I just love her to death...she really made me want to further my education and go on beyond undergrad. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't do it right away like I had originally planned, but had I, we wouldn't have left Baylor and Joey would have gotten a much worse education than he did at Gordon-Conwell. I think we're getting the best of both worlds now. I'm getting a good education through ECU (they know how to do distance ed right!), and Joey's getting a VERY rigorous workout in his PhD program and is working with some of the greatest minds in theology currently. I really could've sat and talked to Dr. Thomas for another hour, but she had a noon class.

I tried to stop in and see my favorite Spanish professor, Mark Schuhl, but his office hours ended at noon, so I just missed him. It was weird to walk into the alcove where the foreign language prof's offices are. Mark had us do our Latin American lit class in their breakroom because there were only three of us in the class, so we met in there instead of a big, empty classroom. I spent soooo much time in that room between that class and the two independent studies I did with him and Carmen Rivera. I miss Wingate so much...even thinking about it makes me want to cry, honestly.

They've carpeted the first floor of Burris. The student center looks totally different...the Klondike is gone and the mailboxes are where it used to be. There's a little stand with some pre-made sandwiches, snacks, and drinks. You don't get your own textbooks go to a desk at the back and they get them for you. The new Hayes building (connected to Burris) is incredible...the classrooms are really swanky. But, it's still the same old place....there's such a feeling of comfort in prowling those halls. Even if I did get lost trying to find the bathroom again in the basement of Burris. That was always my go-to poop bathroom because no one's there early in the morning;).

Anyway, we hit Wal-Mart after we were done at Wingate and stocked up on some groceries for the week...came home and had lunch, and I went to take a nap when our friend showed up to install the new water heater. That was about 2:30. Joey woke me up at 6. I had light ice cream for dinner (hehe). That's a Labor Day that can't be beat:). I'm about to go and make some almond butter and then relax a little before hitting the hay (again).

Oh! The oatgurt is done fermenting...I moved it to the fridge this morning. Hopefully, I'll be brave enough to try it tomorrow. I hope everyone had a fantastic Labor Day! Remember to appreciate where you are may look back on it years from now and realize that it was one of the best places in your life.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Girls Night, Almond Butter, Oatgurt, Nooch, and skulls!

Man, I'm sooo glad that we have a long weekend. It's been a very long week, albeit with some good parts (girls night!!). Monday was month-end at work, so I ended up hanging out online until 9 to see if anyone had any last minute business that needed to be handled. Tuesday was the afore-mentioned girls night, which was fun, but unfortunately, I cooked something spicy with onions in it, and Shannon's not big on onions and Katie's not big on hot stuff:(...I'll do better next time, girls, promise:). Wednesday was choir, and last night was cooking night! I made butternut squash fries (recipe here). Tonight, we hit the Wally World for a few things. I got a 2 pound bag of almonds to make almond butter!

I also have a batch of oatgurt fermenting in the oven. I've been reading about this stuff on Heather's blog for a while and after emailing her to make sure I could do it with rolled oats rather than oat groats, I decided to give it a try. I've got the oven off, but I figure it's going to be a relatively warm place in the house and will hold in the temp pretty well. I've got to let it ferment for 48 hours or so, and then I'll let you know how it turns out.

Dinner tonight was really simple; I just had some grits and a scrambled egg, together with hot sauce and nutritional yeast. The nooch is growing on's supposed to be used as a cheese substitute for vegans, and I spent an arm and a leg on it at Earthfare a while back, so I'm not going to let it go to waste. It's definitely yeasty, but I think if you go into it expecting that it's not going to taste just like cheese, it's a lot better. I also put some on my broccoli at lunch today.

Tomorrow is FLEA MARKET day! Hope I find more skull stuff:)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I Got that Boom Boom Pow....

I'll be honest; hardly a day goes by that I don't spontaneously end up with a Black-Eyed Peas song stuck in my head; it began way back in the day with "Hey Mama," and continues on and on. I don't really mind, though...while I don't listen to much pop music these days, BEP is the rare exception. I love them. Totally.

One observation from the day; I wouldn't go into some random person's house whom I've just met and inform them that it smells like cat pee. I may think it. Heck, I may even tell my friends in private that the house smelled of cat pee. But it's just plain rude to lay it out there when I've just met cat-pee-lady. It makes me look like a jerk and makes her feel inadequate and insecure, and probably makes her feel like I'm a jerk too. The above is a random example to illustrate the following point: if you are not smart enough to operate the brain-filter that keeps you from saying rude things, then you should probably just shut up at all times to be safe. :)

Today was a great car-nap day; it was cool and breezy, and I got a whole hour without sweating to death. It's a really nice break during the work day...I found that I was spending too much time at the computer by eating lunch at my desk...makes for eye strain and frustration, really. So, whenever it's a good day now, I chill in my car; whether it's doing schoolwork or writing, or napping, it's just a good time to be in the quiet and decompress for a bit.

Duane sent some butternut squashes to me. I can't wait to make b-nut fries!!