Monday, December 21, 2015

Happy Holidays, Star Wars Gripes, and Sweet Dreams

WARNING: STARWARS Spoilers may be present.

My holiday is going rather quickly. My son and his family are in for the week and I've enjoyed spending time with them. I do not enjoy shopping. I still have more to do tomorrow. And cooking. Thank goodness my DIL likes cooking and has volunteered to do it. Thank goodness she is a good cook.

We went to see Star Wars today. I'm not thrilled. I've seen the originals numerous times, watched the "new" 1,2, & 3 and didn't like them greatly. I've read, if not all the books, most of them up to where Jaina and Jacen Solo were about to become Jedi. I know Jacen eventually turned to the dark side and was killed and I know Chewie was killed in the destruction of a planet, saving one of the Solo children. What I saw today totally re-writes the story line and messes with the timeline of the books. So, if you're a rabid fan married to the original storylines, get ready for a disturbance in the Force.

My next gripe, the death in this movie was totally unsatisfying and a disappointment. I know it is about who agreed to do more movies, but it would have been better just to write around it. But that's just me. When you eliminate a major player it has huge impact. Also, it messes with the storylines that carry though dozens, and dozens, and dozens of books.

Third gripe, this is just a rehash of the original movie #4. Nasty dark lord and his ginormous holographic overlord are out to destroy the galaxy using a monster machine, in this case, capable of devouring suns as ammo. Small resistance force and Republic are bent on defeating them. Young, independent, freedom fighters step up to fight, using their various talents. Same story line, different people, bigger death star. I have to say, any of you could have written it. And it was much more interesting the 1st time.

So, if you're a novice who has only seen the mediocre 1,2,3 & the awesome original 4, 5, & 6, and who has never read a thing from the series of books, you'll be fine. Otherwise, be warned.

My new laptop is supposed to be in on the 23rd! They updated the delivery date and I'm thrilled. I have the desktop running, but it is not running that great. Very slow start up and I'm sure there is a reason, but I'm about ready to give up on it. I need to update a slew of drivers and there is no easy, fast way to do that.

Of course, since I've had no computer, I couldn't write AT ALL! It has been horrible. I usually take a week after NaNo but I was already back to working on my stories within days and then both computers blew up (metaphorically, except in the case of the laptop). I have one going now but am behind in bill paying and back balancing due to said computers problems. And now I have a house full of people that I want to spend time with. So, my stress level is a bit high.

CPAP is working great. I've been getting much more sleep and feel so much  I solved the problem of the leaky seals by buying something called Remzzzs. Very expensive but I'm going to look for a way to make them before I run out of the current supply. My problem now is the dry mouth that results at times. I wake up with my cheeks stuck to my gums like glue and have to be pulled apart. This results in tearing flesh from either my gum or my cheeks off in hunks. This, in turn, is highly painful and leaves a sore. So, research is needed for this. Someone said put petrolum jelly between my gum and cheeks, but I don't know if that would work or if it would be safe for long term. Ingesting it might be a problem.

That's it for today. Enough?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Downhill Slope

We're making the run to Christmas. I've been busy and away from the blog for a number of reasons. NaNo came and went pretty quickly. The holiday put me behind but as you can see, it didn't stop me.

We went to Atlanta on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and returned on Sunday after. During that trip, I had dinner with family on Thursday, took a plane ride on Friday with my cousin (who just got is pilot's licenses), and went shopping at thrift stores on Saturday. There wasn't much time to write but I got a few hundred words in.

Wednesday morning, before we headed down, I stopped to get my C-Pap machine and I've been breaking that in for two weeks now. With rather mixed results. Getting the right mask and figuring out how to stop leaks seem to be the biggest challenges. When it works, I feel great the next day. When it doesn't, I'm ready to throw the thing out the window. That leaky mask is my current bone of contention. Today I picked up some Remzzzs. These are triangular pieces of "t-shirt" fabric you put between your face and the mask to help prevent mask leak. We'll see.

Let me explain mask leak to the uninformed. Sometime after you fall asleep you are awakened by the sound of a fart. This is followed by a wheeze and a whistle and then the sound of rushing air. No, it probably isn't your spouse. I'm a widow, but there is no comfort in these sounds. They are repeated until you get up in frustration and try to reset the seal on the mask. You lie back down and attempt to go back to sleep. Only to be awakened in half an hour or five minutes with the same mix of sound. Last night I got up 4 times to try and fix the mask. I gave up. I emailed the doctor today and they gave me samples of the Remzzzs. As I said, we'll see.

The real problem is that a 30 day supply of those things is close to $40. So, I won't be buying them. They are made out of t-shirt material. I'm going to get some of that fabric and try to make my own . . . if these work. I can get a month supply out of one t-shirt!

I do have one comment. For something that so many people are using and that has been around for such a long time, you would think some technological genius would have figured out a way to seal a face mask. I'm betting NASA has an effective seal for a face mask. Of course, none of us OSD folks want to sleep in a helmet. However, after 4 interruptions in 6 hours, I'd consider it. Even divers have sealed face masks, right? I suppose they may let in a bit of water, but they don't have to swim up and fix it.

I've not done any writing this week. Mostly because the CPap isn't working and I'm exhausted. I did work on my anthology story a bit today and will likely finish it in a few days, if I can get some sleep. I have some critique reading to do, too.

The Christmas tree is not up. I hope to get that up this week. The Christmas shopping is not done. That is the least of my worries.

Now, I'm going to bed. I know it is a pretty boring post, but they often are. If you stumbled in by accident, I apologize. If you visit, more often, you might feel better about your life. Or you might think I'm an idiot to worry about so much of mine. Either's fine and it isn't mandatory to care about anything here. I feel better just writing it down.

In case I don't get back here this month, I wish you all a most wonderful Merry Christmas. Please remember that the greatest event in the history of the world is celebrated on December 25. We're not celebrating trees, or elves, or fat men in red suits, or presents, or snow, or colored lights. Those are just things and they have no power to do more than make us smile. They can't bring peace or good will to anyone.

But what it all means is the Savior of the World came. He had a plan to set the world right. He gave it to us, it was all written down in a book, and handed down through 2000 years, and carved into hearts and minds. If you think it failed, the fault lies in humanity, not in the plan.

And for those of you who have a problem with the decorations of the season, and those of us who see nothing but lights and tinsel, that's my tree from last year up there. Don't even go there with me. A light is a light. A tree is a tree. And a wild hair is a wild hair. And there is no power in any of them except the lights I plug in.

If you're so all-fired "faithful" and righteous about the pagan roots of the whole thing, you need to stop buying gifts and give back your gifts. And do not set down to that laden table of food. You're celebrating with food cooked for a pagan holiday. And you know you're gonna make a pig out of yourself with that same food, not just one day but right up to New Year (another pagan ritual). I got a little secret for you, gluttony is the biggest, most frequently mentioned sin in the Bible.

Swallow that camel.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


I've spent the last two days feeling awful. Actually, today I felt ok. Yesterday was typical. The C-Pap mask didn't work properly on Monday night and so I slept horribly on and woke with a raging headache on Tuesday. I did have a realization that these particular headaches may be the result of severe oxygen deprivation. Not sure why I didn't peg that before but there it is. I'm pretty certain I'm right. No wonder I've been a zombie for the last two years.

I'm having a lot of problems with the mask and if tonight is no better than the previous week, I'm taking it in tomorrow and telling them they gave me the wrong size.

Aside from that, I had the burning urge to write all day but I didn't. Well, I was sick Tuesday and couldn't think straight from the pain. Today... I had an eye appointment and that always last a couple of hours. My vision has hardly changed and I have minor cataracts! Well.

I would just like to know if there is anything else we're overlooking here? Really. Cause it would be nice if there wasn't anything. The eyes are not anything that needs attention at the moment. And joy, joy, he didn't dilate my eyes. My A1C has been so good I don't need that at the moment.

Anyway, I didn't write. But I'm itching to write the rest of the story. My usual policy is to not do any major writing in December to give me a mental break. Then I remembered the Anthology story. Yeah... I have to fix my edits and finish the thing. {sigh} I'm not happy. I want to finish the NaNo story. It is so near completed I just want to do it.

Obligations suck. Even ones to myself sometimes.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Out of Town

In case anyone is wondering, I'm doing NaNoWriMo this month. You know, National Novel Writing Month is November and I'm the Municipal Liaison for this region. So, I have to write a 50k word novel in 30 days and convince a lot of other people they can, too! It is fun and a lot of work.

So, that is where I am. I am posting progress reports to my writing blog, so you can check there. There should be a link up there somewhere. I also posted the in progress story for you to read along. That's probably not up there. I only shared it withe my Facebook folks. If you're not, head over to that page. The link is over there somewhere. No, to the right.

Anyway, I'll be back maybe in December. But you do know we do Christmas here? And I'll have a house full that week. And I haven't even got the tree up yet.

Wait. Thanksgiving comes first, doesn't it. Right. Ok, never mind. I might be back before Christmas but after NaNo. . . I mean Thanksgiving. Which is the same thing, actually.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Die Another Day

I never do the sensible thing. I start cleaning out disk files and I just have to click on that file and listen to it again. And I always regret it. I have decided today that the day I can listen to this and he doesn't die all over again, I'll be ok. I won't feel like there is a sword in my chest. I won't feel like I'm broken in half. I'll be able to listen to it and nothing will happen. It will just be a song from my youth.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Clean Sweep & A Crazy Week

Don't ask me what I did in the last week. I don't think I can repeat it all, even if I could remember. From Monday onward the whole week was a mad dash. I spend hours calling about appointments to get a sleep study set up for me and another appointment for Sarah, running around on errands, foraging, and trying to get the garage cleaned out. I did a couple of hours of writing in all that, not nearly what I wanted, but better than none.

The garage was Friday's project. I expected it to take about 4 hours. It took a full 6 hours not counting the hour and a half we took for lunch. But the end result is an extremely clean garage, shelving installed, every item put away and three bags of trash out by the curb. I still have to reorganize stuff in there. I have three boxes of "thingies" that have to be assessed, put in the appropriate container (trash or storage) and a couple of items that have to be disposed of just because they've been sitting there forever and I don't really need or have room for them.

The garage project took its toll. As we neared the end of the job, my feet began to hurt terribly and I could barely walk by 6 p.m. It only got worse. By Saturday morning, my hands, feet, and knees were swollen and my back, legs, and hips hurt. Today is marginally better.

As a result of all that, I didn't get any major things done yesterday. I did finish up the blue crochet blanket, which entailed weaving in the yarn ends back into the fabric. I decided to put a border on it and I expect to finish that in a couple of days if my hands function appropriately. Then, I will try to get that mailed this week. It is a baby gift and will be big enough to use as a crib blanket. The yarn is amazingly soft. I used I Love This Yarn, from Hobby Lobby. It took 5 skeins and about two months to finish, with everything else I have going.

Now I can get back to the other afghan I'm working on. I had to lay it aside to finish the blue because of the baby due date. I also want to start a new sweater for Sarah. She needs one for days when it is too warm for a coat but not warm enough for just a shirt. She's outgrown everything I made previous. I just bought long sleeved tops this past week for her, about 9 of them. She still needs skirts. I am going to try and make her a bunch of the frilly western style she seems to favor. I need to find some old jeans her size to use for the yoke and put fabric on the bottom. She loves those.

I'm working on my short stories for the Anthology and that is not getting enough attention. While doing that, I got a glimmer of an idea for NaNo, which as you all know, begins on November 1. The kickoff is Saturday afternoon. I just hope NaNo is productive. I so want to work on some other writing projects.

The photo at the top left is of a birthday card my friend Jilly, in England, sent me. She makes them and it is simply beautiful work. It is a nice surprise to know she was thinking of me. It will be a lonely day since I don't get to celebrate anymore. My birthday isn't until the 28th, but it will be nice to look up and see the card in my work area.

Mike remembered my birthday was coming, too. He bought me a Chromecast and gave it to me early, helping me set it up. I'd been talking about buying one because the current streamer I have is just very limited. With the Chromecast, I have all the media I could want and then some. I still don't have cable and don't need it. I have to say, when Mike has the money, he puts a lot of thought into gifts for me. I always like what he gets me.

 So, there you have a summary of my crazy week. I'm going to make a pot of chilli and chill with a book I think. I'm still so tired I can hardly sit here. Sue is coming tomorrow to clean my house. I'm just too sore and tired to bother. I'm hoping to get the whole place spick and span. Maybe for my birthday, I'll have a nice clean house and the pain will have gone by then.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Full Bucket

I stole this video from my friend, Jessica Fry on Facebook. As I watched it, I realized how thankful I am that I was so blessed all my life. I was gifted a wonderful husband who took me around the world twice, who gave me two beautiful children and encouraged me to be what I wanted to be (a stay at home mom who got to  spend amazing fun days with my sons), who let me write in solitude and didn't complain, who was proud of who I was and gave me romance, laughter, and joy, and equal amounts of aggravation, frustration, and grief.

I got to see castles glowing in the dark on the mountains along the Rhein. I got to visit the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Sacre Coeur. I rode trains, streetcars, and buses and saw cities I never dreamed of seeing. I've walked mountains in the Bavarian Alps. I have camped on the ground with no cot, camped in a tent that flooded, woke to tell time by the stars. I've ridden thousands of miles with my head on his lap while he drove us to new places. I lived in nice houses, warm, and secure in my husband's arms.

I tried to think what more I could have done or seen, or been and suddenly I realized I couldn't think of a single thing, not one. Yes, I have a bucket list unfinished. But were I to leave this world tomorrow, I have lived a life that I never thought, in my wildest imagination that I would live. I've done things beyond my own belief.

I was amazed by that. And humbled.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Little Look at the Stats

I don't know why I'm fascinated by stats. I just am. I check statistics for all kinds of things, for no reason. I even have a folder of bookmarks on my computer called Statistics.

Yeah, I know, crazy. I don't even like math! I mean, do you want to know the current moon phase? Or how about last months phase on the same date? There's a link. Or how about calendars through the ages? Yeah, there's a link for that, too. Maybe your thing is time and temperature for the... whole world? Yep, I got a link. Unit conversion? Want to know how many of you there are in the country? There are 98 people with my name in the US. But there are 550 people with my oldest son's name and 498 people with my youngest son's name!

But what really shocks me is the blog stats page. For example, it concerns me a bit to know that 230 people in Russia clicked into my page in the last month. Why? Were they lost? Did a search engine redirect them in error? Of course, if I thought they came willingly I'd be flattered, really. But I don't think anyone really reads this blog but maybe 10 people. Now, I'm wondering if I should be concerned that over 800 people got lost here in the last month.

I've had people tell me that those numbers don't mean anything. So... why are they there? And why do they not match up with another page of Google uses for calculating stats: Google Analytics. Because they don't match. E-v-e-r.

Of course, they say it is really all about the bounce rate. They stumble into the room and say, Oh, pardon me," and stumble out. They don't read anything. Google even measures how long they stayed on the page. Which is pretty pointless to me since if they're not reading it, it doesn't matter and I didn't think anyone was reading anyway!

No, it is the numbers that baffle me, such as those for October 15th--69 people got lost on the internet and ended up on my blog. That's serious. That's just one day of the month! Are these the same people driving around the city? I think so.

I check in on the stats now and then just to get a jolt when I see the where people are wandering in from. Czech Republic? Really? +400 of you? Thank you. And +600 from China? I thought China was blocking all things Google? Were you trying to call your mom and stumbled in from your mobile browser?

I'll never know. Lost people remain silent. They don't ask directions and they don't tell people when they're lost. But, on the chance you came here on purpose, thank you.

This is what I do on Saturday nights, folks.

I know.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Waking Up

For the first time in nearly a month... no, three months, I feel almost normal. No chest congestion, no real coughing, voice has returned, although still husky sounding. I also have no pain but still have terrible fatigue, except today. I have no idea why but I'll take it.

I've spent the morning reading posts. I should have been "doing" but I didn't. So there. I am going to get to writing after lunch and I have a ton of other stuff I want to do. Because I know the energy won't last and the pain won't stay at bay.

I got the results of my CAT scan yesterday. Most will already have read it on the book of face. I still have one small nodule on the bottom of my right lung. There are no other nodules on either lung and it is probably not anything to worry about.. unofficially. I see the doctor on November 3rd. He will tell me if that is correct.

Was I ever worried? Actually, for about five minutes in the ER when they told me they found it. Then they told me RA can cause it. RA is my curse and therefore, I knew it probably was a benign nodule. Still one must be sure. Did I worry they've find more? That they'd be serious? I realized that I can't fix it. That if it was, and if there were there wasn't a single thing I could do that would undo, change, or fix it. So, I decided to ignore it. I asked people to pray about it, had prayer for it, and left it there.

I went for labs yesterday and got those back. My white count is still very low, 3.3. The acceptable range starts at 3. When I looked at the drop in the white count over time I noted it dropped from 5 to the very low range in August. That is when I got so sick with a cold, just after Sarah started school. She got very sick as well. She missed a week of school. For a child, that's pretty severe for a cold. I suspect my immune wasn't as good as her's because I was down with that thing two weeks and had to go on a Z-pac.

I'm still struggling with fatigue also. I'm going to have to start running a closer check on my blood sugars. I am wondering if I'm experiencing spikes. I got up this morning and felt pretty good, all things considered. I wasn't overly tired once I walked around and had coffee. By now, after I ate lunch, I got slammed and had to go to the recliner. I went to sleep and slept like a rock for two hours. I had a hard time waking, too. Once I was up, I felt o.k.

Yes, I'm still waiting on the sleep study. I was supposed to call today and forgot. I have a lot of stuff to follow up on tomorrow so I'll do it then.

Writing... very little. This is the first day I didn't really feel like I was half dead. As I said above, the cold has receeded.

I have a doctor's appointment on Thursday with my RA doc, at noon. I have one with my Primary care doctor on Friday at 9:45. That should fix me up for a bit. I have to close one of my savings accounts to pull the money from it for all these copays! $25 a pop and by Nov 3 I will have had 10 visits in 4 months. Got to stop this.

Ok, I think I'm done. Now, I'm going to get ready for bed. I began this early this morning... LOL, g'nite.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Crackers & Mayo

I have this memory from my childhood of standing on the sidewalk near home and thinking I wanted a snack. I went home and pulled out the Premium Saltine Crackers. That is the only kind Mama bought unless money was tight.  I also took out a jar of mayo and made "cracker sandwiches". Oh yes, I did.

This was a true southern snack that I suspect a lot of other southern children in those days enjoyed. I know my brother and I did and several of our friends.

Fifty years later, that memory is as clear as a digital photo. I can still see the sun shining and feel the sidewalk on my bare feet. The crackle of the cracker packet is loud as I open it. The mayo spreads smoothly over each cracker and I resist eating a single one until all my cracker sandwiches are made. Then, I scoop them up and head back outside where I sit on the steps and enjoy crackers with mayo. Yummm.

My sister recently found mini-Premium Saltine Crackers and Sarah just loves them. I was amused by them and the fact that my favorite snack was the normal sized ones. She was eating some one afternoon and I asked her had she ever eaten them with mayo on them. She responded with her typical "yuk". I got the jar of mayo from the cabinet and took one of her mini crackers. Using a spoon, I took a small amount of mayo (they are very mini) and covered the cracker. I was slammed 50 years back in time. It was wonderful.

Sarah watched with interest as I ate. After a moment, she said, "May I try a little of that?"

I made her one and she took a bite. When a person really falls in love it is instant and you can see it on their faces. Those tiny crackers and mayo were a hit. Since then, she's asked for this cracker snack a few times and we usually share the treat.

For her, it is different. She gets a handful of these tiny crackers on a plate, a spoon of mayo, and dips the cracker in the mayo like a chip.

For me, it is something very special to watch her enjoy it. I can't explain it well, but it is as if we've both stepped into the past in some way. I'm eight years old, sitting on the front steps, eating my cracker sandwiches and Sarah is sitting there with me dipping her crackers into the mayo. It is a sunny day and I can feel the wood steps beneath my bare feet. We both take a bite and close our eyes. Yummm.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Catching You Up On All the Chaos

I thought it might be a good idea to catch up with things here, in case someone actually reads it. I know a few do and they ask questions. So, I'll give you a quick rundown of what has been happening. First, medical updates, since I suspect that is of primary interest to those who are concerned.

Most of you know they found a nodule on the lower part of my right lung about three weeks ago. I went to see the pulmonologist last week and he is sending me for a CAT scan of my full chest area. He wants to see if I have other nodules. I suspect if I do, he's going to want to biopsy something. It makes sense to me. He is the same doctor that will do the sleep study but although that is the easiest thing to address, he didn't. So, I suspect, despite his calm demeanor and friendly attitude, that he's more concerned about the nodule than my lack of sleep. See how that works?

Oddly, I'm not feeling any stress over the nodule, at least, no consciously. When they first found it I sort of freaked but as I sat in the ER I realized, nothing I can do will fix this. Nothing will change the outcome. It is what it is and has been all along. They find what they find, do what they do.

I really wish he'd addressed the sleep apnea first. I suspect he figures if these nodules aren't benign, sleep apnea is the least of his worries. But it would be nice to get some good sleep.

I've ordered the Lyrica from the VA and am waiting on delivery.

I've had several days where I actually had the energy to do some things around the house. On Saturday, I had a cleaning lady in. Some of you may remember way back when I hired my son's former mother-in-law, Sue, to come in and clean for me. I've been saving here and there and I hired her this weekend. She said she'd do it for free but you know, that is a big job and I don't feel right not paying her. She took care of bathrooms, floors, the fridge, and I did laundry all day. I finally got all the wash done and put up. It felt great to see the last of that mess. When Sue was done my house was virtually spotless and smelled lovely. I still need to dust, but I'm doing that as I go now.

This morning I moved some things around and am going through books in preparation to giving some away to David's wife, Felicia. She likes mysteries and I have several that need to go.

For several days the last week I've had spurts of energy that allowed me to do a couple of things I needed to do. Lately, I've just decided if I have any energy at all, I better use it while I have it. So, gradually, those things that have been sitting around waiting for me to organize them and put them away are getting done.

I worked about three hours this morning moving a small bookcase and putting the books in it. I've mentioned before I want to get rid of my extremely large bookcase. Virtually all books are out of it now, but I've got some other things on it as a result of getting rid of the leviathan computer desk. My goal is to clean three closets out. I have clothes to get rid of and once that is done, I will be installing shelves in my smallest hall closet. The items on the bookcase will then be put away and the bookcase gone. It isn't much, actually, mostly games and some files. Anyway, I've got plans on what I want to do. I just need the energy to do it.

I've also been editing the stories for the local writing groups anthology. I'm about halfway done with those. I need to do a final edit of my own story so I can send it out to be edited by a friend. I can't very well do the final edits and hope to catch everything. I'm hoping it passes muster though because I don't have a second one to fall back on.

So, there you have it. If you think about praying for my lung issue, I'll appreciate it. I haven't asked people to do that. If that sounds odd, well, I can't explain it. Rheumatoid Arthritis is an assassin, lurking all over the body and eating away at the systems that keep you alive. It chops away at them one at a time, or maybe several at a time. It isn't just your joints he attacks. He enjoys liver, heart, lungs, kidneys, all sorts of things, in no particular order. He's rather unpredictable, as all good assassins. And I have no defense against him. I can't do anything about it. And I'm rather tired of looking. He can just go to hell. I'll do what I can do, as long as I can.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Up in the Air

I'm not one to welcome winter. My joints do not appreciate the cold, but that picture is so cozy and makes me want to sit by a fire and read a good book.

This morning, I got Sarah off to school and crashed in the recliner for two hours. I simply couldn't stay up. Tomorrow I go to the doctor about the nodule on my lung and to start testing for sleep apnea. One doesn't know what to hope for in these cases. Oh, the nodule is easy. I hope it is benign. I don't know what I'll do if it isn't. I haven't thought that far ahead. The sleep apnea, if I have it, means a machine I'll have to wear at night and lug around wherever I go, not that I go anywhere much these days. I'm kind of just not feeling anything at the moment about any of it.

I've had virtually no joint pain and now swelling. Just blinding, unrelenting fatigue. I managed to get to church yesterday and when I left I was exhausted, but I couldn't go to bed when I got home because I had Sarah here. She had a friend over and so I sort of dozed in the recliner, but I didn't dare sleep. She's very good, but I don't like people who sleep when young children are in the house.

I'm evaluating options. I have some decisions to make and I hate not having someone to sit down with and go over them. Making major decisions alone is not exciting or fun or even interesting. My inclination is to just toss everything into the air and whatever lands on the table is what I'll do. It seems as efficient a way of decision making as any.

This year seems to be going as bad as any I've had since Jerry died, at least in terms of my health. Of course, every year since 2009 had been one sort of hell or another. The first three years I'd really rather not repeat in any fashion and it is with a great deal of thanks that I have trouble remembering much of '09, '10, and 11. I have no idea what I was doing those years.

My only motivation for posting this today is just because I wanted to sit down and work my brain. I spent the early part of my day in a stupor and I hate it. I could have written several thousand words had my brain been operational. I have sent off my script for Lyrica and we'll see if that med makes any difference. Tomorrow, doctor appointments to deal with the other stuff. Now, I've got short stories to edit so I'm headed to the mine. Fortunately, I like editing.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Short Shift

Well, what is going on in my world? I've covered some of it here: Writing My Life Away and Rendered Praise. If you're truly interested, you can catch up. If you're not, it will save me having to recount it on this blog.

I spent most of today sitting in my house reading. I didn't really do anything, except maybe finish putting away almost all the laundry. If you read a bit on any of my blogs, you will find laundry is a problem for me. I seem to have an inordinate amount of laundry. I don't know why. We are clean, but I only do laundry once a week, generally on Saturday. I do sheets, towels, and our clothing. In theory, roughly three loads.

However, it seems Sarah has the most laundry but she's only 9 so I don't see how that can be. Wait, that isn't true. She wears a uniform to school. She changes when she comes in. So, two outfits a day would equal 11 changes of clothes a week. O.k. that could be it. Odd, it never occurred to me until just now. Really, it didn't. Must find a solution to that.

Today I did not do laundry. I had already done most of it earlier in the week. I only had one load of everything so yesterday, I tossed it all in together. I didn't care if there were towels with the undies. They will act as scrub brushes and scour any soil right out. And I only had one load to deal with.

The only thing left to put away is two weeks of sheet sets.

I don't care. I hate sheets.

I've been working on the Ocean Sunset afghan again. I picked up some more yarn earlier this week. (See above blogs). I realized I was short of one color. I was not well enough the last week to work on it but one day this week, and I knew I was short, which acts as a damper. So, I went to JoAnn's and got the yarn and worked on it some last night. This thing is just beautiful and I'm going to be sorry to give it away. Alas, I didn't start it for myself. I realized recently I haven't made myself any crocheted items but dish cloths. Very practical girl, I am. There is something wrong with that. Nah, I just love giving the pretty things to people I love.

So, now I'm off. This post will be short tonight. I'm tired and have some reading to do so I'm ending here. Church tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Update to Medical Woes

I received an email from my RA doctor in reply to one I sent with concerns about the increase in pain I've been having over the weekend and the possibility of prednisone when I reduce my the methotrexate dosage this week. 

If you're behind in that news you're not on my Facebook page. I've had a problem with high liver enzymes and low white count. I have to reduce my methotrexate to try and get those numbers reversed. I'm at high risk of infection at the moment. So, when I got the most recent lab work, I got an email from her to which I sent my question, "What do I do about joint swelling and pain when I reduce the metho?" I asked if prednisone was a temporary solution. On top of everything else, over the weekend I woke up in agony with pain in every part of my body that has hung on for a couple of days. 

Here is her overall response. 

1. The overall pain I described is probably a fibromyalgia flare & prednisone would not help that. (In the first place I was referring to my reducing my metho and using that to help with the joint swelling and pain. Never mind....)

2. She suggests Lyrica for the fibro pain. (Now, I've asked about Lyrica for 10 years. They would never prescribe it for me and for a long time even the insurance wouldn't cover it. Too many side effects for too little return was the interpretation I got from it. But now, as I interpret it, we are out of options so here, try this!)

3. I'm to continue to take Doxepin every night (a really adequate medicine for certain kinds of pain) for the next week or so. (I've taken it the last several nights. I'm sleeping but not as much as I want/need to sleep.) 

Now, if it is a fibro flare, which is likely, it is the worst one I've ever had. The doxepin has very few side-effects but over time I get emotional/mood symptoms I do not like. When I've needed it, I usually take it every other night for a few weeks and stop. Taking it every night is not something I relish. Since I'm prone to depression, I don't go there voluntarily.

No way to know what I'll be dealing with once I reduce the metho. NO alternative suggested at this point. Maybe she's waiting until it happens.

To fair to my doctors, I'm not a compliant patient. I frequently refuse to take things they say are good for me. I also refuse to increase dosages at their suggestions. My theory is that if a low does works, why take a high dose. I'm glad I did that with the metho. If it is causing the problem with my white cell count, I'm glad I refused to go straight to the injections as they suggested. I insisted on a slow increase in the dose over time to see if we reached a lower dose that worked. I shudder to think what would have happened and how much sooner it would have happened. 

There you have it -- the lastest from my medical experts and my opinions.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Price of Praise

Rendered Praise
See, I made this challenge for myself on my Rendered Praise blog. I had the idea for it in the middle of the night and figured why not. I write a bunch of stuff anyway, so make it worthwhile.

As soon as I begin, I realized it was the right thing to do. It felt right. It went so smoothly that I was able to do a post ahead. This helps if I'm having a pain filled day and I can't write. I won't miss a post. I find I like being a day ahead on something. In theory, this could be a post for that blog, but since the next ten days of Render Praise are devoted to praise, it wouldn't work. Since I constantly whine here, this works.

As with any project I've ever done for God, and that whole blog is directed to Him, there are rewards and penalties. The reward is that I like the more positive feelings it has evoked. I find I'm thinking of new ways to give praise instead of focusing on what is "wrong" and things to complain about. No, this won't save me nor make me perfect. It doesn't mean I'm more special than anyone else. I just feel better in my brain.

Of course, I mentioned penalties, too. The first penalty I've experienced is the meltdown I had today while doing the next post. I have no explanation for it. I just fell apart in the middle of writing and had to walk away. I came back once I'd regained some control and finished it, but I'm not exactly "right" at the moment. There is an edge to the afternoon that cuts each time my thoughts move in specific directions. Even writing this post is a challenge to my body and mind. I'm exhausted and feel as if I've hit bottom. I'm not sorry I made the challenge nor do I want to quit.

I've always known that praise is an empowering item. There is a book by a guy named Merlin Carouthers, who wrote Power in Praise. If you've never read him, I would encourage you to find a copy of the book and read it. He also wrote Prison to Praise, equally good. If you want a life-altering perspective of praise he provides it. I read it nearly 40 years ago and I've not forgotten his name or the name of the book. The truth is, praise is the only life saver you have. It doesn't mean you have to jump up and down or run around the block. These are impossible for me now with my hips, knees, and feet feeling broken most of the time. You don't have to scream, cry, or use a bullhorn. Praise is not just a way of talking. Praise is a way of thinking.

You may be sick and everyone who looks at you may think you're dying. You may be wracked in pain and unable to move without hurting. Praise can be uttered anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances. If someone thinks the only place you can praise is in church, in a certain manner -- they're wrong. David wrote dozens of Psalms while watching sheep, surely the loneliest job in the world.

Paul and Silas were alone in the deepest part of the jail to ensure they couldn't escape and their only companion was the jail keeper. They were not comfortable. Yet, they sang and praised God. Not because they were happy or excited. There was no church music, no praise team, no congregation to pump them up. Have you ever seen a real dungeon? Can you picture the smell of filthy bodies, rotting food, human excrement? I suspect in some part of their mind, the knew they had to do something to get their mind off their situation. We've all been there. It is why we crank up the stereo so loud the neighbors have their heads out the windows considering calling the police. Or we load up on our drug of choice. It is because want to think about something else. We're not interested in praising God in the the middle of our mess.

Jeremiah, one of my favorite prophets, was up to his armpits in mud when he came up with one of the most comforting praise passages for grief-stricken widows I've ever read, anywhere. It is marked in my Bible in red with a pink bookmark. I've read it hundreds of times in the last six and a half years. It always makes me cry uncontrollably. Why would I read it? Because someone understood what I feel in ways I never thought possible and they are able to tell me how great God is in the middle of it all. And I want to know that.

I called upon thy name, O Lord, out of the low dungeon. 
Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry. 
Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, 
Fear not. O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life.

So, even in isolation, it is possible to simply praise God for being. And despite the penalties, I'll do my 10 Days of Praise. I suspect other penalties may be waiting, but I won't borrow from tomorrow that which will be here soon enough. Instead, I'll just think about how I can give Him more praise today.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday, Monday

Never let it be said that all Monday's are created equal. Last Monday was an awesome day. This Monday, not so much. Sarah was up until midnight with a belly ache and I had to get her into her doctor this morning, bright and early. I came home, after dropping her off at school, because bellyaches only occur at night. I know this is true because I had the same thing last week.

Anyway, on my return I had a raging headache. I had to take a pill for it and spent the rest of the day in the recliner, checking the phone now and then for emails, which I then had to answer. Sometime after two or three I think the headache was better, but my neck and upper left back feel as if I've been beaten with a bat. I used my tennis ball, but the pain in the trap was so bad, the ball hurt. Using the ball on the right side of my back told the tale. It didn't hurt and it felt good to roll the tennis ball along the muscle.

Sarah came in from school and when I asked her if she got in trouble today she danced around the question for five minutes. She thought I had seen her Class Dojo (message system between parents and teachers). Joke was on her - I had not. She finally told me why she got in trouble. She had talked during class and lost a point. I grounded her for the rest of the week and took her tablet, which she may not get back for some time. This was the second time in a week she's felt the need to chat on the job. The last time she was grounded for a day. I informed her that since she felt it was crucial to talk when she should have been working, she could do her school work this week when she'd normally be talking to her friends or playing.

So, for the next week she will be doing math worksheets, extra ones instead of games, toys, and friends. To give her credit, she didn't complain after the first 20 minutes, during which time I had to endure whining, complaining. and bemoaning the fact that she didn't know how to do math. She's in the 3rd grade. She knows.  She finally figured out that I was serious and nothing was going to change. Then she blew the subtraction. Badly. She'll have it down in a few weeks but at the moment it is her nemesis.

I wonder who actually gets punished when kids are grounded? I never believe in grounding. Never got grounded in my life. I got spanked but not a lot. The key to spankings is that you learn not to do the things that get you spanked. There were consequences. So, I followed the rules and as a result, my life was relatively simple and straightforward. Despite an alcoholic parent, I didn't starve, feel deprived, or suffer neglect. I had a large extended family and we had great times. I was clothed, housed, gifted, loved, and spanked. Amazing that well that turned out for me.  I'm eternally grateful.

I didn't have to ground the boys much. On the rare occasions they got in trouble, they got spankings. Which, incidentally didn't kill them, crush their spirit, or make them impotent. They were just as sassy afterward as before. And we had great fun during their youth. They never got arrested for criminal behavior. Never attacked old ladies on the street. Never raped, murdered, or robbed anyone. Cause Mama was waiting home with a paddle and feared neither police, judge, or CPS. And if you wanted to come home, you better keep your nose clean and keep a civil tongue in your mouth. If you can't don't let the door hit in the butt you on the way out.  The one time Mike threatened to call the police if I spanked him, he was 10 or 11, and I walked over, picked up the phone. I looked him dead in the face and said with no trace of a smile, "Would you like me to dial it for you?" He never did that again.

Sarah is a different child. She's fairly easy going. She does her things, I do mine. The trouble comes in when she is forced to remember that I'm the adult and she's the child. She's confused by that, I think. I'm Mawmaw. I'm fun. I'm silly. I'm kisses, hugs, and giggles. I'm not the stern old lady who has a paddle and isn't afraid to use it. I'm not the woman who glares at her when she gets sassy. I've rarely glared at the child more than half-dozen times in her life! That woman she doesn't get. Until she does. Then she is as good as gold. Has she fooled me? Sometimes she thinks she has, but not usually. As the sister of six, mother of two, and aunt to a few more there isn't much that fools me.

At the moment, she's got another stomachache. It is bedtime of course. And she didn't eat the supper I gave her at 6. So, of course, she's starving and that's why her belly hurts. And it probably does. I've fed her but I've given her a promise, something every child who has ever lived in this house knows I only do with the gravest of intentions, that at 6:30 a.m. she will get one wake up call. If she fails to answer that call promptly, there will be consequences. I hope she knows I mean it.

Now, it is my turn  to go to bed. I've had enough. I have a long day tomorrow.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Gift of a Day

I was going to post yesterday, but it was such an astounding, awesome, and amazing day that I simply didn't have time. 

If you've been keeping up, you know that I've been sick for a while, especially the last week. I even had to go to the ER last Saturday night with stomach problems. They did a CAT scan of my abdomen and found a nodule on my lung. Lab work revealed low potassium. I went in for a stomach ache. 

Well, yesterday when I got up, I felt as if I'd stepped into someone else's shoes. I wasn't sick, didn't hurt, and had all this energy. I had no idea why but I ran with it.

Sarah and I were up at 6:30 and I got her on the bus by 7:45. I dressed and headed to the cemetery to walk. This would be my first walk since Spring. I managed to get 1.2 miles but that was all I could do. My left leg, hip, and ankle were bothering me by then. 

I came home and got to work. First I spent about an hour on reading my Bible and devotional. I haven't done that for a while because reading anything was like walking in a fog bank and I was just too sick to sit up.

I started folding the three weeks worth of towels and sheets that were piled on the spare bed. I piled the three weeks of street clothes on my bed to force me to deal with it before bedtime. I had no idea at this point how long the energy burst would last.

For the rest of the afternoon this is how it went: I folded the sheets and towels while watching television. While I was busy with that, I also washed and dried three loads of new laundry. I folded another load of sheets and towels from this week. Then, I worked on my new crochet project, which you see above. I wasn't sure about pattern and structure but finally decided on rows using the Lacy Wave Stitch from my favored book. I like these colors together. I thought about adding a mint green to it but decided not to. 

I think I'll call it Ocean Sunset. The colors in the photo are very close to the real colors. This is another gift. I love doing crochet for others. I rarely do any projects for myself. I was going to buy new yarn but realized I had this yarn in my stash. I will probably have to buy some more blue, but that's cheaper than the +$30 it was going to cost for new yarn. However, the yarn I saw in the store is really pretty.

Hobby Lobby has a HUGE selection of yarns and has now become my supplier of choice. It takes 6-8 skeins to do a useful throw/afghan. If you want a blanket size afghan, you will probably need twice that. Depending on the kind of yarn used, a skein can cost $3.00-$7.00, some even more. This means a crocheter can sink a lot of money into one project.  The yarn plus man hours involved mean a typical afghan could have a monetary value starting at $100. If could be higher, depending on the size and complication of the item. A set of 4 of my cozies would cost in yarn and man hours around $30, not including the hard coaster inserts. So, if someone gives you a gift of a crochet item, any item, it isn't a cheap gift. 

I digress, of course. I crocheted an hour or so, until Sarah got home at 3:45. By then the only laundry left was on my bed. Sarah and I worked on homework for an hour, she kicking and screaming all the way. Then we worked on preparing supper. She helped quite a lot with this project. Setting the table, putting ice in the glasses. Her doll, Abby (formerly Isabella) joined us with a meal of her own. Once that was done, I did dishes and Sarah, who was grounded from everything for the homework fiasco, played in her room before getting a bath. 

Around 7 I realized I'd used up all my spoons. For the uninformed, this means I was running on empty. I called Sarah in and we attacked the clothes on my bed. I had already put my things away before calling her. Now she put her clothes on hangers, folded her shorts and underwear, and helped me put them away. By 8 p.m. she was tucked in her bed and out like a light. I should ground her more often. Of course, she was so tired because the night before it was midnight before she went to sleep. So, after getting up at 6:30, by 8 p.m. she was obliterated. 

I slumped on the sofa watching television and giving myself time to wind down from an extremely busy day. I stopped for a few minutes to tell God how very thankful I was for the day. It was the first time I felt like ME in a very long time.

Today... I won't be walking or doing laundry. I'll be doing bank statements. Oh, joy. . . 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

I TOLD You I was sick!
So, I went to the doctor today for my 3 month follow-up. The doctor had emailed me that my white count is down. If you're unfamiliar with how your immune system works, you white counts is like an army. When an invader (infection) attacks your system, this little army comes out with guns blazing and attacks the invader and in a healthy person, destroys it. Until 20 years ago, I never got very sick.

In a person who has Rheumatoid arthritis it isn't that simple. They give you drugs that are used to fight cancer to suppress your immune system.  Sometimes these drugs actually make you sick. For example, they can cause decreased white counts. You can get sick with an infection and there are not enough of those soldiers to fight the invader. You can actually get cancer and other deadly illnesses without those little white soldiers. I've never had a low white count in my life.

So, I have to go back in four weeks for more lab work to see if there have been any enlistments. If there aren't and it is the same or worse, they will stop my RA meds.They have to or I could end up in serious trouble.

Admittedly, she said it wasn't very bad but her face told me she wasn't happy with it. Stopping the meds is not a good thing. Within two days it will be very ugly at my house.

Solution? The white count goes back up and I can continue as before. The white count stays the same or worsens and I am introduced to a new med. Arava. This medicine is not something I've wanted to take. She doesn't want me to take it, hence the unhappy look on her face. If the troops are still AWOL, we have no choice.

Arava stays in your system longer than methotrexate. If I have a reaction to Arava, I will have to be given another medicine to clear my system and it possibly won't completely clear me. It can stay in my system up to two years. Side effects can be long term and fatal.

That's where we are now. Although I don't want to take the metho.... a bald head is better than dead. The next step for me, if I don't take Arava, would be biologicals and they definately don't like giving that out. Reactions to biologicals are most certainly life threatening. Humira & Enbrel are the two choices.

I don't know what to do. I've prayed for a medicine that would work. Plaquanil worked for me for over 10 years, until I got the Epstein Barr virus. That wrecked my immune system. Plaquanil hasn't worked since. I now take both Plaquanil and methotrexate. Neither has worked sufficiently. I've gone from taking the initial 4 - 1mg pills of metho. to 8 - 1mg pills. She wanted me on 10mg injections and I insisted that doses be raised incrementally until I reached a level that worked. My caution is probably a good thing if the metho has caused the white count problem. I think she was relieved today. She said she was glad I wasn't on the higher dose.

My doctor did try to encourage me. She talked about how the medicines were necessary because it wasn't just my joints that were being affected. RA is a systemic disease. You may think it only affects the joints and cripples a person. You see it as twisted hands and crippled feet. It doesn't affect just joints. It affects heart, lungs, liver, and all tissue. Some days, my skin hurts. I have knots beneath the skin on my thighs the size of what we used to call logger head marbles. Think walnuts. They don't go away and sometimes they hurt. I get rashes that itch and take a long time to heal. My eyes get dry and itch and I can hardly see. My mouth gets so dry my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. I get mouth sores. I get up and my finger joints feel mushy and hurt. My feet feel as if I'm walking on railroad gravel. My knees don't want to work. My hips lock. I hurt in every conceivable place.

So, that is what I'm dealing with on a daily basis. Add the deadly medicines and it makes for a nice invasion. And now the army is in retreat.

I guess I'm asking for you to pray for me. I need a medicine that will work and not kill me. If the other medicine will work better than what I'm taking and won't make me sicker in other ways, I need to do that. Of course, I would love a complete remission. But I no longer know how to pray. I will be honest. I've prayed all the prayers anyone could possibly pray and that I know to pray. I'm now worse off than I've ever been since I was diagnosed. The patches are now potentially worse than the disease.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What's Happening In My World

You know I am always looking at the flow of my life and how it is working. If life were a clock, I'd have assembled and disassembled it many times over. Sometimes it works better. Other times, not so much.

The current week has been hectic. Sarah started 3rd grade on Monday. She came running into the house after school yelling she loved it. I hope the romance last but we all know how relationships can turn on you. Her most exciting thing was "no homework". She thinks this will be a permanent thing. I haven't had the heart to tell her that the paperwork I read wants her working on things at home. We're going to have to create a "chore" schedule just to keep her encouraged.

I've done more crochet this week than I have at any one time in years. I've made several items and started on a new one last night.I really enjoy making these coaster cozies. I have six of my own and they work better than anything I've ever used.

They're designed to fit over the round stone coaster you buy at Walmart on aisle end caps. They come with a wooden holder but once the cozy is on it, they won't fit in the holder. I don't care. They're pretty and you can stack them. They look really nice on the table and are functional. Pretty furniture you worked hard to create or buy should be protected. I think I'm going to make a doily to match them.

 When dirty, you pull them off, wash and put them back on. If you have extras, you don't have to wait for the laundry to get done. The ones at right are a gift for someone. The yarn is Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn. It is a new cotton they've created to replace the Sugar n' Cream brand. I actually like it much better. It is a bit softer and easier to work with on small items. They have a ton of colors, too.

The other items I finished last night is the "rug" I was working on from yarn in my stash.Photos do not do this yarn justice. It is so beautiful. I do wish it was softer but it just looks gorgeous. As you can see, the item is not really big enough for much but a throw rug. I just used all the yarn I had left from a previous project. It is really warm and I almost considered it as a lap throw but it barely covers my lap and falls just below my knees. Not really enough to bother with when I have larger throws to hand.

This is a Red Heart Yarn, as I've mentioned before. I loved making this but by the last round, I was getting bored. I used no pattern, just started crocheting in the round and when I finished a row, I figured out what I wanted to do on the next one.I tried to vary the rows. I have some that are single crochet, some double crochet, and some treble crochet. There are a couple of chain rows, and V stitches as well as a couple of mixed rows: double crochet and chains.

It wasn't hard but I made mistakes here and there. Once it gets this big, counting stitches is so tedious but for fans and shells, you have to have the right number of stitches to make it work. A couple of times I had to pull out several inches and work two stitches together to correct for miscounting. For the most part, only an expert might find my errors but this isn't to sell or give away. I'll use it. I am considering buying a  backing to put on it and make it slip resistant. Originally, I was going to put it in Sarah's room because these are the colors we have in there. However, if you saw her floor on an average day, you'd know it would be wasted on her.

I started on another coaster cozy using a small ball of yarn, left over from a sweater I made for Sarah. I think it will be really pretty. It is an extra so I can wash some one of my others. I am also making it in a brighter color.

I've written a little. I have to get the short story done now. So, I'm going to try and spend the rest of the week doing that. I'm behind in reading but I've been also been busy straightening out the chaos resulting from getting rid of the large computer desk and clearing out Sarah's room to repair the ceiling. Her room is more or less in order. There are a couple of items still to move but nothing major.

It is the stuff I took out of the desk that presents problems. I had no idea that desk held so much! And so much that I hadn't even looked at in ages. I found Jerry's driver's license, our military IDs from years ago, his USI student ID, and his VA ID. All had his photos on them. I found old letters he'd written to me when he went to Germany. They'd been stored in a scrap book I had in the book case that was in Sarah's room but is not in the den. They were very personal and I had to smile at how foolishly romantic we were. They were just sappy and drama ridden. Very "soap opera" to me. Did other young couples write such letters? I don't know.

For a brief moment, I remembered that girl and I longed to be her again. She was filled with so much life and she knew how to have fun. Jerry and I had so much fun. We had a lot of the same problems most couples have but more than anything, we had an amazingly good time. And I think it is that which makes life so very hard now. I'm not having fun. Sarah brings me so much joy and the days with her are almost as much fun as what Jerry and I had but it isn't the same. There is this huge void that I no longer believe can ever be filled or bridged or repaired. I want it to be, more than anything. But the reality is it is impossible to ever be in that place and time and to be that person again. Two people died on January 29, 2009. They just didn't bury me.

I won't burden you with more sadness. I'll leave you with a Sarah story.

Sarah is growing up. Recently, she found she had hair under her arms. Obviously, all girls go through this phase but she is a bit young. She'll be 9 in a few weeks. However, we had to deal with the issue. Although the problem wasn't great, it was noticeable, particularly to her. So, I informed her I'd shave the hair off for her and show her how to do it so when she was capable of managing she wouldn't be nervous. We discussed how this would mean it would have to be done all regularly after this. Anyone knows the sooner you start shaving legs and armpits the worse it gets. But you can't just leave it.

Anyway, we took care of it. In seconds it was done and Sarah said, "That fast?"

I just grinned and said, "That fast."

I left her and went to the kitchen. She must have gone to the mirror because the next thing I heard was Sarah shouting, "I'M YOUNG AGAIN!"

I laughed and asked her what she meant.

"I'm young again. Only old people have hair under their arms."

Y'all have a great day.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Current Projects

Have I posted since I got back from Arkansas? I can't remember. I've been sick most of the last week. Today is the best I've felt since the 1st of August.

I started this beautiful project about three weeks ago and did about a dozen rows and put it down. I started working on it again today and I am so thrilled with how it looks. There is no pattern. I make up each row as I go. The plan is to make a small throw rug out of it. 

The yarn is Red Heart and I think this is called Fiesta. It makes a beautiful piece. I've used it before to make a throw for a friend. I had plenty left over to do something else and this is from that stash of leftover yarn every crocheter possesses. 

Red Heart is not known for its cuddly soft yarn. It tends to be a bit scratchy but is very warm in the winter and you can use a fabric softener bath to soften it up a bit. I've made a couple of throws out of it. As a rug it won't matter if it is soft. 

I took this photos early this afternoon. Currently, the piece has grown by at least three or four more rows. I may put rubber backing on it if I use it on the wood floor, but I'm thinking Sarah's room next to her bed. There is a 5' by 7' carpet in there but it is neutral and this would be a beautiful color accent on the rug for that sunny room and it wouldn't slip. It should be nearly three feet in diameter by the time it is done. 

I just love looking at it. It is like sunshine.

For the last three weeks I've also been making washcloths as a gift. They are really pretty and I'm making a few extra for myself. This stitch is called the up and down stitch and makes a nice texture for the cloth, much tighter than previous ones I've made. The tighter texture will be nice for the bath. This is Sugar & Cream cotton thread. Generally, this is used for handbags and other crafts, such as these cloths.

I love making things to give away. I must put yarn gift cards on my Christmas and birthday lists. Only a couple of people buy me gifts these days but if I ask for specific places I usually get them. 

Now, off to the shower and then back to the projects.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


I have returned. Arkansas was lovely and it was a relatively peaceful week. Hardly any pain at all. I slept well. I got to see my son and his family and spend time with the Grands. It was a great week. My aunt and uncle and sister went with me to help drive the 12-hour trip. Everyone had a good time and it was evident. Sarah has a birthday party while she was there and that was fun.

I'm tired this morning because I didn't get enough sleep.

Before I left we worked on finishing Sarah's room and it looked beautiful. We walked her in with her eyes covered and she seemed thrilled. She wants to move things around a bit because she's decided she doesn't like where her bed is. She was very sweet. "I don't want to hurt your feelings, Mawmaw..." Of course, it didn't. It is her room. So, we'll be changing that and getting her things unpacked and put away.

I have piles of clothes in my and Sarah's room to put away.

My uncle helped with painting and even painted the trim and doors in a couple of other rooms. He also painted my front door. I bought some blue paint. I think I'm the only one who likes it. Besides, if I get tired of it, I can paint it a different color. I love paint. Bright, beautiful colors just bring so much cheer. Sarah's room is like sunshine now. It was so dark before but I never noticed it because I loved the red paint.

I have to put the light up in Sarah's room.

This week we must prepare for school, which begins on the 10th. She needs skirts and shoes and a book bag and a few more supplies. I bought some but not enough. She needs leggings for when it gets cold. I need to check her winter coat, too.

I have to finish the first draft of my Anthology story.

Now, I'm off. As you can see, there is a lot on my plate and this doesn't tell it all.

I'm tired just reading it all.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A New Paradigm

All of you know that since I retired I feel as if I'm wasting time. Lately, when I count the things I've been doing, I almost start to think it probably isn't wasted time at all. I've come to the conclusion that this is one of those timey-wimey thingys that Dr. Who talked about. Bear with me as I elucidate why I'm in this state of mind. I apologize if some of it seems repetitive.

For more than three decades, I worked to a schedule. I got children up, dressed, and off to school or some function. I cleaned house, cooked meals, did dishes, made clothing for three people, remodeled rooms, refinished furniture, and went to church three times a week. I also read copious amounts of books, taught myself to crochet, and wrote in my spare time just for fun.

I went to college (in my 30s) where this continued while carrying a full load as a history and journalism student. I learned to structure my time and use a calendar during this phase and it was a habit I carried into the workplace upon graduation. A short war came during that time and I dealt with teenagers and an absent husband. I went to work and for 20 years I continued the pattern, but I sewed less and stopped crocheting.

My husband became sick and there were bouts of work and hospital time. I got sick and I still worked and took care of my home and cooked, cleaned, and did laundry. Children came and went with spouses. I read when I could and wrote when I could. Then, my spouse died and I learned that I had to kill bugs for myself, take out the trash, cut the yard, trim hedges, repair broken windows, handle car repairs and plumbing issues ....on top of my income producing job. There was also drama from grown children, a grandchild, but I stopped reading as much. Still, I managed to get it all done, although some things took longer than I'd have liked.

My own illness forced me to quit my job. Suddenly, I couldn't get anything done. Laundry piled up. Housework seems beyond me. I need repairs I can't do. I can't carry things that I used to be able to carry. I can't sweep or mop for long. But thanks to the riding mower, the yard still gets cut. Writing is going better, but I know that one bout of an RA flare will wipe that out. Compared to the amount of work I used to do, I'm basically useless, at least, that is what part of my brain tells me.

I needed some validation so I glanced back over the last month to see how much time I've wasted. I use apps to keep track of my time these days, along with that trusty calendar. Rescue Time and Grammarly give me reports showing how I've spent my time. The goal is to reduce waste.

Grammarly reports that from June 1 until July 5 I wrote 38,356. I'm stunned. I can't believe that, but it also includes Gmail, Facebook, G+, Blogger, and any items I responded to online. I rarely use it for writing on my computer because I have to upload it. I don't do that. But that's a lot of writing.

Rescue Time clarifies this in terms of time. On writing programs: Blogger, Open Office, and Scrivener I spent 39 hours. I'm pleased with that but it could be better. My goal is a minimum of 2 hrs per day. I've only managed to average 58 minutes per day. On Social Networking sites: 36 hrs. I have to reduce this even more, although, RescueTime calculates that I've averaged only 30 minutes a day. For July only, I've spent 8 hrs on writing pursuits and 7 on social networking. This doesn't include Gmail.

For June/July: I've also crocheted one Barbie dress and one throw. I'm working on a second throw and a dish towel. I've read about 4 novels. I read my Bible for about an hour in the mornings. I have done laundry weekly and have gotten better at putting it away (I hate putting laundry away). I wash dishes every day by hand ( I hate dishes). I've cut the yard weekly. I've watched a lot more t.v. but while I'm crocheting, not just mindlessly sitting. I never did that anyway. I always read a book during commercials, but there are no commercials on Netflix.

I've walked 1.5 miles about 4 times in the last month. I've had two writer's meetings. I'm working on 30 short stories in 30 days, and the anthology story. I'm preparing a workshop for the writer's group meeting in 2 weeks. I spent a day taking people to doctor's appointments.

It all looks good on paper, doesn't it? Yes?

No. When I look at this the Alpha part of my brain tells me I'm not doing anything important. Alpha says I should get the rooms painted. I should clean every day. I should consider getting a part-time job so I can do something besides sit in the house all day. It tells me I sleep too much, even though I'm severely fatigued and in pain. Most days I need a nap of about two hours. Pain is not an acceptable past time. If I got up and moved around I might not be fatigued. Life is too short to waste in that fashion. I need to exercise more. I'm spending too much time on writing and a writing group and not on really important things, like fixing drywall and painting walls. If I went to work I'd have the money for paint. I might even be able to pay someone to paint for me and allow me to do more real work. I should probably volunteer for something, too, you know, to make me a better person.

Yes, this is a real conversation. Stop looking at me like that.

Now, the Beta part (for want of a better term) says I'm constructive. I'm creating useful items for other people. Throws for gifts, doll dresses for Sarah, dishcloths for gifts and myself, study guides for the church school. I can write all I want at last. I can go to lunch with people I like and who seem to like me. They come to visit me, too. I can run a writing group. I can walk when I want, even in the rain. I can take a trip if I want to visit family (well if I had the money, which Alpha says I'd have if I found a job).

After writing this, it occurs to me that our brains are wired this way over time. We are not born drones.  We're created as playful beings and we come into the world wired for learning play. We spend the next 20 years playing and learning, generally with great joy and excitement.

Gradually, the  playing stops and we learn some more. We learn we have to work. No one is happy about this, by the way. Most of the joy and excitement begins to drain away through the holes in our head. Still, if we want to be able to play, less frequently, we have to work more frequently. So, life and college rewires our brains to this new concept of work. We work more so we can have more toys but less time to play.

We find we must structure our days to fit around this phenomenon called work so we can function effectively. We throw ourselves into it with verve and can-do spirit. We get calendars and clocks, something we had no use for in childhood. We sync our brain to these items by getting up day after day, at the same time and going to the same place day after day. We check the calendar to be sure we aren't missing something. We become slaves to time. And if something goes wrong - the clock breaks down, the calendar gets lost, our spouse dies, or we lose our jobs - we lose our sense of purpose and direction. We become zombies who can't function without a handler. We're worn out and old and no longer remember what play is.

That's where I am. I've realized that I have to start over and rewire my brain to a new paradigm. This is traumatic. Really, it is not a good feeling at all. In fact, my brain is resisting the process. I don't know how to not to do things. The old construct states that for adults, play is non-productive. It does not contribute to the betterment of individuals, society, or the world. Play is wasteful and directionless. To be a real person with value, you must work. You must produce to be useful and you must do it forever.

It is a very difficult process to rewire your brain to do something you spent years teaching it not to do. With each project, I have to tell myself that what I'm doing has purpose and value. I've been trying to adjust for seven years to a new way of life without my spouse. It has been hell. Really. Now, I am forced to readjust that life once more, to something else.

I'd really like to just sit on the beach.

That'd just be a waste of time.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Winding Up the Week

 What a busy week it was this past week! I finished two crochet projects. The throw I was working on for someone's birthday. The throw is made with I Love This Yarn from Hobby Lobby with a size I hook. The pattern is one from a book of 61 different squares for a sampler. I just picked one and made it bigger. I've used that book for several items I've made by simply picking one of the squares.

I also made this little thing at the left. It came out so lovely that I want to do another one. It is a dress for Sarah's Barbie doll. I think next one will be white and a long version. I also have a pattern for a Victorian travel outfit that I'd like to try.

I have to tell you, this is tedious. Yarn is much easier to crochet once you know how. Although, I learned to crochet on thread, it has been years and it was more like the stuff you make wash cloths out of. I don't recommend you start with this particular kind of thread.

The variegated thread is size #10 and the needle is 1.7 mm. Yes, that is very small.  The thread is just a bit bigger than quilting thread, which is slightly larger than sewing thread. The needle... I think a pen head about the same as size as that hook. I took my time and finished it over the course of a couple of weeks. I was so thrilled with it, despite the numerous errors I made and which I can immediately find. You could too, but not in a photo. Still it is for play and not a showcase.

I started a new project last night while watching t.v. with Mike. It will be another throw, made with Red Heart Yarn in with several colors. It is an interesting pattern I found online and wanted to try. They made a baby blanket with it but mine will be larger at least as large at the one pictured above. This new throw is going to also be heavier.

Red Heart yarn is a bit scratchy and I don't like it. They do have a huge variety of colors but it is really not a cozy up yarn. I don't mean it is impossible to have next to you but there are now other yarns much more cozy against the skin. Most are competitively priced, are far softer. When my batch is of this rougher Red Heart is gone, I probably won't buy anymore of it. I did recently find a Red Heart yarn that is softer than their most common yarn so if I can find the colors I want, I may try that. I bought one super sized skein in white to try.

I also made a personal blog challenge 30 Shorts in 30 Days. I'm done three so far and this is shaping up to be fun. I even made a button to put up when I'm done.  I'm also working on my anthology story for the writing group.

I'm trying to get my ceiling replaced. I've got mortar joints that need repair and I'm waiting on final estimates for both jobs. In fact, I got the last one for the mortar joints today. So, I hope by the end of the month those will be done. Mike and I have to tear out the ceiling next week in preparation for the new one.

I will be going to Arkansas the last week of this month to pick Sarah up and bring her home before school starts. I've missed her but I dread having to get up at 6:30 every morning. Time is just moving so quickly. She'll be 9 in less than two months.

I'm going to get done with this post now and go work on the new crochet project. This coming week, I'm hoping to organize some things and become a bit more productive. I want a schedule back in place before Sarah gets back. It will keep up both on track.

I posted my 3rd short story of the month called The Fourth. I hope you've all had a great 4th of July.