Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving at Mount Tamalpais

Thanksgiving was our one year anniversary of leaving Missouri. Yes, it has been a whole year already. We packed our every possession into a rental trailer and went to our wonderful friends for thanksgiving dinner. Wonderfully bitter sweet, it was to be the last time we would see close friends for a long time. After a delicious dinner we said our goodbyes and headed for the state line into a snow storm.

This thanksgiving we had much to be thankful for. Most especially, that I am still on this mortal coil. My brush with death weighed heavily on our first year here. The financial ruin of being off work for several months will keep us especially humble for years to come. I still see the sadness in my children's eyes sometimes.

This past thanksgiving we spent at church. It is a glorious place--God lives there. After a brief service many of us went to mushroom hunting at Mount Tamalpais water shed.

The kids hiked, played and, frolicked.

Earlier that morning there was a light rain and the woods were magical.
Here we are being instructed about the proper mushrooms to collect. Father Stephan is an expert mushroom hunter.

The trails were so beautiful. Keep up Rome there are mountain lions here...

These are Honey Mushrooms

The hike was about five miles maybe seven. Here we are at the top. Toly ran most of the way.

This is the top of this trail where we waited for the clouds to part and reveal the peak. Kassi and Rome flitted around like bundles of energy.

Tristan collecting thatching for a school project.

Just off the trail was quite steep.

But, that was where all the mushrooms were.

Father holding a huge bunch.

Tabitha spotted, hiked down and picked the prize of the day.

A huge lions mane.

After the hike dinner was fabulous, decadent beyond our current diet and much appreciated.

It was a perfect day.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

soap making in the city

Our church has a bazaar coming up very soon. Our contribution was teaching soap making and making a bunch of soap. Tabitha put together a whole curriculum.

I made a bunch of soap molds the days leading up to the event.

They needed to greased up and put together.

father Stephan kept dropping in to see what was happening.

Kassi's Godmother sporting the latest in kitchen wear.

It was quite a production.

Not really something to eat.

mix until trace....

The pouring of the liquid soap.

Here is a bunch of cut soap from the day previous--an attempt to teach the whole process.

This soap is set and ready to cut.

Here I am at home cutting the soap made the the previous day at church.

I made this miter-box in Missouri.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

vernal pools

Yesterday we went for a hike to some vernal pools in the Berkeley hills. Part of our homeschooling group organized this excursion. It was up hill both ways;)

I was carrying Rome on my back "paxie".

It was roughly a five mile hike. My legs are very sore today.

Tristan and Kassi got out their nature journals and drew the different plants and general landscape.
The trails through the area were cow trails. Toly had a great adventure.

The view was spectacular.

All the home school kids climbed the cattle gate and waited in silhouette for the adults tho catch up.

It was such a steep climb that I had to take several breaks.

Here I am standing on the edge of one of the mostly dry vernal pools.

There were lots of blooming plants. The purple stuff is a type of field mint.
Rome was fascinated by the huge cracks in the ground.

Everybody loves Rome.

This is about half of our group.

We plan to come back in the early spring when this place is allegedly teeming with life.

This seems like the deepest one.

Vernal pools in California

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The school year has started

Tristan, Kassi and Toly have started school. Home-school funded under a charter school. Tristan has started foil fencing classes. Fencing is also known as physical-chess, a sport for the mind as well as the body. Tristan Loves it with a true love that only little boys can have for a sport that involves battling an opponent with a sword.

Kassi has started ballet. It is a serious ballet academy. She is a serious girl and embraces her responsibility as a potential ballerina with determination and focus.

Toly hasn't started any outside classes. Along with Kassi he is doing "teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons." He is only a little way behind Kassi. They are both on the cusp of reading.

I have been playing games with the kids. We mostly play crazy eights when it is all four kids and I. Rome mostly holds the cards and plays out of turn. He has fum anyway. I play kings-corners with just Kassi and Tristan. Tristan plays it so well. Between he and I it is merely a challenge of who has the better luck.

I have also been playing Monopoly with the three eldest. It is really helping with counting and place-value regarding money. Having been physically restricted for such a long time it changed the types of play I have with the kids. A few months ago we went to an estate sale where the couple obviously played bridge because they had many decks of cards. I bought over twenty beautiful collectors set decks, a domino set and other game related stuff for five dollars. Now we have plenty of decks of cards. I can let the kids play crazy eights alone and not worry about losses or destruction.

East Bay Depot for creative re-use

It is a wonderful store (toly calls them scrappy-shops) that sells donated supplies. some of the stuff is old and technologically replaced, offal from industry or just donated by businesses. It is a wonderland place for the artist type. Tabitha gets much of our school supplies there for pennies on the dollar. An example is, I bought a brand new monopoly set from 1972 for three dollars.

The best tool for the school year has been Paddy-the-ipad. A gift to the kids for the upcoming school year. Given that we use online resources for homeschooling extensively the computer has been constantly busy. We have been at this place where we need another computer desperately for a while. Another apple computer is out of the question since the financial ruin of 2011--we'll never waste another penny on microsoft even indirectly. We reluctantly settled for an Ipad. It has exceeded our every expectation and has become integral to our household overall. One caveat, no blogging from paddy. It is just too clunky from a browser interface. Blogger needs an app for that. Two words - angry birds... ...enough said.

I am mostly healed from the heart surgery. The only remaining recovery is muscle tone. I put on a little belly too. Laying around for two months will do that. We have been going to church very regularly which is saying something given Orthodox attendance expectations. I am officially converted to Orthodox, they sped up my Chrismation because of my impending heart surgery. Tabitha and the kids are still Catechumens for several more months. We live too far from St. Nicholas for our taste. The place is truly mystical, beauty for every sense oozes from every fiber of the place. To quote Sean Gleeson "God lives there."

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

happy birthday tristan

tristan is such a great boy. he is responsible beyond his years but still very much a fun loving boy.

gifts were a little shy this year since me being off work for the last 45 days. he is simply happy with what little he receives. it makes me proud that he is like that.
we got him dangerous book for boys.

a new charger for his Nintendo DSi. it is like a whole new toy for him. He and I went to Harry Potter 7 1/2 last night. he was so appreciative that he thanked me over a dozen time just on the short walk home from the theater. he glowed with appreciation. I'll never forget the beaming look in his eyes.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

happy birthday rome

Here he is holding the flower he is named after Romneya

He is three, amazing and magical. Happy third birthday Romneya Martin Grey O'Melay!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Surgery Success

Hi, this is Tabitha, Karl's wife, updating.

Karl had open heart surgery yesterday morning and it was a success. The surgeon was able to repair Karl's mitral valve and replace his aortic valve with a bio-valve. Karl did very well, not even requiring transfusion. I waited at the hospital during the surgery and saw Karl soon after he was moved to the ICU. He looks pretty good, considering. I also visited him later in the day yesterday. He is experiencing a lot of pain, as one might expect, but the nurses say he is really strong (already off the ventilator and drinking on his own) and should feel a lot less pain by today. I will be visiting him this morning. At this time I do not have a room number for Karl and he is not able to accept many visitors in the ICU. Karl has been though an amazing ordeal. Our children have not seen him yet, that too must wait until he is settled into a recovery wing. 

The surgeon let me know that while everything went well, it was apparent by his heart that Karl desperately needed this operation. We are so glad to be on this side of it. Your hopes, help and prayers have been and will continue to be instrumental. 

Please contact me for more updates tomelay at gmail dot com . We don't know at this point how long Karl will be in the hospital. I will keep you updated as I know.

Love, Tabitha & Kids

Before the operation
Nearly there!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Karl has been admitted

Karl is in the hospital again, and right now the timeline has his open heart surgery scheduled for Friday. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you to all who have reached out with help and kind words.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The perfect storm

Everyone has staph growing on their skin. Our bodies repel the stuff and normally we just happily fight infection and continue. I was exposed to carbon monoxide in a boiler room. The CO bound up my hemoglobin and didn't allow any white blood cells to replicate to fight the simple staph bacteria. I got terribly ill with the Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Later, the doctors discovered that I was born with a bicuspid ventral which really isn't a big deal but it does cause turbulence in my heart. That turbulence is where infection likes to collect. The staph infection seized the opportunity when nothing was fighting it. It went septic literally overnight. The common staph settled in my left Ventricle and severed a cord to my Mitral valve. These cords keep the valve from prolapsing. Now my heart doesn't work properly and back pressure to my lungs causes my lungs to fill with plasma easily. The doctors have me on high blood pressure medicine--even though my blood pressure is normal. I get tired easily because of my heart and this is exacerbated by the blood pressure medicine. They don't want my heart to work too hard.

Now in five weeks I must go have open heart surgery to replace the prolapsed valve and while they are in there they will replace the bicuspid ventricle.

The perfect storm continues...
As you know we have only moved here six months ago. I was hired back at my old company but under a trial period. This trial period was cut short and they hired me in a permanent fashion roughly five months ago. My company offers subsidized health insurance but I never got my three month review. My decision at open enrollment (after being hired three months) to decline health insurance wasn't really a decision at all. Given my introductory pay scale and no three month review to offer any hope of a raise we simply couldn't afford our half of the premiums. We opted to wait until January (normal open enrollment).

So here we sit without health insurance. Healthcare facilities that take the uninsured are so over crowed that getting simple blood work takes an entire day. Most of that day is spent processing analog records and confirming that I do indeed qualify for the services that they will render. Every doctor that I have seen has been top notch but the callousness of the general staff is degraded to the lowest form of apathy and feels like it is sucking the life out of you as you talk to them.  Of course they must develop burnout and callous themselves to it otherwise they would surely go crazy because the need is so great.

So you might ask why not file a workers comp claim. First we are going to get this all paid for, albeit with excruciating hours of waiting. Your tax dollars already pay for this kind of stuff. But you might also know that your tax dollars are paying for incredible waste the magnitude is unimaginable until you actually live it. Best case, workers comp would only pay a percentage of my final bill. That worker comp insurance company would fight me tooth and nail into legal oblivion trying to prove that the liability isn't theirs. Furthermore, I cannot ruin a wonderful company (sun light and power) with a 500,000 insurance claim that would skyrocket their workers comp premiums to a level that the company cannot sustain--even if my claim were bullet-proof.

Instead I will sit for hours on end waiting in the most awful waiting rooms to get the care that I need. My wonderful wife has sat by my side and endured the soul wrenching onslaught of apathetic waste and waiting. These systems aren't broken and degraded because of incompetence or intended waste. They are stuck in this awful place between huge oppressive insurance companies which debilitate them and the trickle of over bureaucratically tangled funds from Uncle Sam.

Our friends have been wonderfully supportive and we have genuinely needed their help. I am so appreciative of them it makes my heart swell with pride for humanity and the village that we enjoy the full support of. Thank you, thank you our great friends we appreciate you in ways that go beyond simple words.

Love, peace and blessings to you all.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

More Karl Update

Karl will probably be coming home today! Having him home be such a relief.

He will be at home with us for 3-4 weeks if all goes well. We'll be administering the IV antibiotics during that time. Doctors will keep a close watch on his heart health. Then he will return to the hospital for open heart surgery which will replace the heart valves (mitral and aortic) that were damaged by the sepsis. The surgery is very serious and will last about 5 hours. He will be on a heart/ lung bypass machine and general anesthesia. Afterwards, he will be in the hospital again for a week, then home for 3 months of recovery before he can return to work.

Right now we are struggling with a decision about which kind of valves. We are so early in the decision making process that we are not even sure we have a choice between the two. But if we do, it would be an important one. It seems like every day has an important development like this.

We are so appreciative of all who have helped us so far. It has allowed me to visit Karl, the kids to visit, us to eat and life to go on for the last week. The kids love the company of this 'village' atmosphere and so do I. We are excited for Karl's homecoming but frankly we may need more help for the first week with him back than when he was in the hospital.

Our friend Patricia Scott continues to organize the care calendar. She is adjusting it occasionally so that it best fits our needs. Your meals have been delightful and nothing has gone to waste. Please feel free to call Patricia or myself about the calendar if you have questions, or go to the page and just sign up.

Your prayers are always welcome and appreciated.

To contact us, Facebook is probably the best option. Just make sure you leave a note when you add me as a friend so I know who you are. 

Tabitha O'Melay | Create your badge

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