Storage and Garden Report

First of all, I want to say a heartfelt THANK YOU for all the nice comments on my last blog about Mr. Monk. You all knew him better than most of my friends! All of us are doing fine. Especially Queen Sophie. After she got over her worry that she might be the next to be “banished” from the kingdom, she has taken back her “rightful place” on the chair next to me in the evenings.

And, I also wanted to thank so many of you for your interesting and informative comments on the previous blog about my knee. Since I wrote that, my first ortho doc got back in touch with me. He had been battling the insurance company all this time (over their refusal to approve the Orthovisc injections), and now advised me to file a complaint with the State Department of Managed Health Care. I completed that today. It will be interesting to see what comes of this.

In the meantime, how about a report on some everyday life stuff 🙂

Last week J. the contractor came back to finish the little pantry and add shelves to the laundry room. Squeee!!! MORE STORAGE SPACE. I hardly know what to do with it all.

Here’s the pantry. That’s all I’ve put in it so far. I have those two big corner cupboards with lazy susans in them in the kitchen. I’m not sure what to put there, and what to put in the pantry. If anyone has ideas or opinions, feel free to share.


And here’s the laundry room shelves. Plenty of extra storage up there for I don’t know what!


I also had J. put this little hanging cupboard in the mudroom. It used to be in my bathroom. I still liked it so finally decided that this would be the place for it.


I tell you, for someone whose ONLY storage space for many years was a big closet in her bedroom, I feel like I’ve hit the storage jackpot!

And here is a view of the garden. Still pretty bare, but things are sprouting. There are little buds on all the trees. Its fun to go out there and scope things out every day. I have to be careful to not get carried away with planting, because there’s still a real possibility that we will get some frost, up until May.


The camellia bush is chock full of buds. The Pink Flower Thief is keeping a close eye on it….



The Long Farewell

“The Long Farewell”–I thought the title would be fitting for a dog named after an iconic television character. Kinda like the episode name for a TV series finale. Mr. Monk is one of the best dogs I’ve ever had the privilege of owning. And believe me, I’ve owned a lot of dogs.

I found him on Petfinder. He was at the pound in Sacramento. A stray that no one claimed, they guessed his age at 8 years old. So I got the senior citizen discount (him, not me 🙂 ) The best $47.50 I ever spent.

The first time I met Mr. Monk (he still had anesthesia on board–that’s why he looks so pitiful.)


He was a dignified gentleman.


Over a year ago he developed what we at first thought was arthritis, but then turned out to be a slowly progressive neuromuscular disease. There were a couple of times that I thought we were going to lose him. But I was blessed that with a good vet, some good medicine, and a little assist from me, he was able to have a good life for the past year.

I will miss my little man.

Photo on 12-4-13 at 12.56 PM #2

Some Exciting News!

I am re-blogging this post from my quilt blog. I thought some of you might be interested in my “other life.” Enjoy!

debby quilts


Two years ago I had the opportunity to do an exhibit of my Housetop Quilts at the Oak Hills Church in Folsom, CA. Since then I have worked on two new series of quilts, The Psalms, and The Signature of Jesus. And Monday, I delivered 25 quilts to Oak Hills. They will be on display until Easter Sunday, April 5. Anyone is welcome to visit and view them. Of course, the gallery area will be open every Sunday morning, from about 9am-12noon. And you can also visit during the week, Tuesday through Friday. Just call the church office (916.983.0181) to make sure the gallery is open. (The gallery is in their very large sanctuary lobby.) I will be at the church this Sunday, February 22, sitting and demonstrating my handwork. Fun!


I can’t say enough good things about this church. They have encouraged me to be an artist, and have provided an opportunity…

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Disintegration… and Hope

That’s been my thought for the past week or so. We’re all disintegrating, you know that right? We can fight it (and most humans do,) but its relentless. Time marches on, and bit by bit, our bodies crumble.

Geez, debby, I can hear you say. What got into you? We come to your blog for a bit of sunshine and some good recipes. Wellllll, its like this. In November, I had had it with my knee hurting all the time, not being able to bear weight on it when I step out of a car, losing sleep because it aches when I lay down. I was ready to give those gel shots a try. So I started trying to call my ortho doc and get an appointment. Many thanks to the insurance system, I had to jump through a couple of hoops to get to him, so I finally saw him in early December. He agreed with me on the gel shots, and put through the request to the insurance company that day. More insurance hoops and hoopla to jump through, yada yada yada, and I still had not had the gel shots by the beginning of February. In the meantime my ortho doc had given me a referral to the ortho KNEE REPLACEMENT SURGERY docs “just to get them acquainted with your case.” Okay. Once the doctors start referring me to other doctors, I am generally very compliant.

So a week ago I went to see these guys. I say “guys” because in the university system (which I am well aware of, since that’s where I worked) a resident comes in and sees you first, gives you the once over and gives you his professional opinion. And then the attending physician comes in and gives you his professional (and more experienced) opinion. And often, those two opinions are different.

So after sitting in the waiting room and seeing people with infinitely more serious problems than mine, and filling out a four page questionnaire (do you use one cane or two when rising from a chair?) I did start thinking that maybe my little knee pain was not that big a deal.

After taking multiple specialized x-rays of my knee, I was finally taken into the doctors exam room. Mr. Resident comes in (and really, I liked him.) He poked and prodded my knee “does it hurt here? here? does this mimic the pain?” Believe me, next time I am going in with a Sharpie pen marking the exact spots that it hurts. He reviewed the x-rays with me, and concluded that I did not need surgery at this point. He was very complimentary and said that I was doing the two most important things–taking NSAIDS and exercising correctly and regularly. I asked him “I notice you did not mention losing weight as something important to do.” And he just said, “well, of course losing weight always helps, but you had already told me…” (I had given him a brief overview of my weight loss/maintenance history.) I have to say, I know I am lucky, but I have not had a really bad experience with a doctor and weight loss issues. Even when I was “morbidly obese.”

Okay. so now the attending physician comes in. And he says, “well, up until I just now talked to my resident, I thought I was coming into a room to talk to someone who needed knee replacement surgery.” All I can think is that he read that questionnaire a little more thoroughly. I tried to give as much detailed information as I could in it.  So the three of us chatted quite a bit more. Neither of them were huge fans of the gel shots. The attending physician said, in comparing the gel shots to steroid shots–either of them have varying results, from only working for a week, to sometimes working for several years. 

Long story short, what I finally decided to do was to change from Ibuprofen to Aleve (which they recommended,) and to try a “medial unloading brace.” I didn’t want to try too many things at one time. I bought some Aleve on the way home, and I do think it is working better for me than the Ibuprofen, maybe just for the fact that I take it routinely twice a day instead of thinking (or not thinking) about taking the ibuprofen. I don’t have the brace yet. And I have a follow-up visit with these guys in March.

In the meantime, one thing I had started to think about was this. I got all gung-ho for the knee surgery because my carpal tunnel surgery was such a success. But then I remembered that they are two different things. One of them (carpal tunnel surgery) just fixed up a poorly working part of my body. The other one (knee replacement surgery) completely removes a poorly working part of my body and replaces it with an artificial part, which of course can never do the same thing as the real thing could do. I know quite a few people who have had knee replacement. I haven’t kept count, but I think the results would be just about 50/50 positive to negative outcomes.

So in talking all this over with my BF a few days later, I said, “I just have to work to come to terms with things disintegrating. When do you stop fighting it and learn to accept it?” And she said, “well judging from my parents…NEVER!” And that made me think about my own mom, and yeah, she has not stopped fighting the aging process either.

In one way, I think that is healthy. But in another way, for me, I do think that acceptance can lead to a more peaceful existence (and you all know peace is big with me.) For example, I have wanted to take a trip to the British Isles for a long time. I dreamed about walking the moors like, you know, James Herriot. Now I don’t want to walk anywhere. And that was bugging me. And I wanted to get fixed so I could walk those damn moors. But now I’m thinking, “just change your perspective. You can still travel to the British Isles. You just need to take a different kind of a tour. And if you’re honest with yourself, you didn’t even like walking the hills when you were a kid and your dad took you for a hike. You just like the idea of walking the moors.”

And for me, that’s where hope comes in. I know that people cannot live without hope. I know that from my years as a NICU nurse. No matter how grim the situation, parents would latch on to that one tiny bit of hope. Some nurses would get frustrated by that. I just said, “everyone has to have a little hope.”

Over the Weekend

Thursday: I made some great chili. Its my favorite chili ever, I think. Because it was not too spicy hot, and it had a good meat to bean ratio, and because the meat was not ground beef, I think. It was the chili Marsha made for us when we were down in Anaheim at the rug retreat. I ran it through the calorie calculator, and it came out pretty low, depending on how many servings you divide it into. I ended up making it 6 servings, and it was about 200 calories. Here’s the recipe.



Friday: Hey, isn’t the internet a fantastic thing? Mr. Monk’s vet had quit his practice here in Pine Grove. I needed his meds renewed, and I also needed to have a vet see him, and I was just dreading going to new vet and trying to explain about Mr. Monk’s problems. It finally occurred to me that I could find his old vet on the internet, because I knew the city he had moved to. I typed in: dr johnson veterinarian placerville, just like that. I know. Dr. Johnson. But what do you know, he popped up on the first try! It was totally worth it to drive an hour to see a doctor that knew me and knew Mr. Monk. And, I got some good advice on what vet to try in my town! I have to admit, I was very relieved with the positive outcome of that visit, and I did do a little celebratory eating. And yarn buying 🙂

Saturday: A good day to stay in the house and enjoy the coziness. Before the rain started, however, I brought in a ton of firewood, and pruned two big bushes. Yay for functional exercise. Because I sure didn’t get much other exercise.


We finally got our much needed rain here in Northern California. Tonight as I was pushing the little dogs out the front door in the pouring rain, something small and black ran INTO the mudroom. What? Was it even too much rain for you, little frog?


So today, Sunday, I had a kind of weird eating day. I think maybe it happened because I got a little too hungry. I just didn’t want to eat much of my regular choices. And I had too many dessert/snack type foods. I ended the day by remembering to do my PT exercises. Oh well. Its all in a lifetime.

Sophie was perched on her favorite pillow on her favorite chair tonight. It just cracked me up for some reason–“American Gothic Dachshund.”


Crazy California

It seems almost rude to post flower pictures in the middle of the huge snowstorms my friends back east are having to endure. But maybe these pictures will provide a little pleasant diversion from all the white stuff outside your windows?

Even though I live in California, Southern California seems like a foreign land to me. I had a hard time packing warm weather clothes to go on this trip. But, I was very glad that I packed my flip flops “just in case.”

Marsha, our hostess for the retreat, is a wonderful gardener. I took some close-ups of some of her outstanding flowers.

I liked this one so much that I wrote to her and asked the name of it. “Tournament of Roses.”


The same rose two days later:


Maybe a Peace rose?


Decorative cabbage. I love these, but can’t keep them in the yard. I thought Sophie was going to explode one night after she tore into one.


I love the soft color of this rose:


And one more decorative cabbage.


An oriental poppy that was out in front of one of the restaurants.


And back home again, I found a few flowers in my own mostly dormant garden. Of course, violets are always the first to bloom.


I have several primroses that I nursed through the heat of the summer.


And crazy early, there are a few daffodils blooming.


Keep calm and carry on, girls. Spring IS coming!


Home Again!

Did you even know I was gone? I didn’t mention this trip on the blog, I don’t think. I went to  a rug hooking retreat! Super fun. Good food. Too much of it. Crazy good weather–think flip flops!

When I go to rug hooking events, I usually meet my rug hooking friend who flies out from the Chicago area, and then we drive to wherever the event is taking place. So far, that is usually somewhere in Southern California. This time it was Anaheim (home of Disneyland.) Originally we were planning to go to Disneyland for a day before the retreat started. But between my bum knee (I didn’t feel like walking on cement endlessly,) and the cost (old lady shaking her cane at the $99 entrance fee to Disney) we canceled that idea. Mary Lynn suggested going to Crystal Cove, an historic beach resort. At first, I kind of resisted, because, you know, beach walking. But the timing was right, so I suggested we head down there Monday morning. I am so happy we went. That was one of those unexpected experiences that make for a great memory. And, I didn’t have to walk that much 🙂

It turns out, Crystal Cove is where they shot the Beach scenes for the movie Beaches (one of my all time favorite movies!) Here is the house where the scenes were shot:


And here I am, sitting in exactly the same deck chair that Bette Midler sat in (haha, that’s the story I’m telling myself, anyway.)



There were wonderful rock formations and tide pools here.


I just loved walking (very carefully) along the rocks, and peering into the pools. That is one of my favorite childhood memories–my dad would take us kids down to the tide pools in Carmel (northern Ca.)


Can you see the anemone in this picture?


Beach still life:


Before we left the beach, we stopped at the Beachcomber Cafe for a snack. I saw “beignets” on the menu, and Mary Lynn and I decided to split an order. I have never had them, only read about them on other’s blogs. Oh. My. Goodness. I am very glad there is no place around here to order them. So so yummy. It was so fun to have coffee and watch the waves. Oh, and a couple of dolphins swam by slowly, and the restaurant rings a bell so everyone will know to look out and see them!

We headed over to Gene Shepherd’s, where the retreat was held, and did some preliminary consulting on our rug patterns. I am going to write more about that on my quilt blog, so you can check it out over there, if you are interested in that kind of stuff. After we were done, we were ready for a late lunch/early dinner, and Gene suggested an upscale food court type of place that was nearby. It was very interesting. We chose a place that served “Chinese hot pot.” I’d seen this on some of my cooking shows, and was interested in trying it. They brought you a bowl of broth, that they put on a burner right at your table, and a plate full of very fresh veggies (and some tofu and noodles that I didn’t eat.) Then you chose your protein (I got pork tenderloin,) white or brown rice, and your sauces (don’t ask me. but they were tasty.) Then you put the veggies and meat in the broth to cook as you go along.


I gave the chopsticks a valiant try. And then the waitress brought me some “chopstick helpers. And then she brought me a spoon 🙂


It was good, but nothing I would probably get again. Here is a picture of a “gelato pop” place. We didn’t try it, but I was fascinated by the display.


And that was all just the first day! Here’s where we spent the majority of our time, in Gene’s garage studio.



The hotel we stayed at was wonderful, and they provided a shuttle to and from Gene’s house, which was great, since I don’t particularly like driving in the big city. Gene’s wife, Marsha is a great cook, and she provided gourmet comfort food for us for lunch each day. And then we went out to dinner….

Yes, as soon as I hit publish, I am on my way to the gym 🙂

The doggies were all happy that I was home, and I felt the same.