Emily M. DeArdo


This moment of June

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There really is just something to love about June. I'm not sure what it is. But it feels like the beginning of summer, of everything just stretching out and opening to vacation season, and summer reading, and just...ahhh

(In general, I don't post toooo much during the summer. It's that whole relaxed vibe. :) But I'll still be here at least once a week.) 


Yarn Along No. 59 (We're back!)

knittingEmily DeArdo2 Comments

After a crazy long hiatus, we're back to the yarn! 

So, above you see some gorgeous Sparrow yarn in Truffle from Quince and Co. Seriously, isn't it gorgeous? I'm using this to test drive a pattern I want to make for a Christmas gift. Before I make a gift for someone, I make a prototype for me, to make sure I can actually do the pattern (ha!) and make any notes. I don't mind messing up so much on things for me--but I obviously do for gifts for others.  

The yarn came like this....

So I got out my swift and wound it up. 

I ordered more yarn for a Christmas project for my mom, and I have three skeins that need wound today, so it's just all yarn all the time over here. I know it's early to be thinking about Christmas gifts, but when you have to make them, it is not early at all! 

More yarn wound and ready to be made into a Christmas gift!

More yarn wound and ready to be made into a Christmas gift!

As for current projects, I'm still working on the Supermoon Kerchief (also using Sparrow yarn, but this time in the Venice colorway). I'm on the second skein now (out of three), so I'm approaching the halfway mark. I really love working with this pattern and this yarn. Since this is a "for me" thing, I might have to put it aside to start some Christmas gifts. 



Sketching Summer

drawingEmily DeArdoComment

I seem to sketch a lot more during the summer. Not sure why--maybe because there's so many fun things to sketch? Winter gets boring fast. Maybe what I need is a tinted paper sketchbook so I can draw the whites of winter without it being boring? A thought for the next "daily" sketchbook I need. 

I always have my travel sketchbook but I realized recently that I'd been neglecting my big Moleskine Watercolor book. So I got that out and took it to Pittsburgh. I also got my Stillman and Birn Zeta book (my daily book) into my bag for some daily pages. 

The top sketch here is my "daily page" in the Zeta book for June 7. I really love the shading and coloring I was able to get on the mint tea, and I'm glad the cardigan looks  like a piece of clothing. The first few I'd drawn were awful! 

art journal 6.8.17 1.jpeg


This one was just fun. I was at a stoplight--a very long one near my house--and I decided to draw this really, really fast with a Tombow marker. I added the black pen lyrics later, at home.  (It can take three light cycles to get through this particular intersection. I had a lot of time.) 



This is my sketch kit bag. It's a Vera Bradley cosmetic bag that my friend Tiffany gave me a few years ago for Christmas, and I felt it deserved its own sketch! I drew this in the cafeteria at Children's before my first volunteer shift. 


When we went to Pittsburgh I knew I'd have a chance to draw some fun things. So I did a few different spreads in both books. 

This is a sketch of a bridge over I-70 E near Zanesville. The flowers in the corner are representative of what grows along the highway in Ohio (clover and ox-eye daisies, in this case). 


And since I only have about 8 pages left in my current sketchbook, I ordered a slightly different one for my next "daily" book. This is a softcover Alpha from Stillman and Birn, as opposed to the hardcover Zeta I have now. The paper isn't as thick (150 gsm vs. 270 gsm), but I really like the pages (at least based on the one I've used so far). Like Liz Steel, I do a sketch of my palette on the first page. Not only is it easy, but I love having a reference of what colors are where in the palette at the front of each book! 

This post contains some Amazon affiliate links

Weekend in the Burgh

family, journalEmily DeArdoComment

It was a good weekend in the 'Burgh.

Normally, any weekend I get to spend with my extended family is a good one. But when it's a chance to celebrate my youngest cousin's first communion (he's the little guy in the above photo), and the Penguins win their fifth Stanley Cup? It's a great weekend. 

I've been a hockey fan since I was about seven years old, and saw my first Penguins game at the old Civic Arena against a team that doesn't even exist anymore--the Hartford Whalers. So I've been alive for every Penguins Cup victory, which is special in and of itself, but watching them win is just tremendous. I was so happy, especially since the game was so crappy for the most part (Nashville, learn to make better ice! Come on!). 

And seeing my grandma is always great. I love her house and getting to spend time with her, probably because I'm aware that she's 87 and not going to be around forever, and partially because I just adore her house. She's my only grandparent left, so that makes every visit with her even more important/special. 

Justin is my youngest cousin and he is hysterical. He's eight, he wants to be a librarian when he grows up, he keeps itemized shopping lists (labeled "Toys R Us", "Dick's", and "Amazon) and is a YouTube video master. He also has some sweet dance moves. It's always fun to spend time with him and his older siblings. (Sorry, Paige, for having a party at your house that went until almost 1 AM the night before your finals week started.......) 

We usually get up to Pittsburgh to visit once or twice each summer. I hope we go back again, because I have to go to Kennywood, as is tradition. 

Surgery update!

health, transplantEmily DeArdoComment

Part...I have no idea. Three, maybe? 

So just to recap: had stitches in my head. (Wear sunscreen!) Had a follow-up two weeks ago, where the doctor checked out the healing. It's progressing well, but he wanted to keep the stitches in for a little longer. 

Today, I had my second follow-up and the stitches are out! 


So now I just have to apply vaseline once a day and I can't totally submerge my head in the pool--but I generally don't do that anyway. 


How to successfully contact your elected representatives

politicsEmily DeArdoComment

(Or, Please be short and sweet)

Some of you long-time readers will remember that I worked for the state and federal government for more than a decade. In that time, I did a good share of direct work with constituents--meaning I answered the phones, read their mail, and saw the emails that poured into the office from all directions. I learned, very quickly, that some people have no idea how to properly communicate with their congressmen/women or state representatives.

In the spirit of Civic Education, I offer:

How to Communicate Well With Your Elected Representatives

1) Be polite. That's the most important. The person answering the phone is not the state representative himself. It's an aide. No matter how angry you are, or how passionate you feel, I guarantee you that the person answering the phone did not cause all your problems and is in no way responsible for them. BE NICE TO THIS PERSON. 

2) These offices are not well-staffed, especially at the state level. At the congressional level, yes, there is more staff--because there are D.C. and district offices. But even then, there are not thirty people all manning phones who have endless amounts of time to listen to constituent spiels.

So please keep your speech SHORT. As in, one succinct paragraph. Do not get on the phone with a script from your Advocacy Agency of Choice that's multiple paragraphs--especially multiple long paragraphs. The aide doesn't have time to listen to all that and she will not write everything you say down. She will probably write something like, "Against pigeon welfare bill. Says pigeon hunting is fun" on her notepad, no matter how many minutes Mr. X is talking about the joy of hunting pigeons. 

(I honestly don't know why advocacy groups give these hugely long speeches to their supporters. They're not the best way to make your case. The poor aide just starts to tune out or freak out that the person won't stop talking.) 

3) Please make it clear what you're talking about. Don't just get on the phone and start rambling. Say, "I'm a constituent of Senator Y (maybe add where you're from, which will alert the aide that yes, you have a higher change of being a real constituent), and I am against/for Legislation whatever, and this is why. Thank you." That's it! That's all you need to say!

(Yes, people call offices of representatives that do not live in that area. I don't know why. This bugs me. If you don't live in Speaker Ryan's district, for example, then why are you calling him? Call your own dang representative! Just because he's the Speaker of the House doesn't mean that his poor aides want to hear from the entire country!)  

4) If you really want to say all five paragraphs, or you have pages and pages and pages of things to say on the Joys of Pigeon Hunting, then send an email or a real letter. Mail that is received on legislative topics is indeed noted. We were always aware of how much mail was being received about legislation. Email. Send a letter. (But still be polite!)

5) Actually talk to them about something they can help you with. When I interned for my congressman, I was in one of his district offices. People would call to talk about the city's trash collection. 

That's not a federal problem. Call the city. Not us. 

In summary: Be Polite. Be Succinct. Call your actual representative/congressperson/senator. If you have a lot to say, email/use the USPS. 

What I Read In May

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Sharing some of my favorite books from the past month

(this post contains affiliate links.) 

Beartownby Frederik Backman. This is the first of Backman's books I read, and I've since read two others. If you're familiar with Backman ( A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Told Me To Tell You She's Sorry, Britt-Marie was Here), then this book is a departure for him--it's much more serious in tone. However, there's also his trademark wit and humor, even though the subject matter is much more serious. 

Here's the publisher's copy: 

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

The ending doesn't do what you think it will do--which is nice. 


Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner.  The story of two couples who met in their early twenties and have gone through life together, at varying levels of closeness, comes to a climax as one of the women is dying, and wants one last summer reunion. The story moves back and forth in time, showing how the couples met and how their relationships evolved, moving to the present day. Stengel is a fantastic writer with glowing prose and rich characterizations. It's not a long book, but it's a very satisfying one.


Mr. Rochester, by Sarah Shoemaker.  I didn't think I'd like this one, because of my issues with Jane Eyre.  (In short: Jane running off to the moors drives me crazy.) But I adored this book! The story tells the life of Mr. Rochester, the brooding owner of Thornfield Hall and Jane's eventual husband, from his childhood relationships with his father and older brother, to his marriage to Bertha in the West Indies, and finally to his meeting Jane. It's so well-written and well-crafted that I almost hated for it to end. I'll definitely be re-reading this soon. If you haven't read Jane Eyre, read that first. Definitely. 


The Dry, by Jane Harper. The first in a series of mysteries set in Australia, The Dry follows Aaron Falk, who returns to his childhood home after the death of Luke, his former best friend, his wife, and his young son. Aaron doesn't think Luke would have killed himself, much less his family, but how much did he really know about him? Secrets are all over the tiny town, and the severe drought that's slowly squeezing the economic lifeblood out of its residents isn't helping anyone's ability to remain calm and rational. The exotic setting and colorful characters made this a winner for me. 

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen Flynn. THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. It needs all caps. If you're a Janeite, I think you'll adore this. 

Rachel and Liam live in the future--but they're part of the Jane Austen Project, which will send them back to 1815. Their mission? To retrieve the lost manuscript of Jane Austen's The Watsons, and bring it back to the future. However--they have a finite window of time in which to do this, or they'll be stuck in 19th century London forever. The plan is to become friends with Jane, get the manuscript, and head home. 

However, their plans are foiled when Rachel and Liam manage to get deeply entangled in the Austen family's lives.  Jane's real life family, friends, and circumstances are vividly and perfectly woven into a novel that also has traces of Interstellar in its plotting. 


The Killer Angels , by Michael Shaara. If you haven't read this Pulitzer Prize winning telling of the battle of Gettysburg, you need to. Now. It's the basis for the movie Gettysburg and is told from the perspectives of various combatants, including General Lee, General Longstreet, Colonel Chamberlain, and others. A fantastic read. 

Also, if you haven't pre-ordered Cultivate, do it now! I've already read the book and I can tell you it's fantastic. Plus, pre-ordering means you get fun freebies!

What good books did you read last month? 

Memorial Day Weekend

books, Jane Austen, journalEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Memorial day weekend means a few things. Usually. 

1) Swimming--except this year, because stitches in my head. Yes. Still there. Will be there for at least another two weeks. Sigh. So anyway, no swimming, but I am greatly looking forward to the moment I can do that!

(I'm not really missing anything--the complex pool isn't open yet. Whew.) 

2) The Great Jane Re-Read Commences. Every summer, I re-read all of Jane between Memorial Day and Labor Day. This year I did it backwards, so I started with Persuasion

I knocked it out on Saturday afternoon and enjoyed every minute I spent with Anne Elliot. As I always do, because Anne Elliot is the bomb. 

Next: Emma. 

(Can I be honest? Emma drives me nuts. I really only like her starting about halfway through the book, when Mrs. Elton shows up. But I do want to go to Box Hill and have a picnic.) 

3) Time with friends and family.  

This was most of the weekend. :) 

On Friday, Mary and I went to Chuy's, because that is what we do, all the time. (Well, most of the time. But we love Chuy's. Some creamy jalapeño and some dulce de leches cake makes everything in life come into focus.) 

There's so much I love about Mary....

There's so much I love about Mary....

Chuy's art

Chuy's art

We also went to Elm and Iron, which I adore, to check out some home-y type things.

The purple rimmed candles are called "Wildflower", and totally smell like some!

The purple rimmed candles are called "Wildflower", and totally smell like some!


I managed to replay my Sperrys, which died last summer (after I wore them for about six years) when the upper became separated from the sole. I don't replace shoes until they DIE, people. I'm not a big shoe person. 

I am, however, a big rose person. I love these.  

Love these roses outside Macy's! They're so blowsy pretty. 

Love these roses outside Macy's! They're so blowsy pretty. 

I have big plans for my place this summer. Obviously funds do not allow me to do it all at once. :) But browsing is always fun and that's how I get my ideas and figure out what I'm looking for. I did manage to hit a TREMENDOUS sale at Macy's where I got half off the pillows, and then 25% off that. They basically gave the pillows away, guys! (Well, OK, not really. But seriously, 75% OFF? What crazy world is this?!)  So my bed is a nest now. And I'm so excited to just love on it.  

Caroline The Rabbit is the second oldest denzien of the Bedroom. Coach the Bear is the oldest, but he didn't want to pose. 

Caroline The Rabbit is the second oldest denzien of the Bedroom. Coach the Bear is the oldest, but he didn't want to pose. 

My bedroom doesn't get as much love as it probably should these days, since I spend most of my time on the first floor of my place. But now I've got the Great Chair in the office, so I spend more time in there, and now my bedroom is really starting to come together. 

Sunday started with some watercolor work. It's true--sometimes I love what I draw and sometimes I hate it and want to rip the page from my sketchbook. But I don't, because that would mess up the book. Sigh. Roses are hard to paint, y'all.  (And yes, I'm a midwesterner, and I say "y'all." Because why not. I also say "slippy", which is what people in the 'Burgh say for "Slippery." I think "slippy" is a much better word.) 

Sunday morning coffee in my Eat 'n Park mug, because my hockey team is in the Stanley Cup Finals! Which means my Nashville mug is verboten--because the Pens are playing the Predators (Nashville's team). I cannot drink out of the (temporary) Enemy's Mug. 

The parents and I got lunch at Marcella's, a cute Italian place, where menus speak the truth: 


And then we did some shopping. 

Then I came home and had tea, brewed with my new tea ball. 

Chocolate tea, people!

Chocolate tea, people!

Monday I played a lot of skee ball and arcade games with my parents at the bowling alley arcade, and there were hot dogs for dinner. I won a stuffed monkey! 

And hockey. Hopefully my hockey team wins. :) 


(edited. They did. In the strangest game EVER--a disallowed goal, a catfish on the ice, and no shots on goal for over half the game. But they won anyway.) 




My nest

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I love those cloudy, rainy days when I can just curl up in this spot on my couch with tea, books, maybe knitting, and just be. It's one of my favorite spots in the house. 
And on my other side.....

Because I always need good pens, notebooks, a book or two, and a phone charger by me at all times. Who doesn't?

And blankets. Oh my gosh, blankets. I loveeeee  having lots of blankets around. They are vital for building the proper nest. There are actually three blankets on my couch, but you can't see the bottom one (it's this one, from Garnet Hill. I got it on sale yeaaaars ago--it was one of the first things I got when I had my own place). The blue one is a promotional blanket from the live action Cinderella that I got at the movie theater when the movie came out, and the top one is a gift from my brother's fiance. Disney, blankets, and Vera Bradley--three of my favorite things in one package.

I sort of miss exercise. Is that weird? It's weird to me! But I see my doctor tomorrow and then I'll officially be "cleared" to exercise. I really can't do my yoga/pilates stuff anyway, because that involves head dropping and all that--things I probably shouldn't do with a hole in my head.  (Right?) So I'm trying to just walk around the house as much as I can. And read. 

A day trip to Waynesville, Ohio

family, travel, ohio, journalEmily DeArdoComment

So, two weeks ago was my cousin's first communion day. My parents and I were planning on going to Pittsburgh to celebrate, like we do for every first communion, but since this was the last of the grandbabies, it was going to be sort of bittersweet. 30 some years of first communion parties, over! 

The day of the party, my mom got a call from my uncle--my aunt was sick, so the party was cancelled. :( But we were all up anyway, and dressed, and it wasn't even ten o'clock, so....we decided to take a road trip down to Waynesville, Ohio, a little village in the southwest corner of our state. 

First order of business: Food. 


The food at Cobblestone cafe was amazing, guys. You even get complimentary chai tea lattes at the end of the meal! They're tiny and adorable! The cafe is also a shop, so you get two great things in one place. Mom, Dad, and I are hard-pressed to find a place that all of us like equally when it comes to eating, and Cobblestone fit the bill with their amazing menu. And dessert. Can we talk about dessert? Holy moly, it was good.  Key lime pie! Pina Colada sundae! (Or was it a cake thing? I can't remember. It was good.) 

I will take one of each color, please.... (taken at Cheap John's.) 

I will take one of each color, please.... (taken at Cheap John's.) 


I had way too much fun shopping, and so did my mom--and even my dad. (He is a licorice connoisseur and he found homemade licorice that apparently passed His Testing at Cheap John's.) 

The town is full of craft and antique shops, and I found a yarn store (of course), where the excellent proprietor gave me a free (?!) yarn book and even gave me some advice on the knitting project I was shopping for (it's this one--it won't be made for awhile yet, but I was glad to get advice and find the yarn I needed for this project!).  She had recently worked on the project with another customer, so she gave me needle and gauge advice! Win! 

Waynesville isn't far off I-71, so you're close to King's Island in Mason, and also Cincinnati proper, so, in theory, you could probably stay at a Waynesville B&B and visit these places from there--or visit Waynesville during a Cincinnati trip. It's only a little over an hour from Columbus. Perfect day trip distance.

Flowers outside the Cobblestone Cafe. 

Flowers outside the Cobblestone Cafe. 


It almost felt like a movie set, it was that cute. I think all of us want to go back soon, and since it's so close, we can definitely make that happen. Besides, Dad wants more licorice! 


The Simple Things

journalEmily DeArdoComment
It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.
— Laura Ingalls Wilder
This candle always reminds me of college, specifically my freshman year. One of the girls who lived next door to me kept this candle on her desk.  

This candle always reminds me of college, specifically my freshman year. One of the girls who lived next door to me kept this candle on her desk.  

Even after just a few days of hospitals, it's so nice to get home to my nest and be surrounded by what Laura Ingalls Wilder called "the sweet, simple things".  Candles, books, journals, my favorite pens, pillows, and even pretty soap dishes--it's nice to be home. 

(sources: Live Thankfully pillow and ceramic berry basket Elm and Iron

Surgery wrap

healthEmily DeArdoComment

Above: Post-surgery necessities .

I'm back! I didn't have to stay overnight, either, which was great. 

So, mostly the surgery was uneventful. The nurse I had didn't want to use my port because she was afraid it would get infected. Um, OK? I mean, unless you're planning on rolling around in mud with hogs and then inserting it, I think we're good. Anyway, Dad and I made it clear that the port was all I have going on, good vein access wise, so people came in and got it going. Per it being mine (and therefore, difficult), it took two tries to get it working, but once it got going, it went merrily on. 

The anesthesiologist was a Penguins fan, so I appreciated that. I tend to get really nauseated after surgery, but this time the hospital gave me a little anti-nausea patch to wear, that worked like a charm! I'm a fan!

The only other issue we ran into pre-op was what to do with my CI. Since we were moving scalp around, I didn't want my CI to become lost in the process. At the same time, I needed to be able to hear if people were talking to me in the OR. So I managed to keep it back into the OR with me, but not my glasses, which annoyed me, since lip reading and being able to see are important to my being able to figure out what's going on around me. Oh well. (Another difference between a children's and an adult hospital--at NCH, I can keep my glasses with me the whole time. Makes my life easier.)  

The surgery took about an hour and then I was in the recovery unit for awhile. Dad and I got home around 5:30, 6:00, and I had a very small dinner because I had a very sore throat, and was in bed by nine. God bless Halo Top ice cream! (Yes, I've been intubated many times before, but I don't remember it being quite so uncomfortable after. But whatever. It's fine now) 

Today I am feeling pretty good. The pain meds I have keep the pain really well in check, which always makes me happy. I'm not allowed to exercise until next week, post-surgeon clearance, so there's going to be a lot of reading happening this week. Not that I mind that. I can make a dent in my book pile! 

The other thing is the lovely dressing I have on my head. I can shower--yay!--but there is part of the area that the surgeon left open to drain a bit--in order to get it to close he would've had to have made a much larger incision. So we're just letting it drain, but that means I have to keep ointment on it, and gauze pads. It's not nearly as bad as post-Mohs, or even immediately post-surgery, but it will look sort of odd. I'll probably be trying to hide it under my hats. :) 



Les Incompetents

healthEmily DeArdo4 Comments

(Credit to my mom for the title of this post!)

This week has been, for various reasons, Full of Wrath. There was general annoyance from having a busy week, trying to get a lot of things done pre-surgery, and my sinuses being silly, which laid the groundwork. Then my hockey team played two EXQUISITELY CRAPPY games. Super enjoyable. (NOT.) But they redeemed themselves Wednesday night and are going to the conference finals. 

However, all of Wednesday (before the Penguins won) was just terrifically wrath-y. Because some hospitals are terrible. Namely, adult hospitals that aren't used to dealing with people who have a complex medical history! 

Settle in for the story. 

As we know, I am having surgery next week. Now, the docs set the surgery date three weeks ago. And at that time, we (meaning me, my family, and my transplant team) asked the surgeon and his staff if I would need any pulmonary testing (like PFTs).  Do I need to see my doctor ahead of time? Etc. etc. 

"No, no, nothing like that. We have our pre-admission testing and that's all you need," they said. 

So I wake up yesterday at 5:15 and get myself to the hospital for pre-admission testing. It is in a small room off, quite possibly, the ugliest hallway in creation. 



After filling out paperwork and listening to a guy have a very loud conversation  on his cell phone in the waiting room, I got called back to register. Here, I was asked to give a "down payment" of $320. 

Yeah. I was thinking a co-pay of like, $40. NOT three hundred and twenty smackers. But I fork over my credit card. You would think, right, that if something like this was coming, they might have told me ahead of time? I've never had to give a "down payment" of any type before.

I'm then seen by a nurse, who goes over my stuff (meaning my paperwork and my med list), takes my vitals, and does an EKG. She is inordinately concerned about whether or not I have sleep apnea. I don't. 

Finally the doctor comes in. This guy is a "hospitalist", and from what I can tell, his job is to basically make sure that I'm healthy enough to survive surgery. He verifies this by listening to my chest and checking my throat. He tells me I can take my meds the morning of surgery, which I knew, but I trust but verify. The guy's nice, but basically useless for my intents and purposes. I have to explain to him how prednisone and immunosuppression affects blood sugars, which is why the last time I was at this hospital, I was on insulin, but now I'm not.....

So at this point, this morning has been a total waste in terms of actual surgical prep, but whatever. We're almost done. 

Now it's time to take blood. 

The nurse had asked me if I have vein access other than my port. "Um, you can try," I said. "Well, we don't access ports up here," she says. * 

At this point, I'm thinking that, if these people had been on the ball, I could've had a blood draw at the Resort, from my port, and had the results faxed over to this hospital. But I had no idea what was involved in this visit, because Adult Hospital told me nothing. So obviously, I could not have made good preparations, because I am not a mind reader. 

My veins are very tiny. My veins are very scarred. My veins are basically terrible. If you want to torture a person, ask him to take my blood. It can take over an hour. For IV insertion, it can take all day. And no, I'm not kidding. There was one time, pre-port, where it took about four nurses all day to get any sort of peripheral line in me. (A peripheral line is your basic IV.) Ergo, I like to save my veins for when we really really really need access and really really really cannot use the port. This doesn't count as a really really really need situation. 

"Our guy is really good," she says. Internally, I roll my eyes. Some people are magical, it's true. But they are few and far between. 

So, the "really good" guy comes in. I know this is most likely not going to work, because he won't have needles small enough for my veins. Which he doesn't. He will also have to be creative in finding a good vein. Which he's not. Sure enough, he sticks me in the back of my left hand ( in a tiny tiny tiny almost invisible vein), which doesn't work. So he sticks me again, near the crook of my right arm, and does manage to get blood. "That might bruise," he says. 

(Yeah, it might. At the moment it's a lovely shade of black, deep purple, and yellow. It almost looks like a spot of velvet. There's bruising, and then there's bruising. My hand looks OK though.) 

So I go home, get lunch, and decide to go over to my parents' house to apprise Mom of the morning. This was a good idea. 

Because, at my parents', Mom gets a call from Riverside. The "really good" tech had ruined my blood samples by allowing them to clot. So we can't use them to run the blood tests. I now have to have more blood drawn

Imagine Beeker swearing, and you'll have a good picture of my reaction. 

Imagine Beeker swearing, and you'll have a good picture of my reaction. 

But at least I can go to Children's and go to infusion. So I finish my lunch, and, in full Wrath mode, drive to Children's. In infusion, my labs are drawn competently! Yay! They commiserate with me, and I leave.  

What makes this even worse? The Adult Hospital didn't even apologize for this massive inconvenience. Not even a form, "We're sorry that this happened."  And what if I was working? I'd have had to convince my boss to let me leave work again to go and get blood drawn. Because, obviously, it must be done that very second. (Seriously. The woman asked my mom when I'd be at the hospital--she wanted a time. I had an image of her hovering over a fax machine, breathlessly awaiting my results....)

(Just a note about blood draws: It's not the blood draws that were bothering me. I've been having blood taken from me regularly since I was a toddler. I'm not afraid of needles and it doesn't hurt. What made me angry was the sheer incompetence and idiocy.) 

When I get home post-draw, I find out that Adult Hospital has now decided they need me to see my pulmonologist before surgery. Meaning, before Wednesday. Meaning, Monday, which is the only post-transplant clinic day. 

Remember how they said I didn't need to do this? Yeah. So do I. 

So clinic, magically, wonderfully, arranges for me to be seen on Monday morning. (And, again, imagine if I was working. I'd have to tell my boss that now, I also need all of Monday morning off. When I was working, Monday morning was one of our busiest times all week.) 

This is why Emily doesn't like adult hospitals. They have no idea how to deal with a medically complex patient. NONE.

Les Incompetents, indeed. 


*For the record: ports are not hard to access, once you know how.  My mom was taught by the NCH nurses, and we access it at home every month, to make sure it's working and give it a nice Heparin flush to keep clots from forming. I could probably do it**, if I had the right materials. (I do de-access myself, a lot of the time.) I could definitely walk someone through it. I hate that hospitals don't teach more nurses how to do this. IT IS NOT HARD. It's not like brain surgery, here. It can be taught to any competent person, and performed by a competent, detail-oriented person. My mom does it every month without any issues. But then, she's sort of magic like that. She's also learned to change burn dressings and clean them, give and constitute IV meds, and all other sorts of magical things. 

** Many people do access their own ports. Mine is in a sort of wonky position, so I don't do it. But I know how, if I ever had to. 





The forgotten demographic: Catholic Single Women

CatholicismEmily DeArdo8 Comments

(And no, it's not just because I am one.) 

There has always been a fundamental difference between the experience of single men and single women. Single men--"Bachelors." Single women--"old maids." 

Which would you rather be called? 

But the biggest problem, at least where I sit, is when the church gives us the Smug Marrieds from the Bridget Jones novels and turns it into an area of completing overlooking/forgetting/not attending to the single women in their midst. 

Really, don't need to feel like an idiot because I'm not married at church, when I already feel that way from society at large....

Really, don't need to feel like an idiot because I'm not married at church, when I already feel that way from society at large....

This isn't just a parish problem. It's a whole church problem. 

If you are a Catholic single woman who is relatively young (I'm 35, am I relatively young?) , I challenge you to find a ministry that cares about your needs. Most of them say "oh, we cater to all women!" No, you don't. 

  • You don't if at women's conferences, it's all about married women and women with kids (Or it's like, a 90/10 split in favor of the marrieds.) 
  • You don't if there are groups for moms of preschoolers, married couples, older women, men, and youth--but nothing for women or men who are unmarried and older than 21 in your parish, or that top out in the 30s. Because, of course single people who are in their mid to late 30s just don't exist....
  • You don't if the big social events in your parish are dances or things that otherwise require a partner--even if you say they don't. Seriously, who goes to a dance stag once they're out of high school?!  

Now, I can understand that married Catholic women need something that's for them. That's fine. I can see the need there. There's a lot of pressure for married Catholic couples in this society. I can see that they need time alone (as in, sans kids) and to re-charge. Totally. That's a legitimate need. 

But it's getting old, because there is nothing for single Catholic women that aren't discerning a religious vocation. Seriously. NOTHING. Big. Fat. ZERO. And not only is there nothing specifically for us, but the things that are supposed to be for women in general are almost always totally geared to women who are wives and mothers--and it's not advertised that way. 

When I go on retreats, there's almost always a lot of mentions of husbands and kids. Why can't we just focus on being Catholic women?   I just sit there and smile and doodle in my notebook. 

When I read Catholic women's devotionals, there is such an undertone of being geared to wives and mothers. Why?  (And for the record, the Protestant books and devotionals I've read don't seem to do this. Why is that? [And yes, I read them because most of the Catholic ones do not speak to me. At all.] When I read Made to Crave, Uninvited, or 1,000 Gifts, it's not all about the authors being moms. It's about being women. And yes, these women write about being a mom, but it's not the end all and be all of what they write.)  

When I go to my diocese's Catholic Women's conference, a lot of the time, all the speakers are married women. As a single woman, I often sit through talks that have absolutely no bearing on my experience. But that never happens the other way around--a talk about single women, with married women in the audience.  

You can be a wife and mother, and yet talk about things that are applicable to all women

Believe me, I'd love to be a wife and mother. It would make me incredibly happy. But I'm not. I can't wish a husband and children into being a la Cinderella's ball gown.  A lot of Catholic women's organizations do not realize, or meet, the need that single Catholic women have for fellowship (which is a word I hate, but it works here), understanding, and the desire to live out our vocation as a Catholic woman authentically, no matter what our family situation. 

Does this happen to men? At the Catholic men's breakfast or lunch or the men's retreats, is it all about being a husband and a father? I dunno. But I would sort of think not--and hope not, because then they're in the same boat that we single women are. 

And no, I don't think that being single is "my vocation." 

(And also--what about married couples who have no kids? I sort of get the sense that they're in a weird place, too. Because, no kids. )

I'm just saying, throw us a bone once in awhile. Or at least, don't be a Smug Married. Please, please, please, Catholic parishes and Catholic women's groups, focus on all women. Not just the married ones. Not just the moms. All women

How do we do this? I think it's pretty simple, myself: Focus on creating groups that help everyone live out their faith, together. Things like parish-wide Bible studies. Faith sharing groups. Even coffee groups that meet once a month in the evening or whatever, for everyone to get together and talk and pray. Have a book club that's open to all adults. Don't have meetings at 10 AM on a week day that are the only meeting of the women's group! That's great for retirees, but not so much for working young people. 

And in the social media realm--focus on all women. Ensure that if you say you're for all women, that you really are in your representation. 

Now, the obvious response to all this is, "Well, start one! Duh, Emily. Get off your duff!" 

I don't mind running things. My personality is actually really good at running things (I'm an ESTJ, for you Myers-Briggs people) . And maybe, eventually, I'll get there. But this isn't a problem just for me. It's a much larger problem, outside the realm of my parish. And I am, actually, talking with friends of mine about getting things going at my own parish. 

But that's not why I'm writing this. I'm writing this to bring attention to the larger issue that a lot of us face. 

I love you, married women. A lot of you--you know who you are--are great friends and mentors to me. But

Lara Casey said something really good at MTH: All stories matter. 

And yes, that includes the stories of the singletons. 


Surgery updates!

healthEmily DeArdo4 Comments
The reaction of most people when I say "skin cancer" is a lot like this.....

The reaction of most people when I say "skin cancer" is a lot like this.....

So, I have dates for my procedures/surgeries, etc.! 

This coming Wednesday, I'm going to the hospital to have the pre-admission testing done. I'm guessing this will just be heart stuff and vitals--like an EKG and regular stuff. It could be more than that, but that's not what I'm anticipating. Apparently I will also be talking to a doctor, for some unknown reason. This isn't normally how I do pre-admission testing at the Resort; in fact, sometimes there's no testing at all, just a phone call from a surgical nurse to get a history. So this is all new and so much fun! (sarcasm off.) 

Next Tuesday (the 16th), I have my Mohs surgery to actually remove the cancers from the top of my head. These are both squamous cells, not melanomas--so it's not nearly as serious as it could be. However, these guys are bigger than what I've dealt with thus far, so I imagine it will take more than two rounds of surgery to remove the cancerous cells. (For more on how Mohs surgery works, read what I wrote about it here.) The procedure is at 9:30 and I'm to wash my hair really well before I head to the doctor's office, which makes sense, given that it won't be able to be properly washed for awhile. 

After my dermatologist removes all the cancer cells, I get to go home. The next day (May 17), I will go to the hospital with my dad to have the surgery which will actually close the spots my doctor made the previous day, and he (my doctor) will do all the plastic surgical magic to ensure I have hair and not bald spots. (You can read about that here.) I may or may not stay overnight at the hospital. But I will definitely spend a day or two at my parents' since I won't be able to drive and can't be left alone for various reasons, so...whatever. No biggie. 

I'm not anticipating this to be any sort of big deal. But then again, when you've basically been cut in half, nothing is a big deal anymore. Really. And even in the area of head surgery, this is low-key on the Big Deal Chart. When I had my CI implanted, part of skull was removed. That, to me, is a much bigger deal. :) There's a magnet in my skull, people. Moving some scalp around? Not  a problem. 

As far as blogging: There will be a yarn along this week, and mayyyyybe next Tuesday before I go in for surgery. But after that, there may be blogging hiatus. :) 


What I Read In April

booksEmily DeArdo2 Comments

(This post contains affiliate links.) 

I haven't done one of these in awhile, so I thought I'd get back to them. Although instead of listing everything I read, I thought I'd pick my favorite books of the month. Some of them will be re-reads, some of them will be new to me, and some will be new releases. 

27% of adults didn't read a single book last year. I'm imaging that if you read me, you read books. But in case you don't, or if you want to read more, I hope you find something in these that piques your interest!

(And I'll also include books I really didn't like, if any pop up, so you can avoid them!)

The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress, by Ariel Lawhon: This was a book club pick, and I really enjoyed it. At first I thought it looked sort of 'eh', but once I started, I couldn't stop. The novel is based on the true story of the disappearance of New York State Supreme Court Judge Joseph Crater, which has never been solved. The novel, of course, offers its own interpretation of what happened. The title refers to the three women in Crater's life: his wife, Stella; his maid, Maria Simon, and his mistress, Broadway showgirl Ritzi. I don't want to say any more, because I went into the book knowing nothing, and I think it paid off for me. But if you like good, absorbing reads, this is one for you. I think it would make a good beach read. 

Inheriting Edith, by Zoe Fishman, also has to do with maids. In this case, a housekeeper, Maggie, inherits a house in Sag Harbor when her former employer and friend, Liza, dies. The catch? The house also comes with Liza's mother, Edith, who has Alzheimer's. If Maggie takes the house, she also inherits Edith. If she sells the house, Edith will go into a care facility. Maggie decides to take the house, so she and her young daughter, Lucy, move from New York City to Sag Harbor to take care of Edith--who doesn't want strangers living with her. 

The characters in this book are really delightful. You want to keep spending time with them. Fishman does a great job drawing the setting and the relationships between the characters, with great secondary characters like Edith's wacky friend from their Broadway chorus line days, and the toy shop owner that Maggie is attracted to. I also loved the character of Lucy--she's a totally believable little girl, who talks just like little girls do. Sometimes novelists make little kids too erudite and well-spoken, but not here. Another good beach read, probably because it takes place at  a beach, but there's a lot of pathos in this book, too. So if you don't like anything that could be sort of sad, this isn't a vacation book for you. 

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series, by Steig Larsson. These are re-reads for me--I re-read these pretty regularly, and I don't know why, since crime books aren't really my preferred genre. I don't read a lot of thriller/crime novels. But these, I really like. Is the writing the best? No. But the characters are just great, so I overlook the cliches and sort of stilted writing style so I can enjoy Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. The original trilogy is completed with The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest. A fourth book, written by another author (Larsson died before the books were published), came out last year: The Girl In the Spider's Web, and another is coming out this year. I haven't read Spider's Web--I'm not sure I want to read another author's take on Larsson's world and characters. But we'll see. Anyway, I really enjoy these, and they're quick reads. They're big, but with the exception of the last one, they're quick. The last one gets sort of involved with too many characters and Swedish history side notes that slow it down, so it's not my favorite in the series. But the payoff is worth it. 

Grace, Not Perfection by Emily Ley. Emily was also at Making Things Happen, and as soon as I got home, I re-read her book. It's about getting organized, inside and outside yourself--both your environment, and your heart. There's so much goodness in it. And it's a beautiful book. You can really tell Emily loves paper and design, because the physical appearance of this book is just all the goodness. And it's on sale right now for $10! (And remember, Lara's second book comes out in June! Pre-order!) 

The Cardamom Trail, by Chetna Makan. Do you watch The Great British Bake-Off? If not, it's n Netflix. Do it! The first season that we have here (as in, here in the States) featured a ton of great contestants, including Chetna Makan, who was raised in India, but moved to England as an adult. Her entries during the contest often featured Indian spices and inventive takes on classic recipes. So when her cookbook came out, I asked for it as a birthday gift, and my friend Mary gifted it to me. 

This is a really gorgeous cookbook. Yes, the measurements aren't in "American". :-P But you can convert them pretty easily. The recipes are mouth-watering. There are three I need to try almost immediately. I read cookbooks for fun (yes, I'm weird) and this one is just so gorgeous, I almost hate to put it away. There are sweet and savory things in here, as well as things like British "pies", which are what we'd call "pot pies" here in America. It's not just sweet things. If you like to bake, this is a book for you. 

 Did you read anything good last month? What's your favorite fiction genre? 

Cultivate: A new book for intentional, God-centered living

books, goal setting, Making Things HappenEmily DeArdoComment

Guys, I am so excited to share with you a new book from Lara Casey, who is the founder of the amazing Making Things Happen Conference, and the author of Make It Happen

Lara and I in March. 

Lara and I in March. 

Lara is an amazing woman, y'all. She is a true lover of God and a woman of prayer. She is so supportive and a fantastic cheerleader. Without her products (the power sheets!), I would not have been able to accomplish the things that God wants me to do, and I say that and mean it. They helped me get so much clarity  about my goals and what really matters. Make It Happen, Lara's first book, helped me go even deeper, but truly, the conference was a breakthrough. Lara is so generous and shares so much of her hard-won wisdom with anyone who follows her on social media or attends the conference or reads her blog or her books. She has a huge heart for women and God. 

That's why I'm so excited about her new book, Cultivate, which comes out this spring! If you've never met Lara, or can't attend a MTH conference, then I hope that you will get your hands on Cultivate

Lara knows that good goals are goals that are deeply rooted in what mattersCultivate, according to Lara, is a story about God's grace--how it's transformed her life from an instant life into a cultivated life. 

Cultivated lives are messy. They grow slowly. But they are lives that trust in God, and wait on His perfect timing. And believe me, I know about waiting for that perfect timing! I know how hard it is. How often my prayer has been, "God, I know you're in charge, but if you'd just let me see the ending now, I'd be so happy." 

That's not how it works. 

Through Lara's writing and her ministry, I've been able to further my relationship with God, to open up, and to trust more completely in Him. It's been a wonderful boost to my faith and encouraged me to become more rooted in my faith and its practice. And with Cultivate, Lara will share how focusing on what God wants her to focus on has changed her life--for the better. 

So, Cultivate details: It comes out on June 27th, but you can pre-order now! If you do, there's a great bunch of pre-ordering gifts you will receive, like a getting started video, desktop backgrounds, and more (a coloring page!!!!), to help you really cultivate what matters.  The book also has a study guide included! Yay! 

The link takes you to a landing page where you can  preorder (from your book seller of choice),  claim the bonuses, and access even more goodies! 

Lara is real. She's not afraid to share the mess. And in doing that, she helps you do the real work. 

She didn't pay me to write any of this. :) I am so privileged to be a part of the Cultivate launch team, so that's why I wrote this. But it's not an ad--I genuinely love Lara. I know this book will be extremely helpful to you, and I personally can't wait to read it for myself! (And yes, I'm going to be talking about this book a lot, because I'm really excited about it! There will even be a place in the sidebar where you can click to pre-order.) 

Do yourself a favor and pre-order the book (pre-orders are really helpful to both authors and publishers), get the bonus goodies, and prepare to be changed and to learn! 



Yarn Along No. 58 and a Medical Update (Oh, joy!)

books, health, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo1 Comment

The kerchief continues! The nice thing is that I'm finally getting used to working with linen, and I really like it. I think this is going to be a great finished product. I also have the blocking mats and pins that I'll need to finish this project, even though that's a ways off in the future--I wanted to be prepared! I've never blocked anything before, but fortunately Hannah has some great advice on finishing linen pieces.   

So here's this week's progress. I'm getting near the end of the first ball of yarn, and there are three, total, for this project. So even though it doesn't seem like it, I am making progress! 



Ravelry notes here. (The pictures here are where you can really see the progress.) The book is Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner. I've heard good things about it, but I've never read it--so I decided to fix that! I'm enjoying it so far. 

So, on to the Medical Update. 

As you may remember, I've been having some skin cancer issues. I actually really hate it call it that because it's so not cancer, in my book. I mean, it's stuff we're removing with local anesthesia and it's so easy. It's not cancer, to me. But technically, it is. So, I suppose for our purposes I'll be technically correct. 

(And no, this isn't because I'm fair, and I just didn't wear sunscreen. I've had some people react like that when they see the scar on my forehead from my last Mohs surgery. I then have to tell them that, no, it's not because I was negligent. Anyway, all those details are in the link in the above paragraph.)

So! There are four spots that we wanted to deal with--three on my head, and one on my chest. The three on my head and divided into two areas--one on my forehead, and two on my scalp. The forehead, chest, and first scalp one have been dealt with. But the last one is on the back of my scalp, it's rather large, and my dermatologist wanted a plastic surgeon to "close" it. 

I met with the plastic surgeon yesterday. He is very nice, very smart, and my kind of doctor. The easiest thing to do would be to do a skin graft, like the one I have on my right arm. But that also means that you have a bald spot on your head. So we're not doing that option. We're doing something called a scalp rotation flap, which basically means we're going to move part of my scalp to cover the surgical site, so that I have hair there! I'm not really sure of all the ins and outs of the procedure, technically, and I'm sure you don't want to know. :-P The end result is much more cosmetically pleasing, and, honestly, for me, it's probably easier. Skin grafts involve taking skin from other places on my body, and that means you have two surgical sites you have to deal with. That's not fun. So I support the doctor's plan. 

Because of my medical history, this is going to be done at a local hospital (the same one where I had my cochlear implant surgery, so I'm familiar with them, and they have records about me already!). That way, my surgeon can either discharge me the same day, or, if he needs to, he can keep me overnight. I like this plan a lot, because I want to make sure that any issues are dealt with appropriately, and in a real hospital setting (as opposed to an outpatient surgical center), my people have all the things they need to take care of me, should the need arise. I like that. It makes me happier. 

The process is in two parts: my dermatologist will remove the actual cancer, and my plastic surgeon will close/reconstruct it. Thus, the two of them have to coordinate their schedules to make sure we can do this in a timely manner--meaning, in May, and in a way that doesn't leave me with an open spot on my head for days on end while we wait for a surgical slot to open up. So by the end of this week, I should have dates and times and all that good stuff. 

Being me is never boring. 


Making Things Happen 2017: One Month Later

current projects, goal setting, Making Things Happen, writingEmily DeArdoComment
photo by the amazing Amy Nicole Cherry

photo by the amazing Amy Nicole Cherry

So it's been a month since the Making Things Happen Conference began in Chapel Hill. 

And I can happily say that I've spent this past month doing things that matter--intentionally. 

Here's some of the things I've been doing: 

  • Daily Bible Study with the She Reads Truth app. Every morning, I do morning prayer, morning offering, and this. On the rare days I don't start with this combination, it is not a good day! I've even gone father in this area by  adding a small segment of Bible time in the afternoon, too; reading a chapter of an Old Testament book, and starting to read the Gospels again. It's quicker--maybe five minutes?--but it's a good check in. I'm being much more intentional about prayer, and starting my day with it, in various forms. 

  • Cleaned out my office closet from top to bottom! Yay!!!!! There are three areas of my house that are crying out for organization, and this was the first one I tackled. So much trash, so many instances of What the heck is this and why do I still have it?!?!? later, I have a clean closet, and a much cleaner office, too.
  • I've read through my ebook and made the first revisions. Huge step forward there. Now I know what I have to do to get it ready for some beta readers and I can make an action list of items to complete there. 
  • I did a lot of blog research and reading. I read a series on search engine optimization and I finished reading and implementing the ideas from a blog how-to series about using Pinterest and making blog upgrades. Maybe you've noticed, maybe you haven't. Most of it's been very subtle. :) It's part of an ongoing series about better blogging that I'm working through. One thing I really want to do is be a better blogger, so this research and workshops are things I've been needing to do, but felt so overwhelmed at the idea of doing all the things. But by reading one article, or implementing one change, every day--growth! Things get done. 

For the first time, I think ever, in the few years I've been doing Power sheets, I checked off all my monthly goals!

I'm deeply realizing that little by little is powerful.

Good things grow with that little by little, concentrated effort. 


When I sat down to do my April Powersheets, I read through all my conference notes, my goals, and the past months work I'd done so far this year, and I decided to be very deliberate in my goal setting--to choose to work slowly, to plant good seeds, and to let them unfurl in their time. Writing this actually makes me realize how much more I did than I thought I'd done since I came back, and that makes me feel fabulous!!

I am so excited to do my May Powersheets next week. In fact, I might even do them early. 

Has every day been a perfectly cultivated day? No! (haha.) But that's not what matters. What matters is that forward progress and growth. Not minute-by-minute perfection. And that's where I'm making strides. 

Yarn Along No. 57: Continuing the Kerchief

yarn along, knitting, booksEmily DeArdo2 Comments

Continuing with the kerchief. I'm really enjoying this project, which is good, because I can't rush through it--the variation in the pattern with every row means I can only do about 3-4 rows before I stop. I really don't want to mess this guy up! 

You can see--sort of--the texture that's going on here. It'll be more evident after it's blocked, I think, but that's a long, long way in the future! 



The book this week is sort of unorthodox. :) But I love to actually read cookbooks. I have a few where I only make two or so recipes from them, but I keep them because I just love to read the stories and recipes. Yes, I'm weird. 

Anyway, my friend Mary got me The Cardamon Trail for my birthday--the author, Chetna Makan, was a contestant on The Great British Bake Off, and she got to the semi-finals (I think) in her season. She's from India and moved to the UK about ten years ago, so all her "bakes" (as they call the items the contestants make on the show) featured unusual flavor combinations that called to mind her Indian background and heritage. And man, they all looked yummy! So Mary gifted me Chetna's first cookbook and it's SO gorgeous. I can't wait to dive into it! 

Ravelry notes for my project are here