Friday, August 28, 2020

Waterworld 2020

A misty Thursday morning on Nantahala Lake

Vacation recap, the third.

We'd had enough land-based exploration for a while, so decided to turn to the water for some entertainment.  

But first, we had to let the guests into the cabin.  Biff's daughter and her baby son showed up on Tuesday, with all the baby paraphernalia required of them and a few other things to boot.  Both daughter and baby are adorable people, but I have to give a few points to baby for just incredible soul-searching stares, even at 2.5 months old.  Kid can see the past, I'm sure of it (please don't let him tell anyone about mine!).

We had a lovely visit, with Biff once again traversing to the nearest town for some supplies (a near-daily occurrence) with daughter and grandson along for the ride.  After that were dinner (lasagna!) and games and chat and baby things and you know how that sort of thing goes.  Time flies, is what I'm saying.

Wednesday was boat day.  We'd rented a tritoon for a couple of days to explore the lake, which turned out to be about 1.5 days longer than needed to traverse it once-'round.  It's not a huge lake, but a very nice one nevertheless, especially if you enjoy stuff like scenery.  There's plenty of that in these parts.

Not scenic, just Wern and me and an icognito baby and DD's legs.  We boatin'!

After a lovely afternoon of snooping and putting around, we returned to the house for a bit of rest, some dinner, and preparations for a sunset cruise.  I didn't go on this one, as the tendinitis in my knee made getting to and from the boat once a day about all I thought I could muster without risking further injury.  I understand the ride was lovely - the pictures sure look like it was.

Sunset on the lake by Mrs. B

There was more gaming in the evening.  Nobody won.

Thursday morning we went for an early-morning boat ride (see lede pic).  It was misty, nearly black-and-white in some places, and in other places un-navigable due to instrument conditions.  Most excellent ride, and Mrs. B even got to pilot the boat for a while, which is a first for her.  Fearless, she is.  I admire that.

Sadly, Mrs. B and the grandbaby had to make an early exit, because baby was behaving unusually and as if in pain.  GI stuff.  Pooping stuff.  Thankfully, they don't live too far from here and so could get home to a  doc visit, wherein the issue was....cleared and all seems well.  It was disappointing to see them go, but glad they made it so he could, uh, go.

In the afternoon we took a bit of a jaunt to replace Wern's leash, as he'd declared himself sick of his old one and had chewed through it in the morning, neat as you please.  Biff found a place not TOO far down the road from here, which is how we discovered Murphy NC, as cute and interesting a little town as you'll find in the long valley.  Sure, it was an extra 15 miles of travel one way, but we got to gawk at stuff and bumble around the town, so not a waste of time at ALL.  Plus which, the new leash is 1) made in the USA and 2) guaranteed for life, even if chewed through.  I did not ask what it cost.  

We picked up a couple of burgers from a place call Burger Basket in Andrews, then back on the boat for a quick afternoon's travel on the lake before turning in the boat to return home to cook supper and take a dip in the hot tub.

Today, we had a nice fire in the fireplace (of course) with breakfast, a bit of a lounge around, then Biff took off with Wern to go get gas down the scary road (Wayah Road to Franklin) then to visit Wayah Bald without me, for which I am happy because me and mountain roads, REAL mountain roads, do not get along so great anymore.  I look forward to the photos.

Doing a little pre-packing now, with a plan to go take a walk along the Nantahala River a little later, knee issues allowing.  I'm content to sit on a riverside rock and let the guys explore if that's what needs to be done - the happily rushing water is a balm to the spirit and I'm sure the memory will be sweet.

As long as it doesn't storm.  Which it might might.  Little hurricane Laura still heads this way, and though I don't think she's till a hurricane, 50 MPH winds are nothing to fool with when you're surrounded by forest.

Now you're all caught up.

Tiff out.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Franklin and Andrews 2020

Corn, airport, mountains, clouds.  Andrews NC 24 Aug 2020.

Hey y'all!

It's the second full day of our vacation in the mountains of far western NC, and so far it's going well.

Except I can't walk, but more on that later perhaps.

Yesterday we travelled to Franklin NC, a trip that we were told would take about 25 minutes in an easterly direction on the Wayah road.  It's a commuter road, we were lead to believe.

I suppose that if you're FROM these parts, it is.  If you're a flatlander with a distinct fear of falling off the side of a mountain on your way to get groceries while navigating a road only 1/2 step less challenging than the Tail of the Dragon, then it's not, at all, a commuting road.

Start at about 15:30 in this video to get a sense of what I'm talking about.  The lovely lake you see in the first couple of minutes is Nantahala Lake, which we will be boating on come Wednesday.  It's quite the drop from the road to the lake, without a guardrail to be found.  I, as passenger, was not very amused.  Wern, on the other hand, seemed to find the constant back-and-forth swaying of the van around those hairpin turns quite soothing, and fell asleep.

We did make it to Franklin (in about an HOUR, not 25 minutes!), and had a nice couple/few hours there poking around, shooping for stuff at the WalMart (eeech, but needed to purchase some swimmies bcs we BOTH forgot ours), hitting up the grocery store, walking a little bit on the greenway.  Wern got to meet a few doggos on the walk, which was the POINT of the walk (in my mind), and I crapped out early because my left knee was getting in the way of perambulating.  Posterior popliteal tendonitis, most likely, which hurts like a bear unless you stay the hell off your legs in order to rest and heal.  So of COURSE I tried to take a walk.  Yeesh.

Today we went the other direction (westerly) toward Andrews NC.  Andrews has a grocery, a liquor store, an airport, and a fort-adjacent type of historical site.  It had restaurants at one time, but only the McDonalds and Subway seem to still be open.  Town's been hit hard, which is a shame, because it's kind of charming and on a major highway and reasonably easy to get to.  We took Junaluska Road to Andrews, and it was a lovely drive.  No death traps atall!  The fort installation at the Cherokee County rest area (right on 74/19) tells a factual and brutal story of the unfortunate history of the Trail of Tears, and just how shittily we treated the indigenous people of this area.  Absolutely horrible.  

Incidentally, the Wayah Road, on which our cabin is located, was part of the Trail of Tears, taking Cherokee from eastern portions of the SE native areas and shuttling them to Fort Delaney in Andrews before force-marching them through brutal conditions on to Oklahoma.  So many died.  I can't imagine being a Cherokee from this area and trying to understand how to 'work' Oklahoma.

It's been an experience, getting acquainted with the history of this part of my lovely state.  Even after the indigenous had been ousted and the white settlers moved in, a lot of history happened.  I've been getting wrist-deep in the history of the Nantahala area, and it's fascinating.  These hills have stories, believe you me.

Tomorrow we welcome  new guests.  Wonder if babies like pontoon boat rides?  We'll find out and report back.

Tiff out.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

In which we head west and find mountains. 2020 version.


Night one delight.

We have made our escape to the mountains, wherein we intend to breathe deeply, see the sights, experience peace, and not kill ourselves on mountain roads.

Nearly didn't achieve that last one, just today.

Maybe that's hyperbole, maybe not, but let me just say here that if I'd been smart and gotten a prescription for some sweet sweet Ativan before this trip I might be much more sanguine (what a word!) about being the passenger in a car traversing hilly, twisty, narrow, shoulderless roads that from time to time featured only the TOPS of tall trees out the window.  These roads do not kid around.  When there's a sign that says the speed limit ahead is 15 MPH, BELIEVE IT.

Perhaps I protest too much, for here we are, still alive.  Pretty sure it's was my clutching at the armrests and hissing through clenched teeth that kept us on the road.  Poor Biff.

It takes about 6 hours to get to this far-western region of NC.  We made it in 7.  I blame the dog.


We also missed the driveway to the house about 50 times (or 2), which is very easy to do on roads that are unfamiliar and might be trying to do you in.  We at last drove to the landlord's house (right across the street, as it turns out) and got actual directions.  Hurrah - we have arrived!

Except...we then had to get back in the car and drive, as there is not phone service at the house (and the landlords had just driven off, so no help from them at this point), which is needed by the person who had the lockbox and wifi code on a PDF on his PHONE, which wouldn't download.  AHEM.  So, we rolled down to the nearby marina, where he finagled enough internet to get the document to open and we were headed to success at last.

Not long after getting packed in, the beauty of the top photo happened.  This is the view from the front of the house - we are on our own little hill, surround by others, and at night the peepers and critters sing their songs above the burble of a nearby stream while dogs who-knows-how-many-hollers-over bark the evening in.  The air gets cool, but the hot tub is warm, so we sat there in the growing dark in the mountains of western North Carolina, talking and sipping and uncoiling from a long day.

Today's been even better.  More on that later.

Tiff out.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Labs and sticks and clicks


Pick your fave, the nurse will give you what you need regardless.

 Today was 'port flush' day.  (If you are squeamish, do not watch this video, but it's a darned good representation of what happens.)

What is 'port flush day,' you ask?  Well, it's when a nice nurse who is trained in accessing chemo ports STABS you with a needle right in the PORT, sucks blood from your body to send to the laboratory to test if you've been naughty or nice, then pumps in 10 mL of saline followed by 10 mL of a heparin solution to ensure that your port doesn't clot up (EWWWWW) before it needs to be either accessed or flushed again.

All this falderal for a piece of equipment that I likely don't need anymore.

But might.

Need one more stable CT scan to ensure it's OK to take out the port and get on with my life.

By October we will know more.

Healing takes time.  Like, a lifetime, it now seems.


I let another lady feel my boobs today.  I'm not experimenting with a new and enhanced sexuality, it's just that my oncology nurse wanted to see how the gals are healing after the radiation and needed to be sure that things are progressing as they should.

They are.


In not-cancer-related business, the giant submission I've been working on for the past forever is nearing dispatch, which only means one thing: CLICKING.

Clicky the linkies, all day long.  QC those links, being sure they hit the right target so that folks using this submission can jump right to wherever you intend them to go.

There are a LOT of links in a submission.

I am done clicking.  The end is near.


That's about it for now.  I woke up at 1 a.m. today realizing I'd forgotten to do a thing for some colleagues in the UK, so was at work at 1:10 doing the things I needed to do before falling back into bed to fitfully dream, as I'm wont to do when re-sleeping.

This is a drain on my creativity, as you might imagine, so you get a mere compilation of the day's activities, for what it's worth.

Tiff out.

Monday, August 17, 2020

All's right with the world until something's wrong.


Pays to read the instructions.

Have you ever had a stye in your eye? 

Terrible things. 

The one on my right eyelid has been there for WEEKS now, which is testament to my (probably) continued immunocompromized state of things.  Just a nasty, bulgy, swollen lump that sometimes oozes and sometimes crusts over and sometimes just freaking HURTS so I poke at it a little and then it hurts more because I am an idiot.

It's only natural, the poking at things.

It was obvious that more needed to be done to combat this weirdo, so I went to the CVS and got a 'hot compress' pack that you can stick in the microwave to heat up, then apply to your eye for a few minutes, which is supposed to draw the infection out (SCIENCE!).  I had high hopes.

Which were dashed as soon as I pulled the thing out of its package, and noted that there were little beads of something falling out of the internal pouch of whatever it is that's supposed to heat up.  Fairly certain that this was not a thing that was supposed to happen, I tested the breach and saw some sort of liquid oozing out, which also didn't seem like a thing that was supposed to be happening.  How was THAT going to be comfortable when applied to my poor sore eye?

So back to the CVS it went.  A new item, same make and model as the old one, was chosen to replace the defective unit, and by gosh if it wasn't 1) encased in a sealed plastic covering (unlike the first one), and 2) in two pieces (heater and cover) unlike the first one which came as one piece already put together.

Bottom line: someone bought the first one, used and broke it, and RETURNED IT TO THE STORE, which thereupon put it BACK ON THE SHELF for some jamoke like me to purchase and potentially injure themselves with.

And I know HOW they broke it too.  Those warnings on the instructions to not heat up in more than 10-second bursts in the microwave are the real deal, but someone, somewhere, in my town decided they knew better and BLEW THAT SUCKER UP after cooking it too long.

They must have needed that 11 bucks back pretty bad to return it as defective.

Good news: the original unit is now in the 'defective bucket' that the CVS employees appear to keep under the front counter.  Hoping it gets chucked back to corporate or wherever and not recirculated.

Because, EW.

Tiff out.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Flash floods and shopping


If you shout loud enough, the waters recede.  Try it yourself!

I don't know.  It just seems like blogging is the best thing to do right now while we're all STILLLLLL cooped up and distancing and suchlike.  Getting together to chat is a thing of the past and perhaps future, but not the now, and going to work merely means turning on the computer in maybe a different room than where you sleep (not my reality, but some folks have what's called an 'extra room'), and forget movies and going out to eat and live music and wah wah wah.

We have to do SOMETHING.  Knit, paint, garden, bake, whine, write, read, bike, hike, wander, cook, dance, learn, SOMETHING.

So, I'm blogging again.  There are only so many hours a day one can absorb information before the need to create begins to niggle at a small corner of the brain, begging to be let out into the light and risk suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, so as to die another day and paint the kettle black.

Or is that perhaps my own desire to create, to scream into the void, to wrap a piece of time around an ineffable void and call it 'art' that burbles to the surface?

This is my brain on quarantine.

I also just used the work 'ineffable' correctly.  Had to look it up to be sure.


 I have had a stye in my right eyelid for way too long now.  Started about the time my eyelashes started to grow back.  I am tired of it and will seek a remedy from a professional this week.  This is information you need to know.


There were flash flood warnings today, as half the known universe dropped all its water on our town.  We are under approximately 60 feet of water right now and I am writing this from the back of a blue whale that kindly let us ride along.  

It's only difficult when she dives.

FYI - I can hold my breath for 13 minutes now.


Only the flash flood thing is true.  The rest is a downright LIE.

This is true though: We shopped today.

Next week we start a vacation and so it's clear that what we needed to do today was to stock up on food that we might need to freeze and then bring with us because nothing says 'mountain vacation' like a van full of perishables.

$200 of purchase later and the lasagna is already done, there's chili planned for tomorrow, we will smoke a pork tenderloin this week, and I have had to give a hard stare to someone who thought out loud that bringing along our favorite cooking implements was a fabulous idea.

This will not happen.  The cooking implements stay home.  With the cats.  The dog is coming with us.

Tiff out.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Ya gotta stay hydroted!

 A few days-ish ago we got a notification in the mail that the City of Raleigh, which supplies our water, would be doing some maintenance and/or upgrades in our area for blahblahblahwhatever reason.  I failed to note the date of said maintenance, and thus I was surprised this a.m to see at least 6 City of Raleigh work trucks on our street, including a bulldozer thing on tank tracks that rumbled the whole damn house as it trundled to the end of the street.

FYI, this is our street.  It's amazing how long the trundling lasted to get that big boy to the dead-end bit.

Not gonna tell you which one we live in though.

Very soon after their arrival, the water got cut off.

And has stayed off for the last 9+ hours.

During which time I needed to use the loo, as they say, and not in a dainty way.  TWICE.

Therefore, I was today years old when I re-learned how to flush a toilet with some jugs of water we were saving for when we didn't have any water (like today!).  A gallon and a half in the tank, press the handle as normal, and wash your cares away.

Do not bother with the method that says to dump the water in the bowl itself.  DO NOT.  It doesn't work and you have to have the nerves and hands of a safecracker to get the flow just right.  Use the tank method, as many times as you need to with as much water as you have to spend on toilet flushing.

Here is it 5:30 p.m., and the water's just cut back on, but it'sa comin' out rusty, so we're purging the line for 10 minutes (all of which we will be charged for, I'm sure), let the icemaker go through a few rounds before we keep any more, and run all taps inside for a few minutes before resuming life in the 21st century.  AFTER we get the 'hi sign' that there are no contaminants in the water after the crew does their backfilling/line flushing.

18 to 24 hours from now.

2020, man.  What a ride.

Tiff out.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Status? Here's your status.

 Well hello there.  You're looking well today, al things considered.  It seems you've brushed your hair today and have on a clean shirt, so that means you intend to go someplace today or have already gone someplace.  Was it nice?  Did you match your mask with your outfit?  I assume you wore a mask, correct?

I went to...the Hertz rental car office.  Biff is going out of town and we like to rent vehicles for long trips instead of using our own in case ours breaks down and we have to deal with the mess of having a non-functioning vehicle far from home.  You break a rental, they give you another one!  

But that was it, really.  We ordered lunch from the local Asian place (oh, gyoza, how I love thee!) but Biff went to get that while I set the table all fancy-like.  If we had regular napkins instead of just paper towels I'd have used them, because he's going out of town and the send-off should be a little fancy.  Well, we ate from real plates and had both forks AND chopsticks as well as placemats (they show you care!) so it was pretty dang fancy.  I even took off my Coors can trucker hat for the occasion.

That last part is a lie.  I don't wear headcoverings anymore.  1) Because it's HOT out, and 2) because I now have enough hair that it looks intentional, not pitiful.

These pics are from a few weeks ago, so you get the idea.

Zee back, obvs.

And zee frauhnt.

Color: pewter.

Oh and guess what?  That thing people mention when they say your hair might grow back differently than what it looked like BEFORE chemo knocks it all out of your head?  Is correct, thought my head hair isn't long enough to illustrate this yet.  It's just growing out of my head at whatever angle it chooses, and I can't control it. Pretty much like it did before, and in about the same color.

Let's just say that, well, there are certain areas that HAVE grown back significantly different from what was there before.  If I say that I have always been naturally red-haired but am no longer, is that enough info?  Plus which, if I use the term 'vigorous,' use your imagination.  Oy.  BUT, the leg hair, arm hair, pit hair are all about the same color/texture as before, so maybe that one little surprise, not noticeable to the general public, is OK.  It's just so weird.

My issue now is this: how long do I let the hair grow?  Before chemo it was pretty long, though I'd been cutting it shorter to increase appearance of thickness (though I don't know why because I always wore it up and off my face), and I kind of like the long-hair look because it's dead easy, but it was a pain to take care of and wash and manage and comb and the SHEDDING, oh my.  This shorter hair idea is 'growing' on me, but Biff likes longer hair, and I admit it does feminize my strong features, but how long does hair need to be before people stop calling me 'sir'?  

OK, nobody's called me 'sir' since jacket season ended.  40DD boobs just cannot be hidden under lightweight tee shirts.  Also, capris and cute sneakers help assign my gender.

Still, the hair question remains.

Guess I'm spending the afternoon building my 'hair vision board,' or whatever people do when decisions need to be made.

Thanks for reading.

Tiff out