next_to_normal: (VM exasperated)
1. I have decided to get myself a TV streaming stick, either a Roku or Amazon Fire. I am leaning toward Roku based on internet comparisons, but I do have Amazon Prime and a Kindle Fire, so I'm open to being persuaded in that direction. (Also, I have a suspicion that as soon as I buy a Roku, they will announce that they're coming out with a newer model, whereas Amazon already did.) Anyone have a recommendation or preference? (Obviously the best time to purchase such a thing is AFTER I spent the weekend binge-watching not one, but TWO TV series - Jessica Jones and The Man in the High Castle - on my laptop. Both shows are highly recommended, FYI.)

2. I really want to email this to my mother and be like, "Do you think maybe we could try this for a change?" I might possibly be cranky after a phone call this weekend in which I mentioned having a lot of pain this week, and her response being, 'Well, you have been doing a lot of cooking lately and eating more than usual." Like, SORRY MY BAD for trying to eat relatively balanced meals and maintain a healthy weight. Maybe I should go back to eating nothing but grilled cheese. I get that she just wants to be able to make me better and critiquing everything I ingest is her trying to ~solve my Crohn's but CROHN'S DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY and just once I would like to say, "Hey, I'm in a lot of pain," and hear, "I'm sorry, honey, that sucks," instead of, essentially, "Well, that's what you get for eating FOOD." 

3. Speaking of food, I made butternut squash soup this weekend. I'm not even going to bother linking the recipe because the proportions were way off and I ended up having to add more than twice as much chicken stock as the recipe called for in order to get the right consistency, so I'll be looking for a different recipe the next time I make it. My parents have one, but it makes about eight gallons of soup, so I figured I'd just look for a smaller batch recipe online, but this one was not a winner. Tasted fine, though, once I made it not mashed potatoes-esque. 
next_to_normal: (Andrew cooking)
Look at me go!

Rosemary Olive Oil Crock Pot Bread - YOU GUYS I BAKED BREAD IN A CROCK POT. I don't know why I am so excited about this achievement in particular, considering I've done a fair amount of cooking and this was ridiculously easy, but something about the novelty of baking bread in the crock pot makes me want to brag to everyone I know. The bread is delicious, btw. I have eaten it every day since I made it, and I have some epic plans for grilled cheese if I can stop myself from just eating it slathered in olive oil (definitely try it with the olive oil herb dip included at the same link). There will be more soon enough, though, because my mother has already demanded that I make it again when I come home for Thanksgiving.

French Onion Beef Stroganoff - This is another recipe from the same blogger, and it's another winner, so I'm thinking I need to just work my way through the entire site. I am not usually big on beef stroganoff, since I don't really like mushrooms - I actually left them out when I made this one - but I loooooove french onion soup, so adding beef and noodles couldn't really go wrong. I also didn't bother with the red wine, since I don't drink it; I wasn't about to open a whole bottle just for 1/4 cup to cook with. I added extra broth instead, though I probably didn't need to, as the sauce was very liquidy and needed longer to reduce than the recipe said. But hey - I've got delicious bread to sop it up!

Butternut Squash Casserole - So this is the casserole recipe I was going to make last time, except I forgot to buy squash. On a related shopping note, I happened to do my grocery shopping on Saturday with [personal profile] angearia and [personal profile] gryfndor_godess and they must be good luck charms or something, because all my recipes turned out awesome this week! (And I managed to get all the correct ingredients, lol.)

Anyway, this recipe kind of ticked me off - or rather, the lack thereof ticked me off. I don't remember how I stumbled upon this link - I get daily emails from, but I also may have been searching for something - but reading through the post, I was super excited about the goat cheese + parmesan combo, and then I clicked on the link for the recipe, and it turned out it was the ORIGINAL recipe, pre-modifications, which is completely not what the post's author described. My parents may be of the "exact measurements are for losers" school of cooking, but I prefer specific instructions. So, if you are like me, and you're all, "Okay, but HOW MUCH goat cheese did you use? What is the ratio of goat cheese to parmesan? And goat cheese is a totally different consistency than cheddar! Will it melt the same?" I went with 2 cloves of garlic tossed with the squash and olive oil before roasting (which took more like 40 minutes to get to tender). I used 1 cup of goat cheese and 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan to make the cheese sauce, and then another 1/2 cup of parmesan sprinkled on top. I also added 1 tsp each of fresh rosemary and thyme, since I had it left over from the bread and stroganoff recipes. I do like the combo of sage and butternut squash, so I might try that if I made this again, but you definitely have to add something, as without any herbs or spices at all, it'd be pretty bland.
next_to_normal: Spike and Dawn looking thoughtful; text: are you pondering what i'm pondering? (Spike/Dawn pondering)
Is anyone else watching The Affair? The plot is... pretty self-explanatory. It's about two people who are married, not to each other, and having an affair. The initial hook was that each episode was divided into two parts, telling the story from each main character's POV, sometimes repeating the same events but with contradictions or inconsistencies that suggested intriguing things about memory and unreliable narrators. Except by the end of the season, the versions were sometimes SO different that you couldn't tell what actually happened, like, from a basic plot perspective, which ended up just being distracting.

So I wasn't even sure I was going to watch season 2, but then I did, and weirdly found myself most concerned with a totally minor thread in which the main character's teenage son is having stomach aches - like, up until this week's episode, it is not even mentioned often enough to be a legitimate subplot, it literally is just a vague thing happening in the background of the story. To the point that I was seriously questioning myself, like, is the show that boring or am I just that obsessed with digestive problems that I will latch onto any character experiencing them, no matter how minor?


But then that got me thinking that this is probably the first TV character I have ever seen with Crohn's disease, and in general how rarely we see ANY kind of chronic illness on television that isn't cancer. I mean. other than President Bartlet's MS on The West Wing and Michael J. Fox on The Good Wife (and his short-lived sitcom, where his character also had Parkinson's), can you name any? I sincerely doubt this "kid with Crohn's" plotline is going to become a huge part of The Affair - if it comes up again at all, it'll undoubtedly be only in the context of how his parents handle it, since they're the show's main characters.

Maybe that's because living with chronic illness doesn't fit neatly into a plotline. I mean, cancer has a well-defined arc - it's a character-strengthening battle you either win (yay happy ending!) or lose (tragic death). But most chronic illnesses just go on and on and maybe there are ups and downs, but there's no END (granted, some illnesses are irreversibly degenerative, but it's usually a long-term thing that won't kill you nearly quick enough to be dramatically relevant). The best you can hope for is managing your symptoms, and in general you just live with it every day and it sucks and probably is kind of boring and nothing anyone would want to watch for entertainment. 
next_to_normal: (choose your weapon)
Well, it figures that as soon as I post that I'm doing okay enough to eat real food again, I start feeling worse again. FFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUU

Anyway, I did manage to start cooking again long enough to put a post together. Except I totally had an ingredients fail with TWO out of the three recipes I had planned. First, I had the idea to make shrimp scampi to use up some shrimp I've had in the freezer for FOREVER. Except, of course, I didn't bother to check the shrimp before I went shopping and as I'm about to start cooking, I open the bag and discover it is freezer-burned all to HELL and too gross to look at, let alone eat. So, cancel the shrimp scampi.

Then, I realized that I went grocery shopping totally planning to make a butternut squash casserole and somehow bought all the ingredients EXCEPT THE SQUASH. I wasn't about to go back to the store, so this is what I made instead:

Peanut Butter Snickers Pie - Or "how to use up your leftover Halloween candy," lol. I was actually looking for a recipe that would replicate this amazing peanut butter pie served at a restaurant near me, and alas, this is not it, but it's still pretty good. It got thumbs up all around from my coworkers when I brought it into work. I definitely took the "stronger peanut butter flavor" option and added the extra 1/2 cup of peanut butter. I also used chunky peanut butter, which probably wasn't necessary, since the candy made it chunky enough, and Snickers already has peanuts in it.

Pasta with Prosciutto and Melon - Watching The Sopranos has me all craving cured meats, so I bought prosciutto on a whim and then needed to come up with ways to use it. I was kind of skeptical about a pasta sauce made out of cantaloupe, but it actually tasted really good! The cantaloupe cooks down into a kind of goo, so it's not like you're eating fruit salad with pasta in it or anything, and really the strongest flavor is the lemon, so the cantaloupe is more of just a vague sweetness.

French Pork with Apple Cream Sauce - I was originally looking for a base recipe I could fiddle with, because I wanted to use the goat cheese I bought for the squash casserole. (I was going to maybe combine it with this one or this one.) But then I decided not to use the goat cheese (it'll keep longer if I don't open the package), so I mostly followed the recipe as is. Except I didn't have any cider, hard or otherwise, so I used vegetable stock instead. Also, by that point, I'd looked at about a dozen recipes involving some combination of pork, apples, goat cheese, and heavy cream, and I think every single one of them used different herbs, so... I decided to add all of them? I didn't have any fresh thyme anyway, so I just browned the pork without it, and then added 1 teaspoon of dried thyme to the sauce, along with 1 teaspoon each of sage and rosemary and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Came out pretty delicious, so I stand by my "all of the above" strategy.
next_to_normal: (Miss Kitty Fantastico)
So I have not updated in forever. I blame it on the drugs. I am still on Percocet, my mother is worried I will become an addict, but my doctor said, "If it hurts, take as much as you need," so I am all, "YES THANKS TAKING ALL THE DRUGS" because I still have a lot of pain for some reason? Like, the nausea is (mostly) gone, way less diarrhea, and I am basically eating food like a normal human again. (It doesn't seem to matter what I eat, so I figure I might as well eat normally if it's going to hurt like hell anyway.) So, I mean, other than the DAILY BOUTS OF EXCRUCIATING PAIN, I'm kind of feeling better? I guess?

Poop and travel and weight loss and cat teeth )
next_to_normal: (Miss Kitty Fantastico)
Before we get into the latest health debacle, here is a public service announcement: NPR is streaming the cast album of the new musical Hamilton for free before it's available to buy (Friday on iTunes). And you should totally go listen to it, because it's Lin-Manuel Miranda and Alexander Hamilton and hip-hop founding fathers, which totally should not work, but it's fantastic and frankly would have been worth puking my way through New York to go see it a few weeks ago (though fortunately I did not have to, because it was during my 10-day non-puking window, more on that later). 

Hamilton is the most talked-about musical of the year, and it's totally going to win all the Tonys, and it's sold out for months, so back in July when my theater buddy Christi suggested we get literally the last two available tickets for Labor Day weekend, I figured hey, why not? Maybe I'll be better by then. Which was foolishly optimistic, but again, no puking so it all worked out, I guess, and I'm really glad I got to see it.

So go listen and be jealous that I've seen it.

And now the health )
next_to_normal: (Cordy WTF)
Rather than do another whole "yes I'm still basically dying" update, I will just let you assume that everything is still terrible (it is) and instead copy and paste the following g-chat exchange between myself and [personal profile] per_aspera_ad_astra :

Kelly: here, watch whine about it
i'm sure you have a co-worker or two like this

god the bathroom thing
which is exponentially worse in my condition

Kelly: i can't even imagine
his rant about reply all was pretty emotional, haha

Me: the worst is when you run into them right outside the door
and you can't like, suddenly change direction like you were going to go somewhere else
so you HAVE to go in with them
and then they start talking to you
and keep talking when you go in the stall
and it's already going to be blatantly obvious that you're taking a lot longer than them because you are clearly sitting there waiting for them to leave so that you can poop
but then it's like, they don't want to leave without you b/c you're ~having a conversation
and it's like JUST GTFO
meanwhile my ass is turning purple from the strain of ~holding it in

Kelly: you have really stupid co-workers

Me: yeah
I mean, I don't mind exchanging a "hey how are you" if you're just there to pee and you run into each other at the sink
but for god's sake, you know I have a digestive condition, go away so I can poop
maybe people don't realize that I am ALWAYS there to poop?
I am never not pooping
actually, i take that back
sometimes I'm there to vomit
once, a coworker stopped me on the way into the bathroom to chat and in the middle of the conversation I literally gagged and clapped my hand over my mouth and ran inside

Kelly: omg
yes, your coworkers have got to learn better bathroom etiquette

Me: to be fair, the same coworker was nice enough to offer to drive me home afterward so I didn't puke on the metro
don't be stopping a girl on her way to puke or you might get puked ON
next_to_normal: (Sarah LOL)
ONE DAY after posting that Sopranos post, I drove home to my parents' house, only to discover that "Tony Soprano's Pizza" is apparently opening up in the space where our old local pizzeria used to be. 
next_to_normal: Tony Stark wearing sunglasses (Tony shades)
Whenever anyone would tell me I should watch The Sopranos, I used to joke, "What do I need to watch it for? I've got my own dysfunctional Italian family." It was the same reason I always gave for never having seen The Godfather or any of the other mafia movies. But, you know, it was always meant to be sarcastic, because I was pretty sure my life actually bore very little resemblance to a TV show or movies about mobsters. I did grow up in New Jersey in an Italian-American family, but although we certainly had a criminal element, as far as I can tell, the crime was anything but organized, lol.

But people keep telling me how good it is, and this summer one of my favorite TV critics was doing a rewatch of the first season, so I said what the hell, I'll give it a shot. (I've only seen the first season so far.)


Very minor spoilers, mostly just me blathering about my childhood )
next_to_normal: Spike and Dawn looking thoughtful; text: are you pondering what i'm pondering? (Spike/Dawn pondering)
1. Is it problematic that my diet now consists almost exclusively of grilled cheese? I do occasionally eat other things (eggs, for example, which seems to be the only food left I have not at some point vomited back up), but I had TWO - count 'em - TWO grilled cheeses today. Not for lack of trying - I made an attempt at broth at lunchtime and chicken for dinner, but couldn't manage more than a few bites of either.

Something about that combination of buttered bread and cheese - which they tell you not to eat when you have an upset stomach! No dairy is one of the main things they tell you! But this is not your normal nausea, apparently - manages to satisfy my stomach's desire for solid food, because the nausea kicks into overdrive on an empty stomach, while also not being substantive enough to cause too much abdominal pain as I digest, while ALSO apparently being bland enough not to upset the delicate balance in there but not SO bland that the mere thought of choking it down makes me want to hurl (like the chicken, pasta, rice, crackers, toast, and every other goddamned starch on the planet). 

2. Why don't they just sell ginger ale already flat? I'm sure there are a few people out there who actually like drinking it (my mother is one of them), but it's also sort of universally accepted as "the thing you drink when you have an upset stomach" but for that it's supposed to be FLAT, so why not just sell a non-carbonated version? It'd probably be a big seller! Because it is a pain in the ass to have to sit there and stir out the damn bubbles. When I want my ginger ale, I want it NOW. I've actually taken to pouring out glasses and just letting it sit, so that by the time I'm ready to drink one, it's already flat. 

3. Is sympathy puking a thing in cats? Chelsea chokes up the occasional hairball just like anyone else, but she's vomited twice during the last couple weeks I've been sick. I know that seeing (or worse, SMELLING) someone throwing up can cause an upchuck reflex in people, but CATS?

(Actually, I think I know the answer to this one. I think it's just that she eats too fast. Because occasionally I'd forget to feed her so she'd be really hungry? And by "forget" I mean "lay down to take a nap, totally meaning to get up again before I go to bed, but I was on that crazy knock-out medicine so six hours later the nap turns into just going to bed" and I'd feed her the next morning.)
next_to_normal: (nap)
but you're legit not sure you can stay awake the half-hour until it starts.

You guys. YOU GUYS. I have not, in all my bitching and moaning about ~nausea and ~vomit, discussed how INSANELY TIRED I have been lately. I knew (because it was listed as one of the side effects, and also the pharmacist was like, "No, seriously, don't take this and then try to drive a car") that drowsiness was one of the side effects of Compazine, aka anti-nausea medicine number two. And I recognized that I was sleeping a lot, like more than is normal, even for a dehydrated and malnourished person, and that even the nature of my sleep was not normal.

This is a whole post about sleep )
next_to_normal: Aaron Tveit in Graceland (Mike Warren)
This season's "big bad," such as it were, is a character named Ari Adamian, heir of an Armenian crime family, played by Rhys Coiro.

He also, I have noticed, bears some resemblance to my gastroenterologist.

At least, a younger version of him. And I have no idea if Coiro's accent is at all accurate, but it is similarly foreign enough, given my zero talent for identifying accents, to remind me of my doctor's accent (he's Hungarian). It's the kind of thing where the accent probably wouldn't ping me at all except he LOOKS like him, too, so. 

So now if you watch Graceland, you too can picture my GI doc as a crime boss. And when they make the movie of this part of my life (working title Vomit: The Neverending Story), I know who will be playing Dr. H.
next_to_normal: (Miss Kitty Fantastico)
So I can post something that's not all Crohn's gloom and doom. Snagged from [personal profile] slaymesoftly  

Read more... )
next_to_normal: Cordy making a "yuck" face; text: yuck (Cordy yuck)
I swear, when I started talking about Crohn's on this blog, I didn't intend it to be all "OMG I'M DYING" posts to gain sympathy. To be honest, part of it now is just needing to write it all down just to convince myself this is actually happening because WTF even. 

So, I last posted on... what was it, Tuesday, right. And I was having some trouble with vomit. So yeah, that continued, and worsened, and I went to the doctor on Thursday, and he sent me to the ER for an immediate abdominal/pelvis CT scan to check for any intestinal blockage. Well, "immediate" and "ER" aren't really things that go together, unless you are literally bleeding from a gunshot wound, but apparently normal radiology places don't like walk-ins demanding same-day scans at 3pm, so the ER was better than nothing? (Easy to say when you are the doctor ordering this, and not the person who has to sit in the ER for 9 hours.)

I spent most of it in an actual bed, rather than sitting in the waiting room or a hallway or something, so that's a plus. And let me say that every single person who worked there was unfailingly nice to me. But it took 9 hours just to get a CT scan, which seems a tad inefficient. While I was there, though, I also got a liter of IV fluids, since I was horribly dehydrated after several days of vomiting and diarrhea. That actually helped a lot, I think, and possibly kept me from vomiting again until I went back to my doctor on Friday morning. 

The scan showed no blockage, which: yay! but also: that means we still don't know why I'm vomiting. My doctor no longer thinks it's just a side effect of the Humira, because a.) it just got crazy worse with no corresponding increase in dosage, and b.) I was actually on a much higher dose back when I first started the drug trial (indeed, that was the entire POINT of the trial), and I wasn't vomiting then. So *shrug emoji*.

End result: I am now on a new, srs bsns anti-nausea medicine (which also apparently doubles as an anti-psychotic) and have been eating solid foods for the past two days without incident. Hopefully this means our long national nightmare is over, and I can just go back to the business of feeling shitty for the usual reasons. 
next_to_normal: (Buffy sigh)
Haven't had much to say, sadly. Health continues to be a clusterfuck. I did get anti-nausea medicine that helped for a while (until it didn't), and I went on vacation, which was fun and relaxing (except when it wasn't), and now everything is terrible.

Read more... )
next_to_normal: black kitten on white background; text: stomp. stomp. stomp. (kitty stomp)
The last couple days I've been... well. "Better" is not really accurate. The abdominal pain has been somewhat less, but the nausea is off the charts.

I feel like I am going to throw up ALL THE TIME. But I very rarely ever actually throw up, so it's just this constant state of feeling like I could at any moment? Like, you know that feeling when you're on a roller coaster and you hit the big drop and your stomach lurches? I'm basically walking around feeling like that all day.

It varies in intensity throughout the day, from "oh dear that's unpleasant" to "holy shit get the barf bucket!" but in a way, that's actually easier to deal with than the pain, because at least it is not physically debilitating. You know, as long as I just keep reminding myself that I'm probably not going to hurl, and so no matter how much it might feel like it, I can probably just keep going about my day and be (sort of, relatively) fine.

And then I threw up this morning. So much for that theory.

Mental health blather )
next_to_normal: (slayer barbie)
I was chatting with [personal profile] per_aspera_ad_astra the other day about how deciding what I want to eat is essentially a question of what shape I want my pasta to be today, because that's basically all I eat. (In case you are wondering, today: stars!) And Kelly was all like, damn I should've bought stock in pasta, except of course I don't have any particular brand loyalty in that regard.

But there are several brands which I DO have a preference for, because they make life with Crohn's bearable. (And should any of them want to talk corporate sponsorship of this blog, please email me!)

Ensure - Nutrition shakes with 26 vitamins and minerals, and pretty much the only thing standing between me and scurvy, or some other vitamin deficiency-related disease, because heaven knows when I last managed to eat a fresh fruit or vegetable. I am partial to the strawberry and butter pecan flavors. Also comes in powder form, but I prefer the ready-to-drink shakes.

Jell-O - Mmmm, jello. Gives the illusion of eating solid food while actually being neither solid nor food! Handy when I can't actually handle eating food but need to get my blood sugar up so I don't pass out.

Cottonelle Flushable Wipes - Because my bottom is delicate and cannot handle the abuse of toilet paper at the frequency with which I need to wipe my ass. I buy 'em in bulk, but I also kind of want a travel-sized pack to take with me everywhere I go, so I don't have to use public restroom toilet paper. Honestly, I may never go back to regular old toilet paper, because this is so much better. Babies got it made, yo.

Calmoseptine - This goes on my butt. It's a healing/pain relief ointment for open sores, diaper rash, and other skin irritation, with menthol for a soothing cool sensation that one Amazon review likened to sitting on a peppermint patty. :D I actually got the recommendation from some Crohn's forum I was browsing (I may have googled something to the effect of "how to make my butt stop hurting Crohn's diarrhea hemorrhoids HALP") and those people know what they are talking about. Sweet, sweet relief.
next_to_normal: (Buffy ugh)
Sorry if this ends up becoming The Crohn's Blog for a while. It's been sort of all-consuming lately. I've been feeling more depressed and anxious about it than usual for some reason. Maybe it's the duration that's getting to me? I don't think I actually feel worse than I did when I was first diagnosed - when I actually ended up in the hospital - but it seems less tolerable than it was six years ago.

What happened to the girl who would throw up in the morning and still go to work, because it was only worth a sick day if I threw up more than once? I mean, obviously that's sort of crazy, but I feel like I was a lot tougher back then and shit has just worn me down so that half the time now I don't even want to get out of bed in the morning, and I've been taking days off far more than I ever thought I would. And my boss has been unbelievably accommodating in letting me work from home, but I also feel guilty because whether I'm in the office or not, I know I'm not getting nearly as much done as I would if I weren't sick. (Then again, this job requires me to do actual work. It was a lot easier to go to the office at my old job, no matter how sick I felt, when 80% of the time I was there by myself and just watching Netflix.)

And I also just don't have a lot of optimism left. We've run through most of the major drug options without success. I can keep hopping from clinical trial to clinical trial hoping for a miracle, but that in itself is exhausting, because it means more doctor's visits and more colonoscopies, and half the time it doesn't have any effect at all.

I have two more weeks before I can switch to the weekly Humira dose. If that doesn't improve things, then after 8 more weeks I can try another study, this time for an antibiotic. I'm just... tired. Of all of it. And wondering how many more things there are to try before the only options are steroids or surgery, both of which are awful choices.

Also, GOD I MISS FOOD. I've been mostly eating pastina, soup, and Ensure, and getting kinda sick of it. This is why restrictive diets don't work, because when I am food-deprived, I crave EVERYTHING. Like, we're at the point where I hear about Pizza Hut's new hot dog stuffed crust and think, "OMG THAT SOUNDS DELICIOUS," even if it also makes me feel a little nauseous thinking about it. That's not right, y'all.

Cut for weight/body stuff )
next_to_normal: (Buffy ugh)
I am officially a member, as I had my fifth colonoscopy yesterday! And what an honor, to have achieved this at only 31, having long ago surpassed my father's piddly count of two (at 63 years of age), and closing in on my mother's more impressive six (also 63, family history of colon cancer and polyps). To be fair, though, she started at 40, so she's had 23 years to rack up that number. I did mine in six years. *drops mic*

I did the math, which is depressing. My doctor recommends having a colonoscopy every two years. They generally stop performing them once you hit 75 or so. But that's for colon cancer screening, I guess because they figure the chances of you dying of something ELSE is much higher at that point, so why torture the elderly unnecessarily? Could be there's no limit for Crohn's. So, conservative estimate, assuming I live to be 75 and don't have many more years like this one, where I had two colonoscopies in 3 months for clinical trial purposes, I'm looking at another 44 years of every two years.

That's 22 more colonoscopies. TWENTY-TWO. Conservative estimate.

That seems... unfair.

In other news, y'all know that my dad is a fairly skilled amateur home remodeler/mechanic/handyman. We always joke that he should have his own HGTV show called "Projects Without Permits," since he is not actually licensed to do any of the things he does, but that really only matters because homeowners' insurance can be sort of picky about paying for accidents resulting from unlicensed construction/electrical/plumbing work. But that's only if something goes wrong. Which it never has.

My mom, on the other hand, is very talented at many things, but home repair is not one of them (you should try her lasagna, though!). So their latest project is remodeling their master bathroom. My dad has completely retiled the floor and the shower, installed new fixtures, sink, vanity, etc. My mom's job? Paint the linen closet. The linen closet is a rather tight space, so for this job, she had a little mini paint roller with a matching mini paint tray. I am told it was adorable. I never saw it, for reasons that will soon become clear.

So at one point, my father walks into the bathroom, into what he describes as a scene from The Three Stooges: My mother is standing on a step-ladder, leaning over to reach the back corner of the closet, except that as she leans, the paint tray tilts with her, and so it is spilling paint all down the step-ladder and onto the floor. While bending down to clean up the spilled paint in the narrow space, she bumps against wet walls both in front of and behind her, and now has paint in her hair and on the back of her pants.

She resumes painting. Somehow - and neither one of them could tell you precisely how it happened - she manages to fling the mini paint roller so vigorously that the sponge part flies off the handle and directly into a hole in the wall, which my father had made in order to access the water pipes for the shower. So my mother, already covered in paint, is now sticking her entire arm into this hole in the wall in an effort to retrieve the paint roller.

Dad: "You're going to get stuck."

The paint roller is never recovered.

Later: My parents have come to visit for my colonoscopy, and my mother has decided that I need plants on my balcony. She loves flowers, and rather enjoys gardening, so I let her do her thing, even though there is a 90% chance I will kill them within a week. My father and I are watching with bemusement as my mother sits out on the balcony, digging around in a flower pot with a kitchen spoon, because $11 was too much to pay for a shovel at Home Depot, and of course I don't have one. Gardening is too dirty. Which I say, out loud, and my mother mocks me for it.

And then she accidentally flings dirt out of the pot and all over her shoes. Me: "I rest my case."

When she's finished her planting - and her side of the balcony is smeared with mud - she realizes she can't come in the house without taking off her shoes because she'll track dirt in, but she can't untie her shoes until she's washed her hands because her hands are caked with mud. Me: "Would you like some wet wipes?" Mom: "Shut up. And yes."

Once she's got most of the dirt off her hands, she realizes she forgot to replace the garden flag in one of the planters. The garden flagpole is tethered to the balcony railing, because it gets super windy up there on the 6th floor, so sticking it back in the planter involves some maneuvering. My mother's solution is to tip the planter sideways and slide it under the flagpole's bottom prongs. Immediately, it tips too far and more dirt spills out onto the balcony. My mother looks at her hands, looks at the dirt, says, "Oh for God's sake!" and starts picking it up by the handful and tossing it back in the pot.

Dad: "What'd I tell you? Three Stooges." Me: "More wet wipes?" :D


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