31 July 2008

Buy Local, Buy Handmade

Here's a reminder for those of you in the area to check out the Handmade Faire - Halloween Edition on October 25th, 2008.

The Handmade Faire is organized by one of my fellow EtsyNJ team members - AbbieRoad. Unfortunately, due to other scheduling conflicts, I haven't applied to be a vendor there - but there will be plenty of other artists and crafters selling all sorts of handmade items.

The spring event was a great success and I'm sure this autumn event will be too. If you're looking for unique gift items that you won't find at the local big box store, be sure to check it out. I'm trying to figure out how to get there in the morning and make my afternoon/evening commitments in the northern part of the state without too much stress.

28 July 2008

Girls in their Summer Cuts

Tara and Suki
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

Always a Springsteen reference from me, eh?

Suki and Tara went to the groomer this morning. For those who have followed my blog for any period of time, you'll know that the Diva - aka Drama Queen Suki - is anything but easy to groom. We've resorted to giving her tranquilizers just to get her calm enough to be handled.

Today, I took her and Tara to Purr N Pooch in Wall Twp. The tranqs were just starting to kick in as I dropped her off and every time my cell phone rang, I was certain it was going to be the groomer telling me she was unmanageable.

After running a few errands, I called to check on their status and was told they'd be ready in about 30 minutes. I opted to have lunch and then pick them up. When the door opened and I saw Suki all shaved down, I squealed in joy. She looks great - a little funny - but that's less Suki fur to deal with on the carpet, the sofa, the bed.

The groomer herself said something I thought I'd never hear in regards to la petite Cujo - that she'd welcome the opportunity to groom her again. Apparently she had her moments -- she doesn't like it when someone gets near her face or tail, but otherwise she was fairly well-behaved. Perhaps with a consistent grooming pattern with the same groomer, she'll learn to trust.

They're pretty much conked out on the floor now. It's a warm day, but I think they'll be happy to have "shed" some of their fur, particular Suki. I'm pretty much sold on the groomer and despite it being a 20-30 minute ride (depending on whether I can remember WHERE they are located), with this success, I'm willing to make that trip.

I'm anxious to see what Mark thinks about their new cuts -- he'll be back Wednesday evening.

26 July 2008

Bead Bonanza

AC Moore Clearance Bounty
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

This evening, I ran to AC Moore to purchase a flag case for the flag we got at Mark's dad's funeral as he was a Navy vet. Of course, while I was there, I spied a bead clearance section -- I couldn't not look.

I came home with at least two strands of everything pictured here -- resin beads and some Paula Radke dichroics. They were all marked 50% off and on top of that I had a coupon for 25% off my entire order. My entire bead purchases cost me a whopping $60. I think I did pretty good; I don't think I could have gotten the dichroics for less wholesale.

I'm hoping this little splurge on beads lets me find my mojo again. It's gone walkabout. Mark is out of town Monday and Tuesday nights, so perhaps I can hunker down in the studio and see what springs from my bead board. It's been a long time since I've made anything with these hands. Too long.

20 July 2008

The Weekend that Wasn't....

Friday night I drove up north to have dinner and play poker with my sorority sisters. It was a good time, even though I didn't win. I was home by midnight and didn't encounter any DWI checkpoints on the way.

Saturday, Mark purchased tickets to the Trenton Thunder game. It was hot and muggy during the day, so the last thing I wanted to do was sit in a ballpark and watch a game while the sun sets in my face. Nevertheless, we jumped into the car and drove to Trenton. As we approached the ballpark, the lot is empty. Then, I notice the stadium is empty. At this point I look at the tickets and realize they're for NEXT Saturday, the 26th. I still haven't stopped giggling at that oopsie.

Today, I went to WW in the morning (lost 0.8 lbs for those who want to know) and stopped at Nordstrom while I was at the mall. I'm a little miffed that no one from the Philosophy counter bothered to call me about the anniversary sale specials. I didn't manage to snag a bottle of Amazing Grace body wash, so I'm gonna have to order it online (if I want it).

When I got home, we decided to go to the beach. We changed into our beachwear and applied sunscreen and hopped in the car. Got to Spring Lake, found a park spot, paid our beach fees, and parked ourselves in an open spot. Not 10 minutes later, the skies opened up. The rain came down in buckets -- it hurt! We waited it out, crouched under our umbrella before I finally said to heck with it and we made a dash for the car. Of course, by the time we got back to the car, the rain abated and the sun was trying to peek through the clouds again. We said to heck with it, dried ourselves off and went to grab a bite to eat.

This evening, we attempted to go see the B-Street Band (yes, that's a Springsteen tribute/cover band) at the Headliner, but when we got there - no parking to be found. So we went back to Freehold and purchased tickets for the 8:30 showing of The Dark Knight. We had 90 minutes to kill, so we went over to Jersey Freeze and then Border's. We got back to the theatre to find the line for ticketholders snaking down the side of the building. After about 10 minutes of debate, we returned the tickets and decided we'd catch the movie at a later date.

On the way home, Mark asked me if I wanted to play mini golf. Knowing that he doesn't enjoy it, I said no. He then proposed bowling. I didn't have socks on and neither did he, but I remembered my gym bag was in the back seat. I found two pair of clean socks, so we pulled into the lot of the bowling alley.

We played two games - I won both. According to my husband, since I'm part Polish, it's only natural that I'm good at bowling. (I'm not sure scores of 113 and 109 respectively make me a good bowler, but at least I was in triple digits.) I had a lot of a fun bowling and would love to do it more. Of course, now I have to figure out how many activity points I get for an hour's worth of bowling.

I'm hoping that we'll get to see The Dark Knight later this week -- but am fearing that Mark's interest will wane and I'll either have to see it alone or else wait for it to come to DVD. A pity, as it's the first movie in a long time that I've been excited about seeing. But not enough to risk having a crappy seat in a packed theatre. I'm working on getting him to agree to a matinee.

18 July 2008

Hank's Legacy

Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

Today, it finally hit me that Henry's gone and nothing's gonna bring him back. (Well, his ashes will be here soon enough.) There's an empty space in the house, but at the same time, I feel a little relieved because I don't have to worry about what I'm going to come home to each night.

The cats are starting to venture downstairs again. Sadie actually came into the family room and napped by the door to the patio for a bit. With a bit of luck they'll not be intimidated by the girls and I can move the litter box back into the laundry room. Henry liked the cats just a little too much -- he didn't quite understand they weren't squeaky toys -- so they've been living primarily upstairs for the past 20 months. I think they'll be glad to have the full run of the house again.

This photo was taken on the Sunday before we said good-bye. I brought him upstairs into our guest room and just lay down and hugged him and told him how much I loved him. He didn't often stay in bed with us, but he let me hold him for quite sometime that evening. Thanks for that quality time, Hank.

Over the course of the past week, I've been cleaning house - taking his stuff that the girls can't eat/use and giving it away. I've sent some stuff to a friend in Texas who does rescue, given odds and ends away to co-workers for their dogs, and lastly I've got a bag of stuff to take up to another friend tonight to see if her dogs can use it. I like to think that Henry's smiling down on me and saying "Way to go!"

Thanks to those of you who've made a donation to the Monmouth County SPCA in Henry's memory. I hope that another dog (or cat) will benefit from your generosity and be well cared for until they find a forever home as Henry did.

15 July 2008

By Request

Every Picture Tells a Story
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

I originally wasn't going to post this collage, but a friend at work told me I should because it might be inspiring to others. So here I am, over the past 6 months -- 30 pounds lighter in July 2008 than I was in Dec 2007/January 2008.

Some of the comments I've had from friends/neighbors/coworkers:

  • "I just told asked my mom if you were anorexic. You look great!"
  • "Is it just me or have you lost a ton of weight?"
  • "You're the incredible shrinking woman!"
  • "I was checking you out the other day - you're looking good."

There's still a significant amount of weight that I want to lose to achieve my goal and become a lifetime WW member. If you had told me I would have lost 30 pounds in 4 months, I would have laughed in your face. But now I believe. And I'm actually okay with people taking pictures of me again.

14 July 2008

Remembering Henry (1996-2008)

Henry - Belmar (April 2008)
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

Although he was approximately 12 years old, Henry only joined our house at the estimated age of 10 years in September 2006. Twenty two months and four days later, we said farewell to him. My heart is aching and the tears won't stop even though I know it was the right thing to do.

When we adopted him from the Monmouth County SPCA we knew that we wouldn't have forever, but we were determined to give him the best life he'd known, for whatever time we had. I think we did. For a dog with arthritis, he loved to walk - and walk, and walk. Whether it be at the reservoir or at the beach, he was always eager to get out of the car get moving. It was rare that he'd tire out before us.

The last few months have been difficult. He had his ups and downs, his good days and his bad days. When we thought he was on his last legs, he would rally. I took to calling him the Amazing Rebound Dog and his rally after the events of last Thursday amazed me again with rebound on Friday.

By Saturday afternoon though, we knew the end was near. He rallied, but then crashed. We came to the decision that it was time and tried to make his last day at home as comfortable as possible. If our V-E-T had office hours on Sunday, we would have been there. I briefly considered taking him to the emergency V-E-T, but in the end decided that I wanted to take him to Dr B for the last time. I spent a chunk of time both Saturday and Sunday nights on the floor with him, petting him and telling him how glad I was that he chose us. He really was the best dog in the world. I like to think that he's off chasing kitties or rabbits right now - free of pain.

On the way home from the V-E-T his leash and collar were on the seat next to me. At a red light, I picked up his collar and out of curiosity put it around my neck. It fit. Now I'm trying to figure out how to adapt it into a piece of jewelry I could wear. Typical Marci, eh?

As for phone calls and emails - please don't be offended if I don't answer or reply right away. Although I'm blogging, I'm not sure that I want to talk about Henry at his time. I'm still a blubbering mess and probably will be for the next day or so.

And please, don't quote the Rainbow Bridge poem to me either. I know it's meant to be comforting, but at this point, it's more annoying than anything. Henry's in a better place - where he's happy, healthy and free of pain. That I do believe - and with a bit of luck, one day we'll meet again.

When we lost two of our cats in the course of a week in March 2005, many friends sent cards or gifts. If you feel the need to do so this time, would you consider a donation to the Monmouth County SPCA in his memory instead?

For those of you with dogs, cats or other pets, be thankful for their love and companionship - and give them a little extra love and affection today. They can never get too much of that.

13 July 2008

Full Frontal

Surf Club - Ortley Beach
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

Here we are at the Surf Club in Ortley Beach on Saturday night.

We went to see John Eddie and Gary U.S. Bonds play there tonight. Stayed for John Eddie, but left around midnight and walked back along the beach to Seaside Heights where our car was parked. A nice workout walking in the sand, but hopping the gate in Seaside wasn't my most graceful moment.

For the first time in I don't know how long (years!), I'm happy to have pics taken of me. It's only been 25 pounds lost, but it's made such a difference. I'm still not fond of full body shots, but this one doesn't make me look too huge. I've got a fair amount of weight to lose still, but I'm happy to smile for the camera again.

11 July 2008

The Last 24 Hours...

Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

I came home from work last night to find Henry dazed and disoriented, collapsed in a pile of his own waste next to our wall unit in the family room. No idea how long he'd been there, but he was totally unresponsive when I called his name. I scooped him up, put him on his bed and called the V-E-T.

As I waited to reach them, I started to clean up the mess he had made. Ick. I got hold of the V-E-T and sobbed out my story to them. I really thought this was the end for my guy. I was told to bring him in and at this point I called Mark to tell him to meet me there when he got off the train.

I took Henry out back and hosed him off a bit -- he still wasn't able to stand. If I put him up on all four legs he was fine as I held him, but the moment I took my hands away, he collapsed. *sigh*

I wrapped him loosely in a towel and put him in my backseat for the ride to the V-E-T. (So glad my door is fixed!) He whimpered quite a bit on the way and struggled to sit up, but couldn't manage it. When we arrived, there were several other dogs in the waiting room, so I told the techs I'd wait outside until they were ready for him. I eventually brought him in as it was warm outside and he just laid on the seats in the waiting room. Even the techs who know how lively he usually is could see something was not right.

Mark arrived and it was our turn to see Dr B. Henry did manage to stand up and walk to the exam room - but very gingerly. When he hit the floor of the exam room though, he lost his footing and went boom. Dr B gave him a thorough exam and nothing was broken or sprained, but based on his scrapes (he's got big gash and bump on his nose) he thinks he fell and hit his head good. After much talk between us and Dr B, we opted to have him get an injection (anti-inflammatory) and take him home to see if he improves. If he perks up in the next day or so - great; if not, we'll have to make a decision on what we're going to do next.

I spent a good chunk of the night downstairs on the couch in the family room where he sleeps. Around midnight he started to cry and struggled to get up. He lost his footing on the family room floor so I helped him up and walked him out back. He was shaky, but he managed to get out to the grass and do his business. I brought him back in and settled him in on his bed for the night. He fell asleep and so did I. When I woke this morning he had gotten up and made it into the kitchen and was laying on the floor.

I don't really know what's going to happen, but after last night, I'm exhausted. I do think I'm going to head out this afternoon to look for some runners or throw rugs that I can put down so he can 'get a grip' and walk around a little easier. There's a few patches of bare floor which he struggles with, so I'll try to make him a path from his bed to his food dish to the door.

I'm not sure if we're nearing the end or he'll rally like he usually does when he has a bad spell. All I know is my heart was in my throat when I came home last night and found him laying there. When he didn't respond, I imagined the worst. I got a reprieve this time, but I"m not sure how many more times I'll be that lucky.

07 July 2008

Viva Paws Vegas

Tara does Elvis
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

I found the Elvis costume while searching for my Sirius receiver today. (No, I haven't found it yet.) I decided since I had so much fun with Stanley way back when, this time it was Tara's turn.

A few more pics can be found in Tara's Flickr set.

From My Garden

More Flowers
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

Don't know what this pretty flower is, but it's one of the many bulbs I planted in the spring. I've been enjoying my garden this year - every new plant is a surprise.

06 July 2008

Tara's Tale

Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

Tara is my 14 year old American Eskimo who I adopted in March. She's my 'velcro dog' - meaning she follows me everywhere. I mean everywhere. Even when I shower, she has to have me in sight. There are some things a gal would just like to do in private, you know?

In mid-April, she developed a cough. ISince she had no discharge from her eyes/nose, the V-E-T diagnosed it as (viral) kennel cough said to let it run it's course, about 2-3 weeks. While the cough lessened briefly, by the end of May it was back with a vengeance. So, off we went to the V-E-T again.

This time she was coughing more forcefully - honking like a goose and wheezing at times as well. She had some x-rays and they came out clear (no congestion in the chest, heart looked normal sized), so perhaps it was allergy related? Home with an antihistamine/steroid combo and see how she responds.

About 10 days into her treatment she was scheduled for her dental - in which she lost 8 of her teeth, mainly rear molars. (Do dogs have molars? I'm just guessing that's what they're called.) If her tongue didn't loll out of her mouth enough before, it certainly does now. Her and Suki are a couple of old biddies with lolling tongues. Unfortunately, after the dental, her cough worsened over the weekend. Not only was she coughing after running the yard, she'd immediately begin coughing the moment she stood up whether she was napping or just sat down next to me.

On Monday, we went back to the V-E-T for another exam and this time a new x-ray showed some fluid in her chest, however, her heart sounded just fine. She was given Lasix (yes, like the ponies) and I was given instructions to call to give and update on Friday.

Friday morning dawned and my precious Tara was still coughing and shaking. When I relayed this news to the V-E-T, he asked if I would take her to a cardiologist for a consultation. I called up Red Bank Veterinary Hospital and since their cardiologist had a cancellation, I was able to get her in that afternoon.

I'd heard nothing but great things about RBVH (excepting costs - but then it's a fabulous facility with top-notch doctors) from several friends who've taken their dogs there, but nothing prepared me for this animal hospital. Bright, cheery and clean. I kept thinking - is this really for animals?

I met with the cardiologist and Tara had one more set of x-rays. His verdict was that it wasn't congestive heart failure (thank you!) but rather chronic lung disease -- which he said was not all that uncommon in senior dogs. He said an EKG would confirm CHF one way or another, but when I balked at the price, he suggested that we start her on some drugs for the time being and see if they improved things.

He prescribed three pills, the names of which I can't remember (other than Prednisone) -a bronchial dilator, a cough suppressant, and a short-term steroid (Prednisone). If this works, then she'll be on them for the rest of her life; with the exception of the Prednisone. If there's no improvement in a month, then we will follow up with the EKG just to make sure her heart is okay.

It's a week later and she's been getting her pills twice a day and I see such a huge difference. Yes, she coughs occasionally, but not the honking/wheezing/body shaking cough that she had every time she stood up. When I took Henry in to see the V-E-T on Tuesday morning, Dr B asked about Tara and I was pleased to tell him that I saw an improvement after four days. He was as happy as I was to learn it wasn't her heart. I think she's one of those dogs who wins everyone over with her goofy, tongue hanging out by a mile, smile.

While I know Tara, Henry, and Suki won't be with me forever, I was relieved to know this is something that can be managed with medication. I'm glad to have my dog healthy again. I won't worry about her coughing as we're walking the reservoir and people thinking she's having a heart attack.

05 July 2008

I ♥ a Parade

Ocean Grove - Independence Day Parade
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

Today was the Ocean Grove Independence Day (4th of July) parade. The Shillelagh pipe & drum band marched. Mark, a drum student, carried the banner in his first parade while I, the pipe student, stood on the sidelines and took photos of the whole parade.

It's a nice parade - a real small town/Mayberry feel in this town along the Jersey Shore. The sun stayed behind the clouds for most of the morning, only coming out towards the end of the parade which made it bearable.

More pics can be found in my Flickr album.

04 July 2008

Let's Get Physical...

Last Friday, I took the plunge and joined a gym. I'm not really one who enjoys going to the gym, but decided if I was going to be serious about losing this excess weight and keep it off, it was the next logical step, especially because I hate doing anything physical outdoors in the heat and humidity of summer.

I started to research gyms near me - looking at the facilities and their various amenities and in the end I opted to join CentraState Fitness & Wellness Center. Yes, it's more expensive that a lot of other gyms in the area, but when it came down to it, the facility, location, and their class offerings (as well as a pool!) were what sold me on the place. That and the fact that it's not a 'meat market' - there's people of all ages/shapes/sizes there. I felt really comfortable walking around during the tour.

I've been working out since last Saturday - taking advantage of the myriad classes. So far I've tried Gentle Yoga (which I really like and will be going to this morning), Zumba (what a workout!), Aqua Tone (damn, that's a work out) and have my eyes on belly dancing, ballroom dancing, and a couple other water classes. I'm not into spinning, so I won't be doing that.

I met with a personal trainer as well last week who put together a regimen for me using free weights and the machines. Of course I haven't bothered with that yet; I think I've forgotten some of what he showed me. I'll have to corner him to go over it again and start working that into my schedule.

So far I've been good at keeping to my commitment of 3x/week; I've been to the gym every day with the exception of Tuesday (bagpipe practice interferred). I'm even going to dash over there this morning for another yoga class and then hit the grocery store for our cookout fixings. There's so much to do there, I'm really glad that I decided to join this facility rather than any other. Now I just need to keep motivated and go regularly. So far, so good.

Apologies those of you who have that Olivia Newton-John song in your head now! I'm having a difficult time getting the video imagery out of my head.

03 July 2008

Clothes Make the Man

Yesterday morning, I was awoken at 4:45 AM by my husband with the pressing question, "Do I have any clean underwear downstairs in the laundry room?" The answer was "no" which meant he was faced with the decision of wearing a recycled pair or going commando.

When I called him at work later that morning he said he was still 'mad at me' for letting him get into this predicament. I don't know about you, but if I were low on underwear, I think I'd say something before I needed them -- or do a load of wash myself.

I planned to stop at Target on my way home - and I did, but I forgot to look for new undies for him. He got home and asked if he had any clean underwear. Oops!

I ran out to K-Mart to see if I could find some. Plenty of boxer briefs (his style preference) but not in white. I wanted to go to Kohl's for myself anyhow, so I hopped in the car and ran down there.

I managed to find two packages of white Hanes boxer briefs in his size, and plenty in other colors. I asked the woman straightening the shelves if there were any more in the stockroom and she graciously offered to go have a look, although she didn't promise anything. While I waited for her to return, I called home to ask Mark if he would consider any color but white.

His response? "Hell no! What do you think I am, a gigolo?" It was all I could do to keep from bursting out laughing. I couldn't bear to tell him it would take more than underwear. *g*

Fortunately, Kohl's had some more white boxer briefs in the stockroom and as of this morning, they are washed. Tonight the 16 new pairs will be folded and put in his dresser drawer. I think we're good until he starts pitching the holey pairs again.


P.S. I've told this story to various friends. My favorite response was (paraphrased): Can you imagine if he had an accident and had to be rushed to the ER while wearing red underwear? One look at that and they'd think, "He's not a librarian, he's a gigolo!" I'm still laughing about that one.

Happy 4th of July to the rest of my fellow Americans. I'll be joyful next year when we can celebrate our independence from GWB.