Monday, July 27, 2009

What a Bargain!

Michael and I like going to the local thrift shops from time to time just for fun. We've found some great bargains there occasionally. Like Saturday. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a Huskylock serger in a carrier bag for $20! The cords were all there and the machine looked in pretty good shape except for a lot of lint - obvious the previous owner used it. Even though I've never used a serger before, I snatched it up. Michael found a website where we can order an owner's manual. Andrea used a serger in her theatre class last fall - to make outfits for the play. Once she returns home from her mini-vacation I'm hoping she'll show some interest in using it.

My devious streak is continuing - Michael's done nothing but sit at the computer, sit whilst working on his model trains, sit for meals, etc. (you get the picture) So I used the trip to the thrift shops and IKEA as a means to get him moving. Not necessarily to make any purchases. We did a lot of slow walking - he used his oxygen, but still struggled at times.

As planned, did a lot of cleaning this weekend around the house. Also made time for sewing but not until Sunday afternoon. I pieced together all 30 blocks for the Stash Pot Pie class assignment and got the border half done when I realized I didn't have enough fabric for the second border! This means a road trip to the shop at lunchtime. Started working on a scrappy bag for my clothespins as the sparrows have ruined the two bags I had on the clothesline with their nests.

Did you ever feel like God is discreetly trying to tell you something or spur you into action on specific item? This morning at 6am, I ran into Pastor Tom at the gym! He remembered my e-mail from last week and promised we would get together soon. You can't convince me that there wasn't some "guidance" in creating that meeting, as brief as it was.


Friday, July 24, 2009


Michael does not believe in God. I worry about this a lot and discussed it with the Christian counselor I've been seeing at our church. The counselor suggested that we get in touch with the lead pastor and see if he had any suggestions. Pastor Tom has offered to meet with Michael. Michael being Michael will probably guess what we're up to, so Tom is going to visit on the pretext of seeing how "I'm" doing and if there is anything he can help with prior to my surgery. Devious? Probably, but Tom's not going to preach - it'll just be a get-to-know you session. And if I know Tom, he will view Michael as a challenge. Religious views aside, those two would probably get along very well.

I'm still anxious about it.

Things are still rather tense at the office. Several more changes have been announced, but no more job cuts at least. One of our reinsurers informed us today that they're cutting staff as well. I can only pray that I'm able to weather this storm without too many challenges.

One of my co-workers and I went to Seams Sew Easy for a Christmas in July sale. I got some backing material for the Thimbleberries Lakeside quilt and the borders for the Stash Pot Pie assignment. They had some really cute Christmas things out, but I just wasn't in a mood or financially able to pick those up. Later..........

I've completed all 30 of the blocks going into the Stash Pot Pie assignment and hope to get the entire quilt completely finished by class next month. With Andrea gone on a mini-holiday until Tuesday, I'm hoping I'll have a bit more time to sew this weekend.

Other than that, no plans for the weekend. The house desperately needs a good cleaning. Good time to do it with the kiddies out and about.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Wake Me Up!

Despite working out this morning at the gym, I'm having a devil of a time keeping awake at the office. Complete lack of motivation. Good thing the boss isn't here yet! LOL

I thoroughly enjoyed Stash Pot Pie class on Saturday morning at Best Friends. Many of the same people from last year's sessions were there. I didn't have last month's project to display, but I did have Michael's train quilt for Show Off and Tell:

Got to visit a bit with Jill and Linda who were both working at the shop. After class, I didn't stick around too much - who can resist buying more fabric in that place? I avoided the temptation by going home!

Talk about frustration! I went to the grocery store that afternoon, shoved all the bags into the car and discovered the lock on the back door was wonky - it wouldn't latch and the screws holding the locking apparatus were loose and nearly falling out. I had to phone Michael to bring a Phillip's head screw driver and help me try to fix the lock before all the meat and frozen stuff went back. (Thanks goodness it's not been hot here lately!) So, that was my "challenge" for the weekend. Nothing was lost, fortunately. Groceries are far too expensive to have to toss out!

Andrea and I took Michael to see the Harry Potter film and he was well pleased. Said it was the best HP film yet!

On Sunday I started the blocks for the SPP assignment for this month. It's one of those things that once you start, it's hard to stop working on it. The pattern requires you to slice the blocks into quadrants and then re-arrange the quadrants. Definitely a fun project.

It's truly amazing how much better Michael's been doing since he stopped working. His demeanor has done a complete turn-around. Don't get me wrong - he's still a crusty, opinionated, stubborn "git". But, he's happy. Nobody's making any demands on him or his time. Practically the entire weekend, he was in the train room working on the models and listening to music. He struggles for breath whenever he walks anywhere, but he refuses to wear his oxygen for those times.

One more month until school starts again and I can reclaim the family room! Andrea camps out in that room all day long and night too when she hosts one of her frequent sleep-overs.

Have a great Monday and I'll try my best to wake up a bit!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Calming Down

Finally, we're able to slow down with the hospital, doctor, and "officialdom" appointments. Michael went to the dentist for a new crown yesterday and he claims this "is the last bloody time I'm going to the dentist". Hopefully, that won't be the case and he will need to return for at least his regular six-month cleanings for a while.

Michael quit working. It's truly amazing how vastly his mood has improved and he's sleeping much better at night. I even got an e-mail from him this morning at work, just like the Michael of old, asking about my day, sending me hugs, etc. Since Michael doesn't have to be in bed so early now, we watch movies together in the family room with Andrea and Tattoo Boy (if he's home). Last night we watched "Last Chance Harvey". Not a great film, but at least we're doing things together as a family again. I've missed that. So, dear ones, life is slowing down for the Howes. If all this draws us closer together - I can handle the loss of Michael's income. It'll be worth it.

After dinner last night, I got sort of restless and felt like there was SOMETHING I should be doing. (Ever get like that?) So, I found the gift card for a pedicure and manicure Tattoo Boy gave me for Christmas and used it. I'd never had a pedicure before and it was lovely. Talk about a de-stressor! I could easily get hooked on that kind of luxury every couple of weeks.

Nothing planned for the weekend except a Stash Pot Pie class at Best Friends quilt shop. I've been a SPP drop out since December. Hoping to get some sewing done on my boss' quilt. I just have the nine-patches to complete. The autograph patches are here at the office and I'm collecting signatures a couple each day - just whenever I see people. Need to be careful to do this when the boss is out. I need to figure out what quilt to donate to the United Way raffle this year - that's not far off.

Jill informed me that I made the "cut" for the Bonnie Hunter classes in Indianapolis next month. I'll start "collecting" what I need for those classes this weekend too!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How Tired Is Cathy?


I feel like I've been on the "go" since Monday at 5 am. My work schedule is all out of whack, that's for sure.

Michael's heart cath went well - he was up and about as soon as the doctor said OK. There was a slight pressure increase in the right side of the heart, but nothing like they expected. Since Michael has ruled out being a "guinea pig", there's nothing more to do. He's insistent the cath is the last medical procedure he will agree to. I took him to Golden Corral for his birthday meal - he loves that place. I haven't finished his train quilt yet - have one more side to handsew on the binding. Perhaps finish that tonight.......

Once I was certain Mr. Michael was going to be OK by himself at home, I agree to accompany Andrea and her buddies to the midnight movie premier - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Talk about a madhouse - but it was fun and the movie was enjoyable. I surprised myself by staying awake for it. By the time I got home at 3:30, I was beat and that alarm going off at 8 am - UGH!!!!

My gynecologist is definitely recommending a hysterectomy. It's my choice when. So, I looked at the vacation calendar at work to see what weeks have the least number of folks out. I'm going to talk to our department VP tomorrow - the same one who terminated the underwriters last week. I want his agreement that just because I need to take a short medical leave, he's not going to put the hammer down on my job. I'm paranoid, yes, but so is everybody else in my department.

I think I'm going to tidy up a bit around the house, sew a spell and get to bed early.

Sounds like a good plan!

Monday, July 13, 2009


Michael and I had the "pleasure" of a meeting at the Social Security Administration building in Hamilton this morning. In preparation for said meeting per their instructions, I obtained medical records, Michael's birth certificate, a copy of his divorce decree from Margaret, our marriage license, medical records, lists of medications, medical tests, name of doctors, tax records and his driver's license from the UK just for good measure. They didn't ask for or need half of what I was told to prepare!

At one point, the interviewer asked me why I was answering all the medical questions for Michael. I explained that I coordinate all his medical information and I deal with medical issues on a daily basis. At that point, Michael piped up, "Because if I talked that much, I wouldn't be able to breathe." Bravo, Michael!

Michael was a good boy during the interview. He despises dealing with government agencies and if they had been nasty or rude, I was prepared to watch him get up and leave. Fortunately, that did not happen.

Since I married Michael in 2002, I have dealt with Immigration and Naturalization, the IRS and now Social Security. I'm thoroughly convinced the people who work for these agencies have received no people skills training and the individuals who design their offices have Edwardian England in mind! We had to sit in a cubicle with at least five feet between us and the interviewer with a sheet of Plexiglas between the three of us. I had to really struggle to hear the interviewer's questions. I recognize that everyone who visits these offices isn't the nicest, but why treat everyone like a criminal or cattle? What these agencies fail to realize is that most of the time Americans have little interaction with them. When we need an agency like Social Security, it's when we're already facing a stressful situation. Having to deal with red tape and all its twists and turns, just adds fuel to the fire.

And when your spouse says it's a waste of time and we won't see one "bean" before he dies, that's enough to send me to the liquor cabinet!

Yesterday, I managed to quilt the Train quilt I pieced during the guild's fall retreat. Also got the binding on and I'm currently hand-stitching it to the back. It'll be Michael's birthday gift tomorrow.

His other "gift" is the heart cath.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tough Day

Things are not real smooth sailing in the Howe household these days. Tough issues to talk about.

The pulmonology appointment went as badly as I expected. Michael's lungs are worse and we're headed toward complete pulmonary failure - when is anybody's guess. The echocardiogram showed up as normal - but the doctor wants to run a heart cath since the predictive value on that test is far superior to any other tool they have. He was so sure the echo was going to show pulmonary hypertension since Michael has all the symptoms of that problem. The echo is less invasive and doesn't require anesthesiology - a big factor when dealing with somebody with dicey lungs. There is medicine they can give him for the pulmonary hypertension that will aid in breathing. So, I'm in favor of getting the test done. Then Dr. Dortin wants Michael to see a specialist at the University who is doing research on IPF. Michael wants no part of that I did get him to agree to the heart cath.

ME: I don't want to be sitting here alone one or two years from now and find out that this test could have given me more time with you. I couldn't live with myself.
MICHAEL: OK, I'll get it done.

Cathy won this battle folks!

Round Two: Cathy won this one too! Michael agreed we need to get wills drafted.

I went to the Christian-based counselor tonight - the timing was good on this. He suggested two books to read over the next two weeks since he's going on vacation, but wants to see me once a week for while. I have grief issues. (no,duh!)

My cell phone rang when we left the doctor's this afternoon. It was my friend Diane from work. After I left the office at 2:30 this afternoon, the company laid off three underwriters - one from my area! The underwriter who was terminated is the same lady who lost her fiance three weeks ago and the day after his funeral, she had to hospitalize both her parents. How much can a person stand? I made Diane swear to me on the phone that I wasn't going to be laid off tomorrow the minute I set foot in the office. She said she was told this was all the layoffs for now. We're supposed to have a meeting with the VP who did the hatchet job tomorrow at 8:30. I'd get banned from the blogging world if I wrote the names I have for this idiot. Our department was five percent ahead of last year at this time in production and we lose a key staff member? Makes no sense. But this is coming from the man who never sets foot in our department and probably doesn't even know how to spell disability.

Big praise - Mom's body scan was normal! Thank you, God!

I'll write more tomorrow. But for now, keep us in your prayers.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Getting Better

There's nothing like three days off work to re-charge and feel better about life. Especially when you can do things you enjoy.

I spent a great deal of my time in the sewing room this holiday weekend. Thursday night I quilted four placemats which have languished in my UFO stack for months. I attached the binding and started the hand sewing the next day. The kit that I bought at the Lebanon quilt show last month was next on the hit list and I finished all the piecing on it. Since Joann's was having a 4th of July sale, I headed over there for a few items and found a comfort quilts book for 40 percent off. I raided my scrap bin and pieced together one of the patterns from that book on Saturday - very pleased with that!

When we had dinner with my sister-in-law, Karen, on Friday night, she mentioned they are returning to Haiti on a mission trip this October. She wants to especially support a sewing school. I asked her if she'd be interested in some materials and threads from my stash and she was real enthusiastic about that idea. I went through five of my stash bins and found A LOT of fabric that no longer suited my needs or likes. I had a ton of thread too that I don't use since I decided when I really got into quilting that I only want to use Guetterman for piecing. Imagine Karen's face when I lugged forty pounds of fabric and a two-gallon Ziploc bag of thread into her house!

Andrea, my brother and I went to the Reds game yesterday - boo, hiss they stink! But, I love going to their games nonetheless.

Michael's about the same - angry. He won't use his medicine or oxygen when he should. He went to work on Friday and I fully expected him to turn in his two week notice, but he chose not to for some reason. Friday morning was lovely for me - got up when I felt like getting out of bed, leisurely breakfast, sewing. I looked at the time close to 10:15 and started having palpitations when I realized it was nearly time for him to come home. Such a drastic change for me - not long ago, I couldn't WAIT to see him every day. I've decided to not fight back when he says hurtful things or criticize my actions - it creates too much tension. And that affects Andrea. She has done nothing to deserve that kind of atmosphere in her home.

The first part of this week is busy - guild meeting tonight, dinner out tomorrow, and a counseling appointment on Wednesday night after Michael's session with the new pulmonologist. I'll need another weekend by then!


Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Day After

If you want to read about sunshine, rainbows and happy times my suggestion to you is not to read any further on this posting. I'm writing today more as a means of therapy for myself and not to log or document my latest quilting achievements - there are none lately.

I'm deeply troubled by a conversation Michael and I had last night about his failing health. He insists that the only reason he hasn't stopped working is that I will make his life a living hell if he does. My focus needs to be on him enjoying his last days on earth. He claims I don't care about him the way I should. I repeatedly told him quit the stupid job then. But he won't because of the aforementioned perception. Oh, but he let it slip that there's a small life insurance policy that would be paid upon his death if he were still working at that time and he wants that to go to his kids. "I'll die at the dairy," he claimed.

For much of his tirade, I just stood there unable to respond to much of it. (I've never been one to verbalize quickly.)

"I worry about you," I calmly said, "Particularly about your soul."
"Your soul - what's going to happen to you after you die."
He laughed at that, " My soul is going to float back to England and the mountains."

He then continued that to start believing in God at this point is hypocritical and he's not going to even entertain discussions about it.

We talked about "useless" medical tests, even more "useless" doctor visits and the worst of all - the upcoming appointment with Social Security. "It's a bloody waste of time," he ranted. "I'll be dead before I see bean one."

With that, I responded that it would possibly benefit me and help with our expenses. That was surely the worst thing I could have said. I was "reminded" that my concentration needs to be on him, not on anything else.

"Aren't you worried about what's going to happen to me after you die?" I asked.
"No," he claimed, "Not at all."

I didn't know what to say or do at that point other than retreat to the sewing room. Ever try pressing clothing when your eyes are full of tears? I wouldn't recommend it.

Now, I don't blame him for feeling so self-centered and having a "woe is me" attitude. But the things he said to me were so off-base/wrong it hurt. And he had the nerve to ask me for a kiss when I returned to the bedroom. How is it possible to expect affection when you've just told me you don't care?

I read blogs written by other women who have lost or are losing their spouses and I'm impressed by their husbands' dignity and grace in facing the final good-byes. Obviously I cannot expect dignity, grace or caring from Michael. The only thing I can count on is myself and my inner strength to get through all this.