Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween!


I woke up to the most perfect Halloween morning I believe I've seen in some years.  There is a storm front approaching our area, so the skies are overcast and an insistent breeze urges the leaves to take flight in showers of scarlet and gold.  Inky black crows occasionally pass overhead as they go about their mysterious duties.  Though I've always been happy to have left my childhood years behind, Halloween is the one holiday still able to conjure the spirit of nostalgia for me.  Keep in mind, Halloween when I was a child bears almost no resemblance to what occurs today.  At least, what I see.  We took great delight in making our own costumes or getting our parents to help a little.  Though we were right on the cusp of different times, children could still roam freely about their neighborhoods at night with little adult supervision, and it was okay.  There was no rampant paranoia, no PC and thank God, no Trunk or Treat crap.  You actually associated with your neighbors, although the one creepy house in every neighborhood was staunchly avoided, that night in particular.  All the houses kept at least one pumpkin alight on the porch, the universal symbol for available candy, but most of our decorations were simply the drying fields of corn silently watched over by real scarecrows, not the garden variety bought from Wal-Mart.  Swirling clouds of leaves against a twilight sky are remarkably hard to differentiate from hordes of bats.  At least, in a child's view of that night.  Maybe, because of those times, Halloween was the one night a kid could look forward to being freed from the oppression of, well, over-enthusiastic authority, let's say.  No matter how creepy a candle lit house was to approach with it's glowering black cats, those terrors could be easily outrun and laughed about later.  The fear and anxiety of what sometimes awaited at home though, was a different matter.  But for that one night... we were the wild creatures.

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I thought I'd also repost another Halloween edition from way, way back.  Most of you probably have not read this one.  It's an oldie but a goody, to me anyway.

In honor of Halloween I thought that I would post something a little different for you all. Most of you know I have been working on a restoration of this very large house in Birmingham. Some of my early posts show some details of the house. I've been so busy lately I have not put much up about it in awhile so, here we go. There is a very large room on the bottom level (it has 5 levels) of the house that is actually a hall taken from a castle in England and shipped over here and reassembled. The weapons and armor and other decorative items (there are some jousting lances in the corner) have all been authenticated to be from the Middle Ages. The man who built this house was a little eccentric and loved anything to do with England. Unfortunately, he didn't get to live in the house very long before the Depression hit and he lost his fortune. He tried to conserve his money by living down in these lower levels and eating creatures he caught on the property as he was a pretty good hunter and his trophies from his big hunts are still displayed all over the house. But, alas, it was not enough and he could not make his last payment, so the bank took the house and all the contents. Some say he cursed the house when he was forced out and something horrible has befallen every owner since him. Some say that the wife of the 4th owner haunts the house because she was murdered in her bedroom.

Let me tell you what I know and have heard. I haven't seen anything since working in the house but I have heard plenty that I cannot explain. I was working on the outside of one of the windows to this room one day. The room is half below ground so if you are outside you can walk right up to the windows. I had the window open to work on it and therefore I could see and hear what went on in the room. For the most part, we are not allowed in the house and the exterior doors are kept locked. Well, I was just working along and I distinctly heard someone walk across the room. The floor is limestone and so it's hard to walk across it quietly. It was so audible that I just casually looked down into the room to see who was in there, because it's a little unusual for people to be down there. No one was there. A few more minutes passed and I heard them walk by again. This time I leaned in the window all the way so that I could get a good view of the whole room. As before, no one was there. There is a back door to the room but you can't open it from the outside and it makes a horrible noise when it is opened so I would have heard if someone came in that way. About 20 minutes later one of the other carpenters came to help me get the window put back together and as we were working on it we both heard the footsteps again all the way across the floor. We turned, without saying anything to one another, and looked down into the room and of course, didn't see anyone. We looked at each other and I said, "You heard that too!" Stubbornly he said "I didn't hear anything!" but we threw that window back together and hauled our butts out of there.

Later, I was down in this room on another occasion with one of the masons cleaning up after a storm because the ceiling leaks some now. This is one of the items we are in the process of repairing. Most everyone else had left and the owners were not there. We suddenly started hearing this woman talking and just going on and on about something. At first I thought someone had just called and I could hear the answering machine from upstairs but I realized that is impossible. The walls are 2 feet thick for the most part and all the phones are way up on the top levels. It was so loud we thought maybe some neighbors had walked over so we went out the back door to see who was around. No one was there. It got quiet for awhile but then started back up after about 5 minutes. We looked all around the back yard and when we came up to the main levels we looked around to see if the people had come home but no one was there. Neither experience was really frightening, which is surprising to me because I can be a real scaredy-cat sometimes. When I went down this afternoon to get these photos though, I made one of the guys go with me. Halloween....in this house... I'm not taking any chances!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Wrack My Brain

I can so relate.


Well, before we even got home Friday the doctor had gotten my MRI and reviewed it and sent me an email to tell me that my brain looks great!!  No lesions or tumors and it was nice and full.  Of bullshit probably. haha!  Those last words are mine by the way, not his.  So, that's great and I'm thankful but it does leave me scratching my head still about what's wrong.  I'm not sure what to do next, if there is anything to even do or try.  You know, nobody wants to have something wrong with them,  but as bad as I feel at times it's kinda hard to believe there's not something outta whack somewhere.

So, I just wanted to leave a quick post to let ya'll know what the results were.  I'm especially glad my noggin is healthy because I never want to go through one of those test again.  I had the MRI of my neck you know, and it was no problem, but something about this one was very different.  It was all I could do to lay still and not freak out.  I was happy to build the structures for those machines way back but that's as close as I ever want to get to one again.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Someone Out There


So...I owe ya'll the story of just how I got in to see a decent doctor....Now, if you've been reading this blog for a bit, you know I've written of some fairly, umm, serendipitous events in my life and I know that some of them might have seemed a bit far fetched.  However, I assure you that they are all true, as with this story.  I honestly don't think I could make this stuff up if I tried. 

A few days after I had announced that I would be suspending my blog, I sat here in this chair one morning with a Birmingham phone book in my lap.  My tunnel vision had opened up enough that I could see that my kidneys probably were not the issue after all.  And I know that laypersons should never try to diagnose themselves, but I had to try something.  I mean, the doctors I had seen weren't battin' any higher.  Might as well do a little research and in the course of that I thought maybe I should try a neurologist.  What the hell?  It seemed the only thing left.  I know many of you have had your own wranglings with our wonderful health system and know you don't just waltz in to see a specialist though.  A few phone calls that morning proved that once again.  I sat at the kitchen table on the verge of tears trying to think of which doctor to beg for a referral and hoping I could get in before November.  I decided to take a shower, because that always makes you feel better, and on my way past my desk I saw I had received a new e-mail.  Half-heartedly I sat down.  It looked like spam because it started with "Edifice Rex..."  Spam usually does.  I opened it anyway and read the short email.  I questioned my eyesight and called Jack over to read the email.  This is part of what it said:
" I am the head of Neuro-oncology at UAB and a neurologist.  Don't worry, I don't think you have a brain tumor but I would be happy to see you or review your records to help get direction on solving your health problems."  I guess you never can tell who might be reading your blog.  He suggested I Google him to check his background, which I did, but are you kidding me?  I would have been tickled to get in to a doctor at Brookwood or somewhere but the head of the department at UAB!!... Yeah, I'll take that.  After I was able to pick my jaw up off the floor, I replied with the requested info and within the hour a very nice assistant called me to verify an appointment 2 days later at the Kirklin Clinic no less.  Now, for those of you who don't live in Alabama, being asked to come down to Kirklin is, in the medical world, like being asked to come to Carnegie Hall.  It was a totally different experience to me.  I was treated like a person and the doctor listened to me!  For a long time!  I know it doesn't take much but my mind was boggled.  I have hope again.

So now.  Another round of blood work done, 15 minutes or so of funny exercises to see if I could touch my nose, touch my toes and Friday morning I go let them shoot dye into my veins and take pictures of my brain.  So... we'll see.  Will these new tests reveal anything? .  Either way, I know that every once in a while we encounter an individual that teaches us not to despair.  There are good people everywhere.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Color My World



I'm not sure we are going to get much foliage color this year so I thought I'd concentrate on the other beings that lend their color to the autumn season.  I love mums.  I think probably because they are so tidy and they last a long time. 


 I think they prefer pumpkin sushi to baked pumpkin.  I thought maybe it would be easier for them to eat and enjoy a mushier gourd because raw pumpkin can be kinda tough.  They didn't seem particularly impressed.  The raw, squishy guts however, initiated a lot of squawking and feather pulling to see who could get to the goodies first.  I was proud to see the Americaunas are getting over some of their shyness around the older hens though.  At least when there are yummies to be had.


And they finally started laying their pretty aqua eggs!  They are not yet quite up to size but it shouldn't be much longer.  We'll take what we can get right now, as all the other hens are on molting strike.  Hopefully they will get over that soon.  We don't have enough eggs to sell right now!


It's been beautiful weather lately but we could use a little rain.  Funny, we had so much back in the summer and now just nothing.  I started to say the chickens are enjoying it but the past couple of weeks they stay holed up under the deck half the day.  Seems a large deer died over on the other side of the big creek and the buzzards have been frequenting the area more than usual and at a much lower altitude than the chickens are used to.  Poor things, they can't easily distinguish between a buzzard or a hawk.  They only know a large shadow from above can mean death, so the buzzard's careless meanderings over the yard sends them scurrying for any cover they can find, usually the deck.  Apparently the hens do realize that I offer some protection for them, however abstractly, so I try to sit out in the yard each day for a spell and that usually brings them out to graze and scratch.

Hey, a question for other bloggers:  What is the easiest way to repost old posts?  I know many people come here (or did anyway) to read about home construction and building and due to being sick I just have not had anything new on that in a very long time.  Thought I might dredge up some old projects that might be of interest. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Good Friday

Hello Everybody!!  (you have to read that with Grover's voice by the way.  You know, from Sesame Street).   Just a note from me to express my deepest appreciation for all of the sweet comments you left for me on the last post.  I'm sorry I did not answer each one like I normally do but it's not because I'm not grateful for them.  It's just that typing has been rather difficult for me lately and can be pretty frustrating.  I have to really concentrate and then I still make so many mistakes it takes me a while to correct them.  I can't quite tell if it is the brain fog not letting me think well or that my hand coordination is that off.  I do have some good news, although I can't elaborate on it much right now.  I can say that I did get in to see a doctor this past Friday, a specialist, and you are going to get a real hoot out of it when I tell you the story.  I am waiting for permission though, to know just how much I can tell you.  Many institutions have policies against blogging or social media stuff so I don't want to get anybody in trouble even though I have nothing but good stuff to say.

So.  I do also know that even though I think the nsaids did affect my kidneys, they are not the problem.  I was just stuck in neutral on that one as I can often do.  I have had more blood work and am awaiting my appointment for an MRI of my brain.  Or at least, an MRI of the hole where a brain should be.  I am feeling a fair amount better physically.  The shadow of exhaustion is slowly drawing back up into the cavern from which it came.  The malaise.  That's the word the doctor used and you know they love those descriptive terms.  It is a good one however.
Through all this lately my friend and neighbor Fred has had heart surgery for the second time, so I have taken time to go see him.  I was at the hospital some of the time anyway so it was no big deal to go up 3 floors.  Allen and I kinda look after Fred (he's 86) but Allen has done the greatest part of the work on this episode.  I feel bad about that.  They have released Fred to stay in a nursing home for awhile, so I was able to redeem myself today by going to purchase new bedclothes and such for him and getting him set up with all that.  Allen will hardly buy new clothes for himself and God only knows what he would have picked out for Fred so it was probably for the best.  Men shopping for other men often resemble deer frozen in the proverbial headlights.

So, thank you all again for all the well wishes and prayers.  Erin, your comment made me laugh out loud.  I love all of you too, in a non-touchy, non-creepy way.  Especially Pablo, who's a sweetheart.  Rita, I don't have any bowls made at the moment but hope to be throwing again soon, maybe tomorrow, and I will throw some.  Tell me what color you might want.  Oh, and thank you Bea for the card!  It was sweet and beautiful photo on it.  I will try to be back soon with another post and some photos at least.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Give Out

The continuing saga of Edifice Rex will now pause for intermission of an undetermined length.  For the very few of you that are still reading I apologize but I am at the end of my rope.  My health and energy has continued to weaken to the point I stay in bed a fair amount or just lay on the couch.  Yes, I tried a number of doctors but they are simply of no help.  They do a little bloodwork and then say you're fine.  The soonest referrals to a specialists are mid November.  I went through this same episode years back after an especially bad case of food poisoning and the docs were of no help then either.  Exact same symptoms but they just don't listen to me.  I don't know.  I don't want to keep yammering about how bad I feel, I've lost enough people so far over health issues, so I am just going to opt out for a while.  I'm having trouble thinking straight enough to write much and nothing going on to write about anyway.  The last episode took me about 2 months or so to get over so it may be the same this time, don't know.  I apologize to my few, new readers but there's 6 years worth of old stuff that may be of some interest.
I'll be back at some point I imagine.  Ya'll take care.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Red Letter Year

 For those of you that might have been keeping up, you may remember that today is mine and Jack's 1st anniversary!  Yay!  We are enjoying a quiet day at home today but decided to take a little celebratory trip earlier this week up to Asheville, North Carolina.


Whenever we travel anywhere in the vicinity of northern Georgia, Jack always likes to detour over to the Dillard House  for lunch.  This is a very cool place over in Rabun Gap, Georgia and some of you may be familiar with the FoxFire series of books that the local school put out years ago.  I'm not sure if they still publish the books or not.  In his younger days, Jack often white water kayaked in this area and became familiar with the Dillard House then.  Now, I know some of ya'll are looking at the table there and thinking "what the heck?"  Basically, this is the deal...you don't get a menu.  You are seated and they take your order for drinks.  Then, they just bring sufficient portions (but not too much) of what they are serving that day, you either like it or you don't, and yes, you can get a take -out box.  I've never been when I didn't like most all they were serving.  It's good southern food but not too heavy on the fried stuff.  In fact, fried chicken and fried okra were the only two items in that category out of all this.


 This is the view from one of the several rooms or cottages you can also rent on the property.  They have horseback riding and stuff like that too.


 This is the view of the fields across the road from the restaurant.  Many of the foods they serve are grown right here or in the area.


 We spent the first night in Cherokee, NC and went to one of the big casinos so that I could experience such a thing.  Gambling has never been an interest of mine so I had never even been in a casino before.  It was kinda fun and we won a little but then lost most of it the more we played (big surprise, ha!).  We ended up about $20 ahead when we left. lol!
The next day we headed straight for Asheville and toured the arts communities south of town.  The mosaic above is in front of the Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts, which is run by Highwater Clays, the people I buy my clay from.  Very cool place.  You are free to explore the place and purchase work from the artists, as long as you don't interrupt any classes.  None were going on that day so we got to see everything.


There was SO much good art everywhere, it was exhausting trying to take it all in.!  Lots of good places to eat also.


 The mediums, styles and range of art techniques were vast.  The photos I took don't come anywhere even close to showing what all was there.  The only thing I did not see a lot of was blown or cast glass but we did see one or two examples of that.


 The next morning we headed over first thing to Highwater's warehouse for me to pick up some clay and other supplies.  In 25 years of buying their clay I had never been to their store before.!  Very nice people and I highly recommend their products.


Then we headed back out of town to see the North Carolina Arboretum.  Now, there were tons of things to  see in downtown Asheville but I was unfortunately, still having some health issues and not feeling well.  We knew we might have to cut the trip short and had to decide what we really wanted to see most.  Since we had spent all day before in the art district, my next interest was of course, any gardens and the Arboretum does not disappoint.  I highly recommend this place if you are ever in the area.  It was quite beautiful and well designed.


You could easily spend most all day here.


 They have a small but nice little cafe with some pretty good food too!


 Beautiful stonework throughout.


A wonderful assortment of plants and settings.



 And even a fair amount of outside art.  Some of it was not the best I've ever seen but interesting none the less.


They even have a whole garden section for their bonsai collection.  We lucked out that one of the gardeners was working in there when we went through and he was very nice.  We chatted for a wile and he told us lots about the plants and the history of bonsai.


 They have lots of hiking trails of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty.  We took a moderate hike down to the creek, which was very nice but maybe not such a good idea for me.  By the time we got out I think we had decided maybe we should head for home.


Jack wanted to drive at least some of the Blue Ridge Parkway so we took that out of the area and down to Cherokee, I think.


 A nice guy took our photo at this overlook.  Even though I felt fairly crappy through most of it we had a good time.  I really look forward to going on one of our trips where I do NOT feel bad.


So today we are celebrating a little at home.  The super nice lady that made our wedding cake made this little cake for us today, for free!!  It slipped around a bit on the ride home, that's why it looks a little wonky.  But it tastes great!!  We may go out for a small meal tonight but are going to save our big dinner for when I get to feeling better and can eat without getting sick.  I hope that is soon.
I have never believed in any perfect marriage and even the best couples have disagreements but I am grateful to have Jack beside me in life.  He has made this year much easier to take than it would have been on my own.  Whenever we travel or are just at home I never want for anything if he can help or do for me.  I can only hope I am as much an advantage to him as he is to me.  So, Happy First Year to us!!