Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas 2008

Well, Christmas 2008 dawned rather late this year...

Grumpy Guy and I were up at the usual hour...but no teenagers. Oh, remember the days when we had to threaten them to keep them from waking us up earlier than 5 am........

So we had our coffee and waited for the children to awaken and tromp downstairs to see what Santa had brought.

They did, shortly after 9am. At least I THINK they were awake.

They didn't stay vertical long.

Note, that "G", the gerbil that was a psychology experiment and now a family pet, is the only thing moving in this photo. Yes, Cruisegran, when you come to visit, "G" will be out of site.

Stocking were emptied of fun contents

Prezzies were opened, revealing lots of nice smelling things..

"Dreaded White Boxes" weren't so dreaded after all...

And I had fun taking photos of everyone!

Trying on new stuff proved for rather interesting ensembles

And a book from a favorite author is always appreciated.

GG stole the camera as the last present of the morning was opened...

And the elves listened.....VERY WELL... to what the Goddess and Tsarina of Maison Cou Rouge really REALLY wanted for Christmas...

A wonderful Christmas morning elapsed into a quiet Christmas afternoon then our friends the Flamingo and Cousin It came for Christmas Supper of Rib Roast, Daddy Rice, and tons of Southern Veggies...

See why we call him Cousin It??

And Flamingo, it's a DAMN good thing I forgot that the camera won't rotate movies, or I would have posted the video of you demonstrating the Cuban is hilarious. (and is now in the blackmail vaults).

Girl's BFF came over and crashed with us

Until most everyone went to sleep......

Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Enough about medical procedures and other junque that makes up the stuff that is called "life"--
there are much more interesting things to discuss...namely--


Although my family says otherwise, I do adore cooking. And for the first time in a LONG time, I feel adventurous..inspired?? Mischievous? Well, I was watching THIS program on the Food Network, and was all over it like a duck on a june bug. And having to travel to Augusta for a post-op checkup with my doctor afforded me the chance to visit one FABULOUS store The Fresh Market... and I got a glorious leg of here goes...

Call me kinky, but there's just something about a boneless leg of lamb massaged with olive oil, garlic and rosemary that turns me on....

and one of the joys of living in the South is that my rosemary grows to bush size right outside by back door.. but excuse the fallen leaves from the neighbors' oak trees....the entire plant is about a cubic yard/meter !!!

Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs!!! I even use it in flower arrangements...

And my Alaskan mezzaluna makes chopping it up soooooo easy.

All tied up ready to roast

baby artichokes have to be trimmed up

I haven't cooked much with fennel, but I will in the future- I LOVE it roasted!

A Christmas Eve's Eve kitchen still life

And into the oven it goes--all in one pan! Even though the lamb is boneless, the recipe recommends using the joint bones to prop the roast up for added flavor...and other reasons (see below...)

And a little over an hour later....roast, fennel, potatoes, and artichoke hearts with a yummy whitewine and roast lamb juice sauce is ready!!

Plattered up and ready to dig into! Rare to medium rare- just how we like it.

Even Chip enjoyed it--she rarely gets table treats, but since it's Christmas...the leg bone was all hers!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

E's Odyssey

Good Morning, boys and girls. Today’s blog entry is brought to you by three words beginning with the letter “B”- biopsy, breast, and benign. Please note that it is the last word-benign- which is the most important.

“Benign”- \bi-ˈnīn\ - adj- of a mild type or character that does not threaten health or life ; especially : not becoming cancerous

So the begin the tale, I must begin with a prologue to set the scene. Before Grumpy Guy became a “turnaround” specialist, he was a sales representative for a medical imaging company. His territory was New York City, and so he knew some of the best doctors in the country. We lived in the area when it came time for me to start having annual mammograms, and it just so happened that one of his clients was a doctor who has the reputation of being the best in New York, the best on the East Coast, and probably the best in the country- Julie Mitnick, MD, and her cohorts at Murray Hill Radiology. So it was there that I went. I can say that their care of me has been extraordinarily attentive over the almost 15 years I have been going there-annually- for my mammograms and sonograms. But I get the feeling from talking to other patients that they treat every patient with as much care as they treat moi.

So every year, when it’s time for the annual trip to New York City with CruiseGran and the Louisiana Ladies, I go up a few days ahead, and have all my “films” done. Well, this year, Dr. M just didn’t like the looks of one tiny (I mean a one millimeter ) area. Now, with most patients, it would be a “let’s look at it next year and see what’s happened”—but since CruiseGran had breast cancer at 46 (and, 25 years later, after a lumpectomy and radiation, is still outrunning all of us put together) Dr. M wasn’t taking any chances. Well, it wasn’t just Dr. Mitnick—I had four of the five doctors in her practice consulting—so they tweaked schedules, rearranged patients, and managed to squeeze me in (which, by the way is quite a hilarious statement in a practice devoted to mammography and breast sonography…) and I had a stereotactic core biopsy of the area.

No, it wasn’t bad. The worst part was having to lie perfectly still for 20 minutes on my stomach with my left breast through a hole in the table and in a vise (that description is for men and any women who have yet to have a mammogram- any woman who has had one knows exactly what I am talking about here). Some lidocaine, and one big “SPPROOIIINNNGGG” noise later (they don’t warn you about the noise…that may be the only thing I’d change in their procedure protocol) and the worst is over. Didn’t find out how big the needle that they have to use is until later. Much later. Not as big as the thing they use to drill oil wells, but pretty close. They turn on a machine that sounds like a cross between a jet engine and a Hoover canister vacuum, and about five minutes later, the sample taking is done. They place a metal “clip” in the area to point to the area sampled (more on that later) - and you're finished. Some steristrip bandages and you’re back cruising Fifth Avenue window shopping. With the admonition “don’t worry until I tell you to worry.”

Next day, the doctor calls. It was still the “don’t worry” speech, but accompanied by “nothing malignant, but something atypical” and it should be surgically biopsied. And a repetition of the “don’t worry speech”. I listen to doctors. I don’t worry. Call me naïve, but I don’t worry.

Grumpy Guy, on the other hand is freaked out. No, he sounds calm, but I can tell he’s freaked. Sweet guy…he really is. He goes into- and don’t get pissed, honey, but this is a perfect description- “Al Haig mode”. Remember when President Reagan was shot, and VP Bush was out of Washington, and the Secretary of State Al Haig made the famous “I’m in Control” speech? If you do, you’ll understand-if you don’t, you won’t. Moving on…..

Back in Middle-Of –Nowhere, I get to the business of Thanksgiving. Little do I know that GG has pre-informed doctors and has readied the powers that be to anticipate surgical scheduling at any moment. Oh, no no no---I gotta get through Turkey Day. I didn’t get around to seeing our family doctor the first week in December. Then I found out how GG had everyone on standby. His best friend in Atlanta had even researched doctors up there and had my recovery all readied. I love friends.

Anyway, so a few phone calls later, and I have a consultation with the most marvelous surgeon in these parts- Dr. Karen Yeh. Seriously, anyone needing a top-of-the-line breast surgeon, Dr. Yeh’s your girl. Again with the scheduling and “geeing-n-hawing”, paperwork and pre-op stuff, and I have my date with a sterile surgical suite all set up for Thursday a week ago.

The worst part of the surgical biopsy, I kid you not- was waiting until the whole damn thing was over at 6pm to eat or drink anything that day. We arrived at 11am to be admitted to University Hospital’s Day Surgery (again, great place to have to hang out, hospital wise—really wonderful, caring nurses and technologists). At noon, I’m in radiology having my “wire’ placed. As this is an area not readily visible or palpable, the radiologist uses the “clip” referenced above, to place a needle to the site using, yes, another vise-like grip of the mammo machine. Lots of lidocaine- nothing hurts. Once he gets to the correct location, a wire is fed through the needle and the needle is removed, leaving the wire as a guide for the surgeon.

I am the only biopsy patient to ever want to have a picture of a syringe sticking out of her breast, they tell me. No, I didn’t get the pic (although it would be GREAT for next Halloween, I’m sure) but I DID get a picture of the implements used. This is when I was told how big a needle was used for the core biopsy. You still don’t want to know.*

So I leave radiation with a long piece of wire hanging out of my boob. Yes, I know- too much information- but I thought it hilarious. Back up to day surgery, where I get a nice bed, with blankies, and a TV with a gazillion channels on it. To wait until my scheduled surgery time of 3pm.

The usual pre-op routine—IV in the hand-which made knitting uncomfortable, so I napped; nurse marking me on my left side so to avoid confusion (like this wire sticking out wasn’t indication enough...I wondered if I should draw a smiley face or write something witty to entertain the masses); and before I knew it, my lovely anesthesiologist was filling me full of nice fentanyl to make me twilighty. Yep, I was awake, but didn’t give a damn about anything. God knows what secrets I revealed. Well, I haven’t been arrested yet….. They put up a drape so I couldn’t see what was going on, which is a good thing-considering the way I was feeling, I probably would have tried to do the surgery myself….

An hour later, I was back in my room, having my IV removed, and told to go get something to eat. The twilight sedation had not lessen my hunger, so GG was kind enough to speed me through a drive-through fast food establishment, and then was careful to keep any articles of loose clothing and appendages away from my mouth until I got my snout out of the trough.

Home again, and into bed. Lots of nice, lovely sleep, courtesy of Tylenol 3 with codeine. The weekend was a blur. Not really the most effective use of the penultimate weekend before Christmas…but hey, you play the hand that’s dealt you.

So the waiting began. Thing about having surgery on late Thursday afternoon..pathology doesn’t even get the samples until mid-Friday. So results won’t be returned to the doctor until Monday at the earliest. Monday came and went, with the doctor’s office telling me it would be sometime late Tuesday before Dr. Yeh could call me with the results.

“The waiting is the hardest part”- isn’t that what Tom Petty sang? Well, it’s true. “Don’t worry” sorta goes out the window by “Day Four” of waiting. One minute, everything’s great, the next minute, I’m trying to decide whether to let my hair grow out grey after chemotherapy (well, it worked for a while with Elizabeth Taylor, didn’t it??) One minute, what’s for supper, the next “who will take care of the kids when I’m gone?”

Well, finally Dr. Yeh calls, and “Yeah” is what we said. Everything totally benign. Hot damn and hallelujah. I was glad the kids were at home at the time- the four of us had a giant “group hug” and there was rejoicing—for about a minute. Then back to our respective corners, to continue life as normal.

But this odyssey has taught me a few things. Here’s my top ten….

  1. Don’t worry-it does no good.
  2. Find doctors you trust and listen to them.
  3. It’s okay to let people spoil you. Or spoil yourself, if necessary.
  4. Friends- female or male, close by or long distance- are the most wonderful things God ever created.
  5. 30% is a way different number pre-surgery and post-surgery.
  6. Everything happens for a reason.
  7. Never underestimate the power of a good-fitting sports bra.
  8. Hearing a fluid-filled breast slosh around can cause your children to fall into fits of hysterical laughter.
  9. Attitude is EVERYTHING.
  10. LIFE IS GOOD!!!!

*Ok, if you’re really curious. It’s a size 9 bore needle…about the same circumference as your ring finger…..

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's getting closer...

With every year, I get more and more behind during December.

Oh, I was so good when the kids were younger. Christmas presents would all be purchased by October. Wrapped and ready to be mailed by November 15. Everything but the tree finished by December 1.

What happened to me???? Why do I do this to myself? Here it is, December 10, and although I've had my cards printed since October, I have yet to address one. Ok, I addressed one while on "hold" with someone's customer service department. Whoopee.

So now I have cards to address and mail, a photographic family calendar to create, presents to the immediate family to purchase, and presents to mail to Louisiana. Oh, yeah, and teachers'gifts to worry about. And canvases to paint. And threads to order. And bills to pay. And dryers to get fixed.

Which is why I'm typing here, and when I finish, I'm going to go knit on a sock.

Call me an ostrich..but this elf is going to go hide her head in the sand. For the forseeable future.

Til then, here are some pictures for your entertainment.........

We traveled to South Carolina to visit Grumpy Guy's brother and the whole clan the day after Thanksgiving...

We hosted a charity game supper for 12 at Maison Cou Rouge last Friday...

There's a house near Brentwood that has so many lights (this is only half the yard!!) Girl says you can probably spot it on Google Earth..

It got so cold one night last week that the water in a birdbath froze...even the angel looks cold...

Boy and Girl received their "All Region"plaques at the sports banquet last week- he for football, she for cross country running...

and Boy has taken school spirit fashion to a new--um--LEVEL- in basketball-fan dressing for away games... technically, is still meets the dress code if he leaves the hat in his truck during school hours....but don't get an iron NEAR those polyester pants....they will melt!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Obituary for Common Sense

Interesting and sadly true, today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, 'Common Sense', who has been with us for many years.

No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as: Knowing when to come in out of the rain; why the early bird gets the worm; Life isn't always fair; and maybe it was my fault. Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouth wash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an Aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault. Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion, his daughter, Responsibility, and his son, Reason. He is survived by his four stepbrothers; I Know My Rights; I Want It Now; Someone Else Is To Blame; I'm A Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

Whilst I'm in Crazy Mode......Have Fun!

I could survive for 1 minute, 13 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor

Created by Bunk

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Design Process

For those of you who have expressed... um..anxiety? . ..about my not posting (and you know who you do I) here's what I have been doing instead of entertaining you with the goings on at Maison Cou Rouge..

I've been working on two needlepoint canvas commissions. The design process is not unlike other media, with the added fun of not only incorporating color and texture, but also the elements of stitches, canvas and thread materials into account.

So how does it work? Well, first of all, I'm blessed that the people I design for pretty much let me run with ideas. They tell me what they are looking for, and rein me in when I go too far afield.

It helps the design process that I am a needlepointer myself. So I know what will work, and what won't.( For example, you're never gonna get a perfect circle out of slanted stitches.) Shapes have to be interpreted and repeats figured out. There's a bit of math involved. And a lot of flying by the seat of my pants.

I always encourage my clients to use the best quality materials. With all "needlesports", I prefer working in silk or wool, because it lasts. When one invests this much time into a project (hundreds, sometimes thousands of hours) one should plan on the work being handed down to one's grandchildren. Yes, I have already warned my own children that if they ever throw out one of my pillows, hangings, or objects d'art, I will come back from the grave to haunt them. I will be a little more forgiving on the knitted objects, but not much... but I digress...

So back to the works at hand. the first one is a wall hanging for a shop that is decorated in the colors of South Beach Miami. Pinks, greens, blues...and flamingos everywhere. Here's what I came up with via my watercolors and my computer...if you look closely by the tail, you can see some penciled notes for threads, stitches, or embellishments..

I'm really loving this chick's face...

Once I get a final approval, I use my incredibly inexpensive lightbox to transfer the painting to canvas (why buy a lightbox when sunlight and a large window in my office will do....) This is another commission..

I trace over my major outlines, making changes for stitch patterns where necessary

Ending up with something like this.
Next, I'll refine my design and get my paint box out...but that's for another day.
So no, my dears, I haven't been lying around eating bonbons all day...or playing on the internet...much.......................

Monday, November 24, 2008

Because I am a Knitter....and a Blonde....

I can post things like this...under the category of "Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they will never cease to be amused...."

A highway patrolman pulled alongside a speeding car on the freeway. Glancing at the car, he was astounded to see that the blonde behind the wheel was knitting!

Realizing that she was oblivious to his flashing lights and siren, the trooper cranked down his window, turned on his bullhorn and yelled, 'PULL OVER!'

"NO!" the blonde yelled back, "IT'S A SCARF!"

Body Statistics

Dear friend Jan sent this to me today...very interesting facts!! ENJOY!


It takes your food seven seconds to get from your mouth to your stomach.

One human hair can support 3 kg (6.6 lb).

The average man's penis is three times the length of his thumb.

Human thighbones are stronger than concrete.

A woman's heart beats faster than a man's.

There are about one trillion bacteria on each of your feet.

Women blink twice as often as men.

The average person's skin weighs twice as much as the brain.

Your body uses 300 muscles to balance itself when you are standing still.

If saliva cannot dissolve something, you cannot taste it.


Women reading this will be finished now.

Men who read this are probably still busy checking their thumbs

Because You Asked.....

Yes, I've been on my annual trip to New York with CruiseGran and the girls... and looking back on the photos, it should be no surprise to me that I came down with a kidney infection whilst there, given the number of THESE shops I visited...

The Atlanta Airport

Lexington and 59th


55th and Lexington

Off Times Square

Near the Apartment Madison and 36th

Lexington and 52nd