13 September 2017

weird week

It's been a weird week. And it's only Wednesday.

After a few frustrating setbacks, the plumber came and ultimately fixed the tub issue. He did admit that he had no idea how it had broken, and he'd never seen anything like it. I told you it was weird. He also complimented my tub refinishing skills. Sweet. So now I can finish caulking and enjoy a bath the next time I work out in the yard and my muscles are achey.

The saga continues.

I forgot to mention that this dentist is the super sweet guy who opened his practice on New Years to see me back when my wisdom tooth was infected. Over the years I've always wanted to go back to see him, but he was never in network. Well, now he is.

I tried half of a xanax before my appointment to test it out. I don't know if it's the placebo effect in action, but my anxiety wasn't that bad. Granted, the appointment consisted of simple x-rays, a cleaning, and a small filling to repair the one that had fallen out; it didn't require numbing or drilling, and was in the front. Super quick. It feels SO much better. So smooth.
Now I need to break myself of the habit of tonguing the spot. Remember how he mentioned my teeth are clacking together and chipping because they're crooked? Well I was never aware of it but since he mentioned it, I can TOTALLY feel it now. How did I never notice that? It's weird. I don't know what to do with my mouth.

Anyway, after the cleaning and minor filling business, the real fun began.

Same situation; old fillings got loose and rotted underneath. New cavities are still popping up though. He commented on how my teeth are really freaking clean, my gums are healthy, and he can't figure out why I have so many cavities. He even did this saliva test that counts bacteria levels, and if they're high it can lead to cavities. The first one came out low, so in disbelief he repeated it. Low again.

My new theory is that it's from growing up with undiagnosed celiac. The right minerals were just not absorbed through the damaged intestines, and the enamel is weak. Well... anyway.

Immediately he wondered why my previous dentist didn't start on the big problems first- she focused on doing the small fillings first and left the root canals for last, but the insurance money ran out so I didn't go back. Fast forward a year and I'm finally back in the chair, with a better insurance plan because I knew what was coming.

He said I was in danger of losing two teeth if I didn't get them done fast. They're right next to each other, and they've got an additional cavity that formed between the teeth. EVEN THOUGH I FLOSS LIKE A NUTJOB. He showed me the xrays and damn you can totally see them.

So...two root canals and crowns, and that's just the start. There will be two more root canals, one needing a specialist because the root is curved. Sure. Of course.

Now, the xanax was helpful but there's no damn way I could make it through all that fully aware of everything.

His suggestions cracked me up and made me like him even more. He said to stay up super late watching netflix the night before the appointment and try not to sleep. Then to come in exhausted for the first morning appointment where he'd give me a sedative and laughing gas. He said most patients fall asleep through the whole thing. I'm really, really hoping for that. I really don't have a choice.

The cost? Holy crap. Over a grand just for those 2 teeth. Insurance only covers 1 crown every 86 months or some ridiculous longass length of time. So the rest is out of pocket, actually my HSA, until I reach my deductible. I need to go look all that up. The sedation by itself is $200, which in my opinion is worth every penny.

AND THEN after all that's done I guess it'll be time to consider straightening my teeth. But how do you do that--- can you even get braces/invisalign with a bunch of crowns??

What I'm trying to say is: I just want teeth when I'm old, and I guess my kitchen counter money is going into my mouth.

09 September 2017

plumbing woes

Well, damn. I was all excited that I finally got around to refinishing the bathtub and 100% completing the guest bathroom. I mean, the materials have sat around for a few years. I did refinish it, it was pretty easy, and it's beautiful.

But there's this smell. I've noticed it in the bathroom on and off, but recently more often. Like a sewer gas smell. I figured that it was because we don't use the bathroom much and the pipes are drying out. So I'd pour some bleach down the drain and move on with my life.

I guess after spending so much time in the bathroom, I became motivated to figure out the source. I expected to find something dead somewhere. I even pulled up the bathroom cabinet floors. Turns out, there's an access panel to the shower/tub pipes underneath the cabinets, and once I removed it I could see that there was a problem.

It was definitely damp under the tub. The gasket around the cleanout was super old and worn, so I figured water was leaking when the tub was used and that's where the funky smell originated. I replaced the gasket, and while I had my head in the hole I looked a little closer at the pipes.

Further down, where the tub drain met the sewer pipe, something didn't look right. The pipe edges looked jagged at first glace, which doesn't seem right since there should BE no pipe edges because they SHOULD BE smoothly connected. I couldn't get my head at the right angle to get a good look, so I grabbed a mirror and sure enough. Something was wrong. It was almost like if someone tore a piece of paper and placed the two halves about an inch from each other. That was how the pipes looked. I could see it with the mirror and put my fingers clean through the space where there SHOULD BE solid pipe! Basically the tub has been draining under the house.
How the pipe broke, I have no idea. The foundation was checked only a few years ago so something tells me it's been that way for a while. It looks like someone ghetto rigged something at one point which is just dandy.

In the meantime I pointed a few fans at the hole to dry things out until Monday when I'll call a plumber. Here's hoping that they don't have to tear out any walls or floors to get into the space to fix it... I am NOT about that kind of life right now. I put a ton of work into making that bathroom pretty and I'm going to be really annoyed to have to put more work and money into it.

Especially because I've saved up a small home improvement fund... because the A/C is questionable, the siding is literally rotting off the house, we need new doors, and could really use a few upgrades like decent ceiling fans. I guess that's just the way things work when you own a home.

06 September 2017

eventful day

Today was interesting.

It started with a trip to the dentist. WHY can a trip to the dentist never be a simple trip to the dentist? WHY does it always have to involve drama and trauma? I have great oral hygiene and healthy gums, but terrible, terrible teeth.

Continuing last year's cavity extravaganza, where I learned that Valium doesn't do crap for my anxiety, and I only got 1/4 of my mouth filled before I ran out of insurance money. Today's trip was inspired by the fact that back in April, a filling fell out of one of my front teeth. I've developed a serious compulsion of tonguing the rough spot plus exposed cavity is never good. So, to take advantage of the fact that half of our customers are underwater and work is slow, I went to the dentist.


The anxiety is still there, possibly worse?

The dentist said that the reason the filling fell out so quickly was that because my teeth are so crooked that they're hitting each other. I know my teeth are crooked. I'm pretty self-conscious about it, especially because despite 3 years of brutal braces back in high school I'm now in my 30's with crooked teeth. I figured one day I'd get vain enough to fix them.

Well, I had to laugh when the dentist suggested braces. Yeah, no. No. No. No.
Adult acne AND braces?
Not signing up for that. No way.

But he's got a point. So I figure I'd consider invisalign. Something less socially awkward has got to be worth every single penny. But first I have to make sure I still have teeth to align and get all these cavities filled.

*slow sob*

So that was the first event of the day. Moving on.

The biggest event of the day, I thought happened when I heard a box drop on the front porch. I was so excited because I'd been tracking the package. The laminator I ordered 2 weeks ago but was delayed by Harvey finally arrived! I unpacked it with a giddy laugh, turned it on, and it laminated beautifully. Oh, it was glorious. LAMINATE ALLLLL THE THINGGGSSSSS!!!! Really, though. I have a legitimate work purpose for a laminator, but also, consider all the wonderful personal uses! It totally made the crappy dentist visit leave my brain. That was the most exciting thing of the day, rightfully so... until my evening walk.

A few weeks ago Akhtar and I agreed to commit to go walking every other Wednesday. Just meet up and get some light exercise, catch up. Today was one of those Wednesdays. So we're walking along the Braes Bayou and the weather is gorgeous, it's actually a little cool and breezy. We're discussing Harvey and how devastating it was, and how blessed we were to be personally spared the devastating flood waters. Then we come up on a woman lying on the ground and a man giving her CPR.

I'll let that sink in for a second.

Apparently this woman exercising along the trail collapsed, and an anesthesiologist happened to be the first person to get to her, found no heartbeat, and began administering CPR.

Then we walked up.
I, having no phone or demonstrable CPR knowledge, identified the nearest intersection so that Akhtar could give it to the 911 dispatcher. I said a silent prayer for her and the man giving her CPR until help arrived in the form of 4 burly firefighters. When they began to intubate I suggested we move on and let them do their job. I couldn't watch that.

So we continued on our walk, discussing how we are suddenly really, really motivated to take that CPR class we've always talked about doing. On our way back, the emergency vehicles were leaving. I really, really hope that she made it.

How crazy, to be enjoying a nice evening and suddenly your heart stops? I wonder what she was excited about today.

Counting my blessings, indeed.

05 September 2017


I'm in a funk.

Thanks to Harvey, the stringing of days spent being useless has reached capacity and has overflowed. Having ample time to think, by myself, produces thoughts that aren't easily distinguishable between groundbreaking and paranoid. The logical part of my brain is telling me not to make any big decisions while in this funky state. Kind of like how they tell you not to do any online shopping or banking after a surgical procedure because you're not in your right mind.

As much as I cherish my solitary moments, over the past few years I've gotten used to companionship. That, combined with this new job that involves a lot of working from home, means that I find myself feeling lonely a lot now.

What do I do to pass the lonely evening hours? Drink, of course. I've found myself watching that clock so that when it hits 5pm, I can start drinking. Drunk and lonely... super satisfying.
Not ideal, not healthy.

When my alcohol tolerance and waistline increases, and it's harder to get out of bed in the morning, I know it's time to cut back. I can feel myself spiraling into a pattern that's not good.

I'm determined to re-start some healthy habits.
Which means now I'm sober and lonely.

After depleting my junk food stocks during Harvey-snack-fest 2017, I stocked up on a bunch of healthy foods and have adopted a Whole30-ish diet again. This time, I include beans. Because I love beans and they make me feel good and they're literally a whole food so I don't see a problem.

I started walking around the neighborhood again. It's hot and sweaty and miserable, and the mosquitoes attack almost immediately, but I heard the mosquito truck spray last night and it kinda feels good to get sweaty, even if it has nothing to do with exertion.

Back to measuring out a serving of wine again. Because, you know, it's good for your heart. This time around, though, it's hard to limit myself to 1 glass a night. Because alcohol and misery go together so well.

I even started poking around meetup again. There are not a whole lot of groups that I'm interested in, mostly moms with toddlers and hardcore yoga groups, but I joined a Science Enthusiast group and one for "Multiple Interests and Tastes," which is right up my alley. I also figured now's a good time to stretch my comfort zone. So I joined a Toastmasters group. Have not motivated myself to go to anything yet.

Mk, time to go walk.

02 September 2017


Damn, Harvey. We get it. You're a monster of destruction. Over a week since the hurricane hit and Harvey is STILL wreaking fresh havoc all over the Houston area. The word disaster doesn't even begin to cover it.

Our area is in recovery mode, at least the areas where the water has receded to leave behind a soggy, moldy, heartbreaking debris field.

Watching the news, while harrowing enough, does no justice to seeing it in person. Walking down a neighborhood street lined on both sides with tall piles of destruction is shocking. Helping friends with the damage; literally the walls of their homes disintegrated into a muddy mess in my hands. It's surreal, because it's not an isolated situation. It's everywhere. Everyone knows someone who has been affected. If your home is safe and dry in this city, you're the exception.

I know I keep saying it. I'm counting my blessings. Despite all of the factors involved, myself and family, and property, are okay. Neighbors a few doors down have those piles of destruction in their front yards. Somehow, we are the exception.

It's been exceptional watching the outpouring of help in this community. Because at the end of the day, it's just stuff and most are thankful to be physically unharmed. Homes and businesses can be cleaned out and rebuilt.

The damage is overwhelming, and so is the compassion.

20 August 2017

Project Backyard

For some strange reason I chose today, of all hot-as-hell days, to start Project Backyard Cleanup 2017. Maybe something broke and I couldn't stand looking at it anymore.

Let's take a quick trip down memory lane and check out the progress we've made since purchasing the house.

Exhibit A: Unkept jungle. Rat habitat. Messy flowerbeds. Call it what you will. The back corner was a hodgepodge of old tree stumps, vines, and trash. We had to take a chainsaw to a tree that had fallen and had been dragged to rot in the corner. We screamed at bugs when we moved it all out. (The first "we" with the chainsaw was obviously Chris. The second "we" screaming at bugs was all me.)


Over the course of several weeks, we managed to clean things up and make them look tidy. Much sweat, a little blood, and a burst of tears (when I once fell over on a rake and hurt myself.)

Exhibit B: Taken maybe 2 years ago? Managed and tidy, if still ugly. Notice how the corner behind the (leaky) birdbath is nice and clean.

This is how that corner looks today*. The jungle had taken over again. In an act of desperation, Chris bought some industrial strength vegetation killer and nuked the whole thing, with the exception of that corner, because I forbade him to kill my gardenia and rosemary.  He even sprayed a little onto the back neighbor's jungle, because it started to climb over the fence and invade our side.

*This is how it looks after hours of tearing out grass, weeds, vines, and discovering a new sinkhole. The rosemary is scraggly and the gardenia didn't even flower this year, because it's so choked.
I didn't take a before picture out of sheer embarrassment. You couldn't even see the fence. I'm afraid to go deep into the actual corner because I'm not sure what's living in it.

Here are the project plans:

I decided to make the flowerbed a lot smaller, and turn the rest of it into grass. It's so big that it can't be kept up and the jungle keeps taking over and it's ugly and probably harboring critters. So the new edge of the flowerbed is to the left of the tree, where I moved the bricks.

Here's where the new flowerbed starts. I chose that spot mostly because there's a raised sprinkler head that would be really weird and annoying in the middle of the yard, but makes sense if it were watering a flowerbed.

My to-do list involves removing all the old bushes and weeds. I've also got to fill the surprise sinkhole*. I'll need to clean out the rest of that scary corner and trim the bay trees and oleander. Next I'll trim and transplant the rosemary and gardenia, which has to wait until winter or I'll likely kill them both. Then next spring I'll need to sod the areas that will turn into grass.

It's a lot of work but here's hoping that this will make things prettier and easier to maintain in the long run.

*When researching how to fill sinkholes, I came across a cute idea to put a time capsule into the sinkhole before filling it. Totally going to do that!

17 August 2017


Today I got blessings from the appropriate folks and am officially checked off on the software system we're updating at a bunch of sites in the area. What does that mean? Freedom and usefulness at work! Yay! Which means even though I had not scheduled to visit any customers today, my 'office day' was actually busy. I love it.

Speaking of, I need to do a quick office tour because it's been completely re-done but is still in progress. I dig it in many ways. But it's still in progress. So.

Today I also went to Walmart. I swore off Walmart years ago because I hate it. I literally haven't been in a Walmart in years. The crowds, the long checkout lines... I'm over it. However I needed to pick up some folding stools for my colleague and myself, and no other place had any like it and I wasn't about to pay 6 bucks for shipping. (They're handy when going into customer sites that don't have precious extra chairs or chair real estate.)

Of course, when I was in Walmart with my stools in hand, something caught my eye. I've been looking for a smaller roller bag to fit all my supplies in, because the one I have is too large and bulky to be rolling through labs and it's a pain in the ass. This one, however, is perfect. Small and tidy and fits everything I need. My label maker even fits in the side pocket. I must have looked at a dozen online that I didn't like before I saw this one today. It was fate.

Today I also renewed my library card. Random, but necessary. While I was there I noticed a flyer that says they do 3D printing. Say what? Cool. Now I need to figure out what I need 3D printed. A custom cookie cutter, perhaps?