Sunday, October 16, 2011

Saying Goodbye While A Part Of Us Remains

     Only three more nights to stay at Castle Yonder. Wednesday, Oct. 19 I move to Abingdon and I am ready. 

     One of my last tasks was to scatter Rocky's ashes. He wanted half of them scattered over Castle Yonder, the house he built and the home he dearly loved.
So, today my friend, Jean, and my neighbor, Rudy, were present with me when I scattered Rock's ashes and read this little poem I wrote:

     Soft winds blow,
     Soft rains fall,
     The peace you longed for
     Covers all.

     Silent rains fall,
     Gentle breezes blow,
     Ashes take root
     Where wildflowers grow.

     Deer and turkey, grouse and hare
     Now one soul you all shall share,
     Lightening flashes, thunder rolls,
     Synergy of many souls.


     Sleep in peace, my Dear One.  Irmie

Sunday, October 2, 2011



On August 29, I had an accident and broke my left shoulder. It was a clean break with no shattering so it was repaired surgically on September 6 with a rod and two pins. I had a few complications due to a drug interaction, some swelling on the brain which was treated swiftly with meds, and some short-lived respiratory failure following surgery which got me transported to the ICU. Fortunately, the problem had corrected itself by the time I got there, buy they kept me there that day anyhow.

I was in the main hospital for a few days, then moved to a rehab hospital for two weeks. I came home to Castle Yonder on September 23. Ive had 24-hour personal assistance since then since I have no family nearby to help me. I am healing nicely and receiving physical therapy from a health care agency.

I've been out on errands twice with my good friend, Molly Catron, driving and helping me. That's when I decided to dress up a bit with some BLING.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The End Of A Chapter titled Castle Yonder 1984-2011

     As of this morning, Castle Yonder is no longer my property. I signed over the title at what is called in real-estate jargon, a "closing." Thanks to the generosity of the new owner, I can continue to live here until the end of October; however, I have scheduled my move to Abingdon the end of September.

     I am excited about my new-to-me charming American cottage that I'll be moving into, but am so very sad about leaving Castle Yonder which Rocky put so much of himself into. He was an amazing woodworker and stone mason and did the giant fireplace that opened onto two levels on opposite sides. He built the bathroom vanities, laid the hardwood floors, and built bookcases and china cabinets. He built the log ceiling beams and the ceiling in between. He built two decks and a small and a large balcony. He used field stone to terrace planter beds so there would be no lawn to mow. He maintained and oversaw all this for close to 25 years, until 2004 when he got sick. What joy we had until then.

     Unfortunately, after he died I could not manage and was way too lonely to spend winter wonderlands here in the silence. Now Castle Yonder is no longer mine, but I have about five weeks to breathe in the air and the memories. I have loads of photos and would like to show you below a few of my favorite ones.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Evolution Of A Kitchen

Wow! It's been a month since I've written. That's because I've been running up and down I-81 from Castle Yonder to the Abingdon house which I've named Ruby Rose Cottage. The contractor and his helper have  been working hard and accomplished much, namely, a wall knocked down, a new one built, a door taken out and a French door put in, a window and a pantry added, all sheet rocked and primed.

In other rooms, a door taken out in the back bedroom with another one put in allowed us to put in 5 1/2 foot walk-in closets in both bedrooms. The contractor just added chair rail to the foyer and library/office. He has now started work on a deck off the kitchen, and the new bathroom should be started next week.

Kitchen appliances are scheduled to be delivered on Tuesday, Aug. 16, so I thought it would be a good idea for me to post the evolution of the renovation up to this point. Later I'll post the finished rooms. I hope to move in by the end of September.

This picture shows the north wall of the kitchen when the house was staged for sale. On the back side of this wall was a back porch with four large screened windows. It was very narrow but served as the major back door entrance into the kitchen and the house.

Unfortunately, in order to utilize the space given over to the back porch, the old china cabinet had to be taken down. It had been very crudely made so the wood wasn't good enough to be re-used, but I did keep the two doors which has very old glass in them. I'm not sure how I will use them, but stained glass panels keep dancing in my head.

The back porch. Entering through a screen door, you had to walk down this narrow porch to get to the back door entry to the house.  The porch wasn't wide enough to sit in and if you could have sat, you would be barely high enough to see out the windows.

 The other end of back porch showing the screen door and four windows on the left built on a concrete block wall.

Picture on right shows the door that led from the kitchen out onto the back porch.

This door, the china cupboard, and the kitchen/porch wall had to come down in order to enlarge the space to make a functional modern kitchen.

Here's how it looks now waiting for the new stainless steel appliances to be delivered next week:

The new hardwood floor (not stained yet and covered with the carpenter's tools) used to be the back porch. An inner wall was built so insulation could be packed between it and the old concrete block half wall which is still there. Instead of four screen windows, there is now one easy-to-clean window which will be above the new sink. Two doors were taken out and the entrance to the kitchen and back side of the house will be through French doors where a lone tall window used to be.

On the other side of the room, a pantry and a closet for the washer/dryer combo replaces where the former refrigerator sat. And the new range and white cupboards will sit where the sink is in this picture.

It's all so exciting!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

2011 Trip to DE and MD

 I had two reasons for this trip to Lewes, DE and Baltimore, MD. My good friend, Jean, asked me to go along with her to visit her sister over the 4th of July. Shortly after I accepted the invitation, I called Johns Hopkins Medical Center to make an appointment for a 2nd opinion about the spinal evaluation I had in Bristol last year. Surprisingly, their first date available was July 6, and that coincided with our trip beautifully.

Then Jean's son, Richard, decided to move to another city and in order to help him have a free week in which to move, Jean offered to take his daughter, Vivian, age 7, on the trip with us. So on July 1, we started off. 

Here's a picture of Vivi having fun making faces in the back seat of the car.

And here we are driving across the Annapolis Bridge.

Below are our gracious hosts, B.J. and Mary Ann, who shared their beautiful contemporary house, complete with swimming pool, with us.

And three people cooling off at the deep end of the pool. The weather was horribly hot, in the 90's and very, very humid.

On July 2, we went to an outdoors music concert in Lewes. My friend, Jean, has her back to the camera talking to her sister, Mary Ann.
On Sunday Jean and I drove down to Ocean City, MD where Rocky and I used to live. The Boardwalk has spiffyed up, and the crowds are still there.
Here's the house where Rocky and I used to live. Originally, it was the 2nd floor of a house that was built on concrete blocks in the old Ocean City town district that was about to be torn down for a new bank building. Rocky bought it, removed it from its concrete blocks that was the first floor, and moved it over to the west side of Sinepuxent Bay, and added a large addition to it that was our living room and a wrap around deck. The people who have bought it now have added a second floor to it, torn down the L-shaped deck on this side and changed the entrance to the other side. I barely recognized it and wish I could have seen what they've done inside!

The day after the 4th, Jean and I drove to Baltimore where I had my appointment at Johns Hopkins the following day. That night we went to the famous Inner Harbor (shown below) where I ate Maryland blue crabs. They were the smallest crabs I'd ever had; the legs were too skinny and small to have any meat in them. The spice wasn't as hot as I'd remembered, either. But just as well since I was nervous about my appointment the following morning, and my tummy wasn't in optimal shape for spice and beer. (I drank only 1 Sprite and 1 beer with 7 small blue crabs. Jean declined to eat any.)

My doctor's appointment went well once I got in to see him. They have a very efficient process for seeing patients, they told me, but there was a snafu that affected me and caused my waiting time to be longer than it should have been. 

But my frustration about that was short-lived when the doctor reassured me that there are alternative ways to try other than surgery and wrote me a prescription for epidural injections to be administered by an Orthopedist in Abingdon. Then I return to Baltimore in 3 months for one of their check-ups to see how I'm doing. Unfortunately, easing the lumbar pain isn't going to help my breathing difficulties. So I just have to wait and see whether a new general practioner will be able to help in that area. My family practice physician is retiring. She has been my doctor here in Bristol for 28 years, so that's caused an unexpected search for a new doctor. Since I'm moving to Abingdon, I'm hoping to find a good GP near my new home.

Overall, I'm glad I went to Johns Hopkins and saw Dr. Kabaish as he was straight forward, but did not predict a dire future as the Bristol doctor had done. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Unwanted Bedroom Partner

     I'm sharing my bedroom with a flying squirrel! He/she came running into the bathroom at 5:00 a.m. when I was in there (ahem!)! He/she took one look at me, a human being, and made a couple of flying leaps, turned 180 degrees, and fast-glided out of the room only to confront a cat! Smudge startled out of her sleep pounced and must have stunned the flier because he/she lay still beside the closet door. "You got him, Smudge," I yelled, "Good job!"

     Smudge kept reaching out to see if he/she was ready to become a snack, and suddenly he/she moved. Smudge pounced again. I was watching all this from the bed where I lay feet up and protected with a duvet from a possible invasion by the flying squirrel. My heart was pounding, and I wanted to cover my head, but I couldn't quit watching. 

     By now, I am seeing Smudge zigzagging between magazine holders, books, and computer cords tangled up on the floor. Lots of ruckus, and then...silence. Smudge assumed a cat-like position, of course, and looked puzzled glancing over her shoulder now and then to make sure she wasn't missing anything. She looked at me as if to say, "What flying squirrel?"

     From my vantage point, I'm sure Smudge has won the battle and that she is only waiting for the squirrel heart to stop beating so she can rip it out of that little rodent body. I don't especially want that to happen with squirrel parts scattered over and throughout my books and files. I carefully get up and approach the stuff on the floor, expecting something to pop up at any moment and surprise me, maybe run across my bare toes or up my leg. I see nothing. I look harder and gingerly reach out and move things around. Nothing.

     But I remember seeing him/her lying "dead" in the doorway corner to the closet! I decide he/she must have been only wounded and darted away into the closet to die. Now what do I do? Well, I couldn't sleep when I went back to bed, so I got up, made coffee, and sleepily moved through the morning.

     Wayne and his son came over after lunch to do some odd jobs and I asked them to take a look in the closet and see if they could find the flying squirrel who I was sure was dead by this time. When Wayne and Josh started moving things around guess who came running out? He/she did!
Apparently unwounded. Last night, he/she had been playing possum! 

All the cats were outside on the deck watching frustratedly through the glass doors. He/she disappeared under my very large dresser! Wayne and Josh were no match for speed!

     I had to take a nap I was so tired from having only 5 hours sleep last night. I chose to nap in the guest bedroom. When I got up, I found my live trap and it now sits near the bottom of my dresser baited with Meow Mix. The cats are still out on the deck. I'll sleep in the guest bedroom again tonight and hope he/she gets hungry enough and the room gets dark enough that he/she can come out and enter the trap.

     This is the third time the flying squirrels have invaded our Castle Yonder house. They are attracted by the bird seed and suet on the family room deck. It's become so routine that I expect to find the little door on the suet feeder standing wide open. These little boogers have mechanical abilities, also. 

     In our novice years in becoming partners with these unusual mammals, we suspected that a raccoon was the culprit in the Steal the Suet Caper. We didn't begin to figure it out until a flying squirrel got trapped in the guest bedroom, and we didn't realize we had an uninvited guest until our nose led us to it.

     The second time, I thought I was hallucinating several times as I caught glimpses of it climbing up onto my computer desk, catching sight of me, and disappearing and then in and out from under the family room sofa. Eventually it came into full sight, ran across the family room floor, up the fireplace, across the mantle, disappearing behind the top of a bookcase. The next morning, we found cornmeal on the floor as he/she chewed a hole in an extra bag I had stored on a high shelf in the pantry. That's when I bought the live trap and placed it high on the shelf baited with cornmeal.

     And now, this time I think he/she came in through opened doors and windows without screens last week when my air conditioner ran out of freon and the outside temps went into the '90's. I'd cool the house off when the temps lowered to the '60's by opening the doors at night, and night is when these little "gliders" come out to eat, exercise, and socialize.

     In the Appalachias, this species of a squirrel could be "Northern" or "Southern." I'm not sure what the difference is, but since this year is the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, it seems most appropriate.

     I'll let you know when this little booger gets relocated.  

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Abe, 2000-2011

This was a sad day! One of my two Springer Spaniels, the male Abe, died this morning. For six months I knew he had a liver disease, probably Cushings, and that his time was limited since there is no good treatment. He was 10 1/2 years old. His litter mate, Bonnie, is in good health for which I'm thankful. Here are some of my favorite pictures. He certainly will be missed!