November already?!

The last couple months have just flown by. We've been both busy and sick. Let's start with September. We spent that month getting ready for a vacation. Yes, you read that right. A vacation. We went on a cruise! Now, it wasn't all about fun and games (but most of it really was). It was actually a writing retreat with the authors from our favorite writing podcast, Writing Excuses. We really had a fantastic time, but our brains were fried by the time we were home. There was so much great information. It was also nice to be around a group of people that understood other introverts. It was interesting to see so many people come together, and then people just come and go as they became too overwhelmed with the number of people there. And it was totally accepted. One just had to said, Sorry, but I need to go, or whatever and people understood. There were about 4 days of excursions as we were at shore. Since I'm still not feeling 100%, we made the choice to not do any. We pretty much just stayed on the ship. This had the nice added benefit of giving us time to rest and be able to keep up with the group, as well as being able to get the hot tub pretty much to ourselves. There was usually about 15 people in there, but during the excursion afternoons there was maybe 1 or 2 people. We spent lots of time in there and just refreshed our muscles. It was great. Here are some of the pictures of where we were docked. A beautiful day at sea: thumb_IMG_0761_1024 Haiti: thumb_IMG_0787_1024 thumb_IMG_0852_1024 Jamaica: thumb_IMG_0884_1024 thumb_IMG_0893_1024 Mexico: thumb_IMG_0979_1024 Yes, the water actually is this blue: thumb_IMG_1009_1024 The water colors were unbelievable. Some areas were that deep gorgeous blue, and others were a gorgeous green color. You see pictures of these places and thing that the colors must have been faked. And they really weren't. I actually had to amplify the colors as I edited the photos, because my raw pictures weren't able to pick up the natural colors. It really was amazing. We are planning on doing the writing cruise again. Next year is to a different location, so that will be exciting. I'm also hoping that I'll be up to doing more excursions next year. I really want to go snorkeling, but that will mean I would have to do swimming lessons before I can do that. Swimming is slightly required. 🙂 Now that we are back on dry land, we have been trying to get things organized within our life. We have been spending so much time just going from thing to thing that we really just haven't taken the time to let ourselves breathe. And it wasn't like it was big things, either. We just hadn't adjusted from being in emergency mode. We didn't realize how long it would take us to just let all that go. We've had to give ourselves permission to let ourselves get into and enjoy those things we want to do. For Joe that meant writing. Part of the reason for the cruise was to take away the painful memories that were associated with it, and replace it with positive ones. He had really stepped away from writing when we moved down here, and then the day he started to write again, and had gone upstairs to his office to really focus and dive in, was the day his mom passed away. It was the same day that I was going to get the craft room ready to start working on designs. I had the room half torn apart when the phone call came in. It took me until the summer to get down there to finish at least what I had started. It still sits empty. That's unfortunately because the washer flooded the laundry room, which poured into my craft room. We need to get the ceiling pulled down and one wall and get it fixed before I can go in there. So, most of my craft stuff is sitting in Joe's workshop. Good thing it's a big basement. At this stage, we are trying to get into things we enjoy. Now that it's November, that means it's time for NaNoWriMo (write 50,000 words in November). That has Joe back at it. I was fine for the first part of the month, then I got sick. I'm now fighting tonsillitis. Wee! Thankfully my dental work was completed yesterday, so I am able to get rehydrated and eat properly for the first time in a month. I'll be getting braces, probably in January. That will help with the dental care issues I'm having. Joe is also waiting for physio to start on December 9. It's a heck of a wait for this one. But, the guy he wants to see is the only one close to us that does the dry needling technique. Joe found out a couple weeks ago when he had a bad flare of his neck that the reason for it wasn't arthritis (although it's looking a bit rough in there), but was actually because he has no curve in his neck. Likely due to his military school time. It's from standing at attention. The neck is placed at an angle that is not normal, and over time you just get used to that, and it decreases the curve. Now he has none. And he has his 5th and 6th vertebrae trying to snuggle up, so there is very little gap there. Physio will start by helping the muscles relax. Because with all this, the muscles went nuts and are now actually pulling his spine to one side. But, get the muscles to relax and you can work on getting the spine aligned. But, you can't do one without the other. He has some things he can do to relax the muscles and keep the severe spasm from starting again, and he has muscle relaxers. Come December he'll start to feel much better. He has been adjusting his desks to move the computer screens higher to keep his head at a proper angle. Other than that, we're working towards Christmas. Then after that, I'll be getting a pattern out to test knitters. I just have to finish the pattern. Slowly, but surely, we'll get things on track to where we need them to be.

Summer update

The last number of months have been filled with dealing with health issues, injuries, and knitting. Not the kind of summer I would have liked, but it's the kind I was given. We were able to start up our golf lessons again this summer. Unfortunately, the end of July into August has been too warm for us, and my breathing has been suffering. That has meant more time indoors for me. J has recovered well from his surgery. It was worse than the doc thought. He was able to save some cartilage, but only because he stopped digging. The meniscus tore quite a bit, and folded over on itself. That was all clipped away and repaired. He's feeling much better now. I've been on the biologics for about 5 months now. They are doing well, but I'm only at about 75%. The pain is significantly reduced, but not completely. I am also very very tired. When I go back in October, we'll talk about whether there is something secondary going on. Until then I will work at getting my strength back and getting everything stretched out. Here is a little bit about what we have been doing. We went to a Pentatonix concert. It was fantastic!! We really had a lot of fun. We even ran into friends that were also there. We were right up at the front of the pit area. 😀 Untitled I have been knitting (I see a theme here). The bottom blue socks were for a swap package a week ago. Thankfully the recipient loved them. The others were for me. Untitled Untitled thumb_IMG_0754_1024 Untitled Wildlife watching, while on the golf course: Untitled We had a deck garden this year. Three of these bad boys were going all summer. We have a fourth one now, and we'll be adding a raised bed on the ground around most of the back deck. Untitled Until our garden is big enough to supply us, we are getting a weekly vegetable delivery. Daisy is fond of the box that everything comes in. Untitled We did a lot of canning. Strawberries, tomatoes, peaches...all jarred and stored: Untitled Abby has been taking good care of me (notice how happy she is..she's drooling). hehe Untitled We have also finished painting the walls in the laundry room. We tore out the old shelf and bar system that was in there, and was taking up too much room. The new shelving is out of the way, and makes it much easier to get to the washer and dryer. It also holds more pantry items. The walls are a pretty lilac color. I still need to paint the trim and cabinets, but having the walls done meant getting the room put back together. And everything out of the dining room. 🙂 Untitled Hopefully I'll update more often going forward. Especially since the fall is approaching, and I have been actually able to do things. That has unfortunately meant less knitting time, but that's okay. At least I am able to knit and do other things.

Spring seems to be here!

In the next few days, I will begin taking some pictures of spring. 🙂 I want to get pictures of the buds as they are coming out on the trees. I do this nearly every year. It just makes me so happy to see the first signs of spring. Our snow is completely gone now, which is awesome. But, my family in friends up north are no where near being into spring yet. They were hammered with more snow today! The snow in many places is 6-8 feet high now. It's going to be months before they completely thaw, if the snow ever stops. I was actually able to finish a project yesterday, which was awesome. It's my Katie sweater. It's a red with a grey/oatmeal bottom. I absolutely love it! katie cropped 01b2a1f5e49d13c30cfc50fb8498b9d995f6a45614 01079acecc38d90a4bd7ffaa8eff84315ba5672048 It doesn't look that great over this tshirt, but it was done, so we took a quick picture. The ends are not woven in yet, either. They are now though! For the next three months, at least, we are starting on a full diet. We have been slowly getting stuff out of our diet and trying to get back to natural cooking, but it has been tough. It was also halted a bit when J hurt his knee. He tore the meniscus a few weeks ago, and is now waiting for surgery. That will be at the end of the month. So, the plan is to get meals prepared ahead of time and put into containers and into the freezer. We will also be doing this for J's dad, who really wants to get going on weight loss. This was also kicked into high gear because of my last rheumatology appointment. She wants me to try going gluten free. I'm not a fan of this, because my body really excels on carbs. But I do have foods in my diet that I have issues with, and have cut them out completely. That means nothing with high fructose corn syrup, no nuts, and no chicken or eggs unless it is organic. I have a terrible allergy to the antibiotics in the chicken feed. The same antibiotic is used in the sprays for fruits down here, so I have to go with organic fruits as well. I am already down 6 pounds and down an inch or two on the waist. Good bye bloating! I was starting to think all this pain was in my head, but the rheumatologist did another blood test last week. It's one that gives me a scale of how bad the disease activity is for the rheumatoid arthritis. She thought it would come back low, and that we would go to a neurologist to look for a secondary cause. The results came back yesterday, and I am in the moderate-severe category. That explains that! The doc was a bit surprised, since my other blood work showed that I was getting better. And maybe I have, and this is where I am now. That's a scary thought. I am doing one more month on my current medication to see if there is an improvement with the max dose. Then we'll talk about the next step, which is biologics. These really do worry me. It's like you are borrowing from your future for today. But, if I don't take them, I am doing the same thing, because in another 10 years or so, I won't be able to walk at all. It's almost lunch time, so I should get something good together for that, and then start the meal plans for the next couple weeks. With J's surgery coming up, I will need to premake things and get everything set up and ready. I can't guarantee that I'll be well enough to cook, so I need to prepare. 🙂

The middle of August, already?!

I can't believe that it is the middle of August already. The summer went so fast! I'm kind of surprised it went so fast, considering everything that has been going on around here. It seemed like the type of summer that would just drag on and never end. I've lost count how many different rheumatoid arthritis meds I have been on over the past number of months. I think I'm up to about 7 or something. Last week I started a new one..actually two. sigh We went to the bigger guns, since the anti-inflammatories aren't doing enough. It brought my inflammation numbers down a bit, but still not into the normal range. Hopefully my next blood work will be better. I don't really want this new med to work though, because it's a doozy. It's a mild form of a chemo drug, and it scares the crap out of me. I only take the dosage once a week, which is good, but still...scary. I took my second dose last night. I'm actually not doing too bad today. Last week was a complete write off. I started to feel better just in time to take the next round of meds. Thankfully that meant I could get some things done yesterday. I was clear headed enough to make these: Untitled We bought medium sized t-shirts for our favorite teams. Then yesterday I sewed them up and stuffed them. They made for some very cute pillows. J ordered them, even though he wasn't quite sure of my vision. He loved them when he saw the finished product though. He thought I was going to cut out the logos and make small pillows, and instead was delighted to see big pillows that are snuggle worthy. They will be great on the new love seat/recliner that is coming on Tuesday. I can't wait for the love seat! It's two recliners joined together, with a table in the middle. The table has an arm rest with storage under it, and there are two cup holders. We put up a bunch of the wall hangings yesterday, and only have a couple things left to go up. I can't wait for the pictures of the finished room. It has to be finished this week, because we also need to pack up the kitchen. The renovation of the kitchen begins on the 25th! Then we have landscapers coming sometime around September 2 to work outside. We're getting all ready for the winter. Normally J and I would try to do a lot of this ourselves, but after this summer? Not a chance. J goes back to his doctor on the 2nd of September for test results. We discovered in the course of him going to the rheumatologist that he has Hemochromatosis. So, we have gone from an osteo arthritis to a blood disorder, and probably a genetic one. After the results come back, he will need an ultrasound of his liver to see if there is any damage. His iron levels need to be below 350 to be considered normal, and he was at 788. The treatment is simple, though. He just needs regular blood draws, based on how fast his body regenerates the iron. It could be once a year, or once a week. We won't know that for a while. But, that just means he is a great blood donor. Once the doc gives the word on what needs to be done, they will hopefully start the blood draws right away to keep from doing any more damage to his body. That was quite the shock to us though. I don't have any finished knitting projects at the moment, but I am finally feeling well enough to consider knitting again. I am test knitting a couple pairs of fingerless mittens for someone, and also working on the same sweater that I was working on last time. I am finished the back of the sweater and 1/4 of the front. I am looking forward to it being finished, and being able to wear it when the weather cools down.

Quick update

The last few weeks have really flown by. I have been under the care of a rheumatologist, which means new medications that were really causing stomach unrest to the point of my stomach nearly declaring a civil war on my intestines. It has gotten much better now, and a truce has been reached. Unfortunately, these meds aren't really doing much for the pain in my joints. It might be back to square one in a few weeks if my blood work still isn't where the doc wants it to be. We were able to watch some World Cup soccer the last few weeks, and since we were just sitting here watching it, I pulled out my spinning wheel. I was able to get quite a bit done, actually. Untitled The bobbin that on the wheel here is almost full now. I was trying to get it filled to ply this skein before Tour de Fleece started (it runs with Tour de France, where you spin as they bike). But, with the pain in my hands, that just isn't even remotely possible. Maybe next year. At least I was able to have some fun during the soccer games. I hope to pick it back up again soon. I have managed a bit of knitting. First up is my Ethereal tank top from Knitty. I love it. It's light and airy, and great for the hot days in these parts. The picture is side ways, but you get the idea. It has lace at the bottom and top, and also running up both sides. Untitled Next is a pair of socks that I finished for mom for Mother's day. This is my standby pattern Take Five Socks. I love this pattern. Untitled Next up is another pair of socks. These ones were a new pattern that I tried out. I absolutely loved it. The pattern was easy to follow and added just enough design to make them interesting. It's called Scylla. The yarn for these turned out to be amazing. It is called String Theory, and is the Dark Matter colourway. The people that make this yarn pride themselves on exact dying to get the perfect stripes in socks. Their effort was not in vain, because it is absolutely fantastic. I love these socks. I have two more skeins from them, and I am working on another pair of socks in the White Dwarf colourway, which is white, grey, and blue. It's gorgeous, and stripes just as beautifully. Untitled The last finished project is my Maple Leaf Shawl. It is gorgeous. The pattern is interesting as well, and has you stopping and starting a lot, which results in a bunch of ends to weave in. But, the effect is fantastic and it is well worth it. I finished this just in time for Canada Day, but just unblocked it today. Untitled Hopefully I'll be able to get some more knitting done over the next few weeks and be able to post some more finished items. 🙂

New House

Now that we are finally getting settled, I thought I would put up some pictures of our new place. We are really happy with how things are coming together. We have a living room with a fireplace: IMG_0167 I love how cozy that room feels. We haven't needed the fireplace, but we might next winter. At least we'll have a place to hang stockings next Christmas. And it's a great place to put some of Nova Scotia memorabilia. Then we have the breakfast area that we are using as our dining room: IMG_0168 Our kitchen, which we absolutely love (even with cat toys everywhere): IMG_0169 IMG_0170 Our formal dining room will eventually become our den/sports viewing area: IMG_0091 What should be the living room is our office. I don't have pictures of the finished office area yet, but this is how it started: IMG_0092 There is a room at the top of the stairs that is to be the reading area. There is a built in bookshelf that will be terrific: IMG_0095 My craft room is finished, too. It needs things hung on the walls, but I have to figure out what is being hung. Untitled Untitled And Joe's office is finished. Yay! Untitled Untitled And in with all that, I even have some finished items! Yay! First up is my Dragonfly Wings. I loved this. It was a quick knit, and it was my Ravellenic Games project (knitting during the time the Olympics are going on). Untitled I also finished a baby sweater for friends at church who adopted a baby girl. I don't remember what the pattern was at the moment, but it was really cute. I think it was a Drops pattern. The only problem was the yarn I chose was a bit too bulky for the small needles, and it was not only hard on the hands, but also took a very long time. Untitled

We almost have a home

We have now been here for 2 months. We have been really busy. We put an offer on a house, and then the house inspection went horribly, so we backed out. After searching resumed we found another house that we absolutely fell in love with. We give up a couple things, like having to now settle for an HOA, and having a smaller garage and smaller driveway, but the house is worth it. It's a traditional style colonial, which is exactly what I had wanted. There is no front porch, but we may remedy that someday. The HOA will allow it, providing it meets their requirements. And since other places have a front porch, it should be okay. Sunday is our walkthrough, and then we close Monday. We won't have our furniture for a couple weeks, but at least we'll have a place to put it. 🙂 We are really looking forward to having a space to settle into. The weather has been causing me a ton of problems. The changes in pressures really affect me a lot. My pain levels are really high today, but we have a rain storm tomorrow. There are flood warnings for the area, and there could be thunder boomers as well. That makes for uncomfortable times for me. I had been having some terrible issues adjusting to the pressure and things here, and then the arctic vortex thing came through, and I felt great. It must have been the Canadian air it brought along with it. haha! Everyone else was shivering, and J and I were fine. It didn't get that cold in these parts, though. It was about -15C, which wasn't nearly as bad as some other areas. My knitting has suffered over the past couple months. I have been working on things slowly, but I haven't accomplished much. I did however, finish a hat! Untitled This was mailed off yesterday to a friend for her mom. Her mom is fighting cancer, and I wanted to do something nice for them. My friend should receive it tomorrow or Monday. I have to say that I definitely prefer the US postal over Canada Post. It's much faster here, and cheaper. I also finished some things for mom and dad for Christmas that I haven't shown. First were mittens for dad: Untitled Dad also got this balaclava: Photo on 2013-10-02 at 12.18 PM And a couple of these little guys went to a friends boys: Untitled I made them into a keychain style to be able to be hooked onto their back packs. I have to make some more of these. So, going forward the plans are sort of simple. We need to get unpacked and settled, but we also have to get furniture. Some things will be made by us, others will be purchased, and some things will come from yard sales and refinished. It's a big house that needs furniture, but we don't want to break the bank to do it. I also need to get my shop fully operational. I need to get to work on making things to put up for sale. Also, J and I are planning to focus on our writing more, so that will also need to have some time devoted to it. The plan is to schedule the day like a traditional work day, splitting off our time with what we want to get done to be able to get to everything. We'll see how that goes, especially with everything else that needs to be done. It will be fun, though.

Getting Settled

After a very hectic few weeks, we are finally in VA and are slowly getting settled. Things all started on November 2. The movers arrived late, but not too bad, and then set to work. We had to watch them like hawks. They aren't the most competent group in the world, but they were the ones actually willing to show up. Things in some areas of western Canada are very sketchy for getting workers. But, they got us all packed up. It started to snow that afternoon, and went all night. The next morning it was a mess outside. The moving truck was almost 2 hours late to pick up all our furniture and boxes. The movers were once again incompetent. They broke things (like walls), damaged furniture, etc. They got at mad at me for telling them to not drag another piece of furniture across our floors because they were scratching them. I told them I didn't give a rats ass who did it, but don't do it again. Finally, they left at 3pm. We still had to clean the whole house and get the trash out. Trying to do all this by ourselves was overwhelming, to say the least. We were exhausted, and didn't get as much done as we had wanted. We packed the car and locked up and left at 7pm, giving up on whatever was left to do. The roads for the first couple hours were horrible. Apparently it was the worst that people have seen the roads out of Edmonton. It was a complete nightmare. After a nasty panic attack, and then a couple smaller ones, we made it through the first evening of driving. The next day wasn't as bad for driving, but we had to contend with the border. Thanks to Chrysler not being bothered with getting the certificate for the car, we ended up having to pay a third party to import our car. We weren't impressed. Thankfully the border agent had a list of people that could take care of us, and they were very quick. We were very happy with how they were able to get everything done. I don't think Chrysler will get any more of our business, other than the basic maintenance we have to do with this vehicle. The last few weeks has involved house hunting and catching up with people (and sleep hehe). We found a house we like and are currently negotiating a good price. I don't know how it'll end up, but we do have 2 other properties we like as well. If this one isn't meant to be, then we'll go to plan B. This one has everything I want, which is great, but sometimes the negotiations can go sour, and we are prepared to walk away if they decide to be a real pain in the butt. We'll let them sweat it out. If they find another buyer, fine, and if not, we'll let them come back to us. For now, we wait and keep trying to get some sleep. 🙂

Moving Day is Approaching!

We are finally at the moving stage! My visa was approved and arrived yesterday. We have a lot of things to do, and I'm still sick. Oh my. The movers will be here November 2 and 3rd to pack and load us. I'm nervous about the border crossing, but I'm always worried about the border crossing. lol I have everything I need, and my passport has a neat visa page now. The agent will stamp my passport, and then it's valid for one year. I will then await the permanent card to come in. As soon as that comes in, I have to send my passport back to Canada to get it renewed. Busy times, indeed! Tonight we have an appointment with the bank to find out what we need to do to transfer the money from the sale of the house to the US. We just need to make sure that we have someone here that can take care of what we need. The house is being listed on November 4, just after we have left. I have been doing a bit of knitting, but a lot of it is for Christmas presents. I finished something for dad a couple days ago. I still need to wrap them up. We were going to head to my parents place this weekend, but with how much we have to do, mom and dad decided to come out here. I'm very grateful! We will hopefully have the first coat of trim paint done in the upstairs hall, and in the stair well. Thankfully, most of the painting is touching up the walls, and not repainting entire rooms. That is definitely a blessing. Break time is over. Time to get the paint flying and see how much we can knock off our to do list. We still have to do a huge sort through things today and tomorrow, while also fitting in an hour at the bank. And now Daisy (kitty) is tearing the painters tape off the walls. Definitely the end of break time. haha! I did have a finished project I can show. I totally forgot about this shawl I blocked yesterday. 😀 photo

Rough couple weeks

Well, we are past the Im.migr.ation appointment. Unfortunately, we ran into a problem. The investments we thought we had, don't qualify as investments. We have one source left, which will hopefully qualify, but we still don't know. We had to send off some additional paperwork, because we were missing a bank statement. We had been told that everything was pre-approved with the financials, otherwise it wouldn't be sent to the Cons.ulate, but that was inaccurate. But, as soon as we got home, we got out the bank statement and got it to the courier that same day (day after my appointment, day we arrived at home). It arrivedat the Cons.ulates mail room the next day. Hopefully that means that the agent for my case is working on it. We changed our moving date, and might get to Virginia by Joe's birthday. But, tomorrow we have to make the call to move the date again. Thankfully our movers are great, and are working closely with us. It does help that we have put down a deposit already. Luckily we have averted the crisis with Joe's license and visa, so we don't have that looming over our heads. We are just praying that the Gre.en Ca.rd gets approved. With the wait of the Gre.en Ca.rd, I can't go far from home. I need to be able to pick up my package from the courier. Im.migr.ation still has my pas.sport. That will come back to me at some point. In the mean time I am stuck here. And that brings me to the next problem. My aunt passed away yesterday. There is no way for me to get back for the funeral. I don't have the time to make the drive back, because I'll have to be gone for 2 weeks. Also, I've been sick since we've been back with an ear infection and sinus infection. I'm not better yet, and the doctor will not clear me to fly. Plus, flights would be 3grand. That means I have to miss the funeral. I'm not happy about this at all, but there is nothing I can do. I could have been back before she passed to be able to say goodbye, or at least gone to the funeral, but because of all this 'stuff', I can't. That frustrates me more than the other stuff. I can deal with having to move our departure date, but to be stuck here when we are burying a family member...that sucks. Hopefully this whole thing will be a distant dream and we can get moved and settled and be able to get on with our lives. We look forward to just being able to get settled in our house and get used to our new surroundings. We just have to have faith and patience. We know this is where we are being lead, and we just have to let the worry go...okay I have to let the worry go. 🙂 We all know I'm the worrier. hehe But, for now, RIP aunt Edith. I hope you are able to rejoice in the Lord and that you are pain free and no longer suffering. I will always have the memories of the time we spent at the farmhouse. The smells of the pies and bread that always seemed to be baking, or the roast that was being prepared for when Karl came back in from the barn. The pile of footware near the front door. Rubber boots everywhere. The front porch that had the best view of the valley. http://thechronicleherald.ca/obituaries/1159398-dondale-edith-marie