Memoirs of a Geisha

geisha

Okay people, I will fully admit that I may be the last person on the face of the earth to finally get around to reading this iconic novel.  It’s been in my “to-read” pile (which actually encompasses two huge bookshelves) for several years, and I was ready for something different from my norm.  I do love my WWII books and other historical fiction – and in a way this certainly does qualify under the Historical Fiction category.  However, it’s definitely out of the norm (for me) in the setting – which clearly was/is Japan.  I found this novel very interesting, fascinating, and hope that the author really did do impeccable research, as this is all I know and what I believe to be true about life as a Geisha.  In the rare case that you haven’t read this one, I do recommend it! While it’s not exactly riveting reading, it certainly did keep my interest, all the way through to the end. It piqued my curiosity enough for me to look up YouTube videos on Geishas, their dances, and instruments.   Read this if you’d like to be transported back into the 1930’s Kyoto Japan and learn about a lifestyle that still exists, albeit in MUCH smaller numbers. As is often the case, I now would love to see the movie!

August Empties, Four “Bravos” and Two “Boo’s”

I haven’t done an “empties” post for some time… I guess that’s because I was otherwise busy preparing for, living through, and recovering from my hip replacement surgery.  It’s been 8 weeks since the big operation and I’m feeling lots better these days.  I can even go shopping at more than one store in a day again – hubby is fearful since he’s well aware I’m in need of some serious retail therapy!  Having my hip replaced is truly giving me my life back.  ONWARD to the subject at hand!!

Here are some things I finished recently….

empties1

I finally finished off my Victoria’s Secret body wash in “Amber Romance”,  a bottle of Victoria’s Secret body lotion in “Amber Romance” and a small container of Bath & Body Works “White Citrus” shower gel.  I totally love the Amber Romance scent!  I have several other items in the same scent that will show up on my empties at some point in the future :)  White citrus is nice also, but I think of it more of a summer scent.

I also used up a tub of strawberry-banana body butter by some obscure company that I can’t remember – and I never did take a photo of it.  I wish I had.  That stuff was incredible and honestly smelled good enough to eat!

untold

I recently sprayed the final spray in a mini-size of the cologne shown above, Elizabeth Arden’s “Untold”.  Strange thing (or maybe not so strange), Untold reminds me a bit of Amber Romance.  The website describes it as “sparkling pink pepper, fused with crisp Bergamont”. Okay.  To me it just smells sort of soft, musky, sweet, and good!

empties2

No surprise, I used another box of my favorite home hair color, L’Oreal Excellence in 6RB, Light Medium Auburn. Love this stuff.  It’s easy to use and gives consistently nice results.  At about $8.99 a box, I’ll keep buying it as long as they keep making it!

On to some favorite products from the past months….

I discovered this MAC lipstick this summer and don’t hear that much about it on blogs or YouTube from the beauty “gurus”.  It’s “Fanfare”!

fanfare lipstick

I love it!  I think it’s a perfect blend of rose and peachy coral tones.  It’s MAC’s cremesheen finish, which is so smooth and easy to wear.  Here’s a pic of me, sporting “Fanfare”.

suz Fanfare

Another favorite I’ve worn nearly every day that I wear make up is:

lightscameralashes

Tarte’s “Lights, Camera, Lashes” mascara.  I could bloviate a LONG time about why I love this stuff so much.  It thickens, it lengthens, it does not go on clumpy, and it stays all day – even though it’s NOT waterproof.  It’s also easy to remove at the end of the day. This is the first and only high end mascara I have ever tried that I think is actually superior to the better drug store mascaras. I’ll definitely repurchase, once it’s gone.

Another item I have used just about every day is:

sunsstone bronze

Tarte’s Skinny Smoldereyes eye liner pencil in “Sunstone Bronze”.  I don’t own many high end liners (two, to be exact!) but I’m glad I splurged on this one.  This glides on so smoothly and will “set” and STAY shortly after applying it.  It doesn’t set too fast, though. You can still use the smudger tip end and smudge out the line if you’d like.  I love the color because it’s gorgeous and not as harsh as black.  Yes, it’s a winner in my book!

The last “like” is my set of 6 stretchy head bands – and this hairdo that I sort of came up with, using one of them:

suz1suz2

It’s been pretty warm and humid in our neck of the woods, so this summer it’s been a relief to get my hair up off my neck.  I did this “do” with just my stretchy headband and about 6 bobby pins.  I love the colorful stretchy headbands that I picked up at Dollar Tree for… yes, you guessed it, a buck.  Six in the package for a dollar, all different colors.  Gotta love it!!   Oh, my lipstick in this photo is Revlon’s Lip butter in “Tutti Frutti”. It’s not everyday I wear orange lipstick – but today was one of those days! :-)

Now for the “Boo’s”.  Boo number one is……

almay cc

Almay CC Cream.  I bought this stuff last summer on a buy one get one 50% off deal where I also purchased my much loved Get up and Grow mascara.  The mascara is a huge hit!!  The CC cream is NOT!  I gave it many opportunities to work for me, but it just didn’t.  It always felt slimy and greasy on my face.  If you forgot and moisturized before putting this cream on, it was almost like an oil slick. I do NOT have oily skin… yet this product sure made me feel like I did.  The other nasty thing about this item was that it began to separate!  I would squeeze some out onto my hand or fingers and part was the pigment and part would be a weird oily substance.  I tried shaking it up prior to use, and it still wasn’t right. I gave up and threw this little lovely into the rubbish bin!  Right where it belongs.  I won’t miss you, Almay CC Cream!!

For my last “Boo”…..

spring candle Bath and Body Works Candle in the scent of “Spring”.  Whoa!  I can’t believe I’m dissing a B & BW candle at all!  I love most of them and own quite a few different scents.  BUT. This candle is so harsh and so strong… it really fooled me. When I first smelled it in the store, I loved it. So I bought it.  But seriously, as this candle burns the smell gets stronger and stronger and literally begins to nauseate me. I can’t describe it, but it’s nasty.  Since these candles are NOT cheap (I get them on the 2 for $22 sales), I hesitate to just toss it out.  So, I’ve been burning it outside this summer.

That’s it for this time around.  I’m so excited we’re approaching Autumn here in the Northwest!  I am even looking forward to rainy days and making some pots of warming soups. It’s my favorite time of year!   Here’s our kitty, Jinx….

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Jinx says he’s looking forward to days spent laying in front of the fireplace or heat dish!  :-)  See you next time!!!

Chestnut Street

chestnutst

I recently finished this book of short stories by my beloved Maeve Binchy.  Oh how I will miss her!! Our dear Ms Binchy left us back in July of 2012 and from what I gather, her husband came across a drawer full of stories, all about people who lived on the same street, Chestnut Street.  I believe this was still a work in progress when she passed, but since she is no longer here to complete the project, her husband published them “as is”.  While everyone in the book had ties to, or lived on Chestnut Street, the characters were VERY minimally interrelated.  It was more just a book of short stories, written in her absolutely delightful style.  I had no problem going from one chapter to the next… it was easy to immediately get caught up in whatever story was in front of me.  Some were good enough that she could have based whole books around them, in my humble opinion.  I was sad to see it end and sad to see my long running era of Maeve Binchy books come to a close.  When people ask me, “Do you ever re-read books?” I normally reply, “too many great books, not enough time”  — but in this case, I truly believe I’ll be re-visiting several of hers.

The Boys in the Boat

boys in boat

 

I don’t often read non fiction, but I recently finished reading The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.  Okay, I’ve read a LOT of books in my life and this one is up in the top ten!  I loved it.  Totally loved it.  It’s a true story about a group of young men in the 1930’s who attend the University of Washington and decide to row crew.  I knew nothing, literally nothing about rowing, crew teams, coxswains, or the history of rivalry between the crew teams of California and Washington.  Yet… something about this book grabbed me, and good.  It’s a history story, it’s a sports story, it’s a human interest story.  It’s an example of human persistence to the Nth degree. You can read the full synopsis over on Amazon (where it’s received oodles of 5 star reviews!),  but let’s suffice it to say, this is an INCREDIBLE book.  It’s truly a must-read…. in my humble opinion.  Thanks to my friend Susan B who loaned me this fabulous read.  It was a great way to spend some time while recovering from my recent operation.

New Hip — Week Three

i survived

Well, it’s been three weeks since I got my new hip.  The operation I needed a year ago- but put off and put off, has finally happened.  I’m so glad it’s over, so glad I survived, and so glad this surgery was available to me!   Prior to the big day, I said lots of prayers and was given a great peace about the whole situation – I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying or dreading the operation.  On the way to the hospital that bright sunny morning of July 1st, I thought I’d want to grab the steering wheel and turn the car any direction AWAY from the planned destination…. but I didn’t.  In my logical mind, I knew I was headed to the exact place I needed to be.

Everyone was quite pleasant in pre-op, except for the IV nurse.  Oh, she was okay too, but I couldn’t help but say something when she decided to put the IV in my antecubital area (front of the elbow).  I said something like, “you drew the blood and kept the IV in the antecubital?”  She said, “well yes, is that okay?”  I then said, “everytime I bend my arm this is gonna bug me…..” so she suggested she take OUT the IV and put it somewhere else.  I wasn’t too keen on that plan either, so I decided to grin and bear it.  Before I knew it, they were wheeling me to the O.R.  I remembered in the pre-op class I took, that to avoid the possibility of infection, nobody gets catheters anymore.  They said (in the class) to be sure and use the restroom before you enter the O.R.  So, I had them stop in the hallway outside the surgery department while I hopped off the gurney and visited the ladies room.  Then it was back up on the gurney for a ride into the operating room.  Funny thing, when I got in there, First thing I saw was a large whiteboard with my name, birthdate, and etc written on it.  First thing they asked me was to state my name, birthday, and what surgery I was having.  I laughed and said, “if I didn’t know, all I’d need to do is read the board!!”  Before I knew it, they were putting in my spinal and next thing I knew, I was out.  Like a light.  Until… until I woke up!!  Yes, I woke up during the surgery!  I was warned by the anesthesiologist that that could happen, so I wasn’t in total shock when it did.  Weird thing, when I woke up, I could hear hammering.  Yup, hammering.  I couldn’t feel anything – for all I knew they could have been hammering on anyone or anything.  I decided that I better somehow let the anesthesia doc know I was awake, so I opened my eyes and started looking around, and may have lifted my head a bit.  I remember he saw me immediately, made eye contact, and zapped me with more of the happy medicine.  Next time I awoke it was in recovery.

I was up later that afternoon to use the bathroom, since nobody gets catheters!  That was okay, I wanted to be up as soon as possible.  Everything they say about sleeping in hospitals is pretty much true.  They have to do their checks, give meds, and do vitals, etc.    I have to say that my pain was fairly well controlled, even though I found out that taking any sort of narcotic was not in the cards for me.  Yes, I had a day of feeling sort of queasy and nauseated, but I’m sure that’s fairly typical.  I spent two nights in the hospital and was EVER so happy to come home on the third day!  The first thing I did was TAKE A VERY LONG NAP!  I was so tired – from the surgery, from the anesthetic, and from not sleeping well in the hospital, that I couldn’t wait to have some uninterrupted sleep.  I slept three hours that afternoon and then, after dinner went back to bed and slept pretty much through the night.

The first week I maneuvered around the house using a walker.  By the end of week one, I was pretty much through with that cumbersome thing, and got the okay from the Physical Therapist to use a cane.  After three weeks, I’m still using the cane.  Not quite sure when “most” people give up the cane and walk on their own, but I’m not there yet.  I still have pain in the operative leg, although the surgery site is nicely healed.  I’m working on building up the strength in my leg by doing the exercises that the PT prescribes.  It’s possible that my recovery may take a bit longer than some because I was SO weak on my “bad” side for so long, but I’m hanging in there!  One other thing I’m struggling with is LLD — Leg Length Differential. My operative leg is now longer than my other leg!  Sometimes “they” say it’s a perceived thing, but it’s a fact with me.  The PT measured both legs and the right one is 3/4″ longer than the left. One more thing to adjust to.

I’ll have more updates as the weeks progress.  I do not regret this surgery one little bit… I needed it so badly – my only hope to be a regular mobile person again!  I have great faith that in the coming weeks, I’ll be walking without any assistance (i.e. cane) and doing normal things again……….. like walking around Chateau Ste Michelle in September, enjoying a concert with friends and family!!!

I’m having a total hip replacement!

cartoon

July 1st is D-Day for me.  I’m having my hip replaced.  Finally.  I’ve put this off for just over a year now, choosing instead to do a WHOLE lot of traveling during my first year of retirement.  We’re home now, to stay (for a while at least), so the time has come.  I called my surgeon’s office in April and said, “put me on the surgery schedule!”  July first was the first opening – so here we go.  Next I’ll do a Q and A regarding this operation…

1. Why do you need a new hip joint?  Several years ago, I had a tear of my labrum – a ligament in the hip, much like the rotator cuff in your shoulder.  This torn ligament caused irritation, which in turn caused arthritis to eat away at my joint. I’m currently without any cushioning in my hip, “bone on bone”.  It hurts A LOT.

2. How long have you known you’d need this?  I knew about three years ago that I’d end up getting a new hip, eventually.

3. Why did you wait this long?  I seriously considered having my joint replaced last year (2013).  After a visit to my doc, he asked if I’d like to try a different pain killing pill to try and put off the inevitable a little longer.  I said “yes” I’d try the new pill (well, it was new to ME, not a new drug). I started taking two Diclofenac every day and WOW what a difference it made!  I felt so much better, I decided to hang on to my own joint for a while longer.  Plus, we had a LOT of traveling planned (and paid for).  We had a big family vacation last May/June in Palm Springs.  Then in early September, we had a Mediterranean cruise planned for just over two weeks. In October we had plans to travel back to Palm Springs & stay till January 1st when we’d start our cross-country RV trip. We accomplished all these wonderful travels and returned home just last month.

4.  Have you tried anything else?  Yes, I took the Diclofenac until May of last year (with great pain relief) until I found out that it had adversely effected my liver.  My liver enzymes shot up (they had always been normal before), and I knew it was a result of this drug. I had to stop taking it.  When I quit taking it, – no surprise – the big time pain returned.  I also had a cortisone injection in this joint about 3 years ago.  That was a miracle pain killer – for about a MONTH.  Then it was all back with a vengeance.

5. How did you choose your surgeon?   One thing I know for sure, after being a practicing RN for 35 years, NURSES KNOW who the best doctors are. They know who does the best work & who has the best outcomes.  I had a contact at the hospital in our town who knows the nurse manager for the Joint Replacement ward.  She asked the nurse manager (very discreetly) who she would use, if she needed a new joint.  I was SO happy that she named the doctor who had done hubby’s hip replacement 4 years ago.  I know him and trust him. I feel even better, knowing that he is officially “nurse endorsed”.  :-)

6. What sort of prep do you need to do, prior to the big day?  I must say, our local hospital and the joint replacement center specifically, are VERY organized.  I received a notebook of information about an inch thick.  I have exercises to do, a class I had to attend with my “coach” (hubby), instructions on how to prepare our home, equipment I will need for a few months afterward, etc.  They even encourage you to eat healthy foods, high in protein and iron – which I’ve been trying to do.

7.  Are you worried/concerned/freaked out about it all?  At this point, I’m truly not.  On the day of the surgery I have no doubt that I’ll be nervous for sure!

8.  What about the pain?   Pain is no fun.  I’ve been in A LOT of pain now for a long time.  I know I’ll get a “PCA” for the first few hours (patient controlled anesthetic) and afterward, I hope they’ll find a pill that’ll work for me.  I think I’m more worried about the nausea, but they have medicine for that as well.

9.  How long is the rehab?  From what I’ve read and heard, I will have to be very cautious with my new joint for three full months. I’ll be going to physical therapy twice a week for a few weeks.  I’ve also heard that I could be feeling pretty darn good and fairly mobile in a couple weeks.  Hubby was, with his hip replacement.  I hope and pray I am able to do as well as he did.

10.  What do you hope to gain?  I hope to be able to walk a block or a mile or more, without being in crippling pain. I hope to be rid of this awful limp that makes me look like I’m 95 years old!  I want to be able to reach my right foot again, clip and paint my own toenails again!  I want to be able to bend over, feed the cat, put on socks and pants without a huge struggle, get in and out of the car like a normal human, and get back to KAYAKING again!!

So, there it is… all laid out.  I’ll write more about this huge journey after my pre-op appointment with the surgeon next week, so stay tuned to find out how it all pans out :-)

The Fault in our Stars

fault

I’m not one who usually jumps on the proverbial bandwagon to read the latest trendy novel.  But, (you knew that was coming)… this time I’m sure glad that I did.  Even though this book is targeted for the “young adult” crowd, I read it anyway.  I wanted to know what all the fuss was about – and I found out.  I really, really liked this book.  I read it in two days.  If a person was a faster reader than me, that person could have devoured this novel easily in one day.  It’s not a huge book, but there’s no wasted space, either. Every single page was good and interesting and creative.  Everyone knows the premise of the book – two teenagers (ages 16 & 17) have different types of cancer, meet, get to know/love each other, and have an adventure.  I’m even tempted to go see the movie, even though I know the ending – but then, so does practically everyone else that goes to the movie because SO many people have read and thoroughly enjoyed this novel. We all know the ending. We still want to go. As always, it’s probably best to read the book first, since you can theoretically complete it in a day!  If you don’t go see the movie, at least read the book.  It’s good.  It’s really good.