Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Two Finished Smocking Projects

Terry finished up two smocking projects this weekend. Quite an accomplishment as she had to work around the bulky framework of Chester.

 The first was a Wee Care Gown. One of the service projects of the Smocking Arts Guild of America is to provide these little gowns to still born babies across the country. Each chapter donates dozens of them to local hospitals.

The second project was this smocked Christmas ornament She added the ribbons on the top and bottom to the ball I had featured a week or so ago. While these are certainly less fragile than the old glass ornaments, they are still somewhat dangerous for little kids or cats. There are dozens of straight pins in this thing!

We've probably got a dozen of these 3" diameter ornaments in various colors. If we ever get around to putting up a Christmas tree again, we might need two--or three! One just for the smocked and stitched ornaments, one for the Hallmark ornaments and one for all the other ornaments.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Just a few more days...

...until I go into the hospital to have surgery on my lower back. Can't say I'm not apprehensive about the whole thing. But, it's either get the surgery or live in pain that prevents me from being on my feet for more than an hour at a time.

I may have explained this before but let me do so again. I've been suffering from pain in my lumbar spine for some time. Even before I had my knees replaced, the back has been a problem. Last summer I tripped while working in the woods up at the Bolt Hole and came down hard on my buttocks. The pain persisted through the month of July and August and in early September I went to see my primary care physician about it. He sent me to a neurologist who had some x-rays and an MRI done.

Long story short, my lumbar spine is rife with all sorts of stenosis, arthritis, thin discs and misplaced vertebrae. Nerves are getting pinched, squeezed and irritated on a constant basis but especially when I'm standing/sitting upright.

X-rays show vertbra L4 (or maybe it's L5) sliding forward 1.8 centimeters from where it should be. As the entire vertebra is only about 4 cm thick front to back, that's a little under half way.

The solution, according to the neurosurgeon is to go in there and scrape some of the bone spurs out, remove the (almost non-existant) discs, pull the wayward vertebra back into position, and then use some screws and pins to hold the whole mess in place until new bone can from fusing the vertebrae in place. He said he will definitely be fusing the L5, 4 and 3 vertebrae but may have to include the L2 as well depending upon what he finds when I'm on the table.

Post op, I'll be in the hospital for a couple of days. Long enough to insure there's no infection and that the surgical wound is healing well. Call it three or four days. Then it will be home where I'll be pretty much confined to the first floor for four to six weeks. No heavy lifting. No snow shoveling, No driving.

I'm sure physical therapy (aka PT, aka Pain and Torture) will become part of my routine some where along the line. But when ever, that starts, I'll still be pretty much confined to quarters through February and March.

I'm just hoping that all goes well and the result is a pain free lower spine.I might even be able to enjoy another visit to Disneyland.


Meanwhile, Terry goes to see the podiatrist tomorrow to find out why she's having persistent pain in her feet.

Getting old is just soooooo much fun!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Some of Terry's Projects from 2014

While I've been out doing manly things like hunting, fishing, gardening, tree felling, wood cutting and yard maintenance, Terry has been cranking out projects in her little (over stuffed) sewing room like crazy this past year. They type of project varies with whatever inspires her at the time. However, she has been sticking to small stuff for the most part. Things she can pretty much do in half her lap while a cat is occupying the other half. Even then things can get a little dicey. Many projects contain some cat fur but that's a recognized hazard of the craft.

She has been doing a lot of beading work lately. (Something not usually associated with either Embroidery or Smocking, but which seems to show up quite frequently when they talk about what skills they would like to learn or projects they would like to complete. Call it a shiny distraction from the norm if you will.)

In the bracelet above, the smaller beads actually form the bezel that holds the larger stones in place. (To me, this looks like something Wonder Woman would use to deflect bullets.)

This bracelet is a little less massive. Again the smaller beads from the bezel and tie the three larger stones together. 

Far lighter still was this necklace that appears to be made form a series of shells or flower petals.

Terry likes doing her "bling" projects because when she wears them to a meeting, they always get comments from the ladies.

That doesn't mean she has ignored her Smocking, however.

 This piece of smocked fabric (with beads!) is destined to become a tree ornament...soon.

And Terry even branched out a little this year doing some quilting. With the Messingers turning out grandchildren at a rapid pace (two or three a year!) Terry knocked together two baby blankets for this year's arrivals.

The embroidered panels were actually done by someone else. Terry picked them up at a fundraising auction for a couple of bucks which saved her quite a bit of time on completing these particular projects. Time she eventually had to use to fight Julie the cat off the material as she was trying to sew it together.

The items above are only a small sample of things she has worked on this year. Several have been sent out to be framed. Others have found their way into the jewelry box or gift boxes.

The calendar has flipped to 2015 and more projects are stacking up in Terry's sewing room. (Faster than they are getting done!) And the Messingers are still producing grandchildren while we've one of our own on the way so Terry better get cracking!

Health and College Football

Sorry about the lack of posting lately I've been battling a head/chest cold that threatens my upcoming back surgery. (I seem to be winning, however, and a call as to whether or not the surgery will need to be postponed will wait until at least Friday.)

Terry and I do have appointments over at Robert Packer Hospital on Sayre tomorrow. She goes for a mammogram and I get to be fitted for a back brace.


College football season came to a close Monday night with the crowning of Ohio State as National Champions. I have to admit that, while I was rooting for them, I picked the Ducks because I wasn't sure a red-shirt freshmen making just his third start at quarterback could do the job. As someone said, "Third string? Who the hell did they have ahead of him? Johnny Unitas and Joe Theisman?"

Yeah. Cardale Jones did just fine on the big stage; 16 of 23 for 242 yards, one passing TD and one rushing TD. And that Ezekiel Elliot kid didn't do too badly running the ball, either; 36 carries for 246 yards and four TDs.

Guess the biggest question in Columbus for the next few months will be who the heck is their starting QB going to be?


Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Weather and Health;
Proposed Surgery

We're in the midst of a cold spell which should surprise no one. Last year we had minus 13 degrees on January 3rd when I got frostbite. This year it's not quite as cold with the lows only in the low single digits but still on the upper side of zero. That might change tonight or tomorrow night before the temperatures start to swing upward again. And by upward I mean towards--but not above--32 degrees. At least, we've only got occasional snow flurries/squalls that don't amount to much. Today, for instance we got an inch or less of fine powder.


Terry's still battling the sinus infection that's been causing her to cough up a lung every couple of hours. The doctor swears it's not the flu--or pneumonia--and has prescribed an antibiotic as well as an inhaler to battle the bud and phlem.

I've still got an occasional cough from a similar infection, but I've made far more progress than Terry has.


I did go see the surgeon about my back today. (Terry stayed home afraid that if she started coughing at the hospital they might want to keep her.) I got to the hospital over in Sayre about half an hour before my appointment. I checked in and settle down in the waiting area on 3 Blue when my name was called and I was reminded I was supposed to go to radiology on 2 Purple for some lumbar x-rays. "Shouldn't take long. Just let us know when you get back."

Well, they must have been having an after Christmas sale on x-rays as the walk-in radiology lab was swamped with folks. I had to wait for over an hour for my name to be called, but just 10 minutes later I was back upstairs at 3 Blue to see the surgeon. It was only forty-five minutes past my original appointment time. *sigh*

The Doc punched up the x-rays as well as the MRI they had done a few months ago. We reviewed the pinched nature of the spinal cord in the L3, L4, and L5 vertebrae. He pointed out how badly the L4 vertebra was out of position (1.8 cm when I was standing straight and 0.9 cm when I was bent forward. Those pictures went a long way to explaining why my back hurts so badly when I've been standing for any length of time.

As a solution, he recommended using pins and rods to realign and fuse those three vertebrae and a little scraping of the nerve channel and grinding away of bone protrusions. Depending upon what he finds when he's in there, he may have to expend the rods to L2. I'd be in the hospital for 3-4 days and then have 6-8 weeks of recovery at home with physical therapy.

We set a date of January 22 for the surgery and then he sent me off to do the usual pre-admissions stuff: EKG, blood tests, chest x-rays. (The EKG was good as was the blood pressure (140/72) and pulse rate (48).) Blood was drawn painlessly and vials filled for the lab to test. Chest x-rays were done at a different radiology lab on the 3rd floor and took all of 10 minutes.With any luck, the blood and chest x-rays will not reveal anything that might cause the physicians to put things on hold.

I finally got out of the hospital a little after 1:30 PM.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Feeling Better! Honest!

I've nearly recovered from the case of the horribles I brought back from our trip to California. I blame the long last day as well as the way the kids has us running around Disneyland. And the roller coaster of weather systems we've had here at the Aerie and on the west coast. Fifty/sixty degrees one day followed by ice/sleet/rain/snow and 20 degrees a day later? Crazy!

Terry started a day after I did and seems to have been hit harder, but even she is now getting over it. She decided to visit the doctor on Friday morning and got a prescription for an inhaler. Otherwise, we were chugging various brands of cough medicines.

Ironically, Terry did get a flu shot this year. I know that they have since said it was the wrong strain of flu, but they still strongly encouraged--and continue to encourage--people to get the shot. I didn't get a shot and seem to have gotten off more lightly in terms of duration and severity. Must be all those years of being exposed to every germ imaginable while teaching.

None of the kids seem to have gotten sick. And considering the hours and hard work Jessica was doing as both a guide and Disney employee, that's amazing.


My doctors appointment on Tuesday was postponed because he had emergency surgery. The consultation/preop exam will now take place this Tuesday, January 6th. I hope to find out what he has in mind then. As bad as my back and legs felt in Disneyland, that's how good they have felt the last couple of days. I know the spine didn't magically repair itself, so I'm still looking for a surgical fix.