The Bitch is Back

You may have noticed I’ve been on hiatus for the past 6 weeks. That’s what I’m calling it, anyway. You might call it “bitch be too lazy to write on her own stupid blog.” Hell, I’m 50 now and I’ll call it whatever I like. My 50th birthday party was the bomb, naturally. It ended up being too cold to wear the second dress I purchased for the event, so I made a last minute switch. Fortunately, my closest is copious and I pulled out a dynamite purple neoprene number that zipped all the way up the front. It was a big hit.

So what have I been doing for the past 6 weeks? Going through menopause. Pretty much right on schedule it would appear. Technically, the official diagnosis of menopause only comes after a year of no periods. But I went in for a hormone test on Friday, after I quit taking the pill 5 weeks ago and came back with a score of 98 (under 10 is considered fertile). So I’m going to officially announce that my ovaries have failed. Should I be happy? Mournful? I opted for champagne. (No, seriously, we split a bottle of Krug on Friday night)

I could really do without the hot flashes. Waking up every hour or two and having to through off the covers is getting to be a bit of a drag. At first I only had them at night. Now they are starting to creep into my waking hours as well. I’m usually cold, so now I get to alternate – sweatshirt on, sweatshirt off. My husband finds it amusing. I’m just grateful I haven’t developed any other symptoms yet. Hormonally induced tears and/or rage, anyone? No, thanks. Of course, if I do get exceptionally bitchy, I now have an excuse. Like I needed one.

50 and Fabulous

Today is my 50th birthday. I can’t really say it snuck up on me, as I’ve been planning a party for almost a year now, but I’m still feeling a little stunned by its arrival. Fifty, can I really be fifty? I don’t feel fifty, I’m not even sure I ever felt like forty. I’m certainly in the best shape of my life, excepting the last four pounds I still need to lose from our epic vacation.

On Thursday I bought a bombshell dress to wear to my party tonight. My second bombshell dress, as the one I bought last summer is just too structured to forgive the extra four pounds. I’m sure I’ll get another opportunity to wear it someday. The new dress shows more boob and less leg (’cause too much of both is slutty) and it’s ruched around the midsection to provide a little more camouflage. The stretchy fabric is more forgiving too.

Of course it decided to rain on my parade today. Literally. It was 55 degrees and raining when I got up this morning. I’ll probably freeze my ta-ta’s off tonight. But I’m not buying another dress at this point. I’ll bring a dressy little jacket and hope for the best. I can’t get too wild, as my acupuncturist warned me against drinking too much alcohol. Apparently it can cause a setback in my frozen shoulder treatment. Plus, I have a bit of a bad habit of going from one glass of wine to dancing on the table with a lampshade on my head. Figuratively speaking, of course.

I indulged in a manicure and pedicure two days ago, for only the second time ever. The first was for our wedding nearly 15 years ago. So far I’ve managed not to chip my nails. I expect them to start peeling as soon as the party is over, though. They just don’t seem to hold polish. But at least I’ll have pretty fingernails for the party. ‘Cause it’s all about me, right?

Warm and Sunny

It’s officially summer. I can say this with authority because I turned on our air conditioner and our sprinkler system yesterday. That officially marks the beginning of summer. We had a few days of spring in there somewhere, I think, but for the most part it seems like we went from cold and rainy to warm and sunny way too quickly. Such is the weather in Minnesota.

The forecast is mid to upper 80′s for the next week. That’s a little on the warm side for me. Guess I won’t have many opportunities for leather jackets and boots until fall. Which kind of sucks. Time to break out the shorts and sundresses. Not to mention the faux tanner. I know, #firstworldproblems. Wah, wah, wah.

My posting has been pretty pathetic this month. I think I got a little burned out by posting every single day while we were on our six week vacation. Or maybe it’s just that we haven’t done a whole lot worth writing about since we got back. I got through the almost 7000 images I shot and have processed about 600. I put together and ordered a photo book of trip. Needless to say, I included a few too many baby photos. How could I resist?

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Special Delivery

A big heavy box showed up today while I was at my second acupuncture treatment. It contained 33 copies of the new MIM catalog, which was finally delivered last week. Why 33 copies? Because that’s how many come in a case. I won’t be giving out as many as the first catalog but I’m sure I’ll manage to go through the carton eventually.

I haven’t written nearly as much about this book as I did the first one. Mostly because the bulk of my involvement took place during a two week window last November. An insanely busy two week window. Since then, I’ve attended a few follow-up meetings and taken a few additional photos, but it’s really been off my radar. The book was actually supposed to come out while we were in Australia, but, like most projects, nothing ran on schedule.

Right after the books were shipped, I received an email from the MIM store manager telling me that she had found a printing defect in some of the books. She didn’t know whether my box was impacted or not, but offered to send me a return label for it. The “defect” turned out to be some really faint gray markings on one page. If I hadn’t been specifically looking for it, I don’t think I would have seen it. So I’ll be hanging on to my copies, thank you very much.

Pincushion

After months of trying to pretend my left shoulder wasn’t starting to freeze, I finally went back to acupuncture today. It became painfully evident during our trip to Australia that my left shoulder is determined to follow the same path that my right shoulder did two years ago. The acupuncturist who treated me two years ago is no longer practicing in Burnsville and I’m not willing to drive to Northfield two days a week. Fortunately, she gave me the name of the person who taught her the frozen shoulder protocol and he is in South Minneapolis.

My new acupuncturist is an old school, third generation practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. When I told him my previous treatment lasted five months, he frowned. “Too long.” He then informed me that he would be using “strong needles” and he expected me to be at 90% or better within three months. Plus, I would only have to come twice a week for the first month and then would be able to drop back to once a week.

Apparently, “strong needle” means a bigger gauge. My previous experiences with acupuncture involved some sporadic discomfort, but rarely actual pain. This hurt. If this was my first time, I’m not sure I would have gone back, but I know it works so I’m determined to suck it up. The treatments are also a lot more expensive than I’ve paid in the past, but if he can cure me in half the time it will still be cheaper. Right now, my shoulder looks like a pincushion, but I’m hopeful.

Cooling Breeze

After dealing with the headache of first having our hot water heater replaced and then having our water main shut-off valve replaced, we were brave (or foolhardy) enough to install a ceiling fan in our bedroom. We bought one before we left for Australia, but didn’t have enough time to tackle the install, so it’s been sitting in a box on the floor.

This is not our first ceiling fan installation. We have one in our sunroom in Minnesota and another in our living room in Phoenix, which we just installed over the winter. So, third time’s a charm, right? More like a curse. This was a deluxe model with a fancy control switch that goes into the wall and it gave us nothing but trouble.

It took a few rounds of messing with the wiring before everything functioned properly. Then my husband noticed that we installed the wall switch upside down. So the variable speed setting lights go up as you set the fan to a lower setting. We probably would have noticed sooner if the whole thing hadn’t been such a pain in the rear.

So when we come back for a week in June, we’ll have a nice new ceiling fan over our bed. Then we’ll get around to reversing the switch so it faces the right way. And maybe we’ll look for new carpet – another task that got deferred because we were too busy getting ready for our trip. Meanwhile I’ll be busy in Minnesota for the next month, going through a gazillion photos and losing all the weight I gained on the trip. Woo-hoo!

DVR Marathon

You might wonder what’s our first priority after being out of the country for 6 weeks. Why, catching up on all the recorded TV shows, of course. It’s been marathon viewing every day since we returned. First it was Elementary, then Castle followed by The Amazing Race and The Mentalist. We almost got through all of the Bones episodes before taking a break to watch today’s Indy Car race. A longer break than we expected, as the race was delayed due to rain.

I  started getting a cold on the plane, so I haven’t felt like doing a whole lot since we got back. It seems to be inevitable that some sort of illness always follows a long trip. I probably picked up Nola’s cold. Totally worth it. I have managed to get unpacked and get laundry done in between all of the TV viewing. The house is still kind of a disaster, though.

I also managed to review all of my photos from the trip. I don’t have an exact count but it’s in the neighborhood of 7000. I think I’ve noted about 400 for processing. Maybe 200 of those will get posted online when I get around to it. It doesn’t matter how awesome your vacation photos are, nobody wants to look at hundreds of them.

We are heading back to Minneapolis on Wednesday afternoon and I have no doubt that there is a ton of stuff I should get done but won’t before we leave. Such is life.

No Hot Water for You

Ever feel like you’ve been cursed? When our hot water heater decided to start leaking three days after we left the country, I was definitely starting to feel that way. After our experience replacing it today, I am convinced. The plumber came right on time, at 9:00 AM, took one look at our existing heater and realized it was a direct vent. Which wasn’t the kind he brought.

So he wrote down the model number and called his plumbing supply store. Fortunately, they had the right one in stock. Unfortunately, he had to drive about 30 minutes each way to go get it. By the time he came back it was after 11:00. After letting him into the garage, I went back into the house. About 5 minutes went by before he knocked on the door. Turns out the direct vent model he brought back had a different type of venting system that was incompatible with our existing set-up. I panicked, thinking they had changed the venting system for that model type and we would need to do major re-work to get a new heater installed.

After a phone call to the supply store, he found out they had loaded the wrong model on his truck. So he had to make the hour long round-trip again to get the right one. It was 12:30 before he was finally able to start the installation. He finished just after 2:30 and now I’m patiently waiting for the water in the tank to heat up, so I can finally have a shower. It’s been 48 hours.

Our plumbing drama isn’t over yet, either. He still needs to replace the crappy plastic shut-off valve for our water main. He’s waiting for a replacement part that is due to come in on Monday. So he will be back Tuesday morning. Of course replacing the water main shut-off will require shutting off the water to the entire building. I’m sure our neighbors will love us for that.

All the Way Home April 24

We left for the airport at 7:30 this morning. It was raining, which seemed appropriate somehow. Apparently we’re leaving just as the weather is started to turn colder. Nola’s dad gave us a ride to the airport, which made for a much less emotional goodbye, fortunately.

The flight was tougher because we left in the morning instead of at night, so it was hard to get any sleep. I reclined my seat to lay flat for less than 3 hours during the entire flight. By the time we landed in L.A. I was feeling a little zombified. We cleared customs quickly and got to the Delta Lounge right around 9:00 AM. Our flight to Phoenix was scheduled for 12:20 when I originally booked it. It was moved to 12:44 a few months before we left.

Which would have been fine, except it didn’t end up actually taking off until 2:30. By that point I was afraid of passing out before we got on the flight. My ear had started bothering me while we were in Sydney and combining that with sheer exhaustion made me feel incredibly dizzy. We had another celebrity sighting while we were waiting in the lounge – Gary Busey sat down in the chair behind me. He is just as creepy looking in person. He also showed off some butt crack when he got up to leave, as his pants were too big. I really didn’t need to see that.

We finally made it back to our house around 4:30. Of course I couldn’t do the one thing I really wanted to do, which was take a long shower. We have a plumber coming tomorrow morning to replace the hot water heater that died 3 days after we left the country. Hopefully that’s the last of our household back luck for a while.

Melbourne April 23

This is the last day of our vacation (cue sad music). It’s been a long, amazing journey and, while I’m ready to go home, I’m also sad about leaving. It’s been great to watch Nola develop during this crucial stage of her life. We saw her first teeth come in and we saw her start pulling herself up and taking a few tentative steps. She’ll be walking before she’s 10 months old for sure.

We started our morning with breakfast at a funky restaurant called Abbey Road. The owner was a real character, straight out of the 60′s. Then we went to my sister-in-law’s house so my husband could finish his final little project – patching the grout in her laundry room tile. Then we all went for a walk out to the St. Kilda Pier and had a little lunch.

We spent the rest of the afternoon playing with Nola and just hanging out. Dinner was steak and salad, accompanied by a nice Pinot Noir from our trip to Beechworth. I’ve now officially drunk my way through Australia and New Zealand. This particular bottle was notable because it actually had a cork – the first we’ve encountered among the many bottles we’ve consumed on this trip. Wine here usually has a screw top, which I love. My sister-in-law dug out a corkscrew, which I managed to promptly break. I guess I’m out of practice.

After dinner we returned to our tiny hotel room to pack. I’d like to think I’ll get a good night’s sleep before we head back tomorrow, but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen given my history with sleeping like crap every time I set an alarm clock.