Friday, November 30, 2007

Post-Surgery Update

I still don’t have time to answer you individually right now, but really appreciate all the nice e-mails and the moral support. Thank you so much! Knowing that everyone is concerned is very comforting. Here’s the latest news:

My uncle had surgery today to drain the fluid that was pressing on his heart. He came through surgery with no problems and was resting comfortably when I came home tonight.

The surgeon reminded me that this is temporary fix to make him comfortable. He heart valve is very old/damaged and we can expect to measure his survival in terms of months, not years. His heart could fail at any time, which is not surprising in someone who is 85. The heart valve problem also makes it more likely he will have more mini-strokes or a big stroke. Again, we already knew that. For now he is doing as well as can be expected. We aren’t sure how long he’ll be in the hospital, but I can’t think that far ahead yet.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Big Decisions

The good news: my uncle is not confused at all today. I haven’t seen him this lucid in months!

The bad news: he has fluid around his heart that is pressing on his heart. Without surgery to remove it he is likely to die from heart failure. The surgery, however, is very high risk and doing surgery negates his Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) wishes. There is a chance he will die during surgery, end up on life support, or in a vegetative state. He understands all that and says he has changed his mind about the DNR: he wants to risk surgery because there is a chance it will improve his quality of life and by having the surgery he is putting everything in God’s hands.

His friend Phil and I have medical power of attorney and agree that he is clear and lucid enough today to make his own decisions and we will abide by his decision to have surgery. I’m scared to death of what might happen but so relieved that I didn’t have to make that decision for him.

The docs left my uncle and I alone to talk and cry together and I’m sure he is lucid. They’ve moved him to Cardiac ICU; now we’re just waiting to see when the surgery will be.

I’ll post another update when we know more or when something happens. Thank you to everyone who has sent e-mail, good wishes, and moral support.

UPDATE We just talked to the surgeon; the surgery will be sometime tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Not so Happy Holidays

Thank you to everyone who noticed I hadn't posted lately and e-mailed to see if I was OK. I am OK but my 85-year-old uncle is not.

He spent Thanksgiving week in McLaren hospital with congestive heart failure. His first night home (with 24-hour care) he fell but did not get hurt. We saw his regular doc yesterday and he sent us for a CT scan to make sure all was well. It was, but then he had a TIA (mini-stroke) in the CT waiting room. Now we’re at Genesys Health Park (the closest hospital to the CT place). They did some more tests today and now we’re waiting to talk to the docs. My uncle is pretty confused and we don’t know what will happen next. It’s awful seeing him like this. He has no children, so I am the one taking care of everything.

To top things off, when I got to the hospital yesterday the key stuck in my ignition so I couldn’t turn the lights off and now my battery is dead. When I finally got home at 1 a.m., the toilet backed up (at least it didn’t overflow) -- and then the plunger cracked. SIGH. I feel like I’m cursed. At least the car is now at the dealership where they can take care of everything; the part the caused the problem is still under warranty. Maybe it’s a sign things are looking up.

Hope all is well with you and yours and that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Blog Funny

I almost laughed out loud at today's Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis. Follow the link to read it online every day (and the past 30 days in the archive).

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Coolest Vest Ever

Isn't this the coolest vest ever?!

My friend Sue made this for me. As you can see it's reversible, with a Christmas theme on one side and a winter theme on the other. All those little pieces are appliqued on! I understand how to do applique but between my tendinitis and my lack of patience with sewing, it would take me forever to do a project like this.

The Christmas side pictures Santa and his reindeer flying over a Tim Burtonesque village. They are from one of Sue's quilt books. The dancing elf is from another pattern. I love the way she combined the whimsical elements and all the colors!

The Winter side features snowmen and cats. Three of the snowmen and all of the cats are based on cross-stitch projects I am working on -- and they look like my cats! The other snowman looks like the snowman pin we made at the Stitchalot Weekend last month. These trees are from a book by a different quilting artist and they are so far beyond my skill level I can't even imagine making them.

If you can't tell, I just love my new vest! I'm so honored that Sue would take the time to make such a wonderful treasure just for me. Expect to see me wearing this often!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Aquadots Recall

In today's news: Aquadots recall after chemicals in toy converts to date rape drug.

Aquadots + saliva = GHB. You have to wonder what rocket scientist didn't think to test how these things would react with saliva.

Atlanta, GA 11/08/2007 03:47 PM GMT (FINDITT)

A popular children’s toy called Aqua Dots, also know as Aqua Beads, are being recalled after tests found chemicals in the toy that can turn into a date rape drug if swallowed. Aquadots were first recalled in Australia where they are marketed as Bindeez by Moose Enterprises. United States based manufacture Spin Master Toys are following suit after two children were hospitalized after swallowing the beads.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the Aqua Dots recall on Wednesday. Scientists say chemical coating on the beads can convert into the date rape drug gamma hydroxy butyrate when swallowed. They say the chemicals can induce seizures, unconsciousness, coma and death.

And Then There Was One...

Barbara West Daintin, one of the two remaining Titanic survivors, died on Oct. 16 and her funeral was held this past Monday. Apparently her family did not want news of her death released immediately; it was mentioned only briefly in the Mirror yesterday. Barbara was only a year old when Titanic sank and had no recollection of the disaster. She always refused to discuss it saying she wanted "nothing to do with the Titanic people." That's understandable since she lost her father in the disaster and her mother was devastated.

Millvina Dean, 95, who was just nine weeks old when Titanic sank, is the last survivor. She barely spoke about her family's Titanic experience until she was in her 70s. She has been a popular guest at many Titanic events since then.

May Barbara rest in peace and may Millvina have many more happy, healthy years.

UPDATE Nov. 13: Don Lynch found this description of the ringing of bells at Truro Cathedral for Barbara West Dainton.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Davison Landslide

In yesterday's election Mac Fortner was elected Davison Mayor in a landslide and only one incumbent remains on the City Council. Gee, ya think maybe everyone was a teensy bit upset over the canopy removal and the plans for an expensive new municipal center to replace the current city hall and library? :)

I'm so pleased with the election I am pasting the statistics and an article from today's Flint Journal below. (I've linked to them, but I noticed when I when I was updating the category labels on my old entries that some links are now dead. From now on I will paste stuff I never want to lose in at the end of the appropriate blog entry.)

The City of Davison Election Results (unofficial) courtesy of The Davison Index.

Fred "Mac" Fortner -- 452 -- 48.97%

James R. Hansen Jr. -- 246--26.65%
Charles Purdy--10--1.08%
Fred Rappuhn (I)--214--23.19%
Write-In --1--0.11%

City Council
Ralph Arceo (I)--363--15.21%
Tim Bishop--493--20.65%
Don Csutoras (I)--483--20.23%
James E. Hershberger--566--23.71%
Tom Lesnock--126--5.28%
Gordon Winther (I)--352--14.75%
Write-In --4--0.17%

Bad day for incumbents in Davison
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
By James L. Smith
Journal Staff Writer

DAVISON - A new mayor and two new City Council members will lead Davison after voters turned out several incumbents, including Mayor Fred Rappuhn.

Taking the city's top spot was Fred "Mac" Fortner, 60, former owner of Davison Home Bakery. Fortner won easily, nearly equaling the vote total of the three other mayoral candidates.

Fortner said residents told him a decision to explore building an expensive new City Hall was at the root of the change. He has opposed the City Hall project, promising to be conservative with the city's spending.

"I think Davison is ready for a change, and we're ready to pull the city back together," Fortner said. "I'm humbled, grateful, and blessed for all the support."

Fortner's win means Rappuhn, 53, a photo studio owner, will be off the City Council for the first time since 1982. Rappuhn finished third, behind Fortner and funeral director James Hansen.

A "surprised" Rappuhn blamed a controversy over the downtown canopy removal and streetscape improvements for his defeat.

"It was a canopy election," said Rappuhn, elected mayor in 2003. "I enjoyed the work I did with the city. It was fun while it lasted."

The news wasn't much better for council incumbents.

Only Don Csutoras, 64, one of three council veterans on the ballot, survived Tuesday's election. Challengers Jim Hershberger, 56, and Tim Bishop, 36, were elected.

Incumbents Ralph Arceo, 67, and Gordon C. Winther, 56, were defeated, along with challenger Tom Lesnock, 50.

Winther was appointed to his seat in June to fill the unexpired term of Kevin McKague, who resigned because of work requirements.

First up on the docket for the new council is the selection of a city manager to replace Pete Auger, who has accepted a job in Auburn Hills.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Charlevoix and Bullfrog Light Co.

On our way home from Traverse City we took a detour north to visit Charlevoix. My husband had never been there and we enjoyed lunch and a bit of shopping in the beautiful downtown. We had good timing: we arrived just in time to see the Beaver Island ferry unload (but weren't quick enough to get a picture!). Imagine the ferry was in the foreground and be sure to look at the cool house in the background and the beautiful fall colors:

We were surprised to find our favorite hotel in Traverse City, Pointes North Inn, is also in Charlevoix (Points North Inn Charlevoix)! We've decided that the next time we go up north, we'll stay in Charlevoix and visit Traverse City on the way home. I'm looking forward to that! I'd also really like to visit Beaver Island sometime. We like to go up north in the off season (Oct. - April) to avoid the mass of tourists. I assumed the ferry didn't run during the off season but was surprised to see it runs until Dec. 14!

Charlevoix is the home of Bullfrog Candles so we had to visit the Bullfrog Light Co. I've loved Bullfrog's beautiful candles for years. They are not scented but glow from the flame all the way to the base. You can see their many beautiful, seasonal patterns on the web site. I was amused to learn that the store isn't just their factory and store, it's their galactic headquarters. I even took a picture of the sign:

The store was smaller than I expected but it had a good assortment of all their candles plus a "seconds" room where you can purchase slightly imperfect candles at a discount. (Yes, of course I bought some!)

The saleslady was very friendly and helpful. When I told her how much I love Bullfrog Candles, which ones I owned, which I'd given as gifts, etc., she gave me $7 can of Bellagio Gourmet Mocha for being such a loyal customer. What a nice thing to do! Needless to say, I'm even more loyal now. :)

It was hard not to think about all the work (and stress) waiting for me at home but I really enjoyed our weekend escape.

Autumn Wine

One of the fun things about Traverse City is the variety of restaurants and wineries.

Saturday night we decided to try something different and made our way to Boone's Long Lake Inn. They not only get a demerit for the apostrophe error on their web site, I don't recommend the restaurant! After hearing how good it was, I was very disappointed. The rustic lodge is beautiful, popular, and the service was good, but I found the food quite ordinary, especially after eating at Amical (a French Bistro and one of my favorite restaurants) the night before.

My husband has been reading Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted "Dr. Cocktail" Haig so this weekend we explored Traverse City's many wine shops look for unusual ingredients. You might think northern Michigan is too cold for grapes but the Leelanau Peninsula is full of Wineries! I hardly ever drink but do like very dry red wine. This weekend I discovered two new favorites at Cherry Republic. Their store in downtown Traverse City offers free samples of all their wines and they tell all about each one as you are tasting it.We tried two: Cherry Red Wine and Cherry Spiced Wine. Cherry Red is a very dry mix of 80% grapes and 20% cherries. It's not expensive and it is the best wine I've ever had. Cherry Spiced Wine has cinnamon and orange in it and is good at room temperature or heated (aka mulled wine). I'm so glad we found Cherry Republic! They also ship if we can't find a local distributor after our supply runs out.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Traverse City In November

We're getting away from it all in Traverse City this weekend. Because of the unusually warm October weather, the fall colors are now reaching their peak. The color is usually gone by now, so the timing was perfect for our trip.

This is the view from our hotel room. Isn't East Grand Traverse Bay beautiful?

Cool weather, pretty fall colors, a calming view, and the U of M-MSU game is on. Who could ask for more?

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Apparently I am going to have to stop reading/watching the news. I was already sad about Mozart when I read that Robert Goulet died Tues. from a rare lung disorder while awaiting a lung transplant.

Although I never got to see him play Sir Lancelot in Camelot, I love his songs in the album by the original Broadway cast.

In a fitting tribute, the lights on Broadway (and theatres everywhere) were dimmed in his memory Tues. night.

Rest in Peace, Mr. G. You'll always be Sir Lancelot to me.

Not Mozart, too!

In yesterday's news: Death Stalks the Meerkats Yet Again. Poor Mozart has also died -- and so has her mate, Carlos.

I'm so glad I'm not watching Meerkat Manor! I can't stand to see these adorable little critters (who sound just like my Saffron!) die. I don't know how the researchers working on Cambridge University's Kalahari Meerkat Project can stand it. They watch these little guys 24/7 for years and must be very attached -- as are fans who watch Meerkat Manor on Animal Planet.

Death Stalks the Meerkats Yet Again
The New York Times
Published: October 27, 2007

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 26 — Another tragedy has befallen the meerkats.

Mozart, the troubled daughter of Flower, the late matriarch of the Whiskers clan on the popular Animal Planet series “Meerkat Manor,” died at the end of Friday’s episode; it was the second death to shake fans of the show’s lovable but hard-luck stars in a month.

After Flower’s death — from a snake bite — in the Sept. 28 episode, fans flooded the Internet with tributes in poem, picture and song. Early this week, as news of Mozart’s demise leaked out, similar tributes began to crop up online.

For the uninitiated, “Meerkat Manor” traces the lives of the members of several colonies of meerkats in the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa as they procreate, fight for territory and scarce resources and race around looking as cute as all get-out. The Whiskers clan is part of a 13-year study that was originated by Cambridge University and has been followed on camera by producers from Animal Planet for the last three years.

To the dismay of the show’s more fervent fans, the life span of a Kalahari meerkat turns out to be not much different from that of the average soap opera villain. Despite calls from some fans after the death of Flowers for the repeal of the Darwinian laws of the desert, the producers have no such refinements in mind.

But they did learn something from the uproar created after the first season, when Shakespeare, a lovable scamp of a meerkat, disappeared and was presumed to have died. The producers place radio collars on each family’s dominant female, the better to track the families’ movements, but because Shakespeare, a male, simply went missing, there was no visual evidence of his demise. When Flower succumbed to snakebite, the radio collar let producers track her movements closely and provide viewers with visible closure.

With Mozart, the cause of death was uncertain — it was likely that she fell prey one night to a passing jackal, the show’s narrator intones — but viewers are shown her lifeless body, if from a tasteful distance. Although one meerkat looks much like another, the producers mark each animal with a strategically placed spot of hair dye to tell them apart.

All is not lost, however. Fans of the show are likely to see more of Flower, and perhaps Mozart, in a feature film, “Queen of the Kalahari,” tentatively scheduled for release next year.