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Found along the way in Alabama the Beautiful...

In an Instant.

Sad days.

I must have missed an issue or six of Polaroid Weekly...I had no idea Polaroid would soon be pulling it's instant film from store shelves! Looks like the announcement was made in February and they do indeed have a notice on their website; I imagine they'll experience a nice sales surge in the next couple of months. I, for one, am thankful for the advanced notice... I didn't find out about the near-extinction of the pineapple Lifesaver until it was almost too late.

I bought my first Polaroid camera at a garage sale in...Ocean Springs, Mississippi. I was 10 or 11... It was brown and white...and I couldn't afford film for it. I bought another a few years ago...I can't remember why I was on such a kick, but do remember shopping specifically and solely for a Polaroid Instant Camera. ...And I think I found it at a K-Mart. I never go to K-Mart.

I took the Polaroid tailgating with me in Tuscaloosa a few years ago and was relentlessly ridiculed by my friends for my retro camera choice. Again, I have no idea what got me started, but I was so excited about that camera (though I also took my digital camera). Oh...they made fun, but they loved it (;...and I trust that Daniel and Chris will cleverly remind me of it for years to come.

I'll have to figure out a way to say a proper goodbye...though, with eBay, I imagine the film will be accessible for...ever. I'll stash a few boxes though...that's something worth saving for the kids a couple of generations away. It won't matter that it's irrelevant, just that it's different (according to me).

Some people are sharing their Polaroid memories here.


(Grandmama with Tyler...3.18.07)

A quick note in the way of an update on Grandmama...

She was moved out of the Neuro ICU - and to the 5th floor yesterday (# 510). We were a bit surprised with the move as there hadn't been any suggestion of it leading up to it (at least not that we were aware of). Her vitals had been stable though (seemingly enough not to require further intensive care), and they were closing the unit she was in b/c there were so few patients.

Her levels are good and she's eating food by mouth again...which is a great improvement. I was impressed with how quickly she was evaluated once back on the 5th floor...within the span of that [first] afternoon...she was seen by a speech therapist, occupational therapist, and a social worker. The doctor came in for a moment...only to ask a question. A physical therapist worked with her some today.

They've ordered another chest x-ray for this evening (there was still fluid in her lungs on the last film), and a CT scan for tomorrow.

At this time, Select Specialty Hospital will be the recommendation/referral upon release -whenever that may be...

She knows who we are and is talking a good bit...though the conversation is rarely in context. She was very unhappy with me yesterday for not allowing her to "get up and go"...and among other things - she threatened to whip me and also to tell my Daddy how I was treating her (;. It was a long afternoon, but great to hear her talking and see her eyes open.

Over the weekend, I would have said (and did say) that things vary drastically from day to day for her. Today, it's more accurate to say things change from moment to moment. Again (and still), I try to process the good days with the bad...be thankful for the better times and patient in the lesser. I hate the confusion for her...

Granddaddy will have his first shot in a 3-shot series tomorrow...to treat his newly diagnosed macular degeneration. He says the drops he's been taking have already improved his vision.

Hope everyone had a nice 3-day weekend...




Super delicious meal from my very kind next door neighbors, Amy & David. I thought such a pretty plate deserved a photo...and after eating...I was glad I'd taken a picture - so the meal could be properly revered. It was SO good...

My very first weedeater! A thoughtful and useful gift from my Uncle Max & Aunt Brenda. Though it won't win any lawn of the week awards, my grass will at least be properly cut.
...and the weedeater is red!

A lovely housewarming gift from Dad & Maggie - one of my new favorite things.

"To the Chinese, frogs represent the lunar, yin principle. It was once believed that frogs came from the moon, hatching from eggs that fell from the sky with the dew, so their images were often used in rain ceremonies. Like all frogs, our little green friend symbolizes joy, luck, and transformation."


I Know He Can Dance...


(I don't know who should receive credit for this photo!)

A million years ago...or maybe 1999 and the years following...I met and worked with Stephen "Twitch" Boss through/in American All-Star (AAS) camps. I want to say I met him during his senior year when his high school team came to compete...but I could be wrong...(Michelle - did they go to Louisiana camps?). He did eventually join AAS staff though and worked the Alabama camps with us a couple of summers.

Before I continue...I have to say that Stephen is one of many very talented and wonderful people I had the gift of meeting and working with through AAS. ...Always a fun experience...always a ton of work...and always completely worth it. I worked university camps (University of Alabama - Roll Tide!, and Auburn) for 7 years...and am still on the call-in-case-of-colorguard-emergency list - which last landed me in Ohio. I learned so much through the [AAS] experience...and not all of it do to with instructing - though it certainly made me a more effective instructor. I also made a few very dear & life-long friends...Michelle (Thornton) is the first who comes to mind. (The chicken is good.) As usual, I digress. Stephen.

Stephen certainly moved on to bigger and better dance opportunities than Montgomery, AL had to offer... ...The Wade Robson Project, Star Search, and Hairspray...to name a few. Stephen (sorry...Twitch) auditioned for So You Think You Can Dance last year...and made it to Vegas; he narrowly missed the Top 20. He auditioned again this year...which aired this past Thursday night...and has made it directly through to Vegas again.

If he makes it through to the Top 20 this season....I'll begin wearing my "Vote for Stephen "Twitch" Boss" sandwich-board and ringing my bell on street corners throughout Augusta & North Augusta. In the mean time...this [post] is me...cheering him on...Top 20 or no!

...I'm also sifting through pictures...in search of some AAS gems; I'll post what I find :). Watch for him on So You Think You Can Dance (which will be on Wednesday and Thursday of next week...though that may be continued auditions)...and if you're curious/interested...there is a good bit on YouTube. Here's one example (though not the best quality):

Last thought... I notice Wade Robson isn't on list of choreographers for this season...:(. Mia Micheals is though!!!

The Days of Betty's Life....for this week anyway :).


With all that has been going on...I wasn't even aware that this is Memorial Day weekend! A 3-day weekend (!)...what a nice shouldn't-be-a-surprise surprise :).

The days and details since my last Grandmama-related-post blend & blur...so you'll be spared the play-by-play this week. In terms of an update... Grandmama is still in the Neuro-ICU and things are a little different day-to-day. The early part of this week (a) was similar to last week...yesterday afternoon (b) was a great day with open eyes and talking...and today (c) was somewhere in between. She wasn't awake and wasn't speaking (today), but also wasn't distressed and restless (which she certainly had been). When she was talking yesterday...there were off-the-wall stories and visible moments of confusion - which we could tell were upsetting for her. There were also moments of smiling and laughter...which were purely heartwarming. Brenda and I agreed at the time...that we'd rather have no idea what she's talking about (though she seemed to know...and many of her statements provided a little comic relief for us)...than have her as she had been during the days prior - which were heartbreaking. She was quite the pistol at times Thursday...and I don't think I've ever been so happy to see someone's eyes [open]!

They began feeding her through her NG tube (which is in her nose) earlier in the week - rather than intravenously. This way - her stomach is doing some of the work, as opposed to being bypassed completely. Yesterday - when she was awake and the most talkative she's been in about two weeks - she pulled her NG tube out altogether. (The soft-restraint was temporarily off at the time, and is now back on). They took the liveliness and tube-pulling-out as a possible sign...and following another swallowing assessment, decided to try some soft foods by mouth. She did well with applesauce and ate about half of her mechanical-soft dinner last night - woo-hoo! Today - they've not been able to get her to eat anything.

Yesterday's CT scan showed the bleed in her brain still active - but smaller. She had an EEG today - which we'll know more about tomorrow. Her blood is still too thin to begin aspirin and she's obviously at a very high risk for continued bleeding and/or another stroke. That being said, she has not had any blood or plasma in the last few days. She is still receiving Bumex and/or Lasix (depending on the day ), and insulin as needed. Incidentally...the little speech we have heard from her...certainly sounds like that of someone who has suffered a stroke (or in this case - a bleed - which behaves like stroke). Again...it's a wait-and-see/day-to-day kind of thing...and an conscious attempt on our part to take the good and bad days in stride...and not get overly upset - or overly excited. We continue to be thankful for the fantastic nurses in the Neuro-ICU and appreciate the 30 minutes pieces of time we get to spend with Grandmama when they roll around. It's such a neat things to witness... Though she's been ill - her sweet spirit still shines though. The nurses on the 5th floor have gone out of their way to ask about her...and have even come to visit. Likewise...we've stopped in to see them. What a gift to know, love, and be loved...by someone with such an authentic, kind, sweet, and gentle spirit.

Mike drove Granddaddy to his ophthalmology appointment today...where they learned Macular Degeneration is the cause of his vision trouble. He'll be undergoing a series of injections and taking anti-biotics, vitamins, and supplements. Thankfully he went before it was too late to treat (which would have resulted in complete loss of vision in his left eye)...and they can do much more for this condition than they could just a few years ago. Complete restoration is not expected, but improvement is probable!

Thanks so much for the concern, thoughts, prayers, and gestures of support for my Grandmother and my family...




Similar to fat-back - it's the best part of a shrimp...and a delicacy in some countries.


5.18.08 - Hangin' in...

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Kenny & Susan came in Saturday evening (from Birmingham)...

Medically speaking...

  • Grandmama's levels were stable through the night Friday - and they were able to perform an angiogram Saturday morning. Her being in a condition that allowed them to conduct this test at all was a great thing... They did *not* see an aneurysm, though they will repeat the procedure in 10 days...to be sure an aneurysm isn't hiding behind any clotting.

  • She is experiencing some respiratory distress... It shows itself in a croupy sounding cough. They are giving her lasix and bumex to pull the fluid from her lungs.

  • Her ammonia level is high. To treat, they re-inserted an NG tube (goes into her nose and down to her stomach) and are giving her medicine to bring the level down. High ammonia level certainly affects her neurologically... She's had a bit of nose-bleeding with the tube, but she has nose-bleeds often at home...so it isn't surprising/alarming.

  • The GI bleed - which is in her intestines, not her stomach, has slowed. At this point, there is nothing they can do to stop it. The treatment is to give her blood to replace what she loses...and encourage her body to create more blood on it's own. If she continues to bleed, they will take a more aggressive/invasive approach.

  • To provide nourishment, they began TPN (total parenteral nutrition) @ 10pm last night. It is received intravenously and contains vitamins, amino acids, lipids, etc...

Less about the medicine...

  • She slept most of the day and was not responsive, Brenda and I had a FANTASTIC visit with her @ 5:30pm though (Saturday)... She was awake, able to tell us our names, able to say her own, and said I love you back...when we said we loved her. It made me incredibly happy...and selfishly, is enough to hold me over for several visits :). When I went back @ 8:30pm...she was asleep. She was this morning (Sunday) as well.

  • She does not like being 'messed with' by the nurses... She's very vocal whenever they do anything...and it's just terrible to listen to. We've acknowledged that some of it may be true pain, and other pieces...may be the meds/general state of mind. At the same time, we always encourage her (she rarely listens) to communicate her needs. She's certainly letting us/the nurses know when she's unhappy!

  • Grandmama's youngest brother, Kenny, and his wife - Susan - drove in from Birmingham last night. They weren't able to get her to wake up at either of their visits...but they were able to see her. Mike & Teresa generously prepared a great dinner for all of us last night...and Kenny & Susan stayed at at their home. Their girls, Lindsey and Kimberly, and their families...are all doing well.

  • Granddaddy seems to be doing okay... He worked yesterday and will work today from 3pm-7pm.

  • Brenda and I stopped by the 5th floor to speak to the nurses who took such good care of Grandmama. Unfortunately, Gabriella...a favorite of ours, was off. We'll try again tomorrow...

  • Daddy made it home safely; he and Maggie are doing well.



(1.6.07...first visit with Marcus Cole Mealing!)

Friday, 5.16.08

Please excuse any breaks or disconnected bits in my writing (and the weird spacing that I can't seem to fix)! I've written this throughout the day...after visiting @ 3:30pm, 5:30pm, and 8:30pm. I've tried to amend rather than start over. I'll do it differently next time.

On the medical side of things...(information from Thursday & Friday)

  • Thursday...they switched the O2 nose-tube-thing to an oxygen mask; Friday evening...they changed the type of mask - it's an upgrade essentially. She breathes with her mouth open and this [mask] helps her O2 saturation. She tolerated it [the mask] until today (Friday) - when she began trying to pull it off...something Granddaddy and I both predicted. So that she can't remove it...her right arm is in a soft restraint. Incidentally, she's now getting as much oxygen as she can without being on a vent...

  • She is being given whole blood and platelets - and tolerating the infusion well. She's taking lasix, morphine, and is not eating. The goal of the blood products is to increase her hemoglobin level - increase her INR (which allows/helps her blood to clot properly), and get all of the coumadin out of her system (which thins her blood).

  • During the night Thursday...they discovered blood in her belly & stool. She was listed as critical and the blood was drawn out through a tube.

  • They did another CT scan today (Friday)...the scan showed no change (as of 9pm this evening). They are continuing to give her blood (even with the GI bleed) - b/c until her hemoglobin & INR are up - they cannot do the necessary tests to learn more about & treat the bleed in her brain, and the aneurysm.

  • At 6pm, I was told Grandmama is clotting more efficiently...b/c she is not bleeding as much around her PIC line and central line (the central line was inserted yesterday). At 9pm...I was told that if she is stable through the night at her current levels, they will do the angiogram in the morning.

Less about the medicine...

  • She sleeps much of the time and her awareness varies. Awareness, in this case, is the best word...as she's not usually coherent...or lucid. Most of the time, she does not make eye contact and is not able to answer questions. She recognized Dad yesterday, but not today. Then too...she thanked Dad & Mike for visiting today and told them to be sure and come back. Dad said it wasn't clear if she knew who they were or not... She did know Brenda this evening and used her name when she was in the room...she's called for different people at different times... Selfishly, it helped my heart a little to know she had asked for me at some point in the day.

  • She does not like her arm being restrained...and during my time with her today...she said "help me"...and "help me get up" many times. She gets very agitated and it takes a good bit of time (according to the nurse) to calm her...I can't imagine what this is like for her.

  • I can't explain well beyond what I have... There is no middle ground for me (personally) right now. I'm either able to dole out facts and information evenly...or I'm crying. It's difficult for all of us - and I'm sure for those of you in Alabama...know that we're thinking about you. She's in good place though and I don't think they could be doing a better job of looking after her.

In other news...

Granddaddy went to the optometrist today (he's been having trouble with his left eye) - and learned there is some swelling behind it. The doctor thinks the swelling may be due to blockage in his carotid artery. Granddaddy now has an appointment with an ophthalmologist to further assess the swelling... If the ophthalmologist agrees with the first opinion, the next step will be to see his cardiologist. He's had a procedure on this same artery in the past.

Dad is in the air...on his way back to Phoenix. He made it to Atlanta safely...

I'll do my best to keep everyone updated...this is the most efficient way for me to do it as it is accessible to those without e-mail accounts. Alabama family members - feel free to pass this blog-address on to anyone who's interested!

Love to all.


Update on Grandmama...

(This is what I gave her for Mother's Day this past Sunday...)

5.14.08 - Tuesday

  • Via CT scan, we learned of a bleed in her brain. The bleed walks, talks, and acts like a stroke...which explains...everything.

  • It was decided to discontinue her coumadin (difficult call) and give her fresh frozen plasma & vitamin K - to thicken her blood - in an effort to help stop the bleeding. She was put on the waiting list for the Stroke Unit, a second scan was performed, and a PIC line was inserted (to replace the IV sites).

  • She had a [bad] reaction to the plasma infusion - which was stopped immediately. As she was 3rd in line for the Stroke Unit - the doctor ordered a move to the Neuro ICU.

  • She was moved in last night...and reportedly rested well.

  • While we visited yesterday (before the move)....she slept. She was less sleep-talkative/restless than she had been the day before. She didn't want anything to eat...which is usually the case lately. The dietitian was planning to make some changes...such as sorbet-like milkshakes/Ensure...to provide *some* nourishment. We were there during the plasma infusion/reaction... It's amazing how quickly she changed...both when it was started, and then when it was stopped. Dad has been staying with her all-day, everyday this week... He is scheduled to leave Friday.

5.15.08 -Wednesday

  • The second scan indicates an aneurysm in addition to the bleed.

  • We are waiting on her to stabilize - so that a cath (contrast scan) can be performed...which will determine if either, both, or neither of the issues are operable.

  • Visiting hours are very limited (9:30-10am, 11:30-12pm, 1:30-2pm, 3:30-4pm. 5:30-6pm, 8:30-9pm); she can have two people in at a time... We're used to being able to be with her at all times; in fact, other than during the night...we don't leave her alone. ...Though I have to mention she's had phenomenal nurses...and we could have left her and known she was in more than capable hands and being watched closely.

  • Dad & Brenda were able to wake her a bit during the 11:30-12pm visit today... The nurses try to wake her perform stroke assessments often (yesterday - before the move - it was every 2 hours). She has trouble answering any of the questions...

  • We're all (obviously) taking turns...I'm on the books for 5:30pm today...


Addison Brooke Horton!!!

Quick post to share that two of my very dear friends - Tiffany & Chris Horton - gave birth (well, Tiffany did) to their second baby girl this morning! She was born @ 7:45am...6lb, 4oz...19 3/4 inches long. Tiffany & the baby are both well...as are Chris & Kaylin (their first child).

Miss Addison Brooke Horton

Sweet girls...Addison and Kaylin

Note: Another dear friend, Elisa, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl - Anna Kate - on April 11th... Elisa happens to be a lovely and frequent poster of blogs...and shares pictures and such often! Tiffany, however, has already told me she won't be blogging...so I'm doing a little sharing on her behalf...because I can :).



Though I usually leave site sharing to my del.icio.us page...had to say a quick something about my new favorite blog (though I don't have an old favorite)...The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks. Their Other Snarks section looks super promising as well. So much to post, and so little time! Love this stuff. Now..."drumming fingers"...to find a way to capture and post unnecessary air-quotes as well.

Though not new [to me], I also enjoy Passive Aggressive Notes. I'm considering submitting the following - which I received in a motel-like-establishment in Charleston...during our last Special Olympics trip.


Idol Chat-Chit.

Jason Castro.... For better or worse, I watch American Idol. I usually have some favorites and enjoy the mindless entertainment each week. I haven't been as intrigued this season...especially since Michael Johns was viciously voted off far too early. It's down to a final 3...and I'm pulling for David Cook. I get that little-boy Archuleta has the pipes - I completely get it. Talented - absolutely. I'm sure he's a lovely boy of 17...and he'll have a fantastic career. He and Clay Aiken may even tour together. Who knows. David Cook has some edge though...some charisma....and is simply more seasoned. ...And in that vein of thought, I dig his flavor. My preference seems to go against the grain though - I also wanted Blake Lewis to win....though Jordin is lovely and I wasn't terribly disappointed with her win. I digress.

Jason Castro :). Is Jason the sharpest knife in the drawer? Certainly not. His pre-performance video packages are always a trip... He identified his biggest challenge as being..." Just the brain being dead". (I'm sure Idol execs ate his responses up with a spoon by the way....) I'm not a parent, but can understand that he may not be the "American Idol" most parents would wish their children to pattern themselves after. What I do love about him though...is that he's honest... The vibe I get is that he truly is a what-you-see...is what-you-get kind of person. And better, there *are* kids out there...who don't look and think like all of the other contestants (not to imply "they" are all the same) - but who can relate to David Castro. Somewhere...he's made some kid...feel a little more okay with himself for not always knowing what to say.

In the mean time, rather than remembering "Mr. Tambourine Man" for the legendary song it is...my mind will now immediately go to Jason spacing on the lyrics...and then to the movie Dangerous Minds. My apologies, Bob [Dylan].

In case you missed Jason live or one of the many replays...check it out... It happens about 19-20 seconds in...so you don't have to wait long. Incidentally...this isn't at all what I intended to write about. I keep watching the video though...and it makes me laugh... Not entirely at Jason's expense, because I certainly couldn't (and can't) do what he or any of them have done...but for the sake of a little comic relief. Grandmama is back in the hospital (had been released 4/28/08)...and his mishap has made this morning a bit more tolerable.


Fender Bender

No "fender" was actually bent...but 'body-bender' or 'front-panel-bender' isn't how the saying goes. I hit my aunt's car Monday... I was leaving my grandparent's house; I had parked where I normally park, and was backing up the way I normally back up. My aunt parked her car in a place she does not normally park...and I forgot her car was there...just wasn't paying attention :/. There isn't a ton of damage, but she can't open her door. My insurance is covering everything and the car should be repaired by tomorrow; she has a rental car now - a 2008 Dodge Avenger. My cousins told me they wish I would "wreck into the Mustang more often". I'll get right on that. In the end...it's minor and could have been much worse. Still, I feel terrible that it happened...and hate the inconvenience for my aunt and her family. Sipsey (my car) doesn't have a scratch on her - at least...not from this incident (;. Thus far, the little green gecko is doing a bang-up job of handling the claim.