10 February 2018
08 February 2018
06 February 2018
23 January 2018
21 January 2018
Today would have been my mom’s 67th birthday.
We lost mom to a glioblastoma, an extremely aggressive type of brain tumor, on 2 November 2016.
She was first diagnosed on 1 July 2015, and with a whirlwind of small and amazing miracles, she had surgery just 6 days later and her surgeon felt he was able to remove the entire tumor. This almost never happens with the glioblastoma, as it grows very quickly and typically winds in and around the brain. Mom’s was caught. And caught early. And was operable. She made a quick recovery, coming home to stay with us just 5 days after her surgery.
Follow up care with the best oncologist, Dr Roy Williams, oral chemo and radiation. She lost very little hair through the process and physically recovered about 80-90% of her normal self.
She passed the six-month mark, still all clear. Typically, if a glioblastoma recurs, it’s within the first six months. Sadly, mom is anything but typical. In May of 2016, during a routine MRI, they discovered the glioblastoma came back. And it was bigger this time.
Since it was in the same area, surgery and radiation were out. Briefly, it looked like mom may have been eligible to join a glioblastoma clinical trial at Duke University, but getting the tumor reduced in size and her mobility didn’t overlap. She put up a damned good fight.
We had the most amazing home care for her final weeks. Preferred Health Staff. They were probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. I will forever be grateful to all the caregivers, especially Alissa. Not only were they there for mom, but they were a tremendous support for me in mom’s final days. And of course Oliver did his best to keep everyone’s spirits up.
The caregivers, Marc, Kelly, Oliver, and I were all with mom when she passed.
I will always miss her.
20 January 2018
15 January 2018
- First, the recommendations are to use a diamond saw blade. Take that seriously. If you try to cheap out, you’ll just chew through the ipe, mangling it, and you’ll run through regular saw blades like crazy.
- Secondly, the sawdust it creates is fine, like talcum powder. Oliver and I discovered the hard way that it can cause a super itchy allergic reaction on the skin. I walk around barefoot a lot and of course Oliver is always barefoot. I didn't find any info inline about this, and the allergy specialist i saw treated me like i was crazy. But once we made the correlation and took measures to keep the sawdust cleaned up, we both stopped feeling itchy skin.
- Third, the precautionary measures i did find while searching for allergies to ipe are to use a respirator. Breathing that powder fine ipe sawdust would be all too easy, but it can easily cause serious and permanent lung damage.
- And fourth, the ipe grain is so tight it doesn't absorb much. No stain. Just oil it. With the weather we get here in Pennsylvania, we should oil it in the spring and fall. But we rarely get to that. And when they say wipe on, wipe off the oil within 30 minutes, do that. We learned the hard way. My handyman didn't read the directions, assuming he knew what to do... Marc and i spent all summer trying to undo the horrible sticky residue. I tried a bunch of things before calling the company. They had two suggestions. Denatured alcohol or sanding. Im not fooling around with sanding it, so we bought a stiff bristle scrubbing brush mop head and a couple gallons of denatured alcohol. It still hasn't all worn away, but it’s much better now. We no longer stick to the floor when we walk!
14 January 2018
12 January 2018
Let’s see... where did we leave off... ah yes! The siding!
Nearly five years since the siding was installed, and I can say with conviction that I’d absolutely go with the James Hardie cement fiberboard all over again.
Now, I was very sick during this project. So sick that I remember briefly waking one morning to the sound of siding being installed just behind my headboard. KaTHUNK! KaTHUNK! KaTHUNK! goes the nail gun. I thought, oh, Bill’s here, and immediately fell back asleep.
Although Marc and I had been friends for many years, we had only recently begun dating, so (perhaps unfortunately) he didn’t interfere with the construction projects. That was mom’s domain.
Looking back, there are a few things I wish we would have done differently.
The faux bead board porch ceilings could have been done using a James Hardie product instead of the vinyl composite. I was told that was the only option aside from wood and I was too sick to research it myself. Some things you just have to let go.
We clad the back porch pillars in Hardie’s faux stucco texture panels. Then they were framed out with slim trimming. If I had to do it again, I’d say no trim, and go smooth instead of stucco texture.
And the biggest... I’d rework the placement of the back porch stairs and pillars. In the winter, the landing and bottom three stairs are exposed for snow and ice. And the location of that pillar is awkward for the symmetry of the house. I’m sure some future owner will be cursing me...
Those points aside, I love it. We often get complements from people walking by when we are working outside.