Monday, January 21, 2019

My new name is OMI!!

I’m going to be a GRANDMOTHER (“Omi”) and Tom’s going to be a GRANDFATHER (“Papa”) to a little boy, coming in June!





Thank you, Danny and Elisabeth!

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Inside projects: Almost finished!

When we were looking for a place to retire, and a home to retire to, Tom and I each had our own wish lists and must-haves.

Top on my list was that the inside of any house we bought (or built) had to be finished. For 35 years, Tom had been remodeling our homes but, much as I appreciated the improvements, it felt to me as if we lived in a perpetual construction zone, and I was so DONE with that.

Top on Tom’s list was that there had to be projects for him, preferably creative projects – like, say, building a tree house for future grandchildren or building another massive backyard water feature park.

Fine with me! Just keep the projects outside!

Almost a year ago, after months of Tom swooning like a schoolboy with a crush, we bought this home in Gig Harbor, WA.

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I fell in love with the house, too. Except for two things: that god-awful, wrinkled, faded green carpet throughout (even in the master bathroom) and the distinct lack of storage space. While Tom does great work, he is a slow perfectionist, and I envisioned months (at least) of floor installation, not to mention lots of time to install new storage spaces.

So much for my wish list!

Fortunately, we quickly sold our house in Woodinville during a particularly robust spring market and could earmark some of our unexpected proceeds for professional flooring installation. Phew!

So, over the period of two weeks (during which we moved into the cottage), the wrinkled carpet was removed and Brazilian chestnut hardwoods and ceramic tile were installed. What a difference!

IMG_2539From office cornerIMG_2533From outside masterIMG_2532IMG_7035IMG_2514IMG_6346IMG_2546From fireplace corner of dining roomIMG_2513IMG_7863

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From US guest room to hall

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From corner of landing

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Once the floors were in, I felt like I could breathe and relax. Ahhhh…

But wait!

That master closet! That glorious, large master closet – with two wire bars and NO storage! No, this will not do. Tom quickly (two weeks – record time!) installed the most glorious closet system… with LOTS of storage!

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(Yes, that is my craft table in the master closet.)

My dream of a house that is complete on the inside was quickly materializing.

The only thing left to do was create some much-needed storage space for my office. I have a book to write, after all, and I simply can’t begin to write it (or so I tell myself) until I feel organized - that is, until I have a place for all my reference books and for Dad’s copious files.

This wall. Yes, right here!

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So in September, Tom began to create a wall of built-ins for me. The process was long and arduous, with lots of interruptions for trips and holidays and other critical projects (like playing in the mud to fix some leaks while the pond was empty), but my built-ins slowly took shape!

We started with kitchen cabinets from Lowe’s.

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But Tom created the shelves from scratch, his first complete carpentry project.

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IMG_9964IMG_9980And just look what I have now!

Finis

I absolutely LOVE my new built-ins! NOW I am ready to start in on the book! For some odd reason, it feels like this is what it took to finally get me going. This is an office where I can really delve into research – and writing!

finished - toward deskfinished - toward TV

Actually, I was wrong. The inside of the house isn’t quite finished.

There is one project left to do. Poor Tom has had to do all my bidding before he could begin on his own project – creating built-ins for and organizing his own office.

Toms office - before

He will finish this on his own timeline. I have a feeling some of his favorite outside projects will come first.

Like that treehouse for future grandkids.

He’s spending an awful lot of time with this book…

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Who says retirement is boring?!

Addendum: After I wrote this post, Tom reminded me that I already posted photos of the new floor and closet. Oooops! (And I had no idea he kept up so closely with my blog…) Oh well, here it is again!

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Thursday, November 08, 2018

This is your PSA (public service announcement) about your PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test.

Four years ago, during the summer of 2014, I was forced to ponder the possibility of life without Tom when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. (I blogged about it previously here and here and here.)

Prostate cancer awareness

Long story short, our Independence Day celebration in 2014 was cut short when Tom ended up at the ER with what we thought was a bladder infection. Pain meds and antibiotics didn’t touch it, so within a few days we were at a urologist’s office, where a PSA blood test revealed an abnormally high score of 49. Knowing that a score higher than 4 can signify prostate cancer, I began to panic – and research. (Tom did neither of those things which, in retrospect, was wise. Dr. Google can be terrifying!)

Three weeks after his PSA test, Tom underwent a biopsy, which revealed stage one prostate cancer. Stage ONE! Not stage four, as I had feared and researched myself into believing. I cried happy tears when the urologist told us the news – which absolutely baffled Tom who, having no idea what I had encountered in my researched, questioned why I seemed relieved. It was only then that I revealed my fears to him. So he had to get used to the idea of having cancer at all, and I could breathe a sigh of relief that he’d be around for a while, after all!

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The urologist suggested removing the prostate surgically. But we decided to take some time to breathe and to get a second opinion at the University of Washington/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, one of the top cancer centers in the country. Since the biopsy had shown that Tom’s cancer was stage one and slow-growing, he opted to take part in an “active surveillance” study through the university. Participants in this study have a PSA test once every three months and a biopsy once every 18 months to two years. Many men stay in the study for years, with little to no change in their cancer. Unfortunately, Tom won’t be among that group, as his cancer is now early stage two – still not a panic situation but, according to his current doctor, time to “look into options.” We are still confident that the cancer is well contained within the prostate, but we know that this is NOT a cancer you want to deal with once it has “escaped the capsule,” as they say. In those cases, it can be a killer.

So we are currently looking into treatment options. None of them are great, and all of them come with some degree of risk of both incontinence and impotence – though an excellent surgeon (which we have) can often spare nerves so both can be restored. (We’re too young for this!)

We feel confident that we caught this cancer early – thanks to a terrible infection four years ago. But we are still amazed that prostate cancer, the second biggest killer of men, doesn’t have the spotlight that breast cancer has for women. Men, it seems, are not routinely encouraged to have PSA tests the way women are encouraged to have regular mammograms.

Granted, the PSA is not a perfect predictor of prostate cancer, as it’s prone to false positives, but it is something!  I have begged our sons (29 and 31) to get baseline PSA tests (even asked for it for Christmas this year!) because both their grandfathers and their father had/have prostate cancer. But in my opinion, EVERY man should include a prostate screening in their regular check-ups, beginning sometime around 35-45. This means a DRE (digital rectal exam) and a PSA (blood test). I asked our PCP why this isn’t done on a routine basis and he said that most practitioners will do both tests when requested (and seriously, would the average man ask for a DRE?!), but that it just isn’t the “gold standard” at this point.

Tom and I began to mention this to our family and friends and were amazed at the number of men in their 50s, 60s and older who have never had a PSA test!

So this is our PSA regarding your PSA:

MEN: PLEASE, please, please… GET ONE!

PARTNERS: PLEASE, please, please… make sure he GETS ONE!

Rant over. Smile

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