Devine site

A little bit about my day, my family, and my knitting.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Best Laid Plans...!!!!

Ok - my intentions were good. As I wrote yesterday, I ordered our Thanksgiving dinner from Publix. I really didn't want to "DO" Thanksgiving, but I knew how much it meant to Gerry to be home in time to celebrate. I was just so tired from the past several weeks, AND going to work these past few days, but....! It's NOT about me, is it? Well, after being up for baby feedings, I mean, giving out meds in the middle of the night, and not being able to get back to sleep right away, I got up EARLY and went to work. Busy day....had to write sub-plans and prepare for not being there three days next week (Kindergarten Conference), meeting with my team, running here and there, tutored two kids (separately) after school...I then drove toward home and went shopping and picked up my Thanksgiving pre-cooked dinner. When I looked in the box and saw the top of the packaged turkey breast, I asked the guy helping me, "Will this be enough for 7 people?" and he assured me it would, as there was no bone, just meat. I took his word for it, finished shopping and went home. When I unpacked everything, I was horrified. The supposedly 4 lb turkey breast was TINY!!!! Maybe enough to make a dinner for 3 or 4, but certainly not for 7. Oh, I have LOTS of side dishes, but could I put this little thing out on the table. Gerry saw it and couldn't believe I got this instead of a whole turkey.

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Just look how small this looks next to my hand!!!!! OY VEY!!!!!

We had a few words and I went BACK to Publix - good thing, cause they had forgotten my cranberry-orange relish. I picked up a pre-cooked whole turkey, 11.25 lbs....much better. Of couse, I found the manager who helped me before and told him, in a nice way, how I felt. He said he was so sorry, and I could bring the turkey breast back and he would give me back the difference in price between the two dinner packages. I thought about it, and it amounted to $5.00...not worth a third trip back to the store. So I thanked him for the offer, wished him a happy holiday, and went back home with the new turkey. Gerry was much happier!!!

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The new turkey....much better looking, doncha think so?

By then we weren't even hungry so we had some soup and then I got to work.I made my pumpkin pie...mmm, the house smells so good....and decided to bake my apple pie in the morning....since there isn't room for it in the fridge anyway tonight.

Ahhhhhh - sleeping in tomorrow (till 8, I hope)....watching the Macy's parade on TV while baking my pie...that's my idea of a good morning. Company doesn't come till 2...ahhhh, once more!

Gerry is doing really well. Mom stayed with him while I worked today and they had a lovely day together. Tonight he's POOPED!!!! and already in bed, but I am on my way as I have had a very, very busy day.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, one and all. I have a lot to be thankful for...I am sure you do too. Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Home, Sweet Home

HE'S HOME!!! YEA!!! Today Gerry came home from the hospital. He called at work and since I already had an all-day sub ('cause I was to be in a meeting all day) I was able to "fly" out of there. He's doing great, looks terrific, just tires easily and walks a little slower. I know he has a long way to go to build up his strength again and get back to normal...will take several weeks, even a few months, but oh, how nice to have him here. The staff at the hospital was so nice (the food was good too) and so aside from the exhaustion of being there every minute that I wasn't working or sleeping, it wasn't a bad experience (well, not for sternum is in tact). Next week we'll see the dr and he'll tell us what Gerry needs to do as a follow up treatment. Now, I'll tell you...a little knowledge isn't all that helpful. I have been reading various sites on-line to know more about internal melanomas. Hmmm....not a good thing, even though the dr said he got the whole mass and good margins. So we know that Gerry will most likely need chemo. What bothered me was that after surgery the dr. told me that Gerry should probably see an oncologist. When I said that we have one near home that we would like to use, he was fine with that. Two days later, in talking to Gerry in the hospital before I got there, he suggested that we go to a cancer center that specializes in melanomas, perhaps Balitimore or Texas. Then he said he'd talk to us some more when we go to his office. So, while I am not one to get nuts ahead of time, I really am a little more than concerned that this isn't over by a long shot. I day at a time. I am the optimist who definitely sees the cup as half full.....just trying to stay like that!

I am so happy that after tomorrow I have a 4 day weekend. Just a small group for, Mom, Gerry's daughter Suzzette and hubby Brian, and our two tenents from the cottage. Shhhhh - don't tell, but I am cheating this year. I decided that with Ger just out of the hospital, I didn't want to spend all my time in the kitchen, so I ordered dinner from Publix Supermarket. I'll make the salad and apple pie, but they are making the rest. I even ordered a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey...I always have to throw the legs and wings away anyway.

I am almost finished with Phil's sweater. I just have about two inches to knit on the sleeves, attach them to the body and make the hood. I also am halfway through a Sugar N Cream cotton facecloth (gift for coworker) and finally got more yarn to finish Mom's shrug. Can't wait to get all three off the needles. Then I will make two or three more facecloths and get onto something new.

OH....just a little aside....did I tell you that I have the two best daughters in the world? Well, I do....Becca....the one who set the ball rolling by talking to her cousin and getting us up to Ocala, gave us her home for a week and then a few days more, and was very supportive of Dad D and me. If it weren't for her we'd just be in the middle of the tests and not up to surgery, and now that part's all behind us. Alison...what can I say? She made me laugh, held my hand and wiped my tears(through the phone), listened to me vent, and was my sounding board through this whole thing. And lest I mom....80 looks like 65 thinks like 45. With me through it all, gave me good advice, cried with me, stayed with me through the surgery and spent a day - ALL DAY into the night - in the hospital with us, did her mom/nursing thing for Gerry (even helped me give him a sponge bath - but I got the "good parts") and is not just a wonderful mother but a wonderful friend! Who can deny that I am a lucky, lucky woman?

Hmmm - think I'll go join the patient for a nice nap. Gotta keep up my strength, too. That couch is beginning to look REAL good to me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Past the First Hurdle

Just want to bring you up to date on my husband Gerry's condition:

The surgery was this morning. Mom and my cousin Ann were with me while waiting. Thankfully, it wasn't lung cancer, but it was a melanoma...which is skin cancer. Gerry had a melanoma on his right shoulder about 14 years ago. They took it out, and it grew back a few month later so they dug deeper. There was no follow up treatment (which is not unusual). However, obviously there were small cells that were left and they found their way into his chest and grew there. The dr. removed the whole mass, plus a small area of lung that it had grown into, plus an area of the heart lining (exterior) that it was lying on. It was done as open heart surgery....through the chest wall (a better recovery as bones heal faster than the muscle that would have been cut through if they had gone through his back). The dr. said that Gerry should see an oncologist, which we agreed he will do. ( I assume that is to make sure that all cells are killed off). The lymph nodes did appear to be clear and the dr. is very confident that Gerry will be just fine, even can go diving in a few months. Gerry is in ICU tonight and hopefully will get to go into a room tomorrow. When I saw him at 5 PM he was in and out of sleep, but at 8 he was awake and aware a bit more, though by 8:25 he was conking out again. Tomorrow, Thurs. they will get him out of bed (OUCH!!), get an X Ray taken, and he'll see his dr. I have no idea when he'll get into a room so I'll go for ICU visiting at 11 AM and plan to stay all day (thank goodness for knitting).

I want to thank everyone for their prayers, support and love. I know he's only just begun the long road back to normalcy, but you all helped us get through the first hurdle. A special thank you to some bloggers....Donna S., Heather, Sarah HB, my secret pal Kate, ...and of course, my wonderful daughter Alison, her mother-in-law (and my friend) Karen, Alison's sister Becca ( a non-blogger but how could I not include her?)...your constant well wishes, positive comments, prayers and support, along with those of our many dear relatives and friends, are what helped this scary ordeal have a good outcome. I so appreciate each and every one, and want you to know that you made this so much easier to handle.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Are We Confused Enough Yet?

For any ( or should I say both) of my loyal readers, I have an update:
Went to the pulmonologist on Monday. He said he had good news from the biopsy report...NOT CANCER!!! We were in shock (you should have seen Gerry's face). The dr. said that it surprised him too, as the CT and PET/CT reports showed a very strong arguement for cancer. The dr. told us that it wasn't 100% conclusive, though, as the needle in the biopsy could have just gotten samples from dead cells. He told us to keep the appointment with the surgeon for the next day, and made an appointment for Wed with an oncologist. Then they would all confer.
We left there cautiously optomistic, but Gerry did feel a whole lot better! We spent a few hours with my sister in law and brother in law (he's actually my ex's brother....divorced the man, not the family). We had a really good lunch...I made the salad, Pat made the entree - I am including the recipe at the end of this post, because it was easy to make and SOOOO good!
The next morning, before the appointment with the surgeon, we took a drive south to The Villages, a huge senior CITY. Gerry's brother and wife were at their house there, on vacation from NJ. We got to spend a few hours with them. the doctor...
The thoracic surgeon was really nice (he even trained with Denton Cooley, known for his work with the aritificial heart). He told us that he relied more on the scans, which lean toward a postive for cancer. But, no matter what, he felt the mass must come out. We talked a bit and then he asked why we were having the surgery in Ocala and not S. Florida. We told him our hurricane story, and he then told us that he used to live and work in SFLA and that his former partner is an excellent thoracic surgeon in Pompano....about 25 minutes from where we live. He immediately got on the cell phone and called Dr. David. Dr. D heard the story and told us to come in Thursday. We did see him today and after looking over all the reports and films, he is setting up surgery for next Wednesday. I know that Gerry is scared, but he is more afraid of NOT taking care of this. The biggest plus is that Gerry has taken care of himself and is in perfect health. We know that this will all come out ok and that in 9 months or so he will be diving with me again.
As for me....Monday I called for the culture results and was told that it was negative....and I was STILL hurting. The dr prescribed a medicine to treat a virus. She said that given the stressful situations we have been going through, my immune system is out of whack and so I can easily pick up any one of a number of viruses. I do feel quite a bit better, though burning and some soreness is still an issue. I also have another problem....and would like to hear if any of you have had this....I have areas on my skin that are VERY sensitive. It's hard to describe, but have you ever slept with your hair going the wrong way, and when you try to comb or brush it the correct way, your scalp feels sore...not an OUCH, PAIN soreness, but a sensitive soreness? I have gotten that now and then on my skin, in small areas, and it goes away fairly quickly. This time I have had it for days....on my left arm, around my wrist, two of my fingers, part of my palm, my middle back and across my belly. I have come to think, after talking to several friends, that it's possibly shingles under the skin. Now I know that shingles is supposed to be a blistery rash, but several people have said that they have had it as I described it. Not much I can do about it, though....the medicine I am on is also for shingles, so hopefully this will go away in time. I feel fine otherwise....not nervous, worried, or anything like that, but I guess my stress is popping out in it's own way. I needed this now?
I returned to work today and got such a great reception from my students. They are SO cute and such a good class. I really missed them, but thank goodness I had a great sub this time. Sometimes you get a person who is barely a warm students could teach the class better than some subs. Kate, who had my class the past three days, is the sister of one of our teachers, and she's great. I will be out Wed and Thurs for the surgery and day after, and feel so confident leaving Kate in charge.
We had planned to go to Key West this weekend, but we are both SOOO tired. Ocala is a 4 hour drive...we did it twice in 10 days. KW is also 4 hours, the other way, so we figured we'd just stay home, do whatever needs to be done here, bond with our dogs, catch a movie, relax! Living in S. Florida, you don't feel as if you've been cheated if you can't get to the's tropical all around us.

OK - I promised a recipe and here it's from a magazine that is called (I think) Quick Cooking Ideas (or something like that)...
Sausage Stuffed Squash
Prep/total time: 20 minutes
2 medium acorn squash
1 pd bulk pork sausage (we used Jimmy Dean ground sausage, a 12 oz roll - you can substitute ground been or meat substitute, but the sausage is SOOO good)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery (we left this out)
1/2 cup low fat sour cream
(I would also add about 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms)

Cut squash in half; remove and discard seeds. Place squash cut side down in a microwave-safe dish.
Cover and microwave on high for 10 - 12 minutes or until tender.
Meanwhile, crumble sausage into a large skillet; add celery and onion(and mushroom). Cook over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream. Spoon into squash halves. Cover and microwavefor 1 minute or until heated through. Yield: 4 servings. Editor's note: This recipe was tested in a 1,100-watt microwave.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


We are heading up to Ocala today, after a cookout with our friends. Tomorrow Gerry has an appointment with the pulmonologist to get the results of the biopsy he had last Wednesday. On Tuesday we'll meet with the thoracic surgeon. We are totally confident that, while we'll be told it's cancer, that it will be treatable and he will be just fine. After all, we have plans to go diving for the next 10 years, at least!!

We returned on Wednesday to no power but we have a wonderful generator. The weather at night was cool so we could turn it off and sleep with open windows. I still wasn't doing well so I went to my GYN for my infection. She told me that I was unintentionally over medicated....being my age (young, but still a menopausal woman), my body's bacteria is out of whack, and stress doesn't help it. Then taking lots of antibiotics, even with the meds for yeast infection, didn't help. She took a culture (results on Monday), prescribed an ointment and lidocaine to numb the area a bit. My new best friend became a squirt helped most of the time. Yesterday I bought Crandopholis....cranberry combined with acidopholis to help bring back the good bacteria. I see a marked improvement....there are actually streaks of normal color within the fire-redness of the skin. At least I can function. Gerry laughs at me as I walk as if I just got off of a horse after a week of riding. Imagine, he's the "sick" one with an alien in his body, and I am the one in pain!

School staff had to report on Friday. I had planned to work until noon but had tons to do...meeting in the AM, lesson plans for next week, and the following week (in case surgery is scheduled for this week, though I doubt it), plans for my sub for two days, room arrangement, etc. I didn't finish everything, but thank goodness I have a laptop that has most of the info I needed to do the rest. I ran out of there in time to get Mom and go for out nail appointments in the afternoon. Then dinner and movies (it WAS Friday, after all). We saw Jarhead, a really good movie about soldiers in Desert Storm. The only thing I didn't like was the ending, but I think I needed to read the book to get more insight into it. I am sure it was exactly what the author intended the ending to be, but to me it was a let down.

While in Ocala we did see several other movies.....STAY (a bit confusing and weird)....THE FOG (I saw it for Gerry's sake....wasn't bad if you go for those kind of movies)....and NORTH COUNTRY - a really, really good movie with Charlize Theron, about sexual harrassment and family relationships. Don't miss that one!!!!

Catching Up

November 6, 2005: Yesterday I ran around doing errands. One of my stops was Victoria Secret, to get Aura Science facial stuff (wash, moisturizer,etc). I had a coupon that gave me one of three free bags, depending on how much I spent. I was so proud of me. I didn't go out of my way to spend enough to get the freebie...I actually bought what I needed, and lo and behold, it was the exact amount for the bad I wanted. When I got to the register they told me that they were out of the silver bag. I was not a happy camper..."while supplies last!"...but the manager was a doll....he looked in the back and found one more. It's a really nice silver tote, trimmed in black. It will make great bag for smaller knitting projects!!

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November 6, 2005: I started working on Phil's 30th birthday gift....a hooded sweater. I am using Lions Brand pattern that is supposed to be done in Homespun. I couldn't find that yarn in the color I wanted (of course, after I purchased other yarn and knitted this much, I found the Homespun). I am using Plymouth Encore Chunky in a light cranberry, and will add a black stripe across the chest and on the arms and hood. I had to go up two sizes in the needles to get the correct gauge. Luckily I listened to my daughter who wrote on a recent blog....I must gauge, I must gauge.....and so I did! Thanks, Alison!!! Phil won't have this by his BD, which is today, but it works up fairly quickly so it won't be long (but I have to tell you....knitting straight st st is SOOOO boring!).

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Filled in some time b/t projects by knitting a washcloth using Peaches N Cream 100% cotton yarn that I received from my secret pal 5. I decided to add a bar of Vitamin E soap, purchased for $.99 in Whole Foods Market, and give it as a little holiday gift to a friend at work. I plan to make 4 more, for my other friends. I used one of the patterns in the Fall 2005 issue of Knit It! by Better Homes and Gardens.

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ARRGH!!! I am almost done with mom's textured shrug and I am running out of yarn. Have to get to JoAnn's or Michaels to try to get one more skein of Electra. Yes, I know it will be a different dye lot but I am hoping it won't be noticeable since it's such a multi-color yarn (the store I purchased it as is out of business). Doncha just hate when that happens?

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I sent for a freeby and received this yarn....a bit frou-frou, but will make a cute scarf for my teen niece.

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Finally, a picture of the beautiful yarn sent to me by my secret pal 6. It is 100% merino - DK/lt.worsted weight in lovely shades of green and brown. Looks hand dyed to me. I love it.

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October 25, 2005 - This is the sky at was a beautiful, cool evening. If you didn't look around the neighborhood you wouldn't know we had been thru the wringer.

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October 25, 2005 - Gas Woes.....Here are Gerry (standing) and our neighbor Mike trying to figure out how to put together a contraption for siphoning gas out of our cars. The lines were SOOOO long to get gas...people waiting several hours in their cars, only to be turned away (this was assuming you could even FIND a gas station open. Many had gas but not the electricity to pump it; many had pumps blown over by the storm). The guys found that there was an essential part missing in the package, so resorted to the old suck and/or blow. However, they soon discovered that cars today have a protective valve that prevents siphoning. Next, Mike heard of a gas station that was allowing only walk-ins, to fill containers for use in the generators. We rushed over there and joined Mike and another neighbor on line, but only stayed 3 minutes. We were told that there was only 500 gallons of gas left, and there were almost 100 poeple ahead of us, some with two and three containers. We went home, but Mike stayed, only to be turned away.

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Here is a bit of that line:

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October 25, 2005 - Day after Hurricane Wilmide Struck Delray Beach

We survived the hurricane but it was really a horrific storm. I finally got some pictures onto my blog to show: This is our new fence that was blown down (we have since put it back up). Thank goodness it wasn't broken, making our job easier. The little structure on the other side of the fence belongs to "the Cow," our not so nice neighbor.

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This is Federal Highway in Delray Beach, heading to Boynton Beach. You can see that trees are down, powerlines hanging, properties (on the right) destroyed.

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Around the corner from our house the entire street was covered with downed trees. It took three days before they could get someone out there to remove the trees. Now there are lots of brown, dead trees lining all the streets. It will take 6 - 8 weeks to get to clear the debris.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Home, Sweet Home

After a week away in Ocala, we are home (temporarily). I have to write my post quickly as we are running on generator power which we will shut down for the night soon, so I don't want to take time to add pix.
Gerry went for CT needle biopsy today. The radiologist was SOO nice (as was everyone else in Ocala Hospital). After the procedure he brought me in and took the time to show me exactly what he did, explaining the picture on the CT monitor (there was the needle in the mass - so cool). Gerry was fine. We had to wait two more hours before we left so they could make sure he didn't become a bleeder or anything like that. Then we were headed home (packed bags were already in the car). We will return to Ocala Sunday evening for dr. appointments Mon and Tues, when we will have results and know the next move. Thank goodness school was closed last week and this week (hurricane damage) so I have not had to lose any sick days so far.
As for me....well, I have one word....OOOOOWWWWWW! We never got to Epcot on Sunday. I had a bad irritation (female-wise) since last Wed. I was given meds Thursday, took them as prescribed, but woke Sunday morning and, deathly afraid to enter the bathroom, I did so out of necessity and.....OUCH!!!!!! (only longer and much louder). So we headed back up to Ocala to a 24/7 emergency center. They confirmed what I already suspected....bacterial AND yeast infection, but to the nth degree!!! Well, friends, it ain't pretty! So, after taking MORE meds - 2 kinds of pills, cream, ibuprophen.....I am still hurting. I called and got an appointment with my GYN tomorrow. However, I was a little PO'D. I explained the situation to the appointment maker. She said I'd need a referral from my primary. I told the nice lady that my primary dr. has NO phone and NO electricity and do NO hours. She then told me I would have to self-pay....over $200!!! NO WAY, Jose! I thought of going to the hospital emergency room but honestly.....though this IS an emergency, things are so bad here in Delray, there are people worse off than I am who need to be at the hospital emergency room. So I called my health plan. They were SOO nice. They will try to contact the dr., but advised me of what I didn't know....that in any emergency I can go to ANY dr. without a referral. The dr. then bills the health plan as an emergency visit. Well, once the dr. gets a look at MY problem there will be no doubt that it's an emergency. But I feel sorry for others....seniors, poor people, who can't get to a dr., can't get their referrals and may not know to call their health providers. It's a lousy situation here (as evidenced by Gerry who would still be waiting to get the ball rolling if we had not gone to Ocala).

Frustration!!! I am almost finished with the textured shrug for Mom (from Ramswool). I only have about 4 inches of sleeve left plus the final edging, and I am about out of Electra yarn. The store that I bought it in MONTHS ago is closed. I have to go searching (probably not too far), not so much for the yarn but for the color. Luckily it's a multi-color, so I am hoping that there won't be too much difference in the dye-lots. So I put that down and started my son-in-law Phil's birthday sweater (which he'll get a bit after his BD). It's the hooded pullover by Lion's Brand. It calls for Homespun but I am using Plymouth Encore Chunky. I had to go up two sizes in needles to get my gauge, and went up a size in the pattern as the first 20 rows looked way too small for Phil. I really like working with this yarn. It's pretty soft, frogs easily and moves nicely on the needle. I bought the yarn when I was with Alison in GA two weeks ago. After I bought it she told me that I needed much more than the pattern called for (she had made it in Homespun and didn't have enough). So, the wonderful child that she is, she got me the yarn....two black (for stripes) and two more of the red (even asked the owner to get the same dye-lot for me from the backroom).
Third project....square washcloths, to be put with nice soap for holiday presents to friends. They are a quick knit, using Peaches N Cream or Sugan N Cream and size 7 needles. I made one in seed stitch, and will make others in box and stockinette.
Time to shut the generator for the night. Hope to be able to sit down next time I post!!! (ouch!)